Ladies Camera Club

9 May 2011

Tucked away, far far away

It was the Creative HeArt and Soul event this weekend and all I knew was that I was teaching and taking photos at Woodhill Hotel. So you make your project, order the stuff in, pack it and prick it and mark it with B etc etc. You get super organised and you picture your venue as a hotel in the countryside. BUT WOW. Nobody could describe the run up to the hotel. The weendy windy roads from Hexham were like the little scenes you see on Postman Pat. It was lovely. Then the tree lined road leading to this super duper stone hotel drew you in a like a magnet.

I entered the hotel hoping to speak to someone at reception but there was no reception. Just a cutesy little dresser with a twiggy heart.

I opened the wreathed rose door that opened into an ornate hallway but still no reception. No, because this hotel was hired for the soul self catering use of Debbie (event organiser) and the attendees.......a WHOLE hotel, just for us and us only and nobody else at all.

I passed through the bar, which was being used as a candy bar (just for us!)

V trendy "bar style" wallpaper!
through to the kitchen to see the teachers busying themselves for the Mediterranean supper. I rolled up my sleeves to help get it ready with little sneaks away to go and say hello to the delegates in the best ever cropping/classroom I have ever seen (and I have worked at a LOT of events in the past 6 years). It was a warm conservatory style room, which is normally the ceremony room for weddings) with the best light ever ever ever.

Clare was teaching this class here, isn't it lovely?

I then popped back to try and help with the last of the food prep. I wasn't at all hungry having had the worst sicky day ever in my life with unplanned pit stops to greet the countryside with the contents of my bile-y tummy. My drive up to the event was a bit hairy, to say the least.

Isn't this the best every puke stop view?

After supper, all the girls split up and wither utilised this beautiful lounge
or retreated to their rooms. Now, my only regret is not being able to take pictures of all the rooms ... as they were being occupied by ONLY the events attendees. Each room has its own character, vintage and antiquated of course, with wrought iron bedsteads, or four poster beds etc. Some rooms had original fireplaces, some had pretty little themes. But they were all so dreamy and inviting.

One lucky lady got the "Wedding Room" which was a seperate annex to the house. Inside was stunning. If I ever get married again, Im having this room!The teachers all slept in one huge room and nobody could swing a horse in their own space and hit anything. VAST!!!! And lovely.

This was our bathroom, isnt it "Downton Abbery-ish?"

With window ledges along our hall, all as oldy worldy as this.

And sweeping views like this
We retired to bed at 1 and woke at 6am. GNUH UGH BLUERGH. The whole world knows I don't do mornings but as I was working, I actually did "do" the morning. There was breakfast to prepare and people to serve, coffees and teas and juices and croissants and toast and cookies and cereals a plenty. And then there was clearing up in readiness for Debbies class. Oh my, it was beautiful. A sweet little box filled with treasury treasures including a homemade candle, a dinky tin for sweet memories and this super duper book.

