Gig in the Garden
Fionola Meredith makes no apologies for enjoying a terribly middle-class day out at sunny Minnowburn
When it comes to music festivals, sometimes you want them to be down and dirty: a dark, neon-spattered field, a cheap burger in your hand, and searingly loud bands that drive every single thought out of your brain. And sometimes you don't.
Gig in the Garden, a one-day event that took place on Saturday, August 4 in the old Rose Garden at Minnowburn, was the antithesis of the filthy, muddy rock festival. It was truly lovely: a simple, sun-drenched afternoon of music.
Lying back on the lawn, socks and wellies kicked off, with home-made tomato sauce from an organic burger running down my chin, I feel deliciously relaxed. Katie and the Carnival are on stage, as whimsical and charming as ever, Katie's big, soulful voice floating away over the treetops.
We can't actually see the band very well, because they're performing under a large Bedouin-style tent, and it's dark in there – you can only catch the odd glimpse of pink, glittery guitar – but the sound is great: lush, full and resonant, enhanced by some enthusiastic free-range drumming. And their new single, 'Dinosaurs', is the kind of irresistibly catchy song that makes your heart lift.
This is how summer ought to be: good food, good music, kids running barefoot in the grass. Gig in the Garden is ultra family-friendly, with plenty of circus activities laid on for the little ones, small-scale meals available, and lots of room to scamper about.
It's also unashamedly middle-class, with Marks and Spencers food bags and Boden-clad children much to the fore, just as you might expect with a National Trust event. I even see a breast-feeding mummy, but I don't mean that as a criticism. After all, I had brought my own plastic-backed rug (how middle-class is that?), and I'm a former militant breastfeeder myself.
There is no sense of snobbery or exclusivity at Gig in the Garden, however, just a warm-hearted, friendly openness, and a palpable sense of enjoyment at the blue skies, heavenly home-made food (courtesy of Root and Branch Organic), great local beers (mine 's a Belfast Blonde) and effortlessly chilled-out music.
There isn't much else to do, other than admire the view, check out the chainsaw sculptures by local artist Ivan McNally, or take another stroll up to the canteen area and get more coffee and cakes. But that's all part of the charm.
Trying not to giggle as inept dads attempt a bit of offbeat juggling in the circus area serves to pass the time quite nicely in the coffee queue. A succession of local bands keep the easy-going momentum up all afternoon: Sons of Caliber, the New Sherriffs, and a great set of sweet, sunshiny music by the Jepettos.
It's the kind of day where the worst thing that could happen is that your darjeeling tea-bag might spring a leak. Mine does, but I don't care. I don't know about you, but I could do with more days like this.