Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Romantic Fishguard

Elaine Everest tells us about Writers’ Holiday and its move to Fishguard.

The view from my bedroom window over Fishguard Bay
Members couldn’t fail to have seen the impressive advertisement on the back cover of so many issues of Romance Matters. The Fishguard Bay Hotel, looking out over a glistening sea, well  known as the home of actors from films such as Moby Dick and Under Milk Wood was for the first time the destination for the delegates of the summer’s week long Writers’ Holiday. Set in Pembrokeshire, so far west that if we’d taken many more steps we’d have been on the ferry to Ireland, some of us weren’t sure of what to expect.

Each year we’d travelled to Caerlon and lived as students at the South of Wales campus near Newport that to suddenly have our holiday moved could be the kiss of death.

Gerry and Ann Hobbs had assured us that we would love Writers’ Holiday, after all it had been the destination for their February writer events for many a year. We were still unsure. What about the kitchen parties, the student bar, the male voice choir? Gerry assured us nothing would change and we could still party in our rooms if we so wished. I have to confess that he’d sold it to me as soon as he announced that the Cwmbach Male Choir would be there to perform the last night concert. I sent off my deposit.

Fishguard Bay Hotel from across the bay
But how to travel to Fishguard? In the past I’d been part of a road trip with other friends from Kent and once we were in the car our holiday had started. Which reminds me, it’s very hard to convince one’s husband that we are away for the week to learn more about the craft of writing when Gerry called it a writers’ holiday! So, for the first time a group of travelled by train. We set off two days early, only so that we could avail ourselves of the cheap first class tickets. The plan was to write and do a little sightseeing. Little did we know that as we travelled from Kent we left the thunder and lightning behind and arrived with glorious sunshine that stayed for the whole week so we spent more time being tourists and visiting the beautiful Pembrokeshire countryside than we did pounding the keyboard.

Rooms were comfortable and the staff welcoming. We found no fault with the varied menu and as most of our time was spent on the verandah enjoying a drink whilst looking out over the bay with friend old and new we couldn’t fault the company.

Courses, after tea events, main speakers and other events were as good as ever, although due to the glorious weather many delegates chose to drop out of the informal events and head for the sunshine.

Kate Walker with some of her students
My favourite course of the week was with well-known RNA member, Kate Walker who took us through eight hours of writing romance that culminated with eating chocolate and talking about sex. Not bad eh? As usual Kate kept the pace up throughout the course and we left with a folder full of hand outs and our heads buzzing. The pink Mills and Boon pen was handy as well.  My own notebook had many notes on how to add romance to my current work in progress. I may not have managed to write many words of the novel but my planning really profited.

RNA stalwart, Marina Oliver was also there teaching a course on novel writing. Sorry, Marina, I really wanted to attend but you clashed with Kate. Perhaps I will be able to make it next year when you tutor a group on historical fiction.

The final night performance by the Cwmbach Choir was as great as ever with an additional performance by soprano and harpist, Joy Cornock, pure delight. 

Already many delegates have booked for next year. The courses are on the Writers’ Holiday website.

I hope to see you there!


This blog is brought to you by Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman. If you would like to contribute to the blog please contact us on elaineeverest@aol.com


Unknown said...

A terrific post Elaine. You have encapsulated the place, the atmosphere, the people, and the love we have for everything that is, The Writers' Holiday. Thank you.

Elaine Everest said...

Thank you, Maddie. Wasn't it a great week?