I did not plan to follow a large pack of cyclists all the way over the Cairn O’Mount at the start of my journey to the Lake District which my shortcut far longer than necessary! It is a good job that I had packed as minimally as possible since Kay had lots of quilts for her talks to fit into the Landy. We arrived at Rydal Hall after dark and found it a little spooky at first since there seemed to be nobody else there. During the week all sorts of guests came and went from Church ministers on refresher courses to watercolour artists and hill walkers.
We spent the following day setting up 2 long arm machines and getting our teaching rooms ready for 10 quilting ladies who arrived in time for afternoon tea. Later that evening everyone started their projects and chatted about where they had come from until about 11pm. We had guests from Scotland, The West Country, The Midlands and even Austria. One or two had brought their husbands who would occupy themselves by exploring the magnificent countryside and its quaint pubs.
Like everyone else I worked on several projects and demos during the week. I quickly and randomly joined my house blocks together then worked on quilting circles on a better quality piece of spandex to make a replacement Gold Totem. I bored myself by painting two coats of paint on the quilted rings of “5-Bar Gate 2” and I managed to assemble all of the simple blocks for the bed version of “Dunes Duet”.
We could have done far more sightseeing since we were close to Beatrix Potter’s house, Wordsworth’s church and a flat-calm Lake Windermere but we were FAR too busy sewing to tear ourselves away. Kay and I wandered around Ambleside which was crawling with hikers and I have never seen so many outdoor-apparel shops.
I made a point of wandering around the beautifully landscaped grounds where we were staying and was impressed to discover that a textile artist-in-residence had an Art Yurt in which she was spinning herdwick sheep wool. There were felted and crocheted objects hanging around the garden that looked like they had simply grown there.
Ani,Kay and I all gave talks in the evenings and invited outsiders to attend. One visitor told us that she had particularly enjoyed the comedy repartee when we tried to sort out a minor technical hitch at the start of my slideshow - I had grabbed the wrong bag of cables so we quickly made a copy from my Mac onto a USB stick and used Kay’s laptop instead.
One of the highlights of the week was a trip to the Derwent Pencil Museum which boasts that it has the largest colouring pencil in the world. I found out about the importance of graphite for cannon ball manufacture in the 1500’s and how its smugglers coined the phrase “the black market”. There were microscopic carvings on the tips of pencils and many other fascinating artefacts including WW2 maps concealed within pencils that would enable escaping POW’s to find their way back to Blighty. We had a bit of a spending spree in the shop and I bought a couple of tins of Inktense blocks to colour the plain side of the long-abandoned “BzB” after it has been quilted.
All too soon the end of the week approached. With some trepidation, I woke up on Friday morning and was quietly relieved that Scotland had voted to stay within the United Kingdom with a definite majority. It was quite odd to be staying somewhere without access to TV and decent wifi during such a momentous time of Scotland’s history but we had far too much stitching to do to worry about that;)
We said our goodbyes, offered to hoover up the clumps of thread and repacked the Landy which was quite a feat since we were also taking the demo APQS Millennium and frame legs back to Scotland! As usual, we had fun hanging out with quilters, drank a fair amount of gin and the other guests seemed to enjoy our daft banter. We took a scenic road out of Ambleside and the laden Landy valiantly tackled the bends of a steep hill, appropriately called “The Struggle”.
The worst part of returning from a great trip is putting everything back in its place at home. Freya helped me to perform brain-surgery on the Lenni machine while it was off its frame. New circuit boards will solve the repetitive needle up/down malfunction that used to occur in hot weather. I even loaded the house quilt ready to seat in the morning so I can do something easy before attempting to fix an ancient tapestry bedspread for a castle. I think it will be one of those weeks that disappears in a flash…