Tag Archives: Greenbelt

Greenbelt (the muddy one)

Like a number of other wibloggers I was at the Greenbelt Festival over the weekend. Here are some of my highlights (in no particular order):

* catching up with friends from far and wide, including a few I wasn’t expecting to see at all and people I haven’t seen for years from various bits of my life.
* spending time with HD 🙂
* Tony Campolo on the Friday night. In the 90s I heard him speak a few times at madchurch, and he is just as engaging and wonderful as ever (and I totally can’t believe he’s now 78! He’s got far more energy than me!). He spoke about the difference between power and authority (taking as his examples the US evangelical movement as an example of those seeking to win through power, but by doing so lacking authority to demonstrate anything other than their own agenda; whilst people like Mother Teresa had an authority borne out of service). It made me think very much about parenting, both how I was parented and the many examples of parenting I have seen over the years of being a health visitor, and thought about how if we are ever blessed with being parents it is a lesson I want to put into practice – not imposing my rules because I’m the parent so what I say goes, but having the authority borne from love and sacrificial giving. Which I know is ever so idealistic, and I’m not putting it very well, but thinking about my own experiences I now know what I’m aiming for (even though this is an entirely hypothetical situation right now, before anyone asks!).
* The Proclaimers. Especially ending their set with ‘500 miles’ (how could they not?).
* Stanley Odd. The rain meant that they had hardly anyone at all seeing them on mainstage which was such a shame as they are great – I hope they can come back and get the audience they deserve another year.
* Transcendence. The one worship service I went to during the weekend. A good place to slow down, and think about why I was there.
* Tiny Tea Tent. Respite from the rain, warming brews and catching up with friends old and new. Perfect.
* Bellowhead. I loved them – where on earth do they get their energy from?
* Imagined Village. Always wonderful. Having lived in Scotland for 7 years now and felt a lot of challenges to my national identity (not anti-English, just difference and awareness of that) they are one thing that always makes me proud of my roots – their music resonates with me in a way that other English stuff doesn’t.
* The Rising with Martyn Joseph on Monday morning (with Abigail Washburn, Luke Sital-Singh and Karine Polwart). I think this was my absolute GB highlight this year. We’d seen Abigail Washburn before at Womad and got her CD, and seen Karine Polwart a few times at various things in Scotland, so knew it would be good, but both they and Luke Sital-Singh were extraordinary and sublime. And I was so happy that Karine Polwart sang ‘Cover Your Eyes’, the song she wrote after seeing the ‘You’ve Been Trumped’ documentary about Donald Trump’s shenanigans with the golf course in Aberdeenshire, and which now closes the film. I was actually moved to tears (just as when I saw the documentary) at what that vile man has done to that beautiful dune system and her quiet rage. There’s a review and interview with her about the new album here.

It was a shame about the terrible weather and the mudbath that the site became, but it didn’t stop us from enjoying it a lot and being so glad we went. I don’t know if we’ll make it next year (it *is* a long way, and there are other things we want to do – let’s see what WOMAD’s line-up is next year) but thanks Greenbelt 2012, it was a blast 🙂

Greenbelt 2011

And so to Greenbelt, which although only a weekend ago feels like ages! This was my first GB for a couple of years, and I went by myself as HD didn’t have enough leave; this time I was also working for the first time since my first GB in 2003 when I was a venue steward.

There were loads of positives. Of course, catching up with lots of lovely people, from the wibsite, from Ship of Fools, from my old London church, from York, even from my (very first) university (embarrassingly H recognised me but I only recognised her when she told me 😮 ) is always the biggest highlight, and what I love about GB (and what is very different from Womad – we have on occasion bumped into a friend or two there, and last time a couple of years ago we camped with HD’s brother and sister and brother-in-law and their kids, but mostly it’s just us and the music). I camped with York friends (one of the things I was working on was the Visions service, and the other bit of it was working in the Soul Space venue, which was also headed up by someone from Visions), so got to spend quite a lot of time with them, and then I had a very happy couple of hours after the Visions service going to the Shipmeet at the fab Tiny Tea Tent, where it was wonderful to catch up with folk again. And then on the last day, once I’d got my tent down, I spent the late afternoon and evening with ship and wibsite friends (including Pants, Auntie Doris and Cal amongst several others. I also managed to bump briefly into Tractor Girl but sadly didn’t manage to get the chance to grab a cuppa with her (that was one of the highlights of a previous GB for me 🙂 ).

