Thursday 30 August 2012

Anne Youngman heads Doune the Rabbit Hole

Scottish Bat Officer and (in her words) uber cool bat chick, Anne Youngman, blogs her first music festival: 

“Hi dudes, peace and ultra sonic vibes man.......I’ve just been to my first ever music festival, Doune the Rabbit Hole. It’s gone to my head and I now think I’m really hip. There was; VERY LOUD music, oceans of mud, a faint whiff of herbal cigarettes and naked people! It was all a bit of an eye opener!
But why, I hear you ask, was our normally sensible Scottish bat officer hanging out at a music festival???? (There were times when I asked myself the same question, mainly as the rain poured down and rivers of mud swept through the tent like something from a disaster movie.)  There is a good reason...For the last two years the “Doune the Rabbit Hole “music and arts festival has been held in Doune, the next village to Dunblane. Hundreds of families attend and enjoy a weekend of music, camping, pic-nics, face-painting, storytelling, dancing, theatre and everything you could think of that goes with enjoying the outdoors EXCEPT.... there was nothing batty. Not a squeak, not a whisker. What an omission. What a wrong to right. This is a job for ........superman, NO! This is a job for Central Scotland bat group and Bat Conservation Trust. So we boldly went where no bat people had gone before, Doune the Rabbit Hole. (Except this year it was not at Doune but in Forestry Commission woodland near the Carron Vale reservoir, a beautiful area near Stirling.) A van was packed with; BCT tent, displays, arts and crafts materials , BIG FAT CUDDLY bat toy , leaflets, stickers, bat boxes, detectors, lumi jackets, torches, uncle Tom Cobbley, a big hairy dog and of course some volunteers and off we went . I have so say arriving on site my heart sank a little. Everywhere was muddy; the pristine white BCT tent was never going to be the same again. Then to add insult to injury our pitch was next to the chemical toilets. On a positive note it did mean we could quickly nip to the loo while there were no queues.

Andrea (From CSBG) and I set too, we pitched the tent, set up tables, displays and art stuff and had all of 20 minutes to admire the results when the sky went ominously dark. It was an omen of things to come...There followed the most torrential downpour imaginable. Water cascaded from the sky more like waterfalls than rain. It battered the roof of the tent, deafening us with the noise and within minutes rivers of mud were coursing through the tent threatening to sweep away the dog! And then.... the sun came out and we gently steamed from soaking wet to slightly damp while the dog’s hair went into lovely crinkles (as if specially crimped for the festival). After setting up the BCT tent we set off to pitch our own tents for sleeping in, thought “Sleeping” is a very overoptimistic description of the nights activities. Very little sleep was achieved over the weekend, mainly due to the undulating ground and gnarled tree roosts we were laying on, the drumming of rain and the drumming of drums. Some people did manage to sleep though; the person in the tent next to me snored all night!

Saturday was wet, very wet. Lots of children visited our tent and made bat badges, lots of adults came and told us their bat stories and asked questions about bats and I’m sure some people came in just to shelter from the rain.

The real star on our stand was a captive bat. The sight of him melted lots of hearts and fascinated people. We got the usual comments about how tiny he was but one odd question when someone asked if the mealworms where his babies! On Saturday night we offered a bat walk. We were quite excited as we’d found a perfect route. A safe path took us through wildflower meadows and between woodland edge and a reservoir. Perfect bat habitat. We were looking forward to pipistrelles flitting around the trees, Daubenton’s skimming over the water and possibly even some Natterer’s whizzing over the grassland. The rain, which had been a steady downpour conveniently stopped at 8:30 pm, the time to start the walk, the sky went pink and a small band of batters set off ready to tune in with our detectors. We saw; fish jumping, frogs hopping, a rescue helicopter searching for a missing man but the one thing we did not see was a bat! Not even a “pop” on the detector. It’s the first bat walk I’ve ever done and not got a bat.
Sunday was our last day at the Festival and Andrea and I were joined by Alistair also from Central Scotland Bat group. He brought good weather with him and the sun shone all afternoon. This meant we were visited by lots of happy people and it meant we could pack up the tent in a relatively dry condition.

We all left very grubby rather tired, but happy that it had gone well. It was quite an experience. Driving back there was the most perfect rainbow, it all felt very apt after our rather hippy batty weekend. My top tips for anyone taking a display to a similar event:
  • Take wellies and waterproofs (essential)as well as sunscreen
  • Take thick sheets of cardboard - to use as flooring if the ground is muddy
  • Have loads of layers to sleep in / on/ under
  • Have loads of plastic boxes to stand things in
  •  Have plastic boxes with lids – to protect leaflets etc from the rain 
  • Take loads of baby wipes and some kitchen roll – you’ll be constantly cleaning things
  •  Pack midge repellent
  •  If you can take pallet to provide a raised surface above the mud to stack things on 
  • Pray for good weather
 Signing off and chilling out Anney- Bat-Chick

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for a great Insight into bats we had a great weekend :-D love the pic of my daughter & I ( and my bat hat) xx