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A Tangletastic Weekend

Posted on October 21, 2014

Morning Gophettes…

Yes im back.  Back from one of the most enjoyable weekends I have had for quite a while, down in the Cotswolds, curtesy of our mates, Jane and Chris from Addicted 2 Craft.  We were based at the magnificent Tortworth Court for what was their annual crafting retreat, together with my new best mate and hero, Mel Heaton, and dozens of crafty loving ladies.  What a venue!  This place simply oozed class, and had the most beautiful garden.  Garden???….it was about the size of a small country.


Here we have a pic of Douglass Towers just as we were leaving for weekend retreat……..Ere hang on!!  Sorry!….This is actually our venue for the weekend, Tortworth Court.  I got mixed up there, but after a close inspection, I realised that we have an extra turret attached to Douglass Towers…..Other than than……Spitting Image.

We arrived on Saturday, around fourish, after the most frustrasting journey from the frozen north.  It was around 300 miles in all, and I totted up that we had around 100of them through road works….About a third of the trip!  Some stretches were for about 25 miles.  No one working mind….just slow traffic.  How can there be justification for 25 miles of slow moving traffic, when it would surely be more sensible to cover shorter lengths of road at a time, and get one bit finished before going to the next.  I don’t know who works these things out, but they obviously don’t travel the roads very often.  I’m thinking of trading in the wheels and getting one of those big Kite things and floating down to venues.

Anyway, enough of my rant and on to the hotel.  once there, we decided to relax until evening meal in our room.  However, once dinner time arrived, we were both ready for our din dins, and headed down to the restaurant.  Talk about atmospheric.  High vaulted ceilings gave way to old period library selves and books, wooden panels….Oh yeah, and the food was …….MMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!  All I will say is that the home made vanilla Ice Cream was devine…..’nuff said!  Then after dinner we popped into one of the bars for a quick night cap of Diet Coke, before retiring to the room and Match Of The Day.

Morning came and we were up at the crack of 7ish, to be met by an interview featuring Alan Rickman…who Sheena has a bit of a thing for.  Then it was down for breaky before heading up to the demo rooms to start work.  Once The Boss was ensconced into her room for the morning session, I managed to sneak off and have a bit of a wander.  I have never seen so many different trees…..Littl’uns, Big’uns….and even bigger’uns, all surrounding this fantastic Victorian mansion.  If you check out the first floor in the pic above….The two windows to the extreme left is where Sheena was playing, whilst the large bay in the middle is where I poined Mel and her class for an afternoon of total escapism in the form of some Zentangling.  But more of that in a min.

Here is our other hero hard at play…


…with some AquaTints and stamps.  Chris, Jane’s husband, had rigged up this brilliant set-up of cameras and lighting, and highlighted one of her demo’s with a live streaming event, directly through the Addicted2Craft website.  This is one of the unique features of their retreats, so keep an eye open next year, as it will be as if you have The Boss in your very own living room…….But don’t let that put you off :-).  So out of Sheena’s room and across the hall, we had the room that Mel was in.  Now I am a doodler.  I doodle on the phone ( but have to wipe them off or else)  I doodle watching the telly.  I even doodle when I am dooling, so a visit to Mel’s Zentangle class was a must.  Ever since she first appeared on C&C with the technique, I have fancied a crack at it, so when the opportunity came up……I was in there.


Talk about getting immersed.  The afternoon literally flew by.  We began with a basic square, and gradually built up one of Mel’s patterns until we completed a syymetrical shape.  Then we transfered what we had been learning across to a pre stamped christmas bauble card……Then I simply drifted away…….

You have got to try this.  It is so much fun…….and completely random….Relax…totally relax.


…Three hours later and I had finished and had this to show…..Three hours that had vanished in the blinking of an eye…..I’ll never get the phone answered now!

Here is a close up of one of the baubles….


…showing the initial pattern through the middle, and the made up as I went along panels above and below.

