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Literary Tours 2015

Are you a writer who loves to travel?

If so, these three writing retreats in conjunction with Bookshop Travel and the Australian Writers’ Centre will inspire and motivate you into getting your story ideas onto the page to form a novel, plus expand your travel opportunities.

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I highly recommend The Cotswolds with Kate Forsyth.

Here is my testimony:

The week-long course was educational and highly organised. I learnt more through Kate Forsyth’s teaching than any other course I’ve undertaken and exceeded my expectations. She was a fantastic presenter, in group form and individual support. Kate kept me inspired, motivated, and she helped take my writing to the next level. The venue was fabulous, as were the optional tours. Nigel, our tour guide, was friendly and a true history buff. I have nothing but praise for this event. It was worth every cent.

The Australian Writers’ Centre have many other courses, some of which are available online. So check them out, and if you sign up to their weekly newsletter you’ll go into the draw to win a $200 Booktopia voucher.

Meanwhile, happy writing!

STRATFORD UPON AVON

Situated in the heart of the English Midlands, the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon became the destination for our second literary tour, where our writing group soaked up a few historical sites synonymous with the famous poet and playwright, William Shakespeare.

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Once we completed our fabulous ‘History, Mystery and Magic’ lesson, we grabbed a quick lunch before our coach left Broadway. Half an hour later, we arrived at Cottage Lane in the beautiful hamlet of Shottery, Warwickshire. Here we ventured inside the romantic childhood home of Anne Hathaway; the place where a young Shakespeare courted his future bride.

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Anne’s quaint half-timbered, Elizabethan farmhouse, with its thatched roof and picturesque Tudor gardens, was one of my absolute favourites. Sadly, our allocated time here was short, so we didn’t get to explore the extensive grounds before we departed for the village of Wilmcote.

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Here at Palmer’s Farm, we stepped back in time to the 1570s. Shakespeare’s mother, Mary Arden, grew up here. Although historians now believe she did in fact live in the stone building next door. This is one of the best-preserved Tudor farmhouses, because it’s open to the public and operates as a working farm.

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In the town of Stratford, we took a short, guided walk past the World-famous Royal Shakespeare Theatre which is dedicated to the Bard . . .

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. . . past the Swan Theatre and through a lovely park . . .

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. . . to take in this wonderful view of the historic Holy Trinity Church on the banks of the River Avon.

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This is Stratford’s oldest limestone building, and one of England’s most beautiful parish churches. People have worshiped in this building since 1210. Shakespeare was baptized here, and also worshiped here until his death.

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In the High Altar, the glorious colours of the large stained-glass windows were a sight to see as the light shone through them.

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In the 15th-century Chancel, we viewed Shakespeare’s grave and those of other members of his family.

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Here’s Kell, Paula, Myself, Kate Forsyth – tutor, Nicole, Pip, Zelda, Niamh, and Jo, standing outside the most photographed house on Henley Street, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

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With a rich mix of shops, including many tea rooms and al fresco cafés, Henley Street is one of the oldest and busiest streets for tourism. On this last leg of our tour, we had free time to roam and soak up the ambiance of this place before our coach returned us to Broadway.

I fell in love with this town, and no doubt you will too. Of course, there’s much more to see and do in Stratford but I’ll leave that for another post.

Do stay tuned for Part 3: The Literary Tour – Warwick. 

Where does time go? Just the other day I was getting ready for Christmas, and now it’s February. Eeek! Needless to say, I’m running behind. I have a backlog of blogs to write and share with you, so I had best find my muse and get cracking. Usually I start the year evaluating last year’s progress, but I’m not going to hold myself accountable anymore. I haven’t even made any resolutions for this year, because I never stick to them. I have decided however, to just go with the flow and take away the pressures I place on myself.

So, my festive season was guilt free. I spent quality time with family and friends, went to the beach, read some books from my never ending to-be-read list, bought a few art books and supplies (something I’ve always wanted to try my hand at) pottered around my veggie garden, and I’ve had the best fun raising my new chickens – I have to say, there’s something wonderful about watching things grow. It makes my heart happy. I’ll leave these topics for a future blog post.

While I haven’t done a whole lot of writing, I’ve spent time thinking, planning and researching my new outback romance, ‘The Golden Mile’. But before I start penning, I must write parts two to four of my History, Mystery and Magic writing retreat. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy reading part one.

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THE LITERARY TOUR 

After having spent the mornings with Kate Forsyth and the group, discovering the art and craft of writing novels that draw upon all the magic and mystery of the past, our afternoons were at leisure to relax, eat, drink, write or read . . . or on alternative afternoons, there were four optional literary tours with a duration of approximately four hours each, where we had our own personal tour guide to explore some of Britain’s beautiful and literary landscapes.

OXFORD – Our first tour began in Southern England, in the county town of Oxfordshire. It’s the 52nd largest city in the UK. Here in the famous ‘city of dreaming spires’ we followed the footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, and Lewis Carroll; with links to The Golden Compass, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, and Narnia.

CHRIST CHURCH was our first stop. This amazing landmark is one of the largest, and the most famous colleges in the University of Oxford. It is also the only church in the world to be both a cathedral and a college chapel, and it maintains a long association with children’s literature.

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We walked through the Memorial Garden Gate and along the Broad Walk to the Meadow Gate main entrance; then into the Venetian style, Meadow Building, and the Cloisters, before reaching the famous Staircase.

