North of the Border

North of the Border


We headed north last Thursday.  Throughout the last couple of years, I’ve been enjoying the privilege of working with Voluntary Arts in Wales, teaching workshops enabling people to share their creative skills.  An opportunity arose to do something similar in Scotland, so I packed up my flip chart and workshop toolkit, my hero grabbed his car keys and off we went.


A slight crisis just north of Stafford, when a sharp stone hit the windscreen and gave us a bit of a surprise, but we – and the windscreen – were able to soldier on, battlescarred but undefeated.


Of course I took a picture as we crossed the border!


It seemed to take no time at all to get to our first destination – Edinburgh.


Though actually, we were staying in Leith, at the rather windswept but perfectly comfortable Premier Inn!


Thanks to the recommendation of one of my Scottish colleagues, we ate very well indeed, too, at the excellent Sasso just across the road.

Why Leith, you’re probably wondering?  Well, my workshop on Saturday was to take place at the Botanic Garden Cottage, not 500 miles from here, (and if you haven’t already seen it, it’s as good a time as ever to encourage you to watch Sunshine on Leith!)


Anyway, the Botanic Garden Cottage turned out to be in the loveliest of settings and on this bright, late October day it’s hard to think of a better place to be – except for being outside in the garden, of course.


The story of this remarkable venue was told in an attractive set of panels on the wall of the room we were using.


Recently completed and finished to the highest of standards, I couldn’t wait to take a look around the cottage – once I’d had a closer look at how those panels had been cut from hardboard, that is!


Neat!  Laser cut I assume.


Anyway, we were working in the room through the doorway there, and this room was set up as a kind of breakout space or for small cooking groups.   We were told how community groups are encouraged to come here, to use the kitchen garden and to cook what they grow.


Just as I’m thinking what a fantastic resource this is, I step into the next room – the perfect gardening workshop!  This was set up for a potting workshop later in the day.


Upstairs was ”The Professor’s Room” , formerly a classroom but now a bright and airy lecture room, open for meetings and gatherings of all kinds.  I took a quick look but hey, wasn’t I here to teach a workshop?!


Well, yes, and a few closely covered flip chart sheets later into the afternoon, there was just time to admire this community quilt before it was time to leave.  Sadly, I’d had no time to explore the Botanic Gardens “proper” but next time….definitely next time!


We had a bit of a journey to drive, because on Saturday, I was teaching the same workshop in Glasgow…


This time, it was in more conventional surroundings.  None the worse for that, in fact, in many ways, it was easier.  Fewer distractions!  More space!  Tables to sit at!


Another bright piece of lively community art, too!


When all was done and my responsibilities fulfilled, we seized the chance to go out on the razz with our friend Nigel on Saturday night (!)  Well, not only is he working up there for a few weeks and has had time to suss out somewhere decent, it was his birthday too.  Any excuse, eh?

The Schottische Restaurant at Babbity Bowster fitted the bill perfectly.  When we stepped inside, we thought we were in Dublin, because in the corner, a bunch of pals were playing fiddle.  The atmosphere was great and though the restaurant upstairs was a bit quieter, it did mean we could hear well enough to have a sensible conversation!


On Sunday morning, the geese were flying south and we were heading that way too.


It had been a short but sweet stay and at least we’d had the benefit of an extra hour in bed!


The next socks are underway, too.  To answer a couple of questions from the comments of my last post, my hero agrees that wearing hand knitted socks is like flying business class: once you’ve experienced the comfort, it’s hard to go back!  I find knitting in circles simple and rather therapeutic, plus the needles are short and bendy enough to fit in my handbag, so although the knitting mojo leaves me for a while now and again, I usually have a pair on the go.  As for the Froelich wool, Marianne, I’ve bought it in the Co-op in Zürich amongst other places.  Yes, it still has a card of matching reinforcement or darning yarn tucked in the band, too.  I googled it and found a couple of online sources for it.  Next time we’re heading for Switzerland (in the Spring, I think) I’ll give you a nudge!


Anyway, after another day on the M6/M5 we were pleased when the signposts began to show the South West.


Happier still to drive through Cranham Woods after such a long drive.


Happiest of all though, to be home!

Hooked again

Hooked again

For the record

For the record