Back From Italy – And 2 New Writing Comps!

ProseccoI’m back!

This has been the longest gap between posts since I started the blog, so apologies but I have been taking a break in Umbria for a couple of weeks and just to put us all in an Italian frame of mind (well, we’ve got the weather, haven’t we?!), I’ve temporarily changed my header.

I spent the first week at Arte Umbria, with my buddy Chris, on Sue Moorcroft’s excellent Fiction Writing Course.

Sue’s written all about it on her blog here and posted some fabulous photos. I met two of the lovely ‘Romaniacs’, Laura and Celia, on the course too and Laura has blogged all about the holiday here.

So, what can I tell you? Well, the outward journey involved a lot of RUNNING!

1.Nattering away, with a coffee at the airport, Chris and I suddenly noticed that the departure board said ‘LAST CALL’ for our flight to Rome. Drinks abandoned, we dashed to the gate (with an occasional ‘skip’). No, we weren’t panicking at all.

2.Train tickets duly bought at Rome airport, we spotted the Leonardo da Vinci express – our train – and there was just time to get it, as the guard blew his whistle (a lot!). We had to punch our tickets in the machine and then sprint, push our way on, through the people standing by the door and nearly losing our cases down the (big) gap in the process.

3. Then, when we reached Roma Termini (ooh, get me with all the lingo), we had to transfer to the train to Fabro-Ficulle (hmm, we weren’t too sure how to pronounce that either).

Anyway, we thought we were on the right platform (we sat there for an hour and even had lunch!) but, with three minutes to go, we heard an announcement that the train was about to depart from somewhere else, which turned out to be about half a mile away (platform ‘Due Est’ will haunt my dreams forever).

We pelted up and down platforms, dragging our cases, shouting things like ‘Hold the train!’ and ‘Follow That Man!’ And fortunately, the lovely guard (ooh, I could have kissed him but, being hot and sweaty, I refrained), let us leap on board seconds before the train pulled out, thus saving us a two hour wait for the next train and an embarrassing phone call to our hosts, who were meeting us at the station.

It was about ten minutes before we could speak and about half an hour before our heart rates returned to something near normal. As we were sitting amongst cool, sophisticated and clearly bemused Italians, this only added to our discomfort!

And everyone else on the course – including the tutor, Sue Moocroft? They caught the Perugia flight, were picked up at the airport and didn’t have any of this hassle. In fact, when we arrived they’d had lunch and were polishing off a bottle or two of prosecco! Hmm…

(Sue’s running the course again next year, so take my advice, if you go and take the Perugia travel option! Unless you like stress and running, of course…)

The long road to recovery, after that journey...

The long road to recovery, after that journey…

In between our sessions with Sue, visits to the nearby town of Orvieto, a restored Franciscan convent, a castle for wine tasting with the Marquesi (it had to be done), synchronised swimming in the pool, playing with the gorgeous dogs, sunbathing, watching Andy Murray win Wimbledon (yeee haaa!) and a tiny bit of karoke on the last night, there wasn’t a huge amount of time for me to get lots of writing done, I must admit (my OWN FAULT!) but I have come back feeling inspired and raring to go, so that’s all good! (I’d like to say ‘relaxed’ too but as I started my new job within 4 hours of returning to the UK, I am hot and slightly frazzled but I won’t go in to all that now, suffice to say, I have to get to grips with a new laptop, ‘Gmail’, which I’ve never used before and a mobile phone that doesn’t have a signal. La la laaaa!)

Dinner 'out'! Don't we scrub up well?

Dinner ‘out’! Don’t we scrub up well?

I spent the second week in Italy in a castle that dated back to the crusades… but I’ll save that for my next post. It’s time for some writing stuff!

Writers Bureau Monthly Competition – c/d 31st July

The Writers Bureau are running their usual free monthly writing competition and this time you can win a “How to Write Biographies, Memoirs and Family Histories” course.

All you have to do is tell them whose biography you’d write –and why – in 100 words. Simples! You’ve got until 31st July to enter and all the details are here. (This competition is open to anyone, wherever you are in the world, by the way. Their courses are correspondence courses, so you don’t have to be in the UK to take part!)

The Big Issue In The North: New Writing Award

The ‘Big Issue In The North’ is running a writing competition, with a fabulous first prize of £1000. It does cost a rather hefty £10 to enter one piece of fiction, up to 3000 words (but just £2 for subsequent entries), but all the proceeds go to the charity, so if you’d like to support a good cause and have a chance to win a lovely prize for your writing, have a look here for all the details and the entry form.

As there’s an awards ceremony for the winners, I suspect this is a UK-only comp but I can’t see that anywhere on the website.
NB: there’s not long for this one – it closes on 1st August 2013.

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12 Responses to Back From Italy – And 2 New Writing Comps!

  1. Wendy Clarke says:

    Lovely to have you back with us, Helen. What a lovely time you’ve had. Good job Tracy and I were not with you or your journey might have involved assassination attempts as well!

  2. Lesley says:

    The Franciscan Convent looks beautiful and what a spectacular setting!

  3. suemoorcroft says:

    Great post, Helen. Thanks for the link and the positive mentions. I hope you enjoyed your week in the castle. We were all jealous! Xx

  4. olivespastavino says:

    It was great to join you all for one day on the course. I’m thinking about next year but also considering setting up a long weekend on this side of Italy (the east) in the Spring. By the way how was the puppy when you got back? Ninette

    • It was lovely to meet you, Ninette! Shame you couldn’t have stayed for the whole course – it was great. Puppy was fine (a bit madder than usual because she’d been running round on a farm with 3 other dogs for two weeks! But she’s settled back in again now!). Thanks for asking. Keep us posted on your plans for next year!


  5. snowdog says:

    Breathless just reading about your travels. Having a change of scene is so important, isn’t it? I’m very envious of your trip: I love Italy. Ciao, bella!

  6. Tracy Fells says:

    Read about the course on Sue Moorcroft’s blog too and it sounds wonderful. A week of writing, eating and drinking in Italy – sounds like paradise to me. Looking forward to the 2nd Italian post now, Helen.

  7. KH says:

    Great to have you back, Helen. Good wishes KH

  8. Laura James says:

    Helen, you have me giggling again, just thinking about your train journeys. It was a pleasure getting to know you and Chris – fabulous sense of humour, the pair of you. I look forward to catching up at some point. Laura x

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