Walking purposely up Queens Road on a bright October morning Ray and I were keen to find out what was on offer at the first Make & Mend Festival in Leicester. Ray's intention was to find out how to install and work with Linux and improve his technique with his bike repairs. My key aim was to just explore and hopefully enjoy the Festival.

The Linux workshop was very well attended and the presentation was clear and concise and questions were thoroughly answered in a friendly manner. The Linux stall was a hive of information and aptly surrounded by various repair rather than replace stalls for electrical items, lights and fittings so soldering irons were at the ready and kept busy. The bike workshop was in constant demand and again Ray found much good practical advice to be offered from Charlotte who works for Sustrans and the free leaflets he was given are now useful as reference.

I explored a bit further and found the eclectic mix of stalls and activities inspiring. Sharpening knives, repairing hair dryers, using sewing machines, material swap­shop, yarn and rug making, arts and crafts, gardening including reusing plastic bottles to make cold frames and turning pallets into seats, were just some of the many delights of the day (Pictures). Engrossed in the yarn­rug making stall I found myself creating a single length of yarn from an old much loved tee­shirt almost by magic.


The atmosphere throughout was warm and welcoming. Plenty of guides were present and helped people find their way round to the different activities. An excited buzz of people enjoying themselves filled the spaces downstairs, upstairs – inside and out. Not quite a Pinocchio's workshop, but certainly young and old seemed captivated by the magic they were manufacturing together.

I still can't believe this was the first Make & Mend Festival. The event seemed so well organised, carefully managed and very well supported, I loved just being there. I didn't get to every workshop I had hoped to – I got too absorbed in other activities as I'm sorry to say my time management let me down.

I just hope this will become a regular event and if possible over a weekend. There's so much talent, skills and expertise here in Leicester that it seems a shame it isn't repeated and shared again. And now having practised my new found skill of yarn­making I'm off to hunt out those much well loved tee­shirts which once plaited will make a lovely bath mat. Reusing is better than recycling and can be so much fun.


Pictures credit Grant Denkinson - for more :