Debbie Young Evokes Her Dream Office (with a little help from the National Trust...)

Debbie Young, going places...
"Where do you write?" asked a very pleasant lady at a talk I gave recently to the Cheltenham Writers' Circle.

I gave my standard answer: how lucky I am to have my own study in my Victorian Cotswold cottage, with a big desk facing a window that looks out over the garden.

But next morning, when I sat down to write there, I shrieked as a sharp pain shot from my spine to my ankle, reminding me that lately I had been spending far too long at my desk-with-a-view - and I felt desirous of change.

Prompted by the arrival of my new National Trust card in the post the day before, and licensed by my friend and mentor Orna Ross to fill the creative well with a weekly "create date" with self, I stowed my purse, my shades, and my notebook and pen into my backpack, donned my walking boots, and set off to nearby Dyrham Park.

The long and winding road down through the deer park to the spectacular Dyrham Park

Ok, I confess, I drove there (well, it is about eight miles away) - but on arrival, I eschewed the visitor bus service and set off down the path to this beautiful stately home, nestling at the bottom of the deer park, in search of a different place to write my daily words.

A cosy nook beckoned me from inside a hollow tree
This old hollow tree looked tempting. I've always had a soft spot for hollow trees since reading Enid Blyton's The Hollow Tree House (over and over again) when I was a child. Unfortunately this one was roped off from public access.

I proceeded to the main house, skirting round the building - it was too sunny outside to be indoors - admiring beautiful Delft pots of tulips on the way. (This was a few weeks ago now.)

The original owner had served as Dutch ambassador
I thought the chapel would come in handy if my writing wasn't progressing well and I needed a quick pray, but sadly it was locked.

The chapel now serves as the parish church.

There were plenty of seats to choose from with scenic views of the flowerbeds...

To sit in sunshine or shadow? - depends on which end you choose

...although I might be tempted to take pity on the gardener and lend him a hand with the weeding.

I think he might benefit from a bigger wheelbarrow
Wildflower meadows complemented the formal planting, replete with so many traditional English plants that I found Oberon's seductive lines running through my head...

"I know a bank where the wild thyme grows..."
Great swathes of forget-me-nots - a humble plant invested with a special significance in my Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries - brought me back to the purpose of my visit: to write

Not forgetting...

I turned my back on the lake to investigate what looked at first glance as a kind of wooden hammock.

Nature's hammock?
...but closer inspection revealed a forbidding sign.

Then - who'd have thought it? - I found myself on the threshold of the National Trust gift shop. I do like a National Trust gift shop. Thoughts of writing were quickly forgotten as I snapped up a lovely new linen sunhat, a book about drawing (a hobby I've wanted to take up for a long time), and some souvenir postcards. 

Running out of time to get home for my daughter's return from school, I got the bus back up the hill to the car park, and returned home feeling like Wordsworth inspired by his visit to Tintern Abbey, rested, revitalised and refreshed by my impromptu outing, back at my normal place of work.

"Home again, home again, jiggety jig"

And where did I write this post? In Dyrham Park's excellent tea room, of course. At last - I'd discovered the perfect office! 

  • To find the nearest National Trust property to you, click here
  • To find out more about my Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, click here
  • To order any of the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries, click here.

Not forgetting the books...
Find out more about my writing life at my website:


Griselda Heppel said…
What a delightful, uplifting post and what glorious photographs! I LOVE the half moon bench hidden in the half moon hedge. The sort of place full of tempting areas to write - where I know I’d end up daydreaming and basking in the beauty of it all and not putting down one word. But that’s important too.
Debbie Young said…
Thank you, Griselda! I'm lucky enough to live not far from Dyrham Park, yet I hardly ever visit it, despite being a member of the National Trust, but having had such a lovely time there, I'm determined to visit more often in future - whether or not I end up writing a word during the actual visit, I'm sure it recharges my creative batteries to get away from my desk!

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