Thursday, 29 March 2018

Five Get Snowed In At Greenway

Two weeks ago, five writers - Rosie Canning, Ingrid Jendrzejewski, Nicole Fitton, Jane Lomas and Michelle Cunnah - travelled from various parts of the country towards the National Trust property, Greenway, near Brixham for a writing retreat organised by GW. On the way down there was serious flooding, trains were cancelled and had to go through Tiverton very very slowly putting an extra hour on the journey for those travelling from Paddington.
Rosie Canning about to board the 4.50 from Paddington.
The writers had to leave a few hours earlier than planned due to the snow which turned into a blizzard quickly rendering parts of Devon impassable. There were road accidents, abandoned cars and closed roads. Getting home was an all day into early evening affair but they all agreed, it was so worth it.

This impressive Georgian house was built in about 1792, but the Apartment is decorated as it was when the house was refurbished for modern living in 1938. Greenway was the holiday home of author Agatha Christie and her family.

"One day we saw that a house was up for sale that I had known when I was young... So we went over to Greenway, and very beautiful the house and grounds were. A white Georgian house of about 1780 or 90, with woods sweeping down to the Dart below, and a lot of fine shrubs and trees - the ideal house, a dream house." - Agatha Christie

This atmospheric house is set in the 1950s, indeed when you walk in through the doorway, it’s as if Agatha and her family have just popped out for a walk and will be back at any moment. The family were great collectors, and the house is filled with archaeology, Tunbridgeware, silver, botanical china and books.

In the garden a large and romantic woodland drifts down the hillside towards the sparkling Dart estuary. The walled gardens are home to a restored peach house and vinery, as well as an allotment cared for by local school children.

The book most clearly influenced by Greenway was Dead Man's Folly (1956). In this story Greenway house, garden, Boathouse and local area are all described and in 2013, ITV filmed their adaptation of Dead Man's Folly here.

The house overlooks the river Dart and is set in a spectacular part of Devon. The apartment in 'the' house has four double bedrooms and the writers used these as their writing areas (apart from Ingrid who preferred the extremely large bathroom) - though there is a kitchen/dining room, sitting room and private garden and these were available too.

The five writers stayed in the beautiful apartment located on the first and second floor, here two of them, Jane and Nicole tell us whether they achieved what they set out to do.

Jane Lomas:
I enjoy writing flash fiction and short stories and have been published in Microcosms Fiction, Carers UK, Reflex Fiction, Speculative 66, Paragraph Planet, Ad Hoc Fiction and FlashBack Fiction. I have also had non fiction pieces in the Guardian, and Caring Magazine, and I wrote regularly for two local newspapers. I am an avid fan of Twitter: two tweets have been used by Mslexia, and one was chosen for the Canadian edition of Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. I am currently working on a women's commercial fiction novel but am easily distracted by ideas for flash fiction stories. 

My goal for the retreat was to work on two key scenes in my novel. I'm really happy with the way they turned out and I went on to draft a flash fiction piece (you see, I can't keep away from it!).

The retreat allowed me the time and space to write. Set in beautiful, spacious surroundings, I walked around the grounds twice a day and my mind felt clear and focussed when I sat at my desk overlooking the river. Having set mealtimes worked really well as it added structure to the day - no time for procrastination. And staying with a warm and welcoming group of ladies was so inspirational - I thoroughly enjoyed the times we came together to discuss work or socialise.

Nicole Fitton
I'm a freelance writer who has lived in such glamorous locations as London, New York, and Croydon! I currently live in Devon with my family. My career has spanned 3 decades working in PR and marketing within Europe and the USA. I currently work within healthcare management in the UK. I write mystery thrillers with a splash of romance. My novel 'Forbidden Colours' was released in December 2016, and has been described as a 'contemporary high octane suspense thriller, worthy of Ron Howard turning it into a blockbuster movie'.

Alongside novels, I write short stories. Over the last two years, my stories have been both short and longlisted in the following: Exeter, Screwturn Flash Fiction, Black Pear Press, Fiction Factory and the Finchley Literary Festival Short Story competitions. My short story 'Soaring' features in the Black Pear Press anthology 'On The Day of The Dead and Other Stories'.

Greenacre Writers retreat was the perfect place for me to edit my current work in progress, a historical thriller set in 1912. My goal was to complete the first edit and get the first few pages as tight and ready for publication as I could. I am happy to say, unbelievably, I achieved both of these goals and am now sitting smugly patting myself on the back!

There was so much I enjoyed about this retreat but the combination of the surroundings and my fellow writers were what made it so special. I'm deliberately not mentioning the snow!

The surroundings - creatively beautiful, serene, inspiring.

My fellow writers - supportive, creative, fun loving and all slightly wonky like me!

Follow Jane on Twitter: @completelyjane
Follow Nicole on Twitter: @MisoMiss

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