We have had a great weekend at West Dean visiting the Chilli Fiesta. It is the first time they have allowed camping in the grounds and it was an opportunity too good to miss! We arrived quite early on Friday and got ourselves set up. It's the first time we've been able to use the awning too. It was great to have the extra space. I'm not sure it would hold up well in strong winds though! Only a few other campers had arrived before us.
The camping facilities weren't bad at all. They really could have done with a few more toilets in the camping area. They had 4 showers which didn't seem like many for so many campers but we didn't have to wait very long and they were good showers and the water was hot.
Great view eh! It wasn't this empty for long but there was plenty of space for everyone - especially if you were in a tent so you could really spread out. The caravans and campervans were together in one area and were pitched quite close together but it was fine.
There were lots of lovely stalls selling all sorts of chilli-related food, sauces and other delights! I do like a bit of spicey food but I wouldn't say I'm a devoted chilli-eater. That didn't stop me trying lots of things including a ridiculous tongue-burningly hot orange/naga chilli jam. Naga chillies are the hottest. The jam was hot, hot, hot! It had a lovely orange flavour to start with and then WHAM. It felt like my tongue was bubbling. I have to say the blistering heat of the chilli rather spoilt the lovely orange flavour and when I was chatting to another stall holder later he said that his products used fresh chillies which give you the heat without the pain and the 'recovery' period is much quicker. He said you should get the heat towards the back of your throat and not on the tongue. He encouraged me to try his very hot (also naga!) jam. I have to admit I was reluctant after my first experience (it took me at least an hour to recover!) but I did try it and he was right!
Did I say there was a LOT of very tempting food on offer! The pizza cooked to order in a wood fired pizza oven by '5minutepizza' was amazing. One of the best pizzas I have ever had.
We visited the fabulous Dessert Deli several times over the weekend. It was so hard to choose from their lovely cakes and desserts. The chocolate mousse was gorgeous, as was the banoffee cheesecake and the carrot cake (erm, calorie counting was suspended for the weekend!)
I crocheted some 'chilli' bunting for the van ;-)
Ate some more food...
They had a 30 minute Zumba class in the morning on Saturday and Sunday which was fun and hopefully helped undo a bit of the over induglence on the cake front!
We wandered around the gardens and admired the beautiful flowers. It was lovely to see so many bees and butterflies in the gardens too.
The local wasp population were out in force and enjoying the free samples!
The display of chillies was really impressive. They come in so many sizes, shapes and colours!
On Saturday we went for a walk up to St Roche's Arboretum and got a great view of the house and festival
I did seem to take rather a lot of food photos ;-)
On Sunday we decided to have a picnic lunch in the gardens to get away from the crowds for a while so bought some very tasty rolls to have for lunch along with some ewe's cheese with lavender (a very nice soft cheese) and some chorizo. Yum!
I couldn't resist sneaking a photo of this chap's chilli pants! Cool eh!
So, about that angle grinder. Let's just say it seemed to put a smile on the men's faces! I'm guessing she doesn't buy her underwear at M&S ;-)
She did warm up with a bit of fire twirling and eating first
We have already booked up to go next year :-)