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.
Test yourself on the Abbey Stadium and Cambridge United: in what year did the ground open? How tall are the floodlight pylons? What kind of animals used to graze on the pitch? What year do we think the club was founded? What might be buried under the pitch? After whom is the long terrace along the side named? (Answers below, but no peeking until you've given the questions your best shot.)
Children from Year 5 of Abbey Meadows Community Primary School did their best to complete the Coconuts Quiz when they and their teachers visited the stadium and our mini-museum, The Story of the U's, this week. We all had a great time.
The visit was part of a four-week project, dubbed You and the U's, 100 Years of Coconuts is running with the school and with help from the Cambridge United Community Trust. In turn, it forms part of the two-year Coconuts project, funded by a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant, that aims to spread the story of our football club far and wide. This club is your club, we're telling the children – and you can play just as big a part in its story as the supporters and players who founded Abbey United and built the ground.
In weeks two, three and four of You and the U's, we'll visit Abbey Meadows with handling boxes full of memorabilia, equipment and photographs; enjoy a walking tour of the area around the Abbey, discovering important locations in the club's history; and produce a piece of artwork pulling together what the children have learned.
Answers: 1932; 36.6 metres; sheep; 1912; the mortal remains of 12th and 13th century leprosy victims; Harry Habbin, president of Cambridge United Supporters' Club in the 1950s.