Tag Archives: travel

in brief

A round up of noteworthy exhibitions and events of late:

At the end of May when meeting up with a friend in London, we went to the National Portrait Gallery for the Irving Penn: Portraits exhibition. A show like that reaffirms my belief that life looks better in black and white. Penn’s prolific output and lengthy career meant he photographed a pretty good cross section of celebrity in the second half of the 20th century. Though his work was most widely viewed in magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair, seeing actual prints make his photos all the more compelling. A similar exhibition of celebrity and fashion portraits by Cecil Beaton at the Walker last year, which left me underwhelmed, felt even more superficial compared to this. Beaton seemed content to photograph surfaces, whereas in Penn’s words:

what lies behind the facade is rare and more wonderful than the subject knows or dares to believe

A contact sheet of a session with novelist Ivy Compton-Burnett exemplifies his efforts to get behind the facade. Each negative shows a slightly different aspect of someone who looks like a character Judi Dench would get an Oscar nomination for playing, and yet none of them became the final print. Penn photographed many of his subjects in a studio environment that could be described as stripped down at best. It wasn’t designed to make the sitter comfortable, but it seems to have brought something interesting out of each person.

After much experimentation Penn settled on silver gelatin as his print of choice and it gives an undeniably 19th century quality to photographs of stars like Al Pacino. Wide-eyed and alomst haunted-looking, it’s one of the best photographs of him I’ve ever seen and it was possibly my favourite of the exhibition. Not even because I’m a particular fan of his, I’m not, but Penn’s ability to elicit and capture that expression at that moment encapsulate the photographer’s talent and technique.

Shooting under rather different conditions, but no less a master of creating memorable images, the Don McCullin retrospective Shaped by War at the Imperial War Museum North was an extremely moving experience in a museum than can’t fail to move you to sorrow, outrage, grief, or all of the above. McCullin made his name as a war photographer in the 1960’s and 1970’s for the Sunday Times Magazine, covering conflicts in Vietnam and Cambodia, among others. He was actually shot in Cambodia and the camera that caught the bullet was displayed alongside photos he took from the back of the truck taking the wounded to safety. Possibly because images of the Vietnam War are already indelible in American consciousness, and I had a greater familiarity with the historical context, I actually found the most difficult images were of the Biafran famine. In particular, one of an albino boy. He was already an outcast for the colour of his skin, and the suffering on his face was indescribable. He stood, with other children behind him at a distance, holding an empty tin can. I admire McCuillan for bearing witness to these events, but I can’t imagine putting up the psychological barriers he had to erect to be able to do that job without going to pieces. The exhibition is travelling to the IWM in London next autumn, and it is very much worth seeing.

After taking that in as well as the main part of the museum, we needed a bit of something lighter. Luckily the Lowry is just across Salford Quays and the Spencer Tunick exhibition had just opened. And yes, there are naked people visible if you click on that link, FYI.

My main reason for going was that a friend had taken part in its creation and I wanted to see if I could spot her. There are about a dozen photographs and a film of the shoot taking place across Salford and Manchester. Tunick said he wanted to respond to LS Lowry’s work and in the choice of location on Dantzic Street and the position of the participants, I could kind of see what he was getting at. Other pictures are, in fact, large groups of naked people, albeit artfully arranged ones. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and given that it was bloody cold on the morning of the shoot, I take my hat off to the people willing to strip off and pose. I couldn’t spot my friend, but she did manage to find herself in at least one of the pictures and told me where to look for her if I do go back and see it again.

Liverpool stuff:
Check out http://www.sevenstreets.com, my new favourite site about Liverpool goings on. Well written and offbeat.

Coming up on June 30 is the first Social Media Cafe at Static Gallery. It’s free and you can register here.

I’m on the way home from two lovely days at Wimbledon. Saw some great tennis, drank more Pimms than I ever have before (thank God it’s diluted with lemonade or I would have been hammered in the heat on Friday) and had a generally very good time.

Ok, maybe that wasn’t so brief. That’s what Twitter’s for anyway.

High Violet is rapidly becoming my album of the summer. Go have a listen.

