We've had a break from WWOOFing, and had just over a week 'off'. Last weekend was the Bodgers Ball, and our friend Richard is much more efficient with pictures, so have a look at his blog where we had a lovely level pitch ( really appreciate these things after a couple of weeks on a slope!) and a peaceful place. We were at the Brockhampton Estate which was a lovely setting. DH and the girls spent 10 minutes going around the house, and said that was enough- I didn't get to have a look, but I'm glad we were members so a quick look was fine. The Ball is an annual gathering, and the APT has been going for 21 years, so this was the largest gathering in celebration. Lots of folk with lathes in the orchard, an amazing collection of items entered into the various competitions, from spoons to chairs, to sculpture and a very impressive Juniors section. I'm sorry to say we missed seeing what won for most sections, it was too crowded and hot in the marquee for us to stay through the awards. Both DH and I are keen to get on and carve more, but making time is the hard part. We came away inspired, weighed down by willow wands ( one made by Big One!) and a willow basket I enjoyed making. DH managed to have a go on a pole lathe, and we put on weight with the wonderful food that was arranged. We were impressed with both how it was organised ( children first at the hot evening meal) and the quality of food for the prices. We'd go there again! (however, the Bodgers Ball is in a different place organised by local teams each time, so I gather the food can vary).
After Brockhampton we had a little detour over to Wales to go to the Centre for Alternative Technology. I say little detour, as DH was arranging this part of the trip as was sure it was less than a couple of hours drive away.... It wasn't. Our journey also included a thunderstorm and hailstorm, prompting me to announce 'no matter how good experience it is, I AM NOT setting up camp in weather like this!'. It was sunny when we got there, but also a lot later than usual for us. Most of us went up the hill to CAT three days running- the girls liked the ride up, and enjoyed going back day after day- the last day was at their request! The shop was also visited daily, and the meal we had in the restaurant was fabulous- we only went in for a drink but it smelled too good.
Finally, we've been at the Natural Mamas forum Camp near Banbury. Its been a bit chilly in the evenings, which I think may have been a bit hard for first time campers- we were glad of the fire at bedtime. We bought food at this camp as well, and the lunches were amazing- the evening meal was absolutely fine, but a little dissapointing compared to the other food. Apparently the (volunteer) organisers envisaged a camp of about 30 or so, and instead there were a few hundred of us- they did a fab job, and I hope there'll be another next year! We managed to spend the weekend with friends from home, and meet a few new people. DH did a grand job doing 'guided tours' of our tent ( only bell tent this year, but I wonder how many next?lol) I think we were fair on the positives and negatives of camping in a big canvas tent. The magic for us was for the children. Most of the time they preferred to be with other folk, children or adults (especially Jill- thank you!) and Big One and I got to have a sewing and gluing time so she could make a picture for her friends. She did want it to be a purse, but I'm not up to that in 2 hours with limited materials....
We've had a non-motorway drive today Stroud, in a hotel for the night and then to our hosts tomorrow. They have an 85th birthday to celebrate today, and we don't want to interfere with their plans. We think we even have a rough idea where we're going- I think we drove passed a useful sign on our way here.
Right, better get back to enjoying family life and go find the family- they've gone to find the ducks.