Award-winning blogger James Alexander-Sinclair was here to deliver his plenary lecture on why garden designers can all go in the bin, apparently; he was last seen round the back of the fruit store being told off by some angry women.
Whereas I am here for a weekend-long course on how to create a garden blog. It may seem illogical to have an award-winning garden blogger on the premises and yet fail to exploit him for the garden blogging course, but there we go. So I'm the lesser-award-winning garden blogger helping the group to work out the foibles of Blogger's odd attitude towards uploading pictures etc.
But as well as a writing person, the group also get a photography person, in the form of Jacqui Hurst. As well as being a super-duper photographer, she is also a thoughtful teacher, and I feel like I've learned so much from her in the last 24 hours (never mind the actual paying students).
In one exercise she got us to do today, we had to try taking something we'd normally put centre of the photo - like these dahlias pictured above- and instead, put it off centre. And she has me thinking about backlighting, reflections and even planning to get up before breakfast for a spot of dewy post-dawn snapping.
I know the Sock is a fan of West Dean and its courses, but I would recommend them to everyone; there are people here this weekend learning to carve gargoyles, make lace, play Schumann and paint watercolours. The atmosphere is so peaceful, with rolling hills, baaing sheep and no mobile phone reception. And the food is excessively delicious and I fully expect to be rolling home at least a few pounds heavier. You can download the whole course brochure here, and if you've ever had the feeling that there isn't enough creativity in your life any more, I recommend you do it right now.
One watercolourist enjoying the autumn sunshine.