I was having a bad day. It was just going from bad-to-worse. From the minute I woke up, I wasn’t feeling great, I’d had no sleep, no appetite, wasn’t feeling well in myself and work was just not going how it should have gone. It was one of those days when all you want is for it to be over quick, to go and curl up in bed and wait for the next morning to start a fresh.
No such luck though, after finally managing to work my way though the daytime, the night brought another catastrophe into the mix. Manchester United were hosting the French and the council decided the best way to manage the crowds was to shut off a whole heap of major roads right at rush hour and walk the crowds through from the city to the football grounds.
My stress levels had hit their highest level. I was completely fed up and I was in the worst mood as I threw my car into the underground Renaissance Hotel car park on Blackfriars Street.
A car park I’ve used many times before, but this time I was in a special zone . The minute my car was safely parked I was ushered into the building by signs… inviting me into the Renaissance Hotel.
As I walked out of the lift, I was greeted at reception by two incredibly polite members of staff. Their calm tones, broad smiles… took me completely by surprise. I have passed this hotel time and time again and not once had I given it a second thought. If I’m honest, I knew there was a hotel hidden at the bottom end of Deansgate but the Italian restaurant protruding from it always distracted me. The outside wasn’t all new and modern… I mean you get where I’m going with this.
So when I stepped out of the lift into this fabulous reception, well I was pleasantly surprised. And if I’m completely honest – the manner in which the receptionist spoke to me, even if it was just for a minute – was really familiar, kind, polite… I actually can’t find the words to describe how I felt. I know you are probably reading this and thinking what is this girl going on about but there was just something in the way I was treated in this hotel that made me feel really… I’ve got it – they made me feel special. Here I was a bumbling mess, rushing in, late for my masterclass and in just a few moments I felt like I was someone they genuinely cared about.
Looking into the Blackfriars lounge, well again I was taken aback. What a fancy room we have here in what I assumed to be a not-so-fancy hotel. I actually text my Mo at that point to ask if he had been here before and if he had why he hadn’t told me how nice it was. At the end of the day it was bound to be good-looking, this is in fact a four star, but I had unfairly judged this elegant hotel by its outside demeanour.
The group had already got started so I slipped in to an empty seat and waited for the man himself. I was finally going to meet the illustrator behind the doodle drawings I had fawned over for years.
They always say you should never meet people you look up to, as you set yourself up for disappointment. Dave did not disappoint, he was great. Friendly, helpful (didn’t shout at me for being late) and above all, quite modest.
He didn’t seem at all aware of how incredibly impressive his portfolio actually is. He gave me some little tips to get me started and armed with a map of my chosen area – I got started.
Oh wait, I haven’t quite told you what I got started on?!?! Let me explain…
Dave is a doodle-based illustrator, famous around the North West for his intricate maps of areas in Manchester, and further afield. The Renaissance Hotel recently commissioned Dave to actually transform two of the hotel walls by doodling by hand large scale maps of Manchester. (you need to click below and see how incredible it turned out!!)
Dave Draws the streets of Manchester at the Reanissance Hotel Manchester City Centre. – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
As part of the Renaissance Hotel’s global entertainment programme, evenings at Ren, I was about to take part in a ‘doodle’ masterclass. A big fan of Dave, doodling and doing something different in an evening, this event was right up my street. Pre-event the hotel had asked if there were any specific areas we would prefer to draw, that way Dave could do some of our prep work to help us create a piece that was personal to us.
So, I made myself comfy, picked up a pen and got to work following my instructions to map out an area in Greater Manchester I have grown to love and call home – Salford! Looked pretty simple, sounded pretty simple. But wasn’t as easy as I thought…
Map-drawing is hard. Of course the fact that I lack any sense of direction didn’t help the matter. Luckily, Dave was on hand to offer some really useful tips and advice and it was so nice to hear stories of all the work he has created and how his mind works whilst producing it.
Also on hand, were the lovely Renaissance bar staff. I ordered my artist-inspired mocktail – ‘For the Love of Art’. Seemed pretty apt for the occasion and it was refreshing – sweet mix of berries and non-alcoholic bubbles. Nibbles were passed around as were cute looking dessert treats, all to keep us going as we worked on our masterpieces.
That whole day of stress I had endured slipped away the moment I put pen to paper. I was so relaxed and engrossed in my work I didn’t even get my camera out all night. A blogging faux pas you could say, but at that moment I didn’t care.
I had found a way to spend an evening that involved a couple of hours of drinks, nibbles and creativity. There were no rules, no right or wrong, this was a doodle after all and Dave encouraged us to go with what we wanted.
The hours passed pretty quickly – but again I almost felt like although it went fast, the whole evening was played out in slow motion in my head. A sign that I had finally managed to push aside everything else going on in my to do list, and just enjoyed a couple of hours of ‘me’ time.
Out of the corner of my eye, I glanced at the TV screen in the corner and spotted the United match was about to come to an end. This was my cue to leave. I bid farewell to Dave and the others and ran back to the car so as not to land myself in the same traffic trouble I had experienced earlier.
The group had created some great pieces, all completely individual, personal snapshots of ‘their’ part of town. Unfortunately, due to my timing issues, mine was unfinished, but that didn’t matter. I was just glad that finally more and more events are cropping up in the city that don’t involve having to go on a night out.
This one in particular will always be one of my favourites. An evening doing something I love, in a place that surprised me more than any other in Manchester (and thats a pretty mean feat after our stay in the Mercure last year). This whole experience has intrigued me into discovering more about this hotel, as I’m actually quite shocked at how little I knew about it. When in fact location wise, it couldn’t be more perfect!! And it has a car park?!?! What more could you want!
All in all, it was one of those evenings that make you realise even if you’ve had a really sh*t day, don’t lose hope because you never know what’s round the corner, waiting to cheer you up.
Thank you to the Renaissance hotel for inviting me to this wonderful evening event! I look forward to visiting in the near future to explore further, and just have a general nosey 🙂 Thanks also to Dave for being a great teacher and a great host.
If you want to give it a shot, you’re in luck as Dave is holding another masterclass!! You can find all the deets here:
‘Doodle’ masterclass with Dave Draws – April
Might see you there 😉
What activities help you de-stress? Have you ever considered an evening of creativity as an evening out?