Fun Palaces Gloucester (by )

Sunday was the first ever Fun Palaces weekend in Gloucester with events all over the UK. The event in Gloucester was organised by the accessible theatre company Two Can run by Nickie Wildin.

Preparing for Fun Palaces Gloucester

I was pointed in the direction of Fun Palaces by a mutual friend as it's ethos is similar to the Cuddly Science (my puppets and sci-craft activities) mission statement - Science for All and the idea that everyone should and can be part of science, art, music, sport = culture.

Cuddly Science Space Craft banner in the window for Fun Palaces

As a grass root, community driven event it needed contributors so we took the Puppets and did Cuddly Science and junk modelling and I did a poetry set.

Drawing and colouring at Fun Palaces

Alaric helped with bunting and the girls did a lot of colouring!

Two Can Accessible Theatre craft workshop

There was a wide range of people who came along and took part which is absolutely ace as part of the issue I have is our society is increasingly segmented meaning people find it hard to relate to others as they have never had interactions with people who are different to them.

Two Can Theatre paper mosaic being created with local

This included Phillip who sleeps in shop doorway most nights and who was excited to help decorate his home as we stuck the artworks up in the window. Mary decided he was her new best friend and cried when he left.

Two Can Accessible Theatre craft workshop

The space itself ie the shop was donated and the furniture for workshops was loaned from the community enterprise The Furniture Recycling Project.

Ada Lovelace at Fun Palaces Gloucester

Ada Lovelace the puppet came out and even did a few little jigs on the street to let people know we were there! Also it is coming up to Ada Lovelace Day again so it was good to let people know about Ada!

Ada Lovelace at Fun Palaces Gloucester

The puppets and sci-craft help engage people who have a tendency to be scared of science and is part of how I break down barriers but my workshops are also flexible so I also did general junk modelling and spoke to people about junk art and upcycling - I even have a booklet on the stuff I've written now!

Cuddly Science Space Craft workshop for Fun Palaces with Two Can Theatre

Some truly amazing pieces came out of the workshop from tweeting pop out birds...

Junk art 3D-2D birds

To fire breathing dragons and thanks to Mary lots and lots of night vision goggles!

Junk Model Dragon with Salaric Craft at Fun Palaces

Running workshops is exhausting but fun and everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves :)

Salaric Craft at Gloucester Fun Palace

We also got to promote the Cheltenham Hackspace as there was a skills exchange board, Jean also kept trying to put my on it to teach stuff like knitting! People were asking about the Hackspace and I found several people had initiatives that could do with junk modelling, comic book creating or cuddly science :) So it was really kind of epic for us!

Alaric and Jean adding things to the skill exchange board

Then there was the bingo! With Beryl 😀

Lingo Beryl prepping for Bingo at Gloucester Fun Palaces with Two Can Theatre

Turns out I suck at bingo but the lady who won one of my Love: A Stranger Dream candles loved it and Phillip won the cake and then insisted on sharing it with us all. It was an epic cake I am kind of sad I failed to get a photo of it!

Bingo, craft, cake and science at Fun Palaces Gloucester

Two ladies from Gloucester Cathedral came along to tell us about the projects that are and will be happening there including letting people know about their breakfast club and that they are getting solar panels!

Gloucester Cathedral is going green!

I love the Cathedral space so it was great to hear about things especially how they are planning on turning the front bit into a community garden.

Finding out about what is going on at Gloucester Cathedral

They had also bought with them pictures of stained glass windows and some of the green men carvings for colouring in which went down well with everybody but especially with Mary :)

Stained Glass Colouring with Gloucester Cathedral at Fun Palaces

Then it was Spoken Word time - I opened the set with my visual poem and narrative piece Reclaim the City which is part of my Found Poems of the Concrete series. People seemed to like it - I went for the Gloucester theme rather than Fun or Palaces.

Saffy performing Reclaim the City

I had made booklets for everybody to take away with them as it relies on the images and also I know I personally find it hard to recall stuff when you get bombarded with a lot of cool new things - so it is there for people to look at later if they wish.

Saffy getting the audience to participate in poetry

Of course I then made the audience participate in Windy Gloucestershire which I was going to read but kind of transposed into singing without me actually noticing!

