Once or twice a year, the members of Chudleigh Writers’ Circle leave the safe surroundings of the Town Hall and venture into the big, wide world to gain inspiration for our writing. This month, we visited the gardens of Ugbrooke House, on the outskirts of town. Today, Bea Hutchings gives us her account of the visit.
“With baskets and bags, laden with everything but the kitchen sink, eleven members of CWC, made their way to the Orangery tea rooms, situated close to the main Grade 1 listed home of the Clifford family, in the beautiful, immaculately-kept grounds of Ugbrooke Park.
Manny, who organised everything, had come prepared for famine, drought or inclement weather, and determined to set everyone up for the morning with a delicious continental breakfast and copious amounts of coffee, tea and other beverages.
Manny presented the workshop as an opportunity to ‘let our mind’s go for a walk’, to use our surroundings as inspiration for our writing; to use any of the art materials she had brought to sketch or scribble words or pictures, it was up to us. We had inspirational quotes about writing and gardens to look at, pieces that were written in, and about beautiful gardens. The gardens at Ugbrooke were redesigned by landscape architect, Capability Brown in the mid-18th Century. The Clifford family have continued to plant according to Brown’s vision, so there was inspiration everywhere.
Most of the group set off to explore the grounds, veering off towards the lake or to walk along the path or around the outer perimeters of the grand house. Some stayed in the Orangery and enjoyed some peaceful writing time. We were not the only visitors. BBC South West’s Johnny Rutherford, was interviewing the Honourable Alexander Clifford, son of Lord Clifford, (whom we met when we arrived), about the repair of damage caused by the ‘Beast of the East’ last year, to some of the rooms. Manny and Sharon, in turn, interviewed Johnny Rutherford when they met him while walking along the Orangery pathway; planted either side with Olde English Roses and lavender, next to the wedding tree. Beautiful trees were everywhere, some hundreds of years old.
It wouldn’t be a workshop without the opportunity to discuss what we had written and what ideas we had taken from our visit to Ugbrooke House. Manny also asked us to make a book out of a single sheet of paper. On the front of the book, she asked us to draw a picture. Inside we wrote one word which summed up our thoughts or something we’d seen which had stuck in our minds. Mine was waterfall. I had found Monet. It inspired me to write a wedding poem for my son and his fiancée.
It was a super morning, and even the weather was fine. Thank you, Manny, from all of us.”