This weekend was the perfect example of the summertime British festivities. 

We were aware of one fayre in our general area, but would have been unable to make it due to other commitments.  Namely, Stagecoach.  But, when we arrived at the school for Stagecoach, the kids refused to go.  The older one was tired after her morning gymnastics practice and had a meet the next day.  The younger was really just feeling lazy and used her stomach as an excuse again. 

However, she had homework for the mid-term break, so we decided to stay in the town and get the homework done – it required mapping out one of the main streets.  Afterwards, they wanted ice cream.  We thought we’d stop for ice cream and they might change their minds about Stagecoach, since we were an hour early.  However, on our way to get ice cream, we drove through Lindfield, a small village surrounding Haywards Heath.  Right there in the center, was a fayre.  And a very proper and traditional British fayre it was.  Rides, games, stalls, tombola, raffles, fancy dress competition, and food.  Things missing were shows, races and physical competitions.

Needless to say, they wanted to stop for that.  In the midst of having fun in the fun house and spending money on games, they forgot about their ice cream.  That is, until we had to leave when we ran out of money.  They still refused Stagecoach, but they wanted their ice cream.

Next day, we had the gymnastics competition in Horsham.  Our daughter competed in the morning session (8:30-12:00), but she wanted to stay for the afternoon session to watch other teammates.  In the middle of it, she was tired and wanted to go outside to play.  I stayed to keep our seats, while my husband took the girls out for a short spell.  It was unbelievably hot and the younger one came in after a while saying she didn’t feel well because of the heat. 
However, there was a fun-fair right there in the park where the gym was.  I believe it was a charity event.  The kids wanted to stay after the competition to enjoy the fair, but we were exhausted, especially since we had only been snacking all day.  We needed real food and were not about to pay a lot of money on junk at the fair.

But this weekend showed us that we were entering the season of fun.  On the way to the gym, we saw signs for a horse show and another for a dog show.  All of this, happening in one weekend.  I hope we survive this summer without going bankrupt or dealing with too many tantrums.

We opted for the Fletching village fete.  It was spread out across the village cricket green with various stalls.  One section was reserved for the vintage car show.  Then there was the bell-ringing in the church.  That was unique.  My husband and our younger daughter participated in that.  Meanwhile, our older daughter and I visited the art exhibit within the church.  Quite an impressive display, and though she could not afford it, our daughter wanted to buy several paintings.  I must say, it would have been nice to support the local talent.

The atmosphere of the fete was quite subdued, and I wondered if that was the case for all fetes.  As I understand it, the difference between a fete and a fayre is that the fayres usually have competitive games and rides.  Of course, the Rusper fayre did not have rides, but it did have games.  This fete had some children’s games, a bowling pitch, clay pigeon shoot, and air water-bottles, but no participatory competitions.  The fayres concentrated more on fun, whereas the fetes concentrated on sales.  There were various stalls from different charities and organisations, selling books and other items for funds.  Others sold plants and produce, jams, etc.

Of course, the distinctions between fayres and fetes have probably dissolved over the years, with many churches and villages changing the venues.  It’s getting harder to define these traditional British celebrations.  We still have yet to experience the carnivals.  In the US, the word “carnival” is used so loosely to mean a fun-fair, that it will be a new experience.  Of course, we had parades in the US, but it was never followed with a fayre.

When we visited the UK this time last year, we drove around Wiltshire and found a small village holding a Mayday Fayre.  Very “villagy” setting.  It had food, music, a few games and several table-top stalls.  But, having a British husband, I knew we were not getting the full traditional fayre treatment.

So, we hoped to do better this year.  It was with dismay, however, when I found that two places nearby were holding a fayre and neither sounded very traditional or interesting.  The Friday-Ad did not list any others.  So, I turned to the internet.  The problem with that is that many villages would not think to advertise there.  But, I figured, if they didn’t use technology and they wouldn’t even list in the papers, they probably either didn’t have one, or it was not worth listing. I guess I didn’t realise that some of these villages might be so well-known for having a grand fayre that word-of-mouth was adequate.  Since we are not too well-acquainted with anyone in our area, we didn’t hear about any.

