My house is gradually emptying, and come next Sep- tember it will even be empty of me! My best Christmas present this year was a letter (on very posh creamy paper with an elegant maroon band round the edges) telling me I'd been awarded a four week Fellowship at Hawthornden Castle ... Huzzah just isn't a big enough word!
As I have said elsewhere, Scotland is up to its eyeballs in fine old houses, but the one in the photo (which I got off the internet - thanks to Dave Henniker) has been the focus of impossible desire for me for quite some years now. Hawthornden Castle sits above the River Esk, just south of Edinburgh and is the home of the Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers - 5 writers get to come FOR A WHOLE MONTH of peace and quiet and somebody else doing the cooking, with nothing to do but WRITE! If you get accepted they call you a Hawthornden Fellow - as in, I guess, Jolly Good - I've been trying to get my children to call me that, without success.
Till now, I've never seriously considered applying for one of the fellowships - who can get away from home for an entire month?! - though it didn't stop me fantasizing about how great it would be. BUT since I will soon be living in a son-free house (which would probably be more accurately desribed as a son-empty house - much dread about that) and I am on my last year of piano teaching ... I did apply. And they said yes. Huzzah indeed!
Reactions from people I've told has fallen into two camps - horror, and envy. The "I'd go crazy - will they let you out?" camp and the "Can I come with you, please, please, please?" camp are pretty equally divided. Oh, and occasionally people say, "But what about your husband?" (To those kind folk I reply, "Don't worry, he'll spend the time staying up late, eating curry and reliving happy bachelor days!")
So next September there I will be - living the fantasy, writing my tiny socks off, with a foolish grin stuck to my face for 30 days. Actually, the grin's there already.