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The Tour Begins

Today was the start of the tour and also something of a personal milestone. This is the 15th year that I've been lucky enough to attend the Hastings Jack in the Green festival. It was also the first official outing for the caravan, which has been named Roberta Boudica. Roberta after the make of Castleton caravan and Boudica after the Iceni Warrior Queen who, as far as I'm concerned, should be our Patron Saint. The driving was entrusted to the capable hands of Natalie Abbley who had never towed a caravan before. She had the unenviable task of getting Roberta up to the Ladies Parlour on the West Hill in Hastings. A steep, narrow pathway leads to an open area overlooking the sea, where the stalls are laid out for the day. Early on Monday morning we made our way up and then had an hour or so to set out the display cases and hoist the mini maypole and bunting. Next to us was Henry Bourne with his temporary studio. This was also the first day for Henry's photographic project to document the people we meet during the tour.

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I hurriedly got changed into my Jack in the Green outfit and tottered down the hill to join my friends and the procession. The sun was shining when Jack appeared amidst cheers from the crowd. As usual the event was very well attended and is for me one of the most life affirming days of the year, (despite the sub zero temperatures later in the day!). I'm pleased to say that Roberta was never empty and had a constant stream of visitors over the day. People seemed genuinely delighted that we might soon have an established centre which celebrates and records our native customs and traditions and I received several donations for which I am very grateful.

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