I’ve worked in a plethora of venues over the years – from tired, damp church halls and remote corners of wet, muddy, windy fields in the middle of nowhere to plush function rooms of five-star deluxe hotels and conference suites in top executive corporate offices in the City – they all have their own individual charm!
As the years go by, my back gets weaker and I get wiser; my kit gets gradually smaller and smaller but I know I can still do better! One day I hope to start a trend in “monochrome facepainting parties” … just think “painty friends” …. a Grimas cake white, a Wolfe black and white and a bag full of sponges, three brushes, some glitter, a mirror and I’d be all set!!!
Over the last few months I’ve started keeping a photographic diary of my painting locations! For all the jobs I moan about, I get twice as many that are just idyllic and I find myself in settings that make me very grateful for the business I’m in.
Each photo, as always, tells a story! So here’s a glimpse of my favourites to date. As always, in no particular order!
The first was a set up on the edge of the River Thames in the grounds of a beautiful mansion. The party itself was being held on a riverboat moored up beside the house and the interior of the boat itself even resembled something out of Surrey Life Magazine! I was set up in the boathouse on the river bank overlooking this wonderful view!
It was just me, the booze table and an amazing buffet spread! The PA who had organised the party had so much planned and the guests were in for a fantastic event. Unfortunately, half way through the afternoon, the Heavens opened and the pelting rain set in for the rest of the day. The band rushed all their equipment into the boathouse in a panic and I dragged my set up further and further into a corner! Before I knew it, the band and I were squashed up together at one end and all the sodden party guests filled the rest of the space! It turned out to be a rather intimate afternoon!
One of my favourite bookings was a weekly Sunday carvery at the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in Guildford, sadly now ended but hoping they’ll have me back one day soon. Every Sunday I’d rock up at their glamorous foyer and wheel my kit through to their beautiful restaurant. The staff were so welcoming and I always felt like part of their team. My view at this job was very decadent –
– a stunning restaurant, with a very grown up feel but one that welcomes children! Not bad eh?
A great place to work, however, if I turned 90 degrees to my right the view that presented itself was positively torturous ….
My mouth watered and my stomach positively growled through every minute of the 2 hour booking each week! They spoiled me on a couple of occasions and plated up a delicious roast for me to enjoy after I finished! Yum! Their restaurant, the Scoff and Banter, still offers a great choice for breakfasts or brunches to three course business lunches, weekend roasts and indulgent afternoon teas. Definitely worth a visit, even without the face painting!
Jubilee weekend in 2012 brought one of my wettest, windiest but memorable jobs to date!! I found myself set up in a vast expanse of field, surrounded by acres of more fields, under a flimsy gazebo with no sides and then the rain came down!
I found two little helpers to cart my kit across the soggy grass …
… but as you can see the field was rather lacking in guests as they were still quaffing champagne and canapés at their street party 500 yards away!
So I twiddled my thumbs for half an hour and admired the view ….
… eventually everyone started to ramble up the hill to the party area and I got ready with my red, white and blue! Once again, as is the British weather’s want, the Heavens opened and the rain was lashing into the gazebo horizontally. Fortunately, I had my wonderful assistant with me (my Mum!) and also some family members who were camping nearby who surrounded me with golf umbrellas and the show went on!!! As you can imagine the paint didn’t last long once exposed to the elements and there were a few bedraggled Union Jack faces wandering around all afternoon!
My fourth favourite has to be one of my old haunts in my twenties, The Black Swan in Ockham. A fabulous pub in a stunning setting – I highly recommend it any time of the year, but especially on a warm summer’s afternoon.
Take your family for a walk in the beautiful Surrey Hills followed by a lazy, leisurely Sunday lunch in their cosy, welcoming restaurant or partaking in their mouth-watering barbecue in the idyllic beer garden. I’ve already featured this pub in another blog so you can read more about it here.
And last but by no means least … the totally fabulous Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire!
We are proud to be the preferred suppliers for this luxurious, glamorous hotel and have been working with them for the last couple of years. Unlike many other elegant top class hotels in the UK, the Four Seasons welcomes families with young children with open arms.
Bank holiday weekends and special holidays are especially magical as they put on the Kids for All Seasons programme with an activity itinerary that fills a small brochure! Parties, craft activities, pony riding, bike rides, treasure hunts, movies and of course face painting plus much more! Rose Cottage, in the grounds of the Hotel, is a haven for small children; staffed by a wonderfully caring team, there are toys and games galore to keep the kids occupied whilst Mum and Dad enjoy a few hours peace indulging in treatments in the hotel’s opulent spa! As I write, they have just been awarded the Real Critics Guide Award for ‘Real Outstanding Country Retreat’ 2013 and check out this fabulous review on Conde Nast Traveller! Watch this space for an up-coming article specifically dedicated to this wonderful hotel. And maybe one day I’ll find a weekend spare to actually book in and indulge with my own daughter!!!
So there you have it …. sure beats commuting to a stuffy office every day!
Where’s the best place you’ve ever worked?