Sunday, 29 July 2012

HESFES - long self-indulgent holiday post

Being at home with your children can be a difficult choice, it is easy to feel isolated, not so much physically isolated but more mentally, because you hold these weird opinions that are not shared by others around you, or society in general. When you tell people you home educate they treat you as if you are crazy, so home educators have always needed a way to get together for mutual support and information. Nowadays they gather at campsites all over the country, but in the past there very few, mostly small, local gatherings ... but then in 1998 came HESFES. It is ten years since the last time I went with my kids. 
It is run by Andy ... and here he is:
I won't embarrass him by making this a post to sing his praises but will just try and give you a flavour of why people want to go and spend a week sitting in a field with a bunch of wild children. We were saved this year by the sunshine. There had been a river running through the site the previous day, but by the end of the week even the largest of the muddy patches was completely dried. About 1500 or so people descended on the Mid Suffolk Showground to spend the week chatting about home education, their kids, the evils of school, how to deal with the LEA and to debate serious stuff ... but also to sing and dance, to make crafty things, to learn something new, to play games, to listen to poetry and write poetry, to listen to music and make music, to sit around the fire, to have mass water-gun fights, to make new friends and chill with old ones, to watch films in a solar powered cinema (Groovy Movie) ... and generally pretend the outside world doesn't exist for a while.


Firstly you need a tent and a little patch of grass to pitch it on ...
then you need some means of brewing your tea ...
and a fearlessness in the face of arachnid invaders (this is close up, the spiders were *really* tiny) ...
it's more fun if you have a toddler to chase round the field ...
and a teenager in a cool hat ...
much of the time can be spent just walking up and down the field to get fresh milk or going for a shower or to sit at the cafe and watch the world go by or just for the hell of it...
but sometimes people will gather in one of the marquees...
and dress up in silly clothes (this is Andy again, being the compere)...
...to perform in the now legendary HESFES Children's Cabaret.
This is Bea doing jazz tap-dance:
This is Oliver and Casey doing Hallelujah:
This is Charlie and Georgie doing the Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch:
This is Harrison playing some weird japanese music on a weird japanese instrument:
This is Mags singing Pink:
and this is the appreciative and enthusiastic audience:
Thursday night we had the most excellent performance from John Hegley and Diego Brown and the Good Fairy ...
then as we wandered back towards the tent we stopped off instead in the Groovy Movie tent to watch Hettie Hatstar, here she is singing a song about giving birth to a clanger:-) ...
then on the last night (after the obligatory and awesome performance by the HESFES band of Another Brick in the Wall, will link to a video when someone puts one up on Youtube) we sat around the fire until the wee small hours and tried to outdo the teenagers but failed again ...
but even the most determined partiers flake out in the end ...
Within ten minutes of leaving the kids were all asleep in the back of the car. I arrived home with my hesfes shawl completed, one book read, a new friendship bracelet, a tiny wire-and-bead basket and a blister on my foot from Zumba class ... and having had a wonderful holiday. Can't wait for next year.

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