Month: July 2017


An article I read recently in a magazine for writers mentioned those writing goals made so confidently and with such enthusiasm at the beginning of the year, and how many had actually been achieved now we’ve passed the half-way mark. I must admit it resonated, and reminded me of my own New Year’s determination to get my book project underway, and how well – or not – I was doing.
I have to confess progress has been slower than I either wanted or expected, but as the author of the article said, life does get in the way for all of us in one way or another, and therefore so does the need to readjust how some of those goals are prioritised.
That said I had planned on winter, with its colder weather that makes being outside in the garden a lot less appealing, being the perfect time to get on with producing those 1000 words; the magic number many writers aspire to write each day. However while writing those 1000 words may often have been achieved, they haven’t necessarily contributed much towards the progression of this book.
Writers are renowned for being procrastinators of course, and I freely confess to being a fully paid-up member of the Procrastinating Writers Society (should one exist), but while the bread and butter writing naturally must take precedence, my goal for the remainder of this year is to manage my time more efficiently so I DO actually have some to set aside purely for working on my book.
It will be hard. Volunteering is a big part of my life now and social media is a huge distraction – especially when I help admin several pages in my capacity as a volunteer – and I’m actively seeking opportunities for more paid work, but writing this book is important. Not just for me, but for all those who’ve agreed to share their stories and are trusting me to shape them into an account of how everyday individuals became key members of a community that challenged a powerful timber company’s decision to build a massively polluting pulp mill, fought a David and Goliath battle – and won.

Location puzzle

We’re currently enjoying seeing the celebrated Downton Abbey series, thanks to the loan of the boxed set of DVDs. I already knew the pile of stones that is the fictional Downton, is really Highclere Castle, a UK stately home I know reasonably well since Highclere village is where my grandmother and aunts lived. I’ve often walked the castle grounds, and toured the house – most memorably in the ’80s after renovations revealed a trove of Tut’s treasures hidden away in a secret cupboard, and later exhibited in the castle basement before being sent off to – presumably – the British Museum. It was a fascinating time.
But while I’m enjoying the Downton story, my disbelief often fails to be entirely suspended because the location simply doesn’t ring true.
Highclere is in Berkshire – a county of lush, rolling and very picturesque English countryside, and which if I’m honest is a bit claustrophobic for one who prefers the wild beauty and clean air of windswept craggy Yorkshire moors. Yet my native Yorkshire is where Downton is set. In the vicinity of Ripon to be precise, so the accents – and the chiselled stone buildings – are all North of England. It therefore jars to see Highclere Castle, which is built of the warm, mellowed red bricks common to the county, taken completely out of context for the purposes of television, and transported to the Yorkshire Dales. It makes me wonder how often this occurs when filming other drama series.
Certainly this series must have been logistically interesting in that respect. A lot of the filming of course was done at Highclere Castle, but then the film crews must have had to hightail it 200-plus miles up the MI for all those Yorkshire scenes at Ripon and Kirbymoorside – and maybe other areas as well where houses and buildings historically right for the period – are located.
Yorkshire has proved a popular location for a number of TV series – and I can remember when ‘Heartbeat’ first screened back in the ‘90s picking the location immediately as Goathland, a village also well-known to me from numerous holidays staying with a close friend and her family, in the cottage they owned there. It gave an extra dimension to my enjoyment spotting all the places that I knew so well, and that were the location for so many of the scenes.

And ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ was filmed a few miles away from where I grew up in West Yorkshire. It’s a show that put Holmfirth on the map, as it were, and it’s profited from the notoriety in all the years since becoming a thriving community that has attracted artists from across the spectrum, and that hosts a renowned arts festival every year.

Meanwhile back to Downton Abbey, where we’re currently somewhere in the middle of series three.