I like it here...

“I like this place, and willingly could waste my time in it.” - Celia, As You Like It I was taking some time out from working on my novel, willingly wasting time reading Shakespeare when I came across this line. Rosalind, Celia and Touchstone the clown have escaped the vanity and pomp of the court and are have arrived in the magical forest of Arden. I'll be leaving Elsewhere and Paonia in a few days and reading these lines almost brought a tear to my cynical, English, crime-writer eyes.

It's not that people come to Elsewhere to waste time at all – my time at Elsewhere has been very productive, but Elsewhere – and Paonia – are places you come to escape the pomp and vanity of the modern day court and return to nature, good food and community.

I didn't know what to expect at all... I arrived in Paonia after travelling the world for nine months, and although I've been to a lot of places, there is nowhere quite like Paonia.  I was installed in the Gingerbread House, a cute, lopsided little cottage at the back of the main Elsewhere building and, once I'd mastered the art of chopping wood and lighting the stove, I found that it was the perfect working environment. I soon settled into a routine and, sitting at my desk, with the occasional company of Tomato the cat, I rattled through a redraft of a comedy screenplay and the first draft of my new novel, a crime caper provisionally titled 'The Head of Charity Lane'.

Whilst it was great to get so much work done, for me the best part of the stay was the fun I had with my fellow residents, Rose, Molly and Melanie. Whether going out for pizza, dancing like lunatics in the studio to Bohemian Rhapsody, or getting to know the locals, I feel like I've made three new friends and will leave with many happy, funny, unforgettable memories.

Rose Molly and I, all being writers, were honoured to read our work on Tara Miller's KVNF radio show, One Woman's Perspective, and we were all touched by the number of people who attended our final presentation.

Some less enlightened people would think spending a month and a half in Colorado writing was a waste of time, and they might say some people who live in Paonia are wasting their time pursuing lifestyles which don't involve an office job and a mortgage because time is money in the West, but, I willingly could waste my time a little longer in this modern day Arden. I am sad to leave but, alas, I must go to the court of vanity, otherwise known as LA, and then return to the court of pomp, otherwise known as London.

I'd just like to say thank you to Karen and Willow for the hard work they've put in to make Elsewhere such a great place, thanks to my fellow residents for being such great company, and thanks to all the Paonians who have made us feel so welcome in their community. Oh, and thanks to Tomato for being the friendliest cat ever.

HJ Hampson


Twitter: heatherjhampson

Melanie, Rose, me an Molly

Me and Tomato hanging out in the Gingerbread House.