Portrait of Alaric by Jean

I also did Summer Sun another song-poem but this time I did do the spoken version. Jean took some photos the one above of Al and the one below of the poet from Food for Thought which is a poetry night that happens at Cafe Rene.

Food for Thought Poet at Gloucester Fun Palace

Then we had the brilliant Donna Williams who is a sign poet, in Donna's case she uses British Sign Language or BSL. Sign language is something I've struggled with since the head injury - according to my kids I used to sign nursery rhymes and things for them and my husband says I was quiet militant about this incase any of them ended up with hearing problems like I had as a child, I wanted them to be able to communicate - because not being able to communicate is the MOST frustrating thing. My mum says the main issue is that I knew the rudimentary of 3 different sign language systems, enough to help in classrooms and when I used help her at the day centre but I was not proficient as it were, and now I've got all three of them all muddled up in my head.

Donna Williams signing cat poetry

Interestingly I understood what was being signed but would not have been able to sign back at all. And also Donna did run through what some of the sings meant as well as vocalising some of the poems.

Donna Williams Sign Poetry

Mary's favourite was about cats :) I did video it but have since found a better recording on Youtube.

I have written about sign poetry before including here, though interestingly I can't find the stuff about the American poet who started my interest. I am wondering if it was in an essay for my PGCert or something.

sign poetry at Gloucester Fun Palace

Donna was lovely and I think I've seen her/met her before but I am still really struggling with face recognition at the moment! To the point that I could not work out who Nickie (the lady who had organised the event!) was when I arrived.

Twitter @DeafFirefly

Mary loved the event and Phillip so much that she had a melt down when it came time to pack up and leave. (And I mean melt down)

Human billboards and lots of bunting

It was an amazing day and I hope we get to do it again next year. I met lots more creatives and found out about stuff in Gloucester - this is something I suck at - I will end up going off to Swindon, Bristol, Brum, London etc... and then finding out that there was a big culture spoken word, art etc... thing happening round the corner but only AFTER it has been and gone!

One last thing the decor of the shop was fab!

Shoe people Horse graffiti Flying pig graffiti Keep out mini door at Jolt Gloucester

The Rock Pools (by )

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Rock pool

On the last day beach outing in South Africa we came across the rock pools with many and varied creatures, some bright and some not so bright.

Clam Anenome fish

There were anenomes, barnicals, fish, clams, many bright shells and so on. Though some where deeper than others and all had fresh (though sea salty) water washing over them as we stood there watching. Some were deeper than others.

Algea and sea weed

Mary was most taken with the red anenome :)

Red Anenome

I liked the fact that the ripples in the sea water cast little rainbows even over the more subtly coloured creatures like this clam.

Clam South Africa

And as promised here are the fish :) or some of the fish anyway :)

Fish South Africa

I probably would not have found the rock pools if Lionel had not pointed them out as they are sunk into fractures in the rocks which are slippery with algea. They were worth the slipping risk!

Finding the rockpools

The girls loved the rockpools

Finding Rockpools

Alaric spent ages with them looking in their wibbly wobbly depths :)

Looking in the rock pools

I just loved how you could see a whole little ecosystem there contained in a cradle of rock :) It made me miss Ewan Laurie lessons and paleobiology and being shown byssal threads on field trips :) I may have board the kids with all this along with dentition and muscle scars on shells which apparently I tell them everytime we are at a beach (oops!).

Rockpool South Africa

We actually came home with a book on the oceanic life in South Africa and I will attempt to look up some of what we saw. It also made me determined to do more with the poems and stories I've written about rock pools in the past :)

Beach Rocks! (by )

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Exploring South Africa

I love rocks, stones, minerals, landscapes... South Africa was already under my skin for it is the home of the Cradle of Humankind and though we did not manage to go and visit it I know of it and about it and as a teen I read every book our library and the library network had to offer me on human origins and various homonid ancestors. My entire Punk In Pink novel series is based on an alternative history that comes from the fossil gap.


But more than any of that - South Africa has rocks!!! It has many and varied rocks and landscapes that show the origin of those rocks so vividly. Even the birds love the rocks!

