Queuing’s not much craic really, is it? I was trying to think of times when it’s fun – maybe lining up to go into a night club? Something I can just about remember from a very long time ago. Or waiting to go into a concert? Maybe. But your average queue isn’t fun, and certainly not with kids in tow. So when we arrived at Woolapalooza – Airfield’s Sheep and Farm Festival – and saw a line of cars waiting to get in the entrance, we wondered if it was a good idea to go in at all.
We did though, and the line moved very, very quickly, as did the one at the ticket desk. We went straight to the barbecue area then, none of us having heeded my advice to eat something before leaving the house, myself included. The queue for the barbecue snaked all the way around the room, out the door, and across the picnic area outside. Five hearts sank, but I put on a smile, told the kids it would move quickly, and took a place in line. My eldest stayed with me, while my husband took the other two to the play area nearby.
The woman in front of me was chatting to friends, and bit by bit, all but she left the line, deciding to get food elsewhere. We stuck it out though, determined to get the burgers and sausages we could smell as we waited. The line moved on, and once inside, I spotted a blogging friend – Laura from Confessions of an Irish Mammy. “It takes a while, but it’s worth it,” she told me as she and her family finished eating. I told my daughter we’d be there in twenty minutes and she raised her eyebrows sceptically. The woman in front of me laughed, and we chit-chatted a little, the way you do with someone who is ahead of you in a queue. And despite the wait, the sun shone and everyone was in good form.
Then I spotted a good friend from my old job. “I can’t leave or I’ll lose my spot!” I mouthed over to her, and we sign-languaged to each other that we’d catch up outside. And suddenly we were there at the top; plates were loaded with burgers and sausages and homemade onion relish, and we sat outside in the sun to eat, and all was good in the world.
We spent some time looking at the vintage cars and the hens, and watched a sheep dog demonstration (“Could we get a sheep dog to put the kids to bed?” my husband wondered.)
Then we wandered up through the flower beds towards an open green area with games for kids – welly throwing, ring toss, tyre rolling, sack races, and bales of hay. I bumped into my friend from work again, and we spent an hour catching up while the kids played and the sun shone.
After that, we went to the Green Barn to see the pop up café, and queued for cup-cakes and coffee. The small boy wanted a tub of ice-cream instead, and asked what flavours they had. I didn’t know, but the woman ahead of me overheard – they’ve only chocolate left now, she told me. “I love chocolate!” said the small boy, and all was good.
Then the woman reached the ice-cream freezer and opened the lid. “There are only two tubs left,” she said, holding one out to my little boy. “So you take one, and we’ll take one.” She had intended getting two, so I tried to give it back but she insisted. Then my small boy tried to give it to her son, but the woman gave it back. “Not at all,” she said, “This way it’s fair – I coudn’t take the last two knowing you were waiting for one.” I thanked her and went off, thinking about all the nice people you meet in queues.
We ate and drank sitting on the grass in the dairy area, then watched sheep shearing and looked at baby goats before reluctantly leaving for home.
I posted a photo on my Facebook page, and was surprised to see a comment from a psychologist I know – well, we’ve never met in real life, but she has contributed to a number of articles I’ve written, so we’ve chatted often on email. Except we had met in real life – she was the woman ahead of me in the barbecue queue. Only we didn’t know we knew each other until she saw the photo. I left Airfield with three happy, well-fed, sun-kissed children, thinking about the nice people you meet in queues.
We were invited to Woolapalooza as guests of Airfield – a fantastic day out and I can’t wait to go back next year. Highly recommended.