When my writing limps and the words won’t flow, maybe because there are too many ideas in my head all clamouring for attention, then going for a walk can help. Put on some music, let the Muse wander where she wants and twenty minutes later there’s a good chance one scene will come into focus. The most tricky bit then is to remember all the words and images until I’m back at the computer.
When a story is stuck at some crucial point, and the Muse is quietly working at unravelling plot in the back of my mind, then a day out works wonders.
Landscape flashes past car windows while I think. I can meander through gardens and meticulously dusted rooms, chat, point out views and admire the gardeners’ dedication or ornate furniture. And many times I come home relaxed, calm, and with my plot issues neatly sorted out.
No wonder then that, with a murder and an exploded yacht to sort out, I was looking forward to our long weekend. Ascott House, a former hunting box on the border between Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire, owned by the Rothchilds’ family and looked after by the National Trust, was an excellent choice for a day out. The spring bulbs were at their best, the place was wonderfully uncrowded, and the garden design was well worth taking time over.
It’s a garden that shows beautifully during the colder months, on account of the house being used as a hunting box. Lots of ornamental hedging, views where you don’t expect them and very formal layouts shifting into the delightfully informal just by turning a corner.
It’s the sort of garden where it pays huge dividends to turn around every so often and look back and it’s certainly a garden that didn’t let my mind stray far from books and writing.
The snakeshead fritillary above took me back to the beautiful meadow at Cricklade…right to the discussions Lord Richard and Cyprian have in KJ Charles’ book A Gentleman’s Position, the latest and last book in her Society of Gentlemen series.
I learned (via a question on FB and from author JP Kenwood) that the beautiful mercreature decorating the pond is a Triton… and then had to go and look him up when I got home.
And then, of course, there was Ascott House itself. Originally Jacobean, and now home to some stunning paintings and a wonderful china collection, it has of course been modified over the years, but only a little. To this date, the family use it during the off season, and I’m thinking that may be one of the reasons for the wonderfully warm, downright homely feel this house exhudes. It’s sporting some great looks, too… and as soon as we stepped into the courtyard that led to the front door, the Muse was convinced she’d found the home of Sir Robert Ludlow… the MC from my romantic suspense story Yellow Roses for Goodbyes.
All in all, a most excellent day out! 🙂