Thursday, July 6, 2017

e2c 2017 - the memories

After so much planning, it’s hard to accept our escape2create 2017 is over. So much time and  and heart go into the event… and it’s over in a flash!

Both Meredith and I had our houses full to the brim of e2c goods so we were so pleased to finally be able to clear some space and pack it up into the cars to head down to Port Lincoln to start the adventure.

I left home around midday on Wednesday the 21st and felt so excited at what was to come. Feeling fairly certain that nothing had been forgotten, I whizzed around PL trying to finish off some little jobs and was soon wheeling my bag into the hotel.

The first thing I saw in reception was Meredith with the big luggage carriers taking boxes and boxes up to our room. It was a slight worry as I wasn’t sure we would fit ourselves in the room at all, with boxes filling every space  - even on my bed! We were able to compact it all down a little bit and then headed down for a celebratory champagne and cheese platter as neither of us had eaten lunch and we thought it sounded like a luxurious treat.  I’ve always wanted to be ‘one of those types’ who were able to sit with friends drinking wine and eating cheese platters in the afternoon of a weekday! We sat there talking and laughing, going over my numerous lists for a few hours.

Meredith could tell I was getting antsy about making our big rose ceiling piece, so we headed up to the room to unpack the beautiful big crepe roses. With multitudes of zippy ties and some poly pipe, we constructed an amazing rose bouquet that would hang from the ballroom ceiling. This thing was something I had lost a lot of sleep over, so was super relieved when it was made and looked so stunning.

We spent the rest of the evening admiring our handiwork and chatting over a few more wines.

As Thursday dawned, we were keen to get a brisk walk in before all the flurry of the day began. We donned our walking gear and headed up Winter’s Hill at a pace that left many passing motorists wondering what two crazy chicks were up to. When we came back we had a late breakfast down the street, then purchased a few more bits of greenery to flesh out the rose bouquet. Before long it was time to pick up our amazing teachers Raquel Bowman and Leeann Pearce, who arrived on the same plane. As we gathered their luggage and packed it into the car, it was like we had all been mates for a long time – chatting and laughing easily. How lucky were we to have such down to earth and lovely teachers again!

We went back to the hotel where Raquel and Leeann booked in and had a little rest, and then met up in our room (still full as a goog with e2c stuff) to pack kits. This took up a lot longer than we thought, as we were supposed to meet some of our setup helpers at 7pm to go out together on our traditional Thursday night tea. We were running late and I’m sure these girls thought we were rude by standing them up! I did get a huge, wonderful surprise to see our special mate Mardi Winen standing with the ever reliable and helpful Sue, Trish, and Sandra. She had decided to come over a little bit earlier to help out and surprise us. How brilliant!

We went to the Marina and enjoyed a scrumptious meal together peppered with lots of hysterical laughter before heading back to the hotel to start the setup. Our maxi taxi driver was lost for words on our return trip when he asked “what the occasion was?” and Meredith responded “we have all left our husbands!”

Returning to the hotel, boxes and boxes were moved from our bedroom and from my car to the ballroom. It was so good carrying it in there knowing that we wouldn’t have to take it all home again! Within no time the undecorated ballroom turned into our vision of what e2c 2017 would look like. Tablecloths were covered with gingham and brown paper. Book stacks were placed on each table. Some of the girls worked super hard making the kraft bunting, while Sandra and I fiddled with the placement of the rose ceiling thingo. When it was all up, the cluster looked fantastic and I couldn’t quite believe how well it all came together. Thinking something up in your head is one thing – seeing that vision come to life is another!

Meredith, Sue and Raquel completed packing the goodie bags…and what awesome bags they were. A massive thanks to the donors of the incredibly generous items that went in there – Jo Kinder (Kinder Kreations, Janet Bott (The Resin Rainbow), Ally Harris (Sirrah Sirrah), Leonie Binns (Scrapworkz), ScrapFX, Lou Nelson and Imaginarium Designs. They were seriously overflowing with amazing-ness.

