If the Literary Gift Company did holidays, I don't think we could do better than offering people a stay at St. Deiniol's Library in North Wales.
It's Gladstone's personal Theological library, and you can stay in the rooms; I had a few days there last week working on our forthcoming Literary Map of Wales. My old boss Ieuan had recommended it to me years ago, saying 'if you ever need somewhere to work quietly', and I did feel it had the most beautiful, relaxing atmosphere for working I've ever found. I had a conversation with a woman one lunch-time about a retreat she had been on at a monastery somewhere. It was lovely, she explained, but everyone was so jolly, and chatty, and the meals were so huge, the monks all like Friar Tuck, and in the evenings in the visitor's part, they had a little bar open... 'I had a great week," she said, "but it wasn't at all the week I expected. St. Deiniol's is much more like what I'd expected of a retreat than the monastery was!"
So anyway, I got a lot more work done on the map in three days than I'd expected. It's been running over time slightly, as my collaborator Gwyn Tudur Davies keeps e-mailing me, saying 'here's a dozen more names it'd be great to include, and can you fit them in to the most crowded part of the map...'; I am just starting on the final artwork now (Ynys Mon, above) and if I forget to sleep or eat I might just have it ready by Christmas. Seriously, though, Gwyn's knowledge of the literature is far deeper than mine and I have learnt a lot as I've worked on this. And in a way, Wales is perfect for the format: this applies to both the UK and USA literary maps too, but I can't think of anywhere in the world where the connection between many writers and their own particular patch is so strong and so deeply imbued as it is in Wales.
Hwyl fawr, hwyl am y tro, as we always used to say whilst tripping over the step on the way out of the Brunswick Arms in Abertawe.