FROM the minute you enter the general vicinity of South Hill Park it is noticeable how well organised everything was.
The stewards upon entry were friendly, fresh and welcoming.
With these guys assisting it meant parking was easy and, at £5, I felt reasonably priced.
Music flowed over the growing crown from noon and miles seemed a plenty.
As loud as the music was, the first thing I noticed was the glowing abundance of bounciness from the youngsters.
There certainly had been some thought put into making sure there was plenty for them to do. A festival favourite has to be face painting they also offered body art, (if you can turn this old fossil into art where do I sign up?).
Attending the festival with me today, was guest reporter Marc from St Margaret’s School in Hanworth and his family, thanks to South Hill Park’s generous family ticket, (the recent prize I took with me when I visited the school for a pep talk).
Also with me for the ride was James Fothergill, one of the trustees for The Acoustic Couch.
Now Jim could hardly contain himself upon arriving. You see, there was a hat stall and Jimbo (James) just had to have a hat. I’m not sure I have seen such excitement before!
It’s now Friday and I’m not sure he has taken off his hat as yet; I will however take my hat off to Jim.
Before I explain the highlight of my day and why Jim was the hero of the day, I’d like to get the metaphorical crayons and paint you a picture.
Once in the grounds we were invited, using our press passes, to access all areas.
Accessing all areas meant we were welcomed into the VIP area with the artists, other media and staff.
There was an interesting array of foods served up to us all from open till close and a steady flow of teas, coffees and refreshments. Thanks to all the staff for serving us to such a high standard.
Afterwards, we started checking out the artists we’d circled in advance – boy, was there some serious talent on offer.
The bill included Michael Puffery, Emma Jane Kennedy, Steve Sculptor, Rebecca Jayne and Caddy Cooper. We were spoilt for choice.
After a spell binding performance from the absolute marvel that is Sally Barker, a past contested of The Voice and an outstanding and charming talent, we decided to head back to the VIP area to collect our thoughts and refuel.
Now I’m not one for being wide eyed and star struck, but what happened next was not expected and definitely the highlight of my day.
Having selected my cakes from the vast table of treats, Jim took a turn to decide which tempting patisseries to sample.
I could hardly believe my eyes when Jim returned with Sally Barker!
So what did we learn from our newfound friend?
Sally does a wicked North Carolina accent! How do we know this? During a good old chinwag, Sally told us of her recent return to the UK after a writing session with her good friend Vicky in a beautiful and tranquil log cabin setting.
Valuable time was taken out to clear the cobwebs and put pen to paper, her next album release and a major record label had been knocking, but that’s on hold for the moment.
Sally explained: “In the coming year I’m going be to doing a few things. I’m recording a solo acoustic album, just me and the guitar and very much stripped back, which needs to come out in January.
“In January to coincide with my release I will be supporting the brilliant English folk band from the 60s Fairport convention, that I think runs till the first week in March and is across the UK.
“I will also be doing a collaboration possibly with artist and friend Vicky, but that’s very hush hush for now.
“I chose to pen an original album, it just felt right. I love signing and performing to everyone but in truth if I have something to give other than just a covers album like the other deals on offer and my loyal friends, family and admirers of my work want to hear originals, who am I to say no?”
With a cheeky grin I asked, “Given the opportunity to sign a covers album deal now would you take it?”
Her respond was simple.
“If no one wanted to hear what I had to offer, then maybe.”
I for one cannot wait to see what transpires for Sally and all close to her in the coming year.
I also cannot wait to find a date for Sally to visit The Acoustic Couch…Yup, that’s right you heard me.
We will leave you on that exciting possibility. Watch this space!