Photography and ‘Family’ at The Grange By The Sea

I went back to the Grange by the Sea in Shanklin Old Village recently. A few years ago I went there to do a course in ‘Finding the Colours of My Personality’ with Teresa Sundt and I remember my main one was gold.

As I drew up in my gold coloured car, I pondered on how my life had changed since I last visited. Strangely I have been including the colour gold into my life more and more. It’s not the colour you’re supposed to wear, I was told, but the colour that resonates with my psyche. But that’s another story…

I joined a few of the other course members in the bar and we chatted about our connection to the Grange. Quite a few of them knew Teresa and had done other courses she had run. It was like being welcomed back into a family I hadn’t actually met before, because we had common frames of reference. It was a strange, yet comforting experience that drew me into the evening.

And that is how I would explain the entire weekend. Like meeting a whole lot of new friends who you almost knew already – open, intelligent and loving people who like to travel, learn new skills and connect with like-minded people. That’s what Skyros, who runs The Grange, are all about.

On this occasion we were all there to take part in a photography course with the ex-Technical Editor of Practical Photographer David Babsky who was a fabulous teacher. He was very inspiring, quietly confident and not in the least condescending, but with a twinkly sense of humour – quite the opposite of every other hapless helper who’d tried to teach me about my camera in the past.

The course wasn’t quite what I had been expecting; I guess I’d thought it would be more ‘technical’. But, as it happened, it was just what I needed and I found it really useful.

How do you photograph things that do not exist? This one intrigued me until we were sent off to take photographs of ‘Unity’, ‘Imbalance’ and ‘Joy’ and then it hit me. Of course I had taken photos that summed up these concepts, but to go out with the mindset of finding them is not something I’d ever considered. It’s all about looking at the world with different eyes.

And that, in a nutshell, is what Skyros is all about too. They started out in Greece with a holiday centre, Atsitsa that they built on the island of Skyros – hence the name. The story is here if you want to read it: I especially like the tales of ‘Primal Scream’ workshops back in the 70s.

They bought the Grange about 14 years ago and it is here that they have their offices running an organisation that now boasts course-based holidays all over the globe – Thailand and Cambodia are recent additions.

The Grange by the Sea is right on the edge of Shanklin Chine in the Old Village and the temperate garden drops down to the park that skirts the northern edge of the Chine. You can be on the beach in five minutes – or at one of the atmospheric watering holes such as The Steamer Inn or the Fisherman’s Cottage.

On the Saturday night we all went to The Old Village Inn in Shanklin Old Village for dinner and again it was just like being with a slightly wacky group of family members who you’d just been told you were related to. We all talked about pretty deep and emotional stuff, in between chit chat and introductions. It was very uplifting and inspiring.

And when/if we meet again on one of Skyros’s holidays or courses we shall be able to pick up just where we left off. Because we are now part of the Skyros family. It’s as simple as that.

See the full programme of holidays at

Lady Penelope

11 May 2017

By Lady Penelope in The locals' blogs