Our awesome partners over at Clean Water Wave are doing important work every day.
One of the main things we love about them is how they put sustainability at the heart of their work. It’s not just about providing clean water, it’s about providing long term solutions for clean water. Solutions that can last for a very long time, and can support whole communities far in to the future.
That’s an attitude we really admire – because, as it turns out, thinking about things from a sustainable and long-term mindset doesn’t just help them out. It helps to make the world a better place. And of course, we love that.
But how does that work? How do they go about thinking sustainably? And how has it impacted them? All great questions – why don’t we let them tell you. And hey, maybe that will help you understand why we’re so obsessed with them…
So, Clean Water Wave. Neat name – remind us what you do exactly?
You know by now that we’re a social enterprise and we love clean water. You might also know that our water treatment system is called the Clean Aqua For Everyone (CAFÉ_, and that it’s designed to be robust and super sustainable. As you can see, it’s a pretty big piece of machinery, and it’s really created to last!
Obviously that’s awesome. Why is sustainability a part of that for you?
For our small team, it’s really important that the impact we make isn’t just a one off. Clean water never stops being important, so we don’t want to make a piece of equipment that will work for a short time and then break. That can have a really negative impact on the communities in which we work. For us, that means it’s essential for us to think sustainably – think long term.
And how do you implement that sustainability?
Essentially, when building CWW and creating the CAFÉ systems, we had three key things to bear in mind.
We have to get the right design for the water treatment system. That means a machine that’s sturdy and won’t just break.
We have to build and source from the right materials. Strong materials, and sustainable materials.
We have to work in partnership with communities, and with organisations that take a long-term view to improving livelihoods.
We have a lot of experience working in low income communities and know that getting the technology right is just part of the equation. Yes, it’s important – vitally important – to design and manufacture something that works and is robust. But CWW is more than just the physical things we build. Everything we buy and use has an impact, and it’s important to us that we ensure that impact is a positive one. That means keeping a close eye on our suppliers. We want to ensure they understand our mission, and have good business practices such as not using child labour.
You mentioned partnering with communities too. Why is that important?
Relationships with communities are essentially to making a lasting positive impact, wherever we work. Just turning up and installing water systems might help in the short term, but they won’t really reach their full potential. Ensuring that our work is fully transparent means that community members are engaged and on board, so that they can manage their water systems in to the future.
That’s why – rather than jump straight into implementing an international project – we are spending a lot of time researching best practice in international development, learning from those that do it well and from those who recognise they could do better.
It’s also why we are working with great partners, in the UK and internationally, to get the right fit, to ensure a long-term approach to clean water for communities.
Are there any other ways you’re approaching that community aspect?
We’re actually set up as a social enterprise, which is a little different from a normal business. It basically meant that profit from the sales of our water treatment systems is ploughed into doing our homework, and getting the right approach for community development. That’s opposed to just generating more and more profit for personal gain, like a typical company. We think that’s really important because it shows that we have faith in the system, and it also means we can grow and improve to create even more exciting and sustainable ways of making clean water!
And finally, if you could sum up the idea of sustainable, clean water…
To make clean water in a way that improves health, livelihoods, and the environment for the long term.
As you may have gathered from our exciting week about all things oceanic, we are very excited to be putting clean water and oceanic health at the heart of The Greenhouse’s sustainability mission. Learning about how safe drinking water can be so closely related to preventing climate change has been so interesting to us, thanks, of course, to our partnership with Clean Water Wave and the GOES foundation.
What you may NOT know about, however, is all the awesome events that we will be running with them over the next few months and during The Fringe. From full residency days to organised workshops and casual drop-ins, we’ll be taking every opportunity to share their wealth of knowledge about everything we can do to preserve the planet’s health. If you want a taster of the kind of wisdom we’re talking – head to our Facebook page and check out our live-stream with their director and co-founder Dr Stephanie Terreni-Brown. And then check out all these awesome things we’ve got lined up with them for the next few months!
Days in Residency
Tuesdays throughout August will see Clean Water Wave and the GOES Foundation taking up residency in The Greenhouse. They will be hosting a wide variety of events, including workshops and informal discussions. So pop down to meet some of the CWW team and chat to them about the amazing work they do and how you can get involved. If you’ve got any burning questions about what they’re doing (and you haven’t already hit them up on Twitter or Facebook) this is a great place to ask!
As well as our standard programme of workshops, we’ll be working with CWW and GOES to create a series of bespoke themed workshops. Looking for a practical space to learn about oceanic health and what you can do to help make the planet healthier? Or thinking more about how safe drinking water can have a direct effect on slowing down climate change? Then these will be perfect for you! Just head to our workshops page to have a look at everything we have on offer.
But what if you just want to know about Clean Water Wave and the GOES Foundation NOW?! We understand, we wouldn’t want to wait any longer to hear about these amazing people either – but not to fear! Every day at The Greenhouse, you’ll be able to find one of our fabulous team members sat at our Ask Me Anything table. Got a question about your contribution to non-toxic environments? Or wondering just how Clean Water Wave go about making their innovatively sustainable water treatment systems? We’ve got you covered. And if we don’t quite know the answer, we’ll submit your questions to Clean Water Wave themselves via Twitter, where they’ll get you back directly!
We hope you enjoyed our live stream from last Thursday with Dr Stephanie Terreni-Brown, where we discovered way more about Clean Water Wave and the GOES foundation. She also shared some top tips for a non-toxic summer! Well, we enjoyed it so much that we’re going to be doing plenty more – keep your eyes peeled on our Facebook page for opportunities to submit questions or topics for discussion. Our next stream will be coming up in July – don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated when it’s coming up.
Content Content Content!
The amazing work that CWW and the GOES foundation are doing is spread out across the globe – and across the internet. We’ll be sharing updates about their new projects and just how they’re spreading the message of clean water and oceanic health everywhere they go. Wanting to keep up to date? We’ll be pulling out the highlights, and you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for even more updates!
But something that we’ve only just realised is a lot of this dialogue is…well…it’s kind of land based. And considering that 71% of the planet is covered in water, we’re thinking it might be time to broaden our horizons a little.
