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Don’t Let the Penguins Out – Lynda Waterhouse

June 4, 2011

The gate was already open…

By the time I arrived on the scene the gate was wide open and there was not a penguin in sight. I checked the pond. It was empty apart from one sitting duck and a few fish. All those penguins must have skedaddled over the South Downs or been bundled into that refrigerated van that nearly ran me down on the lane. I wasn’t too worried. I had other fish to fry.

Barkley the dog gave me the once over and when he sniffed out that I wasn’t carrying any meat products or stray penguins he pretty much left me alone.

I couldn’t believe my luck. The fates had granted me not three wishes but three days by myself at Tilton House. Was I thrilled? YAAAHOOOO!!! This was Tilton House former home of economist Maynard Keynes and his Russian ballerina wife, Lydia Lopokova and now run by Polly and Shaun.

I wasn’t thinking straight and I was badly in need of inspiration, a battery recharge and a place to be still and to think.

The sun shone. I walked on the downs and dropped in for the last tour of the day at Charleston Farmhouse which shimmered in the early evening light. I watched the sunset with ponies, lambs, rabbits and a grouse for company. I sniffed roses that had the most delicate perfume. I scribbled in a notebook. I drank too much wine and discovered Sky TV and watched Buffy. I re-read snippets from Judith Mackrell’s wonderful biography, ‘Bloomsbury Ballerina.’ Slowly the tangle of thoughts unravelled, the batteries were topped up and I could see that the thoughts, ideas and plotlines were still there. I just needed some silence to hear them.

I had banished those ‘hardsell, market yourself, maintain your profile, boost your sales, Tweet, push-push-push, pitch, compete’ aspects of an author’s life. Sometimes you have to open the gate and let out those pesky penguins.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 7, 2011 11:01 am

    It sounds magical, Lynda, and just the place to unwind and let the well re-fill itself. These things can’t be done to order but a few days away in a beautiful place, far from one’s usual haunts, can work wonders.

    I’m looking forward to hearing what those recharged batteries come up with!

  2. Lorna permalink
    June 8, 2011 4:46 pm

    My word – not a blog, but a beautiful little piece of writing. Sorry – that sounds terribly patronising. It isn’t meant to be.
    My attention was grabbed by the pic. and the opening lines, followed by the clarity of your descriptions, and lastly the succinct but so-pertinent ‘message’. I took it all on board. Thank you.

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