The number of open-air summer festivals in Britain seems to have mushroomed over the last ten years or so and, never one to be caught out even remotely behind the times, I attended my first festival in 2007. It’s called Latitude and takes place in a kind of country park near the captivating Suffolk town of Southwold (to which, if you’ve never been, you should make it your business to go). You may have heard me go on and on and on and on about Latitude that year on the Big Blue Bus.

In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I went again last year - and it was even better. It’s not just the music, either. There’s poetry, drama, comedy; even BBC Radio 4 (no less) has a marquee there. Well, I say ‘marquee’; portable broom-cupboard, more like. But hey, they try.

However...no sooner was I smugly regarding myself as up-to-date with the summer festival scene than I was abruptly told that Latitude was way too middle class and ‘comfortable’. Too many people arriving in 4x4s with kids - or rather ‘children’ - called Jocasta and Monty. Too many bearded, cardy-wearing Guardian-reading social workers in once-a-year ponchos. Who, I ask you, would want to be identified with that particular stereotype?

So this year, I adjusted my aim a little. Broadened my festival scope. Extended my horizons...and all that rubbish.

I’d heard how good the Green Man Festival was - and my goodness it was. People arrived in
slightly cheaper 4x4s with children - yes, still ‘children’ - called Cerise and Lexi and the number of Guardian-readers - including your blogger - remained obstinately high. Everything else was different, though. Fewer festival-goers and few, if any, big name bands.

The atmosphere was wonderful, though (not that it hadn’t been just as wonderful at Latitude) and the setting was breathtaking. The Festival takes place in a heavily wooded, steep-sided bend of the River Usk in south-east Wales, not far from Crickhowell and Abergavenny. It’s truly sumptuous and the main stage is set in a natural amphitheatre so everyone can sit comfortably on the grassy banks and get a good view of the bands.

You can get an idea of it in the crowd photo above. In fact, if you look carefully...see the house? Focus on the right-hand edge of it. Slightly below it and a little to the right you will see a very large summer hat. Under it is my friend Sue. So now you know.

Food provision was jaw-droppingly cosmopolitan; Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, American, Italian, Spanish - even Welsh. So perhaps it’s just as well that the dreaded toilets (toilets are always ‘dreaded’ at festivals like this) were, in fact, spotless and pristine. And queue-free (which is also just as well).

Of course, attending a festival like this one is all about the music (though there was other stuff, too). Some of the bands I saw - and which I strongly recommend you keep an ear open for - included...Gang Gang Dance, Broken Records, Wave Machine, Beth Jeans Houghton (who is truly special AND a local lass), Sibrydion, Grizzly Bear, Vetiver (old favourites of mine), Camera Obscura, She Keeps Bees and The Leisure Society.

Specially The Leisure Society. I’d already caught them at The Cluny in Newcastle and was already a big fan. Listen to Save It For Someone Who Cares or Last Of The Melting Snow and you’ll see why.

It was a great weekend. Good weather (unusual for this damp and cloudy part of Wales), lovely scenery, good company, great music - much of it new to me, which is never a bad thing.

In fact, on the strength of the fun I had there, I decided to take the plunge before it’s too late. I’ve put my name down for The Big One. Next year’s Glastonbury Festival! It really is one of those things you should try to do before you die, isn’t it?

* 30% of all the Benedictine drunk in Britain is drunk in Burnley;
* The hour between 1900 and 2000 on June 24 is thought to be the ‘loveliest hour in the English Year’;
* truckshunter Alison Best’s sister Anne is the World Speed-Reading Champion;
* the BBC Gardener of the Year lives near Lanchester; he’s called Bob Tridgett
(those last two courtesy of an email I’ve received from Alison Best herself).

I’m surprised to be telling you that I’m not a big fan of Lee Hall. I know he’s a local lad but that just makes it worse. I thought his depiction of pit-village life in Billy Elliot was a travesty - not just inaccurate but patronising, too. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way I saw it at the time, and still see it.

Pitmen Painters, though, is an entirely different kettle of fish. I saw it during a recent visit to London and found it inspiring. He seems to capture the spirit, aspirations and outlook of the Ashington miners of the time perfectly. It is by turns funny, sad, moving, uplifting, liberating, desperate.

