Sunday, July 27, 2014

Our Day at Folk by the Oak

Last Sunday we went to Folk by the Oak which is a one day music festival held in the grounds of Hatfield House and as the name suggests it is folk music. I had vaguely heard of a couple of the acts but that didn't matter as I knew my beloved would enjoy it - he has much wider musical tastes than me and yes he knew the music of several of the acts.

There was one main stage and a smaller stage in a tent for the lesser known performers, though some of these were fantastic. The first act we saw on the main stage was Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita - they combine the harp and the Senegalese instrument the kora. The sounds they produced were magical.

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita

As you can see below, it didn't really matter where you sat as there was a big screen so you could see who was on stage, and you could hear the music across the whole site.

We arrived with nothing to weigh us down only to discover that some people brought everything but the kitchen sink with them. There was a wide selection of chairs, eskis, tables, windbreaks, and even portable gazebos. We've decided we're going to make up a festival kit that we can have ready to go for the next one - note to self, must be better prepared.

I love all the colourful banners and flags they have around music festivals - it really adds to the atmosphere with the cheerfulness of the colours.

Festival Ken
Having reflexology whilst listening to the music

These two pictures show Kathryn Tickell and the Side performing - as you can see there is a harp, cello, fiddle, and clog dancing.

My beloved has a bit of a sweet tooth (and that's a massive understatement) so imagine his joy when he discovered the stall with a chocolate fountain - he was in chocolate heaven.

For the first few hours we had glorious sunshine but then some rather ominous looking clouds started gathering overhead and before we knew it we were in the middle of a thunderstorm and totally soaked. We didn't have umbrellas with us but I wouldn't have used one anyway as I didn't want to attract the lightning. Nothing like getting the whole festival experience.

During the storm lots of people took shelter in the craft tent, with even men joining in the learn how to knit table - when the guy with the sunglasses completed a stitch everyone cheered.

One of the best acts of the day was Richard Thompson  - he's apparently a folk icon, having been around for a very long time, cofounding the group Fairport Convention, and releasing over 40 albums.

Other acts we saw on the main stage were The Elizabethan Session, Beth Orton, and Seth Lakeman. The two acts we really liked on the smaller stage were the Keston Cobblers Club, and Paper Aeroplanes.

A few shots from around the arena to finish - in the background of this one you can just see the rows of portaloos. It was actually better than most events as they had separate men's and women's toilets which meant our area stayed much cleaner.

Sunset over the Acorn stage.
End of the day selfie - have just managed to dry out
View of the main stage as we were leaving
So that was our fun day out at Folk by the Oak - if you're in the area next year then you should definitely try and attend.

Until next time, be good, keep smiling, and do something that makes you happy.

Pamela and Ken

P.S: Final picture is of our wanderer friends Elaine and Paul whom we met in London during the week. They're just back from travelling around Europe in their motor home. We found a lovely pub just behind Covent Garden that allowed dogs - as you can see, Sammy looks very pleased with himself - Bombo was under the seat.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The journey home

I've gotten slightly behind with my posts due to a very busy week catching up with friends - time now to rectify that. So cast your mind back to my last post - we were in Deal.

On our way home we decided to avoid the motorway for a while so went cross country exploring some of the prettier back roads. We stopped in the village of Goudhurst for a drink and to explore the lovely looking churchyard below. We sat out the front of a 14th century hotel with Bertie Boo and this view of the church and our beast of a car.

Bertie collapsed in the shade
Ken high on diet coke

This is St Mary's - the original church was built in 1119, but most of the current building is from the 1300's, so long ago it's hard to comprehend it. It's a beautiful spot and very peaceful with great architecture and some really lovely headstones (yes, I know I'm weird).

Loved this door - the hinges are a work of art

Ken and Bertie Boo inspecting the area
A tree taking over one of the graves

Some of the village houses beside the churchyard
We liked this house with the upstairs door to nowhere

The picture above shows the part of the graveyard that is still in use - it is situated in a really lovely spot with amazing views across the land.

