Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Glastonbury festival

2010 was my third Glastonbury, having been to 2003 and 2005. It was also, by far, the sunniest, as not a single drop of rain fell all weekend. For this reason, I think I'm not alone in saying it was a slightly more sensible affair. OK, so I danced like a lunatic, shouted lots, consumed plenty of alcohol day and night, and wandered around the crazy night-time city of Shangri-la with various new and old friends, dropping into diners, aeroplanes, gay bars and circus events. By no means was it sensible. But the combination of being hot all day, unable to catch up on sleep in an airless tent and therefore making the most of the festival daytime, and trying not to dehydrate, meant that less alcohol was consumed, being replaced by water. I'm also 5 years older than the last time I went, so maybe it wasn't a grown-up vibe at all, just a grown-up me.
Anyway, my new, daytime approach is going down well, as Boomtown last year was similarly hot and wonderful. I am terrible at sitting still, and more than happy to wander about in the sunshine all day, drinking cider (or water) and listening to world class musicians.
Highlights this year include Gorillaz, Shakira, Staff Benda Bilili, the Carnage Bar, Arcadia (a fire show on an unimaginable scale), making new friends, and the sunshine. Throughout, the music was not on a par with my previous two Glastonburys, as not many could compare with Lamb, Mogwai, Macy Gray, Morcheeba or Moloko of 2003, and no-one came within miles of Basement Jaxx of 2005. But then I saw Gomez in Avalon, a smaller, more intimate venue, and the standards were raised. They were incredible.
My advice is to be independent and mission to the acts you want to see, or just hang out at the West Holts stage, if you're anything like me and want to make the most of the music. You can sit down with your mates any old weekend! Most importantly, do it your way, and do not be afraid of missing out. There is so much to see you will miss a lot, but not as much as you take in!
All up, it was a great festival. Bigger, more overwhelming, more commercial every time, but endlessly entertaining. Looking forward to Boomtown already!

Soul searching on 12th June

When my mum rang in the morning, and asked if I was doing anything special that day, I thought I'd better ask why before explaining that I'd been looking forward to St Werburgh's festival and the England v USA match all week. But mum wanted to know if I fancied visiting my granma in Wales as she'd be driving through later. Oh no! Family or friends is an easy choice, but family or friends, beer, music, dancing, sunshine and an England match is slightly less so. Although these are all special to me, I knew I had to take her up on the offer. And so to Wales, on the first England match day of the World Cup!
I live by many mottos, and one of them has something to do with prioritising things which are good for the soul. This trip was. As the sun shone on the Werburghers, Lucy and I were squished in the back of my parents posh looking but very cramped car. That evening we found ourselves in a Welsh pub with loads of Welsh rugby fans, aka, our aunties and uncles, wistfully looking over their shoulders at the distant TV screen. Not a single person in the pub cared enough about the plight of their English neighbours to sit near the tele. But as the evening progressed, and the wine flowed, we relaxed, enjoying a wonderful cod dinner and starting a variety of drinking games. Even the barmen joined in by the end!
The next day we spent with Granma, and took a walk around Porthcawl. As it started to rain, we all sheltered in a cafe. This cafe definitely wins the prize for inhospitality in my eyes! My sister was told not to use the loo unless she bought something, my mum was shouted at when she pointed out she'd been undercharged, the tea was lukewarm and the tablecloths dirty. The owner was also asleep on the sofa. We all found it quite hard not to laugh.
That evening we spent with the kids of my cousins. Four boys aged 7 - 11, who, thankfully for Lucy and I, are fans of all sports. Happily watching the Germany v Australia match, we enjoyed another glass or four of wine, and reminded ourselves that it's good for the soul to visit your family every now and again.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Warleigh Weir

Since I've been back from Lanzarote, and the sun has endlessly shone on Bristol's streets, I have been fruitlessly searching for my ideal local swimming spot. Although I've lived here on and off for a long time, I haven't ever really spent a Summer here. Being variously a student or teacher, this has been my time to escape. And now I'm perplexed. What do Bristolians do when it's hot? My natural urge is to find water and jump in it. Wherever else I've lived, this has not posed any sort of problem, but in Bristol, finding water to jump in takes some serious brainpower. Not the harbourside - too dirty. Paddling pool in St Andrew's Park - full of kids. Clifton Lido - too expensive. Portishead open air swimming pool looks glorious, but not easily accessible for a carless one. Even getting a paddling pool seems a bit pointless, as our garden is in the almost constant shade of the neighbours' tree and at risk of a visit from their cat. So on Saturday morning, not too early, Hannah and I caught the train to Bath, in search of some clean water to keep me cool throughout the Summer.
We cycled along the towpath towards Bradford (upon Avon), and veered off at Warleigh Weir. This place is a real find! It is a big open field where you are free to hang out with the cows at your leisure, and the Weir is beautiful. Although it does not come close to topping the list of my favourite outdoor swimming spots, it does seem to be one of the closest to me geographically at the moment. Plus it's free, and offers an added curiosity factor of dodging mud, reeds and fish. I'd say our find was a success.
After hanging out, drying off and refuelling with plenty of pasta salad, we headed back to Bristol on our bikes, cycling around 22 miles more along the cycle path, with a stop at The Bird in Hand for a glass of rose. On the way home we passed Saltford and Bitten, which might be worth a look for future swims.
If you have a free day, cycling to Warleigh is a great option, but if anyone knows of any others spots where I can swim outdoors in Bristol, please let me know!