All told, last weekend was pretty 'Best of British'.
Now, that's in danger of becoming a dirty word at the moment (stop that, Ed.) but with the sun shining down on a slightly bonkers Royal Wedding - complete with top draw US pastor and Wembley looking resplendent for the FA Cup Final it was all very pleasant on Saturday.
For me, this just set the stage for Sunday. If you've not been living under a rock for the last few years you'll have heard of Tom Kerridge, a top-drawer UK chef who whilst not dishing out the dinners has a sideline in BBC TV shows and cooking books. When he's not doing all that guff, he runs several eating holes around Berkshire way including the Michelin stared gaff, 'The Hand and Flowers'
But there's more! Every year, he throws a mini-festival in Marlow called 'Pub in the Park' which is loosely described as 'a mix of gourmet food, cracking music and lush vibes'. Well, camera and AAA Press Pass in hand, we drove the 10 min journey to Marlow to check if it ticked those boxes.
First thing to note is that PITP is split into afternoon and evening sessions (so they can clean up and restock the food tents, and presumably some people can have a tea and a ciggy).
The afternoon session is really laid back. Full of kids, but for those worried, not in an annoying way. There were tonnes of stalls with yer actual artisan fare from fudge to gin which Mrs. W wasn't short on sampling.
Photography wise, work was brisk - it being a captive market for people, it suited my particular street style down to a tee and I got loads of shots of people enjoying those very real 'lush vibes'.
The proper food available is pretty much fantastic. It's all grouped around staff and chefs from particular local-ish top drawer restaurants including The Hand and Flowers. One dish in particular - a pulled pork affair in a taco - had us umming and arrive for ages. Nom nom indeed.
Tom Kerridge himself did an excellent and amusing talk, during which I managed to get in close for some action shots. Some bacon got stuck to a grill at one point, so I hope I didn't put him off. If that's the case Tom, my apologies.
So, what else is there? Well, there's the music. During the afternoon slot, there were various acts pitched into the burning sunshine. Among others were Exeter based duo Sound of the Sirens whose folky stompers and banter got everyone going, plus 80's ledge Roland Gift who reeled out the hits for the 'older' members of the crowd, although the youngsters seemed to be enjoying it too.
AFTERNOON SESSION SHOTS.
After a brief but enjoyable half time pint in The Chequers, we headed back onto site for the evening session. Less kids about, but we noticed a more 'poshed up' vibe for the evening.
Naturally, the evening session seems to be a bit more about the music, but perhaps as we'd done the stalls we naturally found ourselves around the main stage area. Unlike the afternoon shoot, the evening 'pit' area was a lot more crowded with VIP's, so I couldn't get as close as I'd like (and I didn't want to upend anyone's tea!) but none the less I got loads of shots of the two headliners.
We've seen KT Tunstall before and she's a really enjoyable live act - even more so when she's using the guitar as percussion and looping it without a full band to be seen (and yes, she was doing that before Ed Sheeran...). She did a pitch-perfect 30 mins and left the crowd plenty of time to get to the IPA tent before the main act.
Now, I'm not actually much of a Will Young fan. He doesn't appear much in any musical Venn diagram I might have, however I was pleasantly surprised. Firstly, he's got far more hits than I remember and secondly, he's a real proper bouncing up and down full-on performer with a great voice. Plus, he had a fantastic band, some of which I recognised from the The Voice house band.
An hour whizzed by and the crowd lapped it up. Along with the lovely food and drink, music, talks etc they'd been doing that all day.
So, did Pub in the Park live up to expectations? Oh yes. Sure, it's easy to be snarky about the general vibe and perhaps middle-class nature of it all if you're a bit cool for school, but ignore that and what remains is a lovely small-scale celebration of national food, drink and cooking with added tunes in a beautiful setting.
And that my friends, is a real reason to be proud to be British.
EVENING SESSION SHOTS.
Travelled light, but mostly the Batis 85mm and the Sony 55.
Many thanks to Stevie-Jayne Mather and the rest of the SwitchedOn PR team for press pass assistance.