Thursday, 13 February 2014

What's A Mermaid Doing Outside A Derbyshire Pub by Elisabeth Stoppard

The story behind this photograph

After weeks of the pub car park flooding caused by a blocked culvert and heavy rain, the pub creative team got together over some serious Real Ale. What we needed was a bit of a peaceful but inspired protest to the authorities. We envisaged Moses and the parting of the waves, Noah and his Ark and even a sighting of Moby Dick! However, I remembered my newly acquired Los Angeles vintage lounge singer's dress that I has just purchased from Etsy. People had remarked that I looked like a mermaid whilst I was wearing it (though I had bought it for a friend's 'black tie with a hint of mad hatter' birthday dinner party in November - I went as 'the caterpillar' with peacock feather antennae and holding a hookah... and at midnight I turned into a butterfly with some attachable wings!)

I live in a very creative village in the Derbyshire Dales, which is surviving and thriving due to a great sense of community spirit and dogged determination. We have recently fought against and defeated some awful schemes that were thrown at us that would be damaging to the environment and to village life. We are currently restoring the beautiful historic field barn landscape that has been devastated over recent years through quarry blasting and the demise of hill farming. When we won Village of the Year (England), one of the judges proclaimed that we were in fact a very active village, edging on hyperactive.

So, it seemed natural that we thought a mermaid outside the flooded  pub, holding a pint would be quite fun and may be put a point across.

The Derby Telegraph picked the story up and within a couple of days the council had set to work unblocking the culvert.

I have to add, that part of our success as a village with projects and protests, is due to the fact that we have very good fixed wireless broadband (20 mb per second), great web designers, a good online community and a couple of brilliant pubs that provide us with live music, cinema, meals and a general creative and fun meeting space. And whereas at one time most villagers had to commute to nearby towns and cities to work, leaving the village a bit lifeless, remote working is indeed now alive and kicking in all the converted old pig styes and stone sheds. Some of us even work by laptop in the newly opened cafe. So broadband and the web has changed village life enormously over the past decade, and it's getting better all the time.

By Elisabeth Stoppard. To find out more about the Bonsall Field Barn-Project, visit