It’s coming to Newcastle’s Theatre Royal soon. Go and see it. I am.

(And if you're not sure who the Pitmen Painters actually were, visit the Northumberland Museum at Woodhorn.)

...but not today...
*news of AGM VI at Tynemouth;
*heartfelt requests about how Facebook actually works;
*debunking Shakespeare;
*stories told in six words;
*Alan Turing

*October 1 is World Vegetarian Day
*I’m looking for dates/venues for AGM VII - a splendid time is guaranteed for all.

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com


Hildie said...

I love your photos of the Green Man Festival, Ian.
We had a little Committee Meeting today, some of us, i.e. Maureen,
Sid, J.Arthur, J.Arthur's sister, and myself. Sid tried to get hold of Vivienne but she wasn't able to attend. Anyway, top of the agenda was the venue for the next AGM ...
and, after not much debate, we settled on Saltwell Towers
..... will that be okay, do you think?

p.s. A committee is a body appointed to manage any matter on behalf of a larger body.

Hoping all is well with you.

Sid said...

M'Lud, I wish it to be known that I never said you had a larger body...

Hildie said...

When he was badly injured in the
First World War, Ernest Hemingway
stemmed the flow of blood with cigarette ends.

Sid said...

That's a very good tip of the day Hildie....as long as he was outside.

Hildie said...

Sid, I can't remember if it was you or Maureen who put me in charge of the weather for the next AGM ... but, if you have a look at metcheck, there is currently no weather available!
I'm wondering if anyone has a burning desire to suggest a date for the upcoming AGM. The committee, yesterday, was contemplating Wednesdays as a possibility. How do you all feel about that?

Jellyfish have no bones, no cartilage, no heart, no blood, no eyes and no brain, but - they do sting.

Sid said...

The Metcheck site was acting up yesterday as well, perhaps they are rummaging around in the bottom of the weather bag looking for a bit of sunshine for us.

Sid said...

Did you know....

Almonds are members of the Peach family.
Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
Ingrown toenails are hereditary.
A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.
Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur.
Canada, is an Indian word that means "Big Village".
A full 7 per cent of the entire Irish Barley crop goes to the production of Guinness beer.

Hildie said...

I'd better watch what I'm doing with my nutmeg then, Sid!
I have a nice story to tell you ... I heard it at the Tynemouth AGM.
You know Truckshunter Molly, who you met at Birkheads yesterday ... J. Arthur's dog? It concerns her, and it was J.Arthur's Hilary who told us the story. One day J. Arthur took Molly out for a walk when a nasty thunder storm began. Molly was really scared and ran off. J.Arthur looked everywhere in the area of Newcastle where he lives but had to eventually give up, and sadly go home without her. However, later that day, they received a telephone call from a good samaritan who had Molly at home with him in Whitley Bay (or was it South Shields, Ian?) ... anyway, she was fed and happy and safely in this man's garden. He had been travelling on the metro and had noticed Molly on the train
all by herself, so he had decided to take her home with him and ring the number on the disc on her collar.
J.Arthur added that Molly is a regular traveller on the metro, as she zooms about the North East with him all the while.
So, it seems it was a natural thing for her to do .....
"I'm off out of this, I'm hopping on that there train!"

Actually, it was Molly who suggested a Wednesday AGM
.... i forgot to mention earlier that she was on yesterday's committee.

Sid said...

Did you know...

Britain is the only country in the world that doesn't have the country's name on its postage stamps.

Portugal is Englands oldest ally. The Anglo-Portugese Treaty signed in 1873 is still in force.

Nowhere in Britain is more than 74.5 miles from the sea.

Female applicants for the original Directory Enquiry operators posts had to be single. They were expected to resign if they married.

The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteens "Born in the USA".

Charlie Chaplin once won 3rd prize in a Charlie Chaplin look alike competition.

Some 80,000 umbrellas are lost annually on the London Underground.

Hildie said...

