As I was packing my bag, ready for my big weekend away, I was finding I couldn't find anything....
Most people frantically search for sun lotions, cameras, beach wear and travellers cheques, however..I was frantically searching for thermals, my sleeping bag and lots of tissues for my hay fever!
I was off to stay on the Lodge House Protest site, off Bell lane in Smalley, and I was really looking forward to it!
I got dropped off at the end of Bell lane, and headed down towards site, with my stupidly heavy bag (packed full of food and various goodies for the protestors), and was wondering where the hell the site was, when I heard a vehicle behind me, and a van stopped.
All initial thoughts of a protestor hating, axe wielding murderer vanished, when a smiley, dreadlocked girl offered me a lift to the site!!! Awesome!!
However, as we neared the site, we came across a path blocked by a gate, donning a huge chain and padlock, so we both left the van and visited the house next to it. The occupier approached us and despite our kindly requests to let us through, she refused, and her husband came to talk to us, and was very arrogant, and started waving a stick in our faces.
Suprisingly, my dreaded saviour kept her cool, and even sarcastically (yet politely) said thankyou as we left in a different direction to site.
As we got close to the cottage, we could hear very loud cheers, and I was informed that it was most likely to be the erection of a large tripod upon the cottage roof!
At the entrance to site, there were a small gathering of people chatting away, and a really friendly protestor introduced himself, offered to carry my bag and took me to site! (who said chivalry is dead!)!!
Once on the site, I was suprised to see how much progress they had made, and how organised it all was. There was a storage room, and a kitchen /dining area outside, an occupied treehouse and no shortage of dreadlocked figues busily working away amid shouts of "hello" and general nice greetings!!
I was startled as I was wandering around outside, checking out the place, when I was told that a bundle of duvet (lying in the middle of the floor) was in fact a protestor! And on cue, a rather ill looking dreadlocked head popped out...like a turtle to say hi, before retreating again! lol
Needless to say, everyone was incredible friendly, and very welcoming.
There was alot of work to be done, like barracading the house ready for eviction, collecting firewood, and someone had the lovely job of digging the shitpit!
I was shown inside the cottage..(access only through the roof), and I have to say , it was exhilarating being up on the rafters with the wind blowing through my dreads! Getting down into the house itself however, was a feat, as the house was derelict, with floors missing etc, so a rope system was used to climb up and down.
Inside, I can't go into too much detail (for the security of the protestors), but let's just say that there is no danger of anyone gaining access easily!!!! They have turned an old family home into a fortress!!!!
As the darkness fell, the mood on the site was jovial, and the donated alcohol was brought out, a fire was lit, and the papers that had been served to site only that day...were almost ceremoniously burnt!!!
We all had a fantastic night, lots of singing (some impovised and rather rude songs) were shouted out, from the mouth of a rather drunken female donning a guitar, and the solstice was celebrated in style!
I had planned to sleep in the house with most of the others, but after scrambling up the roof in the dark and lowering myself in the roof space to descend the ropes, I....got...stuck.
I had failed to be informed that there was a particular technique to this, and I found myself dangling from those bloody ropes, with the upper body strength of a carrott, wondering how long it would be before someone found me there!!!
Luckily ,I managed to haul myself up onto the roof again, and (out of sheer embarrasment of having to go back and tell the others why I wasnt asleep), I decided to sit on the roof and watch the sun rising. Not the best advert for health and safety though, as I was so exhausted I nearly fell off, so decided it was time to head down to the ground (where 2 of the others were STILL up) and make a joke of how much of a plum I was!
Apparently though, it was pretty tricky to navigate the ropes at first so they didn't take the piss too much!! lol
The next day was spent helping one of the others to relocate a fence, and place it across the entrance to site, making it harder for anyone to get in, and by the afternoon, they heavens opened and it totally threw it down with rain, totally soaking us!!
Luckily, there was a lovely little fire pit in the kitchen area of the outbulding and we lit a fire, changed into some donated clothing from the public, and boiled a kettle for a well needed cuppa!
Saturday brought a barrage of visitors to the site, most of them bringing the BIGGEST shipment of food I've ever seen, and even blankets, climbing gear and tents! I love these people!!!!
That night, thanks to the amazing food, One of the protestors made a huge delicious meal for all of us, and it was probably one of the best meals I have had in ages!
As I bedded down for the night, (not in the cottage for fear of a repeat performance), I fell asleep quickly, only to be woken by a noise outside. Quickly putting my headtorch on, and aiming it in the direction of the noise, my heart about leapt from my chest when all i saw in the yard was a yellow jacket with reflective strips!!!
Luckily for me, as my hand searched for the security whistle, the yellow jacket turned out to be a fellow protestor, (and not a copper), making his way to have a piss!!!!
The next morning I awoke to the most horrendous windstorm I had ever experienced, the noise was horrendous and the tree house tarp was flapping so loudly, it was almost deafening (how the hell the occupants stayed asleep was beyond me)!!
I decided to get up, and discovered that the hours of work that we had spent erecting the security fence the previous day, was alomst pointless, as the wind had ripped out most of the nails we had hammered in, and it was happily flapping in the wind!!!
we managed to somehow secure it again, this time using heavy duty nails, and lots of polyprop rope, but despite my arms feeling that they were going to drop off with exhaustion, we finally finished!!!
And to top it all, I found an old tattered rudolph teddy in a hedge, so I secured him to the fence too!!!
And all too soon, it was over for the weekend...back to civilisation for the week (as I'm a mum, and have responsibilities).
But I brought a souvenir back with me....in the shape of the duvet turtle...turns out he was very ill, and needed respite, so I took him home so I could look after him, til he was well enough to be released back into the wild...lol
So here I am, eagerly awaiting the coming weekend, so I can run for the trees once more......