All that finger crossing and wishing certainly worked for once as we had glorious weather for our Victorian May Day.
The day started pretty early for some of our staff, with my poor boss, Rachel, and a couple of our Rangers, Tim and John, arriving at the property at 7:15am to help to set up the Victorian Swing Boats, supplied by Price’s Great British Fun Fair! (http://www.greatbritishfunfair.co.uk/)
The rest of us staff and volunteers arrived just before 9am and within 45 minutes the gardens and the stalls were set up and ready for the 3,101 visitors we welcomed during the day ( that’s nearly 1,000 more than last year…not that we’re boasting).
Next up on the list was for all those operating a stall to get into costume and everyone looked amazing thanks to the hard work of Jenny (see my Crafting Costumes post for more information). I was absolutely thrilled as I now have my very own custom-made costume!
Despite the sun blazing down, most of us remained relatively cool in our costumes, although myself and Morag who were attending the Swing Boats had to remove our capes or we would have been truly Victorian and fainted!
Visitors basked in the sunshine, sunbathing and eating picnics out on the Mill Meadow, or enjoying a delicious hog roast sandwich, I know I must have looked quite a sight attempting to eat mine in my huge pink skirt and bonnet…
There was always something to keep visitors entertained whether that was in the form of the Punch and Judy shows, a greeting from our Victorian Policeman, listening to Bryan the organ grinder, or watching one of the fantastic May Pole performances by Styal Primary School.
Lots of people tried their luck at the coconut shy which proved so popular that we had run out of those 200 coconuts I told you about last week by 3pm! The dressing-up stall proved to be one of the favourites, as did the mask making activity which allowed kids to let their creativity flow.
But the most popular attraction was the Swing Boats, which are very probably from 1880. Arthur, who runs Great British Funfair, informed me that they belonged to his wife’s great-grandfather, but after a lick of paint and a few repairs they are now enjoyed by an entirely new generation, including hundreds of children and parents alike on Monday.
The highlight of my day was definitely when myself and several costumed staff clambered ever so gracefully into the boats to have a go for ourselves, which was the perfect way for us to end such a brilliant day.
Our next big event will be our Scarecrow Festival, running from 25th May to 2nd June, when dozens of scarecrows will be popping up all over the estate, so make sure you come along and vote for your favourite!