We had an extraordinary time on the Pembrokeshire coast….great beaches, beautiful coastal walks, the ceilings of St David’s cathedral, the elusive chough, even the spectacle of people jumping into the sea from the sides of an old slate quarry at the Blue Lagoon. And, for most of the time, the sun was shining.
It is the final day of Green Man and I need to start well. Back to Nature Nurture for another massage – this time from Yusuf. Gino is also in the same yurt – he is having a massage from Emma. Over the next half hour, Yusuf gives my neck and back muscles an amazing workout – now that’s what I call a good start!
Gino and I head to Poco for lunch – I have the mezze. It is a varied selection of very tasty items including lamb, hummus, baba ganoush, flatbread, harissa, falafel….fabulous. Then it’s my first visit to the Rising Stage to see Paradisia who provide us with a really good dose of psychedelic folk!
We meet up with Eskimoh, grab some beer & cider, then head to the Mountain Stage to watch Slow Club. Despite the heavy rain (Eskimoh is completely shrouded in a plastic sheet) this is a tremendous set of indie folk rock! More beer is now required and we head over to The Courtyard to meet LN & Frida.
Refuelled at the bar, we all meander our way through the light rain and occasional sunshine to Far Out. On stage in the early evening is the Canadian indie rock band Besnard Lakes. Really good songs, interesting vocals – all backed by an atmospheric ‘wall of sound’. For the first time this weekend we are all together as a group for dinner. Gino, LN and Frida all have sushi, Eskimoh has a burger and I have an extraordinarily wonderful fish, chips and mushy peas. I can’t believe how good the food has been at Green Man!
After dinner we have some time before we head to the Mountain Stage to see Warpaint. Gino and I have passed the Rum Bar several times but, unlike the girls, we have not yet ventured in. This is our last chance and decide to go for it with Ginger Mojitos. We love the mojitos…..
Back to the Mountain stage for Warpaint. Simply brilliant. Then top of the festival bill – Belle & Sebastian. The area all around the Mountain Stage is absolutely packed with people but, for some reason, the gig doesn’t really get going until Stuart Murdoch invites three members of the audience to dance on stage with him. Later, as the chords to ‘the Boy with the Arab Strap’ strike up, Stuart motions to invite more members of the audience to join him on stage. He’s probably hoping for 3 or 4 people but, as security lose all control of the crowd, he gets 3 or 400. The band are submerged in people but carry on playing – this is more than a moment of madness but exhilarating to see.
Finally…. like a more friendly version of Wicker, the Green Man is set aflame and with the sky filled with fireworks, my lasting thought is that this festival has just turned out to be some sort of dreamworld display. It is an environment inhabited by people who want everyone to have a great time…and I think we have!
Musical highlight: really tough to choose between 5 great bands but probably Slow Club
Festival highlight: Stuart & the stage invasion
Weekend highlight: spending quality time with Gino, LN, Eskimoh & Frida
After quite a considerable amount of beer and two nights sleeping on uneven ground, I really need a healthier start today. I take matters into my own hands by slow cooking porridge and serving it with honey and banana to Gino and Frida. I make far too much porridge and then eat too much of it – nevertheless, this still feels like a good start to the day.
I stop by the North Somerset pop-up Butterfly House to look at some brilliantly colourful South American butterflies en route to meeting Gino at Poco for coffee. The coffee is excellent. Healthy breakfast, great coffee, what else do I need?….a hot shower. I trek down to Nature Nurture and pay for unlimited hot water and access to a proper changing room and shower cubicle. Now, I almost feel human again. Lunch is healthy pasta & pesto with Gino, Eskimoh and Frida.
It must be time to start undoing all this good work…..so I start by consuming a fair amount of red wine with lunch.
The rain has been falling for most of the last two days and we head off on a muddy journey towards a wet Walled Garden to see B.C. Camplight. I love some of their music and they play a couple of my favourite tracks but, overall, I’m a little disappointed. Over to the Mountain Stage where I really enjoy the folksy music (and dancing) of the Unthanks. They are followed by Cate Le Bon who is really good – though the jangly guitar started to grate after a while. Meanwhile, LN has brought out her furry snake on a stick….ready for the late evening action.