Later Leeann and Raquel worked on the rose garland that was to go on top of the big ballroom doors. They probably wondered what the hell they had gotten themselves into but the final result was stunning.

It was great to get so much done on the Thursday night; such a relief. We were so grateful for all the hard work that went into setup that night and knew that it would make a massive difference to how frantic Friday morning would be. I went to bed exhausted but again didn’t get much sleep as I was too excited.

Friday seemed to come around very quickly, and with only a few hours sleep under my belt we swung into action. The entire foyer area needed to be set up on this day and before long it was coming up roses (!) and looking very e2c 2017. At around 1130 am all our jobs had been ticked off and we headed up to get changed / freshen up, and have a little munch on the incredible lunch platter Lauren had prepared for us (Platter Queen!). Back down to the ballroom at 1pm and there was a lot of standing around, looking at the list ensuring everything had been done and feeling weird that YES everything HAD been done!! Finally 2pm rolled around and we opened the doors.

It was great to see new faces, and some familiar faces from many years of e2c attendance. Getting those smiles and hugs as people walked in the door meant so much to us. It was also special to hear the oohs and ahhs as everyone walked into the ballroom and saw our hard work. I think it looked beautiful and it was nice to hear others think that too.

Everyone quickly settled into their scrapping, and our big open space was soon full to the brim of raskogs, trolleys and totes. In a blink it was dinner time, and we milled around in the foyer as the canapés were passed around. We then sat to eat either a chicken roulade or a lamb steak. (Apparently both delicious!). Dessert was a choice from the side table which you could take back to your scrap desk and munch or remain seated – the choice was yours.

Raquel Bowman kicked off the 2017 classes with her little mini, tag album. This was perfect to jump start the creative juices for the weekend and I actually fiddled with mine almost all retreat! It was great to see so many embracing these little scrappy projects and it was wonderful to see the variation of projects from table to table.

It was free scrap time after this until the doors were shut down at 2am and I have to admit I absolutely fell into bed – puffed to the core.

The next day saw us up grabbing breakfast downstairs in the restaurant (I had a yummy avocado thing which I highly recommend) and then back up to get into Leeann Pearce’s classes. Both her layout classes were to be conducted on the Saturday and boy oh boy were they popular. The first one was her doodle class which saw us stamping and scribbling away. Incredibly inspirational!

We had a little break for lunch, and then back into the gold and fold class of Leeann’s which had us using the very fine and delicate gold leaf to highlight areas on her page. This was a lot of fun to play with and I still get a giggle thinking about her plans on shaking out the leftover gold leaf on particular bits of the Makybe Diva statue.

By this stage it was late afternoon and our special guests arrived. We welcomed back Leanne Pollard, Val Slater, Melinda Dickinson and Lorrae Lawrie who were all kitchen helpers / cooks at various points over the past 10 years. We were blessed to also have Kathryn Doudle, another cook join us as a guest – and has always been a huge support to e2c. Leanne, Val, Mel and Lorrae soon were welcomed back into the retreat family as they mingled with some familiar faces. Our meal that night was another chicken dish (?mini roast?) and a delicious beef steak. Again desserts were from a side table to eat on the run or sit and enjoy.

A challenge was set for Val, Mel, Lorrae and Leanne (non scrapbookers but awesome cooks!) to scrap a page each from some supplied goodies. They did a great job, not only producing a single page but three pages telling a story with some very interesting embellishments. I'm still wondering where they got that condom!?

After tea Meredith and I spoke on the mic about the 10 years of retreats. Of the humble beginnings, going through year by year of logos, designs, decorations, helpers, teachers and committee. Sandra and Sharmaine popped up and asked us to talk about special memories over the years and share some of the info on what goes into planning a retreat. (well the way we do it anyway). I really loved going over all of that, and it made me laugh to think of all those funny stories we have shared over those years.

