Festival of the Girl is something I’ve been meaning to check out for ages. The last two years have, by necessity, been online so Eva got the pack in the post and kinda dipped in and out of the activities but I was looking forward to taking her to experience it in 3D Technicolour real-life.
First tho, fox poo. My plan to leave church promptly was slightly scuppered by a local canid relieving itself on the doorstep to the garden and the local church kids trampling it right through the building, with me and a roll of blue paper in hot pursuit. This will become relevant later but also explains why we were running late and had to bolt our Five Guys lunch (one portion of large fries, shared…no drink for Eva as she was still clutching her pre-church can of Dash…all very economical). I’d never been inside the Business Design Centre, despite working on Parkfield Street for nine months in 2002 and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I didn’t realise, for example, that it looks like a railway terminus inside:
Festival of the Girl wasn’t in this main bit but a cosier set of rooms off to the right, with a downstairs space and mezzanine. We’d missed half an hour and there was a lot to get through but we made it in time to catch the end of the light sabre Tai Chi demonstration:
We spotted a family from church watching the display and also a friend of ours working on the stall for the Girls Friendly Society. But before I could stop to talk, Eva scampered off upstairs. I followed, picking up her discarded things as I went – hat, coat, gift bag and yes, that can of Dash still. She wanted to go to the Activist workshop in the Greta Thunberg area so we got her a ticket for that and then used up a few minutes by visiting the dress-up careers area. Can you tell which occupation she’s dressed as here?
Yes, that’s right. An archaeologist, just like her evil auntie. Later she realised that she didn’t like skeletons so maybe this wasn’t the ideal career after all but she certainly looked the part. And yes, evil auntie – those are steel toecapped patent shoes.
Then it was time for her first workshop and, just in time, one of her classmates arrived to join her at the table. I was a bit confused about where they were meant to go but they found the right spot and got down to making some campaign posters. Eva’s said “Stop the Fox Hate”, which I took a bit personally after the fox poo incident earlier. I might have said some unkind things about our bushy-tailed friends.
After that workshop, we had a few minutes before the workshops in the book area. Eva filled it by playing some tunes on a tiny violin:
And contributing a few flourishes to this giant picture:
Then we went to the fairytale-writing workshop in the book area, with author Gina Blaxill. We sat on blankets on the floor and the workshop was a very interactive one, with the eventual story being a dramatic retelling of Goldilocks set in a cave. The setting was contributed by Eva and all the elements were chosen by dice-roll.
The only criticism I would have of the whole day is that the acoustics in the workshops weren’t ideal. The mic-ed up sound from the main stage downstairs was a bit overpowering and the speakers upstairs were struggling to make themselves heard. While the open-plan layout was great for being able to wander around and join in with everything, it might work better next year to have those sessions in separate breakout rooms. I could hear when I sat on the floor for fairytales but I sat a bit further back for the next workshop (Detective Stories with JT Williams) and I couldn’t hear at all. But then I’m far too old to sit on the floor for long.
Still, Eva got a lot out of both workshops and is full of writing ideas now. She also bought books by both authors and got them signed so she was happy. She has retired to bed tonight with her signed copy of one of the Lizzie and Belle Mysteries. And this is JT Williams in action:
By the time we’d done all of that, the afternoon was almost over and we’d barely even looked at all the activities downstairs. When we did go back down, she went to the coding table and showed off her Scratch skills. Of course, she could have done that at home but I wasn’t going to stop her when she seemed so happy. There was a whole carnival party, complete with conga, going on behind her but it didn’t break her focus. I ended up persuading her to leave before we got kicked out and, on the way out, we spotted this very confusing 3D picture:
Plus a cow and a lovely stained glass window. This venue keeps surprising me!
We went to grab a quick coffee at Pret, as I’ve bought the coffee subscription and am determined to max it out. Eva got a hot chocolate, to ensure that I was carrying two half-drunk drinks up the stairs of the bus for her – yes, the Dash was still with us. Both drinks eventually got spilt but fortunately not until we got home. I’m impressed too.
But, spilt drinks aside, it was a fun afternoon out and I’m hoping next year is just as good. We could easily have spent all day there and it was a bargain price too. If you want to sign up for their mailing list, have a look here for more info.