Writing my blog has drawn me to many lovely people over the years, but I have never felt such a warm feeling for the blogging community as I do today. It all began when a beautiful invitation dropped through my letterbox, embossed in gold and with a delicate feather tucked inside.
Sisterhood Camp is the brainchild of Lou Archell, a really special person who has welcomed me into the Bristol blogging community with open arms and a warm heart. Her idea was to gather 23 inspirational women together to meet, share and create, deep in the wild Devon countryside. After weeks of anticipation, this weekend it came to fruition and I return home feeling uplifted and privileged to have been part of such a magical weekend.
Our home-from-home for the weekend was Loveland Farm, set on the enchantingly beautiful Hartland Peninsula between Bideford and Bude. Although I spent many family holidays a stone’s throw from the area growing up, I had never heard of this little-known spot and its dramatic coastline, hidden waterfalls and lush countryside were a revelation to me. Loveland Farm itself was a perfect location for our gathering and we were the first to stay in their brand new eco-pods. Each one was decorated so creatively, with cosy beds, contemporary furniture and even a full-sized tipi inside. Each pod had its own adjoining camp kitchen, hot showers and compost loos, which were a first for most of us! I loved sitting on the deck with an enamel mug of tea, soaking up the birdsong while cows lolled around in the buttercups just across the stream. Next time I want to escape with a group of friends, I’d definitely return to Loveland.
Lou’s vision for Sisterhood Camp was to encourage sharing and collaboration, so for the first workshop I teamed up with my friend Heather to give a little taster of the magical process of shibori dying. Since working with our partners Living Blue, shibori has become such a passion, and whilst I could never dream of creating patterns as skilled as theirs, it was lovely to share my enthusiasm with the group.
I have to admit it was with some trepidation that Heather and I snipped away the elastic and string from the first few cloth parcels, but we could soon see that the dying had been a success and the results were going to be amazing! Seeing all the pieces of cloth hanging up to dry by the stream was such a pretty sight.
We also got to try our hand at leatherwork and, with expert tuition of Louise from Golden Bear Belts, we created personalised bracelets to take home. I’d never worked with leather before and I think it’s got to be one of the most satisfying crafts I’ve tried. There was something really satisfying about using the metal tools and a rock to emboss the damp leather. I loved it!
Lunch was a lavish picnic sitting on an island of soft throws from Toast overlooking the spectacular cliffs at Hartland Quay. As we tucked in, a folk duo arrived to practice for a gig they were doing that night so of course we soon invited them over to entertain us… you couldn’t make this up, it was so perfect!
Back at Loveland, a lovely lady called Heather from Church Park Flowers arrived with armfuls of lush foliage which we mixed with wildflowers gathered from the surrounding hedgerows to make flower crowns. Heather grows all her own ‘ingredients’ in Devon and had some great tips to help us and we arranged, chatted and adorned ourselves ready for supper.
And what a supper it was! Hannah Bullivant had worked so hard creating an enchanting setting in one of the pods, with gorgeous linen tablecloths and napkins and hundreds of twinkling festoon lights. A Middle Eastern feast had been prepared for us by the lovely Emma from Two Birds Kitchen and we were thoroughly spoiled with lamb tagine, Persian chicken, pomegranate and rose petal yogurt and scrummy pistacio ice cream that none of us will forget in a hurry!
As the sun set and a pitter patter of raindrops fell on the pod we snuggled in to talk, exchange experiences and cement the memories of a wonderful weekend in our hearts and minds. Sitting back at home with my forager’s necklace from Silver Pebble around my neck I feel uplifted and inspired by the 22 wonderful women I have met. I have caught up with old friends and made new ones too, all thanks to Lou and Hannah’s hard work to bring us together and bring their dream to life. I feel truly humbled to have been invited to play a small part in this precious group – it is a weekend I will treasure forever.
For beautiful photographs of the weekend follow the hashtag #sisterhoodatloveland on Instagram.
[Photographs: all Decorator’s Notebook]