This year saw a return to Joan and Hugh Baker's peaceful farm (well it was until we arrived) in Wales, and due to a fairly high wind we had sun instead of rain. Having arrived early by courtesy of three of BR's hells-on-wheels (two pairs of ear-plugs, one tin radio, one squalling baby, and four soccer louts with attendant cans), I was able to relax under a heap of whirring blue and cream fur and gaze at all the right books, pictures and magnificent banner, while the hobbits-on-wheels (or most of the wheels) arrived. Tents of all shapes and sizes burgeoned in the field, from the one-man-crawl-in-flat type to two erections resembling Buck House with all mod cons. Lee and Co. having parked the "Holloway" down the road, had to comb the hedgerows next day for their lost wheel which was then placed on a pole as the totem.
Having sampled the wares at the local, and endured the slowest rendering of "Va pensiero" on record from the resident choir, we adjourned to a splendid new barn where our own bar was set out, and the news was gently broken that the remains of its predecessor were to feed the bonfire next night.
Saturday dawned somewhat later than intended, in fact it coincided with the arrival of Helen, Andy & Goldy! After breakfast Brin's predictions of "idling about, etc." proved very hollow - the barns's remains had to be dismembered and stacked! All hands, large and very small, participated happily, with many pauses for refreshment and a visit to the house to see Joan's wonderful collection of photographs, letters, pictures and books. About five pm Jonathan commenced his ambition to burn the barn with a single match, and the superb conflagration continued for some twelve hours plus.
Joan, family, friends and dogs fed us splendidly, then we all adjourned to recline on bales of hay around the fire and talk and drink the night away. At some stage Mike slipped off to photograph moonrise over fair Liverpool, the designated workers remorselessly fed the flames, and guess who was pinned this time by a heap of whirring white fur?
Sunday dawned even later, with much cleaning up and striking of tents, and a video show. First we saw the Skirmish at Greenwich, courtesy of Brin, then Joan showed us the TV "Tolkien Remembered" which was, for the most part, extremely enjoyable. Afterwards some hacking took place in the field, and then it was time to go our various ways. At least Richard transported me to the station in time for the through train because it was running late, and it was extremely empty all the way, to my relief.
The thanks of the combined members of various Smials are certainly due to Joan and Hugh, family, friends, cats, dogs and horses, for a splendid and memorable Summermoot.
First published in Amon Hen 106.