On Monday 26th of January, sixteen pupils and two teachers boarded their mini-buses to go to a writing course in Yorkshire, at the Arvon Foundation’s centre Lumb Bank. On arrival, we were instantly greeted with some lovely ginger cake and tea by a roaring open fire. Then we had a delicious dinner of roast chicken which was followed by an introductory talk by the centre staff.
Each morning of our stay, we started with a writing workshop delivered by our two tutors, Christopher William Hill (our novelist and playwright) and Alicia Stubbersfield (our poet). We then, after a spectacular lunch, had a quiet afternoon during which we could write and read silently. We also had one-on-one tutorials with each of the tutors. These helped to improve our use of our senses when writing poetry and to plan our story-lines thoroughly when writing short stories.
Every night, apart from Monday, a group of four pupils cooked for the tutors, teachers and the rest of the school group. On Tuesday the group’s name was ‘The A Team’, on Wednesday it was the ‘Pak Choi Tibetan Monks’, on Thursday it was the ‘Elbow Greasers’ and on Friday it was ‘The True French Chefs’. Every night the food was amazing.
The views from the house were amazing, showing the surrounding valleys and fields, and when the snow came on Wednesday the whole place looked incredibly majestic. We also had a guest speaker, named Dean Parkin who read us some of his poems including a particular one called “Bubblewrap”, which contained an incredible selection of words from ‘bubblewrap’ to Nordic words like “hush” and “bump” all written as a nonsense poem. We all went up to Heptonstall village on Tuesday, to visit Sylvia Plath’s grave. She was a famous poet who was married to Ted Hughes whose house we were staying in. Hughes gave Lumb Bank to the Arvon Foundation after her death.
The group this year have thoroughly enjoyed this trip as you can tell from the many things they have said: ‘A great experience,’ says Jed P; ‘The tutors were amazing,’ says Ella H; ‘I really enjoyed it,’ says Russell F, whilst throwing another log on the fire; ‘My writing had improved massively,’ says Will.
So, as you can see, the Arvon Foundation is a great way to get into writing. Now, time for the teacher and tutor’s quotes: ‘Minecraft is well cool,’ says Christopher William Hill; ‘Stop reading it’s eleven o’clock!’ says Mr Carr; ‘You can write a poem about a poem but they seem terribly desperate,’ says Alicia Stubbersfield; ‘Where’s the trivet?!’ says Mrs Hunter.
Would we come again next year? You bet.
By Matthew Williams, Will Unsworth and Arthur Ludlam