About 15 years ago I had the bright idea of switching to environmentally friendly catering. In fact we decided to switch not only our catering operations, but our travelling funfairs to a more sustainable method of operating.
We made some great advances on this front. Had a bit of attention from the press and even received a couple of environmental awards. Things seemed rosy and I felt I had made a good decision. But then a pattern started to emerge. We would quote for jobs, and explain all about how we were doing our bit for the environment. But we received a lot of replies along the lines of, ‘We really love what you are doing, unfortunately the non environmentally friendly companies are cheaper then you so we are going with them!’
For a time it looked like we could be the most environmentally friendly bankrupt funfair company. So sadly we had to dial down on what we were doing.
We feel now is the time to relaunch our initiative. Biodegradable consumables made from bamboo, paper and plant based products are becoming ever more affordable. Things like LED lighting are being mass produced to the stage they are getting cheaper than traditional alternatives. And many of our customers are starting to make environmental credentials an important part of their purchasing process.
To this end we are ramping up our green credentials. Well we going to if we ever get released from this bloody lockdown.
I’ll try and summarise our intentions, along with how we compare to where we were 15 years ago.
Looking at our environmental statement from years back, we were going through some 20000 sheets of office paper a year. Over the course of 12 months, we had managed to reduce this to 15000. Our intention was to get it down to 5000 a year. This has been an easy win. Most of our clients are now happy to accept pdf versions of our safety document packs. We average less than 1000 sheets of office paper per annum.
This will no doubt help keep enough paper stocks available for the toilet roll industry to keep up with the current demand from the deranged panic buyers.
Last time we tried switching to greener alternatives, coffee cups weren’t too bad, but everything else was prohibitively expensive.
Nowadays there is a vastly improved choice. For many items such as doughnuts and churros we use bamboo boats. For larger items like jacket potatoes, we have found a good range of boxes and plates made from sugarcane bagasse . Bagasse is a residue from sugar cane production. Products derived from it include biofuel, wood substitute and now catering items. It looks very much like polystyrene but is fully biodegradable.
Knives, forks and spoons have been switched to wood. And a few of the items such as waffles on a stick are served in paper trays. In all I don’t think we have anything left being served in plastic.
Food Waste Composting
Its fine having environmentally friendly catering products, but there is another issue. Food waste. Any event we attend there is always some level of waste food. Whether its guests not quite finishing their servings, or the fact that we have cooked a few too many hot dogs. In the past this will all have ended up in landfill.
Last time we went down this route, we acquired a Swedish hot composting system. You would feed it with waste food, and a mixture of dry wood pellets. Then give it a good spin to mix it. Bacteria would slowly heat the mixture up and consume the food and waste to leave a rich compost, ideal for the garden.
Sadly our original composter was destroyed, (someone ran over it) and never replaced.
We are now looking at adding something to replace this to ensure we can remove our small amount of food waste from the landfill system. One system that does look promising is the HotBin compost system. Like our old Swedish system, you add food waste and in this case shredded paper. The system again raises the heat to allow microbial action to reduce everything to a separate mix of solid compost and liquid leachate (which makes a great liquid fertiliser). We are still looking at system, but as soon as this virus pandemic ends we will place an order for a system of some kind.
Biofuels For Our Generators
This is one avenue were we have had to admit defeat. What we discovered was that the newer generating plant we had didn’t like 100% biodiesel. Some of the older stuff would run happily on it, though we had to change many of the rubber fuel lines. The trouble is, the newer kit is both less polluting to begin with, and also far more fuel efficient. So it didn’t make sense to swap the latest kit back to stuff that was 20 years out of date.
Because of the transitory nature of funfairs, there isn’t really any scope to make use of renewable power. The one exception perhaps is the classic helter skelter. Because it is powered by gravity, it can operate without a power source, needing just power for lighting. Before we disposed of ours, I had drawn up plans to use a combination of a solar powered battery charger and small wind turbine to constantly charge a battery pack, and then use an inverter to power LED lighting throughout the ride. I still think this would work.
This is one avenue that is actually coming of age. LED lighting prices are now falling to the extent where they are only a smallish premium over incandescent lighting. Additionally LED lights take far less power to run, with the result that either smaller more fuel efficient generators can be used to power them, or the larger generators are working less and saving fuel. With the chancellors decision to remove the tax rebate on red diesel (used to power generators) its now reached the stage where its a no brainer to make the switch. The fuel savings alone will pay the costs back pretty quickly. And technically LED should last far longer than a traditional light bulb.
