• Pete Ranson

Didn't we have a lovely time...

... the day we went to Bentley.

It was actually a full weekend but why spoil a great headline...?*



A beautiful day...

Back in 2019, when the BCWP was in its infancy, when we were just a handful of members meeting in the Bevy or at LRC in Hollingdean, we took a chance on taking our concept to the Bentley Woodfair & Country show.


We had sun on the way...

With a vague idea of what to do, or expect, we hired a van and packed it up with our newly purchased Gazebo (which is very heavy BTW), various trestle tables, workbenches, boxes of tools and a newly carved sign (courtesy of Charles H.)


Nervously we embarked on the 15 miles journey from Brighton to Bentley - situated in Ringmer (just the other side of Lewes.) All we had in mind was the idea being to present the core concept of the Brighton Community Workshop, collect names of potential members/interested parties, gather ideas, do some demonstrations and take in the general ambience.


And all for under a pound, you know...

(not true, but we did get favourable rates being a startup community organisation)


We were sited in a copse of trees, on the edge of a beauty trail winding it’s way through ancient woodland.


Idyllic... Bucolic... and other adjectives attributed to nature and our surroundings, it was good to get out of the city - with the sun shining on open fields visible through the trees we set up shop and prepared various activities - with the aid of Sara F, an early supporter of the project, (and a school teacher who runs outdoor activities at the Bevendean Community Garden) - there was also Will (our original accounts guy) and of course Garry and Pete.


We had a leather crafting table, a tool reconditioning bench, a logging saw-station, a few handy workmates scattered around and other bits and bobs.


To be honest we pretty much winged it - Sara F. was in her element though and helped kids build stuff, Garry introduced folks to leather craft and the art of manufacturing recycled firebricks from newspaper, whilst Pete pottered about, cleaned up some tools, built a crude Tool Box out of old pallets and removed splinters - with Will assisting, promoting the project and gathering names and details of folks interested in the project.


Towards the end of day 1 Sara had to get back home; so left us boys to it, we camped overnight, on site - Had a few beers around a campfire and discussed the events of the day, how to develop the project and what to do on day 2...


... which began with a mild hangover and an urge for bacon sandwiches...


... but it was pretty much rinse & repeat from Day 1 - without Sara’s expert help - we all had an explore of what others exhibitors were doing and got a flavour of the place - A great family day out, with the kids (and dog friendly too) - lots to see and do. Some folks said it was smaller than previous years, but despite that, we had a good time and will go back - but with more of a plan... and more snacks.


What did we learn?

A lot has happened since 2019... not least of which a certain global pandemic which nearly put an end to our dream - we almost threw in the towel, were it not for Nancy joining us then maybe we would have...


But what did we learn from Bentley 2019?

  1. we need to be more organised, have a better itinerary of events,

  2. more in the way of leaflets and promotional stuff

  3. it’s an opportunity to sell vintage / reconditioned tools and generate some revenue

  4. we also need to put our tents up before it gets too dark, before we start drinking and have more food and refreshments available for us throughout the day...

  5. our Gazebo is really heavy!

We hope to hold more outdoor events, and go to local festivals and craft fairs and so on, so we do need to develop a good itinerary of what to do.


If you have any ideas about the kind of things we could do, or would like to volunteer to help, then get in touch - admin@bcw.org.uk


https://thebentleywoodfair.co.uk


*and an archaic pop music reference to Fiddler's Dram, (peaking at Number 3, in 1980)


[photo: used with permission from Bentley Wood Fair]

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