Apart from planned trips to India and Australia to research two of my books, these days I usually plan my holidays around painting – choosing locations I’ve never visited before and where I think there might be interesting landscapes. There have however been two short break holidays that were entirely down to my becoming inspired by reading a book.

The first was a few years ago when I was reading Jessie Burton’s The Miniaturist. I was so captivated by her descriptions of life in fifteenth century Amsterdam that I immediately wanted to immerse myself in the place. I’d visited ‘The Dam’ many times before but always for work and I’d had little opportunity for proper touristy exploration. I put the book down, went online and booked a last minute cheap trip for the following day. After a wonderful weekend I wrote about my time there here and I reviewed The Miniaturist here.

The second time was a few weeks back. I was reading an advance review copy of Roz Morris’s fabulous new book, Not Quite Lost, Travels Without A Sense of Direction. Roz, better known for her beautifully written fiction and her non fiction novel writing guides (and not known at all for her mysterious multi-million-selling ghost-written novels) produced this gem of a book, a image of the cover of Not Quite Lost by Roz MorrisBrysonesque, serendipitous wander through lesser known parts of England (plus a little of France and Italy). While I was reading it, it became apparent that Roz and her husband Dave have a penchant for the quirky properties of the Landmark Trust – a motley collection of follies, towers, former lock-ups, castles and lodges.

Intrigued, I booked a few days for myself and a friend in Keeper’s Cottage, a wonderful gingerbread house –  straight out of the pages of Lady Chatterley’s Lover right down to the “sitting house” where the game birds once nested. There was even a handy shotgun over the fireplace.

The cottage is set in woodland within the Old Warden country estate and has fuelled my imagination for a new book – probably a novella. Watch this space! Read my review of Roz’s book here and my interview with her here.

While at Keeper’s Cottage – which is in Bedfordshire – I also managed to visit Bletchley Park, which, as well as making me feel very, very thick and stupid – I was never much cop at maths –  was hugely interesting and inspiring. As well as trying (and failing) to understand how they cracked the Enigma Code, I was fascinated by the insights into life there during the war. It must have been both exciting and desperately dull – basically depending on your gender. Either way, being stuck in those draughty huts in freezing cold weather can’t have been much fun for anyone. 

image of Bletchley Park library

The Library in the mansion at Bletchley Park

I will definitely be staying at a Landmark Trust property again. It’s a wonderful way to visit little known parts of the country and discover places you’d never have come across normally – all while staying in beautiful, perfectly restored historical buildings WITH NO INTERNET, no TV and usually very poor cellphone connections! A break indeed. I have my eye on one that would make a perfect place for me to bury myself to do some writing – but in warmer weather so I can sit outside and take advantage of the views. I’ll let you know if I do!

So books can offer holiday inspiration which in turn offer writing inspiration. Win-win!

Have you ever travelled somewhere as a result of reading a book?

Clare Flynn is the author of five historical novels and a collection of short stories. To receive a free e-book of her short story selection, A Fine Pair of Shoes, and keep up to date with special offers and news from Clare, sign up here.

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