Just back from The Fresh Festival 2006. It was a long road in and yet the Festival itself seemed to be over in the blink of an eye.
And I'm really not sure where to start, and hoping that Get Fresh! editor Sarah will furnish me with a review to post in the next few days as I'm pretty worn out now that it's all over! (This pic is of me on Saturday night dressed in my waitress outfit collecting dinner tickets with Luke, my son. This turned out to be a 20 hour day!)
So, while I wait for Sarah to help me out here, here are some of the highlights for me personally as far as I can remember...
- Arriving at Rookery Manor again (it's the second year we've run our Festival from here) was exciting. It's a great venue, large, beautiful and it had been made over even more since our last visit. More chandeliers, new flooring in the ballroom, 2 flash new bars, a much bigger kitchen and lots more. It really is a fantastic venue.
- Meeting Rene (again), his partner Lydia (for the first time) and all the kitchen staff, old and new. The kitchen staff really were the most wonderful bunch of people imaginable - all so different, all so special and they had a ball working together from Wednesday to Sunday producing truly delicious food.
- Seeing Russell (Russell James, Raw Chef) again after his trip from NY. I think we have both changed a lot in the 6 weeks or so that we've been apart, and catching up again was good fun; he is one of my best friends in the world and seeing him do his thing on the stage and in the kitchen amongst about 10 others was a first and very gratifying for all concerned.
- Seeing everything start to come together from Friday morning through to the 5pm doors open. The Fresh shop looked great (good job Pete!), the juice bar bedazzling, the food booth awe-inspiring (this is how food SHOULD look!) and the other stalls came together beautifully as presenters arrived throughout the Friday evening and Saturday morning.
- Meeting people on the door from 5pm Friday through til Festival end at 6:30 on Sunday. What fantastic people are attracted to the Festival. So many new friends made, it was a wonderful sight to behold but more than that the vibe was really something special.
- My bedroom! I lucked out last year when the venue gave my bedroom away to guests by accident! But this year I finally got the Suite. What can I tell you? A beautiful 4 poster bed in a massive bedroom plus jacuzzi bath and power shower in an adjoining tiled bathroom and a lovely view out over the waterfall and gardens. The bed was the most comfortable I think I'd ever slept in and I enjoyed every second ; )
- The food - all of it was delicious and the amount of work that went into it, well, I can't even begin to tell you.
- The lectures - all excellent, and those I didn't hear I'll be listening to on CD (and you can too if you'd like to; simply call The Fresh Network on 0845 833 7017 if you'd like to order Festival CDs as they're not online yet)
- Meeting Paul Nison again after about 6 years and his wife Andrea. They are such a lovely kind couple and couldn't have been more helpful and thoughtful.
- Serving dinner again on Saturday night. Last year I waitressed, this year again too. I'm sure it's a lot more fun than sitting down eating.... well, maybe!
- Dancing the night away all night Saturday night. The DJ this year was top notch, not one dodgy record all night!
- The live singing from Jackie Rawe. As ever Jackie was a hit with everyone and her songs never fail to inspire and uplift.
- Jason Vale's presentation first thing Sunday morning had me laughing out loud. He really does know how to entertain as well as educate and though he speaks faster than anyone else I know, I got about 90% of what he said and it rocked!
- Handing Elaine Bruce her 70th birthday card and flowers. Elaine is the most inspiring (not to mention healthy) 70 year old I know and her birthday was on Sunday. I presented her flowers on Saturday just before she spoke, and as well as being a wonderful friend she is also one of the most gracious and grateful people on this planet.
- Chats with Trish and Joe (Passion4Juice Juice Bar), Jason Vale, Roz Graham and many more besides. I didn't get a lot of opportunities to stand still, but when I did I made sure my time was well spent!
- My final presentation. I presented 3 times during the Festival but they were all very short spots. My third was on the subject of The 5 Stages of Raw Transformation. Although it was the end of the weekend and I had run around like a crazy thing for days, when it came to my moment I felt amazingly calm and present. I spoke for 30 minutes on one of my favourite subjects and got some tremendous feedback. I'll be posting a portion of it on my web site in the next week or so, and the CD is already available to buy via The Fresh Network, or there'll be the MP3 option available online to buy as well, again, in about a week.
- The dinner times with the kitchen staff - pre-Fest and post-Fest we had some really nice meal times with the chefs. Times like this are very special, the energy was great, even after the long hours and sore feet!
- Sleeping the last night with Luke who had been with daddy Pete the previous 3 nights. We went to bed at about 11pm on the Sunday night and had to be ready for 9 the next morning. Not easy, as we were both a bit frazzled and laying in bed was the most attractive option in all the world, but we made it and after the paperwork and all that goes with it, we set off home for the long journey back to Cambridgeshire.
Will we do another one?
Well, we honestly were seriously considering making the 2006 one our last Festival as it is such a lot of work (on top of everything else we do), but having now come out the other side and heard what everyone had to say before, during and after, we have committed to making another one happen and have reserved Rookery Manor for the same time next year and already we are brainstorming what we'll do differently in 2007 and who we'll invite to speak. Next year's will be very very different, we know that much - but a good different. Those who thought this year's was great, well, watch out, next year's will be awesome. So watch this space!
PS: We had 3 journalists present including one from the Guardian (and a photographer) so look out for something in 1-2 weeks time on a Wednesday... Apprently they are doing a 2-page spread on raw foods including the Festival and the journalist is also doing a week on raw this week, using my new eBook as her guide.