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!


A Taste of Summer

Well, we haven’t really had much of a summer so far, have we? I am talking UK here – I know some of my US readers have had too much heat! But here, in the land of weather – where the best, easiest and most common topic of conversation is THE WEATHER just because it is so variable – we have had weather in spades! Floods, storms, wet, wet wet, where we had hoped for a July with balmy days, even hot here and there, especially as the school holidays come over the horizon.

So I was delighted when the husband returned from a small trip to France bearing six kilos of Apricots. To me, ripe apricots are summer on a stalk, the scent putting me firmly into a warm summer evening, the taste bursting sunshine on the tongue. We ate quite a few – but the majority I turned into jam. If there is one thing more instantly tasting of summer than a ripe apricot it is warm apricot jam. I love the aroma as the apricots simmer in the microwave, and the taste of the jam, still warm, scavenged from the last vestiges stuck to the the bowl before washing, is heavenly.

Yes, I did say microwave. I have adapted a recipe to make my apricot jam in the microwave, it means my jam is almost pure fruit and sugar, not diluted with lots of water. It also means I don’t have to be standing over the hob stirring, stirring , to prevent sticking or burning.

My recipe to make 5 lbs.  of apricot jam.

3lbs Apricots, 3 lbs sugar (half and half granulated/ jam sugar). 3 tablespoons water.

3lbs apricots – wash then stone. if you are able to find a way – crack about 6 of the stones and remove the kernels, blanch these by immersing in boiling water for a few minutes – when boiled up with the apricots they will enhance the pectin level, otherwise just use half Jam Sugar (with added pectin).  Apricots are a medium level pectin fruit and need a little help one way or another to achieve a set.

Place the apricots in a very large glass MW safe bowl with a lid (mine holds 3 litres). Add 3 tablespoons of water. Cook about 10 mins.

Stir and add 3lb sugar (half and half granulated and jam sugar stir in well) unless kernels used when it can be all granulated.

Remove lid, heat 5 mins on high,Stir well, heat 5 mins on high.

Add a piece of butter (about walnut size) to clear the jam. Simmer for 10 mins – test for set.

If not ready give 5 mins more on simmer – until set achieved. Remove kernels if used.

Pot into hot, sterilized jars and seal – Yum! Potted summer! More details under Recipes from the drop-downs

Talking about summer, I have my fingers well and truly crossed for good weather at the end of this week, as it is the Port Eliot Festival. Not some little Cornish village festival, of which we have many, but a national type festival, big, mad, eclectic and set in the beautiful grounds of Port Eliot castle on the banks of the Lynher in Cornwall. Once the site of a the wild Elephant Fayre the festival, after a long absence,  reinvented itself as a literary festival which has grown organically and shape shifted to a festival of all things, almost as eclectic as my blog – there are literary events a plenty, from serious non-fiction through to chic lit,  many with a less than reverent feel, poetry from humorous to serious, dovegreyreader, the  readers-blogger, is there in her special tent, there’s music of many varieties, food demos, food tents run by celebrity chefs, fashion in a big way with renowned milliners and fashion designers creating with weird and wonderful materials right there for you to parade around in, and absolutely amazing flower show and so much more – wandering musicians, jugglers, singers……

And I will be there, along with the rest of the Liskeard Poets, reading our work on the theme of ‘Dancing with…’ in the Round Room at 5pm on Sunday. So if any of you are lucky enough to be attending this year’s festival – do make yourself known to me then, would be great to meet some people I only know by comments or email addresses.

Lastly, don’t forget to claim your free ecopy of LEAVE TO APPEAL – a Novella as a consolation prize from my Win a Kindle Competition. All details of this and results on last week’s blog  It will come as an ecopy in your chosen format and you don’t need an ereader either – it can be easily read on the computer – I look forward to hearing from you.

What brings back memories of summer for you? Is it a photo, long forgotten, a taste, a scent? Do share – I’d love to hear from you!


More Port Eliot Festival …..

Wow! What a great festival… the weather gave showers for the Friday but they soon cleared, and I ended up leaving my wellies in the car and favouring sandals all day.  So, if you’ve never been to Port Eliot Festival you have to know that most recently it was a Literary Festival with a wild past (known as Elephant Fayre in the 80s) that has now matured into a brilliant all round, family friendly festival, something for everyone, everyone pretty laid back and in such beautiful surroundings.

There is plenty of the literary festival still there with readings, discussions, interviews etc but is combined with music, to suit many tastes, wild swimming, cinema both in the house and at night down by the river, fashion, flower arranging, poetry, food from small Cornish frozen yoghurt business to Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, cookery demonstrations, bars, comedy, cabaret, stalls, a whole area just for children to enter into a fantasy land of making  playing play acting, dressing up and doing wonderful stuff, wandering musicians, jugglers and dancers. Dovegreyreader (blog-site) even had a tent where you could sit while she did interviews and you could knit, should you wish to.

What did I notice… well people always dress a little differently when at Port Eliot (especially if they’ve visited the Fashion tent) and the stalls selling weird and wonderful hats, (vintage and modern) and the same in clothes attract a lot of people who obviously arrived and only then realised people treat the place like a big fancy dress event. Me? Well I went wearing one of my belly dance coin belts, over layered skirt and wrap and jingled my way about…. part of my reading included words describing a belly dance and so it was also a prop! Secondly… as I said the weather really didn’t need wellies…yet all through so many people were wearing their wellies (all sorts – multi-coloured to standard green or black)… even on the stage, as did Kate Winslet when she read to the children from Mr Gum … perhaps they didn’t bring any other footwear … it being a festival and all.

Our reading in the round room went well with nearly a capacity audience – everyone in bare or stockinged feet in there as have  to take your boots off at the door …. can’t wait for next year!


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