A last-minute invite for a weekend away by Bill and Viv. (We are always available at the last minute!) We were to meet them, plus Valerie and Norman at the National Trust’s Upton House and Gardens. There was to be music on the lawn. We arrived ahead of schedule and sat on the lawn in expectation. Eventually a solo singer female singer with backing music track came on. Not particularly inspiring. We then had a wander around the groundsbefore going into the house on our booked ticket. We had been to Upton House back in 2011. The theme of the house had been tragically changed. In 2011 it was very much themed on upstairs and downstairs. This time the theme was on how Lord and Lady Bearstead had upgraded the house. It was not so inspiring, and this time I could not play on the snooker table ☹. There were also an exhibition from the Country Life magazine, with one glaring error, where The Flint House on the “Waddestone estate” was located in “Bedfordshire”! Rosemary appalled. I must hasten to state this was not a National Trust error, but Country Life’s error.
Our friends arrived, and booked their tours, we all had tea and I don’t think anyone saw the solo singer on the lawn other than R and I.
My pictures this time were all from the garden, which we never looked at in 2011. The Garden is on a steep hill with some sharp drops. From the house you don’t see the valley and the ponds, when you walk out over the lawn you come to a six-foot unfenced vertical drop which then continues on down to the ponds. It is all rather fabulous.
After leaving the house we went on to the nearby pub / hotel of The Castle at Edghill where we sat and drank some Hook Norton ales, and looked out over the battlefield. Revived, we set of to Leamington Spar to stay the night at Bill and Viv’s where I was entertained with a Negroni and we all ate an excellent fish stew. Oh, and I was entrusted to choose the music!
Compton Verney and Rowlands Emett’s Marvellous Machines
So on the Sunday we all went to Compton Verney which we had visited will Bill, Viv, Norman and Valerie back in 2016. This time, there was an exhibition of mechanical devices, ranging from a minute, walking Faberge Elephant owned by the Queen to larger room-sized Marvellous Machines constructed by the artist Rowlands Emett. All highly entertaining.
Yeah, we were off to the Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 to see Paloma Faith, our third time attending and camping, AND the weather was going to be gorgeous!
The Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza is held every year, performed in the Glastonbury Abbey grounds and organised by Michael Eavis. This year it was a sell-out, and so was the camping ground. It was speculated this was because there was no Glastonbury Festival and that a few Glastonbury regulars had decided on this event. Yes, most of the campers we spoke with were Glastonbury Festival regulars.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Friday
We set off at 8.30am, forgetting about the roadworks in Bicester which delayed us considerably. We aimed for Pilton Farm office where we arrived at 11.32 for me to buy a couple of tickets for the Pilton Party. The tickets had gone on sale the week before and had sold well, but there were still a few available. Yippy! I was able to show Rosemary the carpark where we would be camping on the 31st after the party!
We drove on to Glastonbury and parked the van at the campsite. We parked at the top of the hill, sideways on to the slope. Then we walked into the town down the main A361 road. You do take your life in your hands on that road, large trucks, sometimes one of the trucks has to pull over to let one passing in the other direction pass by. The pavements are also very narrow, with poorly cut back hedges. W e made it alive! Looked at a few charity shops, bought a few CDs and headed for ‘The Who’d A Thought It’ pub. I’ve always had a reasonable pint and something nice to eat there, BUT it does seem to have gone downhill this year. Should have noticed the lack of people in the garden where it has always been busy before. Ah well, won’t be eating there again, everything seemed to have been cooked in old oil, and the craft beer was past it.
Lovely walk back by the back roads and up to The Tor before descending to the Campsite. The views were not quite as good as a couple of years ago, considerable haze, though you could still see Hinkley point. Interestingly, the fields were far greener than at home where they all look scorched. At the campsite we were asked to move our van to face up and down the hill so more vans could park. No idea why we weren’t told how to park when we arrived. We moved in the morning. At these events it is interesting walking around and checking on the other vans, seeing how they had been converted and h are being used.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Saturday
Morning, breakfast and a lovely day as we walked into town. Today we drank at the George Hotel and Pilgrims Inn. We had rejected this several years ago as it looked dirty and insalubrious. I don’t know why, it very quaint and interesting place to be in. It also had a very good selection of craft beers. We didn’t eat there, we had decided to eat at a Vegan restaurant called the Excalibur Café.
The Excalibur was very busy. We ate well, though Rosemary didn’t like the ‘fermented cabbage smelling’ shot; I did! After lunch I walked to Tesco to buy some camping chairs; . Yes, we’d forgotten they are needed at the venue. Then it was more wandering around shops before joining the queue for the show. We parked ourselves just behind the walk way from one side of the arena to the other. It’s reasonably close, and because of the walk way, you don’t get people standing right in front of you.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Glastonbury Town Band
First was the Glastonbury Town Band, recently reformed. Rosemary and I agree they chose the wrong music for the occasion, a more upbeat programme would have been better.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Yazzy
Next on there was an 19 year old solo singer, Yazzy, she had performed at the Pilton Working Mens Club and Michael Eavis had given her this slot at the festival. She was accompanied by a keyboard player and made many references as to how proud she was to be supporting Paloma Faith, and thanking Michael Eavis for the chance to perform.
