I’m just back from my 15th visit to the annual beekeepers’ Summer School at Gormanston (some way north of Dublin). As my alarm got me up at 4am, 4 hours after I’d hit the sack, I was on the road at 5, on the ferry at 9, off it at lunchtime and home by 8ish, and it’s now after 11pm, this will be but a brief introduction to what is intended to be a series covering both a diary of my doings and thoughts and, interspersed, my notes from the lectures.
Just to wind readers up at the start, I suggest that they Google ‘human attention span’ and compare what they read there with the length of the lectures, which was usually an hour. Some lecturers have tricks that keep their audience awake, such as constantly walking to and fro across the stage (that’s you Simon!) to keep their heads moving and eyeballs turning, or else involving the audience actively in the talk by asking them questions and taking ‘hands in the air’ polls, but most of the lecturers, although well on top of their subject, didn’t use these tricks and so many people nodded.
This year, Flybe having changed their timetables so as to be silly and unsuitable for my usual pre-Gormanston visit to friends in Co. Galway or to catch a bus between Gormanston and the airport, I had to miss my friends for the second year and to hitch a lift with Jan Stuart of Colaton Raleigh in darkest Devon who also took our friend David Loo.
There was some confusion as to ferry times, but eventually it was decided that we should leave Jan’s at about 9pm on Saturday 26th July. That day, my gouty big toe, which has been fairly quiet for most of the time, started to pain me. I ignored it but, just in case of need, I found and packed my gout pills, the date of the prescription being 2010!
I got to Jan’s at 5 to 9. She was ready and waiting. David Loo had been there for hours. I put my stuff in the car, not noticing at first the number plate : Jan’s initials followed by 4BEE. Unusually for a beekeeper, Jan’s car is a saloon rather than an estate (on the return journey I learned that she also has a van that she uses for beekeeping). My suitcase wouldn’t fit into the boot so it had to sit beside me, wearing a seat belt.
Jan drove us vigorously! I was sat behind her so couldn’t see the speedometer but her knuckles were so white as almost to be luminous! We went non-stop to Fishguard, but her Sat Nav took us on a curiously convoluted route, during which she slowed down to avoid killing a hedgehog; the first I’ve seen for years.
That’ll do for now as it’s almost tomorrow. My flow will probably be interrupted and sporadic as I intend to spend much of next week under canvas at Sidmouth Folk Festival, an event I’ve been attending even longer than Gormanston!.