Not as washed out as the rest of the country that Jubilee weekend, the 2nd FITM Festival was brilliant. I co-managed the bar with the lovely Joe Smee and I loved it. Everyone’s wonderfully friendly when you’re in charge of 40 kegs of ale and several hundred litres of cider. Also amazing, after years pandering to Popticians, Musicians, TV Directors and the like, to meet a group of musicians who are entirely capable and practically ept individuals. The branch of artistry I’ve been involved in for years was underpinned by a belief that artists have to have everything done for them. Here the folkies built, crafted, cobbled and cobbed to make a beautiful festival while making sweet music.
That said – 4 days of folk and I was a little folked out. Loved evading the folk police on the last night; an iPod + speakers and an old blanket in a stable and we had ourselves an illegal dance tent. Nice.
8 – 15 June – Abystree, Pembrokeshire
R&R after the festival. Very broken, dirty and coughing I was welcomed into the warm embrace of Tessa, Nick and my brother’s family at Tessa’s place in Pembrokeshire. I did some good sleeping and washing and van sorting. T’was lovely to hang with the troops. Highlights included – Cap’n Nick’s tour of the estuary on the good ship Pugwash and my own sailing experiments with reeds.
I stayed on a few days to spend some quality time with my auto electrician running van cables, and to offer an extra pair of hands on a couple of jobs around the place. Chicken acropolis, ironwork fences duly erected and old chicken runs dismantled and I headed off to Wwoof in South Pembrokeshire.
What a special place and a special family, what a place to grow up you lucky little men. With a blissful a gap in the clouds to appreciate it for a couple of days, it felt like a real privilege to spend time on this SSSI being thoughtfully managed to preserve and encourage wildflower meadows. Cob structures, elegant barn and surrounded by exquisite natural life. Even the teenage owls arguing in the wee hours raised a smile before I put my earplugs in.
Mixing and working with clom (the word for cob round these parts), cleaning honey bee shit off solar panels, orchids, falling off swings, bottle feeding a calf, hanging gates, turving roofs (where should the v’s be in those 2 words, no idea)… A perfect bit of Wwoofing – we gave our time and effort, Alice B joined me for a couple of days, and we were beautifully rewarded with great kindness, a warm introduction to this stunning bit of the world and some very fine home grown pork in many delicious guises. In addition some fine advice on the Welsh farming grant system. The woodland creation scheme being of particular interest…
20 June – property tourism in Brecon, tea in Tregare, dinner and sleep in Stroud
My first real bit of property tourism – a really interesting 30 acre farm just north of Brecon, but a definite money pit with some big structural issues, or so said the bloke who was viewing at the same time as me… could he perhaps have had an agenda? I’m not allowed to cross the Severn without dropping in to Jo and Rui for tea so I did just that before heading to Andy and Ruth’s in Stroud for dinner and a bed and a safe haven for the van while I trained it into London.
21 – 24 June, London – Osteopath, Dentist, Hairdresser and Physio, check.
A few days of family, friends and of course, Lucy’s 40th, which was super fun. And rather exciting to be out so late now I tend to be tucked up with eyeshades (the curse of the beige curtains that do very little other than look like someone cried on them) and a book at 9pm most nights. I met Otis and saw Polly which was lovely, we miss Polly when she’s away.
24 June – 1 July, Wwoofing on smallholding on Shropshire / Wales border
I touched on the strangeness of this experience in the last blog and I don’t really want to say much more. I had hoped to stay at the farm for 2 maybe 3 weeks so to leave early was a very big deal but the right thing to do. A bit about the good stuff – we made butter, purple elderflower cordial, baked bread, looked after livestock, learnt about sprouting fodder, attacked thousands of docks and moved rocks from one place to another. At the time it was a really big deal to leave the warmth of home and hearth for solo wandering but with hindsight of course these things look different. Adventures were had…