For the 2019 Latitude Trailer Park competition entered the International Space Wagon (Solar Powered) Space Disco. We were OVER THE MOON to hear that the Trailer Park (acknowledging the support of Kildare County Counci) gave us a grant to renovate and convert our once abandoned Trike into the ISW that in the long term will power our Forest School in the winter darker months.
The evolution of the abandoned Trike into the ISW was inspired by the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11s successful voyage to and walk on our earths moon July 20th 2019. It links in with our exploration of the solar system, and the additional project of creating a Solar System in our 5 acre woodland, emulating all 8 Planets.
The project is led by one of our tribe, Lewin. With David a volunteer, Lewin restored the working parts of the Trike (which for far too long laying abandoned in a corner of our woodland).
We built a garage for the Trike – it’s a bender made out of hazel which we covered with a tarp
Having removed as much rust as we could, we started building up the body with black spray.
Meanwhile, we began investigating the planets, one a week, starting with the Earth the moon and how the 23 degree tilt gives us the seasons. In groups of 3 we acted out the orbiting and rotation of the Earth, Moon around the Sun
Bo became NEPTUNE.
Our Mnemonic, learning the planets order – Many Very Educated Men Just Screwed Up Nature. Mells VW Engine Might Just …..
On the final Wednesday, we dressed up. The Astronaut, (Lewin) as Neil Armstrong, the engineer, (Darcy), and Neptune.
Jazdia made a planet out of can tops
On a voluntary basis, KFS tribe and their parents were invited for a Wood Working day which centered around doing the final work to the ISW. Wallpaper was on.
Chris and Marley came, Marley in cool dark glasses, Chris with a mission, focused and efficient began with planning and by the end of the day, the flexible solar panels were glued on to the wagon hood. All hands to the wagon.
Emily and Molly were on art and design. Emily wall papered the concertina frame, and Molly on windows to the universe. Literally. She painted a view from the moon surface out into space and the earth viewed from space reminding us of that time not so long ago, when we saw the earth from space for the very first time. These would become the windows out of the Space Wagon.
Kym and Maya found the disco mirror tiles to adhere on the wagon roof, a challenging and exacting job.
We had the two J’s with us, Jadzia – who made the beginning of a mobile planet Sat Nav. Jazdia, with her calm white dog, cut melons and supported us all.
Jack and Ava and their mother came and afterwards I realised i’d forgotten to ask them to water the plants – all is so dry.
Sunday 14th July
Chris and Marly made the Space Disco work. With Chris’s controller, speakers and player, attached to the battery and Solar Panels, we heard music for the first time. David Bowie, Space Oddity. Chris and Marly had made an excellent mix, including Kennedy’s famous speech of 1962 We choose to go to the moon.
We choose to go to the Moon! We choose to go to the Moon…We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win, and the others, too
I am amazed at the battery being as heavy and big as it was 20 years ago. Battery technology appears not to have developed and down sized as computer technology has. The computing power that existed on the moon is equivalent to the power in each of our mobile phones today.
Meanwhile Mell put up the blinds, climbing into the wagon for purchase. Julia’s beautiful silver blinds, hand made with an elaborate pully system. (‘No you can’t have curtains Rachel, not spacey enough’ she’d said.)
With Barry driving his Luton van, we load the ISW into its hold and drove the 5 miles down the road to Latitude.
It is our first taste of the festival. Our first hurdle is to complete the H&S form online and buy and find some yellow jackets. Finally inside, it is still relatively empty, with the big tents still to be put up. We choose our pitch under the great Linden tree, but are later moved, actually to a better place, higher up under a Horse Chestnut.
The great tennis match between the Slave and the Swiss takes place that evening, which Kali followed, eye on the ball nn the TV.
Mell came to Latitude and put up the first tarp, under a Horse chestnut tree.
The Hot House takes shape, my nasturtiums outside the entrance.
After Forest School Mell asked: Do you need me at Latitude? Thank goodness she came – we arrived to find the tarp had been torn and was flapping around. We got it down, and Mell instructed us how to repair. I have a memorable photograph of Michael sitting under the great Linden tree repairing the tarp.
Our stall is set out, in the nick of time, as the festival opened that afternoon.
Let me say more about where we are.
We are part of the Trailer Park, and initiative of Roz and Hugo as party of the Electric festival in Ireland which they’ve bought it to Latitude for the first year. We are in a fine location, thankfully away from the Main Stage and all that commercial jazz, elevated on a hill, near the woods, in fact we are by the entrance to the Faraway Forest. Other trailers in our tribe are much more grown up and are playful and creative.
There is the van being eaten by a dinosaur – the DIY-nosaur, it’s tongue out of the caravan front window, is a slide which is the only way out once in the van.
Next to us the Spider Van, an elevated black and gold van, supported on 6 legs of steel, strong enough to hold a mans weight, for they perform acrobatics on the legs and around.
