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Posts tagged ‘Cotswolds’

Heatwave Inspiration – The View From Broadway Tower in Bright Sunshine

What do you do in a heatwave? We headed for the Cotwolds and one of our favourite places, Broadway Tower.20160718_135655

The last time I was there a cold gusty wind and a heavy damp mist greeted us.

But on this visit, the sun blazed out of an azure sky,20160718_123139

 

and it was an ideal day to climb the Tower20160718_122645 and view the 16 counties from the top.20160718_122306

I’ve written about Broadway Tower before on this blog as it’s a place of inspiration, 20160718_122253not least because of its association with the preRaphaelites and in particular William Morris, whose philosophy I admire and whose designs I love.20160718_122322-1

As I wrote in my previous post about Broadway Tower, among all things most romantic to me is a high place.

I go to high places for calmness and peace, and also to reconnect with that sense of perspective we all need so dearly in the world today.

There are a number of high places I love to visit, from where I live in Warwickshire. the nearest are the Burton Dasset Hills; Broadway Tower is about half an hour away; and the Malverns a little further.  But all are sources of inspiration.

What are your favourite places to visit, for inspiration and upliftment of spirits?  I’d love to hear about them, wherever you live… unless of course they are secret locations that you don’t want to be swamped by visitors! Do share in the comments below.

 

Cotswolds Locations to Give Spice and Colour to the World of A Passionate Spirit

Recently I’ve been visiting a number of Cotswolds locations in which key scenes of my novel A Passionate Spirit are set, and locations which are referred to in the story.

The Fleece, Market Place, Cirencester

The Fleece, Market Place, Cirencester

A Passionate Spirit is a paranormal thriller, and some of the events of the story cross the borderline between the real world and the unexplained.

St John the Baptist Church, Market Place, Cirencester

St John the Baptist Church, Market Place, Cirencester

.

I enjoy exploring fictional characters in their everyday world and how they respond when they meet the “impossible”.

Graze Bar and Brasserie in Gosditch St, Cirencester

Graze Bar and Brasserie in Gosditch St, Cirencester

Extra spice and colour has been added into my novel because the events take place in real locations.

I hope those residents of Cirencester who read my novel  will perhaps have a different view of some of these locations after they’ve finished the story!

The King's Head Hotel, Market Place, Cirencester

The King’s Head Hotel, Market Place, Cirencester

A Trail of Discovery Through Small Independent Bookshops in the Cotswolds

Over the past couple of months, at the suggestion of my publisher Matador,

Passionate Spirit cover design

Passionate Spirit cover design

I’ve visited a number of small independent bookshops throughout the Cotswolds (where my new novel A Passionate Spirit is set).

The Yellow Lighted Bookshop Tetbury

The Yellow Lighted Bookshop Tetbury

I’ve introduced myself and my novel, offered each bookshop manager a copy of my advance information sheet and asked if they would be willing to stock my book when it comes out in November.

Not only have I found the managers of the shops very friendly and encouraging, and have won several positive responses to the idea of stocking my book, but also I’ve had a wonderful journey of discovery among small independent bookshops.

Madhatter Bookshop, Burford

Madhatter Bookshop, Burford

For a small town to have its own independent bookshop is a great blessing. I’ve now visited bookshops in Stow-on-the Wold, Burford, Chipping Norton, Tetbury, and Woodstock.

The Borzoi Bookshop, Stow-on-the-Wold

The Borzoi Bookshop, Stow-on-the-Wold

Among the bookshops I found one that also sells hats; and another that sells tea, coffee and cakes at the front, in amongst the book displays. All of these shops have individual, fascinating and eclectic displays of books; none are the same, and none are dominated by the current blockbuster or most-hyped new publication. In several I found books that I wanted to buy, and I did make a number of purchases; among them, not a few Christmas presents!

I still plan to visit bookshops in Stroud, Abingdon, and Oxford.

Jaffe and Neale Bookshop, Chipping Norton

Jaffe and Neale Bookshop, Chipping Norton

In particular I loved this quote which I found in The Yellow Lighted Bookshop, Tetbury:

So often, a visit to a bookshop has reminded me that there are good things in the world.  (Vincent Van Gogh)

I thoroughly agree with Van Gogh.

