Day Off

A muffled roar invaded my dreams. Prolonged fierceness, then a pause before starting again. As I roused there was something familiar about the sound, flames blasting inside a hot air balloon. They wouldn’t fly on clouded misty mornings. Shafts of sunlight danced on the outer tent as I crawled from the bedroom compartment. Unzipping the sides revealed the sunrise I’d been waiting for as 2 multi-coloured balloons drifted past on the imperceptible breeze. A perfect start to our day off.

The poles to support the front canopy lay on the ground, outward from the tent, marking our patch. We had learnt during our first festival in the Lake District to ensure that we kept this part clear of other campers. On that occasion we had returned to our neatly zipped tent to find someone pitched on our doorstep, guy ropes stretched straight across our entrance. Now I had space to lift the awning and place our 2 chairs and low table, supporting the camping stove, outside in the dappled sunshine. An old oak tree was protecting us from blasting rays.

The leisurely start to a glorious day was most welcome. Aromas from another brunch of bacon, egg, sausage and beans brought envious comments from surrounding neighbours. The two guys from our previous shift stopped by with their news. They had managed to book a table at the Hairy Bikers’ Pop-up Wood-fired Restaurant Adventure for Sunday afternoon and were thrilled. They were buddies since helping with their luggage on arrival and obtaining a selfie with Dave.

Mid-morning we gathered all our gubbins together and set off to the arena. Roger’s ankle was still giving him some jip after the exuberance of the previous day so we didn’t want to have to walk any further than necessary. Cafe Nero was en route to the Songbird stage and their line-up could deliver some more hidden gems. We arrived to a quieter affair and found a seat at a table, even if we were still outside the tent. A flame-haired girl was on the dias with a harp. She performed contemporary numbers alongside some haunting melodies. The tone of her instrument augmented her lustrous Gaelic voice. Not quite up to Asher and Lee’s league but still pretty amazing.

We ambled round to the Songbird stage and found a diminishing patch at the back, under a huge tree so out of the sun, nestled up to all the other shade seekers. From this disadvantage point we could hear but not see The Adelaides, a harmonic country trio, who just happened to be very attractive to middle-aged men! We didn’t want to lose our position so forfeited the next act on the Pleasant Valley stage. This festival has realised that people don’t necessarily want to miss a main act so they alternate the start times, but we preferred to stay in the shade for as long as possible.
The next act due on Songbird sounded intriguing, the Kolars. He played guitar and vocals whilst she played percussion by standing, tapping and jumping atop a bass drum whilst beating the rest of her kit using dance to deliver her rhythm. I don’t think I have ever seen such an energetic performance. There would be no need for her to go to the gym while she works-out like that.

We ventured back to Cafe Nero and were slightly disappointed with the act, who was full of angst, so returned to our seats to wait for Megan Mckenna. She wasn’t a bad American country artist but wondered how far she would have got in the music industry if she hadn’t been on TOWIE, Celebrity Big Brother and Britain’s got Talent. After a few numbers we went for a walk around the concession stalls with no intention of buying, just looking.

That time passed slowly so we found ourselves listening to the rise and fall of the economy in conjunction with the same trajectory for horror shark films in the comedy tent, like you do! This was located part-way back to our tent so we grabbed the opportunity to drop-off our excess baggage and return to the Songbird stage for PP Arnold. I couldn’t remember precisely what I’d read about her but did recollect that she might be good. She was brilliant! She’d been an Ikette (with Ike and Tina Turner) before going on to have a solo career with such hits as ‘First cut is the Deepest’ and ‘Angel of the Morning’. She could still belt them out and enchant a crowd.

Food called and we indulged up the hill from the Pleasant Valley stage to the strains of Pixie Lott, even though we couldn’t, nor did we really try to see her. A slot of shade behind a bush was too tempting. Our next big attraction was the Scottish singer/song writer Amy Mcdonald. We had seen her at this festival 5 years previously when she’d played late afternoon as Andy Murray won Wimbledon. She had been excellent then and did not disappoint, even asking if anyone had been around for her performance that year. I’m not sure if anyone else had been but I certainly made sure she knew that we had! It was a marvellous set, worthy of show-closing.

We arrived late to the next act as there were several encores for Amy so Mavis Staples was in full flow as we hovered at the back. The shaded sun was dipping behind the trees and tents. She is an American icon, both for her music as well as her civil rights activism. Unfortunately, the latter over-flowed into the former, prolonging fade-outs by minutes, many minutes. This was the point when we noticed the sea of white faces around us, awkward! but what else are you going to find at a middle-aged, middle-class music festival in the heart of the Cotswolds. Much more Boden than black history.

We trotted back to the PV stage for the headline act, the much awarded Alanis Morissette, whose music we knew nothing about. I had no desire to get too close to the front as I didn’t know if either of us would enjoy this set. We settled 3/4 of the way up the hill, a pair of couples on a blanket to our left. As the support band mounted the stage the two girls got up and stood beside us then the one closest to me, as in inches, lit her cigarette, holding it in her right hand. Waving her arms around, in supposedly graceful lateral extensions, she wafted her b****y fag across my face. When that wavy music stopped she held her right arm away from her friend on her left, right under my nose! I mimed to Roger that I’d extinguish it with a slosh from my cider cup. Deciding that that would be a waste I started unscrewing the top of the bottle of water I was holding. Whether I would have actually poured it on her fag I don’t know but I had significant intent. Fortunately her boyfriend noticed and stopped me before the top came off completely. He moved her onto their other side and told me to be more tolerant, it was a festival, hmmm? Matter solved, for me, but not the people she was now with, but that was their issue. The boyfriend then lit up his own fag, but held it on his far side, next to his non-smoking mate.

It only took 2-3 numbers for us to realise that this was not our taste in music but after causing a bit of a kerfuffle I felt obliged to stay, until we hit half an hour, then we politely crept away. A further trawl around the shops and concessions killed 20 minutes but we were waiting for the band in the campsite tent due on at 11pm. We were at serious risk of not being able to stay awake for Little Moscow; Hairy Biker Si’s band.

A coffee stand came to our aid and we took our cups into the adjacent bar tent. A few minutes later HB Dave came in with his friends/family. We watched him spread joy and happiness around the room, posing for photos, chatting to anyone who wanted his time before coming over to the table beside us, where they had to stand with their drinks as we’d removed the last chairs, oops!

Finally we were allowed into the performance tent and the band began with Si on the drums. I was expecting them to be mediocre, only getting a slot due to connections but they were excellent. We’d planned to just stay for a couple of numbers before winding our weary way to bed but were cheering and clapping for more as they finished their set. A fantastic headline act after the highs of PP and Amy and lows of Alanis and another confrontation.

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