By Tuesday, I had been to several meals in the Refectory as well as lectures in the main hall and so reckon I would have cast eyes on all present and (despite failing memory for names) have seen and spoken with most of them; yet lots of people I expected to see had not appeared on my radar. They included: Enid Brown from Scotland; John Burgess from Wales; Annette Remez from Denmark (Flemming knows her); Megan Seymour from Wiltshire, the Bee Inspector with the multi-coloured hair who discovered EFB in the College bees a couple of years ago and, on her next visit, AFB elsewhere; Simon Rees, (Welsh ex-pat) who is always there and was on the list of lecturers; Helen Tworkowski from Devon; David Loo, also from Devon, and Sally Wadsworth from Wiltshire.
I was told that numbers were about 20% down on the usual amount and that the organdisers (spelling as per Winnie ther Pooh) put it down to a combination of the economy (stupid) and the last year’s weather.
What worried me most was the absence of my friend Vanessa Drew from Northern Ireland. She was the current Irish Honey Queen and so ought to have been there formally to hand over her sash as well as to learn and to enjoy the craic. She was due to take an exam at the end of the week: the FIBKA Lecturer’s Examination, after which, if successful, she would be able to put the letters CFL (Certified FIBKA Lecturer) after her name.
I know that she is beset with nerves and sometimes disappears, bestressed, after an exam but has always been around during the week before taking her exam. Usually we spend time together on a couch in the lounge (there wasn’t a lounge this year!) running through past exam papers or exchanging information and views although she has, for years, been better qualified than I am on paper.
On a couple of occasions she has been across to Basterville in Devon on courses and I have provided transport to and from the airport and we have spent time together. We visited a couple of my apiaries and she was most impressed with the flavour of a chunk of honey taken (In December) from my top bar hive at ‘Ourganics’ at Litton Cheney and took some home to look at under the microscope as it was the best she had ever tasted, she said.
I tried to text her to ask where she was and why not there, but there is no signal to be found at the College. People speculate that this is deliberate for student protection, and that may be sensible, but it is ‘inconvenient’ if you have worries to sort out! So all I could do was worry for days until, at the end of the week, she did appear.