The Dream of William Morris at Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds

My dream, wrote the designer William Morris, is a dream of what has never been… and therefore, since, the world is alive, and moving yet, my hope is the greater that it one day will be… dreams have before now come about of things so good… we scarcely think of them more than the daylight, though once people had to live without them, without even the hope of them.

view from the top of Broadway Tower 1 Oct 2013 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

view from the top of Broadway Tower 1 Oct 2013 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

William Morris, along with the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, and the members of the Arts and Crafts Movement, was one who inherited and took forward all that was good in the Romantic Movement.

Among all things most romantic to me is a high place.

I go to high places for calmness and peace.

There are a number of high places I love to visit, from where I live in Warwickshire.

Broadway Tower, Cotswolds 1 Oct 2013 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

Broadway Tower, Cotswolds 1 Oct 2013 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

And just such a place, 35 minutes drive from my home,  is Broadway Tower in the heart of the Cotswolds, which I have visited many times, most  recently the day before writing this post.

From the top of the tower one may see, on a fine day, thirteen counties.

No wonder idealists and romantics  went there in the nineteenth century after their friend took a lease on the Tower, following the death of the Tower’s creator and original owner, the Earl of Coventry. For the Tower, a picturesque folly on the summit of Broadway Hill, emerged from the romantic movement. So, too, flambuoyant, theatrical and sensual, did Painswick Rococo Garden emerge from this tradition, as I wrote in a recent review on Trip Adviser.

William Morris was just one of the many idealists and romantics who came here. His rich, complex and exquisite designs now adorn soft furnishings, and a selection of them may be seen on the second floor of the Tower.

William Morris design image 1 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

William Morris design image 1 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

He is a beacon of romantic idealism, combining a love of medieval craftsmanship and Gothic design elements.

And his association with Broadway Tower – together with that of his contemporaries of like mind – is appropriate.

William Morris design image 2 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

William Morris design image 2 (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

It’s certainly true that I, too,  feel an affinity with the Romantics, the Pre-Raphaelites, the members of the Arts & Craft movement, and their dreams and visions.

For where would we be in this life if none among us aspired to, or dreamed of impossible ideals?

Impossible?

Read the full text of The Dream of William Morris here.

The Dream of William Morris (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

The Dream of William Morris (photo credit Jamie Robinson)

Interpersonal Relationships in the Hothouse Atmosphere of a New Age Commune

In my mystery romance novel “Mystical Circles” I explore the interpersonal relationships to be found in the hothouse atmosphere of a New Age commune. This is a place where relationships and liaisons flare and flourish or fizzle out quickly. The group I describe is based in an idyllic farmhouse in the Cotswolds. It is a “closed environment” in the sense that all the people in the group spend a lot of time together, having to deal with all their emotions and feelings about each other, their conflicts, their doubts and fears. I also explore what people in these situations do about their baggage from the past. This particular group teaches its members to let go of their past. But is this, in fact, possible?

Extract No. 1 from ” Mystical Circles”:

For several moments then, they stood in silence, gazing at the Severn Vale spread out before them.

“Almost as good as the view from Beaumaris,” he observed wistfully.

“Looking across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia, you mean?” she said. “Beautiful.”

He regarded her warmly, clearly touched by her empathy.

“I might be a Londoner,” she said, “but I do appreciate the countryside. And I loveNorth Wales.”

“I’m so happy to hear that,” said Llewellyn.

A companionable silence fell between them, as they turned their attention back to the landscape. It was broken by the Welshman. “I wish there was more contentment among the others down there in the valley.”

“Yes, peace seems in short supply, doesn’t it?”

“It’s inevitable you’ve noticed, Juliet. I dread to think what you’ll have uncovered by the time you leave.”

She chuckled but made no reply.  Her stomach still felt twisted. Craig…  Craig… she thought.

“You probably wonder why I defended the group when we first met,” he said, “and I persuaded Don and you to come to Dynamic Meditation. It’s because I believe in the principles behind it all.”

“Maybe. But do those principles work out in practice? I certainly didn’t expect to find this level of frustration, anxiety and anger. I’ve found it in Oleg, Zoe, Sam…” She would certainly not mention Craig’s name.

“I don’t deny that,” Llewellyn said. “But, for my part, I’m convinced I’m in the right place. OK, we’ve all brought our hang-ups with us. And that prevents it from being paradise. But would paradise inspire me as much?”

“Surely it would.” She liked his grin. “It was good enough for Wordsworth, Keats and Tennyson, wasn’t it?”

“No. Poets need this imperfect world. What sort of effect d’you think La Belle Dame Sans Merci had on Keats? Hardly the ideal relationship, was it?”

