Can’t believe I haven’t posted anything since July, time just flies by and boom it is November, how did that happen?
Emily’s school have a 2 week break at October half term so we planned to go away before the demands of exam work gets too much in the run up to her GCSE’s next May/June. I can’t believe that she is taking exams and will be leaving school in 7 months. There is lots of exam preparation and college visits.
Anyway we booked a week at Manor and Ashbury Resorts in Okehampton Devon. We have been before in 2016 (read about it here). The complex is made up of sports facilities, spa facilities, craft activities and golf courses. We stayed in the Manor complex as it has more craft facilities. Originally it was a Manor house and the original house is part of the complex, it was bought 44 years ago and has been developed over the years. It is now for sale if you have £23m to spare. I hope that it gets bought and kept as it is, not either made too upmarket or even worse shut down and turned into a housing estate.
There are many sports and craft activities on each day which you have to book for. The sports facilities are all free and include 2 pools, shooting galleries, climbing wall, tennis courts, indoor bowling greens, roller rink, ice rink, badminton courts, squash courts and golf courses. There are also games rooms with snooker tables, pool tables, ten pin bowling and skittles. Full list here as I am sure I will have missed some
Craft activities run several times a day, you have to pay for the materials you use, but the activity is free. There is a full list of activities here as I can’t remember them all.
So what did we try? First up was pottery, which involved slip casting (basically pouring liquid clay into a mould) your chosen piece and then later in the day removing it from the cast and then after it had dried out painting it then leaving it to be glazed and fired. The session allows you to cast 2 items each, so many to choose from and a lot of variation in complexity and size. Given that we were travelling home by train we had to be mindful of the size and fragility of the items we made. We had to do this session first to allow the time for each stage to be complete before we left. We actually thought we were doing pot throwing which is also available but didn’t seem to be running, the casting was much less messy, but not quite so much fun I imagine. We have done pot painting before which is also a separate activity and they never really turn out how you expect, it takes a lot of practice and a steady hand so we were quite pleased with what turned out especially as the paint soaked into the piece so you couldn’t really tell what it would look like.
These were Emily’s choices, the mug is very impressive and the turtle so cute
Rob put in a little less painting effort and produced these;
Finally my offerings;
Emily was more interested in sports activities than craft so did not go to as many as me, but I need someone with me to get me to the class and to help with listening and some of the harder bits of the activity so I mainly did some with Rob and some with Emily. The only other one we all did was resin art. Initially we wanted to do the Northern lights class, but instead ended up doing seascape. I think the seascape was the better one to do in the end. Using resin and sand and colouring resin on a circular board we produced these;
The photos don’t show how shiny they are and we ware really pleased with them. I am hoping to put them up on my bedroom wall, but fast running out of wall space.
Emily and I did resin dipped Dragonflies too
The first two are mine and the 2nd two are Emily’s. Here they are on display in some plants pots (ps the plant is not dead!)
It was quite a fiddly activity and I struggled, I was also feeling really unwell. Emily said she thought it was supposed to be a therapeutic activity, she thought it was stressful. Emily’s favourite bit was banging the lids back on the resin tin with a mallet, not much help to my headache!
It is easy to be disappointed with what you make thinking it should be like the demo ones, but of course like anything it would improve with practice and it is a good place to try things out before committing to buying materials and equipment. I have lots of beads and wire and thought this might be something I could do at home, but not so sure now, would depend how much resin is and it would be expensive to have a variety of colours.
Emily and I also did mosaics. We both chose a box as we thought it would be easy!
Emily’s is top and mine bottom. You had to wait till next day to wipe of the grout, but we left it longer which I think was too long. The sides of the boxes can be painted, if I ever get around to it.
Rob and I did Silver clay which we both enjoyed and were pleased with out pieces. It was quite easy as you roll the clay then, cut it out and emboss it, it is then heated in a kiln and polished up when cool. It is real silver.
Rob’s is the square and mine the oval.
This was quite fiddly and we had to use a soldering iron.
These did not come as good as we hoped, mainly due to the pieces of glass that were available and ending up with gaps.
I was really please with this, on the practice piece I couldn’t really get the wand to burn, but on my piece it came out well. designs were created with stencils and templates or free hand if you are skilled enough. I had to get the tutor to draw me some paws!
I also did a couple of sessions on my own with someone dropping me off before they went to do other activities;
Card Making using stamps which I have not done for a long time and a product called Glossy Accents to make some of the ink shiny. Of course mine did not turn out as good as I would have liked, but I have bought some of the product to try and get it looking better
The other session I did was a sewing applique decoration which is going to be a gift. I could not hear the instructor, but there was an instruction book so I thought I would be fine. I ran out of time in the session and brought it home to finish, only to find that I had done several parts wrong, but it didn’t matter. I can’t follow written instructions and I can’t hear spoken instructions or remember what they have said, so it’s a miracle I managed anything at all.
Most of the craft sessions are an hour to an hour and a half and all the materials are laid out ready. None of the activities are complicated and most can be completed in the session. This was great for me. I spend so much time and effort at home getting things out, searching for things, trying to work out what to make etc that I then don’t have the energy to actually create something. I need someone to help me set up and clear away, but that doesn’t happen so I am often in total chaos and end up very stressed.
Emily went to a session of ice skating. Actually is is not ice, it looks like ice and you wear skates and slide, fall over etc just like ice, but it’s not cold! It is some sort of plastic, I imagine it is much cheaper to run than ice would be It is some sort of plastic. Emily enjoyed it and managed to stay on her feet.
The centre is all inclusive with a good selection of buffet meals. There were gluten free options, including many I did not expect like apple pie, fruit crumble and cheesecake. All the food was kept very hot or cold depending which it was supposed to be and there was a constant flow of fresh food being brought out. Drinks are the only extra. As a disabled guest I was able to reserve table near the buffet as the dining room is huge. It is canteen food, so nothing fancy, but perfectly acceptable. Outside of meal times there were tea and coffee machines and cold vending machines and a bar. There was also tea and coffee facilities in the room. As we had travelled by train and there is so much to do we only left the centre once to try and sort out a medication issue at the local pharmacy, it never did get sorted, but it’s a long story.
Emily and I had a relaxing facial one afternoon, there are a variety of health and beauty and spa treatments available. We did get a bit lost trying to find the spa complex and encountered stairs along the way, there is a fully accessible route around the outside.
Emily also went to water slides which she enjoyed and got talking to a family with younger children so she wasn’t on her own. Emily and Rob met up with the family at some of the evening events too, I was in bed by then.
We had a good sized room with a view of Dartmoor. We were in an annexe next to the main building, the corridors were quite narrow and winding so with the wheelchair people had to stand back to let us through, but everyone was very patient and polite. There were several other people with disabilities, two of them had big power chairs and assistance dogs. There are some fully accessible rooms. We did get a bit confused at times trying to find the accessible routes round and most of the go outside, which was a bit miserable in the wind and rain.
Since we got home I have been more unwell and had so little energy so haven’t managed much crafting. My back hasn’t recovered from the hard chairs and having to sit in my wheelchair on the train. I am supposed to be making items for Prickly Edge Fundraising events and making Christmas cards. I need to get to the next stage in my quilting for next weeks class too and there are many other things I want to do as always. Christmas is fast approaching and it’s always a hectic time of year and not really one I enjoy.
Would love to go to Manor House resort and try some of the things I missed, like Lino printing, fabric printing, decoupage and of course the pot throwing. Also to repeat some of the activities and make a better job of them. I am sure it will be a few more years before we visit again, it’s a long way to travel.