Mind, Sid, you've been doing lots of homework , so I think you get the honour of sharpening all the pencils this Friday! Seriously, I would love to know what they do with those 80,000 umbrellas every year!
You know when you were asking about Margaret last week ... did you ever find out how she is? I know her daughter told us that she wasn't well enough to come to the Tynemouth AGM.
There's nobody much about this week, I wonder where they all are.
I have been to Stockton today to see my brother's wife. It is a month today since Robert died. I know this is very sad but it's something I'd like to share on here because it makes me burst with pride ... it is a letter to Valerie from Robert's boss -
Dear Valerie
I am writing to you on behalf of all the staff at ***** the Bakery to express our great sadness and sorrow that Bob has passed away. We were all batting for him, hoping that the latest treatment was going to give him the hope and opportunity that he deserved and so it was a shock to us all when it was discovered that the cancer had spread. Bob was so courageous continuing to work throughout his treatment. Despite his setbacks and the hidden turmoil he must have suffered, he continued to travel the country, pressing on regadless with his job. Bob was an extremely popular member of the management team and was highly respected by all those who worked with him. He was able to connect with people easily and manage and motivate staff to obtain the best out of them.
I held Bob in very high regard and I liked him immensely. He was very professional in his approach and extremely conscientious. He was a person that earned my full support and respect early on and I trusted him implicitly. His contribution to the business was very significant; helping to guide the business through the very tough times we have experienced over the last few years. I feel very privileged to have worked with him and I am very sad that he will not be here to see and participate in the company's future success.
Bob will be greatly missed by all of us at *****.
Our thoughts are with you and your family at this very sad time.

I hope you don't mind that I have shared this with you and I only wish you too had known him.

Hildie said...

Pppping back to say night, night, I'm off to school in the morning, have just got my school bag ready.
Anyone know how Ian is?

Sid said...

That is a lovely letter Hildie, shows just how much Robert was admired and loved.

Ian is probably in the thick of it Hildie. He'll not know what day it is, but we'll tell him when he gets back.

Sid said...

Our favourite weather site is still having problems Hildie, but they do hope to have it sorted soon. It's only a short while ago that it really went berserk and forecast winds in excess of 300 mph for most major cities, with temperatures of -18C. Good job it was a computer glitch.

Hildie said...

I do keep checking out metcheck to see if they've got themselves sorted out ... we are looking for a sunny Wednesday, aren't we? I heard from Ellie the other day, Sid!! Maybe one of the days we'll get her to an AGM!
I keep wanting to ask J.Arthur to explain how small children get e-coli from farm animals. I don't understand how it happens ... I mean, are these animals ill? It's just Truckshunter curiosity, but I do wish I had asked him when we saw him the other day.
I also heard from Ian ... he is definitely tied up... I think, if he had time to write a message on here to all truckshunters , he would say NORMAL SERVICE WILL BE RESUMED JUST AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.
Bless him!
Do you know what I really, really miss from those heady days of the Blue Bus? It's the anagram of a North East placename. I learned where so many places were, because I used to be looking them up on the map. I'm wondering if we could have some anagrams here on Truckshunters.

Hildie said...

Does anyone know what antipasta is?
I saw it in a shop at Consett today.

Sid said...

I googled it Hildie, the auntie Pasto..its the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal.
It can include cured meats, olives, roasted garlic, mushrooms, various cheeses, plus lots of other things.

Hildie said...

Ta ever so, Sid,
I have to say -
it looked yucky!

Maureen said...

Can I add my bit of info? Did you know that if you don't tick the box on a new Truckshunter posting you miss out on a lot of invaluble information? Sorry, I hadn't realised that we'd moved and thought that everyone was just waiting for Ian's return.
Hildie, what a marvellous tribute to Robert, you can all be so proud of him. Of course you knew that already, didn't you?

Sid said...

Didn't the Great North Run do us proud today. It looked great on the tv. Lots of happy people running for all kinds of reasons. Some of the stories brought a tear to the eye. Good luck to all who took part.

Maureen said...

I'm glad that I'm not the only softy Sid! I had to turn it off, but the views were lovely. Aren't we lucky to live here? and yes congratulations to all of those lovely people who were involved.
Talking about local place names Hildie, I heard this one on Smooth radio today: Beach Slide Pig, a local place of interest ...

Meg said...

Hello everyone! It's Meg's daughter here again. Mum's feeling a little better now. She's suggested a venue for an AGM and it's Leazes Park in Newcastle beside the RVI. It's said to be lovely. Just a thought.