As Debbie taught we were in the kitchen helping out with making lunch and elevenses etc. I broke off for Make and Takes before lunch and then it was Tracie's class. Her very pretty book class is something I don't have photos of as I was taking photos of the girls for images to complete a further class. If you want to see snippets of her class, take a look here.
This is the line up of the super 16 delegates, all in the best light. It was also a chance for me to spend time with them and talk a little as the weekend was flying at a fast rate, I wouldn't have been able to afford 10 minutes with them all any other way. That took a whopping 2 hours before I alighted the stairs and made for preparations in the kitchen and the hut.
Oh yes, the hut.
The most fun BBQ outhouse ever. Only....where were the men? We managed to cook the veggie stuff a real treat first off but come the hardcore meat eaters stuff and could we re-ignite that barby? Could we 'eckers like. Men ARE BBQ kings, I give them that. Girls are RUBBISH - fact! And in the interim, we had run out of our personal stash of wine. So some of us went to TRY and find an OPEN shop in them middle of nowhere whilst Clare set the burgers on to cook. The rest of the crew were eating the salads, jacket spuds and chicken and homemade coleslaws and dippy things as we waited for those darn burgers to get a move on!
A lovely lady, called Pat, drove Debbie and I to the nearest shop (9 miles away). Only it was shut so we went into the pub next door. Where those people in the pub came from (as there were no cars to be seen at all) I do not know. Each and every pub go-er craned their neck to see who I was. I was scared for my life. It was like a scene from the twilight zone. The optics contained 5 spirits and there were only 3 pumps for beer. You k now when you are in a rather poor pub when there are no scampi fries on the wall! I was surprised there was even electricity in there. Eyes bored into me as I asked if I could buy some wine. The barmaid looked at me like I had asked her for freshly slaughtered offal. They only had mini bottles and therefore I ordered 6 red and 6 white (the maximum limit I could buy because they were saving the rest for Sunday lunch rush....from where, I do not know!). She discounted us as well. Then in pops Pat and Debbie for budweiser and alcopops. SURREAL is not the word. As we walked out, tumbleweed spun past us and zephyrs and eddy's twisted spirals of sand past the door.
When we got back, the burgers were cooked! I ate 3 in a row - they were worth the wait...... The evening further consisted of mooching between rooms and conversations and tidying up and me organising photos to be printed for the next day. In the meanwhile, the girls enjoyed chocolates and champagne to round the night off. Bed was at 1am for a very much needed sleep. Only 5 hours later I was up at the crack of a sparrers for a luxury shower in one of the wet rooms. The shower head as big as my wheel trims. It was then down for breakfast prep, cooking and serving before my class. My class centred around spray inks on a canvas with all sorts of lovely little treasures to be stuck hither and dither. Some girls went off tangents to create their own colour ways and some chose to embellish their master pieces how they wished. I never mind about that because its for them to take home and for them to stamp their own mark on the project. It was a tea break and a Make and Take after that before another generous lunch was prepped for and served and cleared away again. Good job there were two dishwashers otherwise it would have been murder!
Debbie had another class after lunch using the photos I had taken. I never even got a picture of that either :( :( as I was away prettifying a surprise gift for Debbie. I'm going to raid someone elses blog for a picture of that layout, it was BEAUTIFUL. Before we all knew it the event had come an end. We all signed a slate heart to attach to a Laburnum Tree sapling that Debbie had bought for the owners to plant on the estate. It was a thoughtful gesture to leave something memorable behind. Then there was a raffle and then goodbyes :(
I had literally centimetres of fuel left in my tank and prayed to god that I would be able to make the petrol station some 8 miles away. I offered to take two girls to the airport (as it was sort of "on my way". We pulled up at the petrol station with signs saying "sorry, no fuel" on all four pumps. I WANTED TO DIE. It did not help matters at all and I was going to be stuck in the middle of nowhere forever with only my layout and clothes to eat for survival. The nearest station from there on was 17 miles away. NO WAY was I going to make it. But I took a risk and drove on thinking I could have rang the AA if push came to shove. I practically free wheeled down the hills and drove 50 miles an hour to conserve fumes! As I approached the petrol station I patted my dashboard and thanked my little girl, Suzi Suzuki, for managing to drive on fumes and hope! HOORAY!
I stuck around with the girls for an hour at a pub to thoroughly unwind before my 3.5 hour journey home. Both Lydia and Claire were such great company as we learned things about each other and shared idle life chat. Then it was the airport drop off and home.
That 3.5 hours journey felt like 3.5 days. I was desperate for my bed. And when I got home, I was literally in the door, dropping my schtuff off in the hall and straight up to bed.
Memories are made of this x


Rosie (Freycob) said...

Wish I could have been there, but sadly not... this time!

Buzzard Girl said...

What an amazing place. Loving all the hearts they had everywhere and all the pretty things the ladies made. Hope you are feeling better x

Sue said...

WOW!!! What a fabulous place.

What a perfect time you had.

Debo said...

What an amazing weekend!

Wish I woz there :(

Scrapdolly said...

What a great write up - I am so happy it was a success for Debbie and for all of you xx

Paula - Buenos Aires said...

That place is beyond words beautiful and with your flair for detail and composition these are the best pictures ever! Love how you see the world. Thanks for sharing. :)
I´m really happy to read the retreat was such a success.

Judith said...

What a beautiful place, so much to look at. Wonderful x

Catie Cuddles said...

Wow what a place - and what a lovely time you had!