Wednesday, 28 July 2010

3 days, 12 hours sleep, several mojitos....

I learnt a lot from going to the festival at Port Eliot last year.

- leave the wheely suitcase at home
- take one book to read (I still didn't read any books but at least I didn't take three this time)
- take a waterproof-backed blanket (I didn't)
- remember foldy chairs (tick)
- invest in a blow-up bed (successfully remembered bed AND pump)
- take anti-bacterial hand gel (hand washing becomes more and more imperative as time passes)
- remember to get to the events you want to go to in good time otherwise you'll be looking at the back of other peoples' heads for the duration

Port Eliot is a funny place. This year was my third. I was initially attracted by the mixture of literature, fashion and music on my first visit. It still has all those things, with knobs on. It's very beautiful, very photogenic and is a concoction of fashion, music, creativity, intellectualism and a very particular English sensibility and self-consciousness. Everyone seems to be having a simply marvellous time, there's no litter, very few tattoos, hardly any people of a more statuesque nature, no muffin roles or bingo wings and definitely no cans of double-strength lager being waved about. Most of the picnics came from Waitrose or the fabulous farm shop just over the road.

I loved it. Being a northerner and of, shall we say, a more cynical nature, I think I might appreciate Port Eliot's USP more than most. I trip down there every year with no inkling to stop, partly because I get to go to a festival, partly because I get to go with my good friend K and have a very funny time and partly because it's like a safari of the English middle class.

Oh, look over there - a beautiful floppy haired public school boy and to his left, his grandpa in his panama and blazer. And to your right you will see boho-chic PR, West London girl with just-right blondness and smudged smoky eyes.  Every badge, every signifier is there from the Cath Kidston tents, to the Brora cashmere wraps. There's an occasional spot of an LV tote bag and people whose faces you might recognise if you pay too much attention to the Sunday supplements.

Everyone looked wealthy, healthy and optimistic.  There was no sign of a recession.  If anything the tents had got bigger and the bars were busier. 

Grayson Perry put it quite succinctly when he pointed out that this was probably the only festival that happened on a lawn and not a field.  How we tittered at that one!

Of course, this would be the opportunity to show you lots of pictures but having found myself with just the camera on my phone my efforts were somewhat patchy.  I have three whole photos that appear to be in focus.  Here they are for your perusal.

The flower show was a wonderfully, magical addition to this year's entertainments.

I was pleased to see this little knitted man.

A view of the caberet tent and its neighbours.

Will I go again?  As this year, it depends very much on the speakers and the bands and the entertainments.  It's a grand weekend out although my kids are never very pleased that it's on the first weekend of the holidays.  

There seems to be a growing trend of taking smaller people to festivals.  I'm not sure I'll be doing that, particularly if it involves camping and staying overnight.  A day ticket would be OK but I saw enough stressed parents trying to offload their youngsters to the other party so they could go and have a cheeky mojito instead of spending the afternoon in a tent with an overwrought toddler.  In addition, it would cost me a lot more.  I got by on a home made picnic lunch both days, a bacon roll for breakfast and some very tasty veggie curry.  I have a feeling my little treasurers might want ice cream and cake and juice at £2.50 a throw.  Best I go on my own then...

I had a fantastic girly time with my dear friend K and was welcomed by K's sister and her lovely family to showers in the morning and an emergency duvet for Saturday night when it poured.  We had lots of fun and enjoyed lots of dancing and (in my case) inappropriate shimmying.  There's an argument for a lot more dancing in life, even at my advanced years.

Friday, 23 July 2010

It's show time...

It's 22 days until the 115th Somerfords Show. Last year you may remember I came second in a class in which I was the singular entrant. I hope to do better this year. The Show is always a welcome addition to our summer plan of doing as little as possible. I worked last summer so am going to focus on enjoying the next few weeks as much as possible.

Before I embark on days of making and doing inhave the small matter of a festival to attend. The weather isn't looking great so am having wardrobe issues.

Next week I am planning to attend to my bloggerations. It's time for a szchuszz particularly as i've been blathering on here for three whole years.

So...I'll be back after a weekend of mojitos and wells.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

the last day of summer?

One of the many wonderful things about taking some time off work and having my mum nearby is sharing days in beautiful places such as Mary Keen's garden in Gloucestershire.  This meadow, grown from a mix collated by Sheffield University's brainiest was the highlight of yesterday's trip.

