Iona Retreat 2019 news

Iona photography copyright of Sir Malcolm McGregor

Dates for September are 31st of August to 5th September 2019, and will be run by me as usual, with the able assistance of David Clemson.

I do hope you may be able to come to one or other of those courses, or both, as I have so enjoyed spending time with many of you on that magical island in the past! This second course may be very suitable for partners too, though of course they will always be welcome on any course, participating or not.

Read more about Sir Malcolm McGregor here


The Rydal Hall 'Landscape and Inspiration' Retreat is now also open for bookings and will run from 23-25th April 2019. Download the PDF brochure below for full details.


Angela looks forward to welcoming you to the fifth meeting of Autumn Term 2017 on Thursday 23rd November, from 10.30am-1.30pm at Mungrisdale Village Hall. Newcomers warmly welcomed.

Read more about Mungrisdale Writer's Group

Many of you have asked about next year’s dates for the Iona writing course. The May dates are 25th to 30th May, when I will be running my usual course, I hope with the able assistance of David Clemson. At the end of the end of the course, I will have two days break. Then, I am delighted to tell you, Sir Malcolm MacGregor, the internationally famous photographer, who has specialised in photography and writing about the Hebrides, and is the author of ‘Mull, Iona and Staffa’, will be running a very special Writing and Photography course with me from the 1st to 5th June. It will be an extension to my usual Iona writing course, which will run as normal, but this time I will be running the second course in conjunction with the Argyll Hotel, who will provide the whole package including meals. Some people may wish to come just on my usual Writing course, where the booking system etc will be the same as always, while others may prefer the four-day Writing and Photography module through the hotel. Some may wish to come to both, and take a two-day break between, perhaps for exploration of Mull or further afield in the Hebrides. Malcolm MacGregor’s books are bestsellers. He himself is steeped in the history and landscape of the Hebrides and Scotland, and he is Chief of the Clan Gregor. He lives in the Borders and is married to the BBC newscaster Fiona Armstrong, who is Chief of the Clan Armstrong.

Download the May - September inclusive brochure by clicking the icon below...

Maryport LitFest 16-18 November 2018

‘Between Two Worlds’: The Tibetan Black Hat dancers.

Mysteries within mysteries.…

Not in the flesh exactly, but what are the chances of two presenters scheduled for Maryport’s 11th LitFest both independently including photographs of the mysterious Tibetan Black Hat dancers? Colin Dixon’s incredible photographs of his time in Tashi Llunpo Monastery, India will be on display at Senhouse Roman Museum, the location of the Festival, whose theme this year is The Serpent Stone; Between Two Worlds. The exhibition will include an extraordinary photograph of a Black Hat dancer spinning so fast he seems to disappear, while author and doctor Julie Carter will be launching her first poetry collection Is it Serious…?’ ranging from physics, through philosophy to love poetry, includes a photograph of the Black Hat dancers, which have for so long intrigued the West.

The ‘boutique’ weekend festival is once more attracting a fascinating range of events across the Arts Scene in Cumbria and beyond, following the tradition of focusing on an artefact in the collection, and spinning it outwards from there. The Serpent Stone is possibly the most mysterious artefact in the Museum’s collection, a strange phallic object, possibly a grave marker, maybe dating from the Celtic Twilight before the Roman Occupation. With its head looking both ways it seems to be looking forwards to the Roman world and backwards to the Celtic tradition.

Speakers will include novelist and travel writer Mark McCrum who will be talking about the Dark Art of Murder, with his novels on Murder at the LitFest, and Mark will be leading a workshop on Memoir, following his highly successful Guardian workshops. Cumbrian photographer Colin Dixon will be leading a photography workshop on the Friday, as the Festival diversifies this year into more Inter-Arts events.

Marie-Elsa Bragg has agreed to open the Festival on Friday night, and she will talk about her writing life. Marie-Elsa has a new novel due out this year, Sleeping Letters. The organisers hope also to have the Food Editor of the Observer, Allan Jenkins, whose two powerful books Plot 29’ and Morning have proved so popular with readers. Debut Cumbrian author Julie Carter will be appearing with her successful book about fell running ‘Running the Red Line’ as well as launching her new poetry collection. Biographer Kathleen Jones will be appearing with her new biography on Catherine Cookson, bringing together her two previous books, and also some fascinating new material. Author Angela Locke, who is the Co-Organiser of the Festival, will be talking about her new book for children and adults: Mrs Mullett and the Cloak of Gaia, the sequel to the much loved Mr Mullett Owns a Cloud, about an old fell farmer who is given a cloud by the King of the Gods, which was first published in 1982, then serialised and republished by Cumbia Life Books.

Harriet and Rob Frazer will be discussing their long-term project Somewhere – Nowhere, in film, poetry and installation. Susan Allen, Outreach Officer for the Wordsworth Trust will talk about the Wordsworths’ awareness of ‘other worlds’, while the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick will run a script writing workshop, and Cumbrian poets featured in the new Handstand poetry collection This Place I Know will read on Sunday evening to close the Festival, introduced by author and poet Grevel Lindop.