We’re very excited to be partnering with Clean Water Wave and the GOES Foundation to help place water at the centre of our sustainability and climate goals this Fringe. Over the next few weeks and months we’ll be talking more about the awesome work that they do, and why clean water is essential for not just our health, but the health of the planet too!
Introducing the Clean Water Wave
One of our two partners for this year’s Fringe is Clean Water Wave – a Scottish social enterprise that is flipping the status quo of water treatment. Typically, water treatment requires a LOT of energy, chemicals, and technical expertise. That means it can be unaffordable for many low income communities across the world – even in Scotland!
Arsenic in groundwater is common in many countries and is naturally occurring; for example, arsenic is very commonly found in groundwater across the Ganges and Brahmaputra river deltas in South Asia. Drinking this arsenic water over a long period of time results in cancers, skin lesions, developmental defects, diabetes, neurotoxicity and heart problems. Using arsenic contaminated water to irrigate food crops and for animals also means arsenic enters the food chain, too.
It’s often wildly unsustainable. The CWW team have seen lots of water projects that are well intentioned but that simply aren’t built to last. That means that money is spent on, for example, a water pump for a community to get drinking water – which is great! Only for the pump to fail because no one is responsible for its upkeep, or the community can’t afford to repair it, or can’t easily get hold of the right equipment to fix it. The pump is left in a state of disrepair. So, simply, there’s no water for that community.
Treating water sustainably
That’s not ideal. Obviously. Which is why Clean Water Wave’s work is so ground-breaking. With a small team of water scientists and community engagement specialists, they have developed an innovative water treatment system that can clean 50,000L every day – using solar energy, and without using chemicals and moving parts. Just a perfect example of what happens when we put sustainability and longevity at the centre of our thought process.
Clean Water Wave has been set up in response to both of these issues. Their CAFE filtration system ensures that the quality of the water it filters is genuinely safe for human consumption.
Water and social enterprise
The #CleanAquaForEveryone water treatment system is the answer to sustainable decentralised water provision for community scale. And alongside this new technology, CWW have created a business model to ensure these systems can keep running well in to the future, no matter where they are.
CWW’s social enterprise model means that all of their profits and assets are used for socially and environmentally beneficial projects and not for personal benefit. Any surplus CWW makes as a company is returned to further our goals to have 10million people drinking truly clean and safe water over the next ten years.
Get in touch!
If you’ve got any questions about drinking water, pollutants, social enterprises, or community development, get in touch with the Clean Water Wave team – they’d love to hear from you!
They will also be with us throughout the Festival, so keep a look out for our programme.
Yes I am a terrible person and I’ve let far too long of a time elapse between the last blog post and this blog post. I’m sorry. It turns out that the fringe is actually a fairly busy time. Who saw that one coming?
So, here it goes, a DOUBLE BILL of updates on what we’ve been up to. Strap yourselves in kids, it’s going to be an exciting ride.
When we last updated you, we had just left Balloch, our second to last location on tour, and headed out to Dollar, our sixteenth location, and our final stop before the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The rain continued to pour down, and everything in the van was damp. We were sick and tired of living in a house with wheels, and honestly, if I had to shower in another public bathroom I would have stabbed someone in the face.
Fortunately, I didn’t!
Everyone has worked so hard with this project, and I am constantly blown away by the intensity and quality of the work that everyone has been doing. Plus they’re all great people, who probably don’t deserve being made to live in a van for two months in the name of theatre.
So it was time for a little treat. It wasn’t much, and it certainly wasn’t designed for 6 people, but Thrum’s Cottage in Dollar was absolutely perfect to us. To start with, it had four walls and it didn’t have wheels. There wasn’t black mould and broken ceramic in the shower. And, most importantly, we had an oven.
Seriously though cooking for 6 people for this long, you have no idea how much I’ve missed using an oven.
OH ALSO A TV.
I’d spent the last few days telling everyone that I’d found some really nice public showers for Dollar (lol pranked) so they were sufficiently surprised when we pulled up outside the cottage and unlocked the door.
We spent our first day as always, handing out flyers and putting up posters. And our second day was very much the same – we were very much excited for our final performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Now look okay, I’m not going to complain about this too much. To be honest, when talking about the weather that we’ve had this summer, I don’t think that we could have been luckier – this had to be one of the driest summers in recorded history. Still though, it’s tough when it starts raining, and it’s even tougher when that meant we needed to cancel our show.
And it’s even harder when we sit by our performance location and see about fifteen people turn up, willing to brave the pouring rain to see our show, and we have to tell them that it’s been cancelled.
We went home and WATCHED A MOVIE ON OUR TV (luxury) and subtly waited for midnight – that made it the 31st of July, the last day of tour, and our lovely Rowan’s birthday. Of course, we made a massive fuss then, as well as in the morning when we brought her breakfast in bed (did I mention that this cottage had like…different rooms and everything) that included a cake and candles. The rest of the morning was very slow, and unfortunately we had to cancel the show again due to the weather.
Not to worry though, we made a fairly elaborate dinner, and then went to the movies to celebrate everything that we had achieved thus far, as well as Rowan’s birthday. We intended to see The Incredibles 2, but it was sold out, so we just went to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again instead.
What a terrible film. Nuff said.
Then, we came home, went to bed, and that was it – it was time to drive back to St Andrews for us to go our separate ways. We had about a week until we needed to be up in Edinburgh, and a recharge was desperately needed.
Tour part 2 – BoxedIn returns
Our time in Edinburgh so far has been incredibly hectic, truth be told. As everyone began arriving in drips and drabs, we were all still a little tired and worn out – we needed to bounce back a little bit to be ready.
We did a boozey line-run of both the shows on the 7th (a real fun time – you forget your line, you take a drink. Simple, and not at all effective), and then scrambled to set up the tent on the 8th, as well as doing a run of both of the shows. And then, it was time to begin.
Our first show was at 15:20 on the 9th – we had an awards assessor for the Scottish Arts Club and a reviewer coming to that show. Not nervous at all.
Honestly, I’d managed the time a little poorly here – I arrived at 14:20 because we were having an issue with some of the ivy, and by the time we had it fixed it was already 3 o’clock. So, after not having performed for over a week, we were left with a twenty minute warm-up. Great work Oli.
