Filling the well in the Charnwood Hills

I had a really interesting time this weekend, attending arts events locally for two nights running (I know – such decadence!), both of which, coincidentally, took place in the Big Outdoors. Thank goodness the weather behaved, then, and that overcast and a bit chilly as it was at times, it didn’t really rain.  This despite the preceding days spent worry it’d hammer it down and wondering how many layers I should wear in case it did.  (The answer was, on Saturday, not enough. Thank goodness the venue provide a hire-a-blanket service!)

Saturday night saw me on a farm watching an open-air production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream staged by the Festival Players.  The Players are an amateur company of more than 60 years standing, and I was very impressed with their production indeed.  There were parts of the story I hadn’t fully understood until seeing their down-to-earth version of it. The staging was simple but effective and several members of the company should consider giving up the day job and running off for a life on stage.

On Sunday I sat in the grounds of the historic ruins at Bradgate Park, listening to music at the second Bradgate Folk Picnic.  There was an eclectic mix of music over the day, some of it more to my taste than others, but the quality of the performers was excellent, their between-song banter entertaining and the atmosphere of the family-friendly event relaxed and fun. (You can hear one of my favourite songs from the event here.)

As with Saturday’s play, this was an event organised largely by volunteers and staged for the benefit of charity (the Park is run by a charitable trust), but we wouldn’t have known that in either case if they hadn’t mentioned it themselves.

The point of me posting about all this is that as well as anxiety about the weather, I was more than a little worried last week about taking a whole weekend away from creative endeavours of my own. I have projects that need moving forward and stories that I promised myself I’d finish off by the end of the summer.  And as the weather has hinted at very strongly this past few days, summer is packing its suitcases as we speak and autumn readying itself to creep in.

But just as the weather didn’t floor me, taking the weekend off from writing didn’t do me any harm, either.  In fact, it actually fed my creativity.  So much so that on Sunday, I took a sketch book with me ‘just in case’.  There were lots of things I wanted to scribble in response to the music, though I didn’t actually write anything, too busy engaging with the lyrics of the songs.

But I did draw as I listened. Nothing fancy or particularly effective, but it was creative all the same, and at the end of the day it’s all grist for the mill.  As author and teacher Julia Cameron says in The Artist’s Way, we need to spend time filling our inner well – our creative reservoir – if we don’t want to run dry of material.

There are lots of different ways you can fill the well, and enjoying theatre and music with friends in the chill of the hills of Charnwood worked beautifully for me.

Doodles by Alison Mott.  Additional material by Archer, aged 2.

The person in my drawing is the wonderful Grace Petrie – who has a cracking voice, writes thought-provoking, intelligent lyrics and gives a very amusing commentary on her songs.



I was possibly the only person at the festival taking photos of trees. I was trying to get the ‘hands uplifted to the sky’ effect of this tree’s canopy (but gave up eventually in favour of a nice warm cup of tea!)

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