The Boulders

The thing is that I am a geologist, yes I am not in industry or working for an institution but I was a geologist way before I ever set foot in Imperial College, and even before I did A'level geology. I was the child that collected stones and shells and leaves and stones and fossils because they were stone shells and leaves and tried to make her take a fossil home from the Welsh Mountains that was bigger than me at the age of 5.

Rising boulder

So I took a lot of photos of rocks and how they fit in the landscape and sometimes you can see write small what is write large like contacts between rock types or the way fractures behave.


I feared that not being active in the field and not studying would mean I could no longer read the landscape, I feared the head injury may have robbed me of what vestage of that ability I had left. But the more we explored, the more I looked, the more I saw, the more the puzzle pieces fell into place.

granite boulder

And once I saw the shape of how it was I began to look for and read the geology of the area - out of books and a map Alaric's Dad and Lynn showed me. I can not tell you the joy of having read that landscape correctly - true I may not be able to tell at a glance what a rock is exactly anymore but I still know enough to tell the rough how it foamed and why it is structured the way it is.


And I might have really liked the feldspars on the beach boulders and the quartz and the mica... and I might have tried to get the girls to look at them and they may have been more interested in the fish (don't worry I took a photo of the fish but you'll have to wait for another post for that one!).

rock in the sea

But Mary would scamper off and find me things and drag me to them and make me look and tell her and Jean would pretend to not be interested but then collected some stones for later...

Boulders at the Boulders

And yes these photos are all from our beach adventure on that last day and believe me if the camera battery hadn't gone flat I would have taken more. I still recall the chinmey climb to the sea we walked past and on other days preserved ripples and fossils and so so much more which I did not get photos of or have come out blurry and which there was no time to sketch.

Interesting weathering

I love rocks but I know most people don't so I have tried to limit the rocky outcrops... I mean posts on them 😀

Beach Treasures (by )

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We saw much wonderful bird, animal and plant life in South Africa, even the beach was teeming with it and I don't mean a few insipid jelly fish. No there were bright green little birds like the one in the just above - I was literally just walking along the beach on our last day trying to catch the rest of the family up as I'd stopped to take photos of rocks when it came and said hello!

Beach succulent

This bird wasn't the only thing that was bright green - this succulent sea grass reminded me of the edible beach walks I used to have my my uncle Jim down at Stone. I did not attempt to see if this was edible - I'm not stupid honest!

Ropy root

Life just seemed to be bursting out of the seams and the cracks and I often did not know which this to take the photo of first!

I loved this root bent and barren looking and then at points like this... wham! Lots of new leaves and the struggle for life to get a choke hold continues :)

Algea Sand

Even the sand had an attack of the algea - little Mary who truly came alive in South Africa though she was home sick bless - hurtled into me to announce she had found special green sand and could I tell her how a rock could be green! I probably would not have seen the green sand if she had not have done this :)

Beach Palm

Each of us found a different aspect of this glorious shore to explore from Mary and her green things to Jean and the wave patterns to Lionel and the anenomes (more on them later!).

The Boulders Explore (by )

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Chillax with Grampa Lionel and icecream

On the last day of our fantastic visit to South Africa we did not do much, we got up, I painted and the girls packed and then we headed out to the Boulders Beach. This was the first place the girls had come on the day we arrived - it is walking distance from Alaric's parents house. I'm not sure if there whole area is called Boulders or if each beach/bay thing had a separate name but none the less this was the beach and it has boulders on it!

Alaric and Mary at Boulders

On the first day me and Alaric went shopping with Lionel so we did not go to the beach but the girls did and they saw a penguin catch fish and feed it too its babies (once Mary had move back and was convinced to be quiet!).

Mary on a mission

We'd come here on other days too and Jean always insisted we went in and paddled - the water is cold enough that my feet went blue neither of the girls seemed to notice though and had a grand time making up games of the sea chasing them and little sea goblins and splash you with extra high waves that sneak up on you!

Lionel on the Beach

We found all sorts of treasures along the beach and hidden in the rocks and the girls asked questions and me and Lionel could general answer. I got very excited about the rocks!

Walk along the beach

I took many many photos and after discussion with Alaric have decided that I will split photos of events etc... over several blog posts to make them more managable for people and also to stop you all nagging me as it takes longer to make the longer posts!

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