EW member Cathie Devitt recently enjoyed a week at Arvon’s Totleigh Barton – their Writers Centre in Devon and she has kindly written this report.
An easy flight from Glasgow to Exeter made the outward journey bearable. Don’t ask about the 9 hour return train journey. No idea why Flybe don’t do return flights on a Saturday!
Totleigh Barton is hidden away deep in the heart of Devonshire countryside, in a place named Sheepwash. The sheep were friendly and the cows had a habit of coming up to lick the windows of the big barn where our workshops were carried out.
Tutors Simon Block (Casualty, At The Table, The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall…), BAFTA winner Brian Dooley (The Smoking Room, Being Human…) and guest speaker Michael Jacob (Birds of a Feather, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, Goodnight Sweetheart…) were friendly, approachable and really helpful with their workshops and crits.
The accommodation, as with all Arvon courses is rustic shabby chic, which seemed to surprise a few of the guests with the communal bathrooms and sharing of cooking. Personally I enjoy the basic surroundings and when we split into groups and cooked for one evening each… it was a laugh. I have been to Arvon before and I recommend it if you are happy to be isolated from the Internet and your mobile phone connection, don’t mind a bit of cooking, and are happy to sleep in a basic but clean single bed.
The surrounding area is picturesque and the weather was mild even in September. It is a great location and you have plenty of free time to focus on your own writing, discuss with fellow writers or just enjoy lounging on the big squashy sofa catching up on your reading.