Broadway Tower sits above the village (and hill) of the same name in the oh-so-pretty Cotswolds. It came to be in 1798 when Lady Coventry, wife of the 6th Earl of Coventry, happened to wonder if a beacon on Broadway Hill could be seen from her house in Worcester, thirty five kilometres away. She sponsored the construction of the tower to find out. (And yes. The answer is yes.)
There is more than one way to reach the tower, including, for sensible people, a road. Despite warnings of the hill's steepness and difficulty by more than one helpful villager ('Hope you have strong legs!' Snigger snigger snigger), I opted for the Elizabeth Bennett-walking-in-the-fields option, and imagined myself trotting out into the English countryside looking something like this:
In fact, I looked more like this:
I am quite comfortable admitting that the good-natured sniggers of the villagers were deserved: the hill really was large. And my legs hurt. A lot. As well as that, the September sun was beating down on my head with what can only be described as, well, heat. I was forced to duck behind a bush -most unladylike -and change into my shorts, which I had luckily thrust into my backpack as a last minute precaution. (By day's end I would even discover that my face was burnt a delicate pink - what I call 'English sunburn.' It looked a bit like someone had applied blush to my forehead. This was altogether unexpected, considering I was in autumnal ENGLAND, and that most people I know who live there spend a lot of time complaining about poor weather. One can only assume, then, that England is a nation of liars.)
Despite these travails I pushed on. I was on a writing retreat in the Cotswolds, damn it. And I was going to enjoy it. Luckily, the discomfort caused by my now startlingly obvious lack of physical fitness began to fade as the view expanded around me. The higher I clambered, the better it got.
At last I reached the Tower. Impressive, isn't it?
And of course I did what any sensible person would do after climbing a bloody great big hill- happily paid four quid to climb STAIRS.
The view at the top was worth it, though.
I have to admit that I enjoyed the journey down again a little more. (Surprised?) Apart from being less rigorous, it allowed for an uninterrupted soaking up of that wondrous view.
Kate had given us all a little homework to do after our writing class that morning- write a one sentence synopsis (or pitch) for our work in progress. I found myself a quiet seat, had some lunch, and began working.
It wasn't so very far to the village again after that. I had survived Broadway Hill and had the first sketchings of what would become the mini- pitch for my work in progress, Gingerstruck. It would appear, with a few changes, in my successful application for the ASA 's Emerging Writers and Illustrators Mentorship Program a few weeks later.
It's funny where climbing a hill can take you, isn't it? And to think I had really only gone for the view.