It was the Café.
No surprise there, cake-aholic that I am, but - although they had very delicious cakes - it wasn't even that.
It was the exhibition of felt pieces on display that grabbed me.
One of the waitresses said they'd been made by local school kids.
I wanted to take them all home - the felt, not the kids.
|Some of the wonderful display of felt pieces|
I love making felt. I think it should be obligatory for everyone at some stage, male or female.
So many people over the years have said to me: 'I'm not a creative kind of person'.
I find that very hard to believe. Everyone is creative. If they think they aren't, they just haven't plugged into the right socket yet. They probably haven't had the opportunity to be creative.
They need to go on a felting course, even if it's only for a single morning.
No one can fail to be creative with felt.
And who knows where one small session of 'making' might lead?
That would just be the start of it.
I think problems with creativity are largely about expectations.
Take art. For nine and a half out of every ten of us, there is such a gaping chasm between what we see in our heads - or even in front of our eyes - and what we manage to produce on paper/canvas or whatever, it's no surprise we feel as if FAILURE is stamped on our foreheads after every sorry attempt.
It's the same with so many creative disciplines.
The words you write don't express what you'd like to say.. The lump of clay won't centre on the wheel, no matter how often you try. The pink fluffy whatsit you're making doesn't look anything like the one in the magazine.
It's as if there's some vital link missing somewhere in the chain from brain to hand - the messages aren't getting through, or else they're being distorted en route. Your head wants to achieve but it ain't coming out through your fingers.
I guess it's probably age related as well. It's ok to splodge paint about when you're four, you're thrilled with anything at that stage, but splodges aren't terribly satisfying if you're 40 and you were hoping to run up a little Cezanne.
It isn't like that with felt.
Possibly because there aren't really any expectations with felt - or certainly not in those vital, early stages.
You start with a bit of wool in your hands. You choose a colour you like, several colours that appeal to you.
You have soap and water, and someone shows you how to work them together, with a chik or a mat or something to provide a bit of friction.
You work away in the dark - you can't even see what you're doing.
But voilà - magic happens willy nilly.
When you unwrap your warm, soapy bundle, there it is - a unique fusion you have created without glue, or needle and thread, or any other invasive method of joining. The colours you have chosen have come together in a pattern that you may or may not have devised, to form an entirely new material that is robust yet fragile, tactile yet also a feast for the eyes, enduring yet delicate.
You cannot help but be thrilled - I promise you.
I'll promise you something else too.
You'll want more.
Gradually you become more adventurous.
You try bigger, more elaborate, more precise, more abstract, wilder, finer tuned - who knows, but whatever it is you want to try, more will be the operative word.
More and more and more.
It's fun, it's alive, it's creative, it's addictive.
You cannot help but create felt, and you cannot help but create pattern.
It's just so satisfying.
|There was also a fab collection of birds made from felt and scraps of other materials|
If you don't believe me, get on-line and find a felting course near you, or ask around and when you've found one, don't hang about - try it.
You won't be disappointed.
And who knows where that portal will end up taking you?
And you'll never again think you're not creative, either.
Oh, and if you're anywhere near The Museum of Country Life in the next few weeks, pop into the Café and see this lovely exhibition while you can - I don't know how long it'll be there.
Time to get felt all over.