Basically, it goes like this. I was due to work a market in Reading last Friday on my way to Sussex for a chilli festival. A large part of Thursday was spent packing the van, rearranging things, loading up camping gear, working out which stock I needed just for Friday so as not to need to unload everything in Reading. Got up at sparrow-fart in order to trundle off to Berkshire in good time to set up (I hate being rushed), fed the cats, set up the automatic pet feeder for the weekend, checked the lights, locked up, all the stuff you usually do before going away for a couple of days. Jumped in the van, rather chuffed that I was getting away dead on time. Put the keys in the ignition, put my foot on the clutch pedal…and realised that there was no clutch pedal. Or rather…there was, but it was irreversibly sucked into the footwell of the van, resisting all entreaties to lift up it’s little French head and be used to enable me to change gear. Now there are a number of ways in which I could have reacted, but it’s a testament to the rather more stable mental space I now inhabit that I didn’t go all Basil Fawlty on the Silver Machine. I suspect that it was largely because – frankly – I’d seen this coming and knew Monsieur Clutch was rather unwell and not long for this world. Also, if you’re going to break down it’s best to do it at home where you can just go back indoors and put the kettle on…so much better than catching fire on a roundabout. Which has happened to me. That’s a story for another day.
Of course, much faffing ensued. The good people of Enterprise (alas not the starship variety) were more than happy to rent me a behemoth of a van for the weekend, and to be fair it was rather pleasant to blat down to Shoreham in a ’14 reg Ford Transit with lots of toys, and more to the point toys that worked. And being frankly enormous it was much easier to load up, though of course the fact that I had to completely unload the van that I had only loaded up the day before was a tad irritating. I need the exercise, I kept telling myself.
With all of this larking about I actually headed off to Sussex a bit earlier than anticipated, and beat the worst of the M25’s Friday afternoon mayhem, so there was definitely a silver lining to it all. Not that I can afford a silver lining this week after the hire costs and the impending clutch replacement!
So how did the weekend go, I hear you not ask? Another one of those events that frankly left me bemused…a multi-day chilli festival that was definitely a game of two halves. Saturday was busy enough and reasonable numbers were shifted, but Sunday had the tourists in – lost and lots of people mooching in to a free event, eating samples , and then buggering off without so much of a sniff of interest in shaking the moths out of their wallets. I know, we all do it, but by gum it’s irritating. I don’t have it as bad as some of course, my samples being tasters on sticks, but those giving out samples on crackers were going…well…crackers. It was if the people of Shoreham had taken their cue from the seagulls that plagued the event by coming in for a free feed.
As is usual from this kind of event I came back with several pots of other vendors stuff – we may be in competition with each other, but there’s some damned good stuff out there that we don’t make…we don’t have a monopoly on great recipes.
Still, I made enough to pay for the van hire, had a lovely stay at a nice camp site, managed a visit to the in-laws and jump-started my enthusiasm for reading thanks to there being no phone signal to distract me at the camp site. I was even far enough from any decent pubs to keep me out of mischief, the downside to that being that I had no idea that Germany had won the World Cup until I asked my mother-in-law on Monday morning 🙂
Jamie had a much busier event at the Cardiff International Food Festival, selling more than everyone else combined. Thankfully he’s not smug, mainly because it costs a lot more to get into these things than the events the rest of us were doing. Everyone else’s events were pretty steady, though the Pink Chilli Hobbit had a good day in Chippenham on Sunday. The Food Festival (essentially an expanded monthly Farmers Markets with knobs on) seems to have been well attended so that bodes well for the future. PCH is currently on missionary work in the far north (OK, Harrogate) for her own business PinkBox Boutique. She’ll come back talking all incomprehensible and northern after a few days up there. Makes a change from incomprehensible and southern that we’re all guilty of!
The chilli plants are getting big…it won’t be much longer before I’m able to lose myself amongst them. I realise that’s not much of an ask, but even so it shows they’re on the way up an a hell of a rate.
We had a nice visit from the Swindon Advertiser who wanted to interview us for the Swindon Chilli Festival, which happens this Saturday. If things go to plan there should be a piece in this Friday’s Adver and – assuming the camera didn’t break – some piccies of yours truly trying not to look to self-concious whilst posing in front of the tunnels. I’m just just hoping the camera angle keeps the chins down into single figures.
In other news…Jamie cuts a sinister figure in his Naga Salt making outfit…digging the marigolds….
Miss Bristol and the Mayor of Bristol appear mightily unimpressed by being asked to ‘taste’ some of our chillies for a photo shoot. I don’t think they were keen. If this is what Bristolians think of their chillies no wonder I’m having trouble at Temple Quay! (And before I get a sackful of abuse from Brizzle – yes I know you love our stuff really 🙂 )
So what next for this intrepid chilli adventurer? Well, the aforementioned Swindon Chilli Fest (in the centre of town, Canal Walk to be precise) is Saturdays gig. Before that on Friday I will be trying out Gloucester Farmers Market to see what that’s like. Sunday is a mystery right now. I have the possibility of four events spread across Wiltshire. Oxfordshire and Dorset. There is also the possibility of none of them happening…but we’ll just have to wait and see. I’m not one, as a rule, to enjoy being unsure of where the heck I’m meant to be this close to the weekend, but all of them are an easy drive away so I’m less fazed than usual. Something will happen. It may be good. It may not. It may rain. It may not. Whatever.
We’ll be in our usual haunts, as well as more exotic surroundings such as the Bristol Harbour Festival, Tatton Park Foodies Festival and the Gower Chilli Festival. That’s the Welsh place, not a festival held by the former England cricketer. Really, really can’t imagine him enjoying a slug of Ghost 3.2.
And that folks, is that for this week! Keep the faith!