The air is filled with pulsing latin rhythms from a salsa band, ice cream vans are poised to dispense frozen dairy treats, food stalls offer tastes of the Caribbean, Orient and other exotic destinations, fiery chilli peppers adorn every stall, and vividly coloured sombreros are much in evidence. Everything is set for VanHemCon ’08, operating undercover as the West Dean Chilli Fiesta.
Still, being back in good old Blighty after a week’s holiday, there was one more element to complete things, namely torrential rain (though having been away in Ireland that wasn’t so different). The ice cream vans weren’t doing much of a trade, the salsa band were huddled in a tent and the sombreros were either being worn ironically or as ad-hoc head-mounted umbrellas (usually both, I suspect).
Still, it takes more than the threat of drowning to put off hardy adventurers. The best laid schemes o’ mice n’ men nearly ganged a-gley, as they aft do, when mobile phone reception proved distinctly patchy; one faint bar of signal seemed to exist in the area of trouser pockets, but when removing the phone to actually make or receive a call it promptly vanished. Communication was established in the end, and thanks in no small part to Bob‘s hat contact was made. With a bit of luck (and some heavy editing) the results might make an appearance at a podcast near you before too long.
Chilli-wise, I avoided the more dangerous stuff with skull-emblazoned labels and lengthy disclaimers; my pick of the show is a rather excellent Green Jalapeño dipping jam. Great for general dipping, and pepping up a cheese sandwich.