It’s surprising how quickly a few months can go by and an event can all of a sudden be upon you without ever really noticing. That was the case this year with our annual pilgrimage to the Soul Family Affair Weekender up there on the North Norfolk coast. In fact I can remember the journey home from Margate Soul Festival in August of last year and remarking how far off March of 2017 seemed to be. Well, before you know it Christmas has been and gone and you’re once again wondering if you’ve packed enough undies for the three day weekend and, if you’re anything like my girlfriend Kay, trying to cram half of your entire wardrobe in to one suitcase the night before. Anyway, I digress.
We left Essex at about 10.30am on the Friday morning in constant light rain with a plan to get to Searles Leisure Resort around 1pm. Now, anyone from Essex that’s made that particular journey before will know that it’s about a 95 mile hike, give or take, and you’ll also know that the trip up the A12 and then West along the A14 is the relatively easy and, more often than not at that time of the morning, the quick bit. However, once you get off the A14 and start heading North again that’s where the pain starts. Why is there no main motorway link to the North Norfolk coast? It would make this one particular journey so much quicker. Anyway, we got to Searles at around 1.30pm, three hours after leaving Essex behind and again in constant light rain.
After checking in to our Gold rated lodge accommodation and leaving the ladies in charge of unpacking and settling in Friday afternoon was more or less spent saying hi to many people I’d not seen for a while and erecting the Zero Radio banners and advertising around the venues two main rooms.
Friday night at Soul family Affair is pace yourself night. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of relaxing too quickly and going hell for leather with the drink and dancing on the first night. I know, I did it last year! Looking around the dancefloor that night you could see the ones that probably wouldn’t make it to Sunday without a breakdown. Clearly they’d been on the source from early afternoon. That first Friday night set the scene for the whole weekend. Great music, great company and lots of dodgy dance moves by yours truly.
5.30am Saturday morning. Yes, that’s right. 5.30am on the Saturday morning. That’s the ungodly hour I found myself walking in total silence from our lodge the short distance to the reception area to take my seat behind the decks to do my three hour ‘Good Morning’ radio show starting at 6am. I’ll freely admit at the time I was seriously wondering why it sounded such a good idea to say yes to taking that slot when asked but once sat down it didn’t matter what time it was. I was live and enjoying it. By 7am there were a few hardy souls that had clearly emerged relatively unscathed from the previous night’s shenanigans and were taking advantage of the heated indoor swimming pool, which I have to say all seemed a little surreal to me as I sat there doing my radio show. I have to say a big thank you to the security guard at reception who kept me supplied with hot tea for the first two hours, just what the doctor ordered.
Saturday night was exactly what we’ve come to expect from Soul Family Affair. Hundreds of like minded soul and dance music loving people spread between the main room and the alternative lounge. That’s one of the great things about SFA. No matter what time of afternoon or evening you get to either of the rooms there is always great music from one genre or another to listen to.
By 2am my feet, knees and to some extent my head were telling me I’d had enough and it was time to head back to the lodge and give this poor old body a bit of a rest. Boy did I sleep well that night!
Sunday morning and for us at least it was time to start thinking of packing up and making the journey back to Essex. The rain had started to come down again as we left the ladies to get on with the packing while us guys took down the Zero Radio banners and advertising from the venue. We said our farewells to some familiar faces also making their way home that morning and headed off into the flatlands of the Norfolk countryside in the general direction of Essex.
And that was it for another year. Soul Family Affair had once again produced the goods when it comes to soul weekends away. All we could do now was reflect on an awesome weekend just gone and start to look forward Soul Family Affair 2018.