Posts Tagged ‘barnes village fair


Give in to it, it’s fete…..

COUNTRY2I’m a country girl. Most of my life I’ve lived in a lusciously green, cow-poo smelling, cousin-marrying, typically English village. And I love it. Trouble is, it can be a tad lacking on the ol’ social scene at times. With no Mega-Disco-Multiplex-Fun-Domes nearby, people are forced to stay at home and grow over sized vegetables. Or bake cakes. Or whittle logs into woodland animal shapes. Or adorn themselves with bells and ribbons and wave sticks about. In my mind I can see no other explanation for the country fete – the morris dancing, the WI stall, Big Veg, cheese-knitting, pie-hurling, pig-pruning and Mr Jenkins’ homemade plum wine. The annual coming together of villagers in order to show off the strange fruits of their year’s labour, whilst listening to the vicar making inappropriate jokes. The fete is something that can only truly be borne out of boredom and an excess of soil – two things decidedly lacking in our capital city. There are now many London-based pretenders to the country fete title, though they can never be true articles in my eyes. The main, and obvious reason being that they are not in the country. D’uh. These days there’s an annual truck load of urban fetes. People of London! If you want a country fete, I say move thee to the country! The format seems to have become extremely fashionable in recent years. There are wannabes popping up in London parks every weekend during the summer. From the smallish scale Barnes Village Fair to the more commercial and immense Innocent Village Fete in Regent’s Park. To me these can never be more than enjoyable homages to the real deal. You can have all the rustic hay bale charm and gingham tablecloths in the world, but you’ll never be truly convinced when you feel the rumble of the tube underfoot or watch the number 26 bus to Oxford Circus zooming past every five minutes.

But needs must. Let’s be realistic, and childhood nostalgia aside, these urban replicas can be pretty damn good if your need for larger than average marrows and picture perfect Victoria sponges suddenly becomes too much to bear. And as I do now live in London (albeit Surbiton, which is actually technically in Surrey so still grasping on to a shred of my countryside credentials) I have put my fete puritanism aside and have enjoyed a fair few of them. By far the best is the Lambeth Country Show, mainly because it knows the score and doesn’t pretend to be what it is not. It has a fair whack of the cider fuelled sheep shearing charm of the real deal, but embraces fully the fact that it is ten minutes walk from Brixton tube station. Jerk chicken stalls with booming reggae sound systems sit perfectly alongside the funny shaped vegetable tent. Grab yourself a litre of cider and head to the dub stage.  It’s brilliant and if you haven’t been, you should. The star of the show for me (and perhaps why I have such a fondness for the event) is Chucklehead Cider


A family run outfit, making top notch West Country cider, they are always mobbed at their small stand. It’s a word-of-mouth thing. If you’ve had Chucklehead you’re In The Know and if you haven’t, you ain’t. The lovely stuff comes in dry, medium or sweet (I always plump for medium) and is served the only way true cider should be – in plastic milk containers. An eight-pinter will set you back a mere £12 and will see you and your fellow fair-goers beautifully merry (in every sense) throughout your afternoon. I am compelled to skip, to prance, to sing and to attempt rolly-pollying in a skirt – it’s a great summer’s day bottled for your convenience. Where’s the nearest Maypole? And as I sit on the rolling green slopes of Brockwell Park and sip the beautiful appley wonderfulness, I almost forget about the Heathrow flight path above and the Victoria Line below. Almost.

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December 2021