Revisiting Dove Cottage

For a while, and with joyful heart,
I was cut loose from time.

I never tire of visiting the Lake District. This enigmatic landscape of lakes and fells and ever-changing moods was the setting for my first novel. Although the characters of this story still greet me each time I return, there is another story here – one of secrets and longing and love – that keeps me intrigued in such a way that I have to resist the temptation to stop everything else and take up the pen to write.

On Tuesday 12th December, I returned to Dove Cottage in Grasmere, former home of the Wordsworth family, and now a magnet for all inspired by the romantics of poetry and art born out of that vital period in the early 1800s.

Photo: Wordsworth Trust

A small group, including Fen, my mother and myself, sat by the fire in Dove Cottage to listen to Sophie Verbeke’s fascinating talk about the commonplace book (also known as scrapbooks) and how the Wordsworth family used these to store ideas, news, sketches and insights.

For a while, and with joyful heart, I was cut loose from time. Little has changed here. The presence of Dorothy and William – even Coleridge – and other wild romantics from yesteryear seemed to fill the room, which was heady with fire-smoke and candle-light.

Photo: Wordsworth Trust

After the talk, we enjoyed tea and toasted crumpets from the cottage kitchen while, outside, a gentle flurry of snowflakes fell without touching the sacred earth.

Each time I find myself here, no matter how many years between, I find a presence within my heart that is timeless. It is deeply rooted: a home-coming of sorts, and I know that I have unfinished work here.

Thank you to all at Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Trust for this inspiring event.