For the last decade or so, my cousins, siblings and I have been getting together all of our extended family (on my dad’s side) for lunch at one of our houses every two or three years. There are now 28 of us, ranging from my parents, uncle and aunt, who are all in their seventies, to my niece’s three month-old daughter. We take it in turns to host, everybody helps with the food, and it’s always great fun catching up with everyone’s news, sharing memories and seeing how much all of the children have grown.
This year, for the first time, my parents said that they’d like to host us at their house in Surrey, because it’s 70 years since our family first moved there. They thought that it would be interesting for my cousins’ children, who live in other parts of England, to see where their grandfather grew up.
My grandparents moved to what is now my parents’ house in a small village in the Surrey countryside with their three young sons just after WWII. Before that, they’d lived in various cities, including Coventry, where their house was destroyed during the Blitz. We (my parents, my brother, my newborn sister and I) moved in with Grandma when I was five years old – she was by then a widow and was finding the house too much to manage by herself. My brother, sister and I grew up there, going to the same village school that our dad and his brothers had been to before us. I moved out at 18 to go to university, but now live just a few miles away from my childhood home, as do my brother and sister.
These days it’s hard to get the whole extended family together, but it’s wonderful when we do manage it. When we met up this time I was actually testing out a really smart new gadget, a BenQ GS1 outdoor projector, which turned out to be the perfect thing to use for a family slide show.
Mum and I trawled through our old family photos. We found some crackers from the 1960s and 1970s involving dubious hairstyles and clothing choices. Our matching outfits are quite cute in this one, but I’m not so sure about our haircuts:
My daughter put the photos together in a slide show, saved it to a memory stick, and we were ready to share it with the whole family, using the projector.
BenQ GS1 outdoor projector
The BenQ GS1 projector weighs just under a kilo and is very compact and portable. It comes with a rubber cover which makes it splash proof, and it works with both mains and battery power, so it’s fine to use outside. We had a marquee in my parents’ garden for our gathering, and so we used the projector in there, as well as inside the house. I’d charged up the projector’s battery at home so that we didn’t need to worry about tripping over cables while we were using it. I hadn’t thought to take along a tripod (I was focusing on Pimms, puddings and chairs), but the projector worked fine just resting on one of the tables. It was wonderful being able to look at the photos all together, and sharing the memories, stories and laughter which they evoked.
Apart from showing material from a USB stick you can also connect the projector to wifi and watch content from there (within minutes of me unboxing the BenQ GS1 at home, my son was showing us YouTube videos of people falling over). You can also use Bluetooth to connect to other wireless gadgets to watch a film or listen to music – my dad and uncle were on the case with the music at our party though!
The projector comes in a tough, nylon bag with a handle and so is very easy to transport. And once you’ve charged the battery you can also use it as a power bank for your other mobile devices – very handy!
The BenQGS1 is a fun and versatile gadget which we’ve enjoyed trying out. It was great having it at our family party, and I can see that we would enjoy using it both at home and on our travels. My teenage kids are very keen on it and friends have asked to borrow it already – although I’ve had to decline as it’s a review sample and is to be returned.
More on outdoor projectors
My fellow Family Travel Collective members are also trying out the BenQ GS1 projector this summer, so do pop over to their blogs to see how they’re getting on.
Cathy Winston and her four year-old daughter took their projector on a trip to Port Lympne animal reserve. They spent the night in Rhino Lodge and had an al fresco movie night – you can see how it all went in Cathy’s post Films al fresco: testing the BenQ GS1 portable projector.
Kirstie Pelling and family used theirs for a pop-up cinema evening on the shores of Lake Windermere. It looks like it was a wonderful evening – you can see how they did it in their post How To Create Your Own Pop Up Outdoor Cinema Night.
Disclosure: I’m working with the Family Travel Collective and BenQ to promote the BenQ GS1 Outdoor Projector, but all opinions, words, images and dodgy haircuts are mine and my family’s.