“No,” she admitted. “I’ll take your word for it, Llewellyn.”

But what she really wanted to know was who wrote that letter to Craig.

Llewellyn didn’t say anything for a few minutes. Then he said, “Let’s talk instead about your part in this, Juliet.”

“Mine?” She was immediately on guard.

“Yes, you, of course, Juliet,” he said impatiently. “You’ve changed everything.”

She threw a glance at him, and stumbled over a tree root, which nearly winded her. “How so?” she said, regaining her balance. “I’m only here as a journalist, Llewellyn.”

“No, you’re not,” he said unexpectedly.

“Oh?”

“Last night,” he added, “was a step in the right direction.”

“A step in what direction?” she asked.

“In the direction of getting to know you better.”

“I hope you haven’t misunderstood me,” she said. “I enjoyed reading and talking about your poems, but…”

“Come on, I want to know what you really feel; not just about the poetry but about many things.”

She shook her head. “That’s not in my plan, Llewellyn.”

Extract No. 2 from “Mystical Circles”:

 “The tank? What’s that? And what happens in it?” asked Juliet.

Conversation halted. James, Craig and Sam all swivelled their eyes to her face.

“Let me explain, Juliet,” said Craig. “I teach my students to seek their answers in the unconscious mind. A tried and tested way of doing this is in the isolation tank.”

“How?” she enquired.

Craig wore an enigmatic expression. Opposite, Zoe threw her a sharp glance. “The answers will come,” said Craig, “as you float. The tank’s filled with a thick, warm saline solution. You climb in, close the lid, and you’re in total blackness.”

Juliet shuddered. “I should hate that.”

Craig gave a tolerant smile. “Many love it. They find bliss there. It all depends on your viewpoint.”

“Where is the tank?” she asked.

“In a cabin of its own. The former cart hovel. Halfway between the barn and the goose house.”

“Ah yes, I’ve seen it.”

Craig waited a few moments. “Some of my methods may appeal to you more than others.”

They regarded each other slowly. “I doubt it,” she said.

Extract No. 3 from “Mystical Circles”:

Edgar said, “You don’t like things getting out of control, do you, Juliet?”

She felt stung. How dare he? But relaxing her professional mask, she laughed. “I admit it’s not a nice feeling, Edgar.”

He regarded her with a sardonic eye. “You won’t continue here for much longer and remain in control.”

“But that’s exactly what I propose to do.” She had no desire for a battle of wills. But if he wanted one, so be it.

However, when he next spoke he used a softer, more conciliatory tone. “I understand how you must feel, Juliet. Desire for self-determination; that’s true of each person here. When we first come we all intend to stay in charge of our lives. Look at Llewellyn, for example.”

“Llewellyn? What of him?” Juliet felt her jaw tighten.

Edgar now slipped into a more bantering style of speech. “Well, I understand he’s thought of little else but you, Juliet, since you both chatted together in his room on the night before last.”

She gripped both sides of her laptop. So he was leaping to conclusions about her and Llewellyn. She stayed quiet, but her face burned.

His eyes remained on her. He went smoothly on. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Since you first came, he’s quizzed me about you several times. It’s plain he’s got his eye on you. Go for it. You can’t stand back for ever.”

Extract No. 3 from “Mystical Circles”:

She experienced a pang of wistfulness. The farmhouse looked very peaceful: a visual representation of everything Juliet felt a community like this ought to be. Loving, tranquil, harmonious…

And yet, here she was, being eaten up by all sorts of worries. Zoe, and her infatuation with Theo. The doubts over Theo’s background. Then the fact that she still hardly knew who Craig was, and what he was about.

Was he hiding something? What really lay behind his dysfunctional relationship with his father? And was it any business of hers anyway? But the answer to that, she knew, was yes. Because she cared about it – despite all her best intentions, she cared deeply. And she still hadn’t resolved the mystery of who wrote that letter to Craig. The writer clearly loved Craig, longed for him to come quickly, had felt guilty about him in the past, but had now been forgiven by Craig. Juliet wanted to know who that person was. She felt she had a right to know. And she wanted to be rid of this terrible feeling in her stomach whenever she saw Craig. Was it yearning? No, impossible! All she knew was that it was tearing her apart.

And then there was the question of Rory and his unpredictable outbursts of aggression. Juliet knew Rory needed to be locked up. But that wasn’t going to happen. Not while Craig, for some twisted reason of his own, allowed him to run loose in this community.

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