The Abbey People Big Lunch, held on an early summer Sunday in the heart of Ditton Fields, Cambridge, is always a happy occasion, and one that 100 Years of Coconuts is delighted to join. Our combination of coconut shy and information stall has proved popular for a couple of years now, and it's with a song in our hearts that we lug our wares along to Dudley Road Rec, come rain or shine.
The one element we hadn't reckoned on at this year's very successful event (Sunday, June 11) was the wind.
A happy band of Coconuts volunteers was halfway through erecting the coconut shy gazebo – one of these 'pop-up' johnnies; we'd bought it with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund – when a rogue gust lifted the structure from its moorings and sent it spinning across Dudley Road, with Coconutters in hot pursuit.
Coming to rest a metre or so from a very expensive-looking car, the wrecked gazebo now resembled the result of a tornado in a smelting works. No coconut shy this year, then.
We decided to dismantle our second gazebo before it could do any damage, only to find that it had also been twisted out of true by the unseasonal blast. Ruined. To paraphrase Mr Wilde: to lose one gazebo may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.
Ah, well. We still enjoyed the Big Lunch, chatting to passers-by, spreading the story of the U's, selling the odd raffle ticket and showing off the results of our recent You & the U's project with Abbey Meadows Community Primary School. We'll be back next year with a bigger, better coconut shy.
Above: Coconuts volunteers with Cambridge deputy mayor Nigel Gawthrope. Below: U's fan Justin Spring drops in. Bottom: former gazebos.