River Cottage Festival

The Barn, where we ate a River Cottage breakfast on the first day of the festival.

I’m so glad we went the festival held at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage in Devon this weekend. Being outdoors with others who are inclined to share one’s views is relaxing, if nothing else. However, of course, there is also always something to learn.

I’d expected to do almost everything I didn’t and instead listened to a series of discussions over the two days. Yesterday, a woman sitting next to me echoed my thoughts that the talks were preaching to the converted but we agreed you do nevertheless learn something new each time. And just talking to other festival goers, such as my aforementioned neighbour, added to the positives vibes.

Thus, amongst others, I listened to Hugh himself

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall opening the first talk of the festival.

in conversation with Steph McGovern (BBC Breakfast) and Giles Yeo (BBC Trust Me, I’m a Doctor) answering the question: What is healthy living? The point I take away from this talk is that we need to work on our gut biome by eating much more fibre. The actual thing I took away from this talk was

an apple for my daughter and myself. I believe they came from Hugh’s orchard and my daughter declared them of excellent quality, she being the foodie expert in the house!

On Sunday, I wanted my daughter join me as I thought she needed to hear the discussions on fast fashion and zero waste, in particular. At the former, we heard how Teemill will take back its worn out clothes and make the fabric into new items. And I was impressed with the woman who runs the retail consultancy, Unpackaged, Cath Conway.

Cath Conway explaining the problems caused by packaging and ways of eliminating the (single-use) packaging companies use.

As those of you who read my blog regularly will know, I have been reducing my own single-use plastic and endeavouring to find creative ways of managing the rest of my waste stream. It was therefore heartening to learn more about endeavours further up the food chain, so to speak.

I had intended to go on a foraging walk with John Wright, author of River Cottage books on the subject, but so many festival goers had had the same plans, I decided to leave that party. However, whilst looking round the Cottage garden

Eager foragers in the Cottage garden.

I came across a much bigger version of the thistle I had inadvertently grown in my front garden

Globe artichokes going to seed.

and pears

which John Wright, peering over my shoulder out of curiosity at what I was doing (taking the above photo), agreed were utterly splendid.

John Wright, talking about what to forage each month, explains how to cook seaweed (many hours of boiling required).

I was sad to leave yesterday evening (Sunday) but with a puncture in the airbed and the thought of long tailbacks on the M5 on Monday, it seemed better to end the holiday well. One more thing I had to do before we got in the car and headed north was to take a picture of a flower I am most taken with.

Does anyone know what it is?

My daughter had been stoic about attending the festival, expecting only to be there because of me. However, her summing up was that it was better than expected. And she is okay about us returning in the future, though probably not next year.

Doing a workshop on making tea light holders out of old jars and dried flowers as well as getting her hand painted with henna will have no doubt helped. She also liked the lemon verbena’s aroma – whilst waiting for the foraging walk, I’d overheard another group member saying how the leaves smell like sherbet lemon. And they do!

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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9 Responses to River Cottage Festival

  1. streepie says:

    Dear Helen,

    Thanks for sharing your weekend with us! The flower, I believe, is a dahlia.

    Those pears were indeed splendid! I look forward to pear and apple season, in the meantime, I enjoy the last of the raspberries and blackberries.


    • Helen says:

      It’s a shame you don’t have any early ripening apples to munch on now. I’m using the tree thinnings at home to make blackberry and apple crumble.

      Anyway, thank you Connie for the flower identification. I think I will source some of these for my front garden.

      Do the names of people such as Tim Lang and Giles Yeo spread to Switzerland?

  2. Tabula Rasa says:

    I love HFW. So much so that I went on a google maps search to find the original river cottage 🙂

    • Helen says:

      While we were having breakfast on the first day, a couple on our table got talking to us. The man said he had known HFW going years back, including going to the original River Cottage on a number of occasions. Until this point, I had no idea that there had been an original River Cottage!

      Anyway, I’d recommend the festival. Next time, we might try the glamping instead of camping with our tent. Or there are day tickets – but then you miss the festival atmosphere to some extent, I would imagine.

  3. Clare Pooley says:

    Yes, the flower is a cactus dahlia – gorgeous plants!
    Any, even slightly positive response from a daughter is something to be very pleased about! 😀

  4. Clearly a special event – and the flower was identified as a bonus

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