Hope your week is going well. Today I want you to pour yourself a cup of tea/coffee or wine (if it’s that time of day for you) and pull up a chair so we can have a gossip about Paris.
When I think back on this trip to Paris there are certain things that stand out in my memory: catching up on all the movies I never get time to watch on the flight over, the sweet French girl who sat next to me on the plane, the friendly welcome I received at the hotel, (even if the concierge/receptionist did offer to carry my luggae but then dumped it at the foot of the elevator!). My room which was no bigger than a shoebox, challenging myself to remember my school French, the crisp cold weather in contrast to our warm Cape town, a visit to the Eiffel tower, the delicious warm croissants at breakfast, the sheer immensity and awesomeness of L ’Aiguille En Fete, the yummy French onion soup in a Parisian café at the end of a busy day, the amazing architecture, driving through the tunnel where Lady Di was killed, the Place D La Concorde and shopping at Les Galleries Lafayette (amazing).
But what stands out the most is the comradeship and friendships formed with the two other teachers, Hazel Blomkamp and Di Van Niekerk plus the publishers Wilsia Metz from South Africa and Louis from the UK, who were there to promote their French titles
I have always maintained that people in the embroidery/craft world are extraordinary in that they willingly share their knowledge and unite in a common interest, but this trip left me with such a sense of gratitude for the privilege of being a part of it. Hazel Di & I spent many hours exchanging ideas and comparing notes and when it came to our workshops we each helped the other to set up, mount fabric into hoops etc. and get the students settled. There was no sense of competitiveness just a natural desire to help each other and ensure that our students felt at ease and enjoyed their workshop.
Wilsia and Louis introduced us to the world of publishing and I learnt so much about what happens behind the scenes, which gave me a much clearer idea of the part the publisher has to play in my publications. The five of us became great friends over the few days – many laughs were had as we negotiated our way on the metro, sightseeing, eating at different restaurants and spending hours over a glass of wine ( or in my case a sprite) in the hotel dining room every evening as we reconstructed the day’s events.
There was a particular restaurant, close to the hotel, that we returned to again and again because of our humorous exchanges with Marcelle the waiter. When we asked if we could use the ladies room he stated “Oh no it is closed on Tuesday and we do not give change on Fridays”! When I asked him if his roast beef was in fact beef he rushed off and came back with a picture of a cow – “This is Jean Claude and he has won prizes for his excellent beef, this is what is on the menu tonight”!
The L ‘Aiguille En Fete was held at the Porte De Versailles Exhibition Centre which is a massive combination of halls each one housing a different exhibition. Our hall was No 6 and required moving walkways to get to the top of the hill. When we first approached I was struck by the hundreds of people in the queues waiting patiently to get into the hall – fortunately we were given teachers badges which allowed us entry through a side door otherwise we would have had to join the long queue.
Here are some of the products that were on offer to name a few: Knitting, cross stitch and all forms of embroidery, magnifying lamps, ribbons, threads, beads, crochet, machine embroidery, fashion design, frames and accessories gorgeous fabrics, quilting etc.
Hazel, Di and I were in awe of the number of stands and the products on offer and had to pinch ourselves to remind us that we were actually there! It was immediately obvious that most of these products were uniquely “French”, the beautiful, elegant works and shades of colour that only the French could produce. Unfortunately many of these are not available online so one has to be present to have access to them – here are a few of the items I came home with, oh so Parisian! Not sure when I am going to get time to do these but you know how it is Have to Have………. ? These items can be purchased online from Un Chat dans L’aiguille.
Our workshops were held within a separate area of the convention hall – and although fairly noisy because of the crowds walking by were very nicely laid out and had everything we required. My translators, Paola and Domi were absolute stars always at my side to translate whatever I said. It got to the stage where they could have taught the class without me! I did wonder sometimes that something I said which took 2 mins would take 10 mins to translate, but put that down to the flourish of the French language! I had to adapt my teaching methods to suit the circumstances which were a challenge but the experience will prove beneficial when I am required to give similar workshops in the future – in fact I do feel that I could teach in a mud hut if required, as long as my ipad was fully charged!
With the workshops over I said a fond farewell to my companions who left on the Euro star for London to attend the Birmingham show and a visit to the Royal School of Needlework. I was sad to say goodbye and not a little envious of their trip to the UK – but maybe next time…………. I stayed on for another 2 days with my cousin Gill who came over from the UK to spend time with me – we had not seen each other for 10 years and had lots to catch up on.
All in all an amazing trip – I would highly recommend that you start putting the pennies/cents in the jar and save up to visit the L ‘Aiguille En Fete at least once in your lifetime, you will feel like you are in another world. We missed our friends from Country Bumpkin in Australia but there is talk afoot of having a combined Australia/Southern Africa stand at future events, an exciting prospect, as long as Susan O’Connor and Hazel Blomkamp behave themselves 🙂 so watch this space.
Meantime wherever you are, be it winter, summer or spring have a wonderful week and many happy stitching hours. Trish