Anyhow, I turned to technology.  I know we should plan our weekends way ahead of time, but nothing in our lives ever fall into place with our plans anyway.  So, I was searching for activities on Sunday.  I was quickly frustrated with the Google searches because I could not find anything nearby.  Some great fayres were being held in various counties around England, but none in our area.  A fewer smaller events were taking place in villages in our Sussex, but they were not close and they were for Sunday.  So, we had already missed out.  If the family was willing, I thought we might try one of the fayres in a neighbouring county.

But the kids were having too much fun with cutting the grass.  (Oh, yes, we couldn’t use the sheep, so we bought hedge shears – they were easier to store and a lot cheaper than a lawn mower.  The kids decided that they wanted to cut the grass, so we let them have at it.  Please don’t report us to the authorities for breaching child labour laws.)  They didn’t want to go anywhere because they found some snails and placed them in a jar and were using their cut-up grass to make salads for their new pets.

Monday morning and I turned to Google again.  After several pages of listings, I finally came upon a small village between Horsham and Crawley, called Rusper.  It didn’t sound big, but certainly bigger than the one last year.  Besides, it was a fairly short trip.  The kids were interested, but not overly enthusiastic.  The younger one liked the idea of a teddy bear parachute.

Well, that was the first stop of the day for us.  We arrived two hours into the festivities and looked around to see what was available.  One of the first events we witnessed was the end of the first Panto Horse race.  It was hysterical and they were calling for people to participate.  The older one had a blank expression on her face and was clearly not impressed with anything.  The younger one pressed for the parachute, so we headed over to the church.  There, Pooh Bear made his first parachute jump from St. Magdalene’s, boasting the highest church tower in West Sussex.  Pooh Bear even got a certificate of achievement for his bravery.

Pooh landed in time for us to witness the second Maypole dancing of the day.  A group of young girls expertly twisting and turning the ribbons around the Maypole was a new experience to me and our girls.  Things went very well until the last dance, when the girls had weaved an intricate pattern on the pole, then went out and each returned with an audience member.  Whether it was the number of dancers present or the newcomers having no idea what to do, it was hard to say, but there were a few moments of confusion as they tried to disentangle the ribbons.

We had already missed both Punch and Judy shows – we have yet to see one.  We went back to the little park where stalls were set up for Tombola, Lucky Dip, some kids’ games, and a few table-top sellers.  We missed the Tombola, but they took a turn with Lucky Dip and the younger one went to hook some boats.  We went back and forth to watch some Wellie Throwing, Panto Horse racing, and coconut shying.  Finally, our older one took an interest and tried the coconut shy.  She was unsuccessful but did manage to hit a coconut once.  Daddy had much less luck.

She also wanted to go in on the Panto Horse, but by this time, it was too late.  But she did jump in for the tug-o-war at the end.  There were several battles between the three pubs in the village.  Then there was the kids’ one, followed by women.  Now, the girls were winning their war when a group of older boys jumped in and pulled the boys back.  More boys joined in for the second war and still had a hard win.  Quite unfair when most of the boys looked to be about 10 years and over, while most of the girls looked to be about 10 years and younger.  Oh, well, they had fun.  They’re looking forward to more May Fayres and fetes.  Tonight, we have a circus.

After becoming so used to the way the US holds elections, it is difficult for me to understand other countries, including England, choosing to call elections when they want. In the US, there are general elections every four years for the presidency and every two years for governor, senate and congressional seats. Those in-between general elections where the presidency is not determined are called mid-term elections. And the date chosen is always the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. However, there may be local elections that are called as needed by local councils.

Here, I have no idea when elections will be held. There is talk that it will be next year, but that it might be moved up to this year. Who decides? The PM? In the US, because there is a time-scale to the election process, you see advertisements for political candidates starting at a specific time in the year. Here, I would find it difficult for candidates to campaign and get their message out to the people in time for them to delve into the politician’s background and beliefs. Candidates would have to campaign continuously because they may not have time to mobilise their staff once they find out the election date. As it stands now, the election could be as early as 3 months or as late as 15 months. The British public must be extremely well-informed when it comes to politics, such that they have no problems going to the polls when elections are announced.