The Project …

Number 35 | Do a Bubble Rush …

A Bubble Rush run is described as, a “fun run through coloured bubbles.”

What this means is, “please turn up at Leicester’s Abbey Park on a relatively cold day, dressed in not many clothes and wearing some ridiculous neon items of fancy dress. Wait for your friend from work, Naomh, to arrive. Panic because it doesn’t look like she’s coming. Oh yes, there she is. Sign in together. Wander around the park. Buy some pick and mix sweets just because. And a tea, because it’s bloody cold. Sit in some deckchairs sponsored by Smooth Radio. Head towards the bandstand for a fun warm up and marvel at the woman wearing shorts so small that they disappear somewhere into her arse. When your colour is called (yellow) make your way towards the start line. Then GO. Sprint – or rather don’t, it’s far too crowded – the whole 5k, passing through five different coloured bubble stations that get progressively muddier and colder as you get through them. Get to the finish and a marshall tells you to go round again; you’ve only done half of the course. Go round again, this time not even making an attempt to run and instead, bitching about people at work. See the finish. Sprint gracefully towards the photographer there only to find that not ONE SINGLE PICTURE OF YOU RUNNING exists in the finished photo album. Collect medal. Say goodbye to Naomh. Get on the bus home – cold, wet and with weird blue dye-markings on your legs. Get in shower. Scrubs blue dye off legs. Blue dye doesn’t go. Wear tights for the foreseeable future.”

But it raised money for Rainbows Hospice and that is GOOD.

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Number 34 | Be a chaperone …

This year I’ve offered too chaperone kids twice – once at a youth music theatre camp that lasted for two weeks and once during two performances of ‘Annie’ at The Little Theatre.

You may think these two events would be very different. Sadly, they are not and I found myself saying any and all of these phrases on a near daily basis:

“Can you shut the door?”
“Where are your shoes?”
“Have you got everything?”
“Is that your part? Why are you singing someone else’s lines?”
“Stop talking.”
“Did the director tell you to do that?”
“The sparkly eyeshadow is great, just not really for an orphan.”

“Stop talking.”
“Where are your parents?”
“What is that? Is that gum? Why are you eating on stage?”
“What do you mean, you can’t find it? Have you looked EVERYWHERE?”

“STOP TALKING.”

Further problems also included – a vegan participant who never ate; hyperactive eight-year-olds; a slightly pervy teenage boy; more make up than I had when I was a teenager; a lost child in a shopping centre; vomiting on a coach; two other first aid incidents, and a distracting dog.

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Number 33 | Take part in a murder mystery …

When my friend Chris asked me if I would consider last-minute acting in a murder mystery he had written, I didn’t have to hesitate. Yesyesyesyesyesyes.

The mystery was set aboard the Battlefield Line – the steam train that connects Bosworth battlefield with some local villages (yes, I have now been on TWO different steam trains). Set in the 1940’s it concerned the death of Air Commodore Justin Cloud. I was to play Lucy Morales (pronounced ‘morals’), a new girl in the village with hidden family secrets.

The day consisted of dressing up in 1940’s secretary-slash-glamour wear, interacting with customers in the olde-time booking hall at the station (lots of customers dressed up too) and then getting onto the train with them. While they sat down to a three-course meal we would occasionally act some scenes around them, laying out clues, and walk up and down the carriage talking to them and answering their questions.

Quite a lot of people thought I was the murderer; I don’t know whether I was flattered by this or not. I wasn’t the murderer but I did get to flirt with a *lot* of men (I would like to take this time to apologise to Jeremy; your kids told me to rope you into it!)

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Number 32 | Go to a beer festival …

Not being a massive fan of beer, a beer festival is something I’ve never really planned on going to. I like the sound of it and I wish I liked beer more itself but I just don’t – I’m much more a cocktails kind of person.

Then I got invited to the Great Central Beer Festival.

I’ll freely admit that the biggest draw of the festival was the riding-on-a-train part. You go on the Great Western Railway (the steam train between Leicester and Loughborough) and at each stop there are a host of beers to try. Your £10 entry fee gets you a free pint glass and guide to all the beers and I assume the aim is to try as many as possible. I started off with some stout-thing (see, I don’t even know what it’s really called) made by a brewery called Titanic; I fully chose it because of the name. Then I tried something else – I don’t know what it was, some pale ale thing – and *then* discovered the ciders. I wish I’d found them earlier! The absolute best one was something caked Peach, Passionfruit and Pineapple. It tasted just like a fizzy squash and was immense.

Not really discovering my inner beer drinker, we caught the train back to Leicester where I got to have a photo taken with one of the volunteer guards, all dressed up in the old-school uniform.

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Number 31 | Explore a creepy tunnel …

One of my friends had asked me months ago if I wanted to join her on a tour of the Glenfield Tunnel organised by the Leicester Industrial Heritage Society. In the spirit of wanting to do new stuff, I said yes.

The Glenfield Tunnel, located in the middle of a housing estate in Glenfield, used to be the route that a steam train would carry coal from Coalville to Leicester. We met the group – some serious trekkers with proper head-torches for the most part – in the car park of the Glenfield Co-Op before following our guide leader Richard down a path and across a road into the Stephenson Court (named after the famous ‘Rocket’ designer). Walking through the estate we suddenly came across a high brick wall with a small square tunnel entrance cut into the side.

Here we heard some more about the tunnel. The Glenfield Tunnel is one of the world’s first steam railway tunnels and is just over one mile long. It was designed by the famous railway engineer George Stephenson and built between 1829–32, under the supervision of his son Robert.

The project to build this tunnel really tested its engineers, involving techniques that were then virtually untried.  Faulty trial drillings suggested the bore would be through stone and clay, when, in fact, much of the bore would turn out to be in running sand.  This necessitated a great deal more work and expense. The tunnel had to be lined throughout in brickwork between 14” and 18” thick, backed by a “wooden shell” where running sand was encountered. Bricks for the lining, after dissatisfaction with the original supplier, were made in an on-site kiln. Owing to the problems encountered, the tunnel construction ran well over the proposed budget of £10,000, finally costing £17,326 12s 2½d. which is  well over a million pounds in today’s money. However, the finished job was straight and level and was in use for over 130 years.

Dripping walls, pitch black and uneven flooring made torches a necessity. Although we were only allowed 400 yards into the tunnel, we passed three ventilation shafts. One of these comes up above ground and into someone’s garden. Standing underneath it was not advised as water was constantly dripping through.

On reaching the end point we were played a sound effect of a train passing through the tunnel. It was incredibly atmospheric, especially when we thought about the refuge arches we’d seen on our journey down the tunnel. These were put in on both sides of the tunnel wall every so often and were for workers to stand in when the train was passing, to avoid getting hit. Apparently it was a very close shave.

After such a long time standing in the past, as it were, it was different to be out in the real world again. Covered in soot and dirt, too.

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Number 29 | Writing a reference …

Today I was asked to write a reference for someone.

As the world’s most unprofessional professional I had no idea where to start with this. What exactly do you write on a reference? Good timekeeping? Sharp dresser? Good kisser?

So I went and searched online for a template, enough to give me an idea of how to fill the darn thing in!

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