Milford 2020 was postponed due to COVID so, we’d all been waiting a year to attend. There were ten “old hands” and five newbies. Milford tries to keep five out of the fifteen slots for new writers every year. That meant many already knew each other but everyone was very friendly and welcoming to the newbies.
There was a flurry of emails before the weekend, sorting out travel arrangements especially the all-important how to get to Trigonos from Bangor. Drivers in the group were very generous in giving lifts to people. Everyone was asked to take a test the day before or on the morning of departure so we could be sure no one had COVID.
Trigonos is set in beautiful scenery with a lake nearby. If it’s not cloudy, which it often is, you can see Snowdon. It’s amazingly quiet there. Now I’m home, I’m really noticing the noise.
I was a little worried when I read that people bring chocolate along to the crit sessions if they’re giving a harsh crit. And when I saw the chocolate piled on the table, I got more worried. The first day is allocated to stories by writers who’ve been previously, to help the newbies understand the process. To my relief, none of the crits were harsh but thoughtful with helpful suggestions. Liz and Jacey organise the running order so most of the newbies’ stories are on the second day, so newbies don’t have too long to fret.
It’s surprisingly tiring taking part in the critting sessions as you’re concentrating all the time and I found myself going to bed far earlier than I ever do at home. And that seemed to be the norm for most people.
The things I enjoyed most about the week were:
- Meeting the other writers.
- The conversations in the library at mealtimes and after dinner. I really enjoyed talking to people who too love science fiction and fantasy.
- The markets discussion on Thursday evening and when we went round the group at Pete Sutton’s suggestion to talk about what we’d had published.
- The book recommendations as in ‘You should read [insert name of book] it’s amazing.”
There are swings and roundabouts with the accommodation. If you’re in the house, then you can just walk downstairs to breakfast and up to bed and help yourself to tea and coffee without leaving the building, which can be a real bonus if the weather is bad. If you’re in one of the other blocks of accommodation, you have a proper shower instead of a bath with a shower attachment. This year, the weather was pretty good so, I was pleased I had one of the rooms outside the main building.
I’ve been told that every year the daily menu demonstrates what the Trigonos garden has had in abundance. This year I firmly believe it was tomatoes and kale. The centre is usually vegan and vegetarian but makes a special allowance for Milford meat eaters. It’s good at accommodating people with special dietary requirements. I think there were four or five different milks on offer!
Jeremy Pak Nelson entertained us on the last night with a couple of beautiful tunes on his violin. Jacey Bedford entertained us throughout the week with funny phrases recorded for posterity from other Milford years and some she’d collected this year. My own favourite was “It was cheap and near the docks. How was I to know it was a sex hotel?”
We were hoping to go for a group lunch to a fish restaurant on Friday, but the restaurant was already fully booked. (One of the knock-on effects of COVID) So, some of us went on a trip to Caernarvon and fish and chips. Trigonos provided a packed lunch for the rest who wanted to write or go for a walk.
The week flew by. It seemed we had only just arrived before it was time to go.