Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Etheringtons Go NORTH! Chesterfield Workshop Report...

If we're being strictly chronological about these things we really should blog our incredible Swansea School trip first, but we still haven't got around to scanning a particularly brilliant piece of art from the day so instead let's travel up country for some fun in the Northern sun.

And sunny it was! After the longest winter I can remember Lorenzo and I were delighted to discover that our visit to Chesterfield (for a day and an evening of comic workshops) was accompanied by glorious weather. Awakening in the glamorous surroundings of the Whittington Moor Travelodge ... ahem ... we basked momentarily in the celebrity glow of our favourite cook in the whole wide world.

Jamie Oliver? No. Nigel Slater? Uh-uh. Nigella Lawson??? Nope.

I am, of course, talking about the Chef.

Just look at his innocent smile caught beneath a cloudless blue sky ... sigh.

Quick word of explanation for our foreign readers - Little Chef is a chain of restaurants (and I use the word lightly) that exist to serve weary roadside travelers. It has a limited menu but we're suckers for their all day breakfasts. This time Lorenzo selected the veggie version of their 'famous' Olympic breakfast, while I opted for the pancakes with a couple of rashers on the side. Nice.

What's that? You'd like to hear about our workshops? Sheesh ... some people are never happy.

We were met post brekkie by the wonderful Julie Potton (principle Librarian for 16 libraries in the Chesterfield area) who organised the day and took great care of us. We began with a single class workshop (always good to warm up before the main event) - which was great fun - then headed into town to the central Library. And what a building it was. Five floors high and packed to the rafters with an incredible selection of titles it was no surprise to learn that Chesterfield is the 5th busiest library in the country. Aside from computer suites and sound booths and all manner of excellent extras, the building has its very own auditorium which made for a great setting.

During the lunchtime slot we saw three extremely enthusiastic schools and answered dozens of brilliant questions! Then it was off for a stroll and a bite to eat before our final workshop.

In quick succession we learnt that the town lays claim to the oldest bowling green in the world (1294), a ridiculously thin Georgian building (seen below) and something rather special ...

This is the Crooked Spire of the Church of Saint Mary and All Saints.

Apparently it's not MEANT to look like this...

We have been led to understand that this bizarre curvature has been caused by unseasoned timber and poor cross bracing, but I'd rather believe the folklore that claims "a Bolsover blacksmith mis-shod the Devil, who leaped over the spire in pain, knocking it out of shape." Much cooler, I think you'll agree.

After a big, fat panini and a frosty pint of cider we returned, refreshed, to give a lively evening workshop to a reading group aged from 6-16. It was fantastic and the children and teenagers brought a wealth of great ideas to the event.

Many thanks once again to Julie and all her incredible co-workers who helped plan and deliver such a fun day! We look forward to returning soon.