To ensure that we can communicate the extent of our green push to our clients we are looking at a number of certification systems which would officially show our work. In the past we were part of a few different initiatives, but these petered out over time.
In summary offering environmentally friendly catering is something that is fast becoming a must, rather than an optional extra.
If you fancy hot dog cart hire or any of our offerings with an environmentally friendly service then get in touch.
Someone asked me recently who builds funfair rides. Well, there are a number of long established companies going back in some cases a considerable number of years. Like much of industry, the major manufacturers are European. There were a number of UK based builders making large adult rides, but these are by and large defunct.
The smaller children’s rides market is much healthier. A number of excellent rides are turned out for the home market and occasionally for export. Many of the started as travelling showmen, who perhaps built a ride for themselves, and were then asked to build another for someone else. Most end up building an occasional ride as a sideline, but some turn it into their full time occupation.
Fairtech Fabrications Ltd
One such company is in the hands of a friend of mine, his wife is my wife’s first cousin so there is once again a family connection. Along with his two sons, he has always worked on his own equipment to a high standard, and when recently the number of fairs he attended was cut drastically he looked at leveraging his building prowess into a full time gig.
This post is going to follow the design and build of one of his rides.
Cups And Saucers
The cups and saucers, or teacups as they are sometimes known, isn’t a new ride. Its been one of the staples of the funfair industry over here since I was a teenager, some 35 years or so. So was a good bet for a saleable product.
Like most things now, the ride started on a computer. Initial drawings were made to produce the layout of the steel work and electrics/hydraulics. Once these were satisfactory, more detailed drawings with correct dimensions and material tolerances were produced, enabling construction to begin.
Initial Steel Work
The bulk of the rides construction is box section mild steel. This is fabricated into a number of section for the ride bearing chassis, the moving part of the ride, and the support items such as the light posts and speaker brackets. Parts such as hydraulic valves and rams, electric motors etc are attached to the basic frame.
The basic frame is built up and disassembled a number of times. Things like the decorative centerpiece need to be attached to ensure the mounting holes and suchlike are in the correct places. The aluminium tread plate needs cutting to size and fitting to ensure it all matches. Slew rings to allow the cups to spin have to be in position to ensure they are level and running free and to tolerance.
Hot Dip Galvanising
The ride is pretty much built to a finished standard, except for the decorative sections. It is then stripped down completely and sent to have the full metalwork hot dip galvanised. This is a method of submerging the steel in a molten zinc bath, to apply a protective coating. This can extend the life of the rides structural components to in excess of 50 years. Untreated steel without regular maintenance can start to degrade in less than 5 years. In a marine environment it can be as little as 1 year before rust starts to attack the structure.
Assembling The Finished Ride
Once the galvenising is complete the ride is assembled again. Sometimes it is possible for the heat of the galvenising process to warp the steel sections, so any that are out of specification. may need to be rebuilt or replaced.
Once the structure is to the builders satisfaction, final assembly can begin. The chassis is assembled, and then the circular frames carrying the cars built up and attached to the chassis. At this point the electric cabling, braking systems and hydraulic systems will be attached.
Over the last few years the Health and Safety Executive have started tightening up on the use of barriers around children’s rides, to meet both this requirement, and with an eye on the European market, Fairtech made the decision to go for the more stringent TUV approval, which is regarded as a must have in many export destinations. This involved additions to the rides such as a barrier to prevent a child being able to walk up and touch a moving part of the ride. Additionally on the older designs, the cups were not locked in place, smaller children exiting the cup could slip and fall as the cup spun. Fairtech have added an automatic locking system, so once the rides stops, the cups lock in place. They also added some nice touches to the the chequer plate flooring. The ride is finished off with LED lighting to help meet current environmental regulations, and a Bose music system.
Final Ride Assembled
The final ride with full decoration, music, lighting and automatic gates to allow the riders to access and exit the ride.
Rides around the world have been steadily getting bigger, faster, more daring, pulling more G’s and so on. Most countries have similar rides at carnivals and fairs, but there are some Weird and wonderful contraptions around the world. A few are listed below, we can’t see them appearing at your local fair anytime soon.
Nothin But Net
The concept behind this one is simple, take riders a 100 feet into the air, them drop them into the net below. A special harness is meant to ensure they land on their backs, but as 1 expert put it, ‘Nothing is foolproof.’
