...You are certainly in for a big surprise. But I feel I should clear a few things up:
1. Don’t go to the woods, go to Barton under Needwood
2. Don’t go today. You should have gone last weekend
3. “Every bear that ever there was” did not gather, because it was raining, so there were only a few
4. It is not the day the Teddy Bears have their picnic. No, this is something far greater.
It’s a Teddy Bear Extravaganza! Hooray! It’s like Alton Towers for Teddies. Allow me to explain.
On Saturday 21st June, Dan and I went to Barton under Needwood along with my trusted companions, Camembert (a golden bear) and Woofay (a brown and white dog). Upon arrival, they had to undergo a “tedical examination” and a security check to see if they were eligible to receive passports and boarding passes for a few “teddy rides”. Fortunately, they were, and we set off on a rather enjoyable but slightly bizarre adventure.
Ride 1: Teddy Oblivion
Essentially, this is a bunji jump for teddies, where they’re strapped onto a little platform, winched all the way up to the top of the church tower, and released, to freefall all the way into “Oblivion”. Great stuff. It’s a good thing teddies don’t eat, or there would’ve been teddy vomit everywhere.
Woofay getting strapped in by the friendly staff
Woofay getting winched all the way to the top of the tower
Woofay finally emerging from Oblivion
Ride 2: Boat a Bear
As an engineer, I have to say this machine is blooming marvellous! It’s a boat race for teddies, “nothing like the Oxford and Cambridge boat race” according to the inventor. The teddies are placed in their boats that are then placed in a channel, and their human counterparts have to spin a wheel that winches water up from a vat below. Once enough water reaches the channel, the boat moves, until one teddy is declared the winner. Woofay lost this one miserably, as he is considerably fatter and heavier. He also lost because Dan was his human teammate, and I’m just better.
Ride 3: Ballistic Bear
As if dropping your teddy from the top of the church tower wasn’t enough, the next ride was none other than a teddy trebuchet. Awesome. I love trebuchets, ever since working with one at Warwick Castle, so finding a place to combine a trebuchet with teddies was like a dream come true. Obviously no-one would be horrible enough to just fling a teddy through the air (no matter how many times Dan threatens to do so), so the teddies have to get into their rockets first. Surprisingly, these rockets bear a passing resemblance to drinks bottles with tennis balls on the top, but I’m sure that’s just coincidence. Woofay was made to go first after his dismal attempt at the boat race, and so was loaded into his rocket (wow, he looked awesome) placed on the trebuchet and… wooosh, he was off! Flying through the air with the greatest of ease, flying towards the safety net that would catch him, and… whack! He missed the net. Oops.
The “Paratedics” ran over as quickly as they could, bandaged him up a bit (you think I’m kidding… he’s still got the bandage on) and checked he didn’t have concussion. He was ok, but I don’t think he’ll do it again. Camembert, however, was not deterred, and took to flying with the greatest of ease… although he only just made it into the net.
A little squished, but still looking good…
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It’s Woofay… about to crash land.
Ride 4: Teddy Skywire
Ah zeppelins. Another favourite. This time the teddies were strapped to a carriage hanging under a mini zeppelin, which in turn was attached to a zip line. Camembert went first, with Woofay being the one to release the safety switch to send Camembert zooming off into the distance, once again to the top of the church tower where he crashed head first into a gong to signify he had got up there safely. Well done Camembert. Unfortunately, on Woofay’s turn, the sound of the gong made him pass out as he travelled back down again, poor thing.
Strapped in, waiting to go
A lovely silhouette shot
Checking how heavy Woofay is for the counterweights
Ride 5: Teddy Hi-Wire
The final ride was by no means the most strenuous, for both teddies were physically and mentally exhausted by this point, and Woofay was still nursing his hurt leg. However, the teddies faced a bit of a challenge, as they had to balance on a tightrope (with the help of a cunning contraption, of course). The man who was in charge of this ride was possibly the most friendly of the lot, giving both Camembert and Woofay a friendly kiss as he sent them on their way.
Camembert concentrating hard
Woofay concentrating harder
All in all, it was an absolutely fanatstic day, and for a good cause too – as I understand it, some of the money went to the upkeep of the 475 year old church, and some went to charities. And seeing as I will probably never see the wonderful people who ran it again, I want to take this opportunity to say “thank you, it was brilliant”, on the off chance that they google themselves :P