This weekend saw my family inviting friends and relations to BenFest2, our second outdoor event in which we stage a themed mini-festival in our garden in Beckenham. Our son Ben turned 12 in May and whilst the event was initiated to mark his birthday, it is now established as taking place in June.  How lucky we were with the weather too, thanks to an early summer heatwave.

We introduced a number of new ideas this year, building upon the music, games, food, drink, relaxing and camping, which made the inaugural BenFest such a success last year. These included a homemade Led Zep frisbee game; a new table top scoring target to sit alongside the table tennis facility (which is now a fixture at the end of the garden); extensive rock-orientated artwork kindly supplied by my nephew Steve; and special juice drinks mixed by Ben and his friend Gabriel. Plus additional Sonos speakers playing Ben’s chosen playlist with over eleven hours of hits from down the years! Julie had also purchased a series of masts and flying fish and these joined the MU banners and ever-popular Wheel of Fortune.

Guests began arriving around 6pm, many bringing rainbow-themed desserts and gifts for Ben. It was a particular pleasure to welcome bassist Geoff Gascoyne and his son Lewis, our former Schroder colleague Elaine Bodimeade and her partner Mark, as well as many of our regular contacts from the local Langley Park Schools. Julie had excelled herself with the superb catering on offer and the early evening pizza and vegetarian options proved understandably popular. There was so much food available that we never got round to the planned hot dogs and curry! The numerous bags of ice helped considerably with keeping the beers and wine cool. A must considering the temperature.

It appeared a relaxing and fun time was had by all, with the pre-teens enjoying some open air freedom and contributing to our main momento by writing and decorating the BenFest2 logo banner on the trellis. The evening seemed to pass only too  quickly and before long we were saying goodbye and thank you to parents and kids, with each one taking home the customised treat bags Julie had arranged to be especially-made locally.

Those sleeping over in the garden hit the main tent around midnight and the hardcore BenFest’ers left on the patio appreciated the cool early hours air and chilled atmosphere.

The great clear up began at half seven the following morning and carried on until around 5 o’clock in the afternoon. How did we make such a mess? However, our huge thanks to everyone who came and made the day so memorable. Plus huge kudos to Julie and Lisa for their efforts. BenFest3 seems a certainty in 2019! Perhaps with live music being more of a focus next year.


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