Writers’ HQ is heading to Cheltenham to give you lovely lot the writing retreats of your dreams. OF YOUR DREAMS WE TELL YOU. Yessity yess. And why Cheltenham? Because this:
1. Cheltenham Festivals
The Literature Festival delivers a cornucopia of world-class wordiness right to your doorstep every year. Could there be a better place to be a writer? You can book to see your favourites read, enjoy all the lovely free stuff, or just go and hang around outside the green room [tent], ready to swoon over your literary stalkees*. And it’s not just about literature: music, jazz and science will inspire you, inform you, and give you endless people-watching opportunities.
2. Live literature
Somehow, in a town not much bigger than Torquay, we have more live literature nights than many cities. There’s poetry workshopping and open mic with Buzzwords, storytelling with Joe’s Yarns at Smokey Joe’s Coffee Bar, there’s flash fic at Flashers’ Club, and just over the hill there’s the excellent Stroud Short Stories event. That’s without mentioning the many open mics, showcases and lit-crawls organised by the Creative Writing Department at the University of Gloucestershire.
3. The green
Let’s face it, sometimes your can’t bear another second in front of a screen and you need to get out. If you’re in Cheltenham, the Cotswolds is your back garden. You can brave the gales for the views from Cleeve Common or paddle in the insanely picturesque Bourton-on-the-Water. Plus there’ll always be tea and cake nearby.
Every town needs an independent bookshop, and Cheltenham has four. Do you like your bookshops charming, bijou, modern and friendly? You need The Suffolk Anthology. The Anthology does a huge amount to support local writers, from hosting writers’ group meetings to organising celebrations for book launches. If you prefer rummaging for second-hand treasure in tiny, pleasingly weird bookshops that look like they might be run by a wizard, you need Attic Books. There are no posters, no leaflets. There is no coffee or WiFi. There are just books. Lots and lots of books. If you like a happy medium there’s Moss Books, and for comic book/graphic novel fans there’s Proud Lion.
5. Cheltenham Racecourse’s Festival Week
No, no, listen. Listen. What could be more productive than the centre of town being a no-go war zone full of slicked-down Guy Ritchie wannabes and drunk douches in four-leaf-clover top hats? Nothing is going to encourage you to knuckle down and get some work done like the knowledge that you can’t fuck around at Boston Tea Party having brunch because Boston Tea Party is knee-deep in tweed and those circular fur hat things. This is a great time to lock yourself in and write. Alternatively, rent out your house for £10,000 for the week and spend it all on a writing retreat on a Greek island. Job done.
*This really happens.