I have just spent an incredible weekend on Sark enjoying the amazing SARK FOLK FESTIVAL courtesy of my lovely boyfriend.
We got the boat over to Sark on Friday morning along with lots of other eager and excited Sark Folk Festival attendees. In fact it was so busy that they had to lay on extra boats especially. Needless to say, as generally happens when I go to Sark (which has not been very often to be honest), the whole Island was covered in a damp fog, which is perhaps not ideal when you have chosen to camp in the campsite just above the lighthouse and the fog horn.
But alas there was no need to worry, the fog eventually cleared and so we were not kept awake all night by the fog horn! In fact we weren't kept awake at all as Ewan had chosen to put us up in the more conscientous of the campsites where numbers were limited on account of the lack of facilities. We were fortunate to arrive before many of our fellow campers so had the pick of the field and pitched our tent with views (we later discovered when the fog lifted) of Alderney and France.
Putting up the tent was rather entertaining, Ewan is a stickler for attention to detail and so I have now learnt a lot about how to make sure the different parts of the tent line up properly so that it does not flap in the wind (like other tents in the field, we did a comparison you see), and I must admit I was rather proud of the finished result, there is a lot to be said of being a little retentive at times I guess!
Wnile we waited for the rest of our bags to arrive (the boat were so busy luggage was following separately) we walked out to the festival ground and collected our wrist bands for the weekend ahead. It was an hour before the festival was due to start and people were desperately finishing off the last touches to the arena, we were really impressed, there were two performing tenst and a food tent, plus toilet cabins, it all seemed really civilised and well organised.
On the way back to the campsite we collected our bikes, mine had a basket which rattled as I cycled so at least everyone knew I was approaching! It is honestly the best way to get around on Sark, admittedly it is not the biggest of Islands, but still, means you can see so much more in a shorter time.
Back at the campsite out luggage had arrived so we put the finishing touches to our tent - pumped up the new double bed (small pleasures) and added the duvet and travel pillows, luxury I tell you, I have not slept so well as I did on that bed for ages. We had a camping stove to make cups of tea and a chair for Ewan to sit in, plus a rug for me, we even brought the bat and ball although we only manged one game, the bats came in handy to support our cups and the stove instead.
We shared a birthday bottle of champagne sitting outside our tent, Ewan had been taking antibiotics all week so this was the first opportunity we had had to celebrate together, perfect. From there we headed to the festival, rain threatening over head. Still the fog had lifted and from the festival site, out by the duck pond, you could see Breqhou, Herm and Guernsey in the distance. I had not realised how great the views can be from Sark, it is certainly a special little Island.
The festival was in full swing and I was delighted to see so many familiar faces many of whom I had not seen for ages. It was great to see everyone looking so happy, eco cups of festival cider in their hands, smiles, tapping feet, I just loved every moment of that night. Of course it rained. Lots. But for some reason this did not deter the fun. Ewan and I got a little wet waiting for our vegetarian paella (many thanks to the L'Escalier lot, lovey paella and thanks for the vegetarian option) and walking to the toilets, but aside from that we were always protected by the marquees.
The last band that night were insanely good, so much fun, Ewan and I were dancing our feet off beside the speakers at the front of the stage, the singer and lead woman was such an incredible entertainer and we were all buzzing by the end of the act and no one wanted to go home. Still going home was entertaining in itself. Bikes. Lots of drunk people walking in small groups. No street lights and merely a hand held torch. Ewan stopped to speak to someone so I went off on my own only to consider that maybe I didn't actually know where I was going and I did not have my mobile telephone in case I got lost. Irrational really, this was Sark, no chance of being lost for long.
Needless to say I found him again and we managed to find our way back to the campsite without injury. I managed to lose my bike lock on the way but someone kindly handed this back to the bike people the next day (thank you!) so no big drama - just an opportunity for Ewan to laugh about my ability to lose things so easily. Back at the campsite we sat by the lantern and boiled some water on our little stove for our evening cup of tea to bring us back down to earth so that we could sleep - mind you no problem when it came to it and thank you to the other campers for being quiet too.
The next morning dawned delightfully bright, sunny and hot and we made our morning tea and sat out on the rug sunbathing at 9am. I practised some Yoga with views of Alderney in the distance while Ewan read his book, it doesn't get more relaxed and grounded than this. We then trekked off through the fields along the side of the cliff and down a valley surrounded by greenery, trees overhead, a stream to our left, pretty pink and purple flowers, ferns and brambles and stinging nettles all over the place, all the way down to the bay below.
It was about 11am at this point and there were a handful of boats moored in the bay but aside from that and one sunbathing tourist on the pebbles, we had the place to ourselves. Lucky us, high tide, stunningly clear blue sea, bright sunshine over head - we dived straight in and were pleased to find that the sea did not feel cold, maybe we have hardened ourselves to it recently, but we managed to stay in for a whole 10 minutes, that is our record so far this summer.
