Posted by: jeannineatkins | March 24, 2012

Writing in the Lake District

I’m back from an amazing week spent with about fifteen children’s book creators in northern England. Other guests at the inn sometimes pondered us as we wrote by fireplaces. “They’re here to be inspired,” I heard one tell another, and that happened. How could we not with views like this?

I made new friends and got to know some better, like my roommate, Amy Gordon, whose pencil scratched and eraser scrubbed as I click-clacked on my computer. I was so thankful to see old friends. What a thrill it was to hug dear Amy Greenfield in the country where she now lives.

Some of us took some short trips in the afternoon. My favorite was to Dove Cottage where William Wordsworth wrote.  Here’s view from the hill behind, where we saw daffodils bloom and heard British robins sing – “Oh, like the one in Secret Garden,” someone said.

The cottage seemed quite dark and small inside, considering all the children and guests who were often there. I could better understand the long walks William and his sister, Dorothy, loved. We got to see William Wordsworth’s skates and his friend Samuel Coleridge’s opium scales. Beautiful old diaries and drafts of poems were displayed in the Wordsworth museum next door.

Here’s a photo from Castlerigg, a stone circle made about four thousand years ago:

Mostly I wrote and took walks. Moss-covered stonewalls, and daffodils were steps away from the inn:

Here’s a view with gorse:

After spending much of the day watching sheep graze, I was happy to come upon one up close and personal.

Two writers led amazing workshops, one of which led me deeper into the main character in my novel, and the other toward a foray into picture books. I found the little boy under my pen turn into a hedgehog and his mom into Mum when I wrote a picture book text, which of course still needs work, in a week. That was a first. Then a text that has been, more typically, coming in and out of drawers for years, took a turn that I think may set it apart enough to find a home. We will see. I guess I brought a little extra hope back, too.



  1. Jealous!!!! But also thrilled to see your photos (so that’s what gorse looks like!) and hear that you turned a picture book around and wrote another. In a week. There’s magic in those hills, clearly.

    • Happy the gorse was in bloom, after many references to the bush in Winnie-the-Pooh! I think the magic was in the combination of smart, kind people and gorgeous hills and lake. I didn’t even intend to work on a picture book…

  2. Ah, you bring it all back. Here’s to Hedgehog and his haircut!

    • Thanks, Amy. Your laughter was the best soundtrack. But I’m hoping to hear more from that music box in your spiral notebook.

  3. Beautiful, beautiful. I had that same reaction-dark & small–years ago when I went to visit Beatrix Potter’s house in that area. It was very like her books–so was the garden they had planted around it, but still…it made me want to get outside and walk!

    • Maybe the dark houses were good for the interior life, but the inspiration came in the meadows and woods. We’re lucky to live in an age of insulated windows, though!

  4. That’s lovely! (And in March, it looks an awful lot like the Idaho/Wyoming border where I was today.) I think I would come home with a suitcase full of new writing ideas. 🙂

    • Interesting it looks like the west! I can’t say my suitcase is full of ideas, but I’m very happy about the little corner that is lively. Best wishes for all, Rose!

  5. how wonderful! thanks for sharing — I love hearing about the new hope …

  6. How wonderful, Jeannine, that you could reconnect with dear friends and be so fruitful in your writing. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a place more hauntingly beautiful than the Lake District. And to be among the gorse – Pooh’s nemesis – heaven!

  7. I didn’t plan my syllabus around my spring break trip, but Pooh is done and for Tuesday we’ll be onto The Once and Future King, Mary Poppins, and Peter Pan. So I’m trying to hold those British accents in mind.

  8. Jeannine, sounds wonderful! thanks for sharing the lovely pictures and glad to hear of the fruitful writing time…look forward to seeing you and hearing more of your adventures….

    • Thanks, Margaret! Looking forward to seeing you soon!

  9. I love your blog, Jeannine! Great photos.

  10. Thanks, Lisa! For once, I was the traveler. See you soon!

  11. Oh how marvelous that must have been to be able to go TO Amy and hug her there. Sounds like a wonderful time was had by all.

    • Yes, it’s so great to find kindred spirits online, but very special to get a real hug now and then.

      • Good friends are rare and to be treasured.

  12. WOW!!! thanks for sharing! (I’m so behind on reading blogs!) xoxoxo

    • Thanks, my wide-traveling friend! Hope all is going well. xo

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