Okay, so maybe we didn’t meet everyone’s family. But, as you’ll know if you’ve read Oli’s previous blog post, Bala was all set to be a weekend of fun, family, and festivities (it was a special someone’s birthday after all). And it certainly did not disappoint!
Happy birthday to Oli!
Although Saturday may have been a very special day, that didn’t mean there wasn’t still work to be done. I was on the first flyering shift at 12 with the birthday boy. So, at just after 11:30 we wondered into town to get him his desired birthday breakfast, croissants. We walked into the Co-Op, went over to their bakery section, and were met with extreme disappointment as there were no croissants left! A disaster I’m sure you can agree, one must have what they want for breakfast on their birthday!! This meant we were now on a mission to find Oli a croissant, we searched high and low, and eventually the Spar came to our rescue and Oli was able to snag their last croissant and pain-au-chocolat.
Once the birthday boy had been fed, we set about flyering the town. There was so many lovely people, and we had a really positive reaction from the people of Bala. One of the highlights of the day, however, was when Oli caught a glimpse of his parents who had come up to Bala to surprise him. It was like watching a child who just got exactly what they wanted for Christmas, as he skip-jumped across the road (the green man was flashing on the traffic lights don’t worry. We take road safety very seriously here at BoxedIn).
Literally so many family members
So, it turns out that Bala was the most convenient location for not only Oli’s parents, but Adam and Hanna’s too. We all met Adam’s parents on Friday night when they came down to look at the van their son had been living in for the past month and a half. We also met Lucy, the CUTEST dog ever. She will probably hold the title of my favourite audience member ever for a very long time!
Saturday was the day to meet the Lawsons and the Savages. I nearly flyered this jolly family who were walking down the street towards me, until I saw that one of them was Hanna and expertly deduced this meant they were probably her family. Now, the Lawson’s do not do things by halves, if anyone was coming to support Hanna that meant they were ALL coming to see her. I met her parents, Grandparents, and her Grandparents’ friends, all of whom are truly wonderful people!
Later that afternoon Rowan and I went back to the van to have our lunch and stumbled across the Savages having a family birthday lunch by the lake. Carol and Ken were also so kind and easy to talk to, and it was really special to be surrounded by such a warm family atmosphere.
And it blew up like a circus tent!
That afternoon, we set about putting up our Bell Tent Boutique tent in our new performance location by the Penllyn leisure centre. There was a strong breeze coming off the lake, and as soon as we opened the entrance of the tent to put it up the tent filled up with air. It stood taller than it had ever stood before, and from the inside it looked almost like a big top. We managed to battle the breeze and put the tent up, and that evening there was a lovely atmosphere as the tent was filled with family, friends, and residents of Bala.
After the show, Carol and Ken kindly took us all out for dinner at Plas Yn Dre to celebrate Oli’s birthday. As we all sat around the dinner table enjoying a delicious meal, Ana and I reflected on what a special experience we are currently a part of. All the people around the table had experienced the joy from our performance of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, and the tour had impacted all our lives in some way. Even though not all our families were there, the camaraderie around the table made us feel like we had created our own little family that weekend in Bala. It was a truly wonderful evening.
Once we had lined our stomachs with some good food and the parents had left us, we hit the town! Now Bala has a great selection of drinking establishments, and at night it even has some of my favourite places, pub-clubs! For those of you how have not experienced a pub club before, you are missing out. We lit up the dance floor with our moves and enthusiasm (which may or may not have been ignited by a couple of tequila shots), and we partied the night away.
The day after the night before
The next day we all woke up a little worse for wear, some worse than others (I’m sorry I was grumpy Adam!). Adam and Oli went for breakfast with their parents before they had to make their ways back home. And Hanna and her family left to have lunch with a family friend.
After family time, we set about flyering the town again. Although it was a bit quieter because it was a Sunday, we were still greeted with lots of enthusiasm. And that evening, even though the Lawsons were the only parents still standing, we had another fab audience!
Road trip to England?!?!
The next morning, we woke up to RAIN! It was a definite shock to the system, and a reminder of how lucky we’ve been with the weather so far. We all got ready for the day, hopped in the van, went to Co-Op for some breakfast, and then set off on a road trip to England. It may be home to half of our team, but we were yet to go to England. As it is a pretty long drive from Bala to Keswick, we had scheduled a stop in Manchester. I had never been, but I’d heard great things, so I was VERY excited, and I was NOT disappointed! Once we arrived in Manchester, Hanna, Oli, and Rowan went to the bank to sort out important financial things, Ana met up with a friend, Adam found a coffee shop to charge all his electrical appliances, and I went to Boots because as much as I love local pharmacies they do not stock everything, and when you live in a van having all the necessary toiletries is a must. I then met up with Hanna and we went to a vintage shop/vegan café called Teatime Collective. Now, you don’t have to be vegan to appreciate this place, if you have taste buds you will have a good time, 10 out of 10 recommend. Hanna and I then browsed the shops vowing not to spend any money. A shout out to Thunder Egg who managed to make us break this promise we made to ourselves, because we needed those clothes.
After our whistle stop visit to the city, we set off to the Steele’s house, as they had very kindly agreed to host us that evening. We arrived in the pouring rain which could have put a dampener on things, but we were very warmly welcomed into their beautiful family home. I had forgotten how nice it was to be in a building where you could walk up the stairs. This may sound weird, but when you’ve been living in a van for nearly two months, it’s the little things that bring you joy!
Annabel had also invited some of our friends from St Andrews, Ellie Burke and Henry Roberts round so we could have a mini summer reunion. Nicky and Tom were the hosts with the most providing us with multiple snacks, copious amounts of alcohol, and delicious barbeque on one of the only days this summer that has not been barbeque weather. By the time we all went to bed we were very full, very content, and very excited to get a good night’s sleep!
The next morning came around far too quickly. And once we had emptied the Steele’s hot water tank as we do very much enjoy having access to an actual, proper shower, we headed off on our way to our next destination Keswick. I’ll leave it to Oli to tell you all about our adventures here. Spoilers, we have found some more incredibly kind and wonderful people who are willing to support this crazy adventure!