Winds of change?


Powering the music at the Derbyshire Eco Festival

Powering the music at the Derbyshire Eco Festival

I’ve just returned from a weekend at the Derbyshire Eco Centre spring fair, near Wirksworth in Derbyshire. I was running an Usborne children’s book stall on Saturday, then camping overnight before spending Sunday co-ordinating the car-parking at the fair and collecting donations for Oxfam’s Syria appeal. I’m absolutely knackered!

It finally seems like Spring is on its way, but in Derbyshire, we also had lots of rain overnight, and woke up to some tremendous winds. Luckily, my friend Rhian’s new tent stood up the weather conditions brilliantly, despite the wind being so strong that lots of gazebos and stall covers had blown down at the Eco Centre.

Saturday morning was beautiful and sunny and it felt like Spring really had arrived. I’d never been to the Eco Centre before but I instantly felt at home. It’s a beautifully designed building, sitting in the Derbyshire Hills. It felt a bit strange to be at a spring festival with traces of snow still visible in the fields but the sunshine was warm and the smell of woodsmoke was in the air from the wood-fired open air pizza ovens. I sampled the pizzas (without cheese of course) later, and they were delicious.

I set up my book stall full of optimism. but then the winds started blowing harder and grey clouds formed overhead. The stall was around the corner from the main part of the fair and no one seemed bothered about looking at my books at all. I started to feel despondent; and started to think that nothing I did would ever be a success. I was sharing the stall with a friend though and she was managing to stay cheerful and give me some optimism. We took turns wandering around the event and there were some great things going on, such as cycle-powered Scalextric car racing. One of my favourite festival performers was peddling a cycle-powered sound system and playing her witty songs, accompanied by her trust accordion. Check her out: Hatty Hatstar. A community bellydancing group also got me in the mood for enjoying myself. The grey skies started not to matter so much.

Rhian and Tyler, two of my Oxfam volunteers arrived on Saturday afternoon and bought three of my books. That definitely cheered me up. Later on, we had a few ciders (well I did, anyway!) and watched a band playing at the Eco Centre. Their set was bicycle -powered too and Rhian and I took turns at peddling. The bike was rather big, so it was a slightly uncomfortable experience for me as my short legs stretched to reach the pedals! The band did some great cover versions of indie songs so I had a bit of a dance. I got chatting to a lady who worked at the Eco Centre and I told her about my book stall. She said that they were supposed to have a storyteller, but they’d been let down. I volunteered to do a couple of storytelling sessions!

This morning, I spoke to the staff and the eco centre again and I arranged to do the storytelling sessions. I explained that it’s one of the things that I’m hoping to start doing professionally as part of my creative writing business. I was a little nervous, but sure I could do it. I gathered together a large group of children and their parents and I really enjoyed telling fairy stories, reading some of my Usborne books, and particularly had fun making up a story using the children’s suggestions. It involved a vampire alien from Mars and Dr Who coming to save Earth. Maybe I’ll send it into the BBC! As I told each story, I felt my confidence grow. I’ve now got the details of the lady who runs courses at the Eco Centre and I’m going to send her my CV. My book stall might not have yielded many sales but I’ve had a great opportunity to develop my skills and may even lead to some professional work.

The Oxfam volunteering in the carpark today went very well too, with an excellent group of volunteers to collect donations and point people into parking spaces. Lots of people attending the event made extra donations and over the two days of the event, we’ve raised about £600 for Oxfam’s Syria appeal. Link to Oxfam’s Syria Crisis appeal

So I’ve learned some lessons! It’s important to talk to people; to make connections. Then things can start to happen. The winds may be fierce, but they are starting to blow from the right direction; and it feels like the cycle of life is entering a new, more creative phase.

Oh and the Derbyshire Eco centre is located very close to where my main characters live in ‘Distortion’, the novel I’m currently working on. I need to get cracking with completing my first draft but it was inspiring to be close to nature for the weekend – and close to my characters!

Link to Derbyshire Eco Centre.

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