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Paris, September 2008

We arrived on Sunday morning (this would be Sept 27) and it was sunny and reasonably warm. We’d agreed to meet my dad and his wife at the Centre Pompidou, which is the main museum of modern and contemporary art, and it is *massive*. We had a coffee, then put our bags in the cloakroom before heading to the top floor for lunch in the rooftop restaurant. It was a bit hazy, but there were some excellent views of Paris to be had. The food was good, expensive for what it was, but you’re paying more for the view than anything else. Stepmother behaved herself fairly well, and only made a few obnoxious comments (one about modern/contemporary art being ‘weird’).

After lunch we split up and A. and I had a wonder around the permanent collection. There were some familiar friends, such as the Matisses and Picassos. I think they change the displays fairly regularly, as there are 60,000 items in the permanent collection. I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to display a representative sample of them all the time.

A new feature since my last visit (which would have been at least 6 years ago) was Andre Breton’s studio reassembled along a gallery wall. I remembered reading about it going up for auction in 2003, and I’m glad it was kept all together for the public to see. It’s a pretty crazy collection of stuff, but there are so many key pieces of Surrealism, including several Marcel Duchamp items, it was really fascinating to see them all in one place.

After a stroll outside to see the Fontaine Stravinsky, one of my favourite works of contemporary art, we all took the metro back to the hotel, which was a tidy little one in the 7th arrondissement, relatively near Les Invalides and the Eiffel Tower. Dad and stepmother were at odds about organising the luggage and taking it to the restaurant and departing from there for Orly airport. Dad thought they should come back to the hotel to collect it, she thought it should go with them so they’d have enough time to eat. For once she was right, but I had to sort of shut them both out while they were debating this in the most awkward way possible. Eventually the luggage was retrieved and the taxi phoned while A. and I got changed.

Dinner was truly a sublime affair. She had picked the restaurant out of an old Fodor’s guide, and it was one of the best meals I have ever had. Yes, that includes Claridge’s in June. Le Bamboche is small, with maybe a dozen tables in two rooms. The owner, Serge (I later learned his name), looked after us incredibly well, explaining the dishes with just enough detail to convey the care taken with the food, but not in a patronising way at all. I was a bit uncertain as to what to order when there was no chicken main course, forget vegetarian, so I went with the sole. My food scruples are lax enough that I chose the assortment of foie gras, which included a foie gras ice cream. It was delicious, and the fact that we’re getting into Heston Blumenthal levels of experimentation gives you some clue as to the price tag.

The sole arrived wrapped around a dried cranberry and was glazed with a cranberry relish alongside dollops of sweet potato puree topped with caramelised fennel. It was so good, I made A. try some. He who does not eat fish said it was pretty good and not fishy tasting, which is high praise from him.

Dad and stepmother had to leave after their main course. They were supposed to ask for a taxi to be called for 8pm, but neither of them said anything to the owner (her: ‘Blair, why don’t you ask him to phone a taxi?’ my thoughts: ‘If you’re so bothered, do it yourself.’) Finally at 7.40 I said something to Serge, who was understandably a bit peeved, but phoned for it and brought their main courses first. Dad very kindly paid before he left, so we were free to enjoy the rest of our meal at leisure, which we did.

Dessert was a tough decision, but I went for the cheese board, which consisted of 4 different goats cheeses. They’re all made by one family, who actually produce ten varieties, but four seemed like a good number to introduce the range of ages and flavours. The first one was a creamy young cheese, and they got progressively more mature. The second one was perfect in terms of flavour and texture. Simply the best chevre I’ve ever had. I asked afterwards if they were available from any fromageries. Serge’s reply: ‘Non. They only sell to restaurants and certain customers. What you just ate, that is Sarkozy’s goat’s cheese. But if you give me warning next time you are here, I can order it for you.’ I tremble to think how much it costs, but it was amazing.

A. chose the ‘sweet dainties’, looking forward to the surprise of not knowing what he was going to get. It turned out to be three small chocolate gateaux and tortes. I can’t remember the first, the second was an Opera torte of six layers, and the third was like a miniature chocolate sponge with chocolate sauce in the centre. For those in the UK who have seen the M&S advert with that type of cake oozing the chocolate sauce in the money shot, *that’s* what this cake was. He was kind enough to share with me and all three were just divine.