Relaxing and total fun….I even got meself a couple of books, so guess what The Springers and I will be up to during these upcoming cold wintery evenings in front of me candle.

So a huge “Thank You” to Jane and Chris for inviting us along to such a brill event, and also a big “Thank You” to Mel and the other ladies for putting up with moi for an afternoon….I truly had a blast guys.  If you get the chance next year, I have to say that you would thouroughly enjoy going to the next event.  The venue…the classes and the organisation are all first class……And the food is canny as well…..Go on Treat yourselves :-).

Reet, other news!!  I’m a bit behind with news, so lets kick off with this week, and Sheena’s visit to the Scottish Exhibition Centre and the SEEC Craft event.  She will be on the Samuel Taylor stand with her new AquaTints and loads of techniques and tips, so if you can get along, say hello…..Oh and ask her where me dinner is.  Then, the following week ( 1st & 2nd November), she has a ‘Weekender’ on C&C, featuring some brand new goodies.  I will have more on that next week, suffice to say that they are superb and loads of crafty fun.  Then finally for today, on the 6th of November, we are travelling over to northern France, to visit the grave of my great-uncle, Robert  Hopper, who was killed on the 7th of November 1918……four days before the end of WW1.  It has taken all of these years to find where he lies, so Sheena, my cousin’s son, Jimmy and myself are going over to pay our respects, on the very anniversary of the day he was killed.

Then it’s full speed ahead to the Festive period………Already!!  The last time I looked it was July, so i’ve lost 3 months somewhere.

OK…..there we have it for today…….But seriously…what a weekend as guests Jane and Chris, and I hope to get the opportunity to go back in the future.

Time for a cuppa, as I have now reached the one stone off mark.  Well to be honest that was reached on friday, but the weekend jollies have meant that a couple of pounds have been re-added to this temple, which will be re-removed by the end of the week curtesy of the Kinect and some killer moves on the Football front.

Bye for now

ZenGopher (The)


  • Jane Gregory October 21st, 2014 11:02 am

    Hi Russ or should I say ZenGopher!
    It was an absolute pleasure to get to spend time with you and Sheena this weekend.
    Thank-you SO much for braving the roadworks and the long journey to come and visit us Southerners in the Cotswolds.
    It was fantastic to see you in the ‘Zen zone’ of Mel’s Zentangle workshop! Yet another talent you have now discovered you have!
    All are guests were absolutely delighted and inspired by your visit (Sheena wasn’t bad too!!!) and are begging to have you back sometime.
    Hope to see you both down this way again soon.
    With much love and thanks,
    Jane, Addicted 2 Craft.

  • Pamela October 21st, 2014 12:08 pm

    Hi ZenGopher and the Missus

    What a great blog write up did have me giggling, love your sense of humour certainly can see how you and Sheena are a couple…. would love to be a fly on the wall when you both hit the drink or should I say Diet Cola could be hilarious. Now I’m only talking about your daily interaction of course I don’t need too many details. I’m also in awe of Mel Heaton she is amazing and so dedicated – I’ve always been a doodler like yourself and after watching one of her Zentangle demos on C & C I’m now hooked its pretty addictive.


    Pamela, from Chelmsford, Essex.

  • Nicky goode October 21st, 2014 1:00 pm

    Once again thank you Sheena for the brilliant demos I have learnt so much.I brought the bright and beautiful Aquatints colours
    I am also hooked to Zentangle.
    Hope to see you and Russ again soon

  • Karen P October 21st, 2014 1:00 pm

    Sounds like a fab weekend was had by everyone! Fantastic zen doodling Gopher, I hope you both have a great week Karen x

  • kelly October 28th, 2014 2:58 pm

    Hi is it this week sheena has the weekender? Xx

  • Sheena Douglass October 29th, 2014 4:12 pm

    Hi Kelly…

    Yes, she will be heading down to C&C on friday, but from today I will be featuring loads of samples and ideas from the upcoming shows, so stay tuned :-).