Saturday, February 19, 2011

What I done learn this time.

You might think I should know what I am doing with this teaching and talking lark by now, but each trip teaches me stuff. Here is a selection of what I learned this time.
  • Cleaning the back of the van is an utterly futile activity. It will stay clean until it rains or it moves, whichever comes first. The only sane way to keep the back window window like is a a rubber scraper designed to take water off the shower cubical. If used on the wet window whenever you stop and it's damp you night have some rear view.
  • However well you plan and prepare something will still go wrong. Admittedly I did know this but I really thought more planning and preparation might have reduced the problems more. Leaving slack in the planning is essential.
  • I'm lazy (again not really news) if I have to move stuff to open a cupboard I probably won't. Make important things very very easy to get to. By the end of the trip I had this one pretty much mastered.
  • Being lazy I skip too many meals and drinks. Dehydration doesn't help anything. Again I should know better but this trip has reminded me and I will try to get better at this honest.
  • Have food in the van but show local when possible. I discovered that being able to choose something for dinner on the spur of the moment made me more likely to eat, but the security of knowing I didn't have to was great too.
  • It's all about the people. Great people can make anything good. I don't think I would have made it through this trip without the help form the Isle of Wight ladies and their mechanic, but every group refueled and sent me on my way with new ideas and fresh energy.
  • England (and Wales) are really beautiful. One of the advantages of having to drive slower in the van is you get to see more of the countryside, and it's worth looking at.
  • I got to learn more about Welsh quilts and Durham quilts, and the chance to handle some. I really want to be able to make a quilt that feels like them, but I have to admit I haven't quite got to the point where I can be certain which is which. I guess this is another area I can look into more when I get a chance.
  • Speed quilts work great with recycled fabrics and fancy Oakshott fabrics. One group tried both extremes and it worked. Even I get caught up by the obvious and it was great to be shaken out of that. The wool blanked does work as wadding, I would say pretty well although it does need very robust pressing. In the Oakshott fabrics the quilt looks elegant and really quite posh. I had also not considered adding hand quilting to these patterns but I think it's going to be amazing. I can't wait to see pictures. Please ladies, don't forget to send me some.
  • Oakshott have a shop front. I guess I should have known that but I didn't. I also didn't know they were so friendly. They are on an estate not in a town centre but they will make you feel so welcome. I can't recommend them enough. Maybe it is something in the air as the Tesco just down the road from them had great staff too. I also didn't realise how closely they work with the weavers who make their fabrics. I like the fact that they know the weavers get paid properly and I love how much input Michael has in the design of the fabrics.
  • I've got to ask more questions about parking. I do bring a lot to my talks (and a fair amount to classes). Getting to the venue can be a problem and I think it is only going to get worse. One lady, who was helping move my stuff said she wasn't risking her back carrying my bag. I replied I had to as that was what I was being paid for, but she got me thinking. As a long term solution that just won't work. I need to be able to park close to the venue to unload. I can carry my bags a fair way but there is a limit and actually I shouldn't be damaging my back and shoulders either. My shoulders are bruised and very sore today so hopefully this will be a lesson I take to heart.
  • All campsites are not created equal. The best are amazing the others.... I think I should let Tet book more of my sites as even after checking the reviews I still got a bad one. Fortunately he moved me to a wonderful 5 star site which I will be visiting again.
  • Filling the van with fuel every day is some what depressing but OK, the third time in one day is just too much.
  • Whatever you take, you have too much of some things and not enough of others. I think this will mean in future I take what is convenient. Given I am going to get it wrong anyway I may as well make my life as easy as I can. On the other hand I will take requests, so if there is something I sell that you want (or indeed something bulky from Patchwork Corner) let me know and I will see if I can manage to help you out.
This trip has been an experience. It's had lows where I wondered what I thought I was doing and highs where I wouldn't have wanted to be doing anything else. I've come home with so many ideas and plans it's just unbelievable. It is tiring, and I can see why people retire from these long road trips (I've done well over 1000 miles in the last week) but it is also everything I hoped for. I'm not good at long holidays or being a tourist for days at a time. I love just seeing things in small bites and that I can fit in neatly between bookings. It's not quite a case of become a quilt tutor and see the world, but it's not bad.


Michele said...

What a fabulous trip report.