Serge looked after us so well and the food was so good that we would definitely go back. A. had been skeptical of Paris and Parisians, but Serge was genuinely friendly and chatted with us about England and food and wine that I think A. was won over. We’re going to have to save up (we ordered a second bottle of wine that ended up costing 48 euros, by far the most expensive thing we bought in Paris, but it was quality) but it’s worth every penny. We strolled back to the hotel absolutely stuffed, passing Les Invalides and watching the ever changing light display on the Eiffel Tower.

Monday morning we began our walking tour of Paris, not by design, but because we discovered that virtually every museum we would have considered visiting was closed. Except the Centre Pompidou. So we walked towards the Louvre by way of the Tuileries. A. was gobsmacked to see how big it really was. It might have been open, but I didn’t want to see it this time around. You need most of a day to see a fraction of it in reasonable time, so it will wait for another trip. Across a bridge and carrying on along the Seine, we headed for Ile de la Cite as A. had wanted to see Notre Dame. It had probably been twelve years since I was last there, and the scaffolding had come off that I recalled. It was definitely cleaner too. The rose windows are still stunning, but A. ended up not being terribly impressed in the end. We had arrived during Mass as well, so we tried to keep out of the way of the service. I had thought about going to Sainte-Chapelle, as I love the stained glass in that so much, but it was €7.50 and we were trying not to spend too much. Next time hopefully.

Back across the river towards Beauborg, we stopped to pick up lunch at a boulangerie and walked through the Marais. I decided I wanted to see Place des Vosges again and it was a nice enough day to eat outside, though a bit chilly in the shade. A. fed the birds crumbs from his sandwich and was impressed by how close they came to us, cheeky buggers. 😉 We walked all the way back to Centre Pompidou, desperate for a loo, then had a coffee while we figured out our next move. A. had mentioned going to Montmartre, and as I’d had leftover metro tickets from yesterday, this seemed like a good plan. I’d never really spent any time there, and we figured we could go into Sacre Coeur and make a little Amelie tour of sorts.

We made our way up the hill from the metro stop. It was a bit of climb, but not as strenous as climbing the dome at Sacre Coeur. We had very little company once we reached the top, a few people were there but left soon after we arrived. We sat on a narrow bench against the stone wall, looking out over the city. A pair of buskers started playing, familiar guitar chords, and I said ‘that sounds like Oasis.’ And it was…so we sang Wonderwall to each other high above the heads of those watching the performance below.

We made our way down and went through the crypt, which was kind of creepy in places. Descending along the winding paths at a much slower pace than Nino trying to get to his motorbike, we paused at the carousel so I could take a picture, though maybe next time I’ll actually ride it. 😉 Walking through Montmartre, it’s got really lovely bits and really tacky touristy bits. We picked up a baguette for dinner later and then stopped at a restaurant that had crepes for me. The waiter made fun of A’s flustered attempts to speak French but that was our only, very minor, incident of anglophobia. 😛 We got some goat’s cheese to go with the baguette and biscuits to take into work the next day. We’d discovered on the map that there was an Avenue Rachel nearby, so we walked past and saw the Moulin Rouge as well. I think I prefer the film version to what it is now.

Our flight wasn’t until late, so we had plenty of time to get to CDG airport. Which was good, because it felt like it took forever, between an extended metro ride and a long queue to get tickets at Gare du Nord, which is the largest and possibly most confusing train station I’ve ever been through. We got there in the end, very tired, but having enjoyed ourselves.

If you are still reading, I give you a round of applause and a cookie. :^)

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the epic bakery school post

The Lighthouse Bakery school

Arrival Tue 22/7/08

After a fairly uneventful journey, I arrived in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, at about quarter past six. I found my B&B, a pleasant Victorian house not far from the station. It’s a very quiet village and modern houses mix with Tudor half timbered buildings with sagging roofs and windows. After a brief shower, I got ready and headed to the George pub to meet Rachel and Elizabeth.

Rachel is dark haired with freckled arms and a forthright manner. Elizabeth has wavy light red hair, wears tortoiseshell glasses, and is the slightly quirkier of the two. She’s not lost her American accent, though certain words she enunciates more clearly in an English way.

We talk of art, Liverpool, America, and other things I can’t recall. We are very well looked after, one of the owners of the pub makes sure we lack for nothing. They’re interested in taking on some Lighthouse bread, as they seem to have become a gastro pub in the not too recent past. The atmosphere is lovely, sensitive to period detail, but with modern lighting and comforts. There’s also Stanley, the resident basset hound, of whom Elizabeth is very fond. It turns out they have four cats at their house, which is sizable, perhaps an old farmhouse? Elizabeth would like a basset hound as well, but I think Rachel feels they have enough animals at the moment.

