My perfect Bank Holiday weekend? It goes something like this. On Saturday morning, I wake up in a quiet corner of the countryside, handily close to the coast. After breakfast, I potter along to one of the most beautiful Arts-and-Crafts houses in England, and am given the run of the grounds by the owner. There, I spend the day chatting about matters cultural with like-minded souls, admiring exquisite rare books and wandering around the gardens. After dinner-fish and chips, perhaps-I listen to acoustic music with a glass of wine in my hand as the sun sets, before having a bedtime story read to me. On Sunday and Monday? More of the same, please.
As it happens, antiquarian-book dealer Simon Finch is about to make my dreams come true. This coming August Bank Holiday weekend (August 27-29), he’ll be opening the doors of Voewood, his North Norfolk home (described in a 1909 issue of Country Life as having ‘an air of sweetness, light and spaciousness’), for the inaugural Voewood Festival, a three-day extravaganza billed as ‘the literary garden party of the year’.
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What can book-loving visitors expect to find ? Well, the line-up is packed with big names such as Diana Athill, Louis de Bernières, Esther Freud and Rowan Pelling. London Zoo artist-in-residence Bridget Nicholls will be leading family-friendly wildlife-watching walks around the grounds. Aspiring writers will want to take full advantage of the free masterclasses on plotting, finding a voice, the art of the short story and writing for the screen, and may hope to attract the attention of literary talent scout Louise Allen-Jones. You can forget everything you thought you knew about festival food, too-delicious, locally sourced goodies will be available throughout.
It sounds wonderful, and I hope to see some Country Life readers there. I’ll be the one flinging pages of my unpublished novel (it’s hard to describe-I suppose it’s sort of a cross between Five Go To Smuggler’s Top and The War of the Worlds, but with pandas and a bit of cannibalism) at Louise Allen-Jones.
Voewood, High Kelling, Norfolk, NR25 6QS. For further information on the Voewood Festival and to purchase tickets, telephone 0845 519 8581, or visit www.voewoodfestival.com