Life is short. Break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that makes you smile. We're not quantified; there's no chart of desire. When the roaring flames of your heart have burned down to embers, may you find that you have married your best friend. [Steven Tyler]

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Forty Fantastic Women, Four Classroom Assistants, Three Tutors, Two Tons of Wet Wipes and a Partridge In a Pear Tree! [Edited to include a very important omition].

Okay, so the bit about the Partridge isn't quite true, but it could've been.

This time last week the Graphicus Paradise Weekend Retreat had kicked off. It had been an incredulous journey preparing for the event and none of us quite knew what to expect other than a whole heap of hard work both in the run up to the event and then throughout the weekend.

It all started way back in the summer (did we have one of those?) Glenda and I visited several possible venues between Barndard Castle and Darlington looking for somewhere that was pleasing on the eye with good natural light, comfortable and capable of accommodating forty very enthusiastic crafters both in a classroom environment and with overnight accommodation for those whose needed it. We eventually chose the Blackwell Grange Hotel on the outskirts of Darlington.

The Blackwell Grange Hotel
Several months of planning ensued which eventually culminated in weeks of intense planning and workshop development, product sourcing and ordering, kit making, packing lists, dozens of boxes and crates of equipment, stock and everything else that is required to occupy forty avid crafters for the best part of three days.

The Official Event Name Strap

Can you believe that we chose Friday the 13th of November to plunge headfirst into our very first  Retreat? No, I couldn't either! But I have to say, it went swimmingly and we didn't forget a thing, we ran out of wet wipes, but we didn't actually forget anything.  I think we should run a competition to guess how many wipes we went through from Friday to Sunday afternoon.... you'd be horrified to know the answer!

We had planned to advertise the event in a couple of craft magazines but as soon as the word got out  - it was full.

Ladies travelled from the highlands of Scotland, from the far south of England,  across the Solent from the Isle of White and every point east and west of the mainland and in between. And at 1600 hours on Friday it all kicked off and we were straight into the first session.

Friday and Saturday night we worked until ten o'clock and these wonderful women kept going the whole time and were back in the classroom to start 'fresh as Daisy's' each morning at nine. They were totally awesome! If any of you are reading this I have to say a huge thank you to you all for your unwavering contributions.... you made the event a huge success!

Jean and Malcolm Setting Up their Workshop

Glenda and I taught most of the weekend and our guest tutor Jean Hardy from Crafty Individuals taught an amazing workshop on Sunday morning until lunch time. Jean was ably assisted by her business partner Malcolm and their products were such a huge success that Malcolm had to make a trip to bring more stock so that nobody was disappointed and missed out on the opportunity to shop.

There are four other people who worked tirelessly, morning to night, to ensure that everyone was happy......

Kath, Lesley and Annette

These fabulous ladies were totally incredible, not only did they look after all of our crafting guests so well but they were there every step of the way to help Glenda and I behind the scenes with whatever needed doing, before, during and after the Retreat. Kath, Lesley and Annette - YOU ARE STARS of the brightest magnitude!

There is one person missing from this photograph and that's David (Lesley's husband) who did a fabulous job of running backwards and forwards washing and refilling water pots all weekend, operating the Bind It All and saving our bacon by dashing to the nearest supermarket when the wet wipes started to run dangerously low. He wields a mean tin of chocolates too!

David and Adrian (Glenda's wonderful husband) lifted and shifted us in and out of the hotel and this was tactically a massive manoeuvre  as the hotel's trolley was out of action the whole weekend so everything had to be carried and ran some considerable distance. They also did a fabulous job as the Official Event Photographers recording all the action at the presentation when the Retreat came to an end on Sunday afternoon, you've never seen two photographers in charge of quite to many cameras. Well done Guys... you ROCK!

At Close of Play Sunday 15th November

Well, it's all over and I can't believe that it all came and went so quickly. Never mind, it's all to do again in April 2010 so we'd better get cracking, there's already a register of names that far exceeds the forty places available. April's Retreat is a repeat of this one but we have a brand new programme of events to develop for 2010's Autumn/Winter event. Yay!

I will leave you with some photos of the happenings of the weekend of the 13th - 15th November 2009:-


Just a snippet of photos but if you want to see more look HERE  and HERE

Happy Crafting to All! (And to the ladies who were there and are now back home.... get down and dirty) Yeh Baby!

Edit: What a total numpty I am and I feel awful. I was so excited reliving the events of last weekend that I totally forgot a very important thank you and that goes to everyone back at the office, the team that people rarely get to actually see in action and without whom none of what we do would be possible.

It was great to have some of our lovely ladies join us for dinner on the Friday evening, it would have been even nicer if we'd had time to do a bit more socialising before the late session got underway.

I can't tell you how hard they worked to help us pull it all together, Judith who took all the admin, hotel accommodation and communication on board and got it 100% right and Carrie who's PC skills and knowledge of our new Digital Printing Press was invaluable. The night before the event Carrie was there until the late hours printing and cutting masses of stuff in the guillotine to go into the kits. They were incredible. Val and Vickie did a superb job of cutting all the stamps out used at the Retreat..... that was one hell of a lot of cutting (and it was done at the very last minute as we nearly forgot all about the stamps, can you believe that)? Denise and Emma kept Graphicus and Elusive Images running while we were all immersed in the preparation, no mean feat I can tell you and everyone mucked in to get us all packed up and out of the door. A HUGE Thank You guys - you're the best!

I have one more tribute to pay but I'm going to leave that to a post of it's own.... to follow soon.