Chutfest! Ah, the very name almost sings to you, doesn't it? CHUTFEST! More chutney and pickle than you can shake a stick at. Mind you, who'd want to shake a stick at some chutney? Still, whatever gets you through the night.
Barrington Court's annual Chutney Festival began last year in what was assumed would be a fairly modest way, but it seems the National Trust and Matthew Applegate, for this is really his baby, had totally underestimated the great British public's desire and love of all things pickley. Last year had been a complete sell out with over-flowing car parks and queues of people trying to get in to the library where you could swap your chutneys. (Which sounds like a euphemism, so let's not dwell on that). Well, all of a sudden it was one year on and time for ChutFest 2010, and King Henry was back...
It wasn't to be the smoothest of starts for the King, oh no. I got up fairly early on the Saturday morning and decided to have a nice leisurely brekkie. I began munching my way through a nice slice of toast, when for some reason best known only to my body, I managed to bite a chunk out of my own tongue. Now if you have ever done this you will know exactly how painful it is, how much blood can suddenly appear as if from nowhere, and how it will leave you talking like Jamie-sodding-Oliver for the next few days. Well, it can't get any worse than that, can it? Funnily enough... I was putting my gear together for the two days of the show when I suddenly realised my shoes were split in several different places. So when I really should have been on my way to Barrington and getting ready for the show I instead found myself in Stuart Marsh Shoes in Crewkerne trying to decide which of their admittedly HUGE selection of slippers, looked most Tudor-ish.
The first day of the festival was just like last year - packed! Some of the food and drinks on display were gorgeous. There was the smokery people from Honiton again, tables and tables of home made pickles and chutneys, cakes, sausages, bacon, and of course the delightful Rachel Brewer and her Barrington Cider, helped out as ever by the equally lovely Sarah. There was a very pleasant and chatty chap who had a load of fresh vegetables on his large outside stall, but his chat was somewhat random. He just seemed to start talking about whatever was on his mind at the time and would continue endlessly until really the only way to stop him was to just walk away.
A new venture this year was to have a "Chutney of the Year" competition which was won by a local lady called Teresa Udall with her date and apple chutney, utilising a recipe handed down from her great grandmother. For this she won an engraved trophy in the shape of a copper chutney pan presented by Tracklement's Pickles, this she will hold for a year but must then come back and try and win it again in 2011. She will also visit Tracklement's factory and they will make up her recipe as a limited edition chutney to purchase from them.
On the Sunday, it was much quieter. The horrific early morning weather seemed to keep many people away and it was only as the afternoon progressed that the public began turning up in any significant numbers. My friends Thomas Hammill and his other half Katherine turned out, which was nice to see and more fun was seemed to be had by everyone.
Sunday was also Matthew Applegate's birthday, which for some reason he didn't want any one to know about, so of course we all clubbed together and bought him a card and some cakes, and would sing "Happy Birthday" to him at the drop of a hat. He deserved to be praised. The amount of work he and his assistant Tamsin put in getting the Chutfest together was unbelievable and they get so little recognition and thanks from the powers that be at the National Trust. So I shall do it here! Good work chaps
Henry is back off to St Cecillia's School in Sutton tomorrow for another visit! So time to set the alarm for an early start...