The View From The Attic

The man standing next to me at the point to point meeting asked me what I did. When I told him that I was an Administrator the slight lift of his eyebrow said it all, “BORING” and he returned to deciding which horse to back in the next race.

Yes, I suppose that being an Administrator in an ordinary office environment might well be boring, but my year at Rowden has been anything but that!

Students posing for a blog post

Students posing for a ‘serious’ photoshoot with head tutor, Daren Millman

I have been involved in many aspects of the school, from helping students to find accommodation, advice on travel from far flung places (directions from Norway/Greece/Russia to the wilds of North Devon, anyone?) organising dates, menus and special dietary requirements for our Christmas & Summer parties (at one point herding cats seemed like an easier option) to preparing the documentation for transporting restricted substances to Dubai.

I’ve learned a lot too, like never underestimate the importance of tea, and keep checking that there are enough toilet rolls. That you can’t always get what you want, when you want it, like the student being told that the English Walnut he was trying to source for a table would be ready in 3 years. He did eventually track some down, and seeing the journey from newly delivered timber to the gleaming item that is now entered in a Summer Exhibition was awe inspiring. I’ve also learned that ducks in Denmark say “raaap raaap” (thanks Sofie!)

Canadian geese on the lake at Rowden

Canada Geese on the lake

I’ve seen the special place that is Rowden in wind, rain and sunshine, with the odd snow shower thrown in for good measure. I’ve seen an 18ft yurt sprout almost before my very eyes, like some sort of alien mushroom. I’ve seen Laylah grow from a shoe chewing Six Month old puppy to an almost sensible dog, and George the workshop cat make great progress in his mission to be king of all he surveys. I’ve seen new students arrive, a bit shy and awkward, but quickly become part of the team, other students leave at the end of their course, with sadness on both sides. Then of course there are students that are due to leave, but decide to stay on………..

But mostly I’ve been impressed, not only by some of the stunning pieces that come out of the furniture workshops, but by the dedication and resilience of some of our students. To live in a one-man tent since last September, to move with your wife from a comfortable house to spend a year calling a small caravan home, to relocate your family and Six Month old baby from a busy city with everything on your doorstep to a place without even a village shop, to travel halfway round the world to learn a new skill, with no guarantee that you will have a job to go back to when your visa expires, that takes guts, determination and commitment.

Students of Rowden, I salute you!


David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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