24th April 2016

As Shakespeare so elegantly put it in Henry V: ‘Cry God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’ Sadly, we no longer have Harry, but we can cry ‘FoSE for Saint George’. With the seasons so unpredictable, we felt we shouldn’t make it a Bluebell Barbecue this year, because even James can’t predict the flowering time. So, having chosen Sunday 24th April for our annual BBQ, and as St. George’s Day falls the day before, we have decided that this year’s event would be a St. George’s Day Barbecue.

FoSE members and their guests could be forgiven for thinking that someone up there didn’t love them on the day of the BBQ. After the glorious sunshine and spring warmth earlier in the week, the Sunday was a return to winter with a vengeance. The morning began with sleet, and although this had stopped by the time everything was set up, a chilly wind meant that only those nearest to the BBQ flames or beside the tea brazier had any chance of staying warm. We really could have done with a couple of fire-breathing dragons on site.

Nevertheless, with true British grit, everyone managed to have a good time, and we welcomed many visitors who had come to see Standen as well as the ‘usual crowd’. The BBQ food sold out before the end of the day – a first. Quantities of cake were also sold, along with plants and craft work. We were very pleased to welcome bee keepers and turners, and to see cake decorating and bronze-casting demonstrations. So despite the weather, the event was another FoSE success, and we raised £581. Some of the money made will go towards getting the bee-keeping project up and running, which will, in turn, have a positive effect on the health of the garden as a whole.

26th April 2015

Bluebells and blue skies. Well, maybe not blue, but at least it stayed dry despite the forecast. Numbers were slightly down this year but we were very pleased to have a number of visitors to the property drop in to watch the demonstrations and have some refreshment. The highlight of the day was probably the bronze-casting, and a fascinated crowd watched as the hand-pumped bellows heated the little furnace to around 1,200°C before the crucible was withdrawn and liquid metal poured into a sand mould. It cooled really quickly, and the artefact made could be passed round for inspection after a couple of minutes.

Carolyn and Trudie showed off their skills in crocheting and dyeing. Several people were noticed taking tuition on making a rainbow-coloured blanket or throw from Carolyn, while others were found asking Trudie about the source of the colour of a variety of wools on show. Two batches were dyed in situ; one from nettles and one from madder, making a pleasing green and pinky-purple shade respectively. Ben’s noisy demonstration with the chain saw also drew a lot of attention, along with admiration that he could turn a block of wood into a squirrel with an as apparently unwieldy tool as a chain saw.

Thanks are due to all who helped set up and clear, and of course also to our excellent chefs, who, chained to their barbecues, had little time to savour the other delights on offer. Thanks go also to everyone who attended on such a chilly day and helped us to swell FoSE’s coffers by £534.80.

If you’ve been wondering where Bodger the Bear has been hiding recently, he made a surprise appearance at the BBQ, where he was seen appreciatively eyeing up a selection of cakes, all iced with a rose theme. A variety of icing techniques – buttercream, brush embroidery and sugar-craft flowers (which fooled several people into thinking they were real) were demonstrated by Alix’s Cakes and some small people were allowed to try their hand – and then eat the results! Maybe Bodger was hoping he’d get a turn.

27th April 2014

Our third Bluebell BBQ and finally some Bluebells! The rain just about held off and we raised £614 for the Greenhouse fund and to extend the boardwalk in the woods.

28th April 2013

Our second Bluebell BBQ and the sun shone this time (but still no bluebells!). Lots of volunteers came for the burgers and cakes, and we had plant and craft stalls as well as a tombola. We raised nearly £700 for projects in the garden and woods.

29th April 2012

Our first FoSE Bluebell BBQ was held! Thanks to those who braved the morning wind and rain to come along, it really was a great event. Although this was designed as a social event, and a chance for people to have a look at some of the projects we undertake in the garden and estate at Standen, we also raised over £450 for our funds, which will soon go towards a worthwhile project at Standen.