Daily Archives: June 19, 2011

Wet Saturday in West Sussex

We have had constant rain here both on Saturday and Sunday and I was taken back to a time when I was living in West Sussex acting as companion to my elderly friend.  Each year in this small village they have a village fete.  And it is fun but as I reported to my family in New Zealand…

Country lane

It couldn’t happen anywhere else in the world.  Saturday was the day of the village fete. After several days of glorious sunshine, Friday afternoon brought the rain and Saturday brought torrential rain. Were we deterred? Not a bit of it. We donned our raincoats and while my very elderly companion sat in her wheelchair under an umbrella, I pushed her over a very bumpy, uneven field and got soaked.  Everyone else was just as wet.

The stalls set out around the field were selling everything imaginable.  Books by the hundreds, crockery and china, fruit and produce, home-made cakes and biscuits, jams and pickles were all available to buy.

Home made cakeThe cake stall very quickly sold out.  There are never enough home-made cakes for sale.

There were slides and greasy poles for the children and a merry-go-round had been set up for the children but although the children were keen to ride the parents were not so keen.

Merry go round

Through it all a jazz band valiantly played and the tea tent did a roaring trade.

We subsequently heard that some people were buying clothes from the clothes stall just to have something dry to wear.  I must say we wondered at the way some people were dressed.  Nothing matched.  Strange summery hats in the rain; long overcoats dragging on the ground; clothes either to large or a little too small.  But it added to the fun and jollity.

The local lads and their fathers joined in a tug of war.  It was hard to see which was the red team and which the blue.  They were all covered in mud.  But they seemed to enjoy themselves and the little children were in their element in the mud that was stirred up by the two teams.

The sea scouts gave a demonstration but to a very small audience.  They did some marching and then went to a tent to show off their skills with knots.

DonkeyThe donkeys looked thoroughly despondent.  They were wet through and there was no shelter for them anywhere.  Nobody wanted a ride.  Well maybe some of the children did but the parents weren’t too keen.  But donkeys are very surefooted little animals and I think the children would have been quite safe.

And the folly of all – there is a high church tower from which you can apparently see for miles. They open this to the public on the day of the fete and make a charge.  Do you believe some foolhardy folks were going up the very winding stone stairs that I am told are very dangerous when dry, risking life and limb? And when they got to the top, there would have been little to see – drowned fields and very little else.

The actress Virginia McKenna opened the proceedings.  She was unbelievably cheerful and good-natured in the face of such a downpour.  We waited beside the tea tent to be introduced to her.

My friend has a friend in common with Ms McKenna and we were told we must make contact.  Here I must say that as soon as we had spoken with her we hotfooted it (or should that be hot wheeled it) home. My elderly friend went to bed in her robe with the electric blanket on and a ‘nice cup of tea.’ while I stripped off everything and had a shower. I was absolutely wet through to the skin.
Well, it makes a good story and we were later told that they raised almost five thousand pounds – imagine how well they would have done in the sunshine.  Sunday of course, dawned brightly. I am told that it is the first time for 20 years that it has rained and everybody was so very cheerful.  Maybe the next year would revert to the usual sunshine for the day.

Oh dear – It could only happen in England.