CURES FOR THE FEBRUARY BLUES – MAKING WINTER

Silver Clay jewellery making After mentally preparing for a crazy couple of pre-Christmas months and knowing that we’d be living in a house that looks like this – below, for most of January! I preempted might need a little break and booked myself a place on Emma’s – Making Winter Retreat as a treat for my birthday. I don’t suffer with serious winter blues and actually love the chilly, sleepy, hibernating season – but so many folks do and I think everyone could do with a little lift after a few months of short days and dark skies. Not having made time to make anything for months – I fully embraced the proven idea and concept of Emma’s retreat – that creativity actually, helps to lift your mood.January home makeover Set in a beautiful village on the edge of the fenland in East Cambridgeshire, this creative getaway was just what I needed. With pub lunches, hot stews, meze delivered, cups of tea, cake and biscuits galore, we spent two days in a cosy barn learning new crafts and making new friends. I really did appreciate the time out, to while away some hours in a creative environment – away from the chaos, wifi and work that can easily draw me in at home.Hens pecked around the barn whilst we tried our hands at willow weaving with Val, crochet with Jemima, jewellery making with our host – Emma and finally – botanical drawing with Lu and Emma. I haven’t put a pen or pencil to a blank page and just drawn – for years! It was quite an emotional and surprising experience. This was the workshop that broke down barriers for all of us who were fearful – when faced with a blank page. I think being given a prompt of what to draw really helped and it’s something I would like to try and do more often. We ambled the countryside watching the courting dances of Blue Tits and spotting the first snowdrops lighting up the woodland. Talked berries, branches and hibernating ladybirds, followed Muntjac deer tracks and listened to pre spring bird song.One of my favourite things to take away from the weekend was Emma’s beautiful hand written zine. Inside are recipes, planting and nature guides, drawings, ideas for making wreaths and lots more winter magic too. On Saturday I wove a willow bird feeder to hang up in our Hawthorn tree, learned the basics of crochet (again) – I think I need a week long intensive course to really grasp the concept. As with knitting, this does not come naturally to me and I wish I’d learned when my hands were easier to teach! But I did it, and all with a lovely ball of yarn from wool heaven – Loop London .On Sunday the magic of silver clay was revealed to us. With much oohing and ahhing, I made a silver pendant from some tiny Sea Kale seed heads that I managed to save from the wild winds in our cliff top garden.We peered closely at all aspects of the winter landscape, the bare bones of trees, first signs of new shoots and so on. This is something Dean and I regularly do here, where we live. We are so lucky to have two nature reserves and the coast, right on our doorstep. We notice the seasons so much more now and all the tiny details in the cycle of a year in the life of our landscape.We all seemed to share the same gentle feelings of awe and envy towards the owner of this amazing chapel. With ivy staking its claim on the building and a rambling garden hidden behind high decorative and crumbling walls. It was everything any reader of the Secret Garden or Great Expectations could dream of.Now back home, I keep looking through these simple but beautiful winter treasures from the weekend – excited to steal away for another few hours to create and make more. Back soon, Jeska x Hand written zine

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