Our food is very good, though there are perhaps a few kinks to work out with the menu. Elizabeth’s salad was an overwhelming combination of flavours; Rachel’s lamb was slightly overcooked. My own food was fine, though my main course, which was a tart of tomatoes, onions and goat’s cheese, was covered in a profusion of salad leaves. The chocolate dessert was a chocolate and mint cake, with fresh mint leaves in the chocolate sauce. Rachel was very pleased to have celery served with her cheese board, but found the portions of cheese absolutely massive.

They were both very welcoming and we asked each other many questions about baking and the bakery and life in general. They wouldn’t hear of my offers to pay, even for my own food and drink. Rachel said she would pick me up in the morning after she made a delivery to a local farm shop. I couldn’t ask for a more lovely start to my visit and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Wednesday, 23/7/08, “Jewish Baking”

Biscuit of the day: hamantaschen

Rachel picks me up around 9.45 and explains she hasn’t yet made her delivery, because Elizabeth found out this morning that the live yeast had gone off so none of the breads were rising properly or otherwise acting how they were supposed to. Elizabeth is the chief baker, and Rachel oversees the admin side and does some baking and other kitchen prep as needed. Elizabeth had made new loaves of some of the breads by the time we arrive, but others will be finished later.

It turns out I’m the first and so far only person to take the Jewish Baking course, as this is the first time they’ve offered it. So for today I can be an honorary member of ‘The Tribe’ as Jews are colloquially known to each other. Elizabeth is from Boston originally and of Eastern European Jewish heritage, so she’s been making bagels and bialys in the bakery for years. Interwoven with the recipe directions and demonstrations is a history of each product and an explanation of how the ingredients interact with each other and the science of the breadmaking process. It’s a lot to take in, but never feels overwhelming. The flow of her delivery makes it one continuous story.

I had never tried a bialy, though had seen them in New York on many occasions. They’re kind of like large rolls or very small loaves and have a filling of onions mixed with breadcrumbs, so they’re more savory than bagels. Some of my onion filling fell out when getting them in the oven; the dough was a bit sticky and didn’t slide off the peel as easily as it should have. But I ate a successful one later, and thought it was pretty good.

We also made New York deli rye with caraway seeds, which brought back childhood memories of the sliced rye we used to have at home. Caraway *is* the smell of rye bread to me. Both of those loaves went into their freezer to be stored until I left, but I can’t wait to taste it.

I honestly haven’t had so much fun in ages. I don’t think I even stopped to go to the toilet because I never thought about it. We had a fantastic salad for lunch, which Rachel had made out of the veg from their organic garden. It had several kinds of lettuce, courgette, cherry tomatoes (bought, because local tomatoes haven’t ripened yet), and cubes of a delicious sheep’s milk cheese.

I was very much looking forward to making challah, having fond memories of eating it at summer camp. Going to a camp where it turns out 98% of the campers are Jewish kids from the metro New York area, you discover some foods that aren’t quite as common in suburban Pittsburgh. I managed to successfully plait my loaf, though it was narrower than the ones I remembered, possibly because there were fewer strands (this recipe made a 4 strand loaf). Bagels were the other thing I was looking forward to, proper American bagels being so difficult to come by in Britain. Liz had already made some bagel dough and shaped it, so we could boil and bake them straight away. We made some new dough and rolled it out into snake-like shapes. You then wrap the dough around your hand to join the two ends together. Mine were a bit lopsided, it’s a fine art to make a perfectly symmetrical bagel.

Hamantaschen are delicious little triangular biscuits filled with prune puree, or dried plums as we euphemistically call them. They resemble tricorner hats, or um, feminine imagery if you’re so inclined to view them that way. A. is already referring to them as minge biscuits after I described them to him. When we arrived there was a plate of fresh ones waiting on the long farmhouse-style table we eat around. I’ve got to say, I enjoy the intimacy of one-on-one classes, and I’m thrilled to be the only student for the first two classes. The involvement in every step of the process is the reason I’m there, but still so much fun. Weighing, mixing, kneading, putting things in and taking them out of the oven. Soon I’m programming the oven timers. I envy their four deck oven (meaning simply that there are four industrial ovens stacked on top of each other). They are high crown ovens, perhaps 5 feet long by 1 foot high. This means there is plenty of room for loaves to rise, but means biscuits and such are further away from the heat and may need to be raised up a bit to bake properly.

