I have heard people complain, like Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom, that there is nothing much to do hereabouts.
They didn’t think much to the ocean
The waves they were fiddlin’ and small
There were no wrecks… nobody drownded
‘Fact, nothing to laugh at, at all.
So seeking for further amusement
We paid and went to the…
Alresford Literary Festival
Arlesford Literary Festival organised by the Alresford Historical and Literary Society was a well organised event for anyone interested in literary arts.
There was a fantastic line-up of speakers, Robert Hardy, actor, now aged 90 gave a lively account of his acting career. He was a friend of Richard Burton from University days. Perhaps best remembered as Siegfried Farnon, the senior vet in “All Creatures Great and Small” which ran for 12 years.
Edna O’Brien, Irish author. Her first book “The Country Girls” tackled some sexual and social taboos. The book was banned, burned and denounced by the church so it must have said something important. O’Brien wrote important books on James Joyce as well as 16 novels and other works.
John Julius Norwich, The Right Honourable The Viscount Norwich CVO, to give him his full title is an historian noted for his TV documentaries on Napoleon, on Turkey and Malta and he curated the exhibition ‘Sovereign’ at the V & A Museum.
Barbara Large MBE of The Hampshire Writers Society organised bookstalls. I was there as factotum for my wife who had a stall there to sell Marriage, a Journey and a Dog. We met other interesting people including the authors of ‘Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford’.
Back home for a late tea, we put our feet up and prepared to rest. Then the phone rang. It was friends to ask if we were going to the Beer Fest at the Hilt. A quick gulp of tea and off we went. From the intellectual high ground to the more proletarian Beer Fest.
This was a very successful event, crowds of people there on Friday and Saturday nights. There were many beers and ciders to choose from, all brewed in Hampshire. What a talented group we are with a bunch of hops. There were bands and some fantastic meat pies. For a long time I have mourned the passing of the days when one could buy a pie and a pint in a pub.
Beers are as varied as wines but do not attract the snobbishness of sommeliers. You do not get vintage beer because some beers still contain yeast and it continues to work after bottling. Drink it as soon as it is ready.
As breweries amalgamated their beers and lagers became too predictable, too ‘factory’ fresh and too bland. It is filtered and pasteurised, carbon dioxide is added until it becomes something the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) campaigns against.
Microbreweries producing unique beers by traditional methods began to emerge. Nanobreweries, one man operated, and craft breweries have developed to offer us the greatest variety of flavours.
I regretted that my capacity for ale is much reduced these days. Once upon a time I could consume a gallon in an evening. It would have been great to sample 16 different half pints of beer but sadly I could only manage four.
Sunday morning, we decided on a gentle stroll into Winchester along the Itchen river. Winchester was busy-busy. Nowhere to park, everyone congregating in the closed-off High Street.
Something new was going on here, a cycle race. Winchester Criterium and Cycle Fest was in progress. A series of races around the town and a play area in the Broadway for small children to ride three wheelers, velocipedes, pedal buggies and anything powered by pedals.
A cowbell has sat on my shelf for twenty years and I never had a use for it. It seems you take them to cycle races and shake them to encourage the riders. They do it at the Tour de France. I should have taken it with me, everyone else had one.
We watched the start of one race. Off they went – all except one poor lad whose chain came off. I felt his embarrassment. The stewards helped him put it one again and away he went. He came in last, of course, but he had completed the race.
Good Deed for the Evening
Another phone call on Sunday evening. The organisers of the beer fest asked me if I could help dispose of the left-overs from the beer fest. No problem, delighted to help consume a little more while sitting in the evening sunshine by a garden pond.
No rest on Monday either. The Café Scientifique meets on Monday evenings in Winchester Library. If you are interested in science and technology, look up Café Scientifque. They have monthly meetings on all kinds of topics. This time it was on every adolescent boys’ dream. Rays that allow you to see through clothes. Terahertz frequency light rays are a new development for security. They can be used for looking beneath clothes and covers to detect weapons. They can identify Semtex disguised as marzipan, they are used in many industrial quality control processes. Most interesting is their ability to look beneath the paintings of old masters to see what is painted underneath.
Anyone can turn up at Café Scientifique meetings. Refreshments are available. There is a group who meet in Southampton also. Most cities now have them.
So there is one weekend in Chandler’s Ford. Literature and acting, folk beer fest, sporting contests and high tech developments. I bet London could not match that.
Next time you think Chandler’s Ford is comatose, look around. There is so much happening that you will need a rest.
Check out events at the Hilt
Then check out Thornden Hall
Even with only half and eye open or ear listening, there are plenty of events to attend or participate in.