I spent a couple of days in Surrey last week with Sue, a friend I met at an Arvon course in 2010 and she introduced me to Carol last year, when we were together for a weekend in Cornwall. Sue is a fantastic host, cooking delicious meals and making us feel very welcome. You can find out more about Carol by visiting her blog Scribbling in the Margins.
In spite of the wet weather, we spent the whole of one day at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum. Here buildings of historical merit have been relocated to form a fascinating ‘village’ that includes a medieval hall-house, a tudor kitchen, a toll house, and a working watermill. For those who are interested in historical writing, the musuem is holding an event in August titled Historical Fiction Day where Emma Darwin, Maria McCann and Alison Weir are offering input. There’s also a short story competition that you can enter.
And if that competition doesn’t interest you, why not think about entering the Historical Novel Society short story competition?
The next day, we visited the home of Jane Austen at Chawton. Here is a photo of the little table set by the window in the dining parlour where Jane worked at her novels. It was here that she revised Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. Other novels followed, including the publication of Mansfield Park in 1814 and Emma in 1816. The house is set very close to the road, and it’s easy to imagine the comings and goings that might have fired Jane’s creativity. Here you can see Sue and Carol outside the house.
It was a splendid writerly retreat, just what I needed before the raft of activities connected with National Flash Fiction Day tomorrow.