The Orchard at Charleston
Last weekend I escaped home to Sussex for some much needed peace and to see Carol Ann Duffy at The Charleston Festival. Duffy has been one of my favourite poets for a long time - alongside Alice Oswald - and I have heard her read her poems before but seeing her at Charleston was truly delightful. We all bundled into the marquee thankful that it wasn't the usual howling wind and rain accompanying the event. Just as Duffy started to read a poem, the cows in the neighbouring field decided to pipe up. I am not sure that such things happen at the slick Hay Festival but these messy, honest occurrences are what keep Charleston charming.
Going to Charleston is an annual event for me and my ritual is to have a slice of lemon drizzle cake with my tea before the event.
Lemon Drizzle at Charleston
The tea tent was bedecked in bunting this year and the cow parsley even more abundant than my memory of it from last year. Sitting in the orchard sipping on tea and scoffing cake is one of my favourite things and I look forward to it every year. May in Sussex is a perfect month as everything is fresh and abundant ahead of the withering power of the summer sun. The burnt tinge of August is a future concern and the countryside sparkles with shades of green.
I love the way that the trestle tables and chairs are scattered as if they naturally appear in the orchard.
Carol Ann Duffy read for nearly an hour and, along with the cows, held the audience spellbound as she read both old and new poems. Her dry humour and subtle delivery had us in paroxysms of mirth, particularly 'from Mrs Tiresias' which recounts the myth of Tiresias from the point of view of his wife - the poem is from the collection The World's Wife which I will talk more about in another post as I could write reams about the collection.
During the past week my life has turned completely topsy-turvy (self-inflicted I hasten to add) - I have set many exciting changes in motion which I will elaborate upon as time goes on and things become more certain. So, going to Charleston was a moment of peace before the (hopefully organised) chaos that the next couple of months will be. After my tea and cake I found something pink and fizzy with which to celebrate in the sunshine; heavenly.