This one is probably good for the environment. Basically it is a pedal powered roller coaster. So the riders actually have to do some work to use it.
Transforming a medieval weapon into an amusement ride, is something only a truly twisted genius could find a good idea. About £60 a go, you are basically shot out of the sling towards a net. Sadly in 2002 a rider managed to miss the net and was killed.
This one actually was a ride over here many years ago. We can remember riding this at Redcar amusement park. Its a disc that everyone sits on. The disc starts to spin and gradually picks up speed, until it reaches the point where everyone is flung off.
In conclusion some of the weird and wonderful rides range from amusing to downright deranged. Would you really allow yourself to be shot out of a trebuchet and hope the net catches you?
Only sadly it isn’t. Like many other industries at the minute, the funfair industry has ceased to exist. Everything on our planners through to the end of June are completely gone. With many events right up to December also cancelled. So it is going to be a long hard summer for the funfair hire industry.
To add insult to injury, the weather is some of the nicest anyone came remember in years for Easter.
Of course everyone is aware of the tradition of giving eggs for Easter. But have you ever thought why?
Easter is a Christian festival, and for Christians giving eggs symbolises new life. It is claimed this practice started with the early Christians of Mesopotamia who stained birds eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ.
There is also an association in Western Christians not being allowed to eat eggs during Lent, but allowed them at Easter.
A common practice in medieval England was for children to go door to door begging for eggs on the Saturday before Lent. These were handed out as special treats.
I remember during my youth going door to door. Many of the elder generation would give us hard boiled eggs that had been painted. The better of neighbours actually gave us chocolate. Many would also press a few coppers on us, when you were five or six years old, the few pounds you accrued made you think you were rich.
It wasn’t an exclusively Christian thing though. London’s British Museum contains some large ostrich eggs that have been carved and painted. These have been found in tombs. After investigation it is believed that eggs like this can date back upto 5000 years, well before the Christian religion. And decorated eggs upto 60,000 years old have been discovered in Africa.
J.S. Fry and sons of England introduced their first chocolate egg in 1873, closely followed by Cadbury’s in 1875. Cadbury’s created the modern egg with the introduction of pure cocoa butter that could be moulded into hollow egg shapes. Now upto 80 million chocolate eggs are consumed in the UK alone. It’s nice to see the steady move away from plastic packaging to more environmentally friendly alternatives.
Personally my favourite eggs are those produced by the Russian craftsman at Faberge for the last two Russian Tsars. Masterpieces of decorative art, many contain hidden surprises such as clockwork birds or miniature toys.
Hopefully at some point we will see the funfair industry start up again without too much of it disappearing,We are itching to get back on the road so you can hire dodgems and other rides from us.
When looking for new lines we hit upon the idea of a Wild West photo booth. We looked at various saloon bars, a teepee, but decided that the most classic wild west ‘vehicle’ had to be the Concord stagecoach. Just like John Wayne in the classic film.
Luckily, we have a member of staff that happens to be a whizz, with wood. So, after some research, and finding some stagecoach plans (albeit for a model coach), we managed to create a workable blueprint.
When we started, in fairness, we didn’t actually realise the amount of work we were letting ourselves in for. But the initial body shaping looked spot on, and kept us reassured we were on the right track.
The initial body shape came together well, because the body curves in 2 planes, it was difficult to shape, but after some intensive work, we got it together into the basic body.
This about finished the body, other than the interior. We didi think that was the bulk of the work done, until we actually started assembling the chassis.
The Chassis was actually quite complicated, as we tried to follow the real things metalwork, with a working handbrake, and the correct slings and fittings.
All in all it was a long complicated build, but it has given us a totally unique photo booth, perfect for those wild west events.
Well, a week after my release from hospital I am walking a 4-5 mile course every day. The 2 stone I lost inside wouldn’t have been too bad if a lot of it hadn’t come off my arms and legs. So to build them back up I dusted off my kettlebell weight. The only one I have at home is 16kg so its good for a decent workout, and I am feeling pretty good so no problem. Ha, I only managed to get half way before I felt absolutely knackered. And my arms and legs feel like they belong to someone else this morning.
A lot of the fairground industry is starting to go into panic mode. Initially they thought this was going to be a two or three month break, but now I think we are all realising that we may end up writing this season off. The government has just cancelled the major climate change conference in November, so they aren’t too confident that things will be back to normal by then.
They say necessity is the mother of invention. An awful lot of the showmen I know seem to have turned into fruit and veg salesman, with a multitude of home delivery options on offer. Good luck to them.
