Saturday, 20 August 2011


I’m having trouble adjusting to real life after Swanwick. It was such a great week, I didn’t want it to end.
To stretch out the memory a bit longer, I’m going to type up my notes and a do a day by day journal of my week at Swanwick. Hopefully that will persuade a few people to give the summer school a go next year. For me it was worth every penny.
Saturday 13th August 2011
Arrived at the Hayes Conference Centre at 3.15, which was technically a quarter of an hour early. My first impressions were excellent. Te vast grounds were well cared for and nicely planted but the buildings weren’t spread over too large an area which would make finding my way around relatively easy (for someone with no sense of direction).
I checked in to the Alan Booth centre where I was given my white badge and my room key and greeted warmly.
Opening m room 17 I was pleasantly surprised to find a large room with two single beds, large windows that actually opened, and a modern bathroom with bath and shower. The first thing I did was make a hot drink. The first official event on the programme was the first year reception. Anyone who hasn’t been to Swanwick before is given a white badge to distinguish them from the old hands who have orange ones.
This is a fabulous idea. It means that you can ask for help, a dozen times or more and nobody minds. It also means that shy newcomers aren’t left to sit in a corner by themselves.
At the ‘white badgers’ reception all the newbies were given a glass of wine and encouraged to mingle. Next was dinner.
I was expecting a help yourself buffet. Instead, enormous dishes are served to each table and the people sitting at the head of the table serve the food out to everyone else. Needless to say I managed to avoid that end of the table most of the time!
After dinner it was time for the first speaker – Ian Banks, aka Ian M Banks. I’d never read his books, having been put off by an excerpt from the Wasp Factory so I was pleasantly surprised to find that the author was warm, funny and entertaining.
His talk took the time up to 9.30 p.m. After that I headed for the What are you writing Now? session. That turned out to be where people spend up to three minutes talking about their current writing projects and was quite informative. It was meant to end at eleven but was still in full flow at quarter past when I decide to retire to my bed.

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