Friday, July 29, 2011

Craft Camp

I know, I know, I said I was going to be away for much of the summer, but we have just come back from a week at a craft camp and I just had to share it with you, so this is a temporary return for a while ;-)

Last Sunday we packed the car to the gunnels to drive down to Gloucestershire for a craft camp. We were a little wary because we didn't seem to have too much information about the whereabouts or what we were required to bring. Dare I say it...oh, go on as I have been there and feel I am therefore has it's roots in Steiner education and simply was organised in a similar vein. If you had been to the camp before, you were sorted, but if not, you were expected to just "arrive" and eventually you'd go with the flow.

So that's fine and I presumed we'd have a day of high wound-up-ness as we found our groove and chilled out, however, what I didn't presume was that the place would be so bleedin' difficult to find, that we'd arrive crying, stressed and with smoke coming out the engine of the car!
We had a tiny map that had been put on the website that didn't even have the names of the roads we needed, no postcode and no emergency contact number and I was trying to navigate with Richard on speaker phone whilst he tried to track this field from home...yes, mad eh, but the postcode we did have was for the centre where it was taking place but was no where near the place where everyone was camping!
At one point we started off down a very steep hill for the road to suddenly become exceedingly narrow and truthfully, not wide enough for my car and top box! About a quarter of a way down I decided that we were highly likely to become wedged or scrape the car, so decided that we had to come out....backwards. It sounds now, like a comedy moment, but it wasn't at the time and it also sounds like I was a muppet for setting off along a lane that was too narrow, but it became narrow very quickly and this wasn't visible from the start of the lane...honest!
Of course, the car didn't like reversing up a hill, so we had to take ten for me to stop sweating, shaking and the car to stop steaming. Now it has a trip to the garage to probably replace the clutch F***kity f**k.

Eventually we found the very tiny hand painted sign on the un-named road in a farm, parked and pitched and began to frantically find our grooves.

This makes the whole thing sound awful, which it wasn't at all. As I said, if you'd been there before (which I soon discovered, most people had) then finding it would have been easy. You'd also had been aware that you didn't literally take heed of the instructions to only bring plates and cups but you needed to bring your own stove really for hot water, that there was only one shower between 200 people and a supply of water and soft drinks were a necessity. You'd also have known that coming late would mean you were a long way from the communal area (which benefited us at night time as we weren't kept awake by drumming circles or jamming sessions) which meant a long walk to wash your plate, have a shower, fetch a coffee etc...hence the need next time for a stove. You would also have recognised some of the craft tutors so you could have ensured you were close to them when the time came to choose your craft for the week and this way you'd get a space, rather than us who waited until we were told who was whom and then couldn't get on as the 8 spaces they had were already allocated!

Still, by Monday afternoon I think we'd begun to find our grooves and Master Beehive the elder was busy stretching animal skins over frames to make a shield and whittle himself a spear in the Young Warrior group, Master Beehive the younger was busy making pots in all shapes and forms in the Pottery group, LMB was making all kinds of mess and singing songs in the 6 - 7 crafts and stories group and I was learning to make a spoon out of green wood.

Meals were group efforts with each tutor group taking a lunch or dinner session to prepare and serve.
The food was excellent...primarily veggie, so of course Master Beehive the younger lived on bread and pureed fruit that I'd brought for the most part, however, one evening there had been a slaughter earlier int he day and lamb and pork were on the menu. He gained some colour and began to smile again!!

By day two, once we'd made our peace with the fact we weren't going to be showering daily, lentils were the staple diet, that we would, quite literally be crapping in the woods (in composting toilets...) and mobile phones were unchargeable, I was beginning to enjoy the slowness of it all. To be in an environment where we were learning to make everything we'd need to live was pretty amazing.
Although most people stuck with the craft they'd chosen for the whole week, other workshops on offer were leatherwork, blacksmithing, metal casting, musical instrument making, weaving, felting, basket making, diggeridoo making, bushcraft, pottery, warriors and others I've probably forgotten.
We will definitely do this again as there are huge numbers of crafts I'd like to learn.

My next experience of crafting will be next year when i am going to be learning to make silver jewellery. Last week I "doula-ed" for my beautiful friend Emma, who was the true amazon woman exuding strength from every last bone in her body during her mammoth four day labour. Her sweet baby boy, Arthur, was born on Master Beehive the younger's birthday. As a thank you (which she didn't need to do) she, Arthur and Arthur's daddy, bought me a weekend silversmith course. I am so touched by this. I most certainly wasn't expecting a material thank you because I was just so honoured that she allowed me to be there with her. Birth is a very intimate and private occasion and each time a family allows me to be there, I feel honoured, although i know I am offering them a service for which they are paying, it is still a very sacred occasion to be a part of. However, for Emma I didn't want payment because she is my friend first and foremost, who just happened to be having a baby. So this was a very special thing for her to do for me and for me to be able to do for her. So Emma, if you're reading this at 2am in the morning with Arthur nursing and making those cute snuffly noises...thank you, you are truly generous and I am very grateful and happy xxx

Back to the story, it was pretty wonderful to return to civilisation, however, and come home to hot water, mattresses that don't deflate in the night, a mirror (although that wasn't quite so nice initially!) and a hot cup of "my" coffee - albeit, it was pretty good coffee at the camp and you'd earned it after the walk!
However, I am going to have my hair cut today and put chemicals on it (oops!), eat a take away this evening (bigger oops!) and use my computer to put my photos on facebook (bigger oops still!) and look forward to my holiday in a fully equipped gite in France next week, so perhaps I'm not totally cut out for life in a cave just yet ;-)


Anonymous said...

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an outdoor playgroup said...

Hi, Came across your blog the other day when I googled doula and brussels (I think) and was struck by some similarities in our lives, though I'm a few years behind you. Haven't read much but I love some of your birth related writing. Where are you studying midwifery? Would love to make contact by email, as I'm gathering people around me to chat with as I get on the road to being a doula and hopefully, maybe, eventually a midwife. How to do that I wonder?

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