What a mild winter we’ve had! Our piece of the North East seems to have missed completely the terrible floods elsewhere. Yes, we’ve had some rain but, for the first time in a long while, we haven’t had water coming through the roof at Bensham Grove. An architect’s quick eye spotted the mystery historic problem during the restoration and, so far, the repairs seem to have done the trick.
Although the weather has been mild, it has produced a sort of gloomy, dank weariness at times. This is also the feeling that our Chair is suffering from. Expecting to be in and out of hospital for a hip operation before Christmas, it is now heading to mid-March before it can be done due to emergencies and cancellations. The term ‘in limbo’ takes on very personal connotations, and whoever would have thought that a contraption called a sock-puller-onner could cause such elation. She was unable to chair the recent Management Committee meeting, which is held bi-monthly, but stories of a rather rumbustious meeting are unfolding and the words ‘Health and Safety’ have taken an urgent place at the top of the agenda. It would appear that we haven’t been taking things seriously enough and need to sort ourselves out in this matter.
Our small, cluttered and exciting little pottery is busy all day long: potters and tutors pounding away, mixing powders, creating dyes and generally producing wonderful stuff. But the accumulated residue is clogging the drains and, due to lack of space, bags of this and piles of that are also blocking exits, light and escape routes, making it a H&S person’s dream (or is it nightmare?). Added to this is the hard-learnt lesson that potters and silversmiths should never share the same space for their activities, even at different times. Potters’ dust and silversmiths’ detritus do not make good bed fellows and never the twain should meet. Lack of space is of course the problem (or, in politically correct terms, the challenge). It is not possible to put two such messy and volatile disciplines in the main house or in the activity hall. There is a scheme, spearheaded by John Sanders, our lovely architect, but it requires plans and of course money, which sends us back to the poor over-burdened Fundraising Group. Watch this space!
Moving on to happier things, we have hosted the most wonderful International Women’s Day event, with large numbers of women cramming into our house, hall and garden. Celebrating the role and the rights of women was the name of the game but it morphed into a right regular bun-feast. As previously mentioned, we are renowned for our fabulous buffets to suit all tastes, and we also had workshops in such diverse crafts as beading, card-making and flower arranging vying with ones on how to make a glorious African headdress and on beauty pampering. Two of our more mature committee members were spotted coming out of the library in a rather shaken condition after undergoing eyebrow threading treatments. Elegant silver hair topped rather suspiciously-reddened brows but did they care? Not at all! They were off to have their nails done next. A little suspicion lingers however that a strong cup of tea might have been needed to take away the heat of the brow when they returned home and took their first look in the mirror. Another more seasoned fan of threading however, raved about the speediest, most pain-free session she had ever had, including those at Fenwick.