It showed in the show – we were going in cold and we definitely weren’t as prepared as we should have been.
Bounce back time – we assembled again at 18:15 for our 18:45 show and managed to sneak in a slightly longer warm up. That combined with the fact that we had already performed that day, and the fact we knew that it wasn’t exactly our best performance, to create a strange, excited energy in the tent just before the audience came in. We had another assessor from the Scottish Arts Club coming to this show, and I’ll be damned if we weren’t going to blow their socks off.
Evidently we did, because we’ve since been short-listed for the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Awards (WHOOP WHOOP LITERALLY WHAT THAT IS SO EXCITING). That was actually one of our best runs of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and I was so incredibly proud of everyone for their work that day.
Since then, we’ve been doing well with the shows – we’re selling really well for A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the moment, which is super exciting. Less well for To The Ocean, but I think that’s to be expected as its new writing. The 10th and 11th went well, and I think we’re really starting to get in to the swing of things. And of course, seeing some fantastic shows in every spare moment.
Over the last few days, we’ve been in Douglas. It boasts a population of over a thousand, making it far off from the smallest place we’ve visited, but don’t be fooled by the statistics. For its beautiful location, this place is a bit of a ghost town.
Where IS everyone?!
We pulled up in Douglas and had to double check the sat-nav at first. When we arrived, there was not a single person visible either on the streets or in their houses. And it was quiet. I set about trying to find an optimal performance location, and as I roamed around the town, it was still fairly sparse. Somewhat understandably, this was a little disheartening – it’s a little boring performing without an audience.
I had scoped out a specific performance location before, so went to check up on it – on my way, I veered off route a little, and ended up at the St. Bride’s Community Centre. And then our time in Douglas really kicked off.
For such a seemingly quiet town, this place has a HELL of a lot of spirit. When I entered the centre, I was immediately presented to Liz, the business development officer, who was not only very excited that we were there, but was very happy to help. She gave us a whole list of local places to get in touch with, and found us the perfect performance spot.
We set off posting flyers and putting up posters, while I popped in to the Universal Connections – another community centre in the town, and another place that we were welcomed with absolutely open arms. This was all going pretty well so far!
Calm before the storm.
The only real requisite for where we sleep is that there have to be toilets available through the night. And unfortunately, that meant it wasn’t possible for us to stay overnight in Douglas – small town, no public toilets. Or rather, there were public toilets, but they’d been closed down a few years ago. Not enough business.
We would be staying overnight in the near-by service station. That actually sounds much worse than it was – Cairn Lodge Services was one of those really nice service stations where they have like free showers and a ‘Farm Shop’. If you’re in Lanarkshire, take the detour. It’s very worth it.
We began cooking, with spirits a little bit dampened from the quietness of the town.
And then they got damper.
It started spitting. Not to worry, we’ve dealt with bad weather before. We could power through.
We set up the table and got ready to start eating dinner, and then the heavens completely opened. With no warning, it started pouring and pouring, and there wasn’t much we could do but sit there, eat our soggy dinner, and get soaked. We strung our gazebo up to some trees, and it made an acceptable shelter.
We couldn’t go inside, and everyone was feeling shit, and to be honest, it was all a little bit shit. The guys took our plates in to the service station to wash them up, and were summarily kicked out – fortunately, with a bucket of water to wash up in.
I’ll be honest, spirits haven’t yet been this low, and there wasn’t much that could be done. Except try to band together and pull through.
I’ve never met a more resilient group of people in my life.
There was a small – I don’t know what you’d call it, maybe a portcullis or something? A weird looking gate, just outside the service station, that provided some shelter. I went in to the service station and bought 6 beers, and despite the rain, and the potential lack of audience, despite the long journey behind us, and the week and a half ahead. Despite all of that, we somehow managed to laugh. At us, 6 students, sitting in a service station in some weird gateway, drinking and taking shelter from the rain.
What a ridiculous idea this was.
Oh THERE they are…
So it turns out that we didn’t need to be worried about there not being people at the show – we had a really supportive response from businesses and community groups in Douglas on social media, which helped to spread the word about us. We decided not to flyer in Douglas, and instead spent the day in the community centre, getting some work done and getting prepped for the fringe (WE ONLY HAVE 2 TICKETS TO THE OPENING NIGHT OF A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM LEFT WHOOP WHOOP GET YOUR TICKETS HERE. And if you really wanna show your love, grab your To The Ocean tickets too!).
After a very productive day, we went over to our performance site. And had to put in an incredibly difficult performance.
So we’d pitched our tent near a play park – when we were about to start, there were a lot of kids in the tent. Which is fine, we’ve performed for a lot of kids before. There were also a fair few families there. As the show began, the kids began to get more and more lively – running about, shouting, running across the stage and all that. Towards the end, it impossible to be heard over the racket – the kids were running about and screaming and causing a distraction. During the songs, they were dancing, and trying to sing. A few of the adults were doing the same.
We powered through, of course, but it was really, really hard. It’s always difficult to stand up and do a show, and it’s even harder when you feel like no-one is listening, or that no-one cares.
Initially, the rest of the team was pretty sad about it, and of course that made me angry. I don’t really mind making a twat of myself, but to see the heads of such strong people drop so drastically – it’s upsetting and it’s angering.
But the more we spoke about it, the more we began to take a bit of a different approach. When you think about it, the reaction that these kids had is kind of interesting – bearing in mind the size of Douglas, we agreed that most of these kids had probably never seen a show like this before. And so the reaction that they had – having fun, making a racket, and joining in – that was their instinctive reaction to seeing a piece of theatre.
And of course, underpinning all that was the central idea of this project – accessibility. The show may have been hard, but we’d just performed to the audience with the largest proportion of people who’d never been to the theatre that we’d ever had. That definitely counts for something. We could have told those kids to go away if they came to the show again, but instead, we approached the next day with a slightly different tack.
Setting things straight
Arrive at the performance location. Pitch the tent, but leave the sides rolled down. That means that people won’t be able to run in and out of the tent, and gets rid of too much distraction. Not only is the running in and out disheartening for us, it’s also quite dangerous. If someone trips over the guy-ropes, they can injure themselves, and cause serious damage to the tent.
