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Showing posts from August, 2016

Day 1 and an Ode to Departed Friends

And so it begins. The live build. There were 27 of us during the summer school and that has now reduced to 11. I loved every single one of my summer school friends, and I actually found myself becoming closer to them in the three weeks that we were together than I did during my three years of stonemasonry training at Bath College. Leaving the office and retraining as a stonemason was a great decision on my part, even if I do say so myself, but the summer school was something else. It was a series of magnificent flashes of colour, setting itself aside from every other experience I’ve had up to this point. It was so unique and went by in such a blur that I was afraid that it might have been part of some elaborate hoax, a drug-induced coma or worse: a dream. When Christian and I got back to Dumfries House on Saturday evening after two weeks off, we were glad to find that everything we had remembered was still here. Gradually, as our newest friends began to arrive over the course of…

Day 0 and the Raleigh Wildtrack

I knew I needed a mountain bike for the live build, but I’d left buying one until the last minute. It wasn’t through want of trying – I’d visited half a dozen bike shops in the area over the past few weeks in search of a suitable one, but there was one problem: my taste for mountain bikes was still firmly rooted in 2000. The turn of the century heralded the beginning of a passion for bicycles that is still firmly with me. So I preferred the retro style that I grew up with. The new style was too flashy for my taste and the tubing was far too thick. At the age of 14, my school friends and I would cycle through Upton St Leonards, up a very steep hill called Portway to Painswick Beacon. It took an hour or two to cycle right to the top, but it was worth it. It was in this area that I found a freedom in cycling down its wooded trails. You can’t beat the exhilaration of cycling fast down a hill and I wanted to capture some of that excitement while I was at Dumfries House. I visite…

Kitty

On the very first morning of the summer school, Corinne was complaining of stiffness. She’d taken part in the Vitality British 10K run in London the day before and in doing so helped to raise over £2000 for charity. My cousin had also entered the race and it was also one that he went on to win. I told Corinne about it and she was suitably impressed, but I don’t think it’s something I told you. 
Skip forwards a week and a half to Dumfries House. I discover that you’re a regular runner. Some mornings I saw you as you set out on your morning jog, other mornings I saw you when you get back. I’m not a 100-mile a week man like my cousin, but I do run. I like running. I like the intensity of it. I like it for the freedom it affords and for its accessibility. I like the freedom of knowing that I can go anywhere I like and I can go immediately. It doesn’t require a membership or expensive equipment. I don’t necessarily need to travel anywhere to do it or have to rely on anyone when …

Ashleigh

“It is the third day of the summer school and I feel dizzy with inspiration. The lecturers are opening up a whole new world for those who let them. The last three days have been a great outpouring of wisdom and I feel proud that I was chosen to be here. The tap has been turned on and knowledge is dripping from above. “The buckets!” I want to shout. “Get the buckets!” All I can find is my notepad and pen, so I write down as much as I can, scribbling in a frenzy, capturing as many ideas as I can. We are all stood at the gateway to a whole new kingdom and our lecturers are handing us the key.” 
It was a warm afternoon anyway as we stood with our drinks outside The Bricklayer’s Arms, but I was warmed even further by the lecture that Lucien had given before we finished for the day. He had shown us the contents of his sketchbook and dazzling beams of light projected from every page. He showed us a riverfront capriccio and it was so dreamy that I would have done anything to walk withi…

Christopher

We joined the River Ayr roughly halfway along its 40-mile journey from its source at Glenbuck to its mouth at the seaside town of Ayr on the west coast.  Towards the end of our outward walk along the riverbank, we came to an old rusted pipeline that passed over it.  It was a bridge for daredevils and thrill-seekers and a place that has doubtless served as childhood initiation ceremonies for generations.  The world was your playground and your eyes were wild with love when you saw it.  The appearance of the pipeline ushered in an early Christmas for you, and if I listened really carefully I could almost hear the atoms in your body fizz and pop and whirr with excitement.  You vaulted the iron spikes of its fence and Amos followed suit soon after.  It was around this time that Wakina’s face dropped.  She spoke to her compatriot in rapid Kenyan.  “Why do you have to be such a dumbass, Amos?  You are 41 years old.  When are you going to learn to grow up?”  I don’t know any Kenyan so I can&…

Jo

When we got to Cumnock after the tour of the Knockroon estate, none of us really knew what to do with ourselves.  We gathered on some steps and tried to settle upon the most judicious course of action.  Naz was looking for a pub, while Shreya and someone else may or may not have gone into a clothes shop.  Most of us decided that the local Asda was the safest and most sensible option so we headed over in a great shoal of cultural diversity.  This place was curiously, intimidatingly sleepy.  I checked the day: Saturday afternoon.  Perhaps Scotland had different weekends.  Or the air raid siren had recently gone off by mistake.  The locals who were out were nonplussed by our presence, crossing the road not to be unfriendly, but rather to survey whether the scene was unusual enough to be put on Facebook.  A very well-represented cross section of planet earth had descended on Cumnock that afternoon, only to find that approximately 85% of its inhabitants were asleep.  
You joined us in Asda …

Charlie

It is the morning of our architectural tour of Glasgow and we are stood brushing our teeth at the row of washbasins.  You are in your usual place, charming the same section of mirror with your reflection.  If your good looks were split into quarters and opened up along the length of this room, all four of you would be handsome.  I catch the eye of my own reflection for a moment and see that all I can offer you in return is humour.  I feel the scene is begging to escape the ordinary so I consider asking you to strike your best Blue Steel pose, but I don't know how good you are at mornings, or if toothbrushing time is considered sacred time where you're from.  Then I think about your McLovin' impression that I have already seen you do so well, but stop short of asking you to do it again.  Instead, I offer something that is less intrusive and better suits the subtleties of morning.  ‘You know when we get back from Glasgow’, I say.  ‘Will we have to start calling it Glasgone?’…

Corinne

On the final day of design week I found you stood outside, hunched over and useless with laughter. Kitty was next to you as your hysterical reflection, the symmetry broken only by her hand as a sign of support on your shoulder. I knew the moment was yours and Kitty’s to share so I took a picture and slipped back inside unnoticed. Hearing you laugh was a source of strength that stayed with me for the rest of the day, and it followed me wherever I went: it helped me make the curved ridge board while Amos was making the trusses for our model, it lent a hand in beating Canadian Chris in an arm wrestle at the Boswell Arms as we celebrated that evening, and it told me to throw water on our beautiful model tower when Eric set fire to it when we got back. 

I wanted to know the source of your laughter but that desire sat on a perfectly balanced set of scales with the need not to know on the other side. I ascribed a personality to each of them.  I imagined that those two needs were best of fr…