Visit 3: 26 - 29 May 2006
I had originally planned to return at the weekend to carry on working on the funding application, which was due to be submitted directly after Bank Holiday Monday. However, the day before I am due to leave London, Trish phones to tell me that we have been given an extension until August. This is mainly because Simon is very happy with the way that things are going as a result of our meeting, so this is doubly good news. However, I decide to go back to Holton Lee anyway - it is Bank Holiday weekend, and where better to be than by the sea?
Also, having some free time will enable me to begin to explore the site a bit more. Holton Lee is so large that it will take months just to get a basic idea of the whole place. In addition, there are so many activities happening, with so many different people involved, that it will take a lot of work to understand how the archive will fit into all this. In order to advise the architects properly, I need to be clear about all of these aspects. And I can take down the things I have decided to bring from home for the caravan. Among these is a blue fake fur rug - good for keeping the dirt off the carpet, and very cosy for Genie to curl up on.
On Saturday I'm able to start exploring properly for the first time, as well as taking photographs. I am particularly keen to photograph two intertwined oak trees that are part of the wooded area between the archive site and the orchard where my caravan is sited. Most of this area is currently fenced off, having been used for free-range chickens until sadly a fox got them. We plan to take down the fence and use the area for sculpture, with seats so that people have a shady alternative to sitting in the sculpture courtyard that will be created between the archive and Farm House. I originally trained as a dancer, and find these trees very inspiring.
On Sunday we have lunch at the Barn, a proper roast dinner. The Barn is a relatively new building, but looks like a much older converted Dutch barn. The Barn provides accessible holiday accommodation for disabled visitors to Holton Lee, with p.a. support available if required. (I am using the bathing facilities there during the summer.) Disabled people can also use the accommodation for respite care.
I don't have p.a. support at weekends, and haven't had a proper Sunday lunch in a year or more, so I really enjoy the meal. It is also good to meet the Barn visitors. Many come back each year, and all are potential users of the archive facilities. One lady turns out to have a long history of involvement in the disability arts scene in the north east, although she has now retired from it. She does, though, have a large collection of performance photographs, programmes etc - more material for the archive once it is built.
In the afternoon Tony brings his three-wheeled motorbike up to the site. The friend who is with me has fantasised about owning one for years, and has been longing to see it. They soon get deep into a discussion about all things mechancial and incomprehensible. Personally, I am more than happy with my mobility scooter! However, Poole is a wonderful area for bikers, with a weekly evening gathering at the docks throughout the spring and summer that attracts up to 1000 bikers with the full approval of the authorities.
I'm also able to carry on exploring the site. I cross over Twin Oak Tree field, which the caravan looks across the lane on to, and go into the woods. On the way back, I stop at the bird hide at the far end of the field which looks out over a small pond towards the reed beds. There aren't many birds in view, probably because Genie and I have been quite noisy as we come up to it, but it is still very beautiful.
I also stop to admire a pile of old fence posts and pieces of wire, and toy with the idea of taking them back to the orchard to stockpile them for use in a future piece of art work. However, I think better of it when I realise that having a scrap pile next to the caravan will play into stereotypes of travellers and might attract vandals to the caravan! I will find somewhere else to put it first - perhaps in the 'Dutch' barn opposite the Stables Studios that is used by sculptors.
By the end of the day, Genie and I are both very tired, but have enjoyed ourselves tremendously.The following morning, Tony and I meet to go over where we are with the funding application and to plan the next stages, before I go back to London. I feel a bit disoriented after the past ten days, but am very pleased that things are going so well.
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