There is the blank slate black board van onto which you are invited to write in chalk. When I looked at the end of the festival I was disappointed to find most had just written names, with few creative drawings.
‘Keep Calm and Caravan’, was a 3 story caravan. Their back story was this. Post Brexit, when no one could afford to venture outside the UK, the caravan club expanded so greatly it became more popular than the church. Legislation became necessary to determine how much space you were allowed to take up on the land, but they said noting of height.… Inside boxer shorts and smalls were drying on a washing line.
The best of all – in my view – was the fantastical contraption, Chris’s creation, which Michael and I had discovered while out dog walking one night near the station. A horse box being drawn by a mythical bird, with emerald blue green eyes. Around were Chris’s insect like contraptions made out of old pieces of machinery welded together, and old electrical wire holders which made tables.
I was late in getting in, (shopping at Morisons for the Hot House). Not only was Chris was there at the ISW headquarters, and had prepared the machine, he had saved the Tarp. An electric storm in the night, filled the tarp with water, and he and Marley had released the water which otherwise would have bought the Tarp down. He had met a Radio Suffolk Journalist who returned and I gave an interview, which I gather from Simon Hasan, was aired on Radio Suffolk early morning.
Bo and his dad Barry were the first to arrive. Bo dressed in Neptune blue and keen to find his dresser, Jazdir. Maya was delivered, and also awaited Jazdir, however, she solved her dressing up – and bought a foxes tale, and henceforth was known as Foxy. We settled in. We did not move the ISW but forayed around, getting the feel of this festival.
Lewin, Darcy and with Luke arrived dressed superbly in red and white NASA space suits, and immediately we went on tour. First a tentative navigation of our Trailer Park calling at other trailers. We could do it.
The Beautiful MOON arrived. Jazdia, resplendent in white and with her the costumes for Neptune, and Venus, (Kym), and Apollo (Maya). With Hazel in the barrow we set off around the festival venturing out to the main drag, across a bridge and around.
Molly and Emily came in the afternoon, allowing Bo and I to watch the Astronauts Wives – a drama acted out by the National Youth Theatre next door to us in the Faraway Forest, under the swooping branches of the Horse Chestnut. A story of the astronaut wives and one girl friend (unmarried) of Apollo 15. Set in the days when living with was only just emerging, when the Apollo space programme was about to be cancelled after the heydays and these would be the last wives. As Bo pointed out afterwards, the most ‘bad’ characters are the most difficult to act, and the woman who played ‘the jealous witch’ as I called her, was a very good actress. He was right.
Late afternoon Michael came, and with Molly and Emily at the ISW, we ventured into the woods, breathed out, and dallied. There we found a bespoke van that opened out into a testament to the Moon landings, the owner dressed up in astronaut suit answering questions of the space ventures, relating it todays climate change – seeing the earth for the first time from space (‘The earth was the size of my thumb’, as Buzz Aldrin said later). I even indulged in a Gin Ginger.
(That evening we went to a tribute to Adrianne’s husband who died suddenly in South America, who’s business was fireworks, so naturally we witnessed a splendid firework display)
It was the day of numerous ventures out with the ISW.
‘We are the space travellers’, we announced to people bleary eyed having breakfast at one of the numerous places to eat – 50 places to have a pizza here –
‘Good morning, fancy a spot of space venturing?’ we asked.
With Lewin’s keen observation we found another Trike like ours, a liquorish vendor, who knew nothing of his remarkable contraption. ’It does not work’, he said showing us the chain hanging loose’. Ah you need a Lewin to mend it, we said.
We dallied by Suffok recycling, as he’d wanted to see our trike.
Passed the queue of people waiting to swim in the lake.
We found other astronauts. We watched the Can-Can dancers on the Lake stage. We found Bo’s librarian from Southwold who gave us a free book. Passed the the pink sheep. Pushed the trike up hills and finally watched the Astronaut wives again (having not seen the end of the previous performance.
Emily and Molly took the last tour of the festival. It was a joy to see them all off.
With Michael, we found ourselves in a full tent and a poet speaking, sounding rather good. Who is he? I asked a man next door. ‘Simon Armitage, our Poet Laureate, he said smiling. A quirky amusing poem based on a list of things to do. We took part in Beths how to make a speech in 20 minutes exercise in the woods, an event put on by the University of East Anglia (based on a 2000 year old classical tradition – it worked) and tried another Gin and Ginger.
All packed up, we spent the final evening with Roz and Hugo’s exhausted team in the Hot House. Good banter with John Lloyd (Cambridge History of Art) very bright with his beautiful Italian girl friend. Ah the joy of the Hungarian girls who’d been washing up for 4 days solid, receiving their bonus in old fashioned notes, holding them up to the light.
Hazel had the right idea, and eventually we all copied her.
Two days later Boris Johnson was elected by 0.5% of our population to become our Prime Minister.