The other equipment new to me is the prover and the retarder. The prover has temperature controls which can provide dry heat or moist heat as required (or no heat at all if it’s off). This helps in the ‘proving’ stage, when the dough is undergoing a final rise (in a tin or baking tray depending on the shape of the product). The retarder is basically a fridge with a framework for sliding racks in. It helps cool things and slow down the fermentation process, if necessary, before baking. For example, the oatmeal raisin cookies we made on Thursday are best if you put them in the retarder for an hour or more before baking. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Rachel drops me off at the b&b, my bag now holding a loaf of challah and some bagels. I changed my clothes, read for a bit, then headed for the Ostrich, which was a few yards away from the B&B. It advertised a tropical garden and pub food, so I thought I’d have dinner there. After I got my pint and sat out in the garden, which was quite large and had several picnic tables, the barman came by and asked if I was all right. When I enquired about food, he said they only had filled rolls, so I had to find my tea elsewhere. This meant a trip to the other village pub, the Seven Stars.

When I got there, there were several members of the pub’s coopers (?) team wearing matching shirts, having just finished some sort of competition with the George. I’m guessing they won, as everyone seemed to be in good spirits. It was very much a locals’ sort of pub, the menu was more your typical pub fare, although the fish and chips featured a batter of local ale for the fish, so I chose that. It was also the only non-red meat-based main course. The beer mats were ones I recognized from my previous trips to Sussex, five and eight years ago respectively. They were postcard sized and featured a vintage illustration of Harveys of Lewes brewery, which was the source of the batter for the cod I was about to eat. I wrote out a postcard to MC, knowing that she would appreciate one that featured a brewery and talked about baking.

The fish was pretty good, the chips were fine, albeit from a freezer. Couldn’t tell about the peas, though they were a nice shade of green and not shriveled.

Pretty sure I slept like a log that night.

Thursday, 24/7/08 “American Baking”

Biscuit of the day: Madeleines

I’d never had a Madeleine before today, though I know well their place in literature. I really should read Proust one of these days. Funnily enough, I did get memories of people and things I hadn’t in a long time, like the camp counselor (also Jewish) I had a massive crush on when I was sixteen, though he was more than twice my age. A fact that I was thankfully spared from knowing until just before I left camp. He was a violinist who played with such beauty, I fell as much for his music as for him. I wonder if he’s still with the Toronto Symphony.

Today’s recipes had a familiar ring to them: cornbread, oatmeal raisin cookies, the bagels we had started yesterday. Also anadama bread, which is something I had at college, but not before or since. The cinnamon raisin loaf was a treat, as we got to mix cinnamon and sugar together to dust on the loaves before baking, which was a familiar childhood combination, having eaten it on toast many times.

I got to practice my kneading and loaf-forming skills today. Getting the loaf into a tight shape by rolling and pushing ever so slightly, but without squeezing the dough, is a tricky business, and having small hands doesn’t seem to help. I got better with practice though. Making rolls was a tricky business at first too, but visualizing the shape it’s meant to have and getting used to the feel of the dough helped.

Today’s lunch was a pissaldière, for which we rolled out the already-made dough and then covered it with the tomato and onion mixture Rachel had made up. Studding it with olives, we slid it into the oven alongside the other loaves. I love how fresh everything is and how well we eat. I love the shared values of good bread and good food, simply prepared, using good quality, ideally local, ingredients. And I most especially love how I have connected with these two women in ways I haven’t with anyone else in a long time. I can be myself, or let down more of my guard than I usually do. And sometimes it is nice to talk to another sympathetic American and be able to speak in cultural shorthand about tv programs and breakfast cereals we had as kids.

The buttermilk biscuits were truly a taste of home, fluffy and warm, though with a touch too much salt because the butter we used is salted. The butter was still slightly chunkier than it should have been after I mixed it with the flour, but it made the biscuits melt in my mouth that much more.

