Today was the main get together of the Sadgits at the Folk Festival. Mike, Reiko & Simon added to our numbers today. We got two tables together where we camped out for most of the afternoon, drinking beer and Pimms and eating curry.
First I watched Nancy and James who are apparently among the best-known British acts working today. Voted “Best Duo” twice at the BBC Folk Awards, “Nancy and James brought their captivating live sound, along with their first-ever live album, recorded over two nights in the winter of 2018”.
Kathryn Tickell on Northumbrian smallpipes, fiddle, voice, Cormac Byrne on percussion, Joe Truswell on drums, Kate Young on fiddle, voice, Amy Thatcher on accordion, synths, voice, clog dancing, Kieran Szifris on octave mandolin, musicians from Northumberland, Scotland, Ireland and England “invoke the dark, powerful, sounds of Ancient Northumbria and broadcast them to the modern world”.
“Mad Dog Mcrea blends a unique mixture of folk-rock, pop, gypsy jazz, bluegrass and ‘shake your ass’ music. From self-penned songs of adventure, drinking, love and life, to traditional songs of gypsies, fairies, legless pirates and black flies – Mad Dog never fail to capture their audience with their infectious songs. In constant demand and having played just about every festival and two-bit, jibe-arsed dive in Christendom, Mad Dog Mcrea are, in every sense of the word, a live, band. “
Finally ended up eating a late-night meal before heading back to the campsite.
The first day set the trend for the rest of the week. Up fairly early for a shower, to try and miss the queues, then breakfast. Then the bus ride to the festival. The heading off never quite occurred on time, always ended up chatting with my neighbours from London. I thought they were late risers, but no, they were up early as well but went swimming in the nearby pool.
Typically I would arrive at the festival at midday and have my second breakfast, bacon and egg breakfast, with a beer to wash the food down, sitting at the main bar, waiting for Sadgits to arrive. Then I would wait for Ravi, Jo, Callum, Andrea and Richard to arrive. Today was a lovely warm sunny day, and much of the time was spent drinking, eating and chatting with a few musical interludes.
My quotes are from the website to act as a prompt to me about the various acts
RURA, “one of the most exciting bands on the Scottish folk scene”, had already played on Thursday, but were also playing today. RURA “are a multi-award-winning act, and one of Scotland’s most sought-after folk-based bands, with three heralded albums – most recently In Praise of Home.”
Not sure Ben Caplan chose the best shirt to perform in, not loose so by the end of the gig you could see it was dripping wet from perspiration. Ben Caplan “explores themes of immigration, loss, darkness, love, sex, and God”. I absolutely loved his song, Plough the Shit.
The final band for the night was Graham Nash. Unfortunately, I was way back from the stage. Each song was proceeded by a story which explained the time and events that helped in the creation of the song. Some very interesting stories.
Months ago I purchased tickets for Rosemary and I to attend the Cambridge Folk Festival. Not my type of festival, but persuaded by Ravi. The Sadgits were going to be attending!
I arrived at the Cambridge Folk Festival in Morrison sans Rosemary. Rosemary had been festivalled out (and the builders were in)! The campsite was at Coldhams Common located on some playing fields. The site was well marked out with whitewash lines indicating roads, parking and camping. I was shown a lovely spot to park Morrison, right on the edge of the site. Met my neighbours who were a friendly bunch. They immediately showed me their van. They lived in Richmond and were becoming concerned about the Ultra Low Emissions Zone and their diesel campervan. The neighbour on the other side was a single male, a little older than me, who apparently spent a large proportion of his life in his campervan. Loos and showers available, although there were often 10-15 minute queues for the showers.
I made my way to the festival site by bus. There was an excellent shuttle service between the campsite and the festival site. On Thursday I walked back from the festival site because of the queue for the bus. I soon realised empty buses were passing me by. I never made that mistake again and always rode the bus.
At the festival site, I had a quick explore. There was the main arena with several stages, outside of the arena there are were a few other stages and event spaces. During the whole weekend, I saw only one event outside and that was a talk by Extinction Rebellion.
In the main site, there were several food outlets, including one I had seen at Latitude. The main beer sold was Otter with a few guest beers, and there was Pims on tap. Standard recycled plastic beakers for a £2 deposit were in use. Should have taken up the offer of a limited edition Cambridge Folk Festival beer tankard.
Didn’t see too much today, not much was on, as it didn’t really start until the evening. Watched Ben Caplan. Looking forward to seeing him again on Friday (I have a video of him from then). Met up with some of the SadGits, Ravi and Jo (honorary SadGit), Richard and Andrea and consumed a few beers before watching the highlight of the evening, Ralph McTell.
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.