Saturday, 3 June 2017

Crafty Retreats

Over a year ago I had an email inviting me to teach in France. I said Yes immediately. 
It sounded lovely. 
And so it was. 
A week in a beautiful house and converted barn in the middle of the French countryside, teaching a handful of students who were there to enjoy themselves, beautiful food, accommodation and dogs and cats and a tortoise. 
I was picked up at the airport and driven to lovely Mallety. 
Past the old tree and up to the little group of buildings that make up Crafty Retreats.

 This is the house with the hot tub in front which some people sampled later in the week. 

The roof on the left is the 
 lovely air conditioned studio where we all worked happily together with much laughter and mutual support with absolutely everything we needed.

 Tiwi the tortoise kept us amused hurtling round the garden.

 There was brilliant sunshine to dry the felt quickly

 More felt drying.
The lovely pebble piece and the ammonite were made by the amazingly talented Philippa one of the owners, The floral piece was made by another Jackie.

Philippa in the picture below on the right is the genius and talent behind the whole building, converting the barn herself and building the studio.
Thats a real tree they put there to hold up the roof.

More drying felts before stitch.

 Here's Reggie the very shy cat in his antique pram with his scary antique teddies

This is Oscar the dog who had "a very bad start in life" so is excused any naughtiness! 
(There weren't many) He has to wear a t-shirt because he bites his fur if he doesn't.

And this is Tutu, devoted to his Mummy.

But he did jump on my knee for a cuddle.

They were regular visitors to the studio  and were very helpful. 
Sitting on the foot pedal Oscar made Sally's work move very quickly.

Funnily enough they mainly wanted to visit us when it was tea and biscuit time.

The only picture I got of Bubble, the other much more furry cat, was when she was jumping out of a neighbours window.

This is the dining room, the scene of many happy and delicious meals, cooked by the other half of the team, Fran who also played piano for us on the last night.

On Sunday we went out to a market and a Broccante which was amazing.

I bought a gorgeous old light fitting...I don't care if it doesn't work as a light.

After we'd spent we were given permission to crawl all over the owner's house where everything was for sale!

She had painted the murals herself.

After a good nosey we were treated to drinks in the garden.

There were dogs there too.

As we left we met a man with a splendid moustache who shook hands with all of us but we don't know who he was.

On Tuesday we had another trip, this time to the porcelain factory shops and museums in Limoges.
We had a little stop at Pont du Dognon where we all got out for a photo opportunity!

On via the small town of St Leonard de Noblat where the cherry picker matched the exterior decoration of the houses opposite. There was a roofer wandering about quite happily without a scaffold or any protection.

The first factory shop was on a river and very peaceful. It was full of very Chic and very expensive porcelain.

There was a waterwheel and some beautiful old houses surrounding the factory .

Onwards through Limoges to the next museum.

This had a seconds shop and a main shop. These little tea light holders were very tempting, but I restrained myself. there was a lovely sweet pea design. Ah well.

There was some VERY expensive stuff there. Gilded and highly decorated cups at 260 euros each.
A 'Milk Cup' modelled on an historic design, which is a replica of Marie Antoinette's breast on a tripod of goat heads.

Yours for a mere €1184.

I didn't buy that either.

 On our return as we drank Kir Royal from ordinary glasses and had nibbles before dinner. 

Watched carefully for falling crumbs.

I had a cute room with a lovely view. I should have been staying in 'the other house' but there was a bee problem so I was moved and it was lovely to be in the thick of it, listening to the chatter in the morning from the breakfast preparations, so I was very happy.

            The view from my window. 
Acres of forest but sadly I didn't see any wild boars!

Heard a cuckoo though.

Meal times were a pleasure and we were all treated to a beautiful  piano playing  from Fran,  so it made for a lovely 'last supper'.

I love this picture..

But my absolute favourite is this.

I stupidly forgot to take pictures of the finished work that was done during the week. There were some lovely pieces under way when we left an a couple of finished ones, with students going on to use the techniques they'd learnt to do in their own style.

I made a small demo piece when I was there.

Before I went I was worrying. Worrying about how I could sustain such a level of activity for a full week; would I be able to get up in time every day, what if I got bitten by midges, and so on..but I had the most amazing time and felt so well and happy all the week. Ate too much, drank too much and as usual, talked too much!

Of course it was lovely to be home with Brian and Hetty but it does feel odd to be lazing about again.
There are lots of other Crafty Retreat courses available on the website and I'm sure if you're looking for an activity holiday it cannot be beaten.

Oscar is waiting!


Rachel said...

It sounds like a wonderful few days - a real treat!

Heather said...

That must have been a lovely experience for you and your pupils. Everywhere you went looks idyllic. Love all the dogs and cats, and the man with the gorgeous moustache! Thanks for sharing it all. I also love the demo piece you made.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

Oh, I can but dream of such a time! Thank you for sharing the highlights with us though - at least now I can picture it in my mind and if I pretend hard enough, perhaps I can imagine I was there.

Robin Mac said...

Wow, what a wonderful week that must have been, especially in such a gorgeous setting.
Can you please explain something for me - everyone in England and Europe raves about hearing a cuckoo in spring. Do you have only one species of cuckoo over there and does it have a pleasant sound? I would definitely NOT rave about most of the cuckoos over here, especially the Channel billed cuckoo and the Koel cuckoo - both large birds with VERY raucous cries! We are always pleased to see the back of them in Autumn.
I have a couple of very small ornate pieces of Limoges porcelain, brought back from France by my Aunt in the late fifties - kept securely away from small fingers of young children!
Love your demo piece. Cheers

sharon young said...

It looks as if everyone had a really lovely time, what a beautiful place to take a course.

Julie said...

I have a soft spot for anything French and your experience sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing it all. The broccante looks magnifique!

Gina said...

What a lovely time away... It doesn't seem like work!

Marci said...

Your demo piece is stunning and I really like the light fitting you bought. Looks like a great time.

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