THE FOUNDATION COURSES & TASTER DAYS• Intensive Foundation Course 2-day/3-night (Wednesday evening to Saturday morning) residential courses at Highgreen Manor in the heart of the Northumberland National Park, and Loughcrew House in Co Meath, Republic of Ireland. This is a 'concentrated' version of the Foundation Course for those who can only get away from their desks for a shorter period of time.
• Full Foundation Course 4-day/5-night (Monday evening to Saturday morning) residential courses at Moniack Mhor near Inverness in the central Scottish Highlands.
• Taster Days New for 2016! A series of 1-day workshops at Strawberry Hill House, Twickenham and Tweeddale Court, Edinburgh. An introduction to Dark Angels for those who want it, a refresher day for those who need it.
The aim of all these courses is to discover how we can inject colour, personality and freshness into all our writing, business and personal. We explore the role of imaginative language, and the importance of stories and narrative writing, in successful business and brand communications. Personal development is fundamental to all creative writing and it is one of the aims of all Dark Angels courses.
The Foundation Courses consist of morning group seminars in which we discuss techniques and approaches and set exercises. One or two briefs are set for the course and afternoons are essentially set aside for writing. The main focus of the daily creative exercises is the world of business communications. But everyone is also asked to produce a personal piece of writing during the course.
On the Intensive Foundation Course there is an introductory session on the first evening. On the second evening the tutors will read from their own work, followed on the final evening by the students reading from the work they’ve done on the course.
On the Foundation Course the tutors hold writers' surgeries during the afternoons, giving each student the opportunity of a half-hour individual session. The evenings are given over to readings from the tutors and a midweek guest, and on the final night, readings by the students themselves.
The Taster Days are an introduction to, or a reminder of, the Dark Angels philosophy and the exercises and ensuing discussions that make Dark Angels courses unlike anything else, anywhere.
Highgreen Manor, a Grade 2 listed building, is a Scottish baronial extravaganza built in 1894 for Charles William Bell, a Durham mine owner. The architect was W.J. Ancell of Clifford Inn in London. There has been a house on the site since at least the mid-18th century when coal and lead were mined nearby.
The Manor is at the centre of an estate that extends over 5000 acres of wild, open moorland. Gradually the old farm buildings are being restored to house new enterprises at Highgreen which, since 2000, has been home to leading independent poetry publisher Bloodaxe Books, and to VARC which funds a yearly residency for visual artists as well special arts projects involving the local community.
Historic Loughcrew House became the seat of a branch of the Norman-Irish Plunkett family, whose most famous member became the martyred St Oliver Plunkett. His church sits in the estate's 200 acres of parkland. The Plunketts were involved in running the Irish Confederacy of the 1640s and were dispossessed in the Cromwellian Settlement of 1652.The estate then passed to the Naper family. Following a series of fires, in 1964, the three Naper sons went to court and requested that the state allow the family trust to be broken up and the estate divided between them. The house and gardens have since been restored by Charles and Emily Naper, who open the gardens and run an annual opera festival.
Moniack Mhor, Scotland's Creative Writing Centre, is a traditional croft house commanding panoramic views over Highland landscapes with forest walks nearby. Close to Loch Ness, the house is surrounded by heather and silver birches and the table plateau of Ben Wyvis, one of Scotland's highest mountains. Kiltarlity village is four miles away.
Accommodation – Moniack Mhor has eight single and four twin rooms. On the Dark Angels foundation course everyone is guaranteed a room to themselves. Moniack Mhor has a hearing induction loop and the main work/living space is fully accessible.
Strawberry Hill House
Strawberry Hill House is Britain's finest example of Georgian Gothic Revival architecture and interior decoration. It began life in 1698 as a modest house, built by the coachmen of the Earl of Bradford. It was transformed into 'a little Gothic castle' by Horace Walpole, man of letters and the son of England's first Prime Minister.
Between 1747 and 1792 Walpole doubled its size, creating Gothic rooms and adding towers and battlements in fulfilment of his dream. Full of atmosphere and literary associations, Strawberry Hill is a place to awaken even the weariest of imaginations.
A carved doorway at Tweeddale Court bears the date 1576. Its then owner, Neil Lang, was Keeper of the Signet, one of Scotland's most senior legal officers, and as a wealthy man he followed the fashion of building his town house down a close, tucked away from the noise and bustle of the High Street.In 1670 the building was bought by the Marquess of Tweeddale, adviser to Charles II, and in 1790 acquired by the British Linen Bank as their headquarters. In the early 1800s it was bought by printers and publishers Oliver & Boyd whose name is displayed over the front door. Today Tweeddale Court houses Edinburgh's what's on magazine The List, along with publishers Canongate - another venue with strong literary associations.