More Catching Up – Bookmaking on the Summer Isles

Oh my – I really do have a lot of catching up to do !  I mentioned that I was off to the Summer Isles in the spring but never got round to writing up an account of this magical trip.

I did make a 30 second video as part of the Arthouse Coop Adventure Video Project – but of course that could only skim the surface.

I deliberately chose to travel up north by public transport ,even though it would have been easy enough to drive. It was the right choice as it made the experience much more relaxed. ( Not to mention the snow storm that awaited us when we returned to the mainland.) So that was a train to Inverness, bus from Inverness to  Ullapool. At Ullapool I met up with my fellow bookbinders for a quick cuppa, followed by a  slightly nail biting taxi trip to Achiltibuie and then a 20 minute crossing on Patricia, the Summer Isles “resident” boat.

The Summer Isles consist of a number of islands, the largest of which ,Tanera Mor , is where we were headed. No roads, no cars – just a few holiday cottages and two permanent residents   Lizzie and Richard. Nothing to break the silence but the birds, the wind and the waves. If ever there was a place to just gently relax and recharge then this is it !

Of course, we were not there to be idle, but under the instructions of the lovely Rachel we were put through our paces. Folding ( to start gently) cutting, punching, sewing, sticking, measuring, muttering under our breath at tricky points, chatting, eating cake, drinking wine and copious amounts of tea.

And by the end of the course all of us had produced a beautiful hand made book – each themed around maps and places in one way or another. And each more beautiful than the next.

The days flew by, punctuated by delicious meals. And in between the meals, home baked cakes arrived, to make sure our energy levels didn’t flag.

That mixture of a reviving location plus learning new skills in a friendly environment – what could be better ?

Don’t just take my word for it – Rachel is teaching workshops in various places this year and I’m sure there will still be spaces somewhere.  And I have a sneaking suspicion she will also be back on the Summer Isles again sometime too.


Most of the images here were taken with an Iphone – and , by request , I am preparing a short course to share my tips and tricks . If you’d like a wee tip off when it is ready to launch you can sign up here and I will keep you informed.


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