Ways with Words is a literature festival that is usually just slightly off my radar. I'm not sure why as I'm a regular visitor to Totnes, the local town next to Dartington. I spot a leaflet or poster for the event and then forget about it. This year I've actually got a ticket to see Ziyad Marar in a talk entitled 'Searching for Intimacy' which sounds fascinating. It probably wouldn't have been my first choice - but so many fantastic speakers coincided with important events at my son's school or doctor's appointments! I was rather gutted that I couldn't go to see some of the foodie speakers: Three Hungry Boys, Tom Parker Bowles, Alex James and Monty Halls are all appearing plus Kim Sayer who'll be talking about setting up the Cornworthy allotments in Devon.
So many writers that I would love to go and see: Hilary Mantel, Siri Hustevdt, A C Grayling, Helen Dunmore, Fay Weldon, Jung Chang.....it's amazing how many great people that will be there.
Dartington Hall is a fascinating and beautiful place to visit even when there isn't a literature fest going on. It's a not-for-profit charitable foundation with an illustrious arty past. It now has a pub, restaurant and newly renovated hotel rooms (not so glowingly reviewed in last Saturday's Guardian by Sally Shalam.) I'm a huge fan of the on-site Barn cinema - small barrel shaped room showing non-Hollywood films. It sometimes turns itself into a music venue - the famous Dartington International Music School and hosted a wondeful gig last year when local band Metronomy played in the Great Hall. We've even cycled around it with our kids. The overall feel of the place is a little bit community country manor and a lot Oxford college with quadrangles.