On 16th December we were back at Dee Road, providing pedal powered illuminations for a “waterfall” coming down the hill at Lousehill Copse to welcome the Winter Giant procession. There were loads of really good withy and tissue lantern creatures including a massive heron (though not quite as big as the actual giant). During the lantern workshops we also did one to make a LED hub disc spinner and provided 12 of ours to add to the illuminations on the day. Our pedal generators were feeding two chains of white LED and tin can spotlights which came on sequentially down the hill as the operators pedalled harder. That meant installing 40 metres of custom built wiring loom before it got dark.
On 30th September we also provided four pedal generators at Reading Town Meal. The Town Meal is an excellent community event where food grown by Food4Families volunteers on allotments is prepared by Reading College catering students and served free to about 1000 people. We were using the fairly new bubble machine with one of our older generators as the more usual setup was at Chadlington Apple Day.
On 30th September we were operating three pedal generators at Chadlington Apple Day near Witney. It’s a nice small event mainly about the apple harvest but with some good practical side activites such as the pre modern health and safety looking wheeled jousting horse as well as our pedal generators.
On 3rd September we did a small setup of three generators and a windmill at Wychwood Forest Fair. The weather wasn’t very good and we finished up only running two of the generators most of the time due to lack of space in the shelter. At one point even the bubble machine generator shut down with the drive roller slipping on a damp wheel but eventually enthusiastic pedalling dried it out and got it going again.
On 19th August we provided four pedal generators at a local event at Dee Road in Reading for Nature Nurture. The main object was to attract residents from the housing estate into the woodland next door. Our small pedal sound system and the ever popular bubble machine were located at the entrance of the site.
On 12th August at Off Grid Festival I did a workshop on pedal power for teen projects, explaining how to make a basic pedal powered mp3 amplifier and demonstrating our larger mp3 DJ system on wheels. At the end there was enough sun to show running it directly from a 50W solar panel.
From 3rd to 6th August we were at Green Gathering at Piercefield Park near Chepstow. We were in the Campaigns field running a couple of pedal powered bubble machines for the smaller kids as well as solar powered sewing workshops and making belts out of bicycle tyres under a loose heading of “Make Things out of Stuff”. We had a big pile of free hats rejected by a charity shop which were very popular. One of the things we made was a large CND Peace symbol which finished up as a backdrop for the Radical Wales venue dome.
On 8th July we operated five pedal generators at The West Oxford Community Association Fun Day. I’d just been renovating the Berkshire Greenpeace events gazebo so for a change we tried it out as a cover. Our transparent rain cover is great in overcast weather but tends to turn into a greenhouse if it’s too sunny. The gazebo kept the sun off and made it easier to see the LED displays on our handcrank demos.
Less than a week after our previous event, on 17th June we did a short notice booking for our local Jo Cox Great Get Together. We used a small setup of three pedal generators; it was very sunny and we really needed the canvas shade cover.
On 11th June we were at Green Scythe Fair in Somerset. It’s held at Muchelney in the middle of Somerset Levels; it combines an old scything contest with an excellent small Green Fair including two solar powered music stages and loads of craft stalls and activities. The trouble with taking part in it is I only see it from the inside of the Kidz Area. Pictures start with a view out of the van before the start through a junk sculpture made from a broken gazebo from another site, and then various views of the Kidz Area.
On 13th May we did the first big setup of pedal generators for Reading Council Children’s Festival. Forbury Fiesta in Forbury Gardens in the town centre is a free event featuring lots of practical activities for children and is the launch day of a month of events.
We got a good location in the park with plenty of space. There were no immediate neighbours which meant we could use the pedal powered syn drum to good effect. The kids love it but it doesn’t go down well with anyone next door. There was only a suggestion of a rain shower which didn’t come to anything; it was mostly dry and sunny with enough wind for our windmills. We had a visit from the Mayor and were busy all day; the reason it looks quiet in some of the photos is we didn’t have time to take any when it was full of kids!
For the Reading Climate March on 30th April the day after the national one in London we provided a recently built hand portable turbo stand pedal generator and street PA. It was transported by bus and carried on the march by one or two people. We did quick set ups at five locations for speakers on various topics, powered by the bicycles of march participants.
The new pedal PA which includes two microphone channels and USB sockets for phone charging is now available for other street actions in the local area.
This year had a quieter start than some. On 23rd March we provided a handcrank generator and some table top energy demonstrations for NHS Sustainability Day at Darent Valley Hospital.