Than the Village Summer Fete.
On Saturday I tootled off to Compton, a village just south of Guildford where my parents live, to enjoy the annual village fete. This is a not-to-be-missed annual event in my calendar, encapsulating everything I love about being in England in the summer time – not of course that they are always so lucky with the weather. We have had years where, again being the nation we are, everyone has donned their wellies and raincoats and been determined to have a good time.
The village itself can boast an 11th Century church, and is the home of Loseley Park and its famous ice cream plus Watts Gallery dedicated to the work of Victorian artist G.F. Watts and the Watts Chapel a unique circular art nouveau chapel built by Watts’ wife in his memory. 16th century picture-box cottages line the main street which leads you to the village green – can it get anymore twee?
At the Fete itself you can buy second-hand books, pick up a bargain from the very strange assortment of treasures on the bric-a-brac stall, stock your garden with tomato plants and geraniums, chance your luck on the tombola, place a bet on the ferret race or play the human fruit machine – 3 gentlemen in fancy dress who pick a piece of fruit at random to see if you can win three in a row – and of course the tea tent with all those wonderful home-made cakes.
Of course you can’t resist the BBQ with burgers and sausages from the local butcher, and I dare you to walk past the beer and Pimms tent without popping in. Warm beer on a hot sunny afternoon – irresistible.
Then there are the ‘arena’ events, a cavalcade from the local motor bike club – all beards, leather and tattoos – showing off their shining machines; the kid’s races with parents screaming encouragement at their little darlings; sack races, kids again followed by Dads, who are feeling invincible after maybe one too many visits to the beer tent, and finally, the highlight of the whole fete, the dog races.
I have never seen such an assortment of sizes, breeds and mutts gathered in such a small space of grass. The obstacle race with the temptation of sausages at the end, tests the most obedient dog, but best of all is the doggy musical chairs. Owners desperately dragging their best friend to the next empty chair, all dignity gone, in the quest for first prize.
My favourite way to enjoy all this is to settle in a chair, my plastic cup of Pimms in my hand and just people-watch. Hot sticky kids fresh from the Bouncy Castle, families just enjoying the sunshine, the beer and a wonderful village fete.
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