When the kids arrive, keep an eye out for what they’re doing. If they’re back to the same thing as yesterday (running around the tent and jumping over the guy ropes), pull them aside and let them know (kindly) that that’s dangerous. They’re still welcome to come to the show, they just need to be a little bit careful.
Warm up as usual, with a sense of excitement. You’re about to have an enraptured audience at the show.
5 minutes before the show time, round up the kids that are going to be coming to see the show. Let them know that you’re really excited to have them at the show tonight. Let them know that you found it a little bit difficult to perform with all the noise and the running around – let them know that they’re welcome to come and watch, if they try not to be too distracting.
DEFINITELY ASK THE KIDS TO LEAVE THEIR JUICE OUTSIDE. Cos like. You know. I don’t want to be cleaning up juice for half an hour after the play.
Just before the show starts, stand up, and let the entire audience know how excited you are about the show. Ask them to please keep noise to a minimum while the show is going on – and if they leave, they won’t be able to come back in.
Leave a sentinel outside, just incase.
We performed to an audience of 30, of which 24 were children. There were some teething issues for the first five minutes, but by the time the show was under-way, they were completely enraptured. It was amazing to watch. Now that we’d actually taken the time to engage with these kids – we’d spoken to them like people and asked them to help us out when watching the show – they’d really enjoyed what we were doing. The looks on their faces throughout the show were only augmented by the kind words they had to say after the show.
It had been a tough couple of days, but with hard work and a caring attitude, we’d managed to turn it around. On an unrelated note, a separate family came to see the show this night. They had a young girl who seemed to be really enjoying herself. I went up to them after the show just to let them know that I didn’t mean to cause any offence with my announcement at the beginning. They said not to worry, and they they had a really lovely time.
The little girl ran out, looked at her parents, and looked at me. She touched her chin.
I looked a little confused.
“Oh, she’s signing,” said the mum. “She’s saying ‘thank you’.”
For some reason, that really touched me.
We’ve been learning so much on this whole project, and I’ll never forget Douglas for this really important reminder. I’ve always felt that it’s essential to approach other people (and life in general) with kindness. Douglas reminded me just how important that is – how a kind approach can often provide an easy solution to any issue that you’re confronted with.
We’re off on the road again, moving to our second last location, Balloch. It’s a really stunning town, and we’re hoping to perform for Rowan’s parents. Keep an eye peeled for Grace’s blog in a few days time!
At least you know what you’re getting from me. Over-excited content and realfreakin dumb titles.
THAT’S RIGHT EVERYONE, for just 3 nights, we’ve been gracing England with our presence – two cheeky performances in Keswick, and a whole host of lovely and helpful people to get us on our way!
Home Sweet Home
When Grace left you last, we’d just spent the night at Annabel’s for a night of friends, fun, and REAL food. It was really quite lovely.
We woke up the next morning refreshed and ready to go, but also remembering what we were missing. It’s hard to go back to being in the van after such a warm welcome – especially after so long. Truth be told, the tiredness has started to creep in, which hasn’t been helped particularly by the spots of rain. The van is getting smellier, and we’re losing things more often.
And yet, for some unknow, unjustifiable and frankly insane reason, when night comes around, I’m still excited to sleep in it every night.
We said our goodbyes, and off we popped, straight up the East coast to Keswick in the Northern Lake District.
Organising everything with Keswick has been a little up and down – reasons to become clear later – but a shining light in the darkness has been an email that I received from a lovely lady named Jocelyn, asking if we’d be interesting in using her guest house during our time in Keswick. Unfortunately, it was a little bit out of our budget, but ever the cheeky man that I am, I asked her about using the showers in her house. She has three pre-teen boys and her own stuff going on, so it was a bit of a shot in the dark.
Something that is constantly amazing me about this tour is the seemingly unending kindness that we’re finding everywhere we go. She was more than happy to put us up while we were performing – we slept in the van, and popped in and out to make dinners and shower.
When we arrived, we received a particularly warm welcome from Jocelyn and her husband Graham, who moved their car off their driveway to give us space to park. We were also greeted by Nibbles, their rabbit, who was just, literally, the cutest thing ever to have graced god’s green earth.
Honestly, we’ve got arriving in a new location down to a very fine art by now – within two hours, we’ve got posters up all over the town, and put flyers through most everyone’s letter box. You can’t NOT know we’re in town.
We made a quick dinner, and then, in an amusing turn of events, Grace and I went out to see a show in Keswick’s own Theatre by the Lake.
The theatre itself has received really positive reviews, and it’s clear to see why. The staff are friendly, and it’s picturesque location – just on the edge of Derwentwater – makes it very easy on the eye. This isn’t a space to review shows or theatres though, so I’ll be brief. Bold Girls by Rona Munro tells the story of three women in Belfast during The Troubles – what business a theatre in Cumbria has producing such a piece, I am not sure. Despite that though, we had a really lovely evening – it’s nice to go and see a show when the opportunity presents itself, and I mean…we both like…quite enjoy theatre.
We strolled through the streets of Keswick as the sun was setting, and made it back to the house satisfied and, surprisingly for both of us, not hating the idea of sleeping in the van.
What good kids
So Jocelyn, the lady that we were staying with, is the head of a drama group at the school in Keswick. They’d just done a production of the Tempest, and, in celebration, they were holding an after-party at Jocelyn’s house, followed by a trip to see our show.
You have NO IDEA how nice it is to like ACTUALLY KNOW that there will be people at the show. Like KNOW. IN ADVANCE.
The day itself went off without a hitch. Flyering, followed by a short drive over to the park, where we would be performing. Easy stuff, and another very busy show.
Most of the audience was aged 8 to 13, and personally I really love performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream to kids of that age. I think that they watch it with a whole different mindset to how most of our audiences watch it, laughing at bits that we didn’t realise were funny. On top of that, I get to do a lot of audience interaction when I’m playing Puck, and I think kids of that age appreciate that the most – plus, they give me a very different energy to bounce off.
