The Rest of the Fest…

On our second day at Wickham Music Festival we’re aiming to spend longer in the arena but we’re still not going over there too early. There’s little shade until later and the heat is punishing. But we’ll peruse the food stalls and see what they have to offer. Festival food tends towards a wide variety of cuisines and can be delicious, although they’re a bit short on fresh items like salad, which I begin to miss after too long.

We stop by at the Magic Teapot for a cup of their excellent tea, paying what we think we should, as requested. The inside of the wooden building is cute, with benches built into the hexagonal walls but the ash from the wood fire is annoying and as you would expect, it’s hot! By the time we get up to the top of the hill inside the arena everything is, of course, in full swing.

Much of the festival music is being provided by folk bands, many of whom are Irish and while this is not necessarily a bad thing I’m yearning for something rockier and heavier. Today we’ve brought chairs- the lightest, easiest to carry chairs we have, which also happen to be beach chairs. They are very low and tricky to get up out of, especially for we mature types, but we manage- even if we look somewhat undignified lurching out on to the ground and heaving ourselves up. The chairs, awkward as they are prove to be a godsend and we can plonk down in a bit of shade outside a marquee and move when we wish. The marquees are packed inside with standing audience, although there’s a large screen outside stage 1 for close-up views.

Something about a festival seems to imbue the attendees with a desire to exploit their sartorial fantasies, which provides more entertainment of course- although the explosion of kilt wearing is excessive and while it may be cooler than shorts, kilt fabric is thick and woolly and surely sweltering?

During what I like to think of as a lull I go to browse the stalls and return with small gifts for the grandchildren. There are many, many children here at the festival in various states of excitement or boredom, both of which manifest themselves in different ways, from tearing about amongst the sea of recumbant humanity and spraying various substances picked up from stalls [eg ‘silly string’] to sitting, ear-defender clad, with small screens, to eating copious ice-cream/doughnuts/candy floss/chips, to sleeping. There are tiny babies and recalcitrant teens. The festival goers are as entertaining as the music.

Day three passes in similar fashion, except that it’s Saturday and the festival population increases to madness level as those with day passes arrive. By now the portable toilets have become a little un-fragrant in the heat, although the volunteers are doing stirling work on emptying bins and picking up litter. We’re glad of the camp-site trailer showers which are efficient, roomy and clean and save constant filling of our van’s tank. We’re also doing four days without electric hook-up and although we have constant sunlight it’s debateable whether we’ll cope. We’re turning off the internal fridge at night and using the gas fridge [outside] for anything crucial like medication. In the evening we get to see The Levellers.

The last day, Sunday is more laid back, with fewer people, though it’s as hot as ever. I’ve promised myself a visit to the Storyteller tent, where some children and their parents are gathering. The story is for the children and in truth- they are the most entertaining part as they respond to invitations to contribute.

In the late afternoon sunshine we get beers and relax. This evening is mostly about seeing The Waterboys and we’re not disappointed as they launch into their set with numbers familiar and unknown to us.

By the time we get back to the van the electric gauge is on red, but we’re off home next day. And there’s only two days until we’re due to go for a local, family camping get-together-

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.

Festival Fever

It’s years since we went to a music festival, not counting, of course, our own local festival which we were involved in running in various capacities and which has now become a casualty of the plague, never to rise again.

Years ago, as a teenager and then a twenty-something I went to see a lot of bands. In the beginning there would be one major band and a support act. Then festivals started up with venues like Isle of Wight and Reading among the first. Nowadays they’ve become a vast industry, corporately run and, for the most part on a much bigger scale.

So we take the plunge and set off for Wickham Music Festival- an hour or so away, featuring a few bands I’ve heard of [at least] and offering campervan facilities and all the rest.

We arrive on a Thursday, the first official day of the festivities and after waving our tickets at the blue-vested volunteer we’re directed, and directed, and further directed to a place in a row at the top of a huge, mown field. At the end of our row there is drinking water, some flat, black tanks for loo emptying and grey water for rinsing. So far so good! We’ll be here for 4 nights and will be relying on solar power plus our gas fridge. At the bottom of our field there are trailors with showers, which helps!

Once we’ve settled in I lend a hand to our neighbour, Lisa, who’s travelled all the way from Grimsby. She’s bought a dinky Quechua tent en route but is confused about how to put it up. I know these tiny tents have a release mechanism which allows the tent to spring into action so the problem is soon solved. Lisa’s partner is coming to join her tomorrow.

We’re not in a hurry to rush to the festival field on this first day, preferring to make a meal and stroll over there for the evening. It’s quite a trek to the arena- down across our field, along past the showers, through a shady [and very dusty] lane, dotted with helpful lights for later and to the main road, where there are temporary traffic lights and volunteers. Then it’s across the road, past the farm shop, turn right and across the tent field. At last we’re at the gate and get our wrist bands, but there’s still a hill to climb to get up to the 2 huge marquees and all the other paraphernalia that belongs to a festival.

Inside the gate is The Magic Teapot, serving tea, coffee, chocolate and various treats from pots and kettles on a wood burner- a hot job for the staff. It’s opposite the storyteller’s tent, which I’ll visit later in the festival.

We go on to the top to familiarise ourselves with the layout- the 2 stages, the merchandise, the loos, the drinking water, bars, food outlets. Best of all though, one of my favourite bands from the 70s is on tonight- 10cc. I was lucky to see them in their original lineup in about 1975 at Hammersmith Odeon, a concert I still regard as one of the best I’ve ever seen. Tonight’s show is brilliant- even if only one original member is left- Graham Goulden. The sound, though is still pure 10cc and a wonderful start to the festival…

Grace is also known as the novelist, Jane Deans. Her new novel, The Conways at Earthsend is now out and available from Amazon, Waterstones, Goodreads, W H Smith, Pegasus Publishing and many more sites. Visit my website: janedeans.com or my author page on Facebook: (1) Jane Deans, Novellist, Short Fiction and Blog | Facebook.