The Sussex landscape is made up of gently rolling fields, and a surprising number of tree-covered hills. The roads between the bakery school and Robertsbridge are dotted with oast houses, which are relics of a bygone era when much of the land was owned by Guinness and covered in hop fields. The hops were dried and stored in the oast houses, I think a certain amount of processing went on as well, from what Rachel tells me of them.

I walk to the next village, Salehurst, in search of the pub recommended in the information provided by the b&b. It’s about a mile and a half away, which is a lovely walk at this time of evening. The pub doesn’t disappoint; it’s old, and feels old inside, has a massive garden out back, and a nice, albeit small menu of freshly prepared food made with local ingredients. I ordered falafel in pita from the blond, ponytailed barman, who looks like a surfer…perhaps he is, or was. I feel like something light and veggie is in order after last night’s fish and chips. I have a nice pint of Hylfer Blonde from the Dark Star brewery, also Sussex-based. The people-watching is excellent, from country posh to East End of London. There are hippies, rat race escapees, the landed, the upwardly mobile, the families with kids. An American woman’s voice cuts through the various English accents, as she tries to explain the differences in American and English higher education to a nodding young man. She’s not loud, but the accent will always stand out above the others.

The mint in the yogurt sauce that comes with my falafel tastes fresh, but strangely, packets of condiments are delivered when I ask for mayonnaise for my chips. A small detail, but when they clearly take care with the rest of the food, it’s slightly disconcerting.

The countryside lent itself to some picture-taking on the way back. The light in the sky had broad strokes of gold and peach and orange splashed across it. I felt the happiest I have in a long time.

Friday, 25/7/08 “Advanced Baking”

Biscuit of the day: tuiles (I think)

Today another woman joined us. Her husband had spoken with Rachel extensively about bread and bakeries, he’s apparently opening a development in Waterloo which will feature a butcher, a greengrocers and a bakery. She often bakes bread at home and he gave her this course as a Christmas present. I’m very glad I had the previous two days to build up my knowledge, because I think I would have felt a bit lost if I’d come in to this course cold. Things like baker’s percentages, which I’d felt intimidated by previously, made much more sense now.

We made bread using four different types of starters, also known as pre-ferments. Sourdough is the most well-known type of bread that requires a starter, and our sourdough was made with rye and spelt and shaped into a couronne or crown before baking. We also made batons (mini baguettes), ficelles (very thin mini baguettes) and epis, which is when the baguette shape is cut and positioned to look like grains of wheat.
Our white loaves were made with a sponge starter, which is just flour, water and yeast, left to ferment for a day before baking. We shaped them into cottage loaves, which are a traditional British shape. They’re round with a smaller round on top. We dusted ours with poppy seeds.

Lunch was bulgar wheat, flavoured with cinnamon and some other herbs and mixed into a fresh salad like what we had on Wednesday. Rachel had added some of the sheep’s milk cheese again since I’d liked it so much. We had to interrupt our meal to take things in and out of the oven, since some loaves were rising quickly due to the warmth in the kitchen.

We finished a bit ahead of schedule, as Elizabeth was watching the clock to ensure we didn’t miss our trains. In fact we had time to look at some of their cookbooks and for me to copy down the quantities for their chocolate bread recipe that’s in the Green and Black’s cookbook (I have the American version, but it’s easier to cook in metric here and sometimes my equivalents aren’t always the published ones).

My co-baker was the first to leave, as she’d pre-booked her taxi. She must have made the earlier train, as there was no sign of her when I arrived. Rachel helped me pack up all the bread they’d been storing in the freezer for me. Three grocery bags and a jute re-usable shopper later, I was fully loaded and ready to go. Elizabeth gave me a hug, careful not to get any flour on me after I’d taken off my apron. Rachel drove me to the station and insisted I keep in touch. I said I would definitely be back and hopefully have my mother with me next time.

Luckily the train was fairly empty up to London, so all the bread bags could sit with me on the seats. Not so much the case going to Liverpool, and the grandmother and granddaughter sitting opposite me were giving me evils as I put my carrier bags (tied shut mind you) on top of what turned out to be their suitcases in the luggage hold. *eyeroll* So I had to move them onto the lower storage area, but everything made it intact.

So yes, an amazing few days of creativity, productivity and time out in the countryside. Well worth every penny and I’d go back in a heartbeat.

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