I’m on my way to Walthamstow. There’s a festival on in Lloyd Park, and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain are playing. It’s a hot day, and I’m surprised by how many people are going to this place. I’m expecting a few kebab stalls, and a load of drunk people lying in a field, so I pack a couple of Strongbow to get me through. At the gate, I realise this is more of a babyfest, than a wino riot.
I’m checked at the gates, but security miss my cider cans, hidden under my respectable-looking camera case, and I’m let in feeling slightly criminal. There’s young couples galore, a myriad baby buggies – all the trendy ones, yummy mummies, faddy daddies, even someone wearing a ‘walthamstow dad’ t-shirt, just in case we weren’t clear of his role, pushing little Oscar along in his Bugaboo. Not a gun or spliff in sight – this place really has become the cool place to hang out. (I’ve since found that ‘walthamstow dad‘ t-shirts are sold in support of the Whipps Cross Hospital maternity ward. If you’re a dad in Walthamstow, go buy one!)
I see my crew in the shade of a tree, and make my way through a herd of buggies, treading carefully so as not to step on any babies, like one of those nature documentaries where David Attenburgh steps gingerly amongst fields of seabirds, trying to avoid having albatross bile ejected onto his trouser leg, or his plonker pecked by a penguin.
Music from the main stage wafts over to us in the breeze and a couple of alcoholics are having a domestic. The Strongbow is finished, so I decide to take a look around. I’m queueing for a pint in the beer tent when I spot a 2-pint bottle of scrumpy being walked around. I leave the crowded beer tent to seek out the source of the scrumpy, and find The Somerset Ploughman stand.
They offer Burrow Hill Farmhouse cider by the litre, and it’s also cheaper if you have your own container! My friends roll their eyes as I return to the fold with my 2 litre milk bottle full of piss-coloured fluid. It has a sharp, tangy taste, slightly bitter, oaky and quite dry. I’m glad to have found a proper cider. Burrow Hill is another cider farm that welcomes visitors – one for the list on my West Country tour. They’ve been in business for 150 years, apparently spearheading the cider brandy revival, and offer a wide range of cider brandies. That sounds like something I must try. I also discover that October 16th is ‘Apple Day’. Or maybe it’s the 21st, I’ll have to wait and see, how exciting.
As the music starts hotting up, I’m wondering if I will wake up under this tree in the morning, however, the offspring begin to tire and the bugaboo herds begin to leave, I sip that last drop of Burrow Hill, and head off with the hardcore to the pub. Walthamstow dad t-shirt will be covered in vom by now.