Thursday, 26 September 2013

Diary of a SketchCrawl Organiser: Squished Buses and Nearly Squished Children...

For this month's SketchCrawl, we had an idea for something a bit different: a bus-hop. The plan was to buy a Derbyshire Day Ticket, then take the no. 65 from Sheffield's bus station out into the countryside, stopping off at various villages for 1hr drawing stints. People who lived out that way, could meet our bus along the route and join in - great idea or what? 

I spent ages with the timetable, trying to work out a schedule: Sheffield to Eyam, to Foolow, to Buxton, to Tideswell, back to Sheffield. It was very nearly a disaster: at the last minute, I realised our final bus home from Buxton didn't run on a Saturday. Oops. Hasty change-round: miss out Tideswell, get the earlier bus home (note to self: always check out funny little symbols on timetables...). Sorted. 

But fate had her mischievous eye on me. My careful plans began going skew-whiff once again on the very morning of departure. Although the bus company advertised that we could buy the Derbyshire ticket in Sheffield, the bus driver's computerised ticket machine wouldn't let him sell it to us until we crossed the border into Derbyshire! 

It was lucky that only the computer was a job's-worth: the driver was nice (and a little embarrassed). He agreed to let all 18 of us get on without tickets and let us pay once we got to Eyam, our first jumping-off point.

We all trouped up to the top deck, like kids on a school trip. We had intended to draw on the bus and I did manage the spread above, but it was INCREDIBLY bumpy, so I gave up.
It didn't matter - it was a glorious day and we soon left the city behind. I was really pleased with the large turn-out, especially as we were meeting another set of people at Eyam and more at Buxton. It was going to be great. Then...

...the bus stopped. A moment later, the driver poked his head up the stairs. 
'Sorry folks,' he said, 'but you won't be going to Eyam. I've just heard there's a tree across the road - we are taking a diversion along the main road straight to Tideswell.'
This was bad enough news: not onl
y were we no longer supposed to be stopping in Tideswell, but we would miss two other sketching stops, both Eyam and Foolow, which we were now going to by-pass. Worse still, there were 4 more sketchers expecting us to arrive in Eyam in less than 5 minutes! 

Someone pulled out a map: if we got off at the next stop, just before the anti-tree diversion kicked in, we could walk up the hill to Eyam in about 10 minutes. Disaster averted, again.

It took a while to get off the bus: 18 tickets had to be bought. We then trudged up the pavement-free, country road, trying to prevent the 3 young children in the party from getting squished by traffic, until at last we reached the village and found our friends. Time to draw. 

Except... with the children, the walk had taken 20 minutes and, since we had to assume we'd have to walk back down again to get our next bus, that used up most of our hour's sketching time. My already dented schedule crashed about me on the ground.

We had a conflab. We decided to miss out our 2nd stop, the pretty village of Foolow, and get the bus-after-next straight to Buxton. That bought us an extra hour to draw in Eyam (the village famous for introducing the plague to England via an imported bolt of contaminated cloth). I bought coffee in a cafe, to steady my frayed nerves and got out my sketchbook.

It was a good job we noticed the bus go by. We no longer wanted to catch that one, but it meant we didn't have to walk back down the hill for the next one. The tree must be gone from the road. Things were looking up.

At 12.10, all 22 of us were standing at the bus stop in a virtually deserted Eyam. 12.15 came and the bus was now late. I was getting a bit twitchy. 

Then a massive tow truck trundled by with a no. 65 bus strapped to its back: a 65 bus with its roof caved in! My heart sank. Then I realised it was travelling the other way - this bus must be the reason the tree had been in the road in the first place. 

When we got to Buxton (with quite a sign of relief), we met 3 more sketchers. They took us to a cafe for some lunch, then we walked into the older part of town to draw. I found a sunny spot on the pavement opposite Buxton Opera House and relaxed with my watercolour pencils. I was half way through the drawing at the top of this post, when a woman stopped in front of me. 'Excuse me, but do you illustrate children's books?'