The show was a raucous success – I think it might have been one of our best ones yet – so we weren’t quite ready to settle down yet. The Golden Lion was holding a pub-quiz in aid of Stroke Relief, so we sauntered along, feeling like we deserved a nice, cold pint.
Now let me be honest with you here. We weren’t expecting anything from this pub quiz. Maybe a bit of fun. A cute evening out, a few laughs, some beer, and then back to the van for another strangely magical night’s sleep. I arrived late because I had to move the van back to the house, and I saw that we had some roguely convincing answers. Fine, whatever, still no expectations.
Well I say we won. Adam won and we watched. The man is a Pub Quiz MACHINE. Honestly. Wanna know who won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1984. Ask Adam. Unsure who the 26th President of the United states is? Adam’s your man. Seriously it’s CRAZY impressive…
Feeling even prouder, and carrying the lovely looking bottle of Rioja we had won in our hands, we made our way back to the van again.
Thursday is Market Day in Keswick. It was a tough one to flyer because most people were just passing through, and of course that meant that it was going to be difficult for us to wrangle up an audience.
Personally, I LOVE a good market, and this one was absolutely everything you could wish for. From fresh produce to off-brand fake-leather bags, crappy children’s toys to fish caught that morning – Keswick already felt pretty alive, but this was something else. It’s exciting to see a town like this.
Another day sped past with us handing out flyers, and then we met up before the show to have a quick marketing chat. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is fast approaching, and we wanted to think of fun ways to get engage with as many people as possible during the world’s largest fringe. Speaking of which, if you’re going to be around in Edinburgh this August, and fancy coming to see some really fun and lovely shows, we’re performing from the 9th to the 19th. Tickets to A Midsummer Night’s Dream (18:45)are available here, and To The Ocean (15:20)are here.
This was another kid-friendly show, but this time there were a few kids who didn’t come with their parents. We love performing for absolutely anyone and everyone that comes along. But what made this particularly special – at the end, we usually ask for donations towards the cost of the project, and leave a hat by the door. When we went to see what we had collected, the kids had left a handful of their sweets besides some of the money.
That night, we said our goodbyes to Graham and Jocelyn – they are truly lovely, and I would honestly, truly say that if you’re passing through Keswick and looking for a place to stay, look no further than their guest house. You’ll feel welcome from the moment you arrive.
And that was that, Keswick over – after a long day of driving (and our first stop at an Aldi in WAAAY too long), we’ve just arrived in Eyemouth, which means that we’re back in Scotland now and in to the final leg of the journey. 11 more days, 8 more shows, 4 more locations – check out Grace’s blog in a few days to see what the future holds.
Spoilers, it includes an adorable little seaside town, and more seals than you can shake your fist at.
Sometimes these blog titles just write themselves.
As you all well know since Grace left you in her last blog, we’ve travelled across St David’s channel on a perilous journey from the Emerald Isle and across to Wales. After a lovely day racing along the South Coast of Ireland, we got the late ferry from Rosslare to Fishguard, and arrived in St David’s late in the evening. To our campsite.
Now we’ve stayed in some interesting campsites, but this one was…well…okay, so it was essentially just a field. Also no showers. Or, okay, here were showers, but they were open, and cold, and outdoors. And a forty minute walk in to town.
That’s an issue because, in case you don’t remember, our lovely Vanny Devito has been feeling a little poorly recently, so we were planning to sleep in tents for a few nights while she went to the doctor. So we had to be walking there and back – it was a whole thing.
Get well soon
When your entire project is based around your vehicle, it’s pretty nerve-wracking to face the possibility that the vehicle might not be working any more. Cos like…you know…no van means no tour.
We woke up early and headed over to the Bishop’s Palace – our performance location for the next few days – to drop off everything that we’d be needing. And then I took Vanny up the mechanic’s. St David’s Garage in St David’s.
He gave me the low down – if the steering pump was gone, and we’d been driving the van for upwards of 300 miles before getting her to a mechanic, there was every possibility that they would need to replace the steering rack too. Long story short, the whole repair could be costing us over a grand. But hey, he said, sometimes people get lucky.
I left the mechanic praying that we’d be one of those people – they said to call back at 3pm and they’d let me know what the plan was.
The next few hours were spent floating around the town. I’m not someone who’s particularly scared of failure, but staring failure dead in the face is really quite an unpleasant prospect. There were lots of thoughts going through my head, but most of all, the thought that maybe we had bitten off a bit more than we could chew with this project. Cos I mean, let’s be real. It’s a bit silly if you think about it.
I’m not necessarily saying that we had some divine intervention, but the guy running the garage. St David’s Garage. His name was David.
It turns out that someone had done a bit of a bad job rooting the hydraulics through the steering pumps at some point in the last few years. So a pipe had burst. So he fixed it.
Good news, the van works. Bad news, he said it’s really a temporary fix, and we’ll need to get it looked again after tour. In the grand scheme of things, this news seemed pretty fucking good to me.
If you are ever in South-West Wales, and you are having an issue with your car. Just trust me, go to St David’s Garage.
And while I’m on the subject of recommendations…after I collected the van, we went over to our campsite and collected up all our stuff. Because we were moving to the Bishop’s Palace – a medieval ruin, and our performance location. Amanda, the custodian of the site, had been amazingly helpful, and this was probably the easiest site for us to interact with on this project. We explained the situation with the van to her earlier in the day, and she said that if it gets fixed up, we’d be more than welcome to park in the back of the palace and stay there.
We had a barbeque in the field behind the palace, and watched the sunset while bats shot across the skyline .
I don’t know if you heard, but there was a pretty big football game on last Wednesday. Which was Catastrophic for two reasons really. One because England lost (oh no boo hoo bad at the kick-ball tragedy strikes) but 2 – and more importantly – because we had a show on that no-one seemed interested in. We spent the whole day flyering, largely to responses of ‘oh I’m sorry, I’m going to be watching the football.’
It was fine, you know, whatever, I don’t mind. Just a little disheartening. But overall fine.
We arrive for our performance expecting no audience at all, and begin our warm-up. For the first time in a long time, we actually had the time, as well as permanency of location, to do some work with our performance space – we played some games to get used to the space that we were in, and spoke about how living and performing in this ruined medieval monument might augment our performance.