Love how in amongst all the ornate headstones there was this simple and meaningful
wooden cross

The inside of the church is very simple but has a lovely feel to it - the pillars are very majestic and there are several beautiful stained glass windows.

In 1747 there was a fight between smugglers and the law in and around the church - the framed piece of wood is part of the old church door and still has bullets in it from that battle.

After we left Goudhurst someone (Ken) decided it was time to get back on the motorway - we then took 2 hours to travel 40 miles and it was about 27 degrees so we had a very hot dog in the back of the car. The traffic jam was the result of several different incidents including an overturned truck on the other side of the motorway that everyone was slowing down to look at.

So that was our journey home from Deal - it was the perfect place for a short break as it's not too far from us, and we got to experience the loveliness of Goudhurst on the way home.

Until next time, be happy, stay safe, and smile at a stranger - it just might make their day.

Pamela and Ken

Friday, July 18, 2014

Delightful Deal

This week me, Ken, and Bertie headed off to Deal on the Kent coast for a three night mini break - we'd never been to Deal before so weren't sure what to expect, especially as a lot of English seaside towns can be a bit tacky. We needn't have worried as Deal turned out to be delightful.

We'd rented a restored fisherman's cottage only a very short stroll from the beach and it was lovely - really nicely decorated on a beach theme.

Ken and Bertie in front of the cottage
Our first evening, after taking Bertie for a walk, we headed off for fish and chips at Dunkerly's hotel and it was absolutely scrummy.

Deal has an infamous history of smugglers and as you walk around the town you can imagine a little of what it may have been like hundreds of years ago as so many of the old buildings remain along with very narrow streets. Our cottage was just off Alfred Square which used to be full of pubs, smugglers, and ladies of the night. On our way back to the cottage after our meal we could hear music coming from one of the pubs so we ventured in to find a group of local musicians rehearsing - it was really lovely, a mixture of traditional folk music and sea shanties.

The beach is a pebble one which is a bit of a workout to walk on but Bertie was fine - he wasn't allowed on the main beach but it was only a short walk to where he was allowed. He loves going in the sea though he tends to stay where he can stand up.

Action shot
When he'd finished he decided to come and lie on my legs - at least his wetness cooled me down a bit.

My two gorgeous men
Here's a few shots from around the town and along the beach.

Sunny selfie
This is my arty shot

The photos don't really do it justice but I hope you can get a sense of how pretty it is. Once we'd arrived in Deal we didn't use the car again until we left, so Ken parked it on the sea front where there was free parking - you may wonder why I'm telling you this, well it's because I wanted to share with you his fine parking skills.

I don't think even a wafer thin piece of paper would fit between the bumper and the wall
As always we visited local churches and the graves within - one of the churches must have know Ken was coming as there were Scottish Saltires strung through the trees. None of the graves were intact, instead the headstones were lined up around the perimeter.

One thing that we loved is that the people of Deal obviously have a great sense of humour as evidenced by several signs around the town - here's three of our favourites.

There is a pier but it's quite a plain one though does have a great sculpture at the entrance.

View of the town from the pier
Our last evening we went to the Royal and I had a perfect meal - whitebait, sweet potato fries, and a Pims.

There are lots of blue plaques around the town including one for Charles Hawtry (probably best known for the Carry On films) - sadly due to too many excesses in later life when he died there were only a handful of mourners at his funeral.

On our final morning we headed back to the Royal for breakfast - you can see that Ken had someone's undivided attention as he ate his full English (you'll be pleased to know that Bertie Boo got a sausage).

So that was our visit to Deal - I would definitely recommend it if you want somewhere by the sea to visit.

Until next time be happy, stay safe, and make sure you take care of you and yours.

Pamela and Ken

P.S: Final picture is of a hairdressers that I loved - it looks like something out of the movie Grease.