74. Go to Port Eliot and Flat Lake
Both Port Eliot and Flat Lake are books/music/food/whimsy festivals set in the grounds of stately homes, one in Cornwall, the other in County Monaghan. Given my fondness for books/music/food/whimsy - not to mention stately homes - you can imagine why I would want to sign up. Sadly, the full tick wasn't possible in 2014 as Flat Lake is on hiatus and there are conflicting rumours about whether it will, in fact, return.
Port Eliot Festival took a break last year but returned in triumph on a hot, hot weekend at the end of July. And I went with the lovely Mary, Emily and Freya (the average age of the party was 18 3/4 … ) to sample its delights. For the full experience, I suspect you really would want to camp, but we viewed this as an opportunity to dip our toes in the water.
So what did we sample?
Sadly, the day got off to a slightly rocky start owing to some chaos concerning the ticket sellers at the entrance and a very long queue for coffee (really bad combination of queues) but picked up afterwards. I went to hear Rachel Cooke discuss her recent book 'Her Brilliant Career' about professional women in the fifties (great stories, only quibble after reading book is that it's more preoccupied with their personal lives than their work) while the little girls had their face painted.
We watched Sam Clark of Moro (one of my favourite restaurants in London) give a demonstration,
then had lunch from the Morito tent. Grilled lamb chops with a kind of fattoush-y salad. Yum YUM. (It was about this point, though, that my phone died so photos from this point are courtesy of Mary - which is why there are more than usual of your correspondent.)
After lunch we had floral crowns made for us in the Wardrobe Department area of the festival in the walled garden.
There was a queue, but it was so worth it, not just for the beautiful crowns, but for the charm and grace (after a long, hot day on their feet) of milliner Piers Atkinson and his crew.
a talk in the Idler Academy tent from David Bramwell, author of 'The Number 9 Bus to Utopia', which was mostly about the Damanhur community in the Alps, which I was CONVINCED was made up - but apparently not. Cramazing.
I had a sunset swim,
followed by an elderflower bellini, followed by great music from Ben Watt (formerly of Everything But the Girl) in the church.
And then we drove home in the still-hot dark.
Even Lou Reed might concede it was a perfect day.