Beautiful as they are, the only trouble with the beaches on the Sark is the fact you have to walk down the cliff to access them, which of course means you have to walk all the way back up afterwards! Still it is all good exercise and before we knew it we were back on the bikes and cycling to the Bel Air to watch local band GU10 on the balcony. The sun was seriously beating down on us by then and we lasted half an hour before we decided to head off to Hugo's bar for a cup of tea in the shade, stopping at the local shop on the way to invest in some of Sark's finest strawberries - strawberries that actually taste of strawberries, quite hard to find these days!
Back at the festival it was busier on Saturday; apparently quite a few people had come over that morning ust for a night or for the day. There were lots of people lying outside on blankets sunbathing and enjoying the sound of the music from afar, the smell of food being freshly cooked - you could order half a fresh lobster on the bbq for £6 (and these were fresh lobsters, sitting alive on the counter so that you could choose the one you wanted to eat before the poor thing was sliced in half and added to the barbie), or 4 freshly caught and enormous scallops with salad for £6 too. This was certainly a festival with a difference!
We pottered around, listening to a little of the music and then joining others sitting outside too, we looked around the stalls, Mark and Lauren had brought over products from the Little Green Island and there were fresh muffins and cupcakes and this wonderful stall selling witch related paintings and tea towels (and no, I couldn't resist investing in some hand painted pictures of witches dancing together with butterflies and puffins and the moon in the distance), it was all very laid-back and relaxed.
We went out on the bikes again and visited the local Methodist chapel and the local Church, both reather sweet, I love looking aroun churches, you can learn a lot about the place from its energy and always a good opportuinity to say a little prayer. We sat on the common at the far end of the Island and just watched the boats out to sea with Herm and Guernsey in the background. By then we had had quite enough of the sunshine so we headed back to the campsite for a cup of tea and a refresh before the evening. There were a few more tents in the campsite but we still had our corner all to ourselves and there was no problem taking a shower.
The evening was buzzing again with beautiful views and a fantastic sunset. Unfortunately I was really tired from all our activities and so much sunshine so struggled to find the energy as I had done on the previous night. Still I finally managed to find my dancing feet and joined Hayley at the front of the stage for the final act of the night, a Welsh band led by a lady with an incredible ability to play the oboe. There was no singing involved in this performance and yet it didn't seem to matter as everyone around me was going equally as wild, lots of jumping around, clapping and general flinging of arms and I even noticed a spot of headbanging! So much fun!
For some reason cycling home was far easier that night, I didn't wobble once and even though there were more people walking they seemed to have more awareness of approaching bikes so there was no stopping and starting as there had been the night before. I saw two shooting stars, pretty amazing, and when we got back to the campsite the moon was this beautiful orange colour rising to the north east of us and shining a beautiful light on the sea below. Talk about nature's own party, there was no need to do anything or be anywhere else right then, just us, the moon, the stars and a cup of tea in hand, lovely.
I had the best night sleep that night than I have had in ages. I guess the combination of swimming in the sea, cycling, being outside with all that fresh air, socialising, so much sunshine, dancing and then sleeping on a mattress on the floor underneath canvas play a huge role in helping one to feel naturally tired and relaxed. I don't think we should ever underestimate the power of being out in nature like this, it is good stuff, healing.
Needless to say the next morning I wasn't feeling in the most energetic of states, I could have done with lying around all morning and catching up on much needed sleep and rest, that is the trouble with stopping like this, no tv, no internet, no distraction, no driving and running around after people, finally the mind lets the body rest. But we had to pack up our stuff and the tent, which was fairly painless despite the wind, tents are pretty impressive these days, and we are all rfeady now for the secret garden party at the end of the month.
We made the most of our bikes and cycled out to Little Sark for morning tea at La Sabblonerie, which has a stunningly well-attended garden, very impressive, they even rake the path and hand pick the weeds. The views from Little Sark are pretty cool too, Guernsey and Herm on one side, ALderney, Jersey and France from the other. Sark has definitely over taken Herm as my favourite other Channel Island now. It is a little gem and would be perfect for a Yoga and Wellbeing retreat...
The atmosphere was on wind down back at the Festival, softer music, less people, but still the sun was shining and the smell of cooking lobster permeated the air. We only stayed for a short time before we headed out to Hugo's bar for a civilised lunch (I finally tried some Sark scallops) with Lydia Jane providing the background music, a lovely way to end a fantastic weekend.
The brain child, organisers and volunteers at the Festival should be very proud of themselves today, it was an incredible weekend and all their hard efforts more than paid off to create an uplifting and enjoyable weekend for everyone. Like many others we are already looking forward to the Festival next year...
A huge thank you to Ewan too for making my birthday so special and for providing me with an opportunity to camp again, I loved the back to basics experience and look forward to next time.
Needless to say I am totally energy-less today, but I am sure I am not the only one. Festivals are so much fun but all that fresh air and relaxing and chatting takes its toll, oh well, what is life for if it can't be lived and experienced like this, I can highly recommend others take advantage of the huge number of festivals in the UK and further afield each summer.