Huge Burden

A recent conversation with two young things who have become our adopted ‘children’ reminded me of a situation in the 80s

I worked for local government in the UK in social services. I was in my late 20’s with responsibility for managing the grants given to voluntary organisations (aka charities) who provided services that complemented ours so they were given financial assistance and developmental support. I also began developing programs to consult local people to engage them in reviewing services.

It was one of my favourite jobs and I was fortunate to get such a senior job at a relatively young age.

I was in many respects a ‘young Turk.’ Full of new ideas, wanting to challenge and innovate, create revolution. We did some really cool things.

There was an assistant director who we nick-named Huge Burden (it was almost an alliteration (?) of his name). We’d often cross Swords (blunt ones, it was govt!) and there have been times we’d have stand up rows. Well actually, it would be me, berating Hugh. Sometimes I may have been unfairly over-the-top at other times my concerns would have been quite legitimate but I now recognise, I could always have improved my approach.

So how does this relate to the recent conversation?

My lovely friends and I were discussing media relations. They were not particularly challenging me nor was there approach inappropriate, that’s not my point. They were, of course, dealing with a knowall Yorkshireman of a certain age. I felt I knew much of what they referred to, and maybe showed it too much being a bit harsh, reflecting insecurity? I’d designed and delivered with the wonderful Carol Barbone, a national roadshow for the U.K. government twenty years ago on media relations (clearly times have moved on but I’d say principles are much the same but they are the bright young things and so maybe it’s a young/old Turk situation regardless of the what’s and wherefors) so the real point is ….. I don’t want to be a Huge Burden but maybe I am.

That’s the fear, I’ve become the miserable grumpy old git! The old Turk!

I blame my parents

I was there……

In the middle, to the foreground with the wings….

No, not actually in the photo. This is Butlins holiday camp pool in the early 1970’s when I most definitely was or had visited with my family. Take in the photo. Look at how white we were and slim! How things have changed.

So why do I blame my parents? A convenient excuse? A contradictory mix of experiences that helped me prepare for the consistently inconsistent life that is India. On the one hand we’d be pioneers driving through England and France to holiday in Spain. Visiting quaint villages that are now over fifty years later, Temples to package tourism. That was in the early 1960’s when I was a little nipper.

My holiday education did also include ten years later the decided working class holiday at this very holiday camp. Rows of cabins, knobbly knee competitions for the Dads, beauty completions for the mums, activities for the kids, soooo non pc. In terms of my working class upbringing, let’s not forget the ultimate: Charabanc (coach) trips to Blackpool illuminations and Skegness from our home in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England., organised by the archetypal ‘Working Men’s Club’

So why am I telling you all this?

It helps make up who I am.

Check the Guardian article that relates to the photo.

Coincidentally Martin Parr, who’s exhibition this all refers to, lived in Hebden Bridge early in his career probably shortly after this photo was taken. In 1986 when Liz, Ben and I moved to Hebden Bridge we bought the very same house where he’d lived.

What a lovely little tent!

Camping is in the blood.

As a family we camped in South West Wales most years. I sold my first grown up tent, a classic Force Ten, to myself at age 16 when I worked in a camp store in Sheffield.

This year we had a grand reunion camp in Wiltshire and at the WOMAD festival.

Every year we used to camp as a family in South West Wales, now I live in India but every year manage to get to camp in the UK.

So why am I telling you all this?

because we’ve found a wonderful tent, designed and sold by Hari in Bristol, England that is so good I want you to know about it.

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This year as a 60th birthday present to myself I bought a new tent, the one that Hari built ;-). The first I’d bought since the early 90’s (our tents are looked after and last). It’s the one above.

I say small and it is if you compare it with it’s bigger family members but it can take two people, even a family and there’s space for lots and lots of gear. Its quite bulky and heavy when packed up but nothing more than you would expect of this type and size of  tent made of canvas. It is however absolutely gorgeous, easy to put up, a great feel of round ness inside and with no centre pole!

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My grandaughter reckons its a pumpkin or maybe Cinderella’s coach.

Everyone is attracted to it and want to know more. Its not cheap but fairly priced for what it is but then again what is cheap in the UK?

There are a couple of nice personal tie-ups. Lotus is of course a Hindu symbol, it was also part of my logo for my consultancy business set up in the early 90’s and is now even a tattoo on my arm! It is a bell tent, has a clever collapsible-poles-system,  so there are no poles restricting the inside space.

Manjula has got to grips with putting it up and taking it down.

She does however still ask me why to people go camping!? It might be something to do with the rain, wind and completely unpredictability of our weather in the UK …. or perhaps camping in India is seen as something for the military or poor people.

I’m working on her.

Its perceived as a festival or Glamping tent and the big versions we’re being used at WOMAD this year

We’ve camped with the new tent in the gloriously crappy English Summer in Yorkshire, Dorset and Wiltshire. Its been super!

more details are at Lotus belle

its listed as a bud, and now they’ve got an inflatable one!

More photos are available on flickr

or come find us at WOMAD in 2018 where we’ll be using the tent

the BIG trip to the UK

Madam English, as she’s known hereabouts is back from her BIG trip. We travelled the length and breadth of the country, for over six weeks, fitted VERY important family events in, had a reunion camp, got muddy in Wiltshire, met lots of Mysore Bed and Breakfast guests, spent a fortune and had a rare old time!

Thank you to the lovely people we know and love for making this such a super trip.

Presents (limited, of course, to sensible cost and numbers), include: spinners (mad craze in the west), nail varnish (highly sought after western quality), shiny things, and various other odds and sods are being distributed as I write. A really big hit for the guy who runs the veg shop (hi!) is Gordons Gin, from duty free. He’s paid for it (we’re not made of money, although many think, I am) and he’s ecstatic about the flavour, its clearly a notch above the local gin.

Well what a trip it was……

 

We’ve covered the North, South, East and West, wet old things in Yorkshire,

 

Dorset, Teesside, Tyneside, even Lancashire (there’s long-standing issues between Yorkshire and Lancashire), Derbyshire, Wiltshire, my son’s wedding to Alice,

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sorry wrong photo (I’ll deservedly get into a lot of trouble for that!)

Oliver, my other son’s visit from Canada,

connectiong with my lovely Granddaughter Poppy, family reunion camp, WOMAD music festival,

family in Sheffield, Hand made parade in Hebden Bridge….

oh, and London, of course

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Madam English now knows why we Brits go on some much about the weather, we’ve had it all. She now knows about being prepared for it to change in a nano second, carrying endless clothing variations, layering and Hot Water Bottles when camping.

She’s so English, she has learned how to complain (Indians, generally not being big complainers and just tend to get on with it, really?) but still manages to have a great time.

we thank everyone… so much… for making this such a wonderful experience.

We’ve  lost count of how many of our old and new friends, including so many Bed and Breakfast guests we’ve seen, met in London, visited their homes, bumped into at the music festival, its been superb…. and did we mention all the meals we’ve eaten….

and at the end of it all we’re a bit tired

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all our photos (these and many more) are at the usual place at flickr

So what does Madam English think about the place?

How did  Lucy manage with Eric?