“Take your hobbies to work” day

Now let me stop you there before you get too excited. I did not take the horse to the office. Nope.

In an imaginary world in which I had my own trailer/lorry, the correct licensing to tow/drive it, and somewhere sensible to put him when we arrived, I still would not subject my horse to a) rush-hour traffic through the centre of the city or b) being harassed by well-meaning but, for the most part, hopelessly horse-ignorant people all day. He is not a toy, people, and he likes being patted in the face by strangers about as much as you’d like it if random strangers on the train or bus started touching your face. Boundaries!

So for everyone’s wellbeing but especially his, I did not take him to work. Having told you what I did not do, now perhaps I can start at the beginning and then tell you what I did do.

This all happened well over a month ago, and this post has been in draft for a very long time, but I’ve finally got it out to you!

We have an annual “Wellbeing” day at work, at which we are all reminded to have a life outside the office. Those of us already engaging in activities perceived to be interesting or worthwhile are encouraged to display or demonstrate our hobbies. When this was first instigated, our employer put a substantial amount of money and effort into their part of Wellbeing day. Sadly, it has got less and less impressive every year. Despite this I still I think it is a good thing, and so I thought I ought to put the effort in and volunteer to show that I do indeed have an interesting life outside the office. As crochet is suited to displaying I volunteered that, and as owning a horse is something out of the ordinary I thought I should do something about that too.

I took all our nice show photos, including the one in fancy dress, and I typed out some “fun facts” about Drifter, some of which you’ll already have heard, but I’ll share with you later anyway. To pad my stall out, I got some photos printed which don’t show us dressed up to the nines – photos from the yard, one of him in full fly-gear, one of him lying down, etc. I spread them out all over the table. If I’d known ahead of time how much display space I was getting I could have glued everything together into a nicer display, but I didn’t know how big the table was going to be so I just took lots of stuff and spread I out. Messy but (I hope) interesting. I had more photos than I had room for but a fellow exhibitor lent me some masking tape and I was able to stick some up on the pillar behind me as well.

I also dressed up in my show clothes, minus the helmet and hairnet. This was a hit, with one person saying they’d never seen anyone dressed like that except on the television. I suppose until a few years ago I hadn’t either, but their tone of voice implied that they couldn’t believe “real” people dressed like that. I have to say I do always feel like I’m ready to act in a period drama when I’m wearing breeches, long boots and a stock. Of course in any historic period where the clothes would fit in, as a woman in man’s attire I’d be cross-dressing, which might stand out rather.

On the crochet front I stuffed a lot of things I’d made into a box and included the yarns and hook I need for my blanket squares, thinking that if no one turned up at my stall I could at least be busy! When I got there I tried to arrange them on the table in a pleasing manner but I’m not sure how far I managed that.

So there I was, sat between my two adjacent tables in (almost) full dressage diva attire. It became apparent that people didn’t realise they were both my hobbies so I had to start crocheting to make the visual link for people! I realised I’d crocheted wearing my long boots before, while breaking them in around the house, but the experience of crocheting in white breeches and a jacket was a new one for me.

The two hours flew by. I was intrigued to find that most people wanted to talk to me about one hobby or the other – very few people wanted to ask questions about both. I wonder whether if I’d just taken one hobby I’d have had many fewer people coming to talk to me. The vast majority of the people who were interested in the horse stall were already horsey – I talked to many people who’d ridden as a child. There were very few people who knew absolutely nothing about it yet were still interested – in a way they were the most interesting for me because they asked quite different questions. On the crochet front the opposite was true – the most interesting questions came from other yarn-crafters, because they asked detailed questions about stitches, hooks, patterns and techniques.

Several people asked if I could teach them to crochet. I politely declined and pointed them to you YouTube and/or their local yarn stores. Teaching is not my bag at the best of times. Teaching something that my brain has automated and my hands do of their own accord is really, really hard. I’m not interested in learning to teach crochet – I have more than enough on my plate, thanks! I did give in and teach a particular stitch to a colleague who already crochets but even that was really hard! Even though she already has lots of crochet experience, trying to communicate how to make this stitch was so hard. As soon as the hook and yarn were in her hands, what I could see was all different from the view when it’s in my hands and I got confused. Eventually we did get there and she got the hang of it.

I really felt like I contributed a lot to the day, and I was glad my stalls were popular. I would have hated to sit there and be ignored by everyone. The downside of being so popular was that I didn’t really get a chance to look at the other exhibits. I spent a few minutes looking at some others at the end, but the organisers needed us to clear up and get out of the room, so there wasn’t much time. That’s also my excuse for not having better photos…

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