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Arrived at Varuna yesterday and it’s just wonderful, of course. Here’s what I wrote in my journal last night:

It’s perfectly wonderful here. I’m in the Ladder Room, this time (so named because of the ladder fixed to the wall leading up to the widow’s walk on the roof – I might investigate it if the rain stops). It’s warm and cosy and I can hear the rain gently pattering outside. I have a jasmine and sweet pea candle burning and a pot of peppermint tea. My bed looks comfortable and, well, I have to say this is just the best room. I’ve had a sticky beak in the others, and although it would be great to have an ensuite and double bed as in the main room, out of all the rest I think this is the winner.

It seems a nice bunch of people, though I think I’m the youngest. There is a woman called Felicity from Canberra, who has two children and is working on a book called ‘Joy comes in the mourning’ or something like that, about grieving. There is a speculative fiction writer named Trudi from Melbourne who is working on her seventh book, for which she has been given a seven figure advance, but she seems very down to earth and enjoys knitting. There is an ABC journalist from Sydney called Mark who is writing a non-fiction book about death and dying. And there is an older woman named Gwenda from Adelaide writing a book about the Murray and Mississippi rivers.

It’s another early night, only 10.00 and everyone’s locked away in their rooms. Trudi and I sat in the living room chatting for a bit but the fire died and so we left. In actual fact I had wanted to read, but it felt awkward just sitting there in the silence while she balled wool from a skein she had brought. It’s so nice to be sitting here in my pyjamas, at my little work station, all set up like this. It’s wonderful. This place feels like home.

Going to go up to Katoomba now and get some lunch, coffee and some preliminary writing done, then will come back and hopefully write all afternoon.