Saturday, 7 August 2010

Some Positive Ramblings about The Not-So-Secret Garden Party

First of all, I think I owe my fellow gardeners an apology... for I fear I may have been slightly responsible for the epic queue that hindered the start of this year's festivities. You see last year's edition of the party was just so good that I couldn't possibly keep it a secret! And because I recounted my tales of adventure and intrigue to just about everyone and anyone over the course of the year I think the world and his dog (for yes there were many fine four-legged friends gardening around) came along to see what the fuss was all about.

And this year did not disappoint; quite the opposite. Whilst it grew in quantity it also grew in quality and along with a repeat of last year's wonderfully weird attractions there was a much improved standard of music. In preparation for the festival I spent a lot of time warning my music snob friends that it wasn't about the big name DJs but the experience- and so not to be disappointed when they found themselves do si do-ing atop a bale of hay to the beats of a banjo instead of the usual stomping in the depths of a throbbing AVB crowd.. But alas, much to their delight the Pagoda stage was graced with some rather impressive "guest DJs"; who turned out to be the likes of Annie Mac, Alex Metric and Adam Freeland! Bonus.

My favourite parts, however, remained the smaller attractions. The Village Hall for example; sitting in my Victorian dress in the sunshine whilst drinking a cup of herbal and knitting most certainly goes down as one of the happiest moments of my life (call me a girl of simple tastes if you will). In fact tea featured rather prominently in my festival antics. A quintessentially British concoction of gin, cold fruity herbal and a dash of lemonade, supped from a tea pot, perfectly complemented the laid-back vibe of the Living Room. This was a cosy tent adorned with mantle pieces, bookcases, cushions and Grandma's old sofas all facing a small television-esque stage. Relaxing here in front of a live band on the Sunday afternoon was better entertainment than the Eastenders omnibus, and that is high praise indeed.

Another highlight of this festival is that a health freak such as myself can indulge themselves till their healthy hearts are content- God bless you Weirdigans cafe! Night or day you were there to feed me and my insatiable appetite for healthy inebriation; with vegan chocolate energy balls, guava punch and oodles of my beloved houmous. Bravo.
I'd also like to propose a toast to the Hendrick's gin troupers. Their task for us gardeners was to write a story in exchange for a free gin and tonic (albeit a thimble full) and our task for them was to listen to them all. After our initial surprise that the fine gintlemen weren't as enthused as we were over our tall tales the realisation dawned on us that they had probably endured four whole days of drunken revellers' incoherent ramblings. For this reason (I can only assume) they had sneakily hidden electrodes in two giant cucumbers, and thrust them into the palms of unsuspecting gardeners! Our friend Jon succeeded in enduring the most electric cucumber of all SGP revellers; well done to him. He really was determined to win that Little Book of Gentlemen's Etiquette.

Secret Garden is definitely the festival for extroverts, and offers the perfect opportunity to show off that long-lost school hobby you thought you'd bid farewell to at the age of eleven. I, for example, had a lot of fun reliving my days as a ballerina; pirouetting between the tents in long flowing gown (a costume that was likened more to Little Bo Peep than that of the intended Lydia from Pride and Prejudice) until I managed to fall spectacularly on my face straight into a bin. We also enjoyed (rather less dangerously) playing the ocarina, and cucumber and rose petal draughts; for which my rusty skills won a grow-your-own cucumber set! This now sits on my desk and serves to remind me of happier, fruitier times.

The festivities in fact culminated in a giant sing-song on the Sunday evening. Once all other sources of music had been thoroughly exhausted one charitable fellow, with some rather impressive musical skills, took to a randomly placed piano and bellowed out pop classics- in true primary school assembly style! Admittedly, this wasn't exactly the kind of vibe we were going for after exiting the pagoda and its filthy electro beats but once Queen's Bohemian Rhapsidy had finished (I detest this song) we were completely won over... The enthusiasm and genuine guffaw of the singing around this tiny old piano epitomises beautifully the vibe of Secret Garden; and was akin both to some sort of war time sing-along and that scene in Titanic where the orchestra plays on till the bitter end.

I think the only real downside to SGP was that upon leaving I felt that I hadn't made the most of it- there was just so much to explore in so little time. Thanks to a giant power nap Saturday night we missed the likes of Eliza Doolittle (the only artist I had actually committed to seeing) and the majority of the fireworks. The fireworks did still look spectacular from our tents (I believe the explosions actually woke us up) but we couldn't really see the burning of the mid-lake boat stage in all its glory which is a shame. Aside from this I think SGP might have been a little bit perfect and probably the best festival I've been to (although I might be guilty of saying this after every festival I go to). To be honest I even enjoyed the 4-hour queue- eased along of course by the gallons of cider/wine consumed in it- for it was yet another opportunity to meet like-minded gardeners. I made a great friend whilst hunting for a spot to pee in the bushes, for example. I didn't catch her name unfortunately but I shall call her "the girl with the really large mac who shielded me from the crowds"- thanks for that one, you know who you are...

So now back to normality- it's been a tough few weeks but we're nearly there. The Garden has become a mere glimmer in our eyes; Jon is a little bit more of a gentleman, I have a miniature vegetable patch on my desk and we all have a slight addiction to cucumber-based gin.
From our special agent Laura Hitchman

1 comment:

  1. Engaging, entertaining, enthralling and enlightening account.
    Author! Author! Author!