Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Aldeburgh Food & Drink Festival

I left London too late on Friday to get away with an easy journey. It took hours of snailing along to Blackheath along the A2 and then onto the A12 from the M25 - but once I'd shaken Ipswich free and had slid off at Melton I was back in the world I love. I spent my early years living by the sea here - a marsh-fringed, thinly glazed vast tract of coast with a light to it all of its own. Inland a bit lay the woods. They were where the magic happened as far as I was concerned, and now, though diminished brutally, they still call me in, rustling enticingly.

I drove through the woodland, barely a soul on the road and inhaled deeply that great pine needle fug. Through the villages; Rendlesham, Eyke, Sudbourne until I reached Orford and the red dirt track that leads to my uncle's house. Barely through the front door and I had his six kids throwing themselves at me, desperate for ice cream. We all trooped down the garden path and I doled out the sweet stuff and then went in for supper and a nice cold beer with my uncle and aunt.

I slept a sleep of cool serenity and didn't even object at having to haul myself out of bed to get to the food festival so early. It was beautiful out there. Hares dashed luxuriously along chilled, moist fields and the sun bore sideways. Some places are just special. Maybe it's to do with fond early memories, maybe it's the ley lines, but the enchantment I feel when I'm back in East Suffolk is enough to see me through day after day of London cacophony.

video

The festival was a real East Anglian affair. Loads of blonde women stalked around in their pink sweatshirts and jostling pearls, directing traders onto their pitches. Hersuit old men came blinking out of the woodwork, tashes twitching, tweeds a-billowing and tables groaned all around with local produce. I wonder if I've reached saturation point but I'm feeling increasingly immune to a lot of this fare. Maybe it's not the fare that's the problem but more the fetishisation of it. It's like we have to keep giving ourselves such whacking great slaps on the back for producing anything that's half decent. Like it's not part of our fabric but a whole other piece of clothing that we parade around in.

Still, Aspall cider was there so I was pretty happy and the English wine on offer was working out quite well for me as well. Once again we had a wonderful sunny weekend and what with the brass band, the smell of the BBQ and the river shimmering away it couldn't have been a nicer close to Choc Star's festival season.

Now is the time to step up the pace and start making some new waves....

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