“BE PREPARED” ••• “TO BE LET DOWN”
Lets start with the “Downer.” I did wonder whether to put this on the blog but then I thought about it and I did say in the very beginning that this would be a blog that follows me through the ups and downs of my beekeeping year.
On Tuesday I did my usual Singing For The Brain in Aylesbury for the Alzheimer’s Society. For those who don’t know that side of me, I sing with a lovely guy called Colin, who plays the guitar and does the harmonies, as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Society. I do this every Tuesday and I love it. Singing really is good for the brain, heart and soul and we always have a giggle in Aylesbury. After that, Colin and I have a bite to eat and then we go on To Kent House, which is a rehabilitation centre for people with critical head injuries. This is a very different gig to SFB. It’s more intense and therefore quite hard but nonetheless I love it, as I do, all the lovely guys and gals we sing with. Tuesday’s are my singing days! After KH I had to rush home and get one of the Barns all ready for new clients to arrive - another thing I do, manage three barns in The Chilterns for short term letting. But that was relatively easy as all I had to do was pop in a welcome pack as all had been inspected the day before. So my day was nearly done, all I had left to do was prepare supper and go and sort out the horses with their supper etc. I was preparing a roast and the whole time I was thinking to myself ‘I shouldn’t be doing this’ but I couldn’t figure out why it felt wrong so I carried on regardless. Walking Miss Tilly, (my dog), up to the horses I had a feeling that things were not as they should be, but no alarm bells rang…UNTIL…my phone rang. “Hi, where are you? You said you needed 30 minutes to set up and all the Guides have arrived.” Where was I? In the middle of a water logged paddock with a soaking wet dog, two drenched horses and a couple of sodden ponies up to my ankles in rain - that’s where I was - My heart started to pound. I knew the second I heard the voice asking where I was.. where I was supposed to be.. and why I hadn’t felt right prepping the dinner..because I had said to R as he left in the morning.. “You’ll have do do supper and the horses for me this evening as I’m in Ivinghoe talking to some Girl Guides..” Oh my dear sweet Lord. My first disaster. I gabbled at 100 mph while running through the paddock with Miss Tilly nipping at my heels.. “I’m sorry, I ‘m so so sorry.. I’ll run home, I’ll jump in the car and I’ll be with you in 30 minutes, I’ll… Natasha, the voice on the other end of the line, was, I am sure, doing her best not to sound cross, let down, and any other metaphor one can conjure up, but failing as much as I was failing to stay calm. I apologised profusely and I could feel her just wanting to get me off the phone so she could run outside of the village hall and scream before re-entering to tell the Guides that the Author/Beekeeper would not be there for the talk this evening in a calm and controlled manner. The phone went dead. I stopped in the middle of the next field and text her immediately saying how sorry I was and how, if she would invite me again, I would do the talk - of course - free of charge. Poor Miss Tilly sat in the wet grass, looking up at me, head slightly tilted to one side, the rain dripping from her ears, wondering why I had stopped, it was after all pouring down and I looked as if I had had a bucket of water thrown at me. I pressed ‘send’ and proceeded to walk home feeling enraged with myself for not checking my diary in the morning or for that matter, afternoon. I felt really ashamed. What a let down. A let down for the Guides and a let down for myself. I got home and R was already in the kitchen dishing up the supper. “Weren’t you supposed to be..” “Don’t” I said “Just don’t. I need a glass of wine.” I didn’t get a text back from Natasha. Fair call, I thought, she will be with the Guides now thinking of something else to do with them. I would be very low on her priority list right now.
It got worse. Can it? I hear you say. Yes. At 9.20 my phone went “ting” I rushed to the kitchen and picked it up.. a message from Natasha.. No. It was a message from my client in one of the barns saying “I think this message is meant for someone else Meriet” I could feel my heart sink lower, I’m not sure how much lower it could have sunk, but it did. I had sent my apologetic text to the wrong bloody number… I dragged myself up to bed and buried myself under the duvet feeling like Scarlett O’Hara when she says “I’ll think about it tomorrow.” Tomorrow came and the first thing I did was email Natasha a grovelling apologetic email. And I felt no shame in grovelling as I was sincerely mortified. This sad tale has, I am delighted to say, a happy ending. Natasha emailed me. We have another date in the diary… 9th July… It is engrained in my brain and written everywhere. My house looks like Jim Carery’s office in Bruce Almighty. Fussake.
And so to the ups in the week and there were plenty!
Let’s begin with Chesham Bois School. Wonderful reception from the teachers and the children alike. Hopefully, as I always say, pictures will follow at some point. As we are all aware, parents permission has to be given for their children’s images to be used on the blog and schools are very busy places.. I have to be very patient! It was such a dreadful day weather wise but the honeybees managed to put a smile on everyones face during my talk and at the end the teacher’s had a “whip round” and paid me more than my invoice as they said it was such a great afternoon for the children. Well that’s a first! I was chuffed - make no mistake and of course, they bought a book for the school so a very successful day indeed. Finally I received this lovely letter from the children themselves..
