A polar bear, a gorilla, and a man who played piano in the woods

Vanessa in polar bear costume

That’s me in there!

“Put on the polar bear costume!” they said. “It’ll be fun!” they said. And so I did.Β Nobody warned me though about the kids that would be coming to punch me, kick me, try to push me over and pull my head off. Oh no, they didn’t mention that. But of course those were in the minority, and there were many more that just wanted to come and get a big cuddly bear hug from me. I expect you’re wondering what I was doing in a polar bear costume right? Well last weekend, my Neil and I were Greenpeace volunteers at the Smugglers Music Festival in Kent. While I was in the polar bear costume, Neil looked like this:

Neil in gorilla costume

Thankfully we only had to do short stints in the costumes, or we would surely have passed out from the heat. Aside from the heat, and being beaten up by the kids, I also had to contend with earwigs inside the polar bear’s head at one point, but apart from that, it was a blast! When we weren’t in costume, we looked like this:

Greenpeace stand

Greenpeace stand

The main purpose of being there was to recruit more Arctic Defenders, which involved getting people to sign a petition to stop further drilling for oil in the Arctic. I’m not going to ramble on about that now, but if you want to know more about the campaign, follow this link.

We had plenty of free time to enjoy the festival, and we camped there for two nights. The kids came too and much fun was had by all. This wasn’t a festival with big name bands, but we heard some fabulous music there. Real musicians playing real instruments, imagine! One of best moments though was on the second evening, we sat around the campfire…

Vanessa around campfire

…and a man came by. He wasn’t one of the acts, he wasn’t scheduled, he just took the opportunity that was a few feet away from us, and he played piano in the woods.

Man playing piano in the woods

Do you go to music festivals? Or do any volunteering? Or dress up as polar bears or gorillas? Or play musical instruments in random places?

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57 responses to “A polar bear, a gorilla, and a man who played piano in the woods

  1. How cool that there was a piano in the woods, first of all. Secondly, I do not envy you having to wear an animal costume. I’m sure the polar bear was cooler than the gorilla, though. Yikes! Earwigs?!?!?!?! I would have been out of that suit so fast! Who knows what other strange things could be lurking inside, left by previous wearers. I hope your time in it was short. Giving bear hugs would have been alright, though. But one question: what do gorillas have to do with the arctic?

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    • It was actually quite fun going round in the costume, despite the challenges! We didn’t do more than half an hour at a time though, mainly because of the heat. There were other volunteers taking their turn too. Haha, yes a few people questioned the relevance of the gorilla! It was a costume left over from a different campaign that Greenpeace ran a while ago, and they figured we might as well wear that too because it’s really just about getting out there in the crowd and drawing attention to ourselves, and the kids love it.

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  2. I do a 12 hour dance marathon to benefit Children’s National Medical Center πŸ™‚

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  3. I haven’t done a music festival in a long time and I’ve never dressed up as a polar bear or gorilla or played any musical instruments in random places … but it sure sounds awesome!!! πŸ™‚

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  4. A friend of mine wore one of those suits once–as Barney the purple dinosaur. She was hit in the head with a 2×4 by some teenage boys as they shouted homophobic slurs. Luckily the giant dino head protected her skull, but the whole experience has rather put me off those costumes.

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  5. So, the question is, are you going to save those costumes for some fun later?… πŸ˜‰

    Good of you guys to do that! And I love your blog’s new header, by the way. (Or at least, I think it’s new.)

    Thanks again for the wonderful review. I sent you back an email. πŸ™‚

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    • Haha, we didn’t get to take the costumes home! Yes, it’s a whole new blog theme, I’m not completely sure about it yet, but we’ll see. what I didn’t like about my old theme was that the widgets only showed on the home page, and so subscribers who always went direct to a post never saw them. Also I wanted a different header which might better reflect some of the random funny stuff that goes on around here πŸ™‚ And you’re welcome on the review!

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      • My current theme doesn’t show the widgets on the post pages either. I don’t like that, but I paid for it so I guess I’m stuck with it a little longer. πŸ™‚

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        • I only use free themes, so I can change on a whim if I feel like it! I decided that having the widgets show on the post pages was a priority for me, otherwise it’s mainly only first time visitors to the site that will see them, and if I want to promote certain causes or things I’m doing, I want them to be seen. I know it looks a bit busy with all the widgets, but I think that gives it a bit of a magazine look which I quite like, and each time someone visits, something different there may catch their eye!

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  6. Wow … those costumes look so hot. Whew ….. Nope, I’ve never worn a costume like that anyone – let alone at a festival dealing with kids. A tip of the hat to you for enduring. We actually volunteering in the inner city this weekend.

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  7. I’m either really HOT or really COLD and I’m way past menopause. Summer and one of those suits, with or without earwigs, uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I’m outta there. Sorry. Best laid plans and all…
    Kudos for sticking it out. Two HUGE gold stars are coming your way if they don’t get lost in the information highway (is it still called that?) πŸ˜€

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  8. You look cute in that suit, Vanessa!! Sorry about the earwigs. It’s a great cause you’re involved plus you got to hear piano in the woods. That sounds pretty magical. How often does that happen? I really like this new blog look! Did your movie open up yet?

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    • This particular festival has been going for three years, but this is the first year we became involved. I hadn’t realised before that there are loads of volunteering opportunities at music festivals, like picking up litter etc. For a while I’ve wanted to change to a blog theme where the widgets show on the post pages, not just the home pages (you have that same issue I believe!), so I chose this one because it had lots of widget space! No more news on the movie yet.