Because I was working I didn’t get to loads of things – I caught about the first 15 minutes of Billy Bragg’s set before having to go off to Soul Space to work, and the main other things I caught music-wise were Kate Rusby and the Unthanks. So I guess it’s fair to say I really wasn’t very adventurous this year, just went with tried and tested favourites (having said that I’d not seen the Unthanks live before, I’d definitely like to see them again though). Talks-wise I started off at Abide (a tiny venue populated by the meditative/storytelling-types) to see a really promising-sounding talk on allotments and atonement, but which turned out to be quite dull so I gave up after 10 minutes, and tried (and failed) to get in to see Richard Wilkinson talk about inequality (the queue was too long so the venue closed before I could get in – I did buy the talk though to listen to on the journey back and am sorry to have missed it, and I have also bought the book The Spirit Level). I did though get to see the whole of Mark Thomas’ 2 hour set (which I think he has already toured, or at least started to, as he made reference to a bit of it not going down so well in Glasgow) detailing his walk along the length of the Israel-West Bank wall. He was absolutely brilliant, and I’m definitely going to get his book – he was funny, absolutely hilarious, but also heartbreaking – polemical, angry, funny, it was leftie comedy at its absolute best. I loved his story about the British Consul in East Jerusalem, and some of his one-liners were unexpected but quite brilliant (particularly the “Luton should be illegal” one – I can laugh at that as that is where HD is from – and his reason for coming to GB, despite being an atheist – “missionary work”). The Big Top was absolutely packed, and deservedly so. I laughed and cried, it was quite quite brilliant.

The other comedy (er, I mean anointed ministry time) I caught was Reverend Gerald Ambulance. It is always such a blessing to receive ministry from Lewisham, and the good reverend was on fine form.

In Soul Space (which is the mellow area for prayer, reflection and generally chilling out) I was basically a glorified bouncer, and didn’t really get the chance to be too involved in anything actually going on as I was too busy doing the (whispered) crowd control thing. Having said that though, I thought what I heard of the nChant service and especially Orthodox Vespers sounded absolutely beautiful, and I’ll have to try and check out some more of that if I go back. I learnt that after 3 hours of whispering to people (directions, requesting they turn their phone off, taking appointments for spiritual direction, that sort of thing) my throat absolutely killed me in the morning, it felt like I’d been yelling football songs at top volume on 10 pints. Which was a bit ironic!

Another highlight for me was the Visions all-age service on Saturday afternoon that I was participating in. Thanks to my madchurch experience, all-age worship is something I am somewhat allergic to, and I must confess to not being entirely convinced it would work, but on the day it all went beautifully, it was fantastic to see so many children and adults really engaging with the various aspects of the service, and to get such good feedback afterwards. I didn’t go to the main communion service on the Sunday (as it invariably annoys me – as it was I could hear bits of it from my tent and thought it sounded a bit shouty, so I’m glad I gave it a miss), so Visions was probably my main God-bit really. It would be so lovely to find something similar up here. Ho hum.

One thing I did find was that it was a real old slog driving down all the way to Cheltenham. I was lucky to stay with my in-laws to break up the journey both ways, but even with that it was a bit of a hike. I think realistically my days of going to Greenbelt every year are probably over, although I am also sure that this won’t be my last festival. It was certainly fantastic to catch up with people – here are some selected highlights:

Home sweet home Performance Cafe ceiling

Bookshop ceiling Billy Bragg

Campsite Ominous

Blue sky Mark Thomas

Kate Rusby IMG_6560

Fairy princess :) The Unthanks

Rev Gerald Ambulance

2011 Project365 (days237-243)

31st August:

31st August 2011

A colleague at work left today, and at her leaving do this evening she had got there earlier and put one of these pots with a candle at every place. Even more thoughtful, she had got some photos she had printed out, with quotes from her favourite poets handwritten on the back, for us all to take one. We were all flabbergasted at her thoughtfulness – she will be sorely missed.

30th August:

30th August 2011

This is the view from the service station at Johnstonebridge, on the A74(M). I have stopped at this service station before, but this was the first time that I noticed there was outdoor seating, and more than that, that there was this beautiful view!

29th August:

29th August 2011

Last day at Greenbelt and one of the highlights was a set by Kate Rusby. Here she is on the big screen to the side of the stage. I’ll write a bit more about Greenbelt in another post (and I realise I haven’t written the Womad post either – will do that at some point too).

28th August:

28th August 2011

The weather at Greenbelt wasn’t too bad, but the sun was quite a rare visitor, it couldn’t get beyond the grey cloudy bouncers. So I appreciated this touch of warmth on the Sunday evening – this is the campsite taken from the grandstand.

27th August:

27th August 2011

One of the things I enjoyed very much on Saturday at Greenbelt was meeting up with friends from Ship of Fools at the Tiny Tea Tent. Even though I’m not the world’s biggest tea drinker, the vibe at the TTT is always relaxed and I love spending time there.

