An early start as a gig in Sheffield, with the summer playscheme of Sheffield Autistic Society.
So left the house soon after 8.15 to get the 8.44. Met my good friend Will on the platform, who was heading down to Bristol so I chatted with him all the way to Sheffield.
Was met at Sheffield by one of the playleaders, Sam, who drove me to Whirlow Hall Farm where the playscheme was based. (For a 360 degree virtual tour of some of the Farm, click here).
I could have performed in a farmyard but it was windy and started to rain. So a barn which had sheep poo on the floor was hurriedly swept and stools brought in, making it a quite unusual venue... but a very good show ensued. I always find it interesting that with groups of 'ordinary' children, at birthdayparties or schools events, there are significant numbers of disruptive children and the show can be relativelt difficult. However, with 'special needs' groups, even children with special behavioural needs, there is never any difficulty or any disruption. This is something I've noted over 15 years of working as a children's entertainer. I'm nt making any value judgements or negative comments, nor am I offering an explanation, it's just an observation. I ate lunch with the youngsters, where there was a bit of conflict, but the playleaders soon separated the protagonists and all became peaceful again. I then did a 45 minute workshop/freeplay session, also offering balloon models to those who wanted them.
Between 1.30 and 2, we'd sorted out the paperwork and my friend Ali came to pick me up. We visited Eccleshall Woods where there's a sawmill and a newly opened wooden building which houses a selection of beautiful wooden objects, carvings, turned bowls, furniture and more. Ali was looking for a bench and someone to create raised beds for her small garden.
After a fairly leisurely look round and chat here, we went back to her place where her 5 yr old daughter was waiting to meet me... she's out of hospital after 25 days, including 4 days in intensive care, following a serious bout of chicken pox, cellulitis, an abcess and complications which nearly killed her. She is the most delightful bubbly and chatty little girl, her cerebral palsy not stopping her getting on with living to the full. It was good to see that she was much improved, up and about, although still with a line into her aorta and dressings on her wounds.
Ali and I didn't spend a lot of time at her home, her new carer Z was looking after Ali's daughter so we went into Sheffield and spent some time together there... very enjoyable company. I had a 'first', a visit to 'Subway' where you order a sandwich with your own selection of fillings. I had a veggie burger thingy in a toasted brown roll with salady bits.... delicious!
I got the 8.54 train back, it came to York direct, not via Doncaster or Wakefield/Leeds but via the Pontefract line... one of my favourites and much quicker than the other routes. So in York at 9.40 and home before 10. Gill gave me some garden fruit pie and ice cream which was a tasty welcome home.