Welcome to our little home on the net. We are Steve & Rosemary and live in Buckinghamshire, UK. This is a blog of our life, sometimes interesting, but mainly boring. It is very picture orientated as Steve loves to take pictures, especially of wildlife. Sometimes he has his arm twisted by Rosemary and takes the odd snap of a weed.
I also add photographs to a shared google photo album which is here
Rosemary and I have been to The Game Fair many times, for a day. This year we decided to stay the whole three days, arriving in the evening before the event.
We set off just before 3pm on Thursday and arrived around one and a half hours later. I should have ignored Google and Rosemary and sauntered around the M25. Instead, we went through Hemel and then the Northern Orbital road which was totally stopped.
On arrival, we were shown our pitch, I have never been to an event where the pitches were all marked out with lines, stakes and also a label with our name on it. The pitch was large, we didn’t have our canopy so could not make full use of it, the result was people used the pitch as a shortcut when walking around. The showers and loos were all working, and I never had to queue to use them. In the future, we should take a BBQ and do a little more cooking onsite in the evening. Lots of friends had adjoining pitches, with big gazebos and feasted in style. Some feasted and drank far too late into the evening, so not a quiet site. We decided we were nearer the shoe entrance than when we’ve been in car parks on previous years.
The weather was rather wet on the first day. You can see the rain in the video blog. The subsequent days were drier.
What do you do for three days? You spend longer looking at the exhibits and spent longer over lunches. We saw several birds of prey demonstrations and particularly enjoyed watching the vultures. One exhibitor did tend to lose his birds. One time there was a large boom from a black powder gun at the other side of the Game Fair. This spooked the bird as it was coming into land, and after that, it disappeared into the nearby wood. This exhibitor must spend most of his time between shows enticing his birds down, no doubt with bribes of food.
The dogs are always fun to watch. There’s a mixture to see, owners, showing off their breeds of dogs. For instance, there was a show of many different varieties of terriers. All bred for the different environments they worked in. So what is the difference between a Norwich Terrier and a Norfolk Terrier? One has sticky up ears and the other floppy.
Then there are the working dog areas. Some competitions from having a go trail, demonstrations of tracker dogs to the International Gun Dog Retrievers. They were impressive in how they were controlled and how they covered the ground looking for their retrieve. They would dive into the water on the outbound and gently enter the water, head held high, on the return. Don’t want to get the pheasant wet!
Of course, we had to go and watch the ferret demonstration. They are so cute, but definitely rabbit killing machines. We also had a stroke of the alpacas.
I had taken my gun, so did shoot at the open clay shoot, put on by EJ Churchill. Did rather abysmally. Do not understand what has happened to my shooting of late.
There are plenty of shopping opportunities, guns and country clothing are obviously well represented. Others include all kinds of crafts, paintings, kitchen equipment, ranges, BBQs, gardening equipment, machinery, yurts and cars. There was even someone selling VW van conversions to campervans. To some extent, there is too much of this and not enough country pursuits on show these days. We succumbed to some secateurs and loppers from a French company (actually I think R would have bought anything off the chap cos she liked his cute accent).
We watched a few cooking demonstrations and were able to eat the results. So if you don’t know how to prepare a rabbit or a deer for the oven, then you could soon learn. Couldn’t see any vegetarian demonstrations on offer!! One area worth visiting is the food area where there were stalls selling all kinds of dishes. Normally we ate (and drank) there, or at the DeliVita Pizza place.
Selina & Phil joined us for what we hoped would be the driest day. In the end, it wasn’t too wet. Selina and I had a ride on the Kubota 4×4 track.
One aspect the Game Fair fails at was the use of single-use plastic for all their drinks. They could at least use paper mugs or the reusable plastic cups that most music festivals have been using for several years now. We of course had taken ours. The bars were more than willing to use them. R protested at one of the Information Points. It has got to stop.
Rosemary had selected a play about William McGonagall, the Irish born Scottish weaver who has been lampooned as the worst poet in British history. His poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster” was regarded as the worst in English literature. Gary McNair, Joe Douglas and Briano performed A biography of the late Dundonian Poet – Sir William Topaz McGonagall written in ‘almost rhyming verse’!
After a very entertaining play, we searched for the photographer Rankin, having heard him talk previously. We were expecting him to be explaining his photos and giving hints on how to take great portraits. No, there was a huge queue to be photographed by him. So instead we headed to the comedy arena to hear Milton Jones a dour, droll, monotone, brilliant comedian. Listen Here
After Milton Jones, R and I split. R to hear some bookish talks while I went to see Palace, followed by Pale Waves at the Obelisk Arena. Pale Waves had been introduced several years before on the BBC Introducing Stage, now they were signed and playing the main stage. Later tonight they would be back at the BBC Introducing Stage for a special show.
Met up with R and rushed over to the Faraway Forest Clearing to hear Danny Does the Crossword. The audience tries to complete a Guardian crossword in record time. Unfortunately, with the large crowd it was difficult to hear what was going on, so we quickly departed.
