It's been almost two weeks since 30 of us met at the most beautiful property in rural Co. Down to make, eat and build community as creative women.
We couldn't have had a more perfect evening together. I say that without any hesitation of over-selling what we experienced and in full gratitude to the team of incredible women that made it happen.
I had many moments of hesitation about doing a gathering so soon after the passing of my mum but it really was the tonic and focus I needed to push through a little bit more. Once again I was blown away by how courageous and honest these women were. All coming from different walks, different backgrounds and different points in their creative journey. It was a gentle, warm and inspiring night. I will try to keep my words few here and let the incredible Kat Mervyn do the talking through her lens as she captured our gathering so perfectly in these images.
The sun shone so magically all day and into the evening, after a week of rainy autumnal weather. As we set up and got things ready, we could all sense in the air it was for us - that mother nature was cutting us a break. Erin and Jo's place felt so right as the location of our Spring/Summer venue and the work they have done to the property so far is really impressive. There was a really peaceful atmosphere as we set everything up - taking our time, stopping to drink coffee and chat. I couldn't get over how calm and organised Erin was in the kitchen (on the outside at least!) - it really helped to create a chilled atmosphere. So much so that as people began to arrive, I felt like I was just having some mates over to my house! Everyone was greeted with homemade cocktails and canapes and we started to break the ice gently with warm conversation and finding common ground.
From there we split into workshops - half of us heading to the dining room to watch Jo work her magic as she expertly showed us how easy it was to make our own divine homemade mozzarella. The other half were led up to the loft room of one of the barns to meet Alison from Astrl Fibres and get started with some basic macrame skills. It is such a joy to watch people do their thing leading workshops, knowing that what they are teaching or talking about it driven by passion and purpose.
After the workshops we headed into the cow byre to tables laid before us so elegantly by Grace. Every last touch was just stunning, a total feast for the eyes. We joked all day that Dave thinks Assembly Gatherings is just an excuse for me to pretend to have a wedding again every season. He is not far off the mark there, I cannot lie (we did not have the pinterest wedding frenzy 10 years ago that there is now so allow me to indulge this just a little). Really though, there is something so inviting about a table laid thoughtfully - beckoning you to sit, relax and dissolve into the atmosphere of things. Soft dusty pinks, palest greys, greenery hung overhead and brass touches set such a calming tone in the space. Grace has a way of doing this so effortlessly.
Erin and Jo (The Edible Flower) put on a meal for us that was really unforgettable. Every dish full of colour, flavour and heart. They have such a knack for making food that looks and tastes incredible, and I love how much of their herbs and ingredients were picked from their own gardens just hours before being served to us. Pea and mint soup, breads with za'atar, eastern spiced pork belly, falafel with tahini yoghurt, butternut squash and mozzarella with hazelnuts and thyme. Have mercy. We finished up with a dreamy apricot, almond and sweet geranium tart that blew my mind and almost tipped me over the eating edge.
Add in some home-brewed belgian beer and wine and I'm not sure any of us were up for doing too much else but we saw the sun was going down so we headed out for a walk, taking pictures in the fields as the day drew in.
As we retired back to the campfire, Erin and Jo had hot chocolate, mint chocolate tea and proper homemade marshmallows waiting for us. We lingered, chatting some more and exchanging details for keeping in touch.
Thank you so much to everyone who came, contributed and encouraged. If you wanted to but weren't able to join us this time, please do sign up below to get first news about the next gathering. I love doing this, bringing people together and working with such talented women to make it happen. It will be Autumn before we know it and I can't wait to do it all over again.