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Photo/Text © 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.
The below piece was written for yesterday's Writing Prompt Thursday (#wpthu). The brief was simply to put pen to paper and write about a place which you treasure.
When I took myself off to Pelham House for a late lunch and opened my notebook to begin writing, I had no idea what would flow through me in response to this prompt. As when developing my lesson plans for my writing classes, I write out the various prompts but don't begin to consider what I, myself, will write. It's not until I put pen to paper and write out the prompt, the question, or what have you that I allow possibilities to emerge, and what emerged spontaneously yesterday is recorded below, albeit edited slightly as I typed it up from my notebook for publication.
What place do I treasure?
There are countless such places.
But why go further afield than where I presently sit. I love this place where I've just come to bask in the sunshine, while enjoying a mid-afternoon club sandwich and a cool glass of water with a slice of lemon — a place which is just a half-minute's walk from our High Street apartment in the county town of Lewes, East Sussex.
The south-facing terraced garden of an old town house, a sixteenth-century mansion which is now a four-star hotel. For centuries a family home, it later housed the administrative headquarters of the county council for three-quarters of a century before being refashioned into a hotel in 2004.
The sun beams upon this place.
I used to treasure those moments when, after my Wednesday morning writing class in Lewes came to a close, a troupe of my students and I would go to any number of splendid cafés in town — but more often than not The Buttercup — and after a long, lazy lunch and relaxed conversation, a few of the diehards would walk back across town via School Hill and dip down St. Andrews Lane to Pelham House, and typically sit atop the grass hill with cups of coffee or a pot of tea and let the sun soak through our oft-sun-starved skin and deep into our souls.
A final flame of warmth before it would flicker out beyond the South Downs and be swallowed by the gun-metal sea, and we'd return home, warmed within by the sun, but as well as by the warmth of the day — a day of creative writing, authentic conversation and wholehearted sharing of ourselves with one another, around the morning's writing table, over lunch, and continuing into the afternoon at Pelham House.
A place which is at once beautifully traditional and casually welcoming, a place where I never feel rushed, always feel welcomed, a place I've come to treasure for its affordable grandiosity and writerly good cheer.
These days I tend to come here less often, living as we do so close by, my no longer commuting into Lewes to teach my classes but, rather, leading them all from our home, Behind the Blue Door, which overlooks the bustling High Street below.
But there are certain days and evenings when both Mufidah and I hear the call of either the Pelham House garden or the cocktail lounge within which to rest our sometimes weary bones. We first held hands there, on that comfy leather couch where we've also penned scores, perhaps hundreds, of haiku, and recently sipped Sam Pryor's now-famous margaritas with our dear friend Phoebe after a day-long Saturday writing workshop, and got deliciously silly before returning home to give Phoebe a crash course on early-to-mid-90s Grunge before polishing off the remnants of a bottle of Merlot with the eggplant parmesan we'd prepared the night before.
A treasured place chockablock with treasured moments, close to home and to heart.