The Place where I Work: Part 1

Photo: Ilona Jones

I work for the Arvon Foundation which runs residential courses for writers. So my day job happens in a beautiful old house once owned by Ted Hughes. It nestles half way down a wooded valley, which never fails to take my breath away. In winter the mist swathes the hill and is mystical and glorious. In summer you can stand on the terrace overlooking a sea of green and feel as though you own it. I love the place even in the snow when we can’t get anything (not food, not laundry, sometimes not even people) down the very steep lane.

And the house: well, it’s a creaky, cranky old building with its fair share of plumbing and maintenance ‘challenges.’ But on a Monday in the sitting room, when everyone is settled round the fire, eating cake, drinking tea and meeting their fellow travellers in writing there’s an immense glow around the place. Later in the week, when students gather in the galley kitchen to cook there’s a camaraderie that is priceless. A former colleague who worked there used to talk of the psychic mark left behind by the decades of writers, both students and tutors, who’ve stayed there. It’s as though the very walls ooze creativity.

All this contributes to what we call ‘the Arvon magic’: the transformation that happens because of the intensity and isolation and living together as a community. I can’t help but take that buzz home with me; and that positive energy translates to my own creativity too.

How about you? Which places inspire you or motivate you?

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