AND BOY WERE WE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED.
This was our biggest audience so far, with about 39 people in attendance. That might not seem like much, but it’s incredibly exciting for us – and we were able to accommodate them all comfortably, thanks to our beautiful bell tent from The Bell Tent Boutique! The difference, I think, was that the Bishop’s Palace have been so helpful in sorting out our publicity – they have had our posters on display for weeks, and they’ve been really helping to publicise the show. That meant that word about the project reached the town ages ago, so people could plan accordingly.
Of course, there’s also the fact that St David’s is a stunningly creative town. There is a gallery around every corner, and although it is quite set up for tourists, it still retains that local charm.
I would happily say that this was the best show we’ve done so far.
Only one other major thing happened that day – we went shopping and OH MY GOD it’s so nice to be back. Ireland was amazing but the food is so freaking expensive. 59p for a packet of cookies? Now that’s much more like it.
The masses descend
A day like any other really – we showered up at the tourist information centre (did I mention that already? We were showering at the tourist information centre. They were very helpful and lovely – drop in if you’re in St David’s). And then we started our day of flyering. Of course, we didn’t have the football to contend with today, so it was a slightly more pleasant experience.
So yep, just trotting along, doing our thing, being us, the usual and then EVERYONE FROM ST DAVID’S CAME TO OUR SHOW.
The tent was practically bursting at the seems when the show kicked off, and more people kept trickling in as the show progressed. It was hard work to keep everyone engaged, but I think we overall managed it, and when Amanda came to give us the report at the end of the day, she told us that we had an audience of 93. That’s more than double our expected capacity.
Everything about this project is rewarding, but seeing so many people interested in what we’re doing. That’s especially so.
We made dinner and took a small excursion to the pub, deservedly proud of everything that we had done to get to where we were.
Since then, we woke up and headed to our next location – Bala – via a quick stop in Aberystwyth. We’ve had some minor venue nightmares (there’s always a foil to something as pleasant as St David’s) but we’re feeling overall very positive about it here. We’ve got some family members up to see us, and we think it’s going to be a really fab show.
Also it’s my birthday today. We’ll keep you updated on how that goes (spoilers, pints are £1.99 in this town, so expect it to get a little rowdy).
We’re back at it again – after we each went our separate ways last week for a much deserved rest, we assembled in Cork Airport on Monday, fresh as daisies and ready to start up again.
Hanna arrived back with us on Tuesday morning, after a lovely time in Texas, and with that, we headed off to our next location, Clonakilty.
Just a heads up, this one is quite van-heavy.
Steering us in the right direction
Clonakilty is a lovely town. Really beautiful, welcoming, friendly.
My experience of it, however, was a little bit mixed. Please excuse the lack of photos as a result.
We arrived at our planned performance venue (the Clonakilty Agricultural Showgrounds), and after a little bit of confusion, decided that we should head in to town to see if there was anywhere else that we might be able to perform. Not too much of an issue.
Then, the valve on one of the tyres broke. It started leaking. Fast.
I hopped in the van to take it to a tyre shop. Worst-case we’d need to buy a new tyre.
As I got in the van, the arm on my glasses broke.
I drove to the mechanics with the glasses half hanging off my face – going about 10km an hour down what was probably the largest road in Clonakilty is not a particularly good way to endear yourself to the locals.
I dropped the van at the mechanics, and they fixed the whole while I went to a shop and bought some superglue.
Tyre fixed, glasses fixed, sorted.
At that point, I realised that there was a wet patch underneath the van – directly beneath the bonnet. You see, the steering on the van had been a little stiff for the last few days – I thought it was just because we needed more steering fluid, so I topped it up before we left Cork.
But nope. It was leaking.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t something that could be fixed that day, so I parked up the van and headed in to town to join up with the rest of the team and do some flyering/try to work out where we were going to perform.
Sitting in the square in town, we were at a bit of a loss – green spaces weren’t immediately presenting themselves to us, and the town seemed quite built up.
“Should we go ask in there?” Hanna pointed to a doorway that had the words Clonakilty Community Arts Centre printed about it. That was how we met Sam and Thaddeus – Clonakilty, as it turns out, has an incredibly active and fairly large community arts group. Over the next few days, they were so incredibly helpful both in helping us find our performance space and in helping us pull together an audience for our shows.
Thaddeus took us on a little tour around the town, pointing out all the green spaces that we might be able to use – but in the end, we settled on our original space, after we ironed out the kinks.
We drove up to Desert House camp-site where we stayed for our time in Clonakilty, and had our first camp-stove dinner in a long time. Would you believe me when I say I missed it?
Getting fixed up
We spent the next day running from mechanic to mechanic trying to work out what was wrong with the van – the long and short of it was:
The steering pump (the thing that pressurises the fluid for power-assisted steering) was looking very worse for wear. It’s not completely dead, but it needs replaced in the next 500 miles or so.
Every mechanic in Ireland was busy at the moment.
Especially because we needed to catch our ferry to Wales on the 9th, this was a bit of an issue – every mechanic that I called was totally fully-booked. I think down to the amazingly hot weather that Ireland’s been having at the moment.
After some advice from our breakdown-cover providers about how soon we needed to repair the van, we called a mechanic in St David’s, our first stop in Wales, who said that he should be able to get it sorted while we’re there.
So for now, the problem was solved, and we headed back to the performance site to get ready for the show.
Despite a week long break, it went off without a hitch – I think that was in part because we had a fairly large audience that was also super vocal and responsive.
Clean me up, Scotty
So I’m not going to lie to you, living in a van for a month and a bit has it draw backs – probably the largest of which is the lack of a washing machine. I’ve been recycling clothes for weeks now. Everything smells. Send help.
Anyway, Hanna and I decided that enough was enough. We packed up all our gross, smelly, mouldy laundry, and found a fantastic laundrette/biohazard clinic in town that would wash and dry them all before we left the next morning.
I was uncertain that anyone would be able to clean these clothes – I don’t know what she did to them, but I now smell like a daffodil at all times. Which makes a nice change to however I smelt before.