Lunch with Councillor Mimi Harker OBE, Vice-Chairman of the Conservative Council and Wycombe Sound Radio Presenter. This lovely lady interviewed me a couple of months ago on the radio and this was a “stay in touch’ luncheon at the end of which I had been booked to give a talk on the stage at The Amersham Festival on Saturday 20th July. I will also have a stand where I will be selling and signing copies of Betsie Valentine, which is by the way on it’s third print run as I type! So put that date in your diary. It’s going to be a great day out for the family and come and say hello to me on my stand!
Following lunch with Mimi I had an appointment at Neptune in Chesham. They had approached me to do an event at their Chesham Branch in August. Lovely meeting with Polly. It all sounds very exciting. I will be giving a couple of talks, one mid-morning and one mid afternoon. I will let you know the date as soon as I do! Again, do come along. Neptune is a beautiful shop so definitely worth a visit honeybees or not! Do have a look at their website https://www.neptune.com/our-stores/uk/chesham/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=local&utm_campaign=GoogleLocal-Chesham and you will probably find yourself visiting there before I do my talk… if you are anything like me!
The First Naphill Brownies…. What can I say? Really great talk there. The girls were very lively and joined in the questions and answers with great gusto! Brown Owl (Ruth) and Bluebell (Catherine) were really lovely. We over ran time wise and the parents ended up coming in right at the end for the questions and answers and it was really lovely for them to see how much there children had engaged with the whole subject. As a result, possibly, maybe, who knows, but quite a few books were sold and signed. Again images to follow. Finally, another first.. one of the Brownies presented me with a lovely bouquet of bee friendly flowers. I am ashamed to say I can’t remember the name of them but I was really touched.
Finally the week ended on a high. I spent the afternoon at the Twickenham and Thames Valley Beekeepers Association. They are celebrating their centenary and had an open day. I met them at The National Honey Show last year and they bought a batch of books from me earlier in the year to give to all the schools that visit them throughout this year. They invited me to come and give talks, book readings and signings. I did three separate talks that, as a result of the volume of interest and the questions that followed, I managed two cold cups of tea and half a slice of delicious homemade coffee and walnut cake (my favourite, incidentally!) throughout the entire afternoon.. I did not stop! It was a fabulous afternoon. They have a very enviable set up. Somewhat like The Bee Centre in Preston. They have their own site where they have hives, with hides where the children/adults can watch and/or take part in hive inspections. Rooms for members to hire for next to nothing where they can spin their honey. A lovely café and a science room! The picture below was taken by one of their members and the comment was put up on their facebook page. Boom!
And so to the honeybees. At last I hear you cry!
The weather has been so awful, I was honestly not sure I would manage to do an inspection at all. However there was a very brief rest bite on Monday so I took a dive in to all four hives, well three and one nuc to be precise. The good news is they are all going well. The queens are laying and hopefully by July the two split hives will be full of bees and ready for the summer forage! If not I will have to join them together as one strong hive will be more productive than two weak ones. Makes sense, but one hates to lose a laying queen. I would actually put her in a nuc with some nurse bees in the hopes it would build up enough during the summer months to a reasonable strength to get her through the winter. But that’s just a thought in the back of my mind. I told them “you have two more weeks to sort yourselves out girls!.” So they know they are on a warning!
I had a lovely card from Amelie, see below, telling me she is doing a Speak Out about the honeybees for a Brownie Badge which absolutely delighted me. I have told her the next guaranteed warm weekend we will put a date in the diary for her to come and do another inspection. The Nuc I put together with the queen cells from the split hive is doing ok. I am not sure what is going on but I have seen the queen and there seemed to be evidence of eggs. But there are not many nurse bees in there, but for the first time in a couple of weeks I saw a couple of bees flying in and out and I don’t think they were robber bees. If they were they didn’t have masks on or stockings over their heads so it was difficult to tell! Seriously.. I am watching it very carefully. I couldn’t look for too long as the weather wasn’t great and I didn’t want to subject the eggs to too much scrutiny. It is one to keep an eye on..
This blog started on a low…. has lots of lovely high’s and finishes on a really positive note.
The 1st Ivinghoe & Pitsone Guides, who I let down.. have, I am thrilled and relieved to say, re-booked me for the 9th July. Thank you guys!
I will leave you with a lovely picture I took up at the yard where I keep my horse. The humble bumble bees showing their fortitude and determination during the dreadful weather we have been having. The very moment the sun appeared between the heavy showers they too appeared in their dozens on these glorious fox gloves to keep on with their good work. See if you can see the one tucked up inside the flower!