We had planned to stay here for a couple of nights. So today was a relaxed day. A short walk down the hill to view the Abbey. Though we had seen the Abbey before, in later visits we had ignored it. Today we went into the Abbey grounds to view any changes. There were some. There was now a shop, and organised tours. The bells were rung while we were there, but at some odd times. Unlike English bells, they are untuneful. Watch the short video below to hear the bells.
The village has several restaurants / bars. On previous visits only one was open, the restaurants seemingly taking turns opening during the week. Today several were open. There definitely were more people visiting the Abbey than we have seen before. We stopped at l’Archange, which was the least formal, so we could buy a beer and not eat. It has tables and seats on the town green. Of course, we did end up consuming an omelette for lunch along with a beer each. it was somehow simple, but French and very good. Rosemary paid partly with the PO debit card, asking the waiter to take the exact amount left in the account, and paid the rest in cash. He was perplexed, not understanding why she would pay that way. But he smiled and nodded.
France has taken to contactless payments in a big way. I don’t believe, in France that we paid for anything contactless three years ago, now it appears to be the preferred payment method.
On the way out of the village I photographed a number of houses, wooden frames with brick or mud infilling. I would be worried about living in them. Our neighbour at home has problems with their possible wattle and daub front elevation. So we looked at these houses with great interest.
Back up the hill to the campsite for the afternoon siesta, and a little wander around. During the evening, the bats came out again to play, making swoops in a circle between a couple of trees. I did not want to be beaten by Rosemary so attempted to photograph the bats again. They move so fast that you can’t rely on autofocus. I set the camera to manual focus and made a guesstimate where they would fly. I also used flash. Well, it was dark. I did get several pictures and got one that was better than Rosemary’s mobile phone one. Hurrah!
Holiday time, our first trip to France in three years!
Early morning alarm, 4:30 am, and off on the road at 5:05 am. We needed to make the 9:50 Chunnel crossing. Poor old Google was sure there was a closed road on the route. We hoped we knew better so ignored her. The traffic down the A41 and around the M25 and M20 was light. The parking lot on the east bound lanes was devoid of the anticipated lorries awaiting their turn to cross the channel. Predictably we arrived exceedingly early and could go on the 8:20 crossing for free or pay £33 for the 7:50. The 8:20 crossing it was. The formalities at passport control were quick, a stamp in the passport, no inquisition on our finances or where we were booked to stay. No questions regarding ham sandwiches!
At the other end, we were straight onto motorway and heading down south, to Le Bec-Hellouin. Soon we were on to the local roads, ignoring the faster toll roads. At Rouen, we took a different route to how we normally progress, more into the city and along the underpasses. Thankfully, Google took us off the underpasses at the point where they went down to 1.8 meters high (the campervan is over 2.00). I just managed to see the height restriction at the same time 🙂 Wow that was a near one.
Out of the city it was now a short distance to Le Bec-Hellouin, so we made a supermarket stop to stock up on meat and dairy (both of which we can’t bring from the UK). We were trying to run down our preloaded Euros on a PO debit card. It was due to expire on the 31st. We searched for a cash machine to remove more of the Euros from the prepaid account. The bank at the first stop was closed, with no machines outside. These French lunches!! The second stop was in a busier area, and I was able to withdraw some Euros.
We headed to Camping Saint Nicolas in Le Bec-Hellouin, a site we have stayed at several times, the first time was in a tent as we were returning to England. It is a pleasant site, with a bar and restaurant. The site is a convenient distance from Calais for a first night. There is also the Abbey to visit withing walking distance. The campsite was very quiet, just a few vans and caravans which stopped overnight. Never seen it so empty.
A lovely supper of a precooked vegetable and bean chilli plus rice and a smashed avocado. During the evening, we were entertained by bats swooping within centimetres of us and a large, black cat. Rosemary was more successful in photographing the bats on her mobile phone than I was on my new EOS R7. Both though did not make the grade for inclusion in the attached gallery.
The black cat was quite a fat cat, doing well off the campers. Late at night Rosemary had trouble with him, tripping over him as he weaved in and out of her legs in front of her. A black cat on a black night was difficult to see.
We visited Frogmore House and Gardens in Windsor, part of the Royal estate, with the Berkshire branch of the Cambridge Society. Frogmore House is only open in August when the Royals are holidaying in Scotland. This year may be the last year it is open for quite a while. The house could be occupied by the staff of some of the royals. Photography is banned inside the property, so no photos. Outside it is permissible to take photographs, and here are mine. You will see the long dry season has turned the lush green grass to a dry brown colour.
We met the Cambridge group in a nearby car park and boarded a coach to be taken the short distance. Visitors must all arrive together in a coach. Once there we were divided into three groups of ten and taken on our tours around the house and gardens. Depending on the guide, you were in for a treat of art history, or royal gossip.
After the tour, we were picked up the coach and were dropped off back in Windsor, where some of us headed on to a nearby Italian restaurant, Enzo.
A year ago, I had booked VIP Serpents Lair tickets for Bloodstock. The tickets were for me and Ravi. Tickets included a pre-erected tent with beds, and of course showers. Ravi had to bail out because of work. So, I invited Selina as a replacement. We arrived on Thursday, taking an unexpected route to the site and saw no traffic at all. Parked, checked in and then searched for our accommodation. We first searched through ‘Patch of Ground’ VIP camping area, and eventually asked a steward who pointed us in the right direction. Our Luxury Belle Pads were in a wooded and shady area. The tent had two beds, two mattresses, sheets, pillows, and duvets. There were also tables, chairs, and electricity.
