Monday, August 27, 2012

Port Eliot Festival 2012, Friday 20 July, Part 1

Friday morning we woke up pretty early to a lovely sunny morning, after mug of tea in bed I donned my wellies over my jim jams, plus my trusty jacket, and crutched the nine mile hike towards the dreaded toilets.  Was warned off before I made it all the way - two ladies told me that they were all full.  Thank you ladies, saved some of my precious energy!  So crutched back (good thing I wasn't desperate!) to the tent, and made use of the bucket we'd brought "just in case".  (NOT the flower bucket in case anyone - Fran? - is worried!)  Next time we'll take something like this with us. OK, TMI, but it had been something that worried me!  I guess it's all part of the rich festival experience!

John fired up the little gas stove again and we had more tea followed by a bacon, egg, tomato and fried bread fry up followed by another couple of mugs of tea. I had woken several times in the night to the thunka thunka of music, which went on till about 3am I think. But was cosy wrapped in my duvet cuddling my hot water bottle, so slept pretty well all things considered. Some of our neighbours had found the music more intrusive, and all who passed as John was cooking were almost visibly drooling!

After breakfast we set off towards DoveGreyReader's tent in the Walled Garden.  I had a bucket (not THAT bucket!) of flowers brought from our garden that I was clutching against my knees while also trying to hang on to a pair of crutches and a walking stick. We did stop off at the toilets en route, just to be on the safe side.

The dreaded toilets!

John had found a zig-zag course up the hill, past the Elephant Field, that did actually prove mostly possible for the wheelchair, though once or twice I got out and crutched it so he could get the chair over the roots growing across the path.  I was so glad that John had searched out this route, as it meant we didn't have to ask for more help from the friendly people in the site office who had said they could arrange a buggy ride. Much better to be independent if at all possible in my experience.

Port Eliot Elephant field

We finally found our way to DoveGreyReader's tent, through a lovely doorway that reminded me immediately of the entrance to "The Secret Garden".  I asked a bearded man (I had seen photos on DGR's blog before) if he might be Bookhound, and he acknowledged he was, made us feel really welcome.  Dear DoveGrey arrived soon after, and gave me a big hug.  It was a very emotional time for me, as have been following her blog for ages (6-7 years?) now, and she was so incredibly kind to me 5 years ago when my parents died.  Got ensconced comfortably in the entrance to the tent, and began to do some knitting.

Maggie knitting at dovegreyreader's tent

Oh, also managed to deliver the bucket of flowers to Fran (in charge of the entry to The Flower Show as well as floral decorations in DoveGrey's tent), who managed to make some nice arrangements combined with lots of other flowers that she had brought along too.  I apologised for the "fragrance" of the Elephant Garlic flowers (they were rather pungent!), but she pooh-poohed that, said that one of the flowers she'd brought (I sadly didn't catch the name - Hen something?) had rather stunk out her car on the way!

Flowers in DGR Tent

We did have a couple of heavy showers in the morning, I sheltered under DoveGrey's big garden umbrella, and at one point I was entertained to have the gazebo lifted up and over me and it!  I should have taken some photos.

Our first author in the DoveGrey Tent was Susie Parr, author of The Story of Swimming.  She spoke about loving to go into the sea to swim, take a look at what Dove Grey had to say about her talk.  The main thing that I took away from her talk was what she said about going to visit Byron's Pool.  She went there, it was horrible and polluted and full of litter, had council warnings about not swimming...  But she had travelled so far to visit that she decided to swim anyway, foul thought it was.  This is the pool that Virginia Woolf and Rupert Brooke are reputed to have swam in together naked.  Very sad that it isn't really available to swim in now.  But how many rivers are?

DoveGreyReader and Susie Parr

After Susie Parr had spoken we all had to leave the tent, so it could be struck and replaced with a bigger one.  John gave a hand taking stuff out, removing bunting, and so on.  While this was happening the rest of us sat outside and knitted!


It was amazing how fast the new tent went up.  Meanwhile Tracy Chevalier had arrived and met up with DoveGrey.  It's a shame this photo is focused on the wall behind, but I love the big smiles!

Tracy Chevalier and DoveGreyReader

More on Tracy Chevalier, and our Port Eliot adventures soon.

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