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  9. A few random thoughts … Gorillas have nothing to do with the ocean, but they ARE an endangered species, so it was appropriate to have a gorilla hanging around.
    I particularly like Neil the Gorilla’s shoes. I don’t know how a Gorilla could get his feet in there though. Can’t see your shoes – I presume you had paws?
    Earwigs aren’t dangerous, but they look like something from hell and they put out a horrible smell!
    I also like the new header – you’re so photogenic, Vanessa!

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    • Yes, that’s what we said about the gorilla, it was slightly out of place though because the particular campaign we were there to promote was all about the arctic. It didn’t matter though, problems in the arctic eventually affect other species too! Yes, my costume had the full paw feet, with built in boots that added to the heat of the whole thing!
      I didn’t know earwigs put out a horrible smell, I don’t think I’ve experienced that. I hate how they can end up in your hair if you’re camping.
      Thank you about the header, I wanted to show my silly side up there too!

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      • My experience was with Texas earwigs! Maybe English earwigs are too civilized to smell bad – ha, ha!! The first one I ever saw was in a laundromat. This 3/4-inch monstrosity went marching across the floor with its forked tail cocked up! Scary! If you stomp on one, you get this vinegary smell!
        Re the remark made to Neil about his shoes: that’s pretty funny! It shows how observant children are!
        And you’re welcome re the Blog Browser Day!

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  10. Earwigs? I would have been out of that costume in a flash! (But I think Neil’s shoes totally make his costume! πŸ˜‰ ) I’ve not been to any festivals or huge events other than Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” on the National Mall in 2010.

    And I agree with other commentersβ€”the new blog look and header are great!

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    • It was funny with Neil’s shoes because later in the day when he was back in normal clothes, a child came up to him, and sounding quite cross, said “Why are you wearing the gorilla’s shoes!”
      This is quite a small festival compared to…well, compared to some of the big ones! But it goes on for three full days, and it’s very family-friendly, with activities for kids and that. Plus other random things going on, like we watched some people melting metal to cast a bell, again this was in the evening in the woods! It was all quite surreal. We really enjoyed it, would definitely go back next year, it’s only 20 minutes from where we live too! Thanks re the new blog, I’m not totally sure about it yet, it might need a bit more tweaking…

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  11. Vanessa, I just entered your blog on the Blog Browser Day part of http://imagineerebooks.wordpress.com Watch for it to appear on Saturday.

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  12. Ooh! Look at the blot revamp! Fancy pants, you are. I approve.

    I thought the post title was a set-up for a punchline. I’d rather be a polar bear than an ape. Any day. Good for you for supporting the cause in a most creative way.

    New York City has an annual art installation in the spring whereby they place 88 brightly painted pianos (one for each key!) on the sidewalks and in parks throughout the city. People walk up and bang away. Most are horrible but once in a while you hear a true virtuoso. It’s a treat.

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  13. love the incongruity of a piano in the woods
    you looked quite stylish as a polar bear btw

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  14. You make a pretty fabulous polar bear!

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  15. I go to festivals, volunteer, and have been known to sing in random locations. πŸ˜‰ You are rockin’ the polar bear suit!

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  16. I wanna hug the polar bear! What a great cause. Kudos to you.

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  17. An earwig in the polar bear suit. I think I’d take the kicking kids before that. Glad you survived and had fun. You make a very cute polar bear, by the way.

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    • Just to be clear, I didn’t actually keep walking around with the earwigs, it was on the second day, I put the head on and then saw two earwigs scuttling around in the nose part – I pulled that head off pretty darn quick I can tell you! It certainly was fun, and it helped that the weather was so good, apparently at the festival last year it rained most of time – not so much fun!

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  18. wouldn’t don a costume of that nature here one would die from the heat, but I would love to have seen you in it… good cause and you are to be admired for standing tall for the cause… I love your new header by the way…

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  19. Looks like a great time — except for the earwigs. I don’t know if I could have continued on after something like that. You’re a trooper! I support Defenders of Wildlife, and sometimes I will do some volunteering to help establish a safe zone for the New England cottontail which is being overrun by a non-native bunny rabbit. Other than that, I do lots of volunteering for my kids’ school and our community.

    Love the new look to your blog!

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    • Funny how so many people (and I include myself) have such an aversion to earwigs! You do loads of volunteering, much more than I do. Thanks about the new look to the blog, only just did that last week, I’m still deciding whether to leave it like this or mess with it some more! Although probably no time for messing with it for a while, so it will will likely stay!

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  20. First, love your new banner!

    I admire your dedication. That polar bear suit looks stuffy. I never thought that kids would be abusive! Where are the parents?? I tend to stay away from such events–too much stimulation, but I applaud people who get out there and support such a worthy cause! πŸ™‚

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  21. Note: gorillas are always relevant …

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  22. You look great in that bear costume, Vanessa! πŸ˜€ (I can empathize with the mustiness and heat in those things. I spent two weeks playing Sandy the Dog in a musical production of “Annie” many moons ago. That suit stank, let me tell you! Before me, even!)

    Fab that you did it for such a good cause, too. I’ve been a Greenpeace supporter since my university days. I’ve moved slightly more toward the shores with another group called Surfrider, which seeks to protect the world’s oceans and beaches. There’s so much of nature that needs protecting. It’s sad, actually, that they *need* to be protected, but I always try to muster up the courage to give it my best. πŸ™‚ So glad to know I’m not the only one!

    Have you seen the Aurora bear, yet?

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    • Yes, those animal suits do stink a bit don’t they! Imagine being the back end of a horse in one of those costumes!
      Neil is the one who is much more into supporting environmental causes than I am, but he’s been bringing me round πŸ™‚ I always cared, but like so many people I thought I’d just leave it to someone else to sort out!

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