About 18 months ago I received an exciting email – would I like to come and teach a freehand embroidery course in Italy….? Ask a silly question! But after much tooing and froing we realized that getting ten ancient Singer sewing machines, not to mention tubs of fabric, lamps, scissors, thread, hoops and inspiration to Italy might be a bit too much of a challenge – even for me! So we settled on something a little closer to home and last month, just before the clocks changed and as the sun was setting over misty autumn trees, I found myself with a heavily loaded van, turning into a lane with grass growing up through the middle in deepest, darkest Devon. Middle Coombe Farm was a beautiful setting for a stitching retreat. The machines were set up in the old thatched cider barn, hung with Tibetan prayer flags and the participants stayed in various ancient rooms through the farm and the grand old farmhouse. We spent the whole weekend together, stitching, chatting, cosying up by the fire in the oak paneled sitting room, eating wonderful food that was all cooked and prepared for us in the farmhouse kitchen and setting the world to rights. It was an honor to hang out with such wonderful ladies for the weekend and I was so proud of their finished products. And of course we mustn’t forget the indefatigable Mari from Made on Holiday who arranged the whole thing (and convinced me to do it!). She is the most wonderful warm, Italian, non cooking, non sewing mama, she looked after us so well, if anyone could convince me to do it again she could….but we’ll see!