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L to R: Colwin Way and Javier Palacios with Colwin's turned nutcracker figure
L to R: Colwin Way and Javier Palacios with Colwin’s turned nutcracker figure

Colwin Way is a well known professional turner and tutor at the Axminster Skill Centre. Below Colwin gives his own account of the trip he recently made to Asturias in Spain along with BriMarc’s Jim Preston.

I’m in a very lucky position as a tutor and demonstrator to travel to some wonderful places both in this country and overseas, meeting some great and interesting people. On this occasion Jim and I were asked to attend a show in the town of Lugones in the region of Asturias, northern Spain. Lugones is a medium size industrial town with a population of around 15,000 and it has none of the usual trappings of a holiday destination you would associate with Spain, such as large hotels with swimming pools and so on. The show itself was organised to a large degree by the local club and Tornyfusta, our Spanish agent.

Miguel Lopez, the owner of Tornyfusta, has been working with us for over 20 years and is one of our largest overseas retailers, so our job was to support him and I was one of the two demonstrators approached to entertain the 4000 plus visitors who were expected.

I was first asked to do this show by Miguel while I was demonstrating at another event in Norway in August 2014. Once our attendance at the show was confirmed, our next task was to find out what exactly would be required of us in terms of the supporting literature we needed to prepare and what tools to send over. All of this started back in September 2014. My role was to demonstrate in two different areas, firstly for the general public and all the club members, and secondly for club members only.

The area for the general public demonstration was the biggest area and the main focal point of the show, held in a sports hall where they play a sport known as bolo cuatreada which is a cross between our skittles and French boules and is exclusive to the Asturias region. The area for club members only was upstairs on the upper tier of seating in the arena and had a great view of the show.

Jim’s role was far harder than mine as he was charged with helping the guys from Tornyfusta, supporting me and documenting the event. This meant he was in demand by lots of people all the time. In short, I took the applause from the audience while Jim did the hard work and was one of the many helpers running around making the whole thing possible.

Day 1 was set-up day and after being collected from the airport by the President of the local woodturning club (as of course happens with any show), there was a lot to do! We were taken straight to his workshop so I could select and cut my timber for the demonstrations I had planned. The workshop was very impressive – full of finished work and Axminster and Jet Machinery. Set-up finished early evening and we met for dinner at 9pm which I soon found out was early for the Spanish!

Day2 saw the start of the show and I had to admit to being a tad nervous as this was the first time I’d demonstrated, working with an interpreter. However I needn’t have worried. The first demo was to start at 10am so we were picked up at 9am by the interpreter and taken for breakfast of coffee and rolls. We got to the venue 10 minutes before the demo started and were introduced to the waiting club members and general public. At this point we gave a short talk to explain where we came from and what we were going to do.

Blog_IMG_3389_turning__crowds_merged__resizedThe first demo went very well and I soon learnt to slow the demo down to give the interpreter time to convey my words before moving on to the next thing. With that done, I looked for the reassuring face of Jim to ask how he thought it all went and to give me a hand to the next demo area upstairs where I was about to demonstrate to the club members. This was a quick turnaround and I was turning again after a 10-minute break.

The second demo finished again without any problems and I was told “ése es todo para esta mañana” (“that’s it for this morning”) and to take my smock off as we were going out. A whistle was blown and the whole event shut down as people poured out and disappeared in all directions.

This was my first real understanding of the afternoon siesta and something I think we could adopt here at AT&M with a bit of persuasion. Siesta started at 1.45pm in a local restaurant where plate after plate of food kept coming and finished at 4pm just in time for my last two demonstrations! To say I felt sleepy was an understatement. However, the show must go on and I completed another two demo’s, finishing at 8.30.

Dinner that evening started at the normal local time of 10pm and carried on until roughly 1am – for me, a very unusual eating time, but amazing food.

Day 3 was the last day of demonstrations for me and took the same shape as the day before including the Siesta.

Both Jim and I have agreed that these were the kindest and most generous group we’ve ever visited. The way the show ran and the weird timings, although strange to us, really worked. However, how long we could keep it up for I’m not sure.

To show my appreciation especially to Javier Palacios, the President of the club for looking after us so well, I presented him with one of my German nutcracker figures. Jim and I would like to thank all those in Lugones who helped make our visit such an enjoyable and successful experience and, of course, for their amazing hospitality and friendship.

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