Now, I am no Jacqueline Wilson: I'm not used to being recognised in the street, so I was quite chuffed. It turned out she had seen me 2 years ago, doing a festival event in Huddersfield. 'I work at a school there,' she said. 'Can I book you to come and visit us?'. I have never been offered a job whilst sitting on the pavement like a tramp before!

We made the 3 o'clock bus back to Sheffield without further mishap. It was, if anything, even bumpier than the previous ones, so the drawing games I had planned for the long journey home were unfortunately a non-starter. Ah well. More chatting.

People got off along the way and so a much-reduced band of SketchCrawlers crossed the road from the bus station and headed into The Sheffield Tap to share the sketchbooks. 

I have to say, it wasn't quite the day I had envisaged, but everyone said they had a good time anyway and at least I got them all home in one piece. Despite spending more time on the buses than in the villages, I can see now that I managed a fair bit of sketching. So, success of sorts.


Croom said...

Lynne I laughed all the way through this, you write as wonderfully as you sketch. Thank you for brightening my day.

Observe Closely said...

You can't have an adventure without taking a few risks! If I had been along, I would have enjoyed it all immensely.


Lynne the Pencil said...

Thank you :-D x

Judith Alsop Miles said...

Very entertaining, Lynne. Your lovely personality shines through all that you do :)

Candy Gourlay said...

I wanna come on one of these ... sounds like enormous fun!

Candy Gourlay said...

I wanna come on one of these ... sounds like enormous fun!

Lynne the Pencil said...

If ever you are up our way Candy...

Beliza Mendes said...

This sounds like so much fun! And a great idea for a sketchcrawl.
By the way: why do I always have to think of Mr Darcy when I read or hear of Derbyshire? hahaha

Lynne said...

I was there and it was thoroughly enjoyable, despite the unpredictable mishaps! We should do it again sometime!

larry said...

What a glorious blog post, Lynne. I chuckled through it all, while also feeling the stress some of these things must have caused you.

Love the sketches you managed to accomplish in the midst of planning and replanning. I was amazed at how clean and detailed your bus sketches of people were. Your buses must ride smoother than ours as even my quick sketches on buses end up with line scrawled across the face as a result of a bump in the road :-)

Cheers --- Larry

Lynne the Pencil said...

Thanks Larry. I am amazed too, to be honest. It was horrible bumpy and I so missed my nice, smooth trains! I guess I was just lucky that my pencil wasn't actually on the paper for the worst of the jumps :-)

Adrienne Smith said...

Oh man, in your position I would have probably been crying! But good for you for keeping your head straight and the fun in tow! I am not great at misshapen plans along the way, I admire the way you seemed to have handled it.

That really does sound like a great idea! I know that trying to get people together to draw is a hard task in the first place! Awesome that you got so many to join in with you! I wish I was in the area!

jeanette said...

That was really funny! I imagined every moment, and felt for you! Ah well there always has to be some adventure otherwise we'd be bored..Haha
Great concept though, sketchcrawlers I love it!! Shame there's none in Italy...yet!

anna said...

Glad it worked out ok in the end and love the story of the journey too. Wonderful lively Opera House sketch - it's singing to me!

MC Rogerson said...

What a fun journey! I can't draw very well, but would've loved to have joined you at Buxton. Maybe next time!

Lynne the Pencil said...

What lovely feedback - thank you guys :-)

MC: you don't have to be really good to have fun with us, as it's a very mixed group. All levels, all ages. We are about sharing something we enjoy, rather than competing and comparing. There are lots of sketchers in your area as well as Sheffield, so drop me an email outside Blogger and I'll pop you on my e-mailing list. You don't have to come, or even reply, it will just let you know what's happening, should you fancy giving it a go.

If you are on Facebook, join us at the group SketchCrawl North. x

jabbott said...

What a cool day you all had,even if a little stressful at times x

Sue Pownall said...

I am sorry to say but your day made me laugh a lot.

Sorry it was so stressful for you as the organiser, but what a great adventure, with fabulous sketches to show for it.