Charleston Festival 2009

The Charleston Festival is a wonderful literary festival held at the Bloomsbury Group’s country home in East Sussex. It is such a magical setting with the rolling South Downs overlooking the untainted farmhouse where the Bloomsbury Group used to paint, write, read, debate and, ultimately, work. http://www.charleston.org.uk/

It was the topic of work which led me to sit in a bustling marquee to listen to Alain de Botton talk about his latest book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work http://tiny.cc/L4dLV Alain never seemed to draw breath as he held the audience captive with tales of shipping goods across the world and the workings of a biscuit factory. For anyone who ever feels bored, frustrated or even numb in the workplace – this is the book for you. Alain does not provide the answers, instead he explores the modern workplace with all its complexities and absurdities and he presents it back to us in a digestible form – the lasting message? It is ok to turn off the Blackberry; work does not have to define who we are.

I also went to see Debo Mitford, otherwise known as, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. She is a stunning, bright and inspirational eighty-nine year old with a quicker wit than I think I have ever encountered before. Hearing her talk about her life is both hilarious and awe-inspiring. Having attended major events of the 20th century, such as Kennedy’s inauguration and funeral, she is a true witness to the mind-boggling change that took place during the last century.

Lastly, the Charleston Festival is one of the best places in the known universe to get a cup of tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake. The Charleston Tea Tent is situated in the orchard overlooking the Sussex countryside; peppered with cow parsley that skirts around the trestle tables and knarled apple trees, the orchard is where tea was made for drinking.

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