R and I headed over to the smaller stages in the woods. First, we watched No Vacation, an American band who had just started a UK tour. They talked animatedly about how they had to take a small boat to reach the stage. After them, we went to the BBC Introducing stage where people were sitting on sofas watching bands. First up was Dakar Audio Club, and then on next, a rap band called Binbag Wisdom.
Finally, it was the second set for Pale Waves.
That was it, another view of the projections on the bridge, but we had now finished Latitude, wandered back to Morrison and bought the most disgusting cheese toasty I have ever tasted.
We left early next morning before most people were up, and headed to Beccles where we filled up Morrison with fuel and us with coffee.
Bright sunshine and short torrential showers today. As I thought, the loos were an issue and I went to the next field where there were more loos. Today the festival was busier with the weekenders here. Both Rosemary and I queued up to listen the Helen Sharman talk about her selection to be an astronaut. This was then followed (late) by Rankin the British portrait photographer. He was interviewed and commented on the photographs he had taken of various famous people. He was there for the weekend, and you could go and have a portrait taken. He commented that to be a professional now, you had to get into film making as well. The entry to photography has become democratised by the mobile phone. He has 70 people in his production company.
After lunch we were almost caught by a heavy shower, luckily
we were in the Carlsberg area under cover when the downpour hit us during the
We tried the food demonstrations and watched some chicken being BBQed. The chef originally started out selling wood as the London Log company, got into selling hardwood charcoal, and ended up supplying UK top chefs with charcoal to use in their kitchens.
There were a couple of good bands in the evening, Stereophonics and Underworld. We didn’t see any. R was finding it all a bit hard work, so we walked back to Morrison, stopping at the CO-OP to buy some wine to drink.
Today was the first full day. Rosemary wanted to see some talks in the Faraway Forest, and the talks at the Space Shed looked interesting. I had a few such talks planned throughout the day. I went to see a band play at the main Obelisk Arena. It was an Afro-Punk ban called KOKOKO!. Very interesting band and I was up close to the stage as not many people were watching. The members were all dressed up in orange boiler suits. After they had ended, went back to find Rosemary in the Faraway Forest. She was bitterly disappointed, the Space Shed talk was crap, and geared around kids. We hung around the area but decided not to watch any more of these Space Shed talks. Rather disappointed, ended up eating lunch and having something to drink.
Back at the Obelisk Stage, I watched Anna Calvi, from a distance and then close up. I do think they do add too much bass into live bands, which makes them rather difficult to record. Much of the video I took went blurred when the base came in. It vibrated the phone so hard.
Today was a showery day, we missed most of the rain, darting in and out of tents to listen to people, or to drink some beers.
While wandering around, we tried the Sunrise Arena where we had nice surprise and saw an Irish punk band The Murder Capital
During one rain period, R and I listed to Mystery on the Rocks, apparently a podcast. (Each week a new guest enters the bar and attempts to solve an unsolved real life mystery alongside the regulars. Hosted by Masud Milas, Chris Stokes, and Sooz Kempner.) This was their first live stage discussion. They take some crime mystery, in this case, the death of a man in a room in New York City in 1929, a classic locked-room mystery. They discuss the crime, trying to solve it while making and drinking cocktails and singing. Sounds weird, but it was quite an enjoyable
R and I went to see the band ‘She Drew The Gun’, unfortunately, this was unlistenable to because of the poor sound quality with overpowering bass. So we went off to prepare for George Ezra. Unusually the Obelisk Arena has a number of seated areas at the back where the oldies can sit. Managed to find a place to sit and watch George. The rain held off during most of the performance. It was a good show with fireworks at the end. One new feature of festivals these days are the volunteers who do the deaf and dumb signing of the song lyrics. How on earth can they keep up with the lyrics?? But they do and judging by various faces watching them, it is a very worthwhile service.
We walked back the campsite, over the bridge where moving images are projected into a water spray, and then back to Van Morrison on his pitch. Tired and I think Rosemary found it all a bit of a strain.
I had managed to persuade Rosemary to come to the Latitude Festival at Henham Park, near to Southwold in Suffolk. She was trapped into coming with the promise of several authors who were giving talks.
We set off on the Thursday at 11.20, around the M25 and then up the A12 through Ipswich and onto Henham Park. The last few miles were slow-moving, and we arrived at around 15.30 with a nearly empty tank. We were ushered into the general campervan field and parked in our row. There were plenty of VWs, traditional. the more modern T5s and Californias. Stacks of larger mobile homes, awnings and BBQs. Once parked, and my new 100 Watt solar panel attached to the battery, we made our way to the wrist band exchange.
The camper van site was huge, and the number of toilets was very limited. There were even a set of composting toilets being operated by Water Aid at an extra price. I was a bit shocked at the limited number of loos. I think the presumption is that most of the motor homes have their own toilet facilities. I did often walk into the next campsite field to use the toilets there.
We walked to the main arena, quite a long hike taking nearly 30 minutes. The general campervan site is the furthest away, you pass the general camping, the family campervans, then the posh camping and then through the retail village before arriving at the entrance to the arena.
Quite a pretty place, lots of woods and lakes and pink sheep. We didn’t do much, just wandered around getting our bearings, eating some food. We did go to see Imelda May in the Hallowed, ended up at the wrong stage, realised too late and could not get to see her.