Due to an instructor having to pull out, I was delighted to be contacted by the lovely Jacklyn and Willy Suiskins who run an amazing event calledJamvention in the EU.
I flew to Amsterdam, trying to recall my Dutch, and caught the train down to Maastricht to stay with my ‘Dutch Brother’ Reuben and his lovely wife Danielle whom I last saw at my handfasting in 2006. I got to know him on the Education & Adventure camp we worked in back in Dorset, pre – 2000. I had a lovely day with them and their wee girls (who knew me through gifts I’d sent from Hong Kong but had never met me) and the next morning they dropped me off, en-route to their coastal holiday, at the castle (only 15 minutes from theirs) where Jamvention was hosted.
The huge Castel Notre Dam is in Voerstreek, where Holland, Germany and Belgium meet. It was full of kids on an activity break so I left my luggage and walked back into the village to find a pub I could eat lunch in whilst waiting for kids to go assorted painters I knew to arrive.
No brain engaged, I texted Eugenie panicking as I’d forgotten to get out any cash before leaving the train station and thought I only had Dutch money – and being now over the border into Belgium wasn’t sure if they’d take it- “duhr- Euros” was the reply:) My childhood of having different purses for the different countries we lived in/ visited tripping me up there!
So I sat reading and sketching and stuffing my face with local sausage and other specialities. Sorry Sjors, I know you liked making me try the dutch fast-food places but the proper home-made versions were MUCH nicer!
Eventually everyone arrived and I was picked up by the bus full of Matteo Arnafinotti and the rest of that bunch. It was fab to meet Jacklynn and Willy who were really friendly, and catch up with Cree and Liz who I hadn’t seen (but had missed!) since the Welsh Face & Body Art festivals stopped. I tried to be useful with my pidgin dutch/ german helping people book in and get their goody bags (all sorts of lovely bits including cute character bath ducks – mine was an artist!).
The castle is run like a huge youth hostel, split into dorms and bunk-bed rooms with shared loos and showers. Only a few had their beautiful original ceilings etc but its a great place to jam. All sorts was going on – beginning with an amazing selection of cakes one lady had made, including a copy of the castle with all instructors flags on them. AND she’s made a rainbow of cakes each with a different flavour and instructors photo on!
I taught a few classes (and got really nervous in the 1st for some reason) and didn’t actually take many photos of the amazing things going on as my camera was playing up. Matteo was swamped as usual- he and Francesca are LOVELY. Balloonists at work making dresses looked familiar- and I finally realised we’d met in Shanghai! She’d been part of the balloon art show (amazing dresses etc) whilst I was there for the body art show representing the UK, in 2009. I spent a fortune at the prosthetic stall!
I loved Yvonne Zonnenberg’s Zombie skin demo. You can make all sorts of effects and prosthetics, even over unprotected eyebrows, and they are paintable and re-useable. Her creative hair workshop was fab too.
The quiz night was hysterical and was another evening that went well past my bed-time!
After it was all over, Jacklyn and Willy took us back to their lovely house and we had a fantastic meal together. They changed my breakfasts for ever by introducing me to Spekuloos paste which is basically a sweet-crunchy-peanutbutterish paste made from those patterned (windmill etc) spice biscuits I always make sure to buy at Christmas. The next morning the 2 welsh ladies, myself and the 2 Italians were taken to a huge mall to get souvenirs. I had a yummy horse sandwich. And what did we all go look at ? A tupperware shop:)
An amazing weekend, thankyou so much to everyone involved. There was a lot of painting and balloons too, I just seem to have gone on about food, sorry!