Monday, 27 May 2013

We go to a festival and have a very nice time, really...

I am terrible at documenting my life. Really terrible. I’ve always been. When I see people’s beautifully designed photo albums, their collages, their scrapbook diaries, their intricate blogs (oh dear!), I’m appreciative and envious. At the same time.
And yet…I do all sorts of interesting things and can talk about them fairly coherently. This blog has been in existence for a couple of years, it’s time, I think, to launch it properly.


Alun and I only ever went to one music festival, a one-day event in a beautiful setting up Leicestershire way in 2008 – Spanfest, organized by Steeleye Span and featuring their offshoots (Ken and Ashley, Whapweasel, Gigspanner, etc.) and the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, who probably were the reason why we all got ukuleles for Christmas that year. The weather was stunning, the acts were great, we knew some of the audience members from the Steeleye “clan” and we had a new friend with us, Conny, who came all the way from Germany and who we spontaneously invited to stay with us. It was also my birthday the day before. Good times…

We’ve discussed going to a “real” festival – i.e. tent, cool box, barbecue, rain gear, and so on, but never managed to find one that didn’t give us pause – too big, too far, too many drunken people in weird outfits making too much noise late into the night… Call me unsociable, go on, do it.
There is a great band you probably never heard of and probably should – Police Dog Hogan. It’s bluegrassy with an urban feel. I like bluegrass, I played in a bluegrassy band a long time ago – with a Vermont-y feel. But PDH never play around our neck of the Midlands. Boo. But they were playing at a (small, friendly, nearby) festival, the Lechlade Festival in Gloucestershire.

We decided that if the sun was shining we would go. For one day. Without a tent, rain gear, cool box, etc. Yes, we are soft little buckets of wimpiness.

Weather fine, we’re off! First a stop in Moreton-in-Marsh for coffee and cake at Cacao Bean .Just go, it’s a lovely cafĂ© with high-spec German-style pastries.

After driving through several more charming Cotswold towns we make it to Lechlade, which is also cute, though we are confused by the lack of signage to the festival. It’s on the riverside, so we find the river. It gets easy after that. £2 parking all day. Says it all.

There are a squillion little kids at this festival, some wearing cow heads, some in fairy outfits. After a reccy we get our chairs and rucksack (containing not a lot more than Kleenex, sunscreen and the Saturday Guardian).

Things we really liked:
The Cadbury Sisters – these girls will go far.
Pieminster pies – yum.
Artisan beer and perry.
The cleanest portaloos ever seen at any outdoor event anywhere in the history of anything.
Huge cups of tea for £1.75 – kudos to all vendors for their non-extortionate prices.
The world's cutest Jack Russell puppy and another one that rides around on his owner's shoulder. Sorry, no photos.
The Costellos – ska/reggae with a horn section.
Camp Cooks – never have we been served such good burgers made by a cheeky drag queen.
Police Dog Hogan – why we came in the first place.
Before their set I chatted with James, the lead singer, about tea towels (more on this in a bit), playing in America, my cousin Jim who plays in America and the UK with Eve Selis (you must go to see her too). Nice fella. The banjo player in the band is Tim Dowling, columnist for the Guardian. When I tweeted to him that we had come all the way to Lechlade and wouldn’t leave without tea towels, he tweeted back that we would surely not return home tea-towel-less. What a relief.

After the set (lively, funny, hot playing, banter with the audience – just what you want), we wandered over to the merch…um…chair and were presented with a tea towel! Just like that! How nice is that??
Turns out that Tim Dowling and I lived in the same places at the same time through a good bit of the 1980s when I was in my radio presenter days. You could almost hear the Twilight Zone theme music swelling up in the background.

This was more fun than any two little mushy wimp-packets could probably stand, so we folded up our chairs and considered what to have for dinner. This turned out to be burgers with everything and tea at CampCooks, a silver Airstream vintage jobbie, run by a troupe of 1950s style drag queen cooks. Perfect.

Will we go to another festival? If it’s as friendly, accessible and fun as Lechlade, probably. Will we bring the tent, cool box, etc.? Only if you can promise me it won’t rain and that Police Dog Hogan are playing.
Alun eating delicious chicken pie

Me eating equally delicious beef pie (probably too much!)

Police Dog Hogan

Waiting for camp burgers

Tea towel!