You’re never too old to learn something new. And don’t I know it!
In the past few years I’ve been lucky enough to be able to go to some really inspiring workshops and classes. And like many things in life, one thing seems to lead to another.
The first was the stained glass workshop our great friend Deborah Godshaw taught. I arranged to do it with oldest son, daughter-out-law, and another talented friend who is a silversmith. We had a wonderful day together, and although I’ve not done any more work with glass, what I learnt was that I love playing with colour, I can learn new techniques and skills, and I enjoy taking time to learn new stuff.
Then I became frustrated with how my once-good French was gradually rusting and getting lost. So a friend and I did a year of evening conversation classes with the Alliance Francaise in Bath. Our teacher was an older French woman with wide-ranging experience and interests, who was also an excellent teacher. As a class we read a few books together and discussed them, which helped me regain my confidence in both reading and speaking French, and I now feel perfectly comfortable reading French novels, have learnt about some contemporary writers to complement my rather out-of-date A and S level reading, and can converse comfortably about most things. The funny thing was that one of the things that prompted me to start the course was the realisation that my vocabulary hadn’t kept up with computers, the internet, and mobile phones, whereas in fact much of the vocabulary I lacked was nicked from American (‘le texto’).
The craft workshop that really kicked things off for me was the quilting workshop I did with Jane Brocket. That day helped me see my fabric stash in a whole different light, and renewed my sewing confidence and enthusiasm. And one day (one day!) I actually WILL finish the quilt I started that day, and other things too. Especially now that I have a plan to raise £500 for Bath City Farm this year – I can see all sorts of things I can make and sell in their little shop.
Last September we met in Oxford for our regular cousins gathering, and by chance I saw that on the previous day the Pitt Rivers Museum was offering a half day workshop on Visible Mending, led by Tom of Holland – an inspiration if ever I came across one! At only £10 per place it was an absolute bargain, so I quickly booked and was thrilled to get a place. Quite a few of the other people there worked in the museum in their conservation team, so they were an interesting bunch themselves, and the head curator gave us a guided tour of an exhibition of visibly mended artefacts from their collection.
This was a practical workshop where we were able to try our hand at Tom’s beautiful darning techniques, with Tom on hand to correct us when we went wrong, and explain and show us what to do. Despite my long-time commitment to the ‘reuse’ bit of ‘reduce reuse recycle’, that afternoon really opened my eyes to just how beautiful in its own right mending can be.
So, when the time came for me to suggest to family what I would like for my 60th birthday, it was obvious that learning something new should be in the mix. And I’m delighted that they clubbed together and, among other things, bought me a place on a mosaic workshop at the beginning of February, taught by Emma Leith, who I first came across running the wonderful zany crochet drop-in in Bath. I have great hopes for this helping me use the ever-growing collection of bits of blue and white china and clay pipe pieces found on the allotment, plus other treasured but broken china pieces and old keys. I’d love to be able to use these to make something beautiful and decorative for the allotment.
Next weekend I’ve managed to secure places on a series of (free!) workshop sessions on fermented foods at a nearly art gallery. My sourdough celebrated its 3rd birthday a couple of weeks ago, and over the past year I’ve read quite a lot about other types of fermented foods but not yet tried making them. I’m interested to see if Saturday will kick-start me on that one. (I’m also interested to find out how fermented food can be an art project. I have no idea).
For Christmas youngest son and daughter-in-law gave me a voucher for a foraging walk, so I’ve booked onto a fungus walk next autumn, something I’ve wanted to do for ages.
This week I finally figured out (by chance as it happens) how to change the font on my blog. A small victory, but I’m pleased with it (after months of trying to figure it out).
You may not have time or energy or the necessary money to learn new stuff (although there are lots and lots of ways to learn that cost no money – as I write this, I realise just how much I have been inspired by and learnt from the blogs I read).
But don’t tell me you’re too old to learn something new. As long as you’re still breathing, you never will be. And don’t I know it!