I’ve led a sheltered life. I know this. In my largely rural existence I’ve managed to stay away from pretty much every illegal substance, and most certainly those that are known to cause the mind to start working overtime and creating things that simply aren’t there. So imagine my surprise when, at the event I was doing at the weekend, I started seeing giant lobsters. No-one in the crowd seemed the least bothered – leading me to believe that these weren’t our new crustacean overlords hell-bent on world domination – but rather they were tourists on a day out in the lovely English drizzle. They didn’t buy any chilli sauce though – maybe my spiel about using Mango Hot Sauce with stir-fried prawns was a little too close to home.
This all happened at Waddesdon Manor, a rather fantastic stately home just outside Aylesbury. The estate is owned by the Rothschild family and simply reeks of money, as befits champagne magnates, but is an awesome setting for an event. They certainly went to town on the banner front – at times it looked more like a battle scene from The Water Margin than a foodie event! The weather was…well…shall we say it was typically British? Relentless drizzle for most of the day on Saturday until the point where the weather gods obviously though ‘bollocks to this light stuff’ and just chucked it all down in the next hour…what the great Terry Pratchett called ‘an upright sea with slots in it’. Sunday was sunny though, a much more pleasant day for the peasant folk to dance and sing. All in all a fun event, very colourful and a fitting celebration of midsummer.
Talking of midsummer and the tie-dyed types that prevail at this time of year, I heard an interesting comment that got my mind spinning its cogs in overdrive just as I was packing up. One of my neighbouring traders was talking about chakras and ley lines and all that supremely unscientific rubbish, and mentioned that there was a major ley line running through Aylesbury, which of course was only just down the road. Now I know Aylesbury very well as my best mate lives there, and there are a few things that you are quite likely to find running through Aylesbury:
- Ben Sherman-wearing yoofs on the prowl
- the boys in blue, chasing the above
- packs of feral hounds
- open sewage
None of this is especially spiritual, though possibly with the exception of the contents of the pint glasses of the yoofs mentioned above. There are few places less likely in my mind to be associated with all things ethereal. Leigh Delamere services on the M4, maybe. Milton Keynes Dons FC, definitely. The only good thing about Aylesbury is that it has a statue of the late, great Ronnie Barker outside the new theatre.
Of course the location that my colleague was thinking of was the stone circle at Avebury, which is quite spectacular and definitely right up there in the ‘whoah dude, that’s like really cooooool’ stakes. Once again this is a location I know very well as it’s only a few miles from my front door! It’s the only stone circle in the world with a pub in it (if that’s not special I don’t know what is), and it also has a National Trust tea shop that sells fantastic cakes. What’s not to like?
Now whilst we’re deadly serious about the chilli world, sometimes we just have to do stupid stuff. The ever-so-slightly barking Jamie, for example, has this very day thrown himself out of a perfectly serviceable plane at 15,000 feet, whilst being strapped to a large bearded man. I’m not sure which of those aspects is the most terrifying, but judging by the look one Jamie’s face in the photos he enjoyed it. I’m sure it’s a fun thing to do and the adrenaline rush much be simply epic, but I’m not sure it’s for me.
My idea of getting on a plane is of course to go on holiday, which is what I am doing next week. I’ll be legging it back Sunday evening from my event to pack my bag, grab my passport and apologise to the cat for buggering off again first thing Monday for a wee tripette to Lisbon. It promises to be very pleasant, and a much-needed break from the chilli whirlwind. You will, of course, be assaulted with photos in my next post. You have been warned.
So where are we all this weekend? Well I’ll be in Basingstoke at the Cheese & Chilli Festival in War Memorial Park; Bond and Beard will be in Bristol at the Foodies Festival; Simon is in Nottingham at the Global Market; Jamie is at Calne’s Summer Festival; and the Pink Chilli Hobbit is at the Summer Fair in Milton Lilbourne and at Swindon’s Dragon Boat Race. Another busy weekend!
See you soon!
One banana counts as one of your ‘5 a day’. Two bananas, eaten at one sitting, still count as just one of your ‘5 a day’.