So on our day off from the walks, I had to explore the area. First quest was to find Farringford House, where Tennyson lived with his family for forty years, trying to gain some privacy from his many intrusive fans. A ten minute walk took me to Green Lane and a little gate in the wall that led to the grounds at the back of the house. Unfortunately, this is what it looks like at the moment.
Of greater interest was Dimbola Lodge, the home of Julia Margaret Cameron which is now a museum devoted not only to her own life and work, but also showcases more contemporary photography exhibits. It was literally across the field from the house I was staying in.
. . . Tennyson's Gift is, of all my books, my darling, and I won't hear a word said against it. It lifted my heart and it still does. I loved the research and I loved the writing - which I did almost entirely in situ at Freshwater Bay over three long holidays in the mid 1990s. In Tennyson's Maud, there is a chokingly beautiful life - "And the soul of the rose went into her blood" - and I feel that this special little English bay with its sparkling sea and bracing cliffs got into my blood as I wrote the book, and I still shed tears whenever, after the briefest stay on the island, I board the ferry that takes me back to the mainland.