Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday 28 July

This time last week I'd just got back from Latitude, feeling a lot cleaner after three days in hot dusty surroundings, enjoying my second (or possibly even third) cup of tea from a normal mug rather than a plastic one.

As last time, Latitude was fabulous. For newer readers: Latitude is a music/literature festival near Southwold, on the east coast. I had always wanted to go but with tickets being quite expensive, we'd never got round to it. Last year I worked as a volunteer on the knitting team, teaching knitting/crochet 6 hours a day in return for a weekend ticket. It was my first ever time teaching and I loved every second of it. I was very happy to be asked again this year and probably looked forward to it even more this time round.

From the start it was all very different. First, the weather. Last year we didn't really have much of a summer, and it was very wet (read: muddy) at Latitude. This year we had a very late spring and although summer took a long time to arrive too, once it did, it did so with a bang. We've had high temperatures for at least a couple of weeks now and it was no different at Latitude. Again, dirty feet, but this time from dust, not mud!

Secondly, this year I had much more comfortable accommodation. Normally our old VW camper goes to Latitude with one of B's colleagues, but as he wasn't going this year, B. said I could have it. After a little mix-up with his son's holiday dates we got everything sorted and I had a proper bed to sleep in and best of all, my own loo! The members of the knitting team are classed as traders so we stay in the traders' field too. We get a couple of portaloos but as opposed to the portaloos in the main arena, these don't get cleaned, or not as often. The loos last year were honestly the most disgusting I have ever seen. So having the camper was a real luxury, plus having a little more privacy was a bonus too (having to listen to the conversations of two 18 year old boys in the tent next to me every morning was an experience I was happy to miss this year!).

What hadn't changed at all though was how much I enjoyed it. Meeting so many different people, all with their own story to tell. The number of times nobody at the knitting circle needed any input and you could just be part of it, be part of a group of people who all enjoy knitting or crochet. The fact that nearly nobody thought we were 'odd' for having what is often still considered an old-fashioned hobby. And the teaching, o how I enjoy the teaching. The lady who had tried to teach herself crochet with YouTube but hadn't managed, and who had made the perfect granny square 45 minutes later.

The boy who was struggling to knit because he was left-handed, and who did so much better once I showed him the continental style of knitting. And my star of the weekend - a little 7 year old girl who could already knit, who I showed how to purl, who bought needles and yarn at the tent and who came up to me the next day with a great big smile to show me what she'd knitted.

Going to a couple of very funny or thought-provoking lectures. The camaraderie among the knitting team. Enjoying having my DSLR with me.The funny stories - having to rescue my own knitting out of the hands of someone who, by her own admission, didn't know how to knit - T., from the knitting team, getting B. and me out of a bit of a sticky situation - listening to a conversation between C., also from the knitting team, and a girl she was teaching who turned out to have a rather unconventional name where I was glad C. couldn't see my face.

There is so much to Latitude, it's hard to describe what it is like. But exactly like last year I had a great time and I have come away with many, many happy memories.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday 9 July

Yes, I went AWOL for a little while. Just didn't feel like blog writing. Too much going on in 'real life' to sit down and write a decent post. But I'm back with some sunny and above all, pink photos!

Normally on a Tuesday I'd try and do my Ten Happy Things, but as I had such a happy day on Sunday, this blog post is going to be about that - I figure a whole day of happiness counts as Ten Things!

Last Sunday was the 10th ladies' tractor road run in Norfolk, and my fourth time of taking part. Normally in the run-up to the event I have several practice sessions, including one with L. who drives our Fendt tractor. But life's been so busy lately that I'd only managed one and that was on the farm itself, and L. and I didn't manage to go out together either. Fortunately her tractor is easy to drive, a bit like an oversized car really, so she was okay, and on the day itself we drive down to the airfield for the start which is always a good way of boosting your confidence.
On Saturday evening 14yo and I spent a couple of hours adding pinkness to the very masculine tractor - what does he make of it...?! We left the balloons off till we got to the airfield, as they tend to pop quite easily. Afterwards we had a nice BBQ and I finished my pink crochet bunting, and we had an early night. I woke up with nervous energy and all the disasters that could possibly happen going through my head. It didn't help that we overslept and that L. wasn't sure if she could make it. But she turned up at 8.30am and by 9.30am we were packed up and ready to set off:

We're having a bit of a heatwave in the UK right now and it was a very hot day. Sun hats, sun cream, bottles of drink all at the ready... On the way to the airfield we met a convoy of other tractors who'd all set out from one location so we joined them and it almost felt like we were doing a road run already! We arrived with plenty of time to spare and by the time I'd reversed the tractor into position I felt on top of the world - I remembered how to drive this tractor and I could do it!

We spent an hour or so admiring other tractors and catching up with other pink ladies. This outfit was my favourite one, I think she sewed it herself.

And at 11.30am we were off. As we were about 3/4 towards the end of the convoy, we had to wait about 20 minutes before we could go but it was worth it. The route has been the same each year I've taken part and people along the route now know to expect us. They sit on their driveways with tables, chairs, picnics, drinks, balloons, banners and flags. It's such an amazing sight, you just can't help but smile all the way through.

Harleston was the usual emotional rollercoaster. You think you're not going to cry - I mean, it's my fourth year, surely by now I'm used to it? But no, as soon as you see the first pavement lined with people and they start clapping and cheering, your bottom lip starts wobbling. It's hard to explain what makes you cry, but I had tears running down my cheeks from start to end.

B. was marshalling again and it's lovely that to know I'll see him along the route. He also has my camera with him so he can take a few pictures of me:

You can just about see the bunting here - every year I make some new decorations which can be used over and over again.

The lunch time stop was much needed, but was very hot with very little shade. On the tractor I was fine, as you have a bit of a breeze, but sitting down in the sun was just uncomfortable. L. started saying she wanted to go home! (I wouldn't let her).

After lunch we did the offroading part which I find uncomfortable - all the other tractors have their wheels in the ruts, but because I have narrow front wheels, I can't do that. I'm always glad when we're back on tarmac, although this year wasn't too bad as it's been quite dry the last few weeks.

Pulham St. Mary was amazing this year. The Pennoyer Centre had laid on vintage pink teas with proceeds going to Cancer Research, and there were so many people cheering us on, I almost cried again.

Before we knew it, we were back at the airfield:

I switched off the engine and told Annie, who organised the whole event and was handing out our medals, that I'd enjoyed every second of it.

Time for the group photo - a sea of pink:

160 pink ladies, each with their own reason for taking part. Annie always says thank you to us for taking part, as without us there wouldn't be a road run. Without Annie, there wouldn't be a road run either.

Just want to finish with what I put on Facebook on Sunday night. I'm already looking forward to next year.

"loved, loved, LOVED every second of the pink ladies road run today - the sunshine, the people along the route having picnics and waving, the crowds in Harleston, the tears in Harleston, my surprise visitors at the picnic, the breeze on your face as you're driving, the Norfolk summer landscape, meeting another Dutch pink lady, feeling I've never driven the tractor so well, raising money for a good cause, and above all, gratitude."