I've only been back in Manchester for about a year, but I still wonder every day: 'Why did I leave after university in 1990?' I left a city that was at the time, the envy of the world. While I was lugging a cello and a viola about by day, I was also steeped in the scene that gave us Afflecks and Bez.
The city (and the region) has continued to ingest its magical potion since I headed back to sleepy Hampshire over thirty years ago, but choosing to follow my youngest daughter north last year for my mid-life Rumspringa, while she started out on her own higher education journey, has been monumental.
Jump (or hop) forward to Sunday afternoon, and I sat (after the rain cleared) with a girlfriend in the Assheton Arms pub garden in the pretty village of Downham. (Potted Morecambe Bay Shrimps followed by Robata Grilled Salmon for me. Completely delicious by-the-way.) Less than hour from my home in one of the greatest cities in the North/GB/Europe/The World (delete as appropriate) and we were immersed in a scene Byron would have described as bucolic majesty, but I'll go with Lush.
While mulling over coffee or dessert, or both, my mud-splattered GF (who had dodged out of Beatherder Festival, leaving Hubby and friends in a field, on a Dream Frequency with Skream and DJ Boring) and I perused this year's Festival Bowland brochure, which while (hopefully) light on hallucinogenics, has got everything else. Kicking off this coming weekend with The Tateham Modern Art Exhibition (do you see what they've done there?) - there is a summer of fabulous events scheduled - and all within an hour of Mighty Manchester!
From "proddy" rugging to print making and from painting to photography, the latest Festival Bowland programme is further establishing this part of Lancashire (and a bit of Yorkshire) as a creative hotspot.
The exquisite natural world offers a great source of inspiration so, whether you and the fam are looking to try something new, or are already seasoned creatives, there's more-than-likely to be a relaxed, friendly workshop for you in Bowland this summer.
Artist, Carla Gebhard, is offering very special watercolour workshops especially for children on the afternoon of the 9th August. Based at lovely Wyresdale Park on the edge of Scorton, Carla's session will focus on creativity and fun – great for accompanied children of all abilities. Places for the hour-long workshop, which starts at 3.30pm, are limited, so don't dally. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for price and booking details. And did you know that Carla also donates 5% of every one of her print sales towards planting trees in Lancashire? That is inspiring.
And the Bowland Hay Time project is once again inviting people to enjoy a series of meadow-themed art and craft activities this summer. (Just think blue sky. Larks singing. Ragged Robin and Lady's Bedstraw and possibly a romantic picnic with a significant other. Or on your own.)
Mixed media textile artist, Kit Wood, will be demonstrating traditional rug hooking on 11th August in Grindleton, with the chance to take away your very own miniature "proddy" rug filled with flowers, bees or whatever takes your imagination.
The 15th August will see local photographer, Mark Sutcliffe, sharing hints and tips on how to get the best smartphone pictures when you're out and about. So, if you'd like to capture the beauty of the Bowland landscape, but are looking for a little guidance, this Gisburn Forest-based workshop could be just the thing.
Wigglesworth Community Centre will be the venue for a Sunday afternoon with printmaker, Nita Burrows on 20th August. Taking inspiration from the landscape for her own work, Nita is going to guide participants through the magic of the printmaking process. This half-day workshop will be a great opportunity to discover intaglio printmaking and drypoint etching.
Further information for the three Hay Time workshops, including costs and booking details, is available by emailing email@example.com, or by calling Sandra on 07973 923142.
And for anyone looking for a little creative motivation ahead of the workshops, Maiden Bridge Arts Centre's Tateham Modern Art Exhibition will continue on Saturdays and Sundays until the 30th July. Located near Bentham, this free-entry exhibition involves 25 artists showing painting, sculpture, ceramics and textiles. Details are available HERE.
So...even though we're awash with the very best of festivals in the city centre this summer thanks to Factory International and Greater Manchester Fringe, there's no excuse not to also head out to green-and-pleasant Bowland and that's a fact.