Personal Blog: four novels and a weekend at the medieval Dartington Hall

¦ dialing in from the Sky Bunker ¦

Balance. Writing. Work. Social life.  Dreams. Reality.  Juggling slippery balls within the shifting currents of different torrents.

Find the centre of the vortex and everything becomes still whilst the storms rage around you.

It’s been a good few days.  I am maintaining a steady hand on my writing.  No more than 45 minutes a day (usually early morning as soon as I wake up) working on Oakfield. That gives me the mental “tick in the box”, job done, the rest of the day is yours.  Work, the day job as a project manager for a digital media company, is insane right now. Everyone has been at 180% for months which is simply unsustainable. Stress levels are very high.  However I have good people above and around me; I see the situation under control and improving.

The three other novels are now classed as “fun projects”, which means I don’t beat myself up for not working on them every day. I am managing to spend 45 minutes on Broken Fury most days. Sunder Gloom probably has me one night a week.  And then everything, including Rise of the Iconoclast gets a slot on the  weekend if I am at home in Bristol.  I also managed to get myself out on a social with different folks every night last week. Good going! Seeing my friends on a regular basis, a new experience!

Posted up a show and tell of what I’ve been working on last few weeks, four novels in progress:

This weekend I went away to Devon with my lady.  Dartington Hall. Built in the 1380s for  John Holand, half-brother to Richard II, part of its function was to house the knights who formed the nobleman’s military force.  They lived in wings that enclosed the medieval courtyard.  Which still exist today; you can sleep there, eat there (at the White Heart) and generally wander round and hang out. The structure fell into ruin but was bought and restored in the 1920s.  It makes an incredible getaway for a romantic weekend but also, and apologies to my girlfriend here, an epic place to run a Call of Cthulhu horror scenario or even a Murder Mystery Game (such as Murder at Sharky Point, ahem). There’s a large, low-ceiling and slightly musty room above the medieval hall and it makes a fantastic game room.  If you speak to the Events team when you book a room to stay the night, ask them about it – you should be able to use it so long as there isn’t a wedding or conference taking place.

In the picture below, I slept in the 1st floor room (above the ground floor) just to the right of the image. The place has this magical silence about it during the day. At night, the moon was shinning gibbous and bright into the empty courtyard. Very atmospheric. Very good place to spend time.

Dartington Hall - Devon England - perfect location for Call of Cthulhu or Murder Mystery Game - image Fiona Ward

Dartington Hall – image Fiona Ward

Dartington Hall is set in 1,200 acres of grounds. Most of the land is bordered by the river Dart so you can walk in blissful isolation, away from roads, away from people, lost within glades, woods and small hills.  At one point a steam train came chugging past on the opposite shore.  Nice video, I’ll post it up in a few days.

If you do make it to Dartington, then be sure to grab a taxi to Littlehempston (about £10 each way), to the pub called Tally Ho! It’s a co-operative, run by local people and a very energetic young couple. It’s got a fantastic atmosphere. Tucked away in the heart of a tiny hamlet next to an old church.  Walking in you almost expect to see a pentagram on the wall and regulars to mutter hushed warnings about staying off the Moors. Dartmoor is right next door.  Not the moors used in American Werewolf in London.

That’s it.

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David J Rodger – DATA

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