Breakdowns, puppets and library books; or to Bridlington and back again!

A puppet based on a character from "Lost in the Toy Museum"

On Wednesday I had everything planned.  I had a list of things to get together for my puppet workshop at the Bay primary in Bridlington.  I had my AA Routeplanner directions printed off the previous day and discovered that my memory of the journey length as just over 2hrs was inaccurate.  It was actually 2hrs 42 minutes, meaning that if I was aiming to be there an hour early for a 9 o’ clock start i would have to set off at 5 o’clock, (ouch!).  That’s allowing time for getting lost etc.

One of the things on my list was to get more diesel from our local petrol station, so I wouldn’t have to delay myself the following day by filling up en route.

It was bitterly cold, I start the engine – no problem.  Engine ticks over and fans start clearing the windscreen – engine cuts out with a bang.  I tried to start the engine again and this time it doesn’t start but makes chug-chug noises.  I notice the battery light is on, but it is a very new battery and I don’t think there can be a problem with it.  I hope it is something simple like the battery coming unclipped or something that my dad, (the mechanic of the family) can fix right away.

So I phone my dad and treat myself to fish and chips for tea to save time on cooking and washing up.  My husband Tim was in London auditioning for a short film so wasn’t around to consult.

By the time my dad has come to the conclusion that the van needs inspecting by professionals it is too late to contact the local garage so I have to fork out for RAC breakdown cover.

I know, that even if my van isn’t fixed, luckily, my dad has offered to drive me in their car instead.  The stuff for the workshop will not take up too much room, (it is good we weren’t doing Alice in Wonderland which fills every inch of space in my van).

I get all of the puppets and materials packed into bags while I’m waiting, so in my zombie like state the next morning I can literally just grab everything and go.

The RAC wrestle with the fact that our estate isn’t on their sat nav. yet and I give them directions over the phone.  When the man finally turns up at around 8 o’ clock he decides after a brief inspection that he can’t do anything there and then and recommends I take it to the local garage to see if they think it’s worth fixing 😦 Whoopidoo!

After watching some telly to calm my nerves I retire to bed with a book around 9.00pm.  This being the length of time necessary to give me 8 hours sleep.  I work out that if I want a shower and a cup of tea before packing up the car at ten to five, I shall have to set my alarm for 4.15am, which I do.

Needless to say after a chapter of the book my brain, rather than co-operatively wanting to go to sleep, decides to pump me full of adrenaline and work out all the possible things that could go wrong with my workshop the following day.  I read some more of the book and when I wake up the next morning, I know I have been asleep, but have no idea how long for.

I had a shower and got dressed but did not in the end have time for a cup of tea.  I had some water and my last square of 85% cocoa chocolate instead.

Luckily for me, my dad, (who has makes some of the Rough Magic Theatre sets and props)has brought a flask of tea which he kindly shares with me.  It was a rare treat to not have to drive as well as running the workshop and in the end dad stayed to help the children make their puppets at the school as well.

There was a moment of panic at the school when they thought the caretaker had disposed of their carefully collected plastic milk bottles for the puppet heads, but eventually they were found to have been tidied away to a “safe place”.  Everyone knows that you should never put anything you want to find in a “safe place”.  One of the classes had not collected enough milk bottles anyway and sent someone to buy a load of milk from the shop which resulted in an extremely large metal jug full of milk residing in the staff refridgerator!

The workshop itself went very well.  The teachers seemed pleased and the children enjoyed it very much too.

The presentation and demonstation of different types of puppets took up a rather longer stretch of time than I was anticipating, but the children seemed to be enjoying it such a lot that it seemed a good idea to spend more time on it.  The children all ended up with a basic completed puppet by the end of the day and the tools and ideas to finish them off later.

As you know they were working with the theme of “Lost in the Toy Museum” which they had been reading and were delighted with the puppet I modelled on a character from that book.  I had ordered a copy from my local library some time back but it had not arrived and I used two pages that I had found online, and ideas from the V & A museum of childhood as a reference instead.

I said to my dad as we were drinking tea afterwards: “I bet I get an email saying my book’s arrived now I’ve finished the workshop” and sure enough I did get an email on Thursday to say just that!

It was worth all the work and anxiety to work in such a nice school.  When we arrived a boy came up and asked us where we were looking for and directed us to the correct entrance.  Some more helpful boys helped us carry everything in.  We were offered multiple cups of tea without having to ask and the teachers were friendly and not stand offish.  They were also very good with maintaining discipline with the children during the workshop rather than just standing back and expecting me to do everything.

I hope to get copies of some photos that were taken by one of the teachers, so watch this space!  They also seemed very keen to have us back at some stage, which is always very nice.

I have been taking it easy since then and trying to catch up on some sleep as I am still pretty zonked out.  But I shall still be going to Sheffield for an audition for Pif-Paf’s “Honey” shows on Monday.  I shall be taking the train there while our local garage works out what’s wrong with my van.  More news next week folks! And I look forward to finally reading my library book now too!

2 hand puppets a string puppet and my husband Tim


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