Tents have seemed to characterise our summer. All of us Pickweller's visited various French campsites in our wonderful camper (aka motorhome with beige swirly seats) and..
We had a celebration service for Florie's life up in North Yorkshire. Beth (my sister)and Sam (my brother-in-law) moved there to start a new business (www.thebivouac.co.uk).
A company they will be partnering with (www.tentipi.com) gave them the free hire of their two biggest tents, along with two enormous fires, tables and benches and candle lanterns. The guys who came to set it up came on their day off.
I am still coming to terms with theirs, and many others, generosity around the whole experience. It made the afternoon really special.
Then we went to 'Greenbelt' festival. There is only one time in the year that all of us Pickweller's make a priority to go away together and that is for Greenbelt. Steve's brother Dave (headmaster of a Bristol secondary school) and his wonderful wife Lou (of Bliss textile fame) came and ran the business for us. It was great to know we could relax as it was in very capable hands!
Greenbelt (www.greenbelt.org.uk) is described as 'where arts, faith and justice collide'. We meet up with about a million friends and attempt to camp together every year. This year Steve and I got there first so it was our job to ward off any potential 'other campers'!
This seemed to be the 'Greenbelt 2011' fashion item of choice with many of our young (and not so young, Abi, ahem!) and cool members of the group. Zac was right at home as this summer in the space of a day he turned from small boy with trousers slightly flapping round the ankles, to proper fashion conscious teenage dude complete with flicky hair. HE IS 8!!!
Every year there are various thought provoking installations that pop up around the festival site. This year there were a series of doors. Each door proclaimed a different UN Resolution regarding the rights of the Palestinian people. The theme of the whole festival was 'welcome home' which obviously related to this.
Slight embarrassment regarding my finger in this shot, but you get the reason i took the picture. Another installation this time showing the size of the separation wall around Gaza to keep the Palestinians out. Different perspectives exist about this wall. Personally i can't understand it.
20,000 people attend Greenbelt every year. It is a mixture of music, the arts, and thought-provoking talks. Our sister-in-law has been the festival director for the last 2 years or so and she has done an amazing job.
Then this weekend we celebrated our neighbours joint 40th birthday. They put on a great party. On Friday all the tepees arrived and were installed in their garden as extra accommodation to our house.
There were 'woodland crafts' laid on in a giant tepee run by our friend's Matt and Lou who themselves live in a yurt (see summer solstice blog post). The kids (and I) loved it and left with a dream catcher made of willow, a woven reed fish and a hat decorated with charcoal, blackberry juice and clay. I have been trying to keep it at a safe distance from my lovely white walls!
We had a gorgeous meal of Marinated rack of lamb with lemon and thyme cous cous and a red pepper coulis, followed by a vanilla pannacotta with honey roasted figs. All cooked by our chef and his team who cater for our weddings. It was properly amazing. It was also the first time I have sat at a table and eaten their food in a function like that. It won't be the last. It was great to be reminded yet again of how talented they are.
So we danced for a little while in the ballroom, but aware of our licence and out of respect for our neighbours we switched off the music, went next door to the giant tepee and had a...SILENT DISCO!!! Well. It was extraordinary. Everyone was given a pair of headphones which transmitted the music from the DJ through them. You could go quite far and still pick it up. At one point I was debating going for a dance on the beach..but realised that might be pushing it.
It was surreal when you walked in as everyone was dancing like mad but the garden was almost silent. I guess that's the point, it just felt weird. The minute the headphones were on, however, you get transported to this other world. Amazing! I think that was the highlight of the night actually. The only downside was that my ears kept getting a bit hot.
So then yesterday, i went to my friend Sarah's house. It is in a part of Sarah's garden where Matt and Lou's yurt resides. Both Sarah's girls had birthdays just recently and Matt and Lou have once again come up trumps in terms of a gift. So, for Milly's birthday she was given a lovely home-made bag with some home-made pegs and a mallet. She had a great time banging them into the ground and thought that was the end of it.
Then for Daisy's birthday, she was given a bigger home-made bag with a few big posts and some hand-sewn tarpaulin. Put them together and...
voila! A home-made tent and ground sheet. Inspired. Apparently the girls have played with it non-stop. One afternoon it was moved 3 times!
The girls all enjoyed playing in it while I was there and i thought i owed it to the world to share this fantastic gift idea. x