Well, that was one seriously good weekend. It didn't rain much: some light drizzle for an hour or two on Sunday afternoon, and again on Monday. The gigs were terrific. There was so much to see that I missed some great acts (Belshazzar's Feast, The Chair, Faustus) but I caught so many good ones: Seth Lakeman, Megson, The Wilsons, Karine Polwart, Lau, The Darwin Project, Show Of Hands, The Spooky Men's Chorale, and my absolute favourite: Chris Wood, singer/songwriter extraordinaire. If you have time on your hands and reasonable quality speakers on your computer, go to his MySpace page and listen to One In A Million. The clue's in the name. (I love Come Down Jehovah, too. He described it as 'an atheist spiritual' and there aren't many of those around.)
The food was fantastic. Pie and mash and gravy, nachos and burritos, an on-site smokery, wraps of all descriptions (a veggie sausage wrap with lots of fried onions and ketchup nuked a nascent hangover yesterday morning), organic hot chocolate, crepes, full-on veggie fry-ups (and meat ones of course), plus lots of other options as well. There were also lots of good shopping opportunities. I kind of broke my vow of not buying any clothes this year, well, you see, the thing is, there was a lovely bloke called Terry Brown selling good quality hand-made shoes, and I've got difficult feet, and I used to get hand-made boots from a place in Leeds called Made To Last, but they've closed down, and I've been looking for some more (that I can afford) for ages, and they don't come around very often, and I got chatting to Terry and discovered that he's been making shoes since the 1970s, and loves it, and doesn't use the Internet, or take deposits, he just finds out your size and width and writes that down in a notebook with your name and address and phone number, then he sends you some shoes when he gets around to it, and then you send him some money when you get around to it, and this works for him. While we were chatting, a man came up and asked Terry if he'd been at some festival or other ten years ago, and Terry said yes he had, and the man said he'd bought a pair of shoes from him then and had been looking for him since because he'd worn the shoes virtually every day and they still hadn't worn out but could he please have another pair. Anyway, I don't really think I broke my vow, because Terry's boots aren't exactly clothes, more works of art.
The site is compact, flat and accessible (if you fancy doing a festival in this part of the world next year, Hilary, and could find accommodation nearby, I think you'd enjoy it enormously). Not everything was perfect: the wristbands were horrible, the portable toilets vile - although there were loads of plumbed-in ones which were fine - and the wine was ridiculously expensive at £3.50 for a 175 ml bottle. I know beer is the traditional drink at festivals, but although I love real ale it has disastrous effects on my digestive system which are horribly antisocial, particularly inside a zipped-up tent. Luckily I'd had the forethought to take along a few bottles of wine, which saved me a lot of money - but then I went to the CD tent, discovered they took credit cards and promptly wiped out those savings. Oh well!
My favourite sight of the weekend was a boy of about 10, zooming along on a unicycle while playing a guitar and grinning as if life was really delivering for him. I chatted with loads of people - it's a very friendly festival - and really didn't want to come home. I even managed to write 1000 words a day (well, if I'm strictly honest, I wrote 1500 words and edited another 1500 that I nicked from the previous version) and, see my word counter, have now completed 20% of my rewrite!