As well being invited to the Eric Andersen concert on the Thursday evening, I was lucky enough to have also been asked to attend the festival for the following weekend.
The brand new Robin Hood Folk Festival is something that has never been done before, so I was really eager to go along and join in the festivities; especially since it was being held at that fave place of mine: Newstead Abbey.
I must admit, I have never been to a folk festival so I had no idea what to expect, but I have to say from the minute I arrived I was blown away by the kindness of the other festival goers and the generosity of the stall holders.
The environment was so relaxing, I was shocked at how quiet and peaceful it was. There was no rowdy or undesirable behavior, children were playing nicely with their dogs or with each other and many people were sitting eating breakfast in the warmth of the early morning sunshine.
The kindness of strangers…
With it being the beginning of September, the weather wasn’t exactly what you would call tropical, so my little cardigan didn’t keep me warm for long. I was feeling rather envious of all those people who were wrapped up in their “hippy hoodies”(as I like to call them) whilst I stood there shivering.
When I arrive at any event to do a write-up, I make a point of introducing myself to as many people as possible. So as usual, I set about doing my rounds with the calming sound of folk music playing in the background.
The first stall that I came across was, as you may expect at a place such as this, a music one named: “PJ Music” who had travelled all the way from Norfolk. PJ was a really nice guy; in fact he was that nice he lent me his “hippy hoodie” to wear for the day. I loved it, not only was it really colourful but it was also fleece lined, so I was as snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug; needless to say I am now going to set about buying one!
PJ had some amazing musical instruments on his stall ranging from guitars and recorders to classic CD’s and accessories.
Music to my ears…
Just as we were grabbing a coffee the first band came on so we decided this would be a good time to sit and appreciate the folky tunes. The opening act were called: “Bric a Brac”, a fresh faced young folk band made up of five (the fifth player, Dan who occasionally plays the drums wasn’t actually there).
The five spirited musicians come from various places around the UK such as: Yorkshire, Sherwood Forest and Moseley Bog. I am a real fan of this band since hearing them, but I have to say this is partly because I loved the fact that they were all so genuine and they had quirky names for each of their songs which all had a wonderful meaning behind them.
For example: the second set that they played was called the “kitchen table”set because Chris who plays the fiddle and guitar wrote the song whilst, yes you guessed it, sitting on the kitchen table. One set that I loved was called: “Bilbo’s Back Pack”.
They had named it this because the music reminded them of the Hobbit and I have to say, I totally agree with them. It definitely had a Celtic vibe to it and the sound of Chris on the fiddle gave me goose bumps, man can he play that instrument or what! It was simply amazing and best of all I got to sit and listen to them in the midst of such breath-taking surroundings.
The talents of this fab four obviously stretch way beyond music as Caitlin informed us that she is currently crocheting some coasters (I expect to see pictures of those coasters upon completion Caitlin)!
After we had watched “Bric a Brac” perform their awesome tunes, “Moirai” began their set on stage 2. The name “Moirai” actually means: “Spinners of Destiny” which I think is super cool and most certainly describes the three of them to a tee.
The fab three behind this magical music are named: Jo Freya, Sarah Matthews and Melanie Biggs. Its safe to say the three of them sounded fantastic and I know from talking to others, I wasn’t the only one who thought so. I will be sure to keep my eyes peeled on the whereabouts of their next gigs.
Getting to know you…
It wasn’t long before my stomach reminded me that lunch time was drawing near, so I headed over to the food stalls to try out some of the fine cuisine. I had plenty to choose from with their being vegetarian, traditional sausage and bacon or Greek options.
I absolutely love a good sausage, so of course I made a beeline for: “Pig Yourself Silly” who are a local company that provide hog roast, chicken and other forms of fresh and locally sourced meat.
I have actually known Caroline (who runs the business along with Jules) for about twenty years so it was amazing to be able to go along and show my support for their booming business. It was also great to meet Jules and have a chat with her about their new venture.
The girls are a great bunch who are very friendly and clearly love what they do, which is in my opinion part of the reason why this catering business works so well.
Honestly, the food was top notch and it tasted so fresh. I have been to many shows, fairs and festivals in the past and the sausage and bacon cobs have been bland, leaving a lot to be desired but the meat from: “Pig Yourself Silly” was delicious and very reasonably priced for the amount that I got. Myself and my husband shared a cob filled with bacon, sausage and egg. There was plenty for both of us, but to be honest it didn’t last two minutes because it was so delicious!
Of course I couldn’t just settle for trying one type of grub so later in the day after listening to “Kate in the Kettle”, “The Long Mondays” and “Martin Simpson”; I moved to the next food stall along which was called: “It’s all Greek to me”. These guys were a joy to speak with and were kind enough to let us sample some of their delicious food inspired from across the ocean.
I am not exaggerating when I say that their baklava was the best iv ever tasted, I mean this delish desert made by Wendy’s fair hands was nicer than any baklava I have tried before. I’m a little bit in love!
After chatting with these guys for some time – including their daughter Sophie, I discovered that the business is a family run one serving genuine Greek food (not tourist style Greek food), which is completely fresh and home-made. The flavours from all of the foods that I tasted were mouth-watering and I especially liked the flat bread (that is made locally) served with halloumi cheese and salad.
The idea of setting up the mobile catering business came after the married couple had retired from their 12 year long restaurant in Newark where they served what Sophie described as: “good pub grub”; only to find that six weeks later they were bored and ready to go again with something new. This is where ” Its all Greek to me” originated from. In fact the name came to Wendy whilst she was at the Southwell Folk Festival.
From then on the couple from Cropwell Bishop made their Greek dream come true by setting up this successful catering business which provides many festivals and other events such as: weddings and parties, with food like you have never tasted before.
Its clear to see that this hard-working family have a real love for Greece (and not just for the cuisine). Not only do they have some land out there, they have visited many of the small islands too. Wendy was also part of the Ellinismos Greek dance team for some time.
If that’s not passion, then I don’t quite know what is!
Art makes everything awesome…
As the day drew to a close I couldn’t leave without visiting some of the non-food stalls. I love seeing new and exciting crafts and hand-made items; so I was especially happy to see some inspiring sculptures by a very talented lady named: Maddie Vale.
Unfortunately she couldn’t be at the Folk Festival as she was attending another event, but her partner Derek Kelly was there in her place with their wonderful Patterdale Terrier named Alf (who was just casually chilling in his bed with legs akimbo) and some very pretty jewellery. This dog was awesome! In fact he was so awesome, Maddie had actually made a sculpture of him which was on show for all too see. I mean, it just couldn’t get any cuter.
I really really love sculptures of hares, foxes and dogs; actually I love sculptures of all animals, so I was in heaven admiring all of the beautiful work Maddie had produced.
As I chatted with Derek, he told me how Maddie, who has been a professional sculptor and painter for many years, takes commissions so if you send her a photo of your pet, she will sculpture it for you by drawing out their special characteristics and trust me when I say it, they are amazing.
I am actually really eager to send a photo of our lovely dog Buddy in because by the looks of it she is going to be fully booked for months.
Not only does Maddie sculpture, she also produces enamels which are placed on a chain so they can be worn around the neck. She started off by experimenting and found that her work was nothing short of perfect. She is now searching for galleries to display her necklaces in. I’m pretty sure she won’t have any problems there!
Let’s do this again…
All in all I think you could say my first experience of a folk festival was a pretty good one! The event organisers did an incredible job of bringing everything together and the musicians were truly awesome both on stage and off. From the sounds of the music that went on late into the night, dancing, tapping feet and smiling faces, it was clear to see that this event was the first of many for Newstead Abbey!