The Cloister

The Cloisters

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The 16th century staircase which led up to the Great Hall was inspiration for the moving staircase in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It was also where Professor McGonagall welcomed Harry and his classmates to Hogwarts for the first time (Yes, I’m a huge Harry Potter fan)

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The Great Hall was magnificent, and very crowded with tourists on the day. This is the centre of college life; the academic community dines here each day, and on special occasions banquets and tea parties are held here. Its ‘hammerbeam’ ceiling inspired the appearance of Hogwart’s Hall and was recreated in a studio for filming.  

One of many Stained Glass Windows

One of many vibrant ‘Stained Glass’ windows

Tom Tower

Tom Tower

Tom Quad

Tom Quad

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Here we are looking through the Cathedral Garden door that leads to the Dean’s Garden. Did you see the *white rabbit* disappear through that little door? (that’s the ‘rabbit hole’ portal to Wonderland) Oh, what inspiration for Lewis Carroll.

Inside Church Cathedral

Inside Christ Church Cathedral

Inside the Cathedral

The Chancel Vault – Christ Church Cathedral

. . . And then we walked around Oxford and viewed some amazing landmarks.

Looking back at Christ Church Cathedral

Looking back at Christ Church Cathedral

And the time is?

What is Oxford time?

Lamp Post was inspiration for Narnia

The Lamp Post was inspiration for Narnia

The Bodleian Library/Radcliffe Camera

Radcliffe Camera – The Bodleian Library was used for The Golden Compass and three of the Harry Potter films.

New Oxford Lane

New Oxford Lane

Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

Divinity School

The Divinity School was used for Hogwart’s Infirmary

Sheldonian Theatre

Sheldonian Theatre

Museum of the History of Science

Museum of the History of Science

Alice's Shop

Alice’s Shop which appears in Alice through the Looking Glass

Oxford is indeed a treasure trove of literary excitement. It is rich in history, and is architecturally stunning. If you plan to visit, do allow yourself as much time as you possibly can to absorb this truly fascinating place.

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Do stay tuned for Part 2: The Literary Tour – Stratford upon Avon.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 930 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 16 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Festive Greetings

Well folks, tomorrow is Christmas Eve, and it’s a special day for me because I get to celebrate my birthday. You must forgive me though, for I did have good intentions of finishing Part 2 of my Oxford Literary Tour before Christmas, but time has slipped away from me . . . as it does. Therefore, I shall attempt to blog more regularly in the New Year.

So for now, thank you for sharing my journey. Here’s wishing everyone a happy festive season, and all the very best for the New Year.

Carol. xx

Life has kept me busy since returning home from Europe in October, hence my brief hiatus. However, It feels good to be writing again, and I’m delighted to be reconnecting with my readers to reveal one of the many highlights of my fabulous trip ~ the absolutely amazing ‘History, Mystery and Magic’ writing retreat.

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Back in early September, I had the pleasure of joining eleven other writers in the beautiful village of Broadway in the Cotswolds, England, where we were tucked away in this historic 16th Century ‘Lygon Arms’ hotel for three hours every morning for a whole week, learning the craft of writing: Discovering our stories, our voice, the importance of research, a place for story, narrative building blocks, dangerous writing, the writer’s life, plus a whole lot more.

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During that week, we had a visit from three local authors who talked at length about their books and writing journeys. Also, we had a literary dinner at the gorgeous 13th Century Buckland Manor with Perth author, Juliet Marillier, who shared her invaluable writing  experience and knowledge with the group.

This was the most expensive retreat I’ve undertaken to date. Truthfully though, it was the most enlightening in terms of understanding everything I needed to know to develop my novel. This one was like a light bulb moment – when everything came together. I have the lovely Kate Forsyth to thank for her fabulous teachings. She’s very passionate about the writing craft, and kindly takes everybody under her wing. She inspired me to find my story, and to be brave enough to tell it.

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Here’s our lovely group (minus two) at our final farewell dinner. It was fabulous to have made so many new friends who share the same passion, but sad to have had to say goodbye. We will however, continue to keep in touch via our Facebook group.

Do stay tuned for Part 1: The Literary Tour – Oxford. 

In just under a week I’ll be heading to Europe for a two month holiday with my lovely sister, Kate. Unlike me, she’s not a writer but she’s happy to travel to Oxford on the 7th September, along with Paula, my writerly Facebook friend, for a ‘Writing Retreat and Literary Tour’ which is being run by the Australian Writers’ Centre in association with Bookshop Travel.

The retreat takes place at the famous 16th century, Lygon Arms. It’s a traditional inn, rich in history and charm.

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Paula and I will be joining best-selling author Kate Forsyth for a week in the beautiful English village of Broadway in the Cotswolds, and each morning she will teach us the art and craft of writing novels that draw upon all the magic and mystery of the past.

Our afternoons will be spent exploring Oxford, the “city of dreaming spires.” We’ll visit Christ Church, and pass many iconic landmarks. We’ll also visit Stratford upon Avon, Warwick, and the Cotswolds. No doubt we’ll be inspired by the romantic setting of castles and yew mazes, mysterious circles of standing stones, and haunted manor halls.

It will truly be a unique experience. We’re looking forward to being inspired and motivated, and I personally can’t wait to discover a whole new world of writing and finding the magic that’s missing in my current novel.

Do keep posted for more updates.

Meanwhile, happy writing . . .

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