Thursday, 4 September 2008

Friday Night at the Hop Festival

This band is Sur Les Docks, and they played at Faversham Hop Festival last weekend. This clip is not from last weekend, I hasten to add. We saw them first on Friday night in a small traditional pub by the creek, and I am telling you people - I danced like a monkey all evening long. The pub was packed, the music was loud and the vibe was fantastic. The band played and danced with us, among us, and there were old dancers and young dancers, good dancers and bad dancers and everyone was laughing and dancing together. When they stopped we all poured outside into what was actually a beautiful summer evening (I know! in England!!) and grabbed another pint of Festival Ale. Then the music would start up again and we would re-assemble, grinning and dancing the night away.

The Hop Festival is Faversham's big blow-out weekend - lots of bands, hops everywhere, Morris dancers a-plenty, and the whole town walks around with tankards of ale from 10 in the morning till late at night and it's all cool. I love it especially because it was Hop Festival Saturday when we came to see the oast for the first time, five years ago, and I fell head-over-heels in love with it. The landlord said it was ours, and we headed into town to see what Faversham was like. That was a bit of a surprise.

This year I was really looking forward to it, because I booked the Friday before and the whole week after as annual leave, and also because one of N's dog walking buddies who also walks/is walked by a greyhound, got us places on the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Shepard Neame Brewery Tour on the Friday night - for CAMRA members only and heavily subscribed.

The brewery tour was something else too. Most people (ie everyone but us) had already been on it, several times, so they skipped most of the generic info and just launched into what turned out to be the main point of the tour, free beer. Lots of free beer. Straight from the cask. I really can't quite believe they let 30+ members of CAMRA loose in a brewery with free beer at every stop. It was like some kind of beautiful dream (except if it really was a dream it would have been Goachers, or Nelsons, not Shepard Neame!) But hey, with free ale like that, no complaints here. Our CAMRA memberships have paid for themselves in an evening.

Needless to say, we were already happily squiffy as we walked down the lane to the Anchor to meet our friends and check out the music.

It was the start to a fantastic weekend. Great music, friends down from London, hot sun on both Saturday and Sunday - first time since the one or two days in July (ah England - your summers doth fail to impress) - bbq's - and probably close to my body weight in ale. Good ale.

And people ask us why we moved here. Yeesh!