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.
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 only 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!
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.
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?'.
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.