Festival Fun

Sometimes change is dramatic and sudden and you cannot fail to notice it. But other times it is more gradual and subtle and it can be more difficult to detect. When you are with Joshua everyday, it can be harder to recognise change and improvement and it might take someone who sees him less often to point out changes in behaviour. On many occasions Joshua’s preferences are taken into account in our family, how Joshua will react is a major factor in much of our decision making. But one area when is feelings are disregarded lies in our annual attendance of agricultual shows, which we both enjoy and Joshua is indifferent to, in the main.

Yesterday we attended a Food & Drink Festival, I had booked us tickets for a friend’s birthday and all 4 of us drove the hour to attend. We had arranged to pick her up at 10.30 and for once, we were on time too. She asked if Joshua had complained at getting up ‘early’ to be ready and I reflected and then replied that he has got better at that, since attending Daycare. On those days he has to start getting up at 8.30, so that we can be out of the door an hour later. On daycare days, if he is sleepy and reluctant to get out of bed, I simply need to tell him that he is going in the ‘car’ to ‘Play’ and he leaps out of bed with a grin and starts waving goodbye to Bruce Springsteen on the DVD player. Last week when we stayed at the hotel, he understood that he had to get up around 8.00/8.30 if he wanted any breakfast in the dining room. He went back to sleep after breakfast both days, but he was not challenging to get out of bed in the first place.

So to have breakfast at 9.30 then get dressed for the festival yesterday, was no real hardship. We were on the road for 10.30 as planned and parked up in the busy field car park an hour later. We had brought Joshua’s off-road wheelchair which is comfortable for him to sit in and moves easily on the grass, so my husband assembled that and we set off to the show. There were a lot of people there but it was spread over a large area, across three different fields, so it did not feel overcrowded. We sat on the ground and enjoyed a cup of tea, while we got our bearings. There were lots of food and craft stalls there and after looking around, we settled at a large gazebo where a singer was playing his guitar, so Joshua was content to sit and listen while we took it in turns to look around that field. There were lots of tempting stalls at lunchtime and we brought our naan bread cheese toasties back to the gazebo, and next guitarist, to enjoy and Joshua enjoyed some chips, until he ate so many that the light cardboard tray blew away.

Then we moved along into the next two fields to explore, more cups of tea of course, and then at 2.45 we joined the queue to see the chef James Martin’s cookery demonstration in a big top. His demo was excellent – he was a great, natural chef and a funny entertainer too. Joshua had no interest in this activity, but instead of creating a fuss and having to be taken outside – which is what I predicted, based on previous behaviour as this type of event – he lay his head on his knees, and caught up on his sleep, allowing us all to enjoy the show in peace. Helpfully he woke up at the end, maybe disturbed by the applause, but then he was happy enough to come outside again with us.

It was our first festival/show of the summer, there are several more to follow next month. This one worked well as it was the right combination of music and food for him to partake too, there is less of interest to him at the agricultural shows typically. The weather forecast had been wet in the afternoon too, but it was much warmer and drier than predicted, which helped. A soggy wind-swept Joshua would not have been as tolerant either. I think that after being cooped up at home over lockdown, Joshua is more willing to go out and about these days and so, tempting him out of bed with the promise of ‘car’ is now a great motivator. We all enjoyed the day out and so I am ready for the next agricultural show the weekend after next , when we are away on holiday.

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