Stuff dumped in the tent, we headed to the stages. This was a short walk, which took you through the VIP Serpents Lair Bar. This bar is a draft beer drinkers haven. There were eighty beers and ciders on sale. Don’t go there looking for a cold beer, these were all casks sitting there in the 30s. The beers were from the Midlands and North. Well, it would be rude to pass through without sampling a beer and we needed to be well hydrated, because the weather was very warm.
The bar also had bands and TV playing, and food stalls in the area. We did spend quite a fair proportion of our time visiting the area, especially as I was trying to drink my way through the beers. Where are my tasting notes?
We got to know our neighbours at the campsite, they had been coming to Bloodstock for many years. They were saying how friendly the festival was, this was a refrain echoed throughout the festival. They also advised us how to get tickets for next year, which unfortunately I did not heed, and all the VIP tickets are sold out for 2023 within a day.
The festival was hot this year, the ground was parched dry. Thankfully, our tented area was in the shade and was cool. You can see how people were looking for shade this year, with the setting of the sun making the temperature bearable. Hey who am I kidding, I love the sun, and remembered to plaster myself with suncream, and to remain hydrated. The queues for water were long, so it was beer for me.
Bloodstock has five stages. The main stage is called the Ronnie James Dio Stage. Undercover is the Sophie Lancaster Stage and the New Blood Stage. There is also a stage at the VIP area, and a small Jägermeister stage. The Ronnie Woods stage ends quite early in the evening, before 11, in all probability, the early close was to keep the neighbouring village happy. The Sophie Lancaster stage gets packed after the main stage ends and continues until 3am with DJ sets.
There are of course the rides, shops, bars, food stores, Old Sarum Tattoo and the weird costumes to entertain you in the evening.
Of course, we were here to see and hear the bands, you can see short clips of the Metal bands we saw in the YouTube video below. Here though are pictures images of the stages.
On Sunday, many festival attendees dressed in pink or with pink additions, this was to raise awareness of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Sophie Lancaster was a young woman who was murdered for being different. She and her boyfriend were creative, artistic people who dressed in their own unique way. They were attacked by a gang of five boys in a park in Bacup, Lancashire on 11 August 2007. The gang attacked Sophie’s boyfriend first and then turned on her, conducting a brutal and sustained attack. Sophie remained in hospital for 13 days, before following medical advice, the family agreed to life support being switched off. Sophie died on 24 August 2007; she was just 20 years old.
Her mother Sylvia died this year, and she had requested that everyone attending should wear something pink at the festival.
The festival also has an art gallery featuring much of the past festival advertising artwork, and the album artwork for some of the headline bands playing. There was also a heavy metal chair which Selina and I both posed in.
The following bands are featured in this video.
Heart of a Coward
Thrown into Exile
Machine Fucking Dead
Lamb of God
You have been waiting for it, now view and listen to the bands Selina and I enjoyed at Bloodstock. Please don’t forget to Like and Subscribe.
We have been visiting Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza for several years, missing the COVID years when music festivals were forbidden. R enjoys it, camping for two nights, and a half day of music is enough for her. The campsite is getting busier, the early arriving vans were packed tight to ensure there was enough room for all the booked vans. Those arriving later had more than enough room and were spaced further apart. Tents are now in a different field, and cars parked in yet another area.
It is a basic site, there are the Glastonbury Festival long drops, a breakfast van, and water points and a hand basin. So, Friday was the drive to Glastonbury, parking and (much against my better judgement) decorating the van. I walked up the Tor for a pleasant view of Hinkley Point nuclear power stations and the world’s largest crane called “Big Karl”. This year I also managed to see the Pyramid Stage. On previous occasions I had not looked in the correct direction.
Saturday, the day of the Extravaganza, we walked into Glastonbury along the main road, and then up Wells Road to the East of the Abbey grounds. Along Abbey Road there are quite a few stone plaques describing the history of strategic locations. We walked along the High Street visiting some of the shops, having a coffee and ordering an Italian picnic box for supper. We made our traditional visit to the “The Who’d A Thought It” pub for lunch. There is a lovely mural painted on the wall of the house opposite. So much detail goes into the picture. You also have the odd procession walking down the street to complete the Glastonbury scene.
We queued early for entrance to the Extravaganza, so we could get a reasonable position, once our place had been located in the queue, I went back to the Italian Deli and picked up our supper box.
Once inside we seated ourselves a little distance back from the stage, located along the path which goes from one side to the other. Spectators around us were setting up huge meals and breaking open the bubbly. We consumed a few pints of beer and Pims from the bar.
The music started with the Black Dyke Band, followed by Seasick Steve and then Paloma Faith. She did turn up to sing this year. Paloma had been booked to play in 2018. She had turned up but did not perform because of laryngitis when Michael Eavis flew in Tom Odell. an excellent replacement. He had been called up during a family BBQ supper and flown by helicopter to Glastonbury. R not keen on Ms Faith, preferring Tom Odell & Rodney Branigan.
The usual firework display finished the evening’s entertainment, and then we were whisked off by coach back to to the campsite.
Next day, I was up at 4am to walk up Glastonbury Tor to catch the sunrise and hopefully to meet Michelle Cowbourne a photographer, who walks up there most days to photograph the sunrise. I did not find her, she had been there, but from lower down the Tor. There were many people there waiting for sunrise. It was a lovely morning, mist in the fields with the golden orb of the sun shining.
I departed and made my way back down for breakfast.
We packed up quickly and headed over to see Sue and Ken for lunch. Being a tad early we made a short visit to a National Trust house called Lytes Cary Manor. It is a house you can hire as a holiday let but it does allow visitors around the gardens and chapel. It was a short visit, so we were soon on our way for lunch at the Old Inn.