The Totteridge and Terriers Jubilee Fete on Sunday July 1st was held on Totteridge Common opposite Totteridge House. Now we are VERY local to this, ie, we could have thrown our equipment out of the window of Superhome 59 and it might have landed in the right place!
We wheeled out the big guns for this. Transition Town High Wycombe came out in FORCE. We came, not with one team (and one gazebo) but with two teams, one gazebo and one mini-farmers’ market in a marquee. How’s that? And did the sun shine? Did it! Of course, to be true, we had a few gusts, some grey cloud and a few early drops of rain but in comparison to what we went through at the Hamilton School Fete this was a pleasure. But we weren’t taking chances. We were glued to the BBC weather up until we left the house. Then we took both leg-weights AND guy-ropes to keep the Energy Group Gazebo firmly on the ground. The Food Group had a slightly easier ride with the marquee being pre-erected for them before they arrived. Oooo-hark at them. Now the Food Group did have a lot more stuff. Lots! You could have hardly crammed in another yummy morsel onto their tables. All credit & thanks to Vidya & Arran of Local Roots for laying on the spread.
The Energy Group (aka me) arrived early and were told that we were to put our gazebo “there” next to another gazebo – a gazebo that wasn’t, actually “there” – yet. However, there was was a small bunch of folk puzzling over a pile of poles. In the interest of expediting the Energy Group gazebo I offered to help and in short order the church charity gazebo was up. Then the TTHW Energy-gazebo was up and everything prepared.
Sunday was a nice change as we welcomed back, not only Billy-the-solar-powered-train, but also our super-techie-Julian. Julian spends his time working on becoming the next Sanyo by exporting home-made electronic kit (for solar-power systems) to clients over the world. Like Local Roots-Vidya he is a local entrepeneur with a genius for invention and giving his time up for good causes. He is a busy guy so we don’t let him out much - but here he was, blinking in the sunlight and appearing almost two minutes after the gazebo was erected. Perfect timing. But still, we were grateful he was here. (Thanks Julian. You can learn more about his work on his blog at http://www.256.co.uk). Now all we needed was SolaSave and Billy-the-solar-powered-train. The gates were to close to exhibitors at 12.30pm. So we waited & waited.. It got to 12.25pm before SolaSave-Mark arrives just in the nick-of-time. Phew.
So out comes Billy. Everything looks good but…. Billy doesn’t want to work. Thankfully (with a team of electronic geniuses to hand) we quickly have the problem isolated down to a lose wire under the train track. (Obviously the “wrong kind of wire” or something.)Soon the wire is screwed back into place and Billy is sent whizzing round and round the track.
Once the model train is on its way we get out the last few brochures: Superhome Open Days, Solid Wall Insulation, FREE Insulation, the Transition Free Press Newspaper (only 75p each – get your copy now) plus some FREE samples of locally made bread (made with Pann Mill flour in a solar-powered oven). What wasn’t there to like?
At 1pm it is the official kick-off. The crowds can’t wait and they have already swarmed over the Local Food tent like hungry locusts. All too soon all the lunchtime edibles have been snapped up. The Mayor arrives in the central arena and declares everything “open” before turning up at our stall to take possession of some free SolaSave pens. We guess there is a big pen shortage down at the Mayor’s office so we were happy to help! We aren’t sure whether it may have been seen as an attempt to overly influence or bribe a public official but he was kind enough to endorse out work by telling everyone that solar energy was “the future because the sun won’t stop shining”. Good on him.
Next in the main arena the entertainment starts with the Highworth School Choir followed by the Kings Wood School Maypole Dance Troupe. Then it is onwards and upwards with the Childrens’ Fancy Dress Parade. At 2pm it is the turn of the Misfitz Drama Group followed by Zumba demonstration. Blimey. Zumba on the common? Luckily enough the Wombles were there to keep order. Or mostly collect rubbish. We didn’t see any public disorder offences (or rubbish) so we guessed the Wombles worked. Credit to them! Ooooh – but there was so much more. We haven’t even mentioned the graceful arts of the Jackie Palmer Stage School or the occasionally perplexing ‘arts’ of the Stuntkidz demo. (He was so good he came back for an encore.) Then there was more Zumba. Zumba, Zumba, Zumba, cha cha cha… Ahem… let’s move on…. Judging by public reaction we may have been up-staged by these events in the central arena and by all that yummy local food.
Meanwhile, in the world of Local Energy; Billy (and the sun that powers him) performed for countless hundreds of kids (some older “kids”) all of whom wanted to be train-drivers. We think we persuaded a few of them that, when they grow up, they want to be a solar panel installers. But most of the time we were grateful that not too much icecream and candyfloss got into Billy’s moving parts. By the end we were gutted that Billy didn’t win a prize from the Mayor for best solar-powered train set. Just what were the organisers thinking? We had the acceptance speech written, hankies ready for the blubbing and we were ready thank our Hornby & God for making it all possible. But it wasn’t to be.
To be honest the day went in a bit of a blur and we were glad that the five o’clock whistle blew and we could all go home exhausted - job done. Our tans certainly improved and the gazebo survived which, in our book, made it a really good day.
In the final analysis it isn’t about solar-powered trains and free insulation. It isn’t about locally made apple juice and Pann Mill flour. Those things are essential, but what makes the difference on a day like this is that they happen at all. And they happen because a tiny bunch of extremely dedicated individuals decided to put on a charity fete. We spoke to one of the organisers the day after and she admitted that it was put together by six people. We know the names of at least three of them; Emily, Joanne and Liz. So a BIG thankyou to them. Certainly to Emily for being so quick to answer our questions by email. Also credit where credit is due for the Facebook page they did. They had over 100 Likes by the end of the event. What a way to create a buzz.
Maybe my favourite anecdote of the day was from chatting to Local-Roots-Vidya who was manning the Local Food mini-farmers-market. Her husband and her work six days a week in their shop AND then come out on Sunday too. Crazy. I asked Vidya where her husband was. She told me he deserved a rest so was at home. I asked her when she would get her rest?
She just shrugged and served the next customer.