Poor Premiership Stars
I see the players football association is suggesting the premier league stars take a 30% pay cut. The poor darlings, the average wage is £3 million a year, how an earth will they manage on only £2 million per annum. Perhaps we should start a gofund me page to help them out.
The major clubs have furloughed their support staff, because obviously all of them together will add up to perhaps the left backs salary so its a big saving. The next step will be them asking for a government handout to enable them to keep paying their stars mega salaries.
When I was a kid my dentist was actually an ex professional footballer. He had played for Newcastle United, and was wanted by Manchester United. He instead chose to go to Darlington. When I asked why you would choose them over Man U, his reply was, “At the time I could earn more as a dentist, than I could as a football player, Darlington offered to let me continue my dentistry as well as playing football. Man U insisted I stopped being a dentist, and with a family to look after I couldn’t afford to do that.”
How things have changed.
Its A Conspiracy
I tend to use Facebook for my business pages, its another business tool. With the lockdown I have to admit I am using it more from a personal perspective. One of the things which really tickle me is the prevalence of conspiracy theories. It turns out there isn’t actually a virus after all, its 5G transmitters that are causing people to have viral symptoms. Its the fault of the Illuminati and the Masons who are ushering in the new world order.
People are calling on their comrades to get ready for the fightback. Well, any organisation that can successfully have every health care professionals, not only in the UK, but the rest of the planet, all toe the line and lie that its a virus, well, do you really think power like that can be challenged?
Personally I know its not 5G, its pod people from Mars. That’s why Boris isn’t appearing on TV, his symptoms was the first stage of his body being taken over by a pod person. When he appears again he will be fully assimilated. Bit like the Borg really.
Though my wife has a novel theory. She claims that I am the cause of the coronavirus pandemic. Allegedly I am trying to keep my daughters boyfriend away.
I see in the news that America has been accused or piracy. It seem Trump has invoked a Korean war era directive to prevent companies like 3M exporting face masks to the rest of the world. Their entire production is now being ring-fenced for the States. Whilst I can understand the outrage of other countries that were expecting deliveries from them. Can you really condemn Trump for looking after his own people first. Imagine the scenario of Europe recovering with the aid of millions of 3M masks. Whilst Americans die due to a lack of them. In all honesty I would hope our government would make the same call in that situation.
This isn’t going to be a diary par se. Its more of an occasional ramble of what we are doing and thoughts about the way things are going. To be honest its more to give us something extra to do rather than being a serious social commentary.
Like everyone else we are in lockdown. Luckily our house is built on the side of our business premises, so we have a fairly secure 3 acre site to wander, rather than being stuck in a small gardenless house.
My significant other is starting to repaint all of our external fences. Tbh they don’t really need doing yet as she did them about 18 months ago, but she’s happy that it gives her a couple of weeks work to pass them time on.
My daughter, who hasn’t been speaking to me for a couple of weeks due to my refusal to let her make a trip to Birmingham, has come round a bit. We have decided to spend some of our time learning a language. After a bit of debate we have settled on sign language. We don’t interact with the hearing impaired all that often, but it would be nice to be able to show we have made the effort on the occasions we do.
Learning Something New
When we built the wild west stagecoach photo booth, we added quite a number of props to it. One of which was a ukulele (and indeed a banjo, because we were going to recreate the scene from deliverance). This has sat on the top shelf in the office for quite a while now. So I decided I am going to learn how to play it. Lol, by the end of the lockdown, I will either be a musician, or I will have a ukulele shaped dent in the back of my head.
We usually refurb our carts and equipment a couple of times a year. This enforced downtime will let us go through them all ready for when the events industry re emerges. It will also give us time to look at possible new ideas and lines to add for the forthcoming season.
I have just had a months stay in hospital where I ended up losing 2 stone. In truth I needed to lose a bit of weight, but that is probably half a stone too much. As soon as the remnants from my surgery heal up enough I intend to have a fairly heavy exercise regime, it would be nice to tone up and keep my weight down. We have a few basic items such as kettlebells so should be able to cobble together some basic exercise sets.
Woah boy overdoing the exercises a bit there.
Truth be told mentally I am not feeling the lockdown too much. When ever we were not at events, I always had plenty of promotional work to be doing on the computer, so I am just doing what I would normally do. It will let me get our blog and seo work well in front, and take the pressure off me once things get moving again.
