Breaks and Bloomers

by Gail Cowley

What would you like to do on a summer holiday? Would it be a time for lazy relaxation, quiet contemplation, exploring new places, meeting new people, recharging batteries or simply a time to spend with the family?

Everyone has their own idea of what will constitute the perfect summer break. For some it is two weeks lying on the beach, slowly roasting. For others it is much more serious and produces longer lasting effects. A time to do all the things that can't be fitted in between work and family commitments. This can sometimes mean learning new things, and gaining pleasure by expanding mental capacity and manual skill. This in turn can often mean that, rather than simply returning at the end of two weeks and taking up the daily grind where you left off feeling little better, you return with a brand new skill set and an extra interest in your life.

Not everybody or every topic is suitable for this sort of intensive learning experience, some things need thinking and doing time in-between sessions, but more and more people are demanding something more long lasting than a tan to show for their time away. This type of learning also seems to fit in with our increasingly hectic lifestyles better than the traditional turning up every week for two hours tuition at the local school hall, which can be hard to commit to long term. It gives us the chance to really get to grips with our chosen topic by being able to spend quality time exploring it.

A short while ago I was really desperate to improve my French, the enthusiastic result of spending many happy days in the Dordogne. A language teacher friend told me that the best way to do this was to completely immerse myself in the language whilst actually in France. This allows you to speak French on a daily basis, to immerse yourself in the culture and language of the region and to learn much more quickly than would otherwise be the case. I believe that something similar is also the case with textiles. It's hard to really get into making or experimenting with something, when you have to put it away after the two hours of your allotted time (usually with a coffee break in between). The enthusiasm simply can't build over such a short period of time so consequently by the time we're beginning to get into the task it's time to finish.

There are lots of holidays available now where it's possible to learn a new skill or interest. It's possible to paint, draw, and better your cooking or, more applicable to this article, you can begin or improve your textile skills. You can go abroad to do this or you can stay here in the sunny UK (if global warming continues we shortly will have one of the most sought-after climates in the northern hemisphere!).

All these 'activity' holidays, whether in textiles or cooking or winemaking, provide a break from routine, a chance to meet new people, see new places, and perhaps more importantly could be the start of a lifelong interest or even a new career. It's wonderful to be able to get on with something all day without having to break off to cook, go to work, or even clear up what you've just been doing because somebody else needs the table! You'll be amazed at how much you really can get done when your concentration is totally on the task in hand.

So whether it is Yoga in Spain, French in France or even Beaded Bodices at Eccles Farm why not really get something out of your summer holiday this year that will last long after you get back home?


Workshops and talks

Gail Cowley offers a range of day workshops and talks on different aspects of textiles and design throughout the UK and abroad.