I have to say as a young person watching the Great North Run with my Husband who isn't originally form the North East, I was extremely proud of being a Geordie and of where I live. It was great to hear people who have travelled form all over the country say that they always receive a warm welcome from us. Isn't it nice to know that we give that kind of welcome? I know I'm proud.

Sid said...

Hi Wendy, I'm glad your mum is feeling a bit better. Leazes Park is a wonderful idea for an AGM. It holds so many childhood memories for me. Spending my pocket money on the rowing boats, and oh those trains in the museum. And lets not forget the Turbinia. Takes me back a bit I can tell you.

Sid said...

I'm in the wrong park aren't I. It was the Exhibition Park I used to visit...but it was a long time ago.

Hildie said...

Hi Maureen, thanks for your anagram .... I saw it a couple of hours ago and went away to puzzle over it! Now I might be in the running for an ice-scraper as i finally worked it out as Gibside Chapel.
Hi Wendy, it's good to know your mum's on the mend. Would you be able to tell her that we think the next AGM is going to be at Saltwell Towers (one Wednesday soon) .... the only thing is
.... we haven't checked it out with the boss yet!! Would your mum be able to come?
Ellie and mim would you two be able to come? You never know, we might even come up with a proper date and time!!!
Watch this space!
I don't think I have been to Leazes Park, so I'd be interested in an AGM there one of the days. Sid, I think I've been to Exhibition Park too ... if there's an Army Museum there then I've definitely been.

Maureen said...

Put me down for Leazes Park too. I'm pleased to hear that Meg is feeling better. Please give her our love. I hope that there's somewhere warm to have a coffee the temperatures are starting to drop aren't they? Which reminds me, I've just been re-listening to Ian's last show (aahhh!) and someone called Mike and Pauline invited him to drop in for a coffee next time he was at the Quayside. Now how about that for an AGM? I wonder if he ever found out where they were? and I'm sure that the fish and chip restaurant at Tynemouth often got in touch? Maybe these people read the blog? Please get in touch if so, or if there are any other suggestions?
Well done Hildie you get a gold star. How about this one? Which word goes before beans, cup, fly and scotch? (starting the clock now ..)

Vivienne said...

Hi Maureen,

I guess it's BUTTER?

I'm worried that Leases Park may turn out to be another 'Tynemouth' with all of us ending up in different parts of the park, or Town Moor. It's a long time since I've been around that area, so I'm a bit wary of making a journey into the unknown.

Wendy, please give your mam my love, and tell her I hope she's better soon.

Maureen said...

Well done, Vivienne, you get to wear the gold star today!
I see what you are saying abuut Leazes Park. I was thinking of maybe meeting initially at the Haymarket? I would be travelling by Metro and I think some of the others would too? I think that it was a suggestion for the future wasn't it?
Saltwell Park is looking favourite for next Wednesday, 30th September. I know that some of us can make it. J. Arthur said that it was no problem to get there although I don't know about the date. How about everyone else? I hope that Ian doesn't mind me acting 'in loco parentis' but hopefully he'll be able to make it too.

Maureen said...

I've just heard Charlie Charlton recommend Birkheads Secret Gardens as a hidden gem. Seems like it's not a secret anymore ...

Sid said...

Can I recommend parking in the coach and car park at Saltwell Park. The entrance is at the junction of Joicey Road and East Park Road. From there a path leads into the park, coming out just about opposite the 'Towers'.
The long range forecast indicates 'light rain', lets hope they are wrong.

Hildie said...

Hi Sid, where would be a good place to meet up once we get there?
AND would you mind asking Jean if she knows which bus I could catch to Saltwell Park?
I'm thinking I might be as well to get off at Gateshead, rather than stay on the X70 to Newcastle Eldon Square. I would appreciate Jean's thoughts on this.

Sid said...

No need to worry about buses Hildie, I'll pick you up about 10:30ish. If things change I'll let you know, but we should be ok.
As it might be raining on the day why not meet up in the Saltwell Towers Cafe. They open at 11am.

Ian Robinson said...

Yes, I'm still here - and avidly reading all the comments you've been making. It would take whole days for me to comment on all of them; and anyway the Community of Truckshunters seems to have taken on a life of its own, complete with ad hoc committees and members prepared to act 'in loco parentis' :-)) It's all grist to the proverbial mill and I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your comments. Please keep up the good work!