I’m not in the best of moods. Snapping and crackling like an angry hot bonfire against the chill of early autumn’s newly brisk air.
Poor kids. I can feel them eyeing me warily as they tread home with heavy steps towards the end of term. It’s not their fault I’m weary, limping to the finish line too.
I soften and assure the kids that we are going out as planned. Autumn’s not ready yet – it’s still summer, and the weather (today) is fine. A picnic will be packed, a couple of rugs folded into the boot of the car, and we will find an evening of live music amongst the summer berries at Stonepitts Farm.
I start with the essentials…
Folking in the Strawberries – an inspired idea that began small and informal. Late night pickers would arrive at this Kentish PYO Farm to the sound of a few guitars. They picked, then sat and grazed on their fresh berries, listening to folk music with a glass of something in hand. Simple.
Now the event is bigger and still invitingly informal, with a relaxed festival vibe that draws young and old alike, families, friends and couples.
Groups of people straggle across the fields, parents happily losing their children amongst the raspberry bushes. Arrive early for a spot close to the tractor trailer stage, or spread out and play further upfield.
The fresh air makes us all hungry, and I note that my sons are remarkably slow to fill their tubs to the brim…
My husband takes a stroll to the well-stocked bar. When he returns, we clink plastic cups and send our boys off again.
Boosted by big handfuls of cheese straws, they soon bounce back with crammed containers full of sweet berries. They go to pay, completely unbothered by their tell-tale red-rimmed mouths.
Meanwhile we’ve been listening to the music, munching what’s left of the cheese straws, and slowing right down.
Dan Clews is the talent behind this strawberry folk festival – Stonepitts is his family’s farm. His lovely music is gentle and self-assured, and is perfectly in tune with the serenely beautiful landscape around us.
The Ackerleys are up next – a brother and sister folk duo from Tunbridge Wells, who play some life-affirming, soulful and original acoustic tunes.
The sun’s steady dip down towards the horizon makes streaky splashes across the sky, and we lie back to enjoy the fading light with our drinks.
When King Size Slim strikes up, my husband and I move closer to the front. Here I defer to my more musical husband for his description of what we are treated to: “down ‘n’ dirty rootsy blues on a (wonderfully warm-sounding) beat up resonator guitar.”
I look behind me as King Size Slim plays, and find raspberries close enough to pick. Children are still hiding amongst the fruit bushes, and the café in a van is offering extra supplies to those who’ve not yet had their fill.
Gradually darkness comes, and families drift away. We pack away our picnic and meander towards our car. My daughter asks me kindly if I’m feeling better (i.e. are you still in a bad mood, Mum?). I think she knows the answer … we smile at each other and agree to do Folking in the Strawberries again.
A summer’s evening in a wide open, peacefully music-enhanced scene, with strawberries and a glass of something that hits the spot – it’s a wonderfully simple recipe. One good enough to stop rushing head down through daily life for.
There are two more Thursday evening Folking in the Strawberries before the season ends. If you’re interested, they are on 21st and 28th July (details are below). Enjoy – we might see you there.
Some tasters of the acts we enjoyed last night:
King Size Slim