Then came the bad news, Paloma Faith was not going to perform, she had laryngitis and apparently pulled out at the last moment. Yazzy implied she had been speaking with her only minutes before she had gone on stage. Were we going to be leaving early? Instead Michael Eavis had managed to contact Tom Odell. He was dragged out of a family BBQ and helicoptered into Glastonbury as a replacement. While we waited we sat, ate, drank and amused ourselves to a DJ Jason Bryant, ace photographer of Glastonbury Festival.
A performance from Yazzy, from Glastonbury Extravaganza 2018. This is her promotional video from the event..
The helicopter arrived in a nearby field, and then we were entertained for 20 minutes by blue grass guitarist Rodney Branigan, a Texan now living in Norfolk. He played Blue Grass, two guitars at the same time and had the crowd on edge. Fantastic performance.
A performance from Rodney Branigan, again not from the festival
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Tom Odell
On came Tom Odell playing piano and singing. He’s an English songwriter who won the Brits Award in 2013. He has a new album, Jubilee Road, out in October 2018. Tom, and Rodney before, were admirable replacements for Paloma Faith. Some and I won’t say whom, believe there were a much better substitute. The crowd, or at least those around us, were very pleased with the replacement. Well let’s face it, most of us had booked before we even new Paloma Faith was the headline. It’s a lovely event with lovely people and a great atmosphere.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 Fireworks
Finally, there was the usual fabulous firework display. Then it was back to the campsite on the free coach.
Glastonbury Abbey Extravaganza 2018 – Sunday
Away early so we could pop in to see some friends who live near by for coffee. The idea was to have coffee with Sue and Ken and then go on home. Plans never quite go that way, so it was lunch in the pub across the road, from them, and then home. Good to see them both.
R and I were up early to attend the second day of the Game Fair at Ragley Hall. The event celebrates the countryside, shooting, fishing and hunting. We were inside the fair before the opening time of the stalls. Traffic was not too bad. We had a long wander around all the stores. Some neat outdoor cooking systems, including a wood fire semi-portable pizza oven. The price put us off it!
Of course, we checked in at D B Guns to say hello to Dawn and Brian. I am happy to say they were very busy, so couldn’t stop and chat.
We ate lunch on the food alley which has masses of vendors selling goodies, and of course beer and cider in one of the many bars. Food most definitely has improved in recent years. A few years back we complained is was only hotdogs and burgers.
We watched the dogs agility show. It was not a competition but a showcase from the Kennel Club. Fun, loved the longhaired dogs when the jumped. There were also a myriad of retriever competitions going on as well.
We missed out on the ferrets, only seeing a pile of ferrets sleeping at the bottom of the cage. Rosemary was interested in the fly tying, I have some photographs of the flies, she was interested having read a book about a thief who stole a whole load of old and rare bird skins from the Tring Museum and sold these to collectors. Many of which ended up being turned into fishing flies.
It was a hot day, though a rain storm arrived at the end, so we left mid-afternoon as did so many others so rather tedious getting out of the place. I think next year we may go for the three days and stay in the campervan. There is plenty of other entertainment in the evenings.
We visited Richard and Andrea at their home in Great Saling. We walked around Sudbury and visited Gainsborough’s House to see the many portraits & landscapes painted by this artist. Many were donated by families paying off their inheritance taxes. We even purchased a new frying pan for use on our portable induction hob.
In the evening, driving to our supper destination, we were alarmed to encounter fire-engines racing off to a shout, which was a parched, harvested field, up in smoke. Our evening meal should have been in a community-owned pub, but sadly, it was boarded up & for sale. Instead we ate in The Finchingfield Lion. We’d visited the same pub a few years ago to see the Tour de France procession go past.
The next day we walk around the Salings, taking photographs of some of the many interesting houses. Andrea whipped up a delicious salad lunch. The afternoon proved too hot to do much else, other than sit in the garden.
Rosemary and I visited Ann & Liz in Norwich for an amazing couple of nights. We took our own bed, Morrison the campervan, because the house was full with the residents plus Bob’s daughter and her son, who were also visiting.
The weather treated us well with yet more sun. Ann’s grass was brown from the drought, Earlham Park almost looked like a desert. Were the newly planted trees in the park going to survive? The cost of planting them versus then never watering them in the drought, was a tad odd.
On our second evening we went to watch an amateur production of Tomfoolery,(a musical revue based on the lyrics and music by American mathematician, songwriter, and satirist Tom Lehrer), at Sewell Barn Theatre. Very ably produced with magnificent performance from the cast. I soon understood the meaning of the many pigeon decoys scattered around the theatre. Only downside was the small theatre which was rather warm.
Earlier in the day we had gone to Martham Ferry Boat yard to see the work which Nick had been doing. He is building new electric day boats for hire, and of course hiring them out. We went for a cruise to Hickling Broad, then back and up to Horsey Mere. We were in one of his diesel-powered boats, all the electric boats having been hired out before we arrived. We did come across one of Nick’s electric boats; it glid silently past us like a ghost.