Last weekend I was lucky enough to learn how to use my sewing machine on a course at West Dean College. Oh my. It was such a wonderful experience.
It's quite hard to sum up in words what it meant to me (and really, how can a sewing machine course induce any feelings at all apart from phew, I can now use my machine?) but when I think of the weekend I just feel all warm and fuzzy.
By rights I should feel a bit stupid. I was one of the slowest. So slow in fact that I didn't get to try out button holes (although I wished I'd watched someone else have a go because I've read the instructions and all I can think is I have to cut the stitches?).
There was not one thing about the course that I didn't love. One of the other students, a workshop veteran with three other courses under her belt, described West Dean as her spiritual home. And I knew exactly what she meant.
It's a sumptuous manor house set in rolling acres nestled in the South Downs. It's the home of the Edward James Foundation and is where people can learn how to make musical instruments, tapestry, felting - the list is endless. The creative vibe was palable.
Even the other tutors were, from what I saw, funky and eccentric and creative looking. They seemed to be older women and I gazed on them in awe, thinking I want to age like you...
But what of the course? Did I learn anything? Well, I made a wonderful looking cushion (even if I do say so myself). It even has a zip! And four different seams in the front which allowed us to try out different techniques.
I've also got a funky bag that's going to be my book club book bag. It might also make an appearance in the school playground. I made a rather fundemental mistake on it but it's one I now know to look out for in future bag making exploits.
Ginny and Alice, our tutors, were fab. They had endless patience, even with me who displayed a truely stellar goldfish-like memory. There were eight of us and they managed, somehow, to help us all individually and equally. I felt so at home in the studio with everyone that I didn't want to go home.
Life's been pretty stressful lately. Actually, this weekend made me realise quite how stressful, on a day-in-day out basis. I've been finding it hard going, having to mix daily (or rather not really mix) with groups of women who don't get me and are not remotely interested in me. Where I live is a wealthy, cliquey place and if you don't have the private education/bank balance or three-quarter of a million pound home then you don't fit. And it's not just me, I know others experience the same.
But this weekend all of that was forgotten. It was joyful to immerse myself in a productive activity, to lose myself in learning and to be me with no worries or stress. Really, who'd have thought one little course would have given me so much? I'm so glad I went.