I left London for Hawkwood actually feeling quite nervous. Was I really going to take time away from my young family to work on my own project? As I drove to pick up my longtime collaborator and friend, Sarah Toogood, I realised I had hardly managed to do this at all since I’ve become a mother – at least not whole days and nights away…
We arrived in the darkness of the early winter evening to be met at the door completely coincidentally by a friendly and familiar face from days gone by! Joe Carey showed us to our rooms and our lovely work space and explained the ropes. We were then led to the dining room where we met our fellow artist in residence, Mari Balsama, at Hawkwood to work on her ceramics project. The dining room was buzzing with chatter from the other tables, an orchestra sitting just across from us, a group of kindergarten teachers at the other side. After months of lockdown it was immediately inspiring to be in a room of creative people, all full of projects they were about to embark on.
Sarah & I got quickly into a routine, starting the day after breakfast with a walk in the beautiful grounds to discuss our plans for the day, before settling down in our working room to write overlooking the garden, the music from the orchestra next door our daily soundtrack. We had come to Hawkwood to attempt to adapt the podcast we devised together over lockdown, Park Creatures, into a TV pilot. Quite a new venture for our working relationship. We have worked together on many projects over the years, but this is an attempt to formalise some of the many characters we have created together and get them down on paper, with the hope of eventually sharing them with a much wider audience.
All I can say at this point, is that the week was hugely productive for us. Having arrived with a blank document we left after four intensive days of working with a first draft, synopsis and episode breakdown. No mean feat, and something that would probably have taken weeks if we’d attempted to do it amongst the hubbub of our London family lives.
My lasting impression of Hawkwood is that it is a very special place. It has a peace and an energy about it that I found hugely inspiring. We will definitely keep you posted if the Park Creatures make it onto the little screen, and in any case sincerely hope we get the opportunity to return to this very inspiring place. Thank you very much Hawkwood, and to all of the brilliant people who work there; who invited us to come and who looked after us so brilliantly.
Full credit to Sarah Thom, with thanks to the DCMS & Arts Council England for their funding.