Monday, 11 July 2011

Sunday 10th July 11, Disability Awareness Day,

Wow, what a day!  Woken early by Janie as we had to leave the house at about 8am.

Janie had gone to the trouble of getting soya milk for my cereal, very thoughtful.

Mark was too tired after his travels yesterday so he didn't come, it was just Janie and their 14 year old son, and me and my equipment.  Last year, Mark had come to the Disability Awareness Day and had his first game of blind cricket, now he's playing all over the UK and is in the best team, heading for medal-success.

We got to Walton Hall gardens in really good time, and parked in the free 'exhibitors' parking.  I eventually found my little patch of grassy lawn where I was suppose to work; it was in a corner and not a good place, and it started raining and there was no gazebo or anything over the area.  I sensed I'd be doing a lot of unicycle-about today!

I went to the entrance place and picked up a programme and asked where I might find out about a good dry place to work; they suggested the stewards' area.  I went to the Stewards' area and explained my 'issues' and was told that Dave Thompson, the chap in charge, was 'on the case' and was finding a gazebo.  I was shown the performers changing area and I got changed.

The gazebo appeared and a notice went on it saying 'facepainting, circus skills and storytelling'. The facepainters arrived and set up their tables and chairs... definitely no space for circus skills there!

I got started at 10am, and did a fair amount of unicycling around the site, first without devilsticks (as it was raining a bit and they don't work in the rain), then with, and then just walking around with the whirling sticks and giving people balloon models and joking and being daft.  I had a ball, was in my element. I did take a break to watch my friend Laura in her choir, and I met her parents which was good as I've wanted to say hello to them for a while.

Later, when it dried up a bit, I did a bit of workshop which proved very popular and then I had a short break for lunch, just 10 or 15 minutes, watching some lovely dancers, the 'Urban Gypsies'.These were very good: 3 women, one obviously a beginner, all dressed up with post-punk hairstyles and loads of colourful ethnic clothing, looking quite tribal, plus a chap with a mobile sound system playing really good music.  They also had hula hoops but I didn't see them use these, sadly.  I think this was my favourite single act today.

The afternoon was a manic and full-on mix of going around the site and interacting, and doing impromptu workshops and balloon silliness, and posing for photos, and doing all sorts of other things.  I worked continuously as I love the event and wanted to give it my utmost. Also, I don't really like breaks as this slows the day down, makes it drag. I had a regular hanger-on today, a 9 year-old girl who was into circus and had a stage name JoJo I think, and she spent a lot of the day with me, and did all the workshops and I was really impressed with her ability.  I met a wide range of other people, from children with learning difficulties who just wanted to hold the stick or juggling ball, through to groups of deaf people who I communicated with through an interpreter, through to stallholders who were just enjoying working at the event, like I was.  I really really love this event, it's my highlight of the year.

By 4.30 I was flagging a bit and was interviewed on Warrington Radio, and at 5 it was time to finish.  Janie offered to take Laura into Warrington, after which I used the DAD map to get us back onto the motorway back to Stockport, and Janie dropped me off at the station.

The train journeys were very straightforward, a short trip to Manchester (where I made two balloon models for two Manchester Festival organisers) and then the train to York came quite soon, and I found myself chatting with a mum and daughter, heading for a theatre in Newcastle where the daughter was doing a work placement and Mum was a fundraiser.  I was on quite a high from the day's excitement and was perhaps more animated than usual.

I got back home (via Freshways which had 4 sacks for me) at about 7.30, and Gill had made a quiche and pasta salad.

Collapsed and ate and did not do the washing up!

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