Tea and sunshine in Ruthin.

Well, not all that much sketching, to be honest – we were all too confused by the big bright yellow thing in the sky! Who would have guessed that today would have turned out to be this nice?

Expecting the usual deluge, five of us headed up to Ruthin with a day planned that would keep us safely indoors, out of the cold and the pouring rain. However, the day did not go according to plan. Not at all. Suspicions that something might be wrong were first roused by the distinct lack of grey cloud overhead as we motored through Llangollen and over the Horseshoe Pass. Our worst fears were confirmed when we arrived at Ruthin Craft Centre and sat outside with teas and coffees, wondering what the increasingly blue, cloudless sky above portended. By the time we had finished wandering around two excellent exhibitions – Wendy Ramshaw’s gates and jewellery, and Richard La Trobe-Bateman’s bridges and chairs – not only was it not raining outside – it was bright and sunny… and warm. What was this? Was this the strange, unfamiliar thing we used to call… summer?

Undaunted by this unnerving turn of events, we boldly marched up through the centre of Ruthin to the Gaol – a quirky curiosity of a building: part social history time capsule, part architectural oddity. Inside and out, it was a treasure-trove of unusual and unexpected details, and we all spent two hours rambling through the museum and the yards, photographing, sketching, jotting notes. From there we wandered up the hill to the market cross, and then – at Julie’s suggestion – to Ruthin Castle for tea. The sun shone, the peacocks strutted on the lawn, and we braved the chaos of a wedding reception for tea, bara brith and welshcakes on the side lawn of the hotel.

If – distracted by the unexpected appearance of the sun and the warm weather – we ambled and looked rather than sketched and drew, it was all still in the pursuit of a fantastic day. Ruthin is well worth another Inside Out sketching visit – a visit this time to draw and paint the narrow lanes and half-timbered buildings, the Victorian County buildings and the green vista of the hills beyond the town, the rose-shrouded ruins of the Castle. And if the weather closes in on us then, there’s always the Craft Centre and the Gaol!

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