It’s Easter Monday and that can only mean one – the Fiery Food Festival on Hove Lawns. A three day event showcasing produce centred around the chilli. From sauces to beers and chutneys to fudge. Yes, fudge! More on that later, but first the journey to the festival.
She Who Must Be Obeyed and I decided to use public transport to reach the festival. We decided this for two reasons, one parking would be difficult near the event and two there were various things to sample of the alcoholic variety!
So off we set to the local railway station. I say railway station, but should it not be called the train station? After all the railway is already there; it’s the trains which stop. That’s another blog! We were heading for the 10:42am train which meant by the time we had walked at the other end, we would reach the festival for about 11:30; in time to meet up with some friends.
There was a slightly quicker train at 10:36, but as we were only going five stops and the journey itself would only last 20 minutes, we didn’t think it worthwhile. However, we arrived at the railway crossing as the gates closed to allow the 10:36 through. On a normal weekday, the gates can be closed for ages to allow several trains through. We have some really inconsiderate people working in the signal box who will close the gates four minutes before a train arrives and then keep it closed while they wait for the next train.
I have had to wait at the gates for 22 minutes while they let five trains through. They will not open the gates between trains! Presumably this is because they don’t want to risk the train being late and therefore receiving the wrath of the commuter for delaying them. But what about pour old Joe Public? The man or woman on the street going about their normal business. Is it OK to hold them up? They have no real choice; they wait there while the gates are closed because there is no alternative route.
Back to my train. Today is a public holiday and therefore no commuters and lighter traffic on the roads in this part of town, so it was reasonable to assume the gates would open straight away and allow us through for our train. No!
Absolutely not, we had to wait and watch our train trundle by. Fortunately for us, there was another train going our way fifteen minutes later, but this put us back fifteen minutes and we were meeting friends at 11:30. Would they be wondering where we were?
The train journey itself was amusing for me, being the great people watcher that I am. I was kept entertained by a party of four women who were obviously on a day out. Their chat was constantly getting louder as they tried to compete with and talk over each other. The two women I could see clearly from my seat both had similar hair styles, short and coloured in unnatural hair dyes. One was wearing a bright red coat and had lipstick to match – very heavily applied. Her eyes were surrounded by thick black eyeliner and when she laughed she opened her mouth so wide, she kept going into a yawn.
There was a middle aged couple with very young children who they let stand, not only on the seats but also the tables. And the family discussing the amount of time it took to roast the Easter dinner. Four hours! Not because they were cooking it slowly, but because the oven wasn’t working properly and they could only get it to 120 degrees.
As we approached out destination, the ticket inspector arrived. He made his way along the carriage – it didn’t take long as there were only about eight people left. The first two were a couple of teenage girls. They hadn’t purchased tickets. The inspector just raised his eyebrows and moved on. The next few people, including She Who Must Be Obeyed and me showed him our tickets. Then he came across a young man who also hadn’t purchased a ticket. Again the inspector just raised his eyebrows.
So what was the point of anyone paying for their travel? Oh yes, we’re honest!
Our walk from the station to the festival was also amusing. We walked along a road which had been turned into a pedestrian zone. However, cars were not only allowed to continue to drive along it, but also park. There were clear signs that it was a pedestrian zone and the road had even been paved over but for some reason cars were still permitted along it!
As we got closer to the festival we passed some large houses, three or four stories high, which had been turned into bedsits. A man was standing at the bottom looking up having just rung one of the door bells. A woman, still in her dressing gown, poked her head out of the window and their conversation went like this:
Man: Is Mark there?
Woman: He doesn’t live here anymore.
Man: You know where he’s gone?
Woman: No, he left no forwarding address.
Man: You know where he is now?
Woman: No, I don’t know where he lives.
The man then got into his very large Mercedes and drove off!
We made it to the festival fifteen minutes late because of the signal man but our friends were even later so it didn’t really matter. By now, we were all ready to try some seriously hot stuff!
There was plenty to sample and there was even more to buy. We tried all the usual suspects, but were saving ourselves for the ones that came with a health warning – sauces with names such as ‘Colon Cleaner’, ‘Satan’s Shit’ and ‘Dragon’s Blood’.
I had been warned about the latter so was a little wary of it. So to work myself up to it, I tried one the salesperson said was only a medium hot sauce – it nearly took my head off! So we walked about a bit trying to cool our mouths off; tasting anything else which looked harmless. That’s when we came across the fudge.
It was like having a piece of clotted cream fudge. It just melted on the tongue, that sweet, creamy flavour. However, as you allowed the juices to slither down the throat, the kick of chilli hit. The fudge had the aforementioned ‘Dragon’s Blood’ as one of its ingredients!
So having sampled it in the fudge, back to the other tent we went. They had a second version of the sauce available today which was billed as being twice as hot as the original. And with this new found courage, we sampled the sauce.
Not only did we survive, but we found it weaker than the earlier medium hot sauce. Or maybe we no longer had any feeling or taste buds left on our tongues!