This was the first of this event, a county-wide initiative celebrating culture in Surrey. It was held at Loseley Park, in the grounds of an Elizabethan manor house built from stones looted from Waverley Abbey.
Loseley Park is located halfway between Compton and Guildford. Out of the way if you lack a car. I got there by walking along the River Way, along the North Downs Way, then dropping down to Losely Park. Quite a trek, but a very pleasant walk.
I was actually there for the Ambient Picnic, normally held in Shalford Park in Guildford.
The Ambient Green Picnic in Guildford was once a fantastic free festival, well worth attending. And attend they did, down from London, up from Brighton. Then the last few years has seen a sorry decline, entrance fee for what was a free festival, security fencing, over-the-top heavy-handed security, smelly burger vans, local brewery beer tent, too commercialised. Last year was an unmitigated disaster, a small fenced-off corner of Shalford Park. It lacked atmosphere. The festival had lost its way, if not its soul, necessitating a complete rethink. At least that is what should have happened
This year they occupied a small sliver on the edge of the site, and that was it. Eden People were there, but where were all the stalls? I did not think it could get any worse than last year, but sadly it had got a whole lot worse.
But it was just a small part of the Celebrating Surrey Festival. The overall impression I got was a festival organized by the local Womens Institute, though no jam. The surrey Middle Class having a day out. Nothing wrong with that, but it lacked the atmosphere of past Ambient Picnics.
Highlight of the day was in the evening Big Bands playing at two of the stages.
It was quite a mixed bag. Brass bands playing, dance and theatre, Mongolian wrestling and a Mongolian Ger. I loved the Mongolian book of calligraphy and poetry. I was reminded of Zen poetry. I liked the wood turner using a foot-powered lathe. The Chinese Loving Hut vegan food stall was very good, especially their spring rolls. They told me they have a vegetarian restaurant in Brighton, but in an area of Brighton with which I was not familiar. They were giving away free DVDs on going green. At the top of the site a labyrinth had been cut into the grass.
It was a very hot day, possibly 30C or higher. I spent most of the day in the shade of the trees at the edge of the site. It was good to be able to wander around the site barefoot all day. Water pipes around the site were welcome.
Celebrating Surrey Festival was billed as a celebration of local food and drink. I saw nothing. At the very least I would have expected to see Hunts Hill Farm who run an excellent barbecue at the Guildford Farmers Market (Guildford High Street first Tuesday of the month), Matt from The Deli in North Camp with his Hog Roast.
Loseley Park, or at least the house, is an Elizabethan Manor House built from stone looted from the ruins of Waverley Abbey. It is where the somewhat overrated and overpriced Loseley ice cream come from. It is located half way between Compton and Guildford, just south of the North Downs Way, and if you are going there on foot, that is the best way, along the North Downs Way, then drop down to Loseley Park.
Celebrating Surrey is a county-wide celebration of the best in art, music, culture, food and drink.
Celebrating Surrey Festival was part of the Guildford Summer Festival running from 18 June to 1 August 2010.