We dropped our laundry off, and then found a café so that we could order…wait for it…OUR MERCHANDISE. Photos will be available when they arrive, but it’s basically a white baseball shirt with blue sleeves and the tour logo on the front. We’re actually going to have a few spare, so if anyone is interested in buying one, please hit us up!
We got to flyering, and then met up at the showgrounds again for our last performance in Clonakilty – we had a special visit from a kid named Lyle, who brought his family to see the show for his birthday. Of course, that was heart-warming, and it gave us the boost that we really needed to put on another fantastic show.
There was an open-mic night in town, and we had planned to go, but by the time we got back to the camp-site, I think we were all pretty tired. It was time for bed.
And that was it – our time in Clonakilty was done. Overall, a beautiful and friendly town.
Oh also, I almost forgot, totally over-run with roadworks at the moment. Like we were frequently in traffic that was at a total stand-still. But they’ll be finished by the end of the summer I believe, and I imagine the town will be even nicer when they’re done.
Yesterday, we drove out to our next and final location in Ireland – Crosshaven. I’ll let Grace tell you all about that next time. Spoilers, it’s pretty beautiful too.
As I’m sure you can tell from the fantastic title of this post, it’s Oli back at it again to provide you with an update on what we’ve been getting up to. And boy has it been an exciting few days.
Killorglin is a medium-sized town on the Ring of Kerry – for those who don’t know, the Ring of Kerry is a tourist route around the county of Kerry that takes you through dramatic mountains and one of Ireland’s first ever national parks. The lush green landscapes are dotted with rivers and lakes, and when you get down here, it’s pretty clear why Ireland is referred to as the Emerald Isle.
Catherine, Catherine, Catherine, Catherine (read to the tune of Dolly Parton’s Joleen).
We forsook our standard camp-site in Killorglin in favour of a totally new experience. An Airbnb. We looked around online for something cheap, and then eventually got in touch with Catherine asking how she’d feel about having 6 smelly students park their van on her drive, use her showers, and generally cause a nuisance for 3 nights.
Honestly, who could turn that offer down.
Staying with Catherine was like going home for the weekend – she provided food and snacks, great conversation, and even insisted on doing some laundry for us. Although honestly, I think that may have been more for her benefit than ours. As I’ve said, we’re getting pretty smelly at the moment. If you find yourself in Killorglin, do yourself a favour and stay with Catherine – I can guarantee you won’t find anywhere better, let alone for just €40 euros a night.
We split in to teams to do our standard rounds of the local shops and houses, dropping off flyers and posters, but this time there was a bit of a twist. I wanted to expand the work that we’ve been doing so far in terms of getting used to and harnessing our performance spaces by exploring how the places that we’re performing – the towns and villages as a whole – can impact on the work that we do. So we infused a kind of scavenger hunt in to this flyering shift that had us looking out for some of the most beautiful things the town had to offer, and learning all about what kind of place Killorglin is.
And let me tell you, we discovered quite quickly that it is just awesome.
Stunning scenery just outside of streets, Killorglin has the personality and vibrancy of a town three times its size, while still maintaining that rural intimacy. Everywhere you turn there is something beautiful to look at, and a friendly face to greet you. Hanna and I took the outskirts of the town, and were met with a winding river and rolling hills, while Adam and Rowan caught up with the fantastic street art all across town. When we met up in one of the local pubs, we chatted about what we saw, and we universally agreed that Killorglin was a lot of things – friendly, natural, welcoming – but most of all, it was a beautiful town. We were universally excited for the next few shows.
Puck, meet Puck
Killorglin is famous for the Puck Fair, a massive event that occurs on the 10th, 11th and 12th of August every year and draw up to 80,000 people to this otherwise unassuming town. Every year, a mountain goat is caught, and crowned the King Puck – he reigns over the fair, until he is a released back in to the wild on the 12th, in a ceremony known as ‘The Scattering.’
But that’s not the only big deal in Killorglin – the first weekend in June also plays host to K-Fest, one of the biggest festivals of art, music, and drama across Ireland. You see, we soon discovered that travelling attractions are sewn in to the fabric this town, so our event kind of slotted right in.
Of course, shout out to the fabulous Catherine, as well as Conor Browne, out contact over a K-Fest. Between them, we were able to garner a lot of interest in the project just through social media, with K-Fest building the hype, and various other local organisations soon jumped on the band-wagon. This was a big learning point for us – we had our biggest audiences so far in Killorglin. In part, I think that’s because of the nature of the town, but the social media coverage and support from local organisations definitely helped. That’s an avenue that we’re going to be pursuing with more vigour over the rest of the tour.
I was pretty nervous for this performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Aside from having our largest audience so far, a statue of King Puck stands just across the river from our performance space, guarding the entrance to the town, and welcoming everyone in. And as our resident Puck, I was feeling the pressure – Puck is know to be a mischievous spirit, and we definitely didn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. But then, he’s also known to be curious, energetic, and powerful, and I think he was pretty keen to see what we had to offer. In the end, the show went fantastically. So fantastically, in fact, that some of the folk from K-fest offered to buy us a round after the show finished.
Frankly, it would have been rude for us not to accept, so we joined them on a night out, and got to see even more of what Killorglin had to offer.
All press is good press
I’m not going to go in to this too much. Because you’ll get bored. But we spent a lot of this day working on our press releases for the Edinburgh Fringe and compiling lists of reviewers that we wanted to get in touch with. It was busy, it was hard, and it was tiring, but in the end everyone pulled together and put in a truly fantastic shift to make sure we got it done. We’re starting to send out our releases this week. Which is very exciting.
We arrived at our performance space ready for our last show in Killorglin, and were treated to our best audience so far. Tired and happy, we took the tent down, headed home, and made dinner before getting an early night.
We had to hop off early as Catherine was greeting some more guests in her house that morning. Of course, we couldn’t have left without a photo, so we dragged her outside as a way of saying thank you for her hospitality, and then headed off to our next stop, Kenmare.
