Tuesday, 26 July 2011
Love, Port Eliot and Penzance Literary Festival
I am in love. You know - that heart racing, toe tapping sensation that lifts you several inches off the ground. Sharpens all your senses. Leaves a beatific smile on your face and gives you a warm, Ready Brek glow that touches everyone you pass.
But before you get excited, this is due to no man. This is because of the Port Eliot festival which I went to for the first time on Sunday. As it’s fairly laid back, I thought I’d enjoy it but was unprepared for the sheer depth and scope of the place. The setting is wonderful to start off with – a hidden estate nestled next door to the mystical-sounding Menheniot, yet not far from blustering, sprawling Plymouth.
We arrived by train and followed others to a doorway in an old stone wall. Port Eliot Estate, it read, and we entered a world of magic. There was so much to see – first in the Walled Garden, then we stumbled through a fairytale garden with whirls of colour and books. The scent of cooking wafted towards us tingling our taste buds. Next door clothes of all kinds were displayed in rows of jangling colour, next door to secret stalls of jewellery, and short wellies called Spats. A Flower Garden; a maze, a Hulaboloo play area for kids. Around every corner was a different exploration that roused and bombarded, soothed and seduced the senses.
Further on we found a path through elegant beech trees winding down to the river, watched those jumping in, cavorting with glee on the mud banks. Emerging shivering, wrapped in towels, by a stall selling Bellinis. The house itself was straight from a fairy tale – quiet, turreted splendour with towers for Rapunzel. A Round Room with amazing murals by Lenkiewicz. And who knows what else? I ran out of time to explore.
“I had Kate Winslet for breakfast,” said Phil longingly – for Kate read from the book Mr Gum to a rapt audience (of mostly men, for she was wearing black shorts, revealing muscular thighs, and shiny, pristine Hunter boots). Even Jilly’s rapacious mosquito bites didn’t deter her enthusiasm as we sat in the sunshine with a well earned beer.
From a bench we watched as a horse drawn cart conveyed luggage to and from the campsites, gypsy caravans snuggled next to a horse box where you could discover a New You, and we sampled a selection of eateries on the lawn by the stunning house offering everything from Pimms, ice cream and falafels to pork baps, haloumi sarnies and Thai curries.
Us music lovers were drawn to the Big Top where we listened to all kinds of bands under hot lights that rotated green, blue and pink, while the music pounded against my breastbone like hot adrenaline, making even my cup shake.
I emerged pixillated and speechless, longing to share my experiences with those friends that would have loved it but couldn’t make it. But how? I sat on the train scribbling, texting, but mere words couldn’t convey my experience of this amazing day.
Now I need another music fix – fast – and unfortunately our choir is having a summer break. Then I remember it’s our lovely musical director’s birthday this Saturday, so we are all meeting for tea, cakes and a Big Sing. So think of us with crumbs on our laps and music in our heads, singing our hearts out for Claire.
And back to matters literary - if anyone is in Penzance this Thursday 28th, Fi Read and I are giving our talk for the Penzance Literary Festival at 2pm at the Acorn Theatre. Come and give us some moral support!