Here we go before I forget too much;
I left off the last part of the story while standing with friends at the Village Pump folk festival, under the floodlit gaze of a white horse carved into a Wiltshire hillside.
It would have been great to stay, but there’s sometimes too many things on all at once, so next morning it was off through the sluggish southern England traffic. There was a brief but spiritual stop at the Avebury standing stones.
It is a wondrous place (although I don’t remember paying for parking the last time I visited years ago, let alone forking our a small fortune, but it is something worth looking after). A little old village has grown up in among the stones, making the visit a unique experience – the visitor centre is well worth a visit too.
Then off to the main fare for the rest of the weekend; a big historical event in the lovely town of Marlborough. It was really hot so I had to pop into a nice little pub in the town to cool off. Revived by lunch and a pint of finest ale, the English Civil War Society’s display battle was just as I remembered from so many events I took part in years ago before leaving for NZ. Perhaps a little self-indulgent when I see it from the outside now, but still worth watching.
I wasn’t there for the scrap though. I was greeted warmly by many old friends and spent the whole evening (and well into the night) chatting, singing and playing music, swapping stories and songs. It brought back so many fond memories of the things that got me into trad folk music in the first place and it was really special to sing with my old friend Dave McLoughlin.
And be really silly (we encourage each other too much, which is fantastic).
Next day was also a bit unusual, in a good way. We were asked to play ‘authentic’ music outside a 17thC style ‘Inn’ in the living history area in town for the afternoon. So attired in borrowed clothing (and a wonderfully outrageous hat from Dave) we drummed and hurdy gurdied to our hearts’ content, with We Be Soldiers Three and plenty of other early stuff.
Great fun, and people started dropping coins in my little wooden bowl so the real ale funds had a bit of a boost. We stayed over on the sunday night, with fewer people but just as much singing. However the next morning took an interesting turn.
The camp site was on public land, and the ECWS had been allowed to stay until the end of the monday morning. Unfortunately the portaloo company didn’t know, so all the ‘facilities’ disappeared about 7am, just before people stirred from their tents.
I must confess, it was quite amusing to see many bemused people gathering cross legged by a vacant row of pale squares in the grass. Emergency access to the local rugby club was a mighty relief.
Next travel post – the glories of North Wales and Yorkshire.