Living Between the Lines

Festivals and BBQs

I was never a ‘festival goer’. That is to say, I could never see the attraction of camping in a muddy field, with limited sanitary arrangements, soggy sandwiches and warm beer. Much less did I ever fancy standing with thousands of other people to listen to a band.

Yes, I am well aware that to some people this is absolute bliss. (Jane G, if you are reading this, I admire your stamina!)

I am not sure whether it is my aversion to the mud and undeniable discomfort or my claustrophobic reaction to crowds that bred this dislike of such things in me but dislike them I do.

The only outdoor gigs I would tolerate were those from which I could escape to sit on a hill and listen. Even then, the weather needed to be fair and the toilets reasonable.

So, earlier this month, as the Wickham Festival  got underway once again, I was not there.

It was my husband who bought a ticket for the weekend, sported a yellow plastic wrist-band and booked camping space even though it is only two miles down the road and he was unlikely to stay the night. It was he who trekked down to see Jules Holland and Sandy Shaw and my daughter and boyfriend who went to see Rolph Harris and Toya Wilcox and others of that ilk. I stayed home.

The Wickham Festival is not Glastonbury. Still, it has been going from strength to strength over the years and attracts festival-goers from all over the country. You never know, it may even attract me one of these days.

In the meantime, we had our very own ‘festival’ at the weekend. At least, that’s what it seemed like at the time.

You may recall that every year we, as a family, hold the ‘Barker BBQ Bash’. That is to say, we invite friends and family, new acquaintances, neighbours and work colleagues, into our home and garden for a party that begins at about 3pm and ends sometime after midnight.

For a fortnight before, we scan the weather forecasts hopefully. In the nine or ten years that we have been throwing such events, we have only had one complete wash-out. On that occasion the bouncy castle, hired especially for the occasion, presented a serious hazard and we huddled indoors waiting for the downpour to subside. It didn’t. Attendance was down that year.

We’ve had heat waves in which guests have resorted to hiding in flowerbeds to avoid the sun and cool winds that have sent everyone scurrying inside for a fleece and shivering as they tuck into their burgers.

This summer, the weather has been warm and sunny for much of the time but the forecast for Saturday was – rain! We remained stubbornly optimistic but ordered a marquee ‘just in case’. The day before the party, the forecast cautiously admitted that the sun might break through and it should remain dry in our corner of the country.

On the day, the sun broke through as promised and even when it did slip behind the clouds, temperatures remained warm and no one minded. The marquee we had hired was virtually redundant.

My daughters had organized a lucky dip for the children – many of whom came back for seconds and there were a variety of giant skittles, snakes & ladders and draughts laid out. Despite these attractions, the children seemed to prefer the dogs. Hence, children and dogs raced round the garden to cries of,

“Do be careful!” and, “Watch out!” from onlookers.

We kept an eye on Flossie who was highly excited and keen to play with the two new puppies who had joined us for the afternoon. Forgetting Doris, Flossie concentrated on showing off to her black, Tibetan Terrier guests while Keano foraged for food wherever he could. It seemed everyone was happy.

The highlight of the day was surely the live band who played from 9pm. A friend of ours, Bill Mudge, himself a professional musician, had brought along a blues/jazz band – 24 Pesos to play while he accompanied them on keyboard.

We had trusted Bill to do us proud and he did.

24 Pesos were quite simply amazing while Bill on keyboard was awesome.

Setting up on the patio, the group brought a whole new dimension to the party. The weather helped, remaining mild and warm until way past midnight. Our guests danced their socks off.

We were surely the smallest ‘festival’ on their books this summer. Nevertheless, they pulled out all the stops.

What a treat to have such a professional and talented band play in one’s garden! I can only thank Bill who organized it for us and the 24 Pesos for agreeing to play. With bands like that to listen to, you never know, I might even actually make it to a festival or two next year …

…but if there is no hill for me to hide on, perhaps one or two groups would like to come and play in our garden?

*photographs courtesy of Rhys McCarthy with the blurry ones of the three little cousins from my iPhone!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Andrea Carlisle

    I’m with you on the festivals and concerts, but a party in your own back yard? This is what summer is made for. Looks like a lovely and lively time. And how well Flossie does in a crowd–I’ll have to show these pics to Brio as an example of how she should behave.

  • patriciaswisdom

    I went to two weddings this summer which were at rather fun places – on Lake Chelan and in old Railroad Gate House Inn that had been refurbished – it was fun to be on the receiving end of the invitation and to enjoy the music provided too.

    I never go to the Columbia River Gorge for the huge music concerts and camping….so many do…but I like better facilities too and who wants to be part of a mob? I do my Christmas shopping during July or on line because I just dislike being in crowds so much.

    Your gathering sounds fabulous and what great pictures…Thank you for sharing – I felt included

  • Jane Guttridge

    Looks like a great party and a fun time had by all – but Deborah – you really don’t know what you’re missing! I think Glasto has to be experienced at least once in your life! It’s so difficult to describe – you really do need to be there and it’s so huge you just can’t get to see everything – and some of the hippies up in the green fields never go to see any bands – the perimeter fence is about six miles long or more so there’s so much to see and do! This year was the first time I went to Shangri-La and the Unfairground – quite bizarre! You meet some wonderful people and make and renew great friendships – I’ll take you along with me next time – don’t worry it’s not on next year! Hope to see you next time you’re in Cornwall xxx

  • Deborah Barker

    Haha! Thanks Jane – maybe I will take you up on that – yes hope to catch up when we are down next (6th September I believe so perhaps we can arrange something) You should check out 24 Pesos in the meantime if you haven’t already – they played stuff from sixties and seventies for us as well as their normal repertoire. Maybe I have been missing something XX

  • John Cowton

    Love the concept of a music festival in your own garden.
    My most unusual barbecue was on New Years Eve 1999 to bring in the new Millennium. We all stayed outside and nobody complained of feeling cold.

  • Hilary

    Hi Deborah .. absolutely wonderful .. I totally agree about camping ou – no thank you .. and the thought of a festival doesn’t appeal – but I guess it’s one of those things one should do once … still I’m sure they all had a great time at the Wickham Festival.

    Your own party .. sounds one great big time of fun, family and friends with good music and lovely food … Flossie does look pretty well behaved! The tots .. aren’t they great .. thanks for sharing with us .. cheers Hilary

  • cj schlottman

    Hey, Deborah,

    I so agree about festivals! I don’t like mud or sweat and I certainly do no like warm beer. YOUR festival, however, must have been The Bomb! The wonderful photos made me feel a part of it all. Thanks for the mini-vacation!

    Also, thanks so much for your touching comment on The Red Sweater. I can really feel your empathy and understanding.


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