26th August:

26th August 2011

On the Friday, the first day of Greenbelt I only managed to catch the first 15 minutes or so of Billy Bragg‘s set, but what I saw was fabulous.

25th August:

25th August 2011

Travelling down the M6 to Greenbelt, here’s a view from the UK’s best service station, Tebay. What a great place.

The Gallery Week 28: A Smile

I’ve not participated in the Gallery photo meme for a few weeks (click on the logo to go to the host blog, Sticky Fingers) but thought I’d jump in this week. The theme this time is “A Smile”, inspired by the Mona Lisa Million Project.

I found this one quite difficult. I thought I’d find a picture of me looking enigmatic like the Mona Lisa, but the closest I found to ‘enigmatic’ was ‘dorky’. I also feel really self-conscious about my own smile so struggle to look natural when a camera’s pointed my way (I was terrified I’d look awful in all my wedding photos – fortunately I was so chilled and loved-up that day I forgot to be self-conscious and it showed 😀 ).

Anyway. I thought I’d go instead for something that makes me smile.


This isn’t the world’s greatest picture (it was very windy, I’m sad I didn’t get that bottom bit of ribbon in!), but it makes me smile as it reminds me of things I like. Camping (it’s the thing we put on a pole outside our tent, so we stand a chance of finding it in the dark), Greenbelt (this was taken the last time we were at the festival, in 2008), rainbows.

I’m smiling now 🙂

Missing Greenbelt

We are not at Greenbelt this year – I suspect as I write many people are either heading home or just waiting for the headliner on Main Stage. We didn’t go last year as I really felt like I needed a year off and was a bit addled and thought I wouldn’t be able to cope with hippy earnestness, and this year I couldn’t go due to the imminence of my thesis deadline (which is why I’m here, of course!) plus the timing not working out for holidays at work. I’ve caught photos and status updates and comments about the festival in various places (facebook, twitter, flickr) and it looks amazing, and unlike last year where the break did me good, this year I’m finding I’m really missing it. I know over the year there have been various conversations, on the wibsite and elsewhere, on the politics and issues around GB, but to be honest I’m not really very interested in that. I don’t go to Greenbelt (or any other festival) to prove my Christian credentials or anything like that, or look down on others who don’t go (not that I’m suggesting anyone here does that!) – I just find it a place where I can chill, breathe, relax, meet amazing friends I don’t get to see at any (or many) other time, and more often than not get surprised by God in the midst of it all.

So I’m looking forward to reading people’s accounts once they’re back home. But I’ll be reading with a little twinge of sadness too that I wasn’t able to go this time.

The happiest girl in the world

On Thursday we went to the wonderful Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) to see a new Romanian film, “The Happiest Girl in the World”. There’s a review of the film from the Guardian here. There was also an (English) article on a Romanian TV station blog about the burgeoning Romanian film industry, the blog itself doesn’t appear to exist any more but the article still appears to be cached, here.

I’m not sure that HD is that convinced about the Romanian film renaissance (I’ve dragged him along to several films now!) – but I for one am really appreciating it. Apart from anything else it means I have an hour or two when I can listen to the language as it’s spoken properly (as opposed to reading it myself, when it sounds like Romanian with an English accent in my head). I was pleased that I was able to follow a lot of the film with minimal reliance on the subtitles, and when the subtitles appeared before the dialogue I could guess what was going to be said reasonably well.

The film itself was fun, I enjoyed it, though I’m not sure I’d quite describe it as a comedy. It reminded me a lot of Mike Leigh/Ken Loach type films, where although you could probably say they were comedies it’s more the kind of comedy where you smile because you know it’s so true to life rather than because it’s funny haha. Certainly when they were filming the advert (over and over again) it reminded me of lots of adverts I’ve seen on Romanian TV over the years, where they get the winner to read out a script, flash their prize and promote the product. And the basic premise – 16 year old Delia’s parents wanting to sell her prize so they could get the money and no longer have to struggle – certainly struck me as very true to life.

So, if you get the chance I’d say it was worth seeing. Other Romanian films I’ve seen include “12:08 East of Bucharest” (quite why it’s called that in English when the Romanian title actually translates as “Was it or wasn’t it?” I don’t know) – this did make me laugh; “4 Months 3 Weeks 2 days” (about a girl seeking an illegal abortion during the Ceausescu years – harrowing but scarily true to life); and “The Death of Mr Lazarescu” – again touted as a black comedy, but I’d say the operative word was definitely black. All well worth seeing, in my view. A couple of others I’ve not seen yet but which come highly recommended are “California Dreamin'” (I have this on DVD, just not ever got round to it, must rectify that soon) and “Tales from the Golden Age” (produced by “4,3,2”‘s director Cristian Mungiu) which got rave reviews on Radio 4.

