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Some birthdays are special and have to be celebrated in style which is why I booked The Landmark Trust’s Woodspring Priory in Somerset for a milestone birthday of Roy’s.

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Founded in 1210 by the grandson of one of the knights who murdered Thomas a Becket, and added to in the fifteenth and eighteenth-centuries, the priory stands on a rural peninsula on the Somerset coast and has lovely walled gardens full of arches and well-placed benches where a writer can sit with a notebook and pen.

04Hattie met her first stone spiral staircase and soon got the hang of going up and down, and up and down, and up and down…

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Now, a surprise party is a lot of fun to organise, but it’s not easy! I booked the priory a good six months ago, making sure that Roy’s artist friends kept the date free in their diaries. With emails flying back and forth and Facebook messages being exchanged, I had to make sure that nothing was left open on my computer and all my own personal notes were written in shorthand! Oh, how many times I nearly slipped up, desperate to share each stage of the planning with my husband!26

But it was so worth keeping the secret and how wonderful it was to share such a magical setting with our talented artist friends including John Dobbs, Karl Terry, Peter Brown (aka “Pete the Street”) and Liam O’Farrell. And I sneaked in a couple of writer pals too – Victoria Eveleigh and Ruth Saberton.

32There are so many fabulous moments to remember like drinking champagne and singing Happy Birthday under a fan vaulted ceiling, being the curators of our very own museum for the week and sitting in the sunny walled garden with gargoyles watching over us. It’s a holiday we’ll never ever forget!


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