Chitterne Now and Then
Blog Archive - October 2012

Monday 22nd October 2012 - Retreat to Dillington

I spent 4 days last week (Sunday 14th - Wednesday 17th) at my first ever stitching retreat at Dillington House in Somerset. It started poorly for me as I had marked Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th on my calendar. Luckily AM said: 'See you on Sunday', after our regular Friday pilates class, or I might have been turning up just as the rest of the bunch were leaving! I felt slightly better about the mistake when another member of the group, who failed to turn up at Dillington on Sunday 14th, was found to be on holiday in Cornwall, also blissfully unaware of the correct dates.

The bad start did not bode well. I was feeling below par anyway due to BPPV (benign paroxsymal positional vertigo), which makes the room spin when you turn over in bed. I always put it down to my peculiar hearing and usually it soon wears off. But now I'm told there is a remedy called the Epley Manoeuvre, which I have yet to try. It's amazing what you can find on You Tube.

Where was I? Oh yes, Dillington. I chickened out of driving myself and easily persuaded my cycling-mad husband to drive me there and cycle himself back. I figured it would be simple enough for me to drive myself home. So we eventually arrived at the rather impressive house at the end of a long winding drive bordered by sheep happily grazing the lush grass.

Dillington House lived up to first impressions. We were (13 of us) housed in the new Hyde building, a bit behind the main house. The rooms were enormous by hotel standards and I had my first experience of a wet room en-suite, which was equally enormous, to allow for wheelchair access.

Our studio accommodation was a beautifully high-ceilinged room in the main house, but we were quite a tight fit between the walls - seated as we were around a group of 6 tables pushed together in the centre.

The food and ambience were excellent and the staff were lovely. The rest of the group were able to compare Dillington with Urchfont Manor, their previous retreat place, now sadly closed and up for sale. I had only spent a day at Urchfont back in April, which had equally good food and staff, but maybe not quite such luxurious accommodation.

I was so engrossed in my canvas that for once I didn't hive off onto a trawl through the history of the place, which must mean something surely... I did spot the lovely old front door... although even after 4 days at home I am hard-pressed to describe exactly how I feel about the experience. But then, that's me all over. Take me out of my comfort zone and I flounder! Still, as someone said about the kneeler stitching experience, it's good to challenge yourself occasionally.

Tuesday 9th October 2012 - Kneeler 23

We've had the Big Stitch so this latest stage last Friday was aptly named 'The Big Fit' by AM. (The irony in this name didn't strike me until later!) It was a big moment for all of us but especially for AM. The culmination of over two years of work on her wonderful designs and calculations; would the altar rail kneelers fit the space, or wouldn't they? That was the big question hovering over us as Angelo de Cortes brought the wrapped kneelers into the church and placed them on the altar steps.

As we watched Angelo strip off the wrappings what was needed was a fanfare ...... but there was none, even the sun failed to make an appearance this time. The gloomy, drizzly rain continued casting a poor light throughout the church; a portent of doom?

The kneelers did fit the space, and yet, and yet, what was happening between the centre kneeler and the one to the right? It seemed that AM's flowing diamond design had hit a cataract. The two diamonds were not meeting at the join as they should and the right long kneeler was more wrinkly than the left one.

There was a disappointed silence for a few seconds, but soon arrangements were made for Angelo to adjust the fit the following week. He also recommended ironing the kneelers with a very hot steam iron.

The drama over we turned our attention to the vicar's stool and the finished individual kneelers. The stool looked beautiful, a magnificent piece of work.

Some of the individual kneelers had been re-upholstered without the hanging loops and D rings, and others had been upholstered for the first time. Placed on the dark-stained wood of the pews they looked very eye-catching.

'Not-A-Kneeler' was hung in the church last Friday too.

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