If you’re wondering about any possible connection between the terrible Foot-and-Mouth outbreak of 2001/2 , and an idyllic Greek island, read on! (if you haven’t read my previous post, it might make more sense if you read that one first)
I thought this peaceful picture of a typical Greek Island
would be a more soothing way for you to approach a post that includes mention of Foot and Mouth.
Having gained so much from my first Arvon course, I decided to apply for an ‘advanced’ fiction course, which was to be held at Totleigh Barton in Devon in March 2001. I was to bring my novel to work on and to get feedback from the tutors. This was shortly before In The Lamb-White Days had undergone its final re-write after the help I’d had from TLC.
I sent the first part of this manuscript as part of my application, and was thrilled to be accepted on the course. I knew that more work was needed on this, but I wasn’t quite sure what was missing, and/or what needed to be added. Agnes Borrowdale was already whispering in my ear, pushing for her story to be discovered, but she’d have to wait till I’d got my first novel sorted.
Anyone who’s been connected in any way with farming, or has lived/was living in the countryside in the spring of 2001, basically, anyone who watched the flaming pyres on TV news night after night, will understand that a venue set in farmland in the middle Devon, could not take the risk of encouraging visitors, who might inadvertently spread the terrible disease.
I’d realised this, even before the letter arrived, but was still disappointed. I’d been so looking forward to this week since the previous autumn, and now it had been snatched away. My brain quickly kicked into action: first, to scold me for my selfishness, when all my sympathy should be directed to those who were losing their treasured stock, and their livelihood. My sister, Jo, who had moved with her family to a small organic farm just a few years earlier, was in the middle of an infected area herself.
Then, as my brain has a helpful tendency to do, it switched my thinking on to the bright side, and encouraged me to search out a writing course somewhere unaffected by foot and mouth.
On a recent trip to Cannon Poets, I’d picked up a few leaflets with information about competitions and new poetry collections. In the middle of these, was one that I’d barely glanced at, until now: The Greek Experience – writing courses held in May/June and September/October on a small island called Kithera, in the south of the Peloponnese . There was one on fiction writing, and it fell during the Whitsun week.
I rang the contact number. There was space for me on the course.
Arvon would have been wonderful, but the combination of sunshine on a Greek island, and help with developing my novel, sounded like a very fair exchange. And so it proved to be.