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April 13, 2014

Rachel Hazell’s Driftwood Book Retreat and Jill Calder’s Illustration Course were a great success. We had participants from across the UK, Norway, France and the States. The courses complimented one another and the quality of work produced was memorable. Both Jill and Rachel are practiced teachers and in spite of some initial nerves and ‘creators block’ everyone produced some beautiful pieces. I sat in on both the final ‘show and tell’ sessions and was moved not just by the quality of work but by the pushing of personal boundaries that had gone on to reach this goal. As with the best of courses such as these, they were a subtle mix of a light touch, fun, personal processing and challenge. I think that everyone left Iona happier and a little bit richer than when they arrived.

Next winter I hope to host more courses of this kind. If you have a course in you that you would like to teach, why not get in touch with me?

Big Marc has just left for a few months in the States. We’ll miss him. He’s done some great work around the croft, planting ever more trees and building fences and generally imbuing the hostel his own air of attentive gentleness. Dan has been steadily busy painting the hostel and he has made a lovely job of it. He’s now out in the barn painting the Black Boat (now white with a pale blue top plank), spoiled rather by 007 the super-sheep getting in last night and rubbing himself against the wet paint. It’ll be the only boat with a black woolly coat. Louise has been a great addition to the team for a few weeks and worked wonders on the garden. She’s now up on Eigg but hopefully we’ll see her here again. Petri is back to continue on with the garden in her calm way and help with the hostel and Tereza from the Czech Republic has come back to join us. She helped in the hostel four years ago and so it’s a pleasure to see her again. I feel very fortunate to have such a great crowd of helpers around the croft and hostel and the place certainly benefits from their care and hard work. Put more bluntly -I couldn’t be doing this without them.

As I write, a wedding is taking place in the hostel. The ceremony was on the beach and now they are all up in a splendid marquee next to the hostel having a meal. Tonight  they will have a ceilidh. The weather today has been windy and squally and everyone (including the piper) sighed with relief that the beach part of the celebrations took place in bright sunshine. Hopefully I’ll have some good photo’s for my next blog.

To end, here are a selection of images from Rachel and Jill’s courses.







3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2014 6:22 pm

    Oh, John! What beautiful works of art and soul resulted from these workshops! I love that you are expanding the vision of how your lovely piece of the earth can hold people and passion! xoxo, mary

  2. May 18, 2014 5:38 am

    I’ve just been teaching on Whidbey Island in the Pacific North West…which was rather delightful. Must say your hostel looks like a most desirable destination for a creative gathering

    • May 18, 2014 8:26 am

      Hello and thanks for writing. I’ve always wanted to visit Whidbey. Viv has arrived quite recently -though I haven’t had the chance yet to say hello. Always lovely to see her. It’s a bit like the swallows arriving!

      Kind regards,


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