Yes, I know I seem like a 'festival fiend', as one friend put it by email, but I've only been to two this year, it's just that they were on consecutive weekends.
Moseley was a new experience for me: a festival in a city. Actually, that's not entirely true, as I did take my Paramour to Celtic Connections in Glasgow in January 2008. That's different, though, because it goes on for three weeks at a range of venues around the city. Moseley Folk Festival is in a charming little park, just off the High Street, which slopes down towards a lake. The stages were at the bottom of the slope and we all sat on the ground so that everyone could see over the heads of the people in front (until they stood up, of course). The lake was to the right of the stages and it was slightly surreal at times to watch musicians playing for all they were worth and then look a few feet to the left and see swans gliding across the surface of the water.
The festival had all the usual ingredients: annoyingly uncomfortable wristbands, children's activities, retail tents and yummy food options - an artisan boulangerie was a particular favourite, and the falafel and Goan curry stalls were excellent too. The CD stall didn't stock performers' CDs unless the performers had brought some along, which seemed odd and I'm sure meant fewer sales in some cases. Taking your own alcohol on site was forbidden, which was not a problem for most people as there was an excellent beer tent but I can no longer drink real ale as it has undesirable side-effects. Wine was ridiculously expensive at £5 for a small glass so I'm afraid we developed our smuggling skills. However, these were the only quibbles.
The weather was cool and breezy, but dry, apart from a five-minute shower on Sunday. And the music was superb. Vetiver were a new discovery (thanks for the tip-off, Mike); Jim Moray did a great set; I'd been wanting to see Ade Edmondson and the Bad Shepherds for ages, and they were very impressive; Nancy Kerr and James Fagan were delightful; the Demon Barber Roadshow offered astonishing dancing (morris duet, clog trio, and sword quintet) as well as highly competent musicianship; Cara Dillon was excellent; Heidi Talbot turned up as a guest with Drever, McCusker and Woomble, which was a lovely surprise, and they were wonderful. Jethro Tull headlined, Ian Anderson seems to have more energy than most people half his age, they played a storming set, I particularly enjoyed the Bach Bourree.
Walking off the festival site straight into Moseley High Street was a surreal experience, but there is a lot to be said for being ten minutes away from our friends' big warm house with its bathrooms and comfy beds and well-stocked kitchen and two sociable cats. They had three other friends staying, as well as my Paramour and I, and a couple of people lamented the lack of opportunity to stay up all night drinking and playing/listening to music, but I didn't miss that at all. I feel as if I've had a real holiday. If only I didn't have to try to get my brain into work gear, my life would be perfect!