Contact: Angela Locke: Festival Co-Organiser: 016973 71028 or Senhouse Museum 01900 816168

LitFest at the Museum

Friday 16th - Sunday 18th November, 2018

The Serpent Stone: Between Two Worlds

Friday 16th November

10am - 1pm: Photography workshop with photographer Colin Dixon

Colin Dixon is a highly respected professional photographer and author, whose exhibition ‘Between Two Worlds: Living in Tashi Llunpo’ will be on show over the Festival weekend. Colin will be leading a practical photography workshop in and around the Museum. Includes tea/coffee and biscuits.

£10.00 (places are limited so must be prebooked)

2pm - 5pm: Theatre and script writing workshop with Theatre by the Lake

This is a new departure for the LitFest. Participants will learn about how to write for the theatre and produce a script of their own. Includes tea/coffee and biscuits.

£10.00 (places are limited so must be prebooked)

7pm for 7.30pm: Prose, Poetry and the Sacred with Marie-Elsa Bragg

Marie-Elsa Bragg will open the Festival and explore her writing and her work. Her haunting debut novel Towards Mellbreak received much acclaim for its evocation of fell farming in Cumbria. Her second book, Sleeping Letters is due for publication this year. Includes wine and canapes.£10.00

Saturday 17th November

12 - 1pm: The Wordsworths: Between Two Worlds with Susan Allen

Susan Allen, Outreach Officer for the Wordsworth Trust, will present a session on the Wordsworths' view of nature and their awareness of the 'Other Worlds' which inspired William's poetry and Dorothy's journals.£5.00

1.30 - 2.30pm: Photographing Tibet with Colin Dixon

Colin is an acclaimed photographer now living in Cumbria. His book Light and Time accompanied an exhibition of sixty black and white photographs, and examined humanity's earliest interactions with landscape and the ways in which humankind has altered landscape and the environment. His exhibition ‘Between Two Worlds: Living in Tashi Llunpo’ will be part of the LitFest over the weekend, and will show the stunning colour photography Colin produced while living with the monks in this Tibetan monastery in India.£5.00

3pm - 4pm: Kathleen Jones - Catherine Cookson: A Secret Life

Kathleen is a well-respected biographer and a valued friend of the LitFest. In this session she will talk about her new, in-depth biography of Catherine Cookson, bringing together her two previous biographies of the writer and some fascinating new material.£5.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm: Running the Red Line with Julie Carter

Dr Julie Carter is a champion fell runner whose first book Running the Red Line has just been published to acclaim. As a doctor and sportswoman she explores the idea of 'flow' - that moment in sport, art and life where we transcend ourselves into an effortless moment beyond time and space, truly 'between two worlds'. Julie will also be reading from her first poetry collection Is it Serious...? £5.00

7.30pm: Murder at the Litfest with Mark McCrum

Travel writer and artist Mark McCrum has changed direction and written two murder mysteries, both out this year. The Festival Murders and Cruising to Murder explore the occasionally murky world of literary festivals and the contrast between literary fiction and our darkest impulses!£5.00

Sunday 18th November

10am - 1pm: Memoir writing workshop with Mark McCrum

Join Mark McCrum for an inspiring re-imagining of the not-so-gentle art of Memoir writing. Includes tea/coffee and biscuits. £10.00 (places are limited so must be prebooked)

1.30pm - 2.30pm: Angela Locke - Re-imagining the Gods: Mrs Mullett and the Cloak of Gaia.

Angela’s new book is the sequel to Mr Mullet Owns a Cloud, her popular adult/children’s book set in Cumbria, and later serialised in Cumbria Life. Suitable for adults and children, the session looks at the way we imagine, and relate to, the ancient gods in a modern setting, in this case a fell farm in Cumbria. Angela will be launching a Poetry Competition ‘Imagining the Gods’ during the session. The competition will be open to 8-11 yr olds and 12 –16yr olds, alongside a series of workshops after Christmas at the Museum.


3pm - 4pm: Stepping into 'Tree Time' with Harriet and Rob Fraser

Harriet and Rob Fraser’s repeated encounters with seven remarkably ordinary trees across Cumbria, in all weathers, all seasons, night and day, took them on a personal and collective journey which they capture in photographs, prose and poetry in The Long View. They have walked to these trees with hundreds of other people, celebrated them and made temporary art works with them, and asked questions including: How does our relationship with trees change as we get to know them better? How do they inspire creativity? And what can we do for them and their wider environment? £5.00

4.30pm - 5.30pm: Between Two Worlds with Allan Jenkins

Allan Jenkins is the Food Editor of The Observer, whose seminal book Plot 29 explores his relationship with Nature through his work on his allotment, a cathartic experience which enables healing after his childhood as a Barnardo's boy. The sequel to this first book, Mornings, develops the theme of the power of the natural world, alongside the pressured world of a national newspaper. The two books are intercut with memories of his traumatised childhood. £5.00

6pm: Cumbria poetry published by Handstand Press

Poets read a selection of their poems published in a new anthology by Handstand Press ‘This Place I Know’. Hosted by Grevel Lindop. Followed by an open-mic. £5.00

Day Tickets for Saturday and Sunday: £10.00 / day (excluding Sunday morning workshop)

Tickets are available from the museum, credit and debit cards accepted

Senhouse Roman Museum, The Battery, Sea Brows, Maryport, Cumbria, CA15 6JD

01900 816168


The LitFest is supported by grants from Arts Council England and Allerdale Borough Council