Once again The Castle put on a successful garden party to say thank you for our customers support over the year and to celebrate the centre's achievements.
Sophie Lewis gives a colourful account of the days events.....
As the British summer time finally made its way to London this mid-July and the warm sunshine washed the Castle a deeper shade of red, it was once again time for our annual garden party. With previous years hosting dyno comps, slacklining between the towers , banging tunes and merriment in the form of garden produce inspired cocktails, we were on a mission to make 2015 bigger and better than ever!
Kicking off at noon it was a scorching day. Things heated up with the boulder comp set by our creative and hardworking route setters. With thirty freshly set problems on the outdoors boulders the bright clean holds and elbow grazing walls enticed all ages. Ranging from easy (V0) to nails (V7), there was something for everyone to try. Cash prizes were up for grabs for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, with a diplomatic adult and U16 category. Every scorecard handed in was then placed in a raffle with the chance to win a pair of climbing shoes. With none of the Castle big guns entering that day, it was refreshing to see unknown faces scope the poll positions.
The bouldering comp was complimented by three free dynamic workshops run by instructor extraordinaire Jamie. With three dyno problems to tackle, Jamie eased the group into the art of dynamic movement on the wall. At the end of the workshops the groups were allowed to try the infamous dyno that sets the standards for the world record. The one who flew the furthest received a handy hold brush for their bravery and progress.
The sizzling heat and bouldering sparked a hunger and thirst amongst party goers. Again this year we decided to help promote local and sustainable businesses and invited several small companies to serve up some tasty food and drink. Along with our usual selection of Castle beers, ales and ciders there was fresh juices courtesy of Rejuice. The wonderful mixes of apples, strawberries and oranges came from waste fruit and veg deemed too ‘ugly’ for our supermarket shelves. These mixes buzzing with antioxidants complimented the thermometer which was creeping close to 28 degrees.
Those that followed curious signs to the Herbal Tinctures & Tonics cocktail bar in the depth of the garden were rewarded by a pop up bar made from reclaimed furniture. Behind the helm of this dark architecture loomed a shadowy figure with flowing dreadlocks. Busy pouring, mixing, shaking and serving an array of weird and wonderful concoctions this potion wizard, also known as Nick the maker of Castle balms, ensured that any consenting adult was going to get tipsy. Cocktails on offer were an eclectic mix of ‘Cinnamon Rum, Dandelion and Burdock’, ‘Gin Fennel Martini’ and a cryptic ‘Ginger Ninja’ that seemed to get people up and dancing. ‘The drinks are medicinal’, ensured Nick with a wink.
The enticing smell of wood fire pizzas wafted from our roundhouse as a crew of sweaty staff were busy churning out sourdough pizzas topped with a colorful mix of garden vegetables. As always our pizzas sold out, with over 150 baked and scoffed. Those craving something different found themselves in a long queue for Jed’s Foods Organic veggie and mushroom burgers. Meaty in texture and vegan in nature, these big buns helped fill up growling stomachs. Though service was with a rather cheeky smile as at one busy point expert burger flipper James (our own café staff) let it all hang out he was wildly serving up steaming burgers!!
Other tasty treats on offer for those with a sweet tooth were our own Castle cakes, such as orange and thyme cake, Personal Trainer Mariam’s raw chocolate energy balls and Manor House Development Trust & PACT’s raw chocolate cakes.
All the activities, food and drink were underscored by the live band Antarma and the Family Tree who provided drum shaking, beat boxing, throat singing sounds to our garden. Their unique blend of Djembe, Reggae and Soul Rap got everyone shimmying and swaying to the hypnotic beats.
As the day progressed everyone came out to join the festivities. Castle regulars, families, neighboring locals, staff, even the legendary building team; Irish Gerry and his Polish crew took a break from their dusty workshop and joined us for a cold beer and banter.
For the little ones there were children’s creative activities run by workshop queen Lauren. Guess the garden herb and make a frog or bird puppet kept children and adults entertained under the shady trees.
A moment of calm was given with the Castle choir harmonizing around the crowd. The music then hit a lower frequency as Mr Ashman, instructor Jamie by day and boss DJ by dusk, took to our decks. Soul and funk turned to bass weight as drum and bass and jungle classics enthused the crowd.
As the impressive sound system carried smiling customers and staff on into the early evening, the garden become a magical dancefloor winding amongst the luscious lettuces and wild strawberries. The sun began to sink as a signal to staff to vanish away all traces of a party from our wonderful garden. The sleepy bees ushered out the remaining, exhausted few. Until next year they hummed as the garden let out a fragrant sigh of relief.