A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to have been put forward by the Charity 'Bees For Development' www.beesfordevelopment.org to give a couple of talks, one in the morning and one in the afternoon to two groups of school children, on behalf of the Instut Française, www.institut-francais.org.uk in relationship to an on going project being carried out in The South of France by The Observatoire Française d"Apidologie, www.ofapidologie.org. Each group being about 200 children! My talks were to last no more than 20 minutes and come after the children had watched a beautiful film called The Wings of Life. Bearing in mind the film was about pollination I decided my talk should be about life inside the hive and not outside. As you can imagine, a bee hive is a very complex place with lots going on in there, so to condense a talk down to 20 minutes, keeping it informative, interesting and engaging for children aged between 7 and 11 who have been sitting for one hour and 10 minutes watching a beautiful disney film was quite a challenge! My first practice, with trusty egg timer set for 20 mins, was a disaster... I had hardly finished thanking them for their invitation and telling them about being a beekeeper for 7 years when the timer went ting! And so this went on - and on - and... well you guessed it - on. Eventually after many a 20 minute practice I got it down to a fine art, not that I wanted to learn a 'script', you cannot rehearse for this sort of thing, I just wanted to be comfortable about how much time I could spend on each fact.
That sorted, they had asked me to scan some images I would be using over to them so they could put them up on the cinema screen. No problem. Over to my trusty imac.. it took ages to come alive and then froze. Ok, don't panic, there was still the Macbook Pro. Or was there? No there wasn't, it too packed up. What were the chances of that happening on the same day in the same hour, nay minute? I rushed them over to High Wycombe to be looked at and the Macbook had died and the imac needed a new hardrive and would be ready by the end of the week. Too late for what I needed them for. I did have the use of my husbands PC, not a fan of those I am afraid and don't really know how to use them, so not confident enough to load them on to that and use that for the demonstration. I emailed The Institute and explained my somewhat unbelievable tale of woe and said I would print the images and bring them along to help with my chat.
A lot of printing and ink was used. Mounts were ordered and sent back and eventually sourced locally. The pictures were cut, stuck on boards and mounted, not with masking tape, of course I did not have any to hand, and the sellotape had run out. Of course it had, why wouldn't it have done? It would have been rude, after all, to have had any sellotape in the house. No they were delicately mounted with good old gaffa tape! Meanwhile my husband had taken my car to have a slow puncture, I had suspected I had the day before, fixed. All sorted. loaded up the car the night before, with the hive, some of my kit, honey, wax, pictures, bullet points etc.
One hour journey predicted on AA Route planner the night before so I gave myself two and half hours to get there, it did involve the M40, M25 and M4 in rush hour after all. "There is slow traffic" my Sat-Nav kept telling me repeatedly for the first hour and half of my journey and still I am on the M25, but there was an hour left on the clock and so I wasn't too upset. Finally on to the M4 with 30 mins to spare and a journey of 15 mins predicted on my Sat Nav. Still happy and positive, if not, if I am honest a tad anxious. The traffic speeds up and finally I get to go over 40mph. My car starts to shudder as if I am driving over a cattle grid. I slow down, the car is smooth, I speed up and over the cattle grid sensations starts again. In to the slow lane I go and creep my way in to Central London arriving with one minute, literally to spare for the agreed time of my arrival. Stressed? I should co-co! However, remembering my dear friend Robert who always said, when dealing with clients and things are anything but ok, as far as they are to be aware - nothing is ever a problem, everything is absolutely fine. And so I arrived one minute before the agreed time and beamed broadly at my host as I unloaded my car.
My thoughts were, if I could get through all of the above hurdles, which I had, talking to the children would be easy! And it was. It was not just easy it was fun, uplifting and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. The children were engaged and responsive and eager to ask questions at the end of my talk. I could not have asked for more! The organisers were delighted and when I gave out my Betsie Valentine book marks at the end of my talks they even asked me to sign them!
Roll on the year ahead. Giving talks about the honeybees to schools all over the UK, W.I's and other community groups and reading from my book is going to be exciting! I simply cannot wait.