Glastonbury, Latitude, T in the Park: all hot tickets. But the festival you really wanted to be at was NT East of England’s Summer Festival. Not just for the sunshine, bunting, happy smiling faces of 250 staff and volunteers, ice cream, space hoppers, welly wangling and picnic lunch – although there was plenty of all of that.
Go back several months and I’m nervously pitching, Dragon’s Den style, for a place at our first ever regional festival (replacing Spring Conference). I hedged my bets with four ideas. Well, as a certain couple from Wales would say, be careful what you wish for… After much begging, borrowing and raiding of cupboards and lofts – there was almost no budget – we were at the festival with all four different themed activities in our “Get Energised” workshop.
No powerpoints allowed, we went for diverse activities which would satisfy both yin and yang but, most importantly, would be FUN! Because people remember and like doing fun things, even if these have a serious message behind them. Fits with our behavioural change aim to achieve Beautiful Action (thanks Mr Immanuel Kant, 1724 – 1804) i.e. action you want to do, rather than action you feel you have to do.
So, you could learn about insulation illustrated by the humble tea cosy, inspired by Tony Price’s post on this blog of 18 September 2013. One ‘naked’ teapot, one with a tea cosy and one with a tea cosy plus cork board. Hot water then thermometer probes in each and watch the difference. Phew! I’d only partially tried the experiment before the day itself, so was pretty relieved that the theory was proved perfectly. The tea cosies were made with love – kindly donated by the sheep of Orford Ness, and knitted by Consultancy Manager, Sarah Bowers and Rural Surveyor, Anna Brookman.
Woodfuel for thought was provided by Simon Damant from Wimpole Estate and Ian Pease from Hatfield Forest. They demonstrated the process of growing your own BBQ, from an enormous 2 person saw, to old and new types of charcoal maker, and pimps and faggots (see Simon’s blog for explanation of these rural terms). People loved getting hands on at making fuel and products from our timber.
People, including our Regional Director, Ben Cowell, found out just how much energy it takes to power a smoothie maker by having to pedal for their drink.
Lastly but not least, LED. We really wanted to showcase this and get rid of the myth once and for all that it’s a blue, cold, harsh light. So we showed a range of lamps from Heritage Lighting and Lyco, part of our growing ‘LED lending library’, using a neat demo board.
The star of the show in terms of innovation and general loveliness was the artificial Luminara candle. You have got to see these. The indoor candles are made of real wax (there is an outdoor version in plastic as well) with a tiny warm white LED lamp (0.3 Watts), reflected onto a ‘flame’ which moves just like the real thing thanks to magnets and is incredibly realistic – they can be viewed at www.luminara.co.uk
We ‘dressed’ the nice dark room in two styles that we may use at our properties – Christmas (hence the loft raiding) and a First World War commemoration, complete with Flanders poppy seeds for people to take away. At last we can have the sparkle without the sparks; you have to keep reminding yourself they are not real and it’s OK that they are in a paper bag, next to the curtains or balanced on a Christmas tree. I lost count of the number of “wow”s I heard.
Director General Helen Ghosh also helped launch our regional Environmental Awards – more on that to come later.
Great team effort, great fun, great feedback: “I enjoyed Get Energised. Best smoothie ever – really enjoyed knowing that I made it with the power of my own legs!” Eleanor Akinlade, House and Collections Manager, Felbrigg Hall.
Now how do we top that next year?