Who’s In The Garden This Year?

It’s the start of the second week in August, and time for an important annual event. And no, I don’t mean the Perseid meteor shower, although that often features in this week too. I’m talking about the Writers’ Summer School in Swanwick, Derbyshire. Regular readers of my blog will know I’ve been attending this fun-filled, but intense week for many years; and that I post daily blogs throughout. Last year, for obvious reasons, the School didn’t run. This year it’s back, with its usual packed programme of lectures, workshops, quizzes, performances and general writerly chatter.

But every year, there are regular Swanwickers who, for health-related and other reasons, are unable to attend. And this year, in particular, that’s true. So, for a number of years now, there’s been an online activity running in parallel. Virtual Swanwick (VS) is no substitute for the real thing, or Actual Swanwick (AS) as we call it, but it’s a chance for folks to get together, mostly via Facebook, to share memories, take part in writing exercises, and partake of that great Swanwick staple: tea and cake.

Helen Ellwood, current organiser of Virtual Swanwick

In 2019, I attended AS, but featured VS in all my blog posts. I published interviews under the heading Who’s In the Garden? with: Maggie Kay, sister of Katy Clarke who first suggested VS; Helen Ellwood who organises and runs VS; Diana Wimbs, a former Chair of Swanwick; Liz Hurst, whose relocation to France makes attendance more problematic; Fiona Samuel, a former Vice Chairman of Swanwick; Veronica Bright, who first attended the School when she won the annual short story competition; and Sue Moorcroft, a regular tutor and previous after-dinner speaker at Swanwick. I’ve posted the links so you can revisit them in their gardens while waiting for this year’s activities to start.

This year, I’m typing this from my garden room in Devon. I’m not going to be at AS; but for the first time, I will be taking part in all the VS activities. And I have another set of faces to introduce to you; from gardens all over the United Kingdom.  

In the meantime, we have the VS Welcome starting at 3pm this afternoon. See you on the Virtual Lawn.


By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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