What a good thing I went...word perfect for Streets of London and I'm sure Ralph was grateful for the lead I was able to offer from the front row, though a remarkable amount of word-perfect singing suggests I'm not as odd as I may think.
Brilliant set and how interesting to see the Cabaret marquee suddenly packed out with people our age, all filtered off from events around the estate to get a little bit of the old days, though Ralph McTell remains of the moment with his song-writing, his guitar-playing still supreme (much better than mine) and he gained a huge rapturous National Treasure sort of ovation at the end.
Lots of children too who were singing, dancing and swaying and perhaps taking that incredible and timeless song on into the next generation. Also a very beautiful baby, just crawling, clearly enjoying perhaps her first festival and sporting a great big pair of bright green headphones against the decibels, so possibly not yet conversant with the anthem but she can say she was there ...Streets - Port Eliot 09 which we've now added to our long list beginning Streets - Albert Hall - 76.
I did catch a couple of Craig Taylor's A Million Tiny Plays About Britain and these make for an excellent performance event so if they are happening at a festival near you, don't miss them. Being out of the loop entirely on the world of the literary who's who I hadn't realised that Craig also edits Five Dials, the Hamish Hamilton online litmag that we love here, so it was good to meet the person behind that.
Anyway I might have missed Kamila Shamsie but Bookhound didn't and though he didn't manage notes he did get some photos and knew well enough to get my copy of Burnt Shadows signed in my absence.
Kamila's talk was very well-received and if you want to know more you can check out dovegreyreader asks... and my thoughts on Burnt Shadows here. My book is now beautifully signed and in my collection.
I really treasure these author-signed copies. Not pristine because they are the books I have read and worked on, so covered in scribbles and underlinings and often proof copies, but very valuable to me and people do write the loveliest things in them. Also good to meet Festival bookseller, the lovely Ron Jones, who owns not one but three Indie bookshops in the South-West, Plymouth, Falmouth and St Ives, Ron must be the rarest of rare breeds.
Steady pouring rain obviously creates a different atmosphere at a predominantly outdoor event and has meant everyone in tents on Sunday rather than sprawled out and relaxed on the grass, but wellie - spotting more than made up for that.
Though I do think some people (John Andrews reading his extract from Caught by the River) just have to show off about having bigger wellies than the rest of us and take these things to extremes.
So by 6pm, having been up and down the hill many times, we were drenched and definitely running out of festival steam.
Stay much longer and I'd have to go back to the toilets too and I wasn't really sure about that, so we called it a day on a fabulous weekend.
Vibrant and different, a festival with a huge heart and a joy to be part of it all. We left feeling tired but happy and very glad that for once it was a party we didn't have to clear up after, nor our lawn that was going to have to recover.
Our thanks to Cathy and Peregrine St Germans for the invitation and for letting me take all of you along with us, also for opening their very special home to the masses and for allowing the resurging and sparkling magic of Port Eliot to touch our lives too.
'We wish you a happy weekend, whether you dance until the stars come down from the rafters like Auden, or sit in reverie and watch the changing colour of the waves that break upon the idle shore of the mind, like Longfellow, though truly we would recommend both.'
Congratulations to Cathy, Katherine, and their very hard-working, friendly and tirelessly helpful team too for all that amazing organisation, for making us so welcome and staging such a fantastic event here in the South West.
Though we live across the border, we have to say Cornwall rocked and Devon loved every minute, so it's goodbye to Port Eliot for another year and goodbye from a frog called Serge too.