I awake with a sense of delicious anticipation. The early sun seeps in through the drawn blinds and dances on my closed eyelids. The smell of coffee and fresh croissants wafting up from downstairs tantalises my nostrils and I sit up to greet the day.
…The sounds of clattering plates and cheerful voices are too enticing to ignore so I shower rapidly, pull on my jeans and t-shirt and stopping only to throw open the window, drinking in the exquisitely scented air and surrendering to the gentle caress of the warm breeze, I head for breakfast.
…The large farmhouse style kitchen also serves as a dining room and this morning it is bustling with activity. Most of the guests are already down and tucking in. Over on the Aga a pan of creamy oatmeal bubbles encouragingly and next to it a heap of butter-fried mushrooms flanks an enormous pan of fluffy, sunshine-yellow scrambled egg. The massive scrubbed wooden table groans under the weight of bowls of fruit, piles of toasted bread, baskets of croissants and numerous pots of jam, honey and dried fruit and nuts. Two large cafetières of coffee sit in the middle of all this plenty, with jugs of hot milk gently steaming by their side.
…The chatter around the table focuses mainly on the plans for the week. In store for us today is a trip out to a nearby location rich with creative possibilities. There will, it is said, be magnificent views, culturally significant architecture, the light here will imbue the subject matter with a singular quality peculiar to this area. And after a late lunch in a nearby hostelry we will return to the studio for a round up of the day’s efforts, finishing off our work, comparing notes, and guidance, tips and encouragement from our tutor.
…Each day, according to the itinerary, will follow a similar pattern: a balanced combination of inspirational locations, breathtaking scenery, and studio activity, with as much or as little one-to-one tutoring as each individual needs. And all along, the opportunity to share and exchange ideas with our fellows and see how they too are progressing. How exciting!
…Filled to the brim with breakfast and enthusiasm, I collect up my equipment and join the others outside in the warm fragrant morning to wait for the minibus…
…Sighing, I turn my attention once again to the holiday booking form on the table in front of me. If reality matches my imagination, my first painting holiday will certainly be quite an experience!
images courtesy of Jill McKay at www.arttrailcentre.co.uk