I spent my day on Tuesday "on my hind legs" presenting for the first time in over a year. To be honest, this was challenging not only because it's the first time I've been on my feet for so long, but also because I was presenting to an audience that is completely new to me.
In three sessions between 9.30am and 2pm, I presented to three classes of children, ranging in age between 7 and 11. Boy, oh boy.
From the moment I stepped up to the front of the classroom in my bee suit, I found myself with a rapt audience who hung onto my every word. I spoke about the trials and tribulations of beekeeping. They questioned me intently, mostly about getting stung and how bees make babies, but also a few questions came in from the left field, such as "if you could find a football small enough for a beehive, would bees play football?" Blimey - how do you answer that one then?
Fear and nervousness gripped me from the moment I got back from my trip to London last week, while I prepared and worked out what I was going to say. I decided to wear my beesuit (any excuse for dressing up in a ridiculous outfit) and, along with a range of props, a powerpoint presentation and some photos, I took to the stage.
Before I'd even started what I'd agreed to do, I'd been commandeered by another teacher in the same school to repeat my presentation in front of his class, then at the morning break, I got collared by a third teacher. News of my presentation and the reaction of the kids spread around the school like wildfire and I think I can safely say that the day was one big hit.
What surprised me was that the questions from all three age groups were broadly the same, possibly expressed slightly differently, but it was clear that the same parts of the subject either appalled or enthralled them, whatever their age.
The oddest thing is that I was most worried about being able to be relevant to a bunch of children. Let's face it, I'm not exactly well-endowed in the experience with kids department! I need not have worried as they all seemed thrilled to bits with me, as evidenced by the number of little people dashing up to me and hugging me as well as the chorus of "Linda, Linda, hello Linda" as I walked past them in the queue to the dining room when they were on their way to lunch. Really and truly, hugs from small children when you're not used to it, are very joyful. I was very moved.
I finished my "job" at 2pm and thankfully had engineered a lift home, which is just as well because I was completely exhausted. What I realised later was that I'd done a good day's work and not only that but I felt both invigorated and excited by it. I think I can safely say that I've been in some new water today but learned that swimming is the same whatever type of pond!