That night was free scrap time and some people enjoyed the cocktails particularly well. 😉

Sunday morning we again dined for breakfast in the downstairs restaurant and then went back up for Raquel’s final class – her delicious layout. This was using a large cut file (which caused all sorts of issues let me tell you!!) and the most beautiful flower ephemera. I loved how it all came together to look soft and clean… exactly Raquel’s style. Meredith and I have always tried to pick different and opposing teacher styles and 2017 was another winner in my eyes.

Just before lunch, Sandra jumped on the microphone for what was to be the biggest surprise EVER. She started by talking about family and how important their support was to us. As we looked up, John, Hannah, Rohan, my Mum, Piper and Greg were walking into the room. I’m pretty sure I did an ugly cry then because I couldn’t believe that someone had convinced them all to come along!! What a secret to keep from us! (This moment had a hilarious tinge to it when we stopped to consider Meredith’s speech just minutes before hand about John’s email inbox). The surprises didn’t stop there. We were given a stunning box of roses – which mimicked our theme. Mine are still going strong 2 weeks later!

They then asked us to step to the side to watch a slideshow movie with many, many faces from the past retreats, and all of our regular attendees wishing us luck and thanking us. It was absolutely beautiful and so incredibly touching. A photo book with all these images in was also given to us. Apparently Lauren was the slideshow / photobook compiler and she did a gorgeous job. It really did pull at my heartstrings to see all those smiling faces.

Sandra went on to say that we both love our food and BAM out came this magnificent, huge (and heavy!) box of Maggie Beer products. So incredibly generous!! I am sure by this stage our mouths were hanging on the ground. It felt totally surreal!

This bombardment of surprises concluded with us being presented with a trip (A TRIP FOR GOODNESS SAKES!!!) to the Barossa Valley with spending money. At this point I remember thinking that someone needed to wake me – it was just dreamlike and so unreal. To think that a) someone instigated this b) they had helpers c) this team were super sneaky!! and d) they managed to contact so many people and they all donated money towards this totally BLOWS ME AWAY. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough… but please know that I’m here, typing this two weeks later and I still can’t bloody believe it!

Thank you to all involved. It means so much and was such a massive surprise!

We whipped outside to take the group photo, as Mum had scouted out the area a few days before hand. As she scoured the cliff face, we all held our breath, smiled and… it poured with rain! Mum quickly clicked off 3 shots before everyone turned and fled. screeching with laughter back into the hotel.

It was then free scrap time until pack up, which seemed to roll around even faster this year than any other time in the past. Before long people were tidying up, packing their trolleys and wheeling totes back out into the car park. Saying goodbye is always hard, and this year was really tough – knowing that it may be the end.

We love the friendships that e2c has made over the years, and have come to realize that our retreat is about so much more than paper, glue and photos. It’s about the laughing, the letting go, the time out to recharge, the tears, the sharing of stories, the support, that feeling of family and of being accepted. Our retreat is not about “networking” or “the industry”, but about sharing a weekend with likeminded people who don’t care what you make but can see YOU for you. It’s like sunshine on the soul – somewhere that you can feel accepted, safe and amongst friends. I know that I always come away from the retreat feeling much better mentally – and I hope that you get those feels too.

The special gifts that escape2create has given us has been more precious than we could have ever anticipated 10 years ago. We thank every single person who has ever been involved or attended; it wouldn't have been e2c without you.


Fiona Harvey said...

E2C truly is a credit to both you Amanda and Meredith! I have only attended 2 but feel so privileged to have done so. Your review sums up perfectly hat a great event you two have managed to create with some fantastic support from family and friends. I think we all secretly left e2c this year hoping with everything crossed that maybe, just maybe you might both reconsider at some point and surprise us all with an announcement later on that e2c will continue, maybe bi-annually? Whatever the future brings for all of us I know that you gave helped so many of us make so many wonderful friendships and memories. For that I humbly thank you both. xoxoxo

Sandra said...

I was only able to attend one E2C but thoroughly loved it, so happy that you all had such an amazing time at the 'maybe' final