I had been wondering what to do for my 50th ever since I was 49, and, if I am honest, have been slightly worrying about it… Should I have a big party? Go away somewhere? With my family? Friends? Husband? I just couldn’t decide…
Our daughter Eva suggested a painting holiday, wonderful idea! We looked into it and saw some lovely possibilities. I got a bit anxious though, because my birthday is in summer and I wanted to go abroad, but I felt it might be too hot to paint. So we considered a family holiday in Majorca – random I know, but I have never been there and understand it is really beautiful. However, it was not popular with our teenage children, our son was going away with friends and needed to get a job and our daughter was going on a french exchange, so it was back to just me and Doug.
He thought of Venice – wow – Venice!! I just could not wait… The art festival, the Venice Bienniale was on, so we started planning a beach stay on the Lido with the plan of going into Venice a couple of days to see the art. Gosh it all looked so marvellous, but quite complicated, and I started to get a bit worried about being so far away from our children – they are too old to want grannies and aunties looking after them (sorry Elaine – I know you do read this!!) and somehow the airport arrangements and flight times looked treachourous – this was meant to be a treat, not Mission Impossible…
We finally came back to Eva’s idea of a painting holiday, but not abroad, rather, an easy drive away – bliss – and where better than the artist’s town of Kirkcudbright? Our web designer, Rosy, of Platform Designs, had done the website for a beautiful hotel there, the Glenholme Country House and miraculously, they had availability: no airport crushes, no setting your alarm for 3am, we just needed to have a wee champagne brunch for all my friends and go!
It really lived up to our expectations, the owners Laurence and Jennifer are amazing, so kind and hospitable. Jennifer runs a sister business to the hotel, Starched and Crumpled. She goes to France several times a year and buys antique linens in markets and sells them online. Yes, I know, I want to do that business, and yes, so do you – don’t you? She says that everyone she speaks to, almost without exception, says ‘Ooh, I would like to do that’!
The interior is stunning, painted in chalky whites, with, yes, you guessed it, gorgeous, raw linens wherever you look.
There is no TV, so you really chill out, we read loads. Tea and coffee is served in the library, lined with art books and piles of lovely interiors magazines to peruse.
The meals are delicious, we had breakfast and dinner there: Laurence just cooks, there is no menu, he simply chooses whatever looks best that day from the local suppliers. All in all, a heavenly holiday, after all our too-ing and fro-ing, trying to decide where to go. Just being able to jump in the car synched it for me and staying in a gorgeous boutique hotel, rather than our usual budget self catering efforts was a real winner, prompting me to enter the Ocean Finance Holiday Heaven or Hell Blogger competition.
And the painting? Well, we did it… I am telling you the temptation on a self organised painting holiday, NOT to paint is huge… But we filled the car with canvases, sketch pads, bags of art materials, an easel and some stools, drove to a nearby beauty spot, unloaded the said canvas, easel, stools, bags etc, chose a spot, set up and got on with it, yes it did start to rain and yes, we did have a couple of really good arguments.
We look so happy in the photos, painting away, but luckily we didn’t make any recordings, someone else might have, mind you. At one point, Douglas, very kindly gave me some ‘painting advice’, which I very foolishly took, of course my painting was ruined. I got very, very cross and was shouting my head off at him. I managed to rescue the painting, I won’t comment on our marriage.
I will give some advice though, to any men reading this, unless your wife is under 20 or you are very, very recently married, like in the last two minutes, don’t bother giving her advice, she does not need it, she knows best.