Having googled Mary Keen, I also find she is going to the literary festival at Port Eliot this year, my annual camping trip.  This year they are organising a flower show and I'm looking forward to hearing the speakers talk about flower arranging and gardening all with that distinctive PE angle.

We also saw these....

I do love a potting shed.  I am angling for a shed in the garden.  G has other plans.  I want to clear out the unused camp and tangled knot of trees at the bottom of the garden and install a large potting shed with enough room for the tools I am accused of leaving to rust in the flower beds and a chaise.  I will keep my camping stove down there, a biscuit tin and a few blankets and install solar panels to power a light to read by.  I often hide in the greenhouse, a shed with a chaise would make the hiding more comfortable, particularly in the summer as my cucumbers are now sprawling.

I'll leave you with this little beauty...


Sunday, 4 July 2010

independence day...

My children have not slept in their own beds all weekend.  In fact, I've barely seen them as we had an evening with friends in Abingdon on Friday and then they had a sleepover while we had another evening with different friends just up the road.  They packed their own bags, they found sleeping bags and pillows, they organised their various hand-held devices and they said hello, please, thank you and goodbye when required.  I'm beginning to feel a little superfluous.

I wonder, sometimes, about how and when they'll become entirely self-sufficient.  I don't think I ever have been despite leaving one home just after my 16th birthday and another just before my 18th.  No mobiles and no email meant long periods of daughterly silence which were inconvenient at best, worrisome at worst for my parents.  I have, though, always depended on their generosity and support when I needed to and I remember my Dad making me promise that I'd always ask for the fatherly safety net if I was in dire straits.  If it wasn't my parents and family, I've always been lucky enough to have friendships and a marriage that I gratefully rely on for so many things, large and small.

I wonder how my own children will cope when they find that things don't always work out as they expect, whether they'll turn to us or not.  I hope they'll be able to use the safety net button when they need to.  I wonder how they'll communicate us, whether they'll be in constant touch or whether they'll fly the nest and take their news and companionship with them?  This pondering has been prompted by the realisation that one of them will become a teenager this year, while the other one will reach double digits.  Things are definitely changing and I'm going to have change with them.

We were talking with friends who have kids of a similar age last night about mobiles and family texting and I started to think that I have a more male approach to such things.  I like the occasional episode of text bantering as much as the next woman but I don't like talking on mobiles, especially in public other than to exchange the minimum amount of information.

G was expressing the codgerly opinion that he wouldn't be texting anything once he could hand his mobile back to his employer.  I like to call it the 'slaveberry' and I loathe it's constant blinking presence on our dresser in the kitchen.  I channel dark and destructive thoughts in its direction despite its influence on our family income and security.  It's like a very demanding house guest who doesn't help with the washing up.

Others in the party were keen to be able to maintain contact with their kids via the medium of mobile phone signals.  Me?  I'm not sure I want my growing children to feel they need to tell me their every move, neither do I have the inclination to be at their beck and call.  I do not want to be texted on a Friday night to be told that I can pick them up at 2am instead of 1am.   I do not want to be summoned to school because J or E has forgotten their assessment/homework/hair gel.

Sometimes we can all be too available and I think we've been lulled into the notion that just because we pay twenty quid a month to cart a little shiny box around with us we're immune to dangers and flat tyres and dodgy dates.  Perhaps as our two get older and more independent, we'll all feel more comfortable knowing that we're linked when we need to be but do we really need four shiny boxes interrupting our family dinners and dvd watching?  As a species we managed to keep ourselves relatively safe and secure without letting each other know that we're on the way or that we're going to be late at the beginning of every social interaction.

J has my old mobile.  I find it in his bedroom when I check that he hasn't made his bed. E wants a mobile and is starting to contrive ever-more ingenious plans and strategies to get her sticky little mits on one.  She does not understand why, at nine, she is being deprived of such technology.  I suppose she wants to text me when she forgets her trainers, her lunch box or her hairband during morning break.

I'm not a technophobe.  I lust after ipads.  I love to blog and I like the fact that the bank can now text my woeful bank balance and my astronomical visa balance every Monday and Wednesday morning, respectively.  I think it might be good to have a more mindful approach to our reliance on being technologically online all day every day.