Port Eliot Festival – Another World

What do I love about the Port Eliot Festival?

Well, since you ask – feeling like I am in another world.

One where wearing floaty and shimmery fabrics and jingly bright coin belts with bells at your ankles to ring at every step is – normal. Or wearing a bunch of flowers attached to a head band, or a huge paper fan taped to your waist, or a gold lamé dress with wellington boots and a cowboy hat is – normal.  (Actually, wellies were only needed the first day and then only on some paths, didn’t stop some people wearing them all weekend though – must be from the city, us country folk get fed up having to wear them feeding the animals and such as it is) Where you can go from a serious talk on the life of Edward Thomas (the poet who wrote Adlestrop) by Matthew Holis author of Now All Roads Lead to France  to a mad and manic music performance by Mik Artistik’s ego trip — in the space of three hundred yards and ten minutes and all against the wonderful back-drop of the Port Eliot Estate. Here’s a view from near the Round Room tower, looking towards the entrance to the festival. 

Not sure about other festivals – but this one is about as mixed as I can imagine.  You may have guessed by now (if you’ve flicked through my past posts and topics) that I am interested in all sorts of things and this place offers all sorts to interest.

Let’s start with the fact that the festival is in Cornwall and this year there was a group of performers informing all and sundry of the history of Cornwall – through the greatest men and women of Cornwall, by performing various tableaux and singing along, with a rousing chorus of ‘Shall Trelawney live or shall Trelawney die? as a finalé .   Add in a small folk band called The Butter Thieves turning up on the green infront of the house to sing Cornish folk songs like Lamorna – soon joined by locals who knew the words. And, from ‘over the water’ (Devon) Vocal Harem – a huge choir of mainly women who sang at the Bowling Green venue on Saturday afternoon.

Tracy Chevalier (author of  The Girl with the Pearl Earring  and many more) chatted to Dovegreyreader (the reader’s blogger)  in her patchwork and knitting adorned tent, showing her patchwork that she made as part of her research for her latest book ‘The Last Runaway’ set amongst Quakers, and taking questions from the enchanted audience (many knitting while they listened). And knitting appeared all over the place this year!  The Graffiti Grannies wonderful Knitted Tree at the cross roads of the paths to the Bowling Green, and Knit & Share – where you could drop in to learn to knit or crochet – or just pick up where someone else had left off and continue a piece of knitting, and in knitting bombing – where knitted ‘brooches’ would appear to decorate suitable items, to knitted sculptures called ‘Twisted Knits’ in Anthropologie ( a new venue this year)

The Flower Show was magnificent again this year (and how many of this sort of festival have a floral section just for the WI?) I’ve brought y0u a couple of colourful characters I spotted hanging round outside the flower show 🙂

Two of the scarecrow entries

Amongst my favourites (again) this year was Luke Wright – a performance poet , a balladeer for today. Poems fast, furious, sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, pour unaided by notes from this young man and newly inventive every year.

A beautiful stroll through wooded areas brings you past The Idlers Academy and to the river – where I came across rather late wild swimmers (the majority of whom had swum whilst the tide was in) these appeared to be enjoying slip-sliding down the mud banks into the water!  On my way back, over the hill this time, I came across a secluded tea room with sunny slopes and up behind them a lively choir singing  an impromptu set. Back down to the green before the castle and more stalls – as are dotted all around the site – selling wonderful selections of foods, crafts and the weird and wonderful – from garish clothes to wild hats – with flower hair-garlands galore this year.  Mine (seen wearing in the ‘wellie’ photo) made by my friend Christine from CornishCreams – handmade organic skin care products who was at the festival selling her creams but also making garlands with wooden roses!

She also kindly took these photos from the poetry reading of the Liskeard Poets  – unfortunately the performance area was right in front of the windows, but I am there mid-speech and in the group photo which is included so you can admire me some of the wonderful painting, which covers the wall of the Round Room, by Robert Lenkiewicz. Click on the photo to get a better look.

And so home – across the decorated temporary  bridge over the haha   – leaving around nine – still long before the end of the festival which had been running from Thursday lunch time and finished after midnight on Sunday – the golden light illuminating the trees as I left Port Eliot.  Sad that next year they are taking a rest and so we have to wait until 2014 to escape into another world as easily again.

Don’t forget – if you entered my Win a Kindle draw (drawn on 10th July 2012 – results here) you are welcome to claim your consolation prize of an ecopy of ‘Leave to Appeal – a novella’ – details of how to claim HERE  As a novella this is short enough to read easily on your computer if you do not have an ereader – just opt for the book in pdf. I look forward to hearing from you!

Do you go to festivals? Do you have a favourite – what makes a good festival for you?  I’d love to hear from you!


4 thoughts on “Port Eliot Festival – Another World

  1. What a super write up of an incredible event! I rather think I might have seen you there. I was being trundled round in a wheelchair mostly, with occasional adventures with crutches! 😉 I loved Tracy Chevalier at DGR’s tent. I so wish I’d taken video, but at least have a few photos, and she was kind enough to sign Why Willows Weep as a gift for my MiL who is in hospital with a broken wrist at the mo. Oh, yes, I was one of the knitters there! And was lucky enough to be yarn bombed by DGR’s friend the Knitting Goddess. Other than DGR’s tent I think my other highlight was Stealing Sheep on Friday night, Down by the River. Being from Liverpool we wanted to support our local band! 😉 Best wishes from South Liverpool, Maggie.

    • Hi Maggie,
      Thank you, it was such a great long weekend wasn’t it? Though I try to be very quiet when at talks and stuff I know the jingling does catch peoples ears when I arrive and depart – so you may have heard (and seen) me there! Loved the atmosphere at the DGR tent and, like you, have been following her blog for a while now.. but was too shy to introduce myself before.
      Port Eliot can’t be the easiest place to get around in a wheel chair! I’m glad that it didn’t put you off and that you had a great time! Hope you’ll consider signing up to my blog too – it’s almost as diverse as the Port Eliot Festival 🙂
      all the best

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