Three days in Shap began in the Old Courthouse Gallery, meeting visitors at my 100 squares exhibition and delivering a community workshop where people could come along and have a go collaging with their own recycled material. It was a fun afternoon with two lovely, colourful and personalised pieces of work completed.
Then I checked into my B and B, The Hermitage, an eye-catching black and white building on Shap Main Street with 1691 carved into the woodwork over the front door. It was like stepping back in time. The hall lighting was low, coming from a small window, three glass panels in the front door and an impressive arched window of stained glass. The light was cascading colours onto the stone floor and onto the walking boots drying beside it. The place was filled with heavy oak furniture, panelled walls and old oil paintings of cows with big bodies and little legs.
There was so much to explore, I spied two cosy sitting rooms as I was led up the creaky stairs , carpeted in tartan, to my room for the next two nights. It was huge with two single beds, a miniature sofa and armchair, television and complimentary refreshment tray with yummy orange club biscuits. The adjoined bathroom had a huge tub with a bottle of relaxing soothing bath gel. I had just enough time to get changed and have a cup of tea before going out to tea at the award winning chip shop. I sat in the restaurant and ordered Halloumi and chips and was not disappointed. Sipping my Earl Grey, I spotted Banana Fritters on the menu and having not had them for at least 20 years decided to reacquaint myself. They were delicious with ice cream and toffee sauce and I didn't regret my choices but decided I'd probably have to lay off deep fried food for a while.
As I strolled down the road, trying to work off the calories I spotted my schoolfriend. We had arranged to meet as she lived in the area and knew through Facebook that I was in the village. Soon we were sat up at the bar in The Greyhound Pub chatting and laughing, though we had not seen each other since we were 16 years old. The hours flew by as there was so much to talk about but I couldn't be out too late as I was working the next day in the village school.
Monday morning couldn't have been any better, the sun was shining into the breakfast room and Jean made me feel very welcome as she took my breakfast order. The fruit salad was fresh, the toast was wholemeal and the home-made sausages were wonderful.
The day in school went quickly as I had a collage session with each class. Each group had different tasks and by the end of the day there was already a good body of work beginning to form ready to be exhibited in the gallery. Each class went across to the Old Courthouse Gallery with their teachers to see my 100 Squares exhibition and the Y5 and Y6 children wrote their own reviews that the teacher was going to use for writing moderation.
I had forgotten just how much bending over little ones teachers have to do so was relieved to have the Radox bath to relax in to before getting changed to drive down to the Greyhound Pub to meet two arty friends that I hadn't seen for a while. I briefly chatted to some coast to coasters that had just arrived and recommended the Chippie that they were asking about.
The Greyhound pub is clearly, newly refurbished. I was mesmerised by the pumps that fill the pint glasses from underneath. After two consecutive nights, I consider myself a regular but this time I sat round a table with my friends and ordered food. We were all delighted with our choices, food was good and we were made welcome. There was plenty of laughing as we talked about different experiences we had had over the years in schools and contemplated the final episode of Game of Thrones.
Day two started with another tasty breakfast, followed by a full day in school. The children worked hard and the results were colourful and interesting. The reviews of my exhibition were thorough, the children had read the background to my exhibition and had included all the details. Here are a few quotes...
"It's hard not to be amazed by the amount of work and skill put into this marvellous exhibition"
"Things I like most about her style is she can capture a moment; each one tells a story and that is why this exhibition is so special"
"Today our class was privileged to go over to The Old Courthouse...the exhibition is colourful and there is lots of fabulous art hung on the plain white walls"
There are some lovely descriptions of favourite squares and each child chose a different one which shows the diversity of the individual pieces.
I left Shap feeling that I'd done a good job and raced home to catch the final episode of Game of Thrones which I enjoyed with a glass of wine on my birthday.