Friday, 10 August 2012

Port Eliot 2012

When it came to the Thursday that I usually go to Secret Garden Party, I was questioning my decision to go to a relatively low-key literature festival in Cornwall. Partly because I love Secret Garden Party, partly because about half of the people I’ve met and are related to in in my life were going, partly because Port Eliot meant a four hour train journey after work on the Friday. All things considered, it was a curious decision - but one that paid off. 

When we arrived into St Germans, the little wooden station in Cornwall, I was bracing myself for taxi queues, people queues, every type of queue. In reality, there was almost no queue at all - nothing during the short walk from the station to the site, and very little once there. This pill was sweetened by our pals coming to meet us, with a bottle of Prosecco and some plastic glasses on hand. From there we made our way to our “bell tents” - something which is no nearer resembling a tent as I know it, as it is a bell. With tea lights lit and talk of lobster in the chilly air, I realised this would not be a festival as I know it. Thoughts of Secret Garden grew fainter. 

After a cracking first evening watching legendary DJ, Gaz Mayall, and wandering about the exciting and surprisingly dry site, I had the coldest night of my life. Tent space is not one’s friend in terms of keeping warm, apparently and the word “glam” in glamping is refering solely to aesthetics. It was of those mornings you are a bit suprised to gain consciousness due to the alcohol consumption and Arctic climes weathered in the previous twelve hours. Anyway, gain consciousness I did - to a sunny morning with The Guardian (my mother, no not really - the actual Saturday Guardian...and my mother) and Eggs Benedict. I was struck, when drinking Prosecco doing the crossword in the sun in front of the beautiful aquaduct, that I am on the brink of being too old for having life changing experiences in the portaloos in Abbots Ripton (site of SGP, and not really something I’ve done but an acquaintance). And not really too old, but appreciating the finer things in life seems like a more pleasant prospect - and the finer things in life no longer measurable in grams. 

The weekend flew by in a perfect daze of Prosecco and sun - with a spattering of talented authors, bands, comedians and fashionistas. Favourites were probably Mary Katrantzou - who gave an inspiring talk and explanation for her infamous prints, and preview of her new Port Eliot dress. Also, fiddly troupe, Maniere des Bohemiens (, they did an awesome set on the Saturday evening which had the whole eclectic and varied clientelle up and dancing. Comedien and gentleman rhymer and his posse, Mik Artistik's Ego Trip (, had crowds in hysterics with his clever and mischevious songs. Marcel Theroux's quiz on Saturday night was a blast also. And then there was the talks about Greek Philosophy, myriad other talented folk, and interesting people around to talk to. 

(not my image - from

My favourite reaction to an event was a pal coming back from speaking to the race horsing monks (or somethign similar): “What. The. Fuck?” He had written “gold is power” in their book of thoughts though, so I fear he didnt get what was intended out of the experience. 

The grounds were beautiful, the people - performers and watchers - were gracious and great, the stalls were interesting, the weather pulled through incredibly - as was visible by the freckles and sun burn on our faces when we drove into West London horribly early on Monday morning. There is nothing like pre-Olpympic traffic to bring one back down to earth, but the memory of the weekend kept me relaxed and happy for days to come. Topped up by the news that Secret Garden had been a bit of a wash out.

(Individual reviews to come...)