This time last week, I was arriving at Pylewell Park and putting up the tent in heavy rain, ready for a weekend of Curious Arts.
It's a mix of literary, comedy and music festival with plenty of activities to occupy children too, and you might remember (because sometimes I talk about very little else) that I was invited along last year and had a wonderful time. Well, to be honest, in the rain last Friday, I was wondering if this year had any hope of living up to its predecessor ... fortunately, although the weather continued hit and miss, the event itself didn't fail to delight me again.
|Gorse's Big Top style interior|
On Friday the skies cleared enough for us to leave the shelter of our small tent and make our way to the "Big Top" style Gorse marquee to catch that evening's headliner, Izzy Bizu, and after that almost every minute was filled with something to do.
My plans for Saturday proved to be a little ambitious, but moving smartly between one tent and another I managed to catch most of these events, plus dancing along to Tom Odell late in the evening, and still walk down to the edge of the grounds for a glimpse of the Isle of Wight.
Joanna Trollope, Matt Haig and Eimear McBride were all fascinating to listen to, discussing their various latest novels.*
|The Wandering Hearts|
An addition for this year was an acoustic stage for music during the afternoon, and I went along to watch The Wandering Hearts, Martha Gunn and Aine Cahill entertaining an audience of all ages. Maybe to be honest, without the rain, many of the children would have been elsewhere about the grounds playing crazy golf or hunting the Jabberwocky but they certainly seemed to enjoy the music.
Junius Meyvant from Iceland kicked off the night-time music back in the Gorse tent, but Tom Odell's show was definitely the highlight, with a fantastic light show to accompany him!
|don't try this on your piano at home!|
As last year, DJ sets carried on till 3 in the morning, but I'm too old for that, and headed back to the tent.
Sunday was quieter, but even so I caught Susanna Beard discussing her debut thriller, Dave Eggers talking about almost everything, Julian and Isabel Bannerman with a slide show of the fantastic gardens they've created, and music from the Southern Companion to round things off.
|breakfast in the sun|
As last year, the food stalls were varied and interesting - Dorset cereals were handing out free samples of muesli for breakfast, for lunch/dinner we tried curry from the Happy Gurkha, pulled pork burger from one vendor, Mexican vegetarian burger from another, and scampi and chips from the seafood stall (sadly, they'd run out of crab, calamari, and smoked salmon), and, besides endless mugs of tea, I had the most curious cider, from Chapel Down's aptly-named Curious Brewery, served with a slice of cucumber and a sprig of mint.
This year's event was much larger than last, both in terms of events and attendance, but still with an intimate feel, and when the rains came there was enough space for everyone to rush under canvas.
Yes, it was a weekend that I think will be remembered for the rain, but it was a fun one too, and I for one would love to go back next year.
* these events are written up at Our Book Reviews Online.