Monday, 26 December 2011

The Cambridge Folk Festival

The event of the summer for us had to be the Cambridge Folk Festival. It is a four day folk[ish] music festival that attracts large crowds and big names. Dave & I had bought our tickets for it back in February and had been eagerly anticipating four days of folk, especially once the lineups were announced and we knew who to look forward to. In fact, I was so excited that I even booked a day off work in order to ensure that I got the full festival experience (short of camping out there—our own bed may be uncomfortable, but it’s still better than a tent).

Wicker Fox!!!

Folk Fest lived up to all its hype. Each day was different but also special, and we felt as if we’d gone away on vacation instead of just away to the south of town (which, to be fair, still took about an hour each way  thanks to public transport). The first day of the festival I got off of work early and we took a picnic supper down to the festival grounds where we enjoyed, among others, performances by The Willows and by the Secret Sisters. When we weren’t listening to music we were wandering around with pints of ale (ah, England!) and trying on various funky types of headgear.

Friday was my favourite day at the festival. We got there for the early afternoon, when things were starting to pick up. The great thing about Friday is that only those people who are really keen to be there will actually go to the trouble of booking a day off of work. When there were gaps between shows we explored the festival grounds and went shopping at the festival booths. Grounds’ exploration found a duck pond, wild flowers, geese, and a bunch of teddy bears held hostage in a tree. Shopping led to David getting a crazy hippy [reversible] sweater—unbleached cotton with an embroidered tree of life on one side and supersoft, psychedelic wool on the other. I sourced various crazy skirts, and eventually settled on a dagged patchwork one. Then, tired of wandering around, we settled our picnic blanket near the stage where the best evening acts were and spent the night reading books, sampling various edible delicacies (pork & apple burger, mint & lamb burger, fresh honeyed almonds with orange & cinnamon), and dancing to wild klezmer music. It was so relaxing and so very different from the way our life usually is in England. I felt like I were twenty years old and back in Victoria, enjoying myself without a care in the world. 

Saturday and Sunday were the most crowded days at the festival. The biggest acts play on those days and it was chock-a-block for being able to move around. I don’t like crowds and in England there are few restrictions on outdoor smoking, so I was finding the combination of summer heat, sweaty masses of people, and stale cigarette smoke a bit much. However, on Saturday evening I got to watch the folk rock group Pentangle perform, and that made up for any discomfort during the day. Yes, we were standing at the back. Yes, some idiot screwed up the audio. But I had never imagined that I would get to actually see them in the flesh, and they played all the songs which I have known and loved for years: it was magical. 
Because of the crowds we decided to not stay long on Sunday. In fact, we only stayed for one act, which was the Portishead Fishermen’s Friends, a group of old seamen from Cornwall who performed various sea shanties with gusto. They told ribald jokes, they constantly insulted each other, and they produced beautiful music. Dave & I munched on cheese & pickle sandwiches, danced to some well known shanties, and decided that no other performance that day could top the act. So we caught a bus, went to a pub, and spent the rest of the day relaxing at home. Perfect ending to a perfect weekend.