Day Four - the "day off"
Tuesday at Swanwick, the halfway point, is what can loosely be called a "day off". Loosely because there's usually something on in the momrning and evening, with the middle of the day being filled with either an excursion or lots of writing in the bar or on the lawn.
This year was no exception. The morning slot was filled with speaker Rebecca Woodhead, who managed to give a non-techie talk on e-Publishing that made a lot of sense. She also shared a story of how she taught herself language again after an horrific car crash - an inspiriational story if ever there was one.
A quick teabreak later, it was time for the e-Publishing panel. I was really looking forward to this, but scarpered as soon as I saw they were filming it, and went to the computer room instead. After, it was time for early lunch, and then the dash for the coach to Haddon Hall.
Last year I really enjoyed looking at the Derbyshire countryside during the excursion; this year I fell asleep and woke up as we were pulling into the car park.
It was a bit of a walk to the hall. The first building we came across turned out to be the gatehouse, and it wasn't until later that Haddon Hall revealed itself, looming ominously from the trees. A quick (and steep) walk up the slope revealed a very fetching courtyard, with a tower and lots of stained glass. The chapel still boasted the original medieval wall paintings (although the colour had faced), a Norman font, and some carved screens above the altar.
The hall itself was very impressive, with lots of period furniture in the kitchen, main hall, and dining room. One long hall was displaying various costumes from adaptations of Jane Eyre, on some very creepy mannequins. There were some odd ommisions though - only public rooms, no sense of how the family would have lived. This might be because parts of the hall appear to be still lived in.
After exhausting my camera on the inside of the hall, it was out to the garden, with its fountain and beds of lavender, and spectacular views. Then a wander back down to the the old stable block which is now a cafe. I sat down with a lemonade and slice of cake and got talking to some other random Swanwickers (as you do) about what we planned to do for the rest of the week.
The giftshop was in the gatehouse, so I visited it on the way out. I picked up some postcards and a Tudor rose pin. There were some lovely wooden boxes, that I regretfully left there as I couldn't see how I'd get them home. In hindsight, I'm sure I'd have managed.
Back to Swanwick, and lots of hanging around chatting until dinner time. Then the evening speaker, who was romance writer Sharon Kendrick. She talked about what Mills and Boon want of their romantic heroes and heorines, and promptly put me off going to her romance course the following day. She was a very good speaker, but made me realise that writing about effortlessly beautiful heroines who want a muli-billionaire to dominate and master them is really not for me.
The plan for after was to go to Write, Camera, Action! (the production the theatrically inclined work on on their "day off") and follow it up with karaoke. What actually happened was a long and rambling conversation which took in the opening chapters of Dracula, armoured spiders, cat throwing as an Olympic sport, speech impediments, crap day jobs, and French ninjas. The first time anyone looked at their watch it was midnight, and we'd missed everything including the bar.