Wednesday, 25 June 2008

To The Chateau Borne..

I’m to teach at a chateau in Poitou –Charente and we’re off in a car loaded with art materials and posh frocks. A two hour's drive from here to Nantes and we’re over the frightening (to some) suspension bridge over the Loire. The grey rooftops change to red on the other side as if by unwritten agreement and we spin along the Routes Nationales to avoid the tolls.

Mad French drivers, compelled to overtake, pass us on the most dangerous bits and we have to slow down to let the ambulance through to a particularly nasty head on collision near Niort.

We take a break in a small French town… here is a river loud with frogs, fringed by trees where a charming scene unfolds…old men, a game of boules and a deux chevaux parked nearby… photo-opportunity time!

At the chateau, it’s ‘meet and greet’ time, and I can find out what each student’s needs and aspirations might be, and show them what’s on offer.

During the next two weeks I run workshops in the mornings and tutor as needed in the afternoons. The weather’s unsettled and we have some spectacular thunderstorms.

One lunchtime we all run in from the courtyard with our plates- all exciting stuff.

But the weather’s good for our outings to the market – and to do a fair amount of work in the chateau grounds. There’s a bit of drawing done by sheltering in doorways and under arches, and I settle for sketching a few interesting interiors.

The students are hard-working… for many, this is the longest opportunity during their year that they get to work so intensely and without interruption.

My thanks to Barbara, Don, Enid, Lilla, Lin, Mary, Nigel and Sue for all their good work.

And to Alex, John, Julien and Rebecca for looking after us so well.