When we first had the idea to hold a Fairy Tale Trail it seemed relatively simple. We'd held one before, after all. Apart from the trail itself, and our cunningly concealed creations, we only had to prepare an area for the activities we had promised - wand making, mask making, that sort of thing. A couple of tables in a marquee should do the trick.
Lovely Warden and my Boss duly arrived a couple of days before the event and put up the marquee. They hammered in the tent pegs and tethered it well. "Safe as houses," they declared.
"It looks a bit bare inside," McColleague mused, once it was up .
"We could get some material to create swags," I said, over-confidently, as if I knew about this sort of thing. "And hang up some fairy lights. It'll be a Magical Wonderland!"
So, we went into town and bought acres of pink material and returned, triumphant, ready to work our creative magic.
We were intercepted on our way to the office by a colleague. "Go and look at the moat!" she cried.
The problem was immediately apparent. My Magical Wonderland had developed a definite aquatic theme. Putting the swags up now was going to be a challenge.
I hastened to reassure bemused visitors and volunteers alike that we did not actually erect the marquee in the moat and that it must have blown in. After the tenth repetition I got bored with that and started telling people it was for a duck wedding instead.
Eventually help arrived, in the shape of our gardener, Lovely Warden and assorted other estate staff. They donned waders and climbed into the moat. Progress was not simple, due to the knee high mud and dense vegetation. I gamely assisted by taking photographs and calling out helpful comments like "Careful now!" and "I think it's going to tip over."
It tipped over. It was bit like a warmer, muddier version of Titanic.
"It's not going well, is it?" said McColleague, somewhat redundantly.
"Never let go!" I shouted, but it was too late. Several of the leg poles sank to the bottom of the moat, never to be recovered. That's really going to confuse the Time Teams of the future.
At last the bulk of the marquee was dragged out of the moat and onto dry land. Several key elements were broken, bent or entirely missing. The plastic covering was covered in foul smelling mud and pondweed.
"I don't think I'm going to bother with a marquee for Fairy Day," I decided. "Let's put a couple of tables in one of the buildings in the courtyard instead."
It was at this point we discovered that every single trestle table we owned had been taken away to one of the tenant farms, where they were hosting a wedding party. And that the building in question was full of a disassembled shed, some rusty metalwork and a rickety old piano.
If it wasn't for all the hot wardens-in-waders action the day could have been a tad on the frustrating side.