I think I’ve written before about how I find watching films quite stressful. Maybe it’s because these are Romanian so I’m curious and know the culture and a lot of the background stuff already I can cope with them more than many. Whatever, I think they’re worth a view if you get the chance.

In other news, we’re off to Solas for the day tomorrow (Surfing and Tractor Girl amongst others are already there for the whole weekend so am looking forward to catching up with them). There’s no way we’re going to make it to Greenbelt this year sadly, far too near to my thesis deadline, but this will be nice to get a little taste of it a bit closer to home anyway.

Wibmeet by proxy

As I’m not at Greenbelt this weekend, but am doing more mundane things (washing, finishing my book chapter, doing a recce for my interview on Monday, that sort of thing) I thought I would do something to cheer me up and help me get over the fact that I won’t be meeting lots of lovely wibloggers this weekend. And what better way than this (out of the oven half an hour ago – lovely!):



I had never heard the word ‘staycation’ till relatively recently – referring to time off staying at home rather than going on vacation. It’s one of those buzzwords that is really naff but seems to be gaining currency. This weekend of course lots of people are off to Greenbelt for the Bank Holiday weekend, and we are staying at home. Now, while I still think that having a year off will be good for us for all sorts of reasons, and if the weather is anything like it currently is up here avoiding a weekend of mud and wellies will be a good thing for my stress levels, nevertheless I do feel a little twinge of “they’re all there and I’m not”. I’d say we’d go and have an adventure, but have bits and bobs of work to do, plus interview preparation, so I shall just urge everyone at the festival to blog regularly so I can experience it all vicariously without the mud/mank/cold/etc! I’m thinking calling it a staycation maybe will make me feel a bit better about it!

The interview is for a health visiting job (that I’m not desperate to do, but beggars can’t be choosers) and is next Monday. Eek.

Mystery bloodletting and random matters arising

A couple of evenings ago I cut my finger whilst chopping veg for dinner. This was unusual as although it was quite a hefty cut I didn’t feel a thing, and only realised that I’d done anything at all when I noticed all the blood on the chopping board. Anyway, I cleaned it up, put a plaster on it and carried on. Then yesterday while I was at work (and by which time the cut had actually become quite hurty) I noticed something strange, which hadn’t registered before. The cut was on my pointy finger, but was on my right hand, i.e. the hand with which I hold the knife, by the handle. I’m still puzzling how on earth I managed to cut it, as presumably it would require some nifty hand movements, and yet I was completely oblivious until after the fact! (it’s feeling much better now by the way, in case anyone was worrying!).

In other news, after considering volunteering at Greenbelt, we have decided instead to have a year off the festival this year. It’s sad that we won’t see lots of lovely people, but I think it will do us both good to do something different for a year. Apart from the social side of things, I have to admit that I was starting to feel a bit jaded and ‘comfortable’ with it all, and apart from a couple of contributors I was feeling like I could take or leave a lot of the lineup (PS Tractor Girl, I’ve tried to send you a message on facebook this evening to tell you that, but facebook isn’t loading for me this evening – will try again at work tomorrow. We’ll have to make sure to meet up somewhere up north sometime soon!).

It’s the flapjack recipe again

Miss Lisa requested my flapjack recipe, and this time I managed to find it in the archives, so here it is pretty much copied and pasted:

Ingredients (this amount will fill a normal sized roasting tin):

8oz (250g) butter
8oz (250g) soft brown sugar
1lb (500g) golden syrup
1lb (500g) porridge oats
blackberries (amount unspecified – just drop them into the mixture till it looks like you’ve got enough – but 200-250g sounds about right)

1. Preheat oven to Gas Mark 3 (170 degrees C).
2. Melt the butter in a pan over moderate heat, then add the sugar and syrup; keep on heating and stirring until the mixture is smooth and no sugar grains can be seen.
3. Stir in the oats and mix thoroughly together.
4. Stir in the blackberries.
5. Lightly grease the baking tin, then spoon in the mixture, flattening it into a layer about 1cm thick.
6. Bake for 30 minutes until a rich brown*.
7. Cool for 5 minutes and then cut into fingers. Remove from the tin when cold.
8. Store in an airtight tin (or handy piece of tupperware!). Will keep fresh for up to 3 weeks.

* except that with the blackberries the rich brown will be somewhat, uh, purple-ish.

This is pretty much what I did from memory last week and they came out a bit soggy – I think I might have had them in the oven slightly less than 30 minutes. I’m going to make some more tomorrow, but will be pushing the boat out and using raspberries instead. Talk about living on the edge 🙂