author. Ashleigh Howells


The Observer 

Today is a busier day and so as the workshops and speaker tents burst at their seams with popularity and I instead find myself people watching. Today I am captivated by those eclectic festival goers and all their quirks who sit around me, and I observe.

So relaxed are the parents here that children run and play freely in amongst tables and picnic blankets laughing and behaving as children should, watched, nonchalantly by their contented minders or au pairs who chat with distant old friends sipping San Pellegrino or pink prosecco.

What amazes me about Port Eliot is the real sense of utopian community and family – minus of course the slight argy bargy when attempting to find a seat for a popular show! It feels like a big garden party really for the social elite. There are no divides here and it is like being in a serene Cornish bubble of the St. German people’s world. 

Unlike yesterday the sky boasts a battleship grey and short bursts of rain send a slow panic into the already heaving tents, as those left to soak lean their heads under the buckling canopies to keep their vintage straw hats and designer sunglasses dry. 

As the rain dissipates the damp soaks into the saturated earth and out come hampers ad wineglasses once again and children cartwheel and handstand on the dewy grass. Not even the rain interrupts the sedentary watchers here. Calmness mingles with a buzz of maintained excitement and frivolity, even in the chaos of moving bodies as an act opens or ends and the constant hum of people mutually agreeing with each other or politely disagreeing resonates the air. Community indeed, expression encouraged. This is the place to show your individuality; your talent; your craft. Or if failing all three; to show off your new Birkenstock sandals or Seasalt jumper.

This is a great place to just sit and do nothing. A true holiday in the south west. Pasties, prosecco and strawberries finished with a honeycomb ice cream, or for the more adventurous the spicy thai cuisine or hot bubbling Scandinavian stew. The food is excellent and adds to the atmosphere of the place. With the odd whiff of something herbal and outlawed it is overpowered mostly by smells of cooking, produce and cider and I find myself constantly hungry. An insatiable appetite for food and for learning. I am being moulded into a being of ultimate hedonism and I laugh. This festival must not have changed from its conception.  The wealthy family of Port Eliot’s pure motivation of course, to create a garden party free from rules, free from conventions and free from altercations.