Last Wednesday (22nd April) I was fortunate enough to attend the first Sandlines creative writing workshop. I admit to being slightly hesitant as I wasn't sure what to expect; I loved creative writing at school, but dreaded reading aloud in class! I needn’t have worried though; Lois and Melinda, the workshop leaders, are two of the kindest most supportive people I have met. Lois stressed that the workshop was not an English lesson; the aim was for people to enjoy themselves and be inspired to write.
There were seven people on this Forest and Flints themed workshop, which took place at Santon Downham. The room had been divided into two, with a nature table at one end. On this were objects collected from the surrounding area, ID guides, and nature themed novels and poetry books. The day was well structured with supported activities, hints and tips and lots of time for quiet contemplation. There were opportunities to share our work, but there was absolutely no pressue to do so.
In the morning we walked across the 'Dad’s Army' bridge and then made our way along the river’s edge. We sat quietly making field notes, doing freewriting and then listening to Lois and Melinda read poetry; the tranquility was briefly interupted by a passing plane, described as a dragon, scaulding our ears. Sitting watching the water flow by, writing whatever came into my head was probably the most relaxed I’ve felt in a very long time.
In the afternoon, we took a short stroll to the Church passed a tree nicknamed 'Old Nobbly' by Lois and Melinda. The ground was alive with busy ants, so we didn't linger long. One member of the group spotted some beautiful feathers on the ground, possibly from a Barn Owl. Nearby were some pellets, close to the foot of a tree; we all paused for a moment to look up at where the Owl had once been - "Stumpy Owl", as later described in a poem. In the churchyard we each explored the space and the building in our own time, then sat in the warm sunshine to write some more. As we returned to the room for a final writing activity, we spotted a tiger hiding in the grass (a tortoise shell cat taking a bit of an afternoon nap).
It was a day thoroughly enjoyed by all, with many booking onto another workshop. There are still places left on the remaining three - whether you’re a practised writer looking to develop skills or completely new, looking for a way to start writing, these workshops are a golden opportunity.
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It wouldn't be right to end without a poem, but I will defer to someone more skilled than myself, selected by Lois and Melinda for the workshop.
All Nature has a Feeling
All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal; and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There's nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal is its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.
John Clare (1793-1864)
Holly Isted, BNG Business Support Officer