The Middle Stanley Week-end

DCP_2254This is your first glimpse of  the seventeenth century farmhouse as you come up the drive from under the railway embankment  that cuts off the estate from the outside world. It is surrounded by barns, stables and even  pigstyes that have been renvated into comfortable 21st century sel-catering accommodation.

DCP_2260

Here is the view you might see from your bedroom window as you unpack. The beds are all made up  so you have no chores before you wander down to the kitchen to socialise.

DSCN0554The kitchen makes a wonderful chat room, but woe betide if you overstay your welcome and get in the way of the team whose duty it is to prepare the next meal. You can see Siobhan in the background checking who has signed up  on the rota.

food

Here is the kitchen again when it has become a working area. (I thought I’d give old hands here a shot of nostalgia!)

Now read on for Peter Devlin’s take on his first time at Middle Stanley this last spring.

The Weekenders – At Middle Stanley Farm

Should  you be  fortunate  enough to find yourself in the kitchen of the Main House at Middle Stanley  Farm early afternoon on  the  first Friday, in May,you will witness a  ritual that  is both curious and engaging.  As   one of the main engine rooms  of the house, it is the most natural  place of gravitation for  new arrivers.  This is  where  introductions are made, bags are laid  down like transit passengers — knowing their rest will be short lived, and  where biscuits take centre stage on the pine wooden kitchen table.
As your fellow Weekenders arrive watch them take the few steps , up into the  body of the kirk; the kitchen, halt for  a few seconds,  study the  Duty Rota , show mild amusement, smile and then join you  for a communal cup of tea or coffee.
Finding your room isn’t difficult — it will have your name on it.  Just one  of the many little  ‘Big’  things that  your fellow LWC Members  Gwyneth & Liz will have   already organised.   Please take  a little time  to absorb the stunning views and the  awe of this 17th Century house.   After finding your way around,your   body and mind  tells you  there is nowhere  else they’d  rather  go than to the  wonderfully  springtime    naturally lit Dining Room.  Friday evening and dinner really sets the scene and the tone for the whole weekend and it  is perfectly possible and reasonable to both  lick your lips   enjoying the fare   and  share tales  of  end of week journeys.
The late evening finds it’s natural  point  for weekenders to  take to the stairs or  discuss the  ways of the world into the wee small hours.  This is chromatic free wheeling time — who knows what  discussions or debates might take form.
Saturday mornings and after  you’ve   satisfied   your hunger  you will have  a whole range of workshops that will  satisfy your  curiosity  on the craft of storytelling.  The workshops are a fantastic  opportunity to listen with fresh phonological ears.   Ideas    may inspire you to take a fresh look at perhaps old works or  challenge you to write new works.
That very inspiration  can find the  perfect  environment in a late Saturday afternoon where  there are no  ‘Planned’  events and you can re imagine that new  chapter or  feel  the time has come to  re examine   the aesthetic structure, metaphor    and cadences of those  stanza’s in  your latest  poem. Whatever  you do  you can be sure  of a  time signal  that is  utterly contained  and runs  as if  being   lead    by a master conductor…   The tune is  the choo choo   rhythms  of the  small  steam train   that races  somewhere across the hills.  Should you be alert, with a keen ear and a sharp eye,  and be  near a  south facing window  you might  just catch it.   Wave generously and you never know — the driver might  just wave back.
Refreshments and  writing tales are usually the staple diet an hour  or so before Dinner.  .    This takes place in the   Sitting Room.  I  could describe  its  elegance  for you — but you really have to see it for yourself.    Middle Stanley has a  Un rivalled  reputation for  ensuring that whatever your refreshment; no matter how  rare, will always  be found.  Not because of any vast Wine Cellar or  banks of  Beer Coolers – but because  you  have to bring your own.
And so to dinner,  where you will find  you are both raconteur and attentive masterful listener.  Post dinner  on Saturday is the  perfect  time for some light entertainment in the  way of  perhaps a literary quiz.  Next year the  events organiser; that is a LWC volunteer,,is planning a  ‘Round the Table’  short discussion which   already has a title — ‘Pots, Pianos & Paperbacks’
On Sunday – we do it all over again.
 Check Out is on Monday morning, and having filled your boots its time to pack your bags and  doff your cap to Middle Stanley Farm, set your face in a north  Easterly direction and head for the shires of middle  England.
Whether it’s ‘Workshops’  or ‘kitchen Cloths’ the  essence of the whole weekend  is working together.  Oh, and what is ‘Pots, Pianos & Paperbacks?’   Well, to find out get yourself booked  on board and perhaps we’ll see you next May.
Peter Devlin

evening in the lounge

And here is the lounge where we will all find out exactly what “Pots, Pianos and Paperbacks” entails.

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