Monday, 24 March 2008

The Festival is Over

Phew, what a weekend! It has been a lot of fun, but also very busy. We had five houseguests, all attending the folk festival. I went every day, too. I love the atmosphere there - it's a small village, with all its denizens going about their business in their own way. Sit and sip a Guinness, and watch the world go by. You'll see teenagers in bright hippie clothes and silly hats; a random parade of five kinds of morris dancers; ancient bearded blokes in rough work gear; belly dancers in full jingle kit; small children busking with tin whistles. I could have happily done without the kid playing a tin whistle with his nostrils, though. Ew.

There's plenty to see, and also plenty to do, with lots of participation in singing, playing instruments, and dancing. The festival is outgrowing itself, though - this year seemed more crowded than ever, and more and more venues were packed beyond possibility of squeezing in. I mostly missed out on Mal Webb, Martin Pearson, Spooky Men's Chorale, Counterfeit Gypsies, and more. Some I caught a few songs while standing outside the packed venues. It's interesting that a lot of the most popular items are non-traditional. Comedy and eastern European or Gypsy music seems to get more of a crowd than the old Irish and Celtic standards.

If you get bored with the music, the dance displays, the dance classes, and the session bar, then you can always go shopping for jewellery, hats, clothes, musical instruments and much more. I bought lots of hippie-ish clothes that I'm not convinced I'll wear, but they were cheap! And I ate lots of street food and watched lots of acts and generally had a good time. I especially enjoyed the hilarious Morris-Belly Dance Challenge (won this year by the Belly Dancers); the lively Klezmer Connection; a blast from the past with Judy Small; and Martin Pearson's Pratchett reading.

With a huge captive market, the various street food stalls do a roaring trade. Most of them return year after year. There's kebabs and fried foods; Indian, Thai and Ethoipian curries; veggie burgers and pasta and lots more. I always seek out the Turkish Gozleme - a sort of fried flat bread, stuffed with spinach and cheese, served with a squeeze of lemon. The "Lemozade" stall does a great tart fresh lemonade of the old fashioned flat variety. Also noteworthy is "Spaghetti Junction" - they make their own fresh pasta, and it's very good. Pick your sauce - an old fashioned bolognese or Nonna's goat ragout, perhaps. The walnut cream is great, the chermoula is a bit iffy; and the vegetarian puttanesca is good but I miss the anchovies.

While on the topic of food, Friday night's dinner party went well. I made cured salmon canapes, with lemon-dill cream cheese and pumpernickel, and we had some Maggie Beer Pheasant Farm pate and crudites to round that out. Helen brought a main course - a lamb roast with carrots and sweet potatoes, and a chicken pot roast with potatoes. I steamed some broccoli, and made a zucchini and olive dish from the Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook. Dessert was my sorbets, with cinnamon shortbread by Helen. The apricot sorbet didn't work, but the rest were good. I'll add a note to the original post about that.

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