And Oakshott has a storefront? That's a worth a trip over the pond just for that!!
Love, love, LOVE THEM!!!

Ferret said...

They do, it's not huge but I think it's worth a visit. If you look back a couple of days there is a picture.

Susan Briscoe said...

Carrying stuff - groups really do need to make the get in as easy and as short a distance as possible for their speakers.

I pack a lot of my things so the individual bag weight isn't too great - the large zip up bags used by a lot of quilters are just too heavy when packed full.

Ikea have a trolley for sale with a zip up bag that goes on the trolley. I am going to invest in some of these (maybe even lash out on two trolleys!) for a new talk next year. Might be worth checking out?

Ferret said...

I've been thinking about smaller bags, but they are less stable in the vehicle than the ones I use. Also I want the quilts to be fairly self supporting. If I put less in the sink into a heap and get damaged.

I may have to roll more, which is a pain but if I am not going to be able to park close to the venue it may be the only option.

Ferret said...

I have thought about trolleys too, but again it's another thing to carry. I do already bring quite a lot :)

Maybe I need to go over to slides :)

Trudi said...

You do need to think about your Back Ferret, trust me, when it gets damaged, it doesn't fix easy, and mostly doesn't fix! If you go down the trolly route, think about asking if there is gravel at the location, it could make it more difficult than carrying. :) Just a suggestion.

Susan Briscoe said...

The Ikea trolley folds very flat and takes up a very tiny amount of space. The one I have already is the type where the wheels fold in - it slots behind the driver's seat in the car and takes only couple of inches depth.

Gravel in community car parks isn't so generously deep that the trolley has ever got stuck in it - if anything, there's usually very little gravel at all!

Slides - groups are usually very pleased that they are not going to get slides but on the other hand don't seem to understand that seeing the real thing means there's lots to carry...

Susan Briscoe said...

This is the Ikea trolley -

I may pick one up for road testing on my way back from Edinburgh

Ferret said...

Oh I already know about back and shoulder problems. I just feel that if I have been booed for a job I kinda have to do it. I think I will be changing that though as after unloading the van yesterday I hurt this morning. I didn't even carry the bags then, just put them on trolleys. I know it is cumulative. I can get away with lugging them longer distances every so often, but I had a run of bad luck. Yes in some places it really was just bad luck (well inconsiderate parking by non group members). It's something I am going to have to give some thought to as more and more groups meet in places without car parks.

Helen from Hobart said...

Your back is your living - protect it. Insist on a parking spot next to the door - put it in your contract.
Use a trolley of some sort... there are some cute but solid folding ones.
Insist on help to transport your gear - 3 people to one trolley.

I got 12 year olds to carry heavy amplifiers and an electric piano up 3 floors - teams of 6 with a designated formman and rest times.
No one got hurt and the equipment was moved safely there and back.
A load shared slowly is a load moved safely.

Bend ze knees is common sense, not just a technique for skiing.

Develop a routine and make others realise how important their backs are too.

Protect yourself and others.

Hugz Helen
who only carries her sewing machine onto the trolley and lifts it into the back seat floor.

Ferret said...

Hazel I agree completely but I think it will mean reducing my talks a lot. Most venues seem to lack any parking and have stairs. The members can't carry a lot of the things I bring. I've been looking at trolleys bit so far we can't see how we can make any of them work, and to be honest if I could get the other things (parking and no or few stairs) then it really would be fine. I am happy to carry my 3 bags (which are the heaviest bit) a fair distance or up and down stairs. Most of the rest I don't think is heavy (though rolled quilts are awkward) but my heavy isn't the same as other peoples. I do take the time top warn people helping to only lift what they are comfortable with.

It's difficult and I can see it being a larger problem in the future as venues sell off their carparks to developers.

Susan Briscoe said...

Had another look at the Ikea trolleys - they now have yellow ones for use instore as well as the blue ones to buy and take home. If these are made to the same spec as the blue (and they seem to be the same except for the colour), they must be able to withstand the rought use of hundreds of shoppers. I will definitely get the blue ones and the bags next time - the bags have flat bases and I think will be fine for my quilts. Didn't get them this time because the car was already very full (inc. the other trolley) and the priority was fitting in two 5ft long glass doors from the Bargain Corner instead! :-)