Saturday I volunteered at the Midsomer Norton Fayre in the Somer Valley Skate and Adventure Park. Whilst the main part of the fayre was going on in the Hollies Garden(where the Council offices are situated), we had our own event happening with the kids. Quest were performing The Battle of The Winds in celebration of the opening of the Olympic/Paralympic sailing events in Weymouth.

But the children’s part of the day wasn’t to do with sports and competing, no. It was focused around the arts! Yay! So we had to round up a parade including Chris Revill’s Wheels for All bikes which had been decorated by the boys from the skate park with tassles and flags, accompanied by their headbands, wrist bands and t-shirts that they had made in previous workshops. The parade of school children who were doing a dance performance for the public later on, were joined with the bikes, kids on skates, boards and families with smaller children on Balance Bikes. There was medieval music and drums as we walked along Gullock Tyning next to the park, and we had to follow the Battle of The Winds contraption, which looked like two giant hamsters wheels attached to a boat! The machine-thing parked up and set up for the performance. All the children were so patient waiting in the rain for it to start. The act included tight-rope-walking, gymnastics, acting and music. They luckily just finished as the heavens really started to open!

I was working for The Play Team on the day, and was working alongside Wandsyke Play Association who were doing ‘games’ and artists that had come to do a workshop in banner making. They were bright, bold banners that were being put up in the adventure park with sewn on outlines of the kids posing some great moves whilst skating, boarding or BMX-ing. The kids weren’t too interested in the banner-making because of the bikes and games that were happening in the rest of the playground. There was alot of teenagers towards the end of the day filtering into the space I was in, and whilst I was busy doing facepainting with WPA’s Magda, the amount of teen girls that wanted their faces done was astonishing. It was different though to the usual cat or vampire, obviously the older kids wanted ‘decoration’, symbols, marks that had some sort of meaning. One teen boy, who was surrounded by girls wanted his face painted too. I asked what he wanted done and he was oohing and ahhing for a while. He didn’t like my suggestions and eventually decided on three distinctive stripes on each cheek. The feeling I got from him was that he was really delighted with his female-friend’s choices of flowers, hearts and ‘peace’ signs – but maybe felt he had to have something more macho…

I asked one girl at the end of the day, she was maybe fourteen, if she was enjoying herself at the day – good to get some feedback from the people who really matter – and she said she’d had a good time. I then asked if she would like days like these to happen more frequently and she said yeah, but then I made the assumption that she’d agree that Midsomer Norton is boring and theres not that much for them to do…(even though I know they have the fantastic skate park, and alot of work goes into providing youth services in Bath and North East Somerset)…But, she disagreed and said she loves Midsomer Norton and thought there was lots to do. She added she was from Coleford – a neighbouring small village where nothing happens and being surrounded by lanes, access for children to other areas is very difficult.

Despite the rain most of the day and I was complaining of being freezing (as i stupidly brought no coat), the day was a success. The kids had a great time with and without their families and I went home with a white face and flowers – but to one 3 year-old…

“Why have you got a upside down dinosaur on your face?”