The World At Large
In the wider world, I still can’t believe just how many people are totally ignoring instructions to stay in. The police broke up a party in Derby yesterday, where they had a disco and buffet, the full works. Are people really that stupid, or are they just plain ignorant.
I got into a debate with a guy I fly with, a liberal democrat activist who claims the government haven’t been clear enough about having to stop in. WTF, every time you turn the telly on it is telling you to stay in. Every other post on Facebook is tellling you the same, what more do people need, Zeppelins roaming the sky with the message painted on the side? What it really needs is the North Korean method. It was reported there that a guy refusing to isolate was shot. I bet that wouldn’t need too much promotion from the government before it was adhered to.
So in summery everyone;
Pretty much the entire world seems to be in lock-down at the minute. The scary thing being no one really knows how long it will last for and whether it will actually work.
Its trying enough for the adults to keep their sanity during this unprecedented crisis, but it must be even worse for those who need to try and entertain young kids. At the best of times they take some handling, without needing to do it 24/7 every day of the week.
Here are a few funfair themed colouring pages to download. They might just pass an hour or two on.
There are plenty more examples for free download on the internet, just google fun fair colouring pages.
I have just come out of a 3 week stay in hospital, to find scenes of carnage in the supermarkets. Toilet rolls (lord knows why), hand sanitiser, food all stripped from the supermarket shelves by hordes of the criminally stupid panic buying.
There are tales of the elderly and infirm distraught because they can’t buy anything. NHS and other key workers are similarly finishing shifts to find they also cannot buy any shopping. Civilisation is starting to fray around the edges.
There has been much talk of what the retailers should have been doing, limiting sales to so many per person, exclusive hours for the elderly etc.
One supermarket in Denmark has hit upon an idea so simple, yet so bloody effective.
Basically if you want to buy a bottle of hand sanitiser, it works out at around £5. If you want to buy more than 1 bottle, you can do, but the price then becomes £125 PER BOTTLE.
Brilliant, there is no argument at the till about limits or suchlike, you can buy as much as you want, as long as you are willing to pay for it.
As I lay here in my hospital bed, connected up to drips and feeling the warm glow from my last shot of morphine, I can’t help feeling the sense of dread that is leaching through the walls.
Wait, I hear you cry, whats with the hospital bed? Well I would like to say things went like this. 3 weeks ago I was flying a Cessna (one of my hobbies to relax after a hard week), when my appendix unexpectedly burst. I heroically ignored the pain and managed to land safely, before being whisked away for emergency surgery.
Well, that’s what I would like to say, but the truth is a little more mundane. I was actually flying, and my appendix did actually burst. However the initial symptoms were mild indigestion, and I landed the plane without even noticing.
4 days later I was in severe pain and ended up at A & E. After a CT scan and some blood tests, they admitted me for emergency surgery. At this point I was still quite laid back. I knew the appendix was a useless organ so wasn’t too worried about losing it. It was only when a nurse commented on how well I looked for ‘someone seriously ill’, that I started to worry. A quick Google revealed that said useless appendix, could become a fatal appendix once burst.
Surgery went well, although the surgeon commented it had been one of the worst cases she had dealt with. Unfortunately I then developed a massive after infection, and have been in here 3 bloody weeks. I am beginning to think it is easier to get out of prison, than hospital.
Anyway back to my first musings, when I came in, there were a handfull of Covid 19 cases in the UK, and a couple of deaths. 3 weeks later, reading the news reports and social media we appear to be on the verge of apocalypse. The expected deaths are being reported at anything from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Sport, outdoor events, pubs etc are being advised to close. People are fighting in the shops for supplies. Its like one of those movies where the hero becomes unconscious for a couple of weeks and when he wakes up society has collapsed!
What I am worried about, is do we have to start dressing like they did in Mad Max above. If so how soon, can we like wear our normal cloths until they wear out. Or will we have to immediately wear the new styles.
Absurd? It is rather, but then again, is it anymore absurd than grown adults fighting over toilet roll. Some of the stocks people have they are going to need to crap hundreds of times a day to get anywhere near using it. Once this crisis is over, the poor toilet roll makers are going to be twiddling their thumbs for months whilst people use up the stocks they have.
Looking at some of the scenes we appear to have turned into a nation of Corporal Jones’s You know the character from Dads Army, who screams ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic’ whilst running around like a headless chicken in a blind panic. In some ways I think a zombie apocalypse might have been better. The supermarket shelves always seem full in a zombie apocalypse.