We drove past the statue of King Puck on the way out of town. I don’t know, I think he was smiling at us. I may sound stupid, but I really do think that the spirit of Puck is imbued in Killorglin. Cheeky, energetic, vibrant, fun, and a little mischievous – the kind of place where touring theatre in a tent could go down a treat. And the kind of place where, if you flatter King Puck in the right way – bring him to life and give him a few songs to sing – then you can be damn sure that the whole town will be on your side. As if by magic.
Our drive to Kenmare took us through the Killarney national park. I’ll let Grace tell you about that when she writes next.
BOOM BOOM, 2 BLOGS IN 1 (sorry, we’re a bit behind so we’re trying to catch up).
Okay so here’s the deal. Grace and I realised that we need to do a whole lot of blogging (like a WHOLE lot of blogging) to keep you fantastically keen beans updated and interested in what’s going on with us, and in case you hadn’t realised, Wi-Fi can be pretty scarce when you’re rambling through the Irish countryside in a van and begging unsuspecting campsite-owners to please let you use their showers because I haven’t showered in ten days and I smell like I died some-time when we were crossing the Irish Sea.
Sorry, this is getting to me a little bit.
ANYWAY, we’re going to be alternating between blog posts. So buckle up kids, cos it’s my turn.
The Emerald Isle
Oh BOY is there a lot to update you on. So in our last post, we left you in Enniskillen, a lovely town in the South West of Northern Ireland. Well since then, we’ve crossed the border and headed in to the Republic of Ireland, spending most of Monday driving around the countryside looking for Wi-Fi and somewhere to grab a fantastic pint.
Of course, we ended up in Galway – now for any of our intrepid friends who may be thinking about coming to Ireland in a campervan, be warned, Galway isn’t a particularly welcoming city for campers. There’s a load of history and politics – I won’t get in to it – but basically, there is only one spot that you can park up. Which of course, we didn’t know, so after driving for about 5 hours, we spent another hour and a half roaming around central Galway in our creeper van looking for somewhere to park without someone calling the police.
Which, in fairness, seems like a reasonable response.
We parked up by the docks – a beautiful little Marina with yachts and boats, overlooking the Atlantic ocean, and then spent the evening in central Galway. We ended up in a pub called The Quays – a fantastic little haunt reminiscent of one of my favourite pubs in London, with live music from Sult and Three Legged Dog, both local to Galway. We enjoyed a few drinks and just soaked up the atmosphere – if you’re in to live music, Galway is an absolute must. There are tunes spilling out of absolutely every pub, and the level of talent is astounding, It’s an amazingly creative city, at least from what we saw, and to be honest, I’d recommend it to anyone.
Out of the city
We woke up the next morning in need of a wee and a shower, so we drove a little bit around the corner to Salthill. If it wasn’t for the temperature, this place could be straight out of the Caribbean. Clear, blue water and long, white stretches of sand adorn this promenade. While some of us opted for the local public shower, Hanna, Ana and I went for a dip in the sea. Which was freezing, but I can only imagine it was infinitely more refreshing.
We took a short walk around Galway, taking in some of the sights. The Cathedral is stunning, but my personal favourite was our short stroll by the Salmon weir, where we could see tens of fisherman wading through the water and trying to catch the Atlantic salmon that migrate upstream this time of year.
And then, we headed off and on to the next location, Roundstone.
Which was stunning.
This coast of Ireland is referred to as the Wild Atlantic Way, and it’s clear to see why. Mountains rise and fall out of nowhere, and scrub adorns the almost purple rock terraces. Lochs here and there reflect the clouds and the sunlight back at you, and every crest suggests a stunning ocean vista. Which is exactly what we were greeted with in Roundstone. The sun was shining, the day was warm, and we hopped out of the van to rustle up a warm shower and hand out some flyers. Unfortunately, we had no luck with the shower, which meant that we had to stay about a mile and a half outside of this beautiful town in a smelly caravan site. I was disappointed.
But I totally shouldn’t have been.
This is the view that we had when we arrived. Yet another clear, white beach, and the picturesque blue water. I knew that the Irish coast was supposed to be beautiful, but this was something else.
We had dinner on the beach, and hung out a bit until we decided to go to bed, the soft sound of the waves in the near distance lulling us to sleep. Everything was so quiet and peaceful.
In fairness, we should have been a bit more prepared for the rain. When we woke up, the van was literally ROCKING from side to side with the wind and the rain, and even stepping outside filled our shoes up with water.
It was freezing, the rain was lashing down, and the sea was now thunderous and angry.
We showered (shower rating 3/10 – so powerful it literally hurt, and mouldy shower curtains, but warm at least) and then headed in to town. We were huddled up in our waterproofs, and when we pulled up in our performance location by the Roundstone musical instrument shop, the weather had gotten worse. The wind was absolutely howling.
We banded together and tried to get the tent up – a massive shout out to Bell Tent Boutique, our tent sponsors for this project. Despite literal pouring rain and gale force winds, the tent absolutely held its own – we struggled against the weather to get it up, but when it got up, it stayed up. This is a piece of canvas suspended by a pole and guy ropes that can withstand gale force winds man that is actually so freaking cool. Like think about that for a second. Man I love this tent.
The tent could withstand the weather, what couldn’t, was us, which meant that we had to take the tent down and cancel our performance.
After wandering around the town trying to find somewhere we could leave our clothes and our tent to dry, we called it a day early, and spent the rest of the afternoon in a pub, chatting, playing card games, and waiting for the awful weather to pass. This was our first cancelled show, and while I was disappointed, I was so immensely proud of how hard everyone worked to get the tent up and down again that it almost didn’t matter.
Back at it again
It didn’t stop us for long though – the rain on Thursday was bad, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the day before. So, we came in to town and got that tent pitched.
We spent the day flyering and trying to wrangle up an audience, before taking to the stage with To The Ocean. Considering the weather and everything, we were kind of dying to perform, and I was blown away with the work that the guys did. Really really fantastic, they totally blew me away.
Our final night in Roundstone was spent around the table at the community centre, watching a movie and sheltering from the last of the rain.
We’ve now arrived in Doolin, performing on the fringes of the Doolin Folk Music Festival. It’s really very exciting and even though the weather is still a bit rubbish, we’re buzzing. Tonight’s our first show, and I honestly can’t wait.