There’s a hashtag on twitter that I’ve noticed writers use a lot. It’s: #Ilovemyjob. Well, #Ilovemyjob. Writing hasn’t brought me great personal wealth but it has given me the freedom to write and to choose how I spend my day and that’s equally, if not more, important. Being an author of children’s books also means I get to visit schools and libraries in places I would never otherwise have seen. Over the past fourteen years (I was published in 1998) I’ve travelled all over the UK. I’ve been as far north as Perth in Scotland and as far south as Bexhill-on-Sea in England. I’ve visited Northern Ireland twice and even been abroad to cities such as Athens and Kiev.
Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, where I visited in 2010
When an author is invited to a school or book festival that is a long way from where they live, the people inviting them arrange overnight accommodation. I’ve stayed in all kinds of places, from small bed-and-breakfasts to rather grand hotels. One of my favourite places is the Manorhaus in Ruthin. Maybe it’s because I’ve stayed there quite a few times when participating in Denbighshire Library Services’ Book Week and I feel at home there, but I think it’s more than that. The Manorhaus is just so different. It’s small enough to be cosy, yet large enough not to feel you’re in somebody’s house. It’s an old (pre-Georgian) building yet the rooms have modern facilities. The food is excellent and the walls are always full of art. Gavin and Chris, who run it, have built up a reputation for always displaying contemporary works by local artists. Anyway, whatever the reason, I think the Manorhaus is cool. Here are a few photos from my three night stay:
the view from the lounge onto Well Street
The Manorhaus even has a small library, lined with books, magazines and DVDs. It’s perfect for me
as I can take my laptop in there and work at night. Luckily I’ve always had it to myself when I’ve been;
it wouldn’t work if someone else wanted to use it, too.
Art in every nook and cranny. I love this windswept skier in the stairwell. The current exhibition is by Llinos Lanini
Not just any old bread roll. A home-made Guinness and rosemary bread roll. Yeah, baby.
As well as having a comfortable place to stay, Ruthin itself is an ideal place to be based during an author visit. I usually finish my performances by 3.00 pm so arrive back in time for a cup of tea and a look round. The Manorhaus is in the centre of Ruthin, so I am within walking distance of shops, the castle, the library and the Old Goal. New this time was the impressive Craft Centre. This is a modern, wood and glass building funded by the Arts Council. It has a cafe, huge exhibition area and lots of small units off for local artists to exhibit their work. I spent the first half an hour (and way too much money) in the gift shop, leaving me with barely enough time to look round the stunning exhibition Forever Changes by Michael Brennand-Wood. It’s on until 25th November and well worth a visit if you live in the area. I’ve never heard of Brennand-Wood before but his pieces are so vibrant and colourful. I liked his playful, springy 3-D pieces such as ‘Facebook 38’ using badges of famous people glued to black wires and ping pong balls. Unfortunately photography wasn’t allowed and I daren’t infringe copyright by downloading any images from the web but trust me, you’d like it! Here’s a picture of a wool shop in Ruthin instead #random.
Norma Elizabeth’s, Ruthin.
So thank you to Gavin, Anna and James who made me feel so welcome at the Manorhaus this time and thank you to Bethan Hughe,s of Denbighshire Library Services, for treating her authors so well. It is much appreciated.
Bethan Hughes (below) – super librarian