Escape London, to Wyndstock: a costume garden party

31 Aug

The beautiful Pylewell House, perfect setting for Wyndstock

Escape London does exactly what it says on the tin:  It escapes London at every given opportunity.  Not because it dislikes London, but because it feels drawn to all things wild, weird and wonderful.  With that in mind, Wyndstock was the obvious choice to begin this August Bank Holiday weekend.  Wyndstock was initially whispered invitingly in my direction by a good friend.  It sounded perfect, a costume Garden Party down by the sea in the New Forest.  It felt as if Wyndstock had somehow been blown merrily along to me, carried on the breeze of a mid-Summer’s afternoon.  It was to be kept a secret, divulged unto only the closest of friends, to those who would bring something unique and charming to the partie’s beautiful banquet table.  And, put simply Wyndstock worked.

Crowds gather for an impromptu dance lesson.

A small, eclectic crowd of around 400 people slowly gathered in the grounds of  the sprawling estate, early Saturday afternoon.  Having steadfastly battled through the Bank Holiday traffic they wound their way carefully through the 80 acres of forest, water gardens and manicured lawns…all aiming for a small gathering of tents, tucked away in a secluded corner in front of the magnificent Pylewell House.  Those of us lucky enough to have secured Glamping tickets were in for a treat, an encampment of mini-tepees with blow-up mattresses, duvets and pillows, complete with Wyndstock goody bags, awaited our arrival.   Having been forever resolute in avoiding the luxury of Glamping, Escape London is not afraid to admit that it was pretty dam comfy in that Tepee.  Perhaps, on special occasions a Glamp here and there would be forgiveable?  It certainly keeps one’s girlfriend happy.  Food for thought.

Having arrived early, Escape London and friends had the run of the grounds.  Skipping joyously through the afternoon showers our group of four drank heartily from a bar, adorned with hanging plants, fairy lights and flowers.  The enticing lawn was home to the various games and activities, (Boules, Croquet and Badminton) which would fill the next couple of hours.

One of the benefits of having a party set in 80 acres of land is the chance to explore, wander and get lost, whilst swigging from copious bottles of cider.  Following the red ribbons tied to various posts and fences lead party goers into the heart of the water gardens, a host of lakes, woodland and pathways in the midst of the estate.  A boat was found, hidden away in a bush and of course, commandeered.  A plucky bunch attempted to negotiate the algae-clogged lake with only half an oar and a pineapple with which to paddle.  They looked the part, sort of, but got nowhere.

Wyndstockers attempt a channel crossing with a pineapple for a paddle.

The rest of the afternoon was spent basking in the sunshine playing boules, drinking more Pimms and Cider than is wise and learning new moves on the dancefloor.  Regular dance lessons were offered on the lawn and enthusiastic folk ‘itched’ their way through the Charleston whilst giggling uncontrollably.  For those with less rhythm but a creative eye, there was the age-old favourite ‘make an animal out of vegetables’ activity table.  There were some suitably odd creations and a few that will probably be snapped up by Pixar for their next feature.  Escape London decided to throw his on the fire in a sacrificial offering to the Gods, there is no explanation as to the thought process behind such an act.  It just felt, right.

Escape London cannot take credit for this masterpiece...

As the night progressed, food was served, this was perhaps the only part of the event that didn’t run quite as smoothly as hoped.  There were a few mutterings of discontent from the crowd as news spread that much of the feast had run out by 8.30pm (dinner was promised to be served until 10pm or everyone had been served) but it was soon acknowledged that a meagre meal was not a life or death situation and people bravely moved on.  The fire was lit, the 3 small hot-tubs were overflowing with arms, legs and other stuff and the party was in full swing.

The wonders of Wyndstock...


In all honesty, Wyndstock becomes somewhat of a blur post-dinner.  Escape London recalls toasting nicely by the huge bonfire, embroiled in excellent and important conversations with those around.  There was also a fireworks display whose show was well and truly stolen by an escaped dog.  An excitable, cheeky little rapscallion who took obvious delight in evading capture for the duration of the spectacle.

Wyndstock firework display.

Attention was finally focussed towards the dance-floor, as always Escape London was quick to unleash the one move from it’s repetoire…the bounce.  The music was (possibly) ecclectic and definitely fun.  Special mention also needs to be offered to the man wearing the ‘Owl Lamp Hat’.  For those of you who were there, you’ll know the one I mean.  It was an awesome adornment.

And the prize for most magnificent hat, goes to....

The following morning saw bleary eyed revellers bathed in the sunshine of an end of Summer’s Sunday.  As weary bodies emerged from their various tents and tepee’s it was clear that the morning after the night before was a painful but happy occasion.  The promise of  a hearty cooked breakfast had people queuing outside the marquee in a bedraggled line for a good couple of hours.  Again, this wasn’t the smoothest of operations and many were left many without their promised helpings, but Wyndstock is in it’s infancy and will learn from these small errors on an otherwise impeccable scorecard.

Glorious end to Wyndstock

Escape London and friends made the most of the beautiful morning down on the coastline paddling in the sea, climbing trees and discussing adventures from the night before.  We were unanimous in our praise for the event:  Wyndstock had been unique, charming, well planned and above all enormous fun.  As with all new events there were teething problems, but these only revealed themselves in the form of the food service, not a bad effort considering.  Wyndstock will hopefully continue and establish itself as an exclusive, essential Summer party for those in the know.  It’s certainly going straight in the diary for next year and Escape London will be fervidly searching for an Owl-Lamp-Hat in the meantime…

One Response to “Escape London, to Wyndstock: a costume garden party”

  1. Miss Immy August 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    I was there too and thought it was great fun! Lovely post you’ve written, spot on. And love your last photo!

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