- 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.