Sunday June 13th 2010
The situation is quite surreal at the moment, as I am at present, sat in the van on the M1 just north of Nottingham. I have spent most of the past week at an art and craft festival known as ‘Patchings’ outside Nottingham. I went with Andy. We stayed at a Hotel nearby. It was quite an eye opener driving through the city centre, as there are speed cameras everywhere, causing you to look out only for them, and forcing you to keep an eye on the speedo, when maybe it might be more judicious to check for direction signs. We arrived on Wednesday the 9th and had no difficulty in finding the hotel. We decided that maybe it might be a good idea to find our way across town to Patchings festival and set up shop. We had been invited to attend by Linda Wain, one of our trustees who exhibits her art there. Needless to say, as usual, we got lost! We eventually got there approximately one hour later, the journey of course being 6 miles away! We managed to get set up and left for our hotel, where Andy was meeting his partner Denise, who had come for the first day, as she had an important meeting to attend in Oxford on behalf of the World Owl Trust the following day, and Andy was accompanying her. Denise had managed to set up a sponsorship deal for the Trust. I was doing the first day without Andy, but was very ably assisted by our new volunteer Debs Smith who lives nearby. Our owl ambassador was ‘Sparky’ the Barn owl. Unbeknownst to the hotel management, he also was a resident, and unlike the rest of us, he even had his own personal fridge, full of juicy morsels only an owl could love! He was very well behaved and never made a sound all the time he was there. For some reason, probably for security, we would have to register our swipe card key with reception when we arrived back after a day at the festival, and I would walk up to the reception desk, bold as brass with Sparky in his pet carrier, and the receptionist would never twig. On the first day I was due at Patchings, I decided to consult the road map, as the route plan from the internet was, to put it kindly, ‘eccentric’, and about as much use as a chocolate teapot. The route seemed straight forward enough, I had to turn left onto the ring road at the second roundabout, only the second roundabout had, unbeknownst to me, been altered into a crossroads with ‘uggins and uggins’ of traffic lights. I was caught up in rush hour traffic, heading for the city centre. I managed to make a U-turn and found an alternative route which I stuck to religiously for the rest of our stay. Again, it had taken an hour get to my destination. On arriving at Patchings, I was sent all the way round the houses to park miles away from our pitch. All the marquee tents were connected, so I had to walk all the way round the outside. At one stage I found myself on my hands and knees crawling through a pine wood in my attempt to reach our gazebo. I wonder what Sparky must have thought, as he saw all the branches sliding past his carrier. I got to the gazebo at 10 o’clock, looking slightly bedraggled, as it was raining, which set the tone for the rest of the day. At 1 o’clock each day, I had to take Sparky to a ‘live subject’ painting class with Linda Wain, who, I have to say, is an extremely talented artist. Sparky, (of course), was a star, usually showing off, by preening in front of his audience.
Debs proved to be an invaluable assistant throughout the week, and on her second day, her husband Roy also joined us. Both were tireless in their efforts to engage the public. Debs showed me her folder she had put together with ‘owl facts’ she had gathered from the internet, to ensure she could answer any questions that might be asked.
The sojourn at Patchings was very successfully, and even though we haven’t counted the last day’s takings, we think we have taken over a thousand pounds in donations, which is brilliant. As I write this, we are approaching Leeds, on the M62, and we are listening to ‘Billy Mitchell and Bob Fox’ who will be performing at Muncaster on Friday the 3rd of September, so we are chilling out, after a hectic week. We have a few photos we want to share with you, but we have to wait until Debs sends them by E-mail, so I will put them on the blog next week.
To E-mail me:
|World Owl Trust
Registered Charity Number: 1107529
Limited Company Number: 5296745
The World Owl Trust is a member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) and the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA). The Trust relies on a dedicated membership, visitors, donations and legacies.