Monday, November 15, 2010

Every time I visit, the Isle of Wight is in a mood of relentless monochrome: sea and sky mottling together in forty shades of grey, so the comfort and warmth of The Grange was especially welcome at last weekend’s writing course. Twelve participants convened in the opulent lounge after supper on Friday for introductions and a thumbnail sketch of their aspirations - well, more of a fingernail clipping actually as with such a big group I was brutal about succinctness. On this, and everything else, everyone was wonderfully responsive. After a full Saturday and late-night writerly revelry too, even our final gathering in the lounge produced some seriously impressive pieces. A delightful and dedicated group, so take note of these faces: you could see them next on a paperback jacket...

Saturday afternoon was our chance to experience the out-of-season charm of Shanklin, a townscape which resides resolutely in the 1950s - though not the stiff-petticoat-and-nipped-waist style, more the grey Dannimac mode.
It's endearing up to a point, but there seems something wilful about this degree of drabness: enough, surely, to eschew Macdonalds, with declaring the entire town a cappuccino-free zone. A great place for those nostalgic for the days when cauliflower soup was thickened with cornflour (creating the 42nd tone of grey, incidentally, if anyone's counting), or for a High Street with hardware store, haberdashers, and a Conservative Club. But times may change: the charming man in bottle-lined sweetshop is planning something new for next year - smoothies! I look forward to trying this radical innovation when I go back in April.

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