I see Magnetic North in the Walled Garden and Laura Marling on the Mountain Stage but the highlight of the day arrives at Far Out with Jagwar Ma. I was hoping they would satisfy my need for some dub – but, if they played anything from their dub EP, I missed it. Instead they near enough create the feel of a warehouse rave with their psychedelic dance beats – it is extraordinary and the whole audience seem to be loving it!. Gino and I are towards the back of the crowd but ahead of us, rising above the centre of the huge dancing mass, we can see….. a furry snake on a stick!
I join Gino, LN & Frida in the Fresco Disco @ Round the Twist. After an evening of jumping around to Jagwar Ma and then several very long energetic dance numbers, I am exhausted. I finally drag my tired body back to the tent in the early hours. I enjoyed a healthy start to the day but everything went seriously downhill after lunch – and I enjoyed that even more!
Musical highlight: Jagwar Ma
Festival highlight: It has taken three days but…. now I’m really feeling as though I’m in the festival groove
Only a tiny handful of people started Friday at Green Man the way I started it. An Indian massage at Nature Nurture! My shoulders and back regularly need attention as I spend far too much time hunched over a computer. Sleeping on the ground last night has not helped either. My masseur is Louise and she does a fantastic job of loosening the tight knots of muscle that are screaming out for attention.
Gino and I meet at The Courtyard for a lunchtime ale and then it is time to find some food. Today we both decide to try a venison burger from the Welsh Venison Centre. It is a fantastic burger, the venison easily matching the very best beef, and served with crispy wedges that deserve an award in their own right. Wow!
Now, after a couple of ales and the venison, we are in some sort of dream world. It is at this point that we meet Miss Dewey Decimal and Miss Biblio Techy of the Library of Imagined Genes. They start a bizarre otherworldly process by asking us to choose a character from a novel. Half an hour of our lives then passes in an episode that could slip neatly into the imaginary world of Lewis Carroll. Fitting really.
Music is the most important element of any day at Green Man…but, I’m not there yet. Next, I attend a talk by Russell Savory – a wildlife photographer and filmmaker. Most people would recognise his work from SpringWatch – a great deal of the footage on barn owls, stoats and water voles is the result of his patience and skill. Did I learn anything? Yes – I am simply not prepared to do what he does in order to get the pictures he gets!
I stop by at the Far Out stage to listen to some Kamasi Washington – jazz saxophone completely unbridled by convention. Then some Sam Green & the Midnight Heist at Chai Wallahs. Gino & I watch the first half of Couple in a Hole at the Cinedrome – but that is too strange a film even for me. We have a beer break and then Gino returns to watch how the intriguing film plot plays out.
I go to the Mountain Stage and catch the second half of Jason Isbell – it is sadly reminiscent of Bryan Adams and I find it boring. However, next on stage is White Denim and they can cover almost every musical genre. Each track seems to have hints of something that has gone before – but without sounding like parody. A touch of Jethro Tull here and then a shimmering sliver of the Temptations. Now I’m having a good time!
I reconnect with Gino at Chai Wallahs and then with LN, Frida, Eskimoh and the lovely Finn. We all dance, some more wildly than others, to the fantastic two-tone beat of Chainska Brassica. What a day!
Musical Highlight: White Denim
Festival Highlight: Tough to choose today, I loved Louise’s massage, the venison burger and White Denim but…. I think I am going to choose late night dancing to high quality ska with my fabulous friends.
We arrive at the festival site around 4 in the afternoon. When I say we, I don’t mean Rock…she doesn’t do camping. I’m at the Green Man Festival in Wales with Gino and his fabulous collective of daughters. Our first challenge is to find somewhere to pitch our tents – we walk through field after field packed full – tents placed as near to each other as possible – with an occasional gap only big enough to squeeze in a tiny tent for one. Eventually, we find some bigger gaps and the tents are up by 6.
After Gino cooks a light supper of cheese omelettes, we head to The Courtyard to begin our second challenge…. Out of more than 100 available, between the 5 of us can we sample 25 different beers and ciders over the festival weekend? Now, to serious beer drinkers this won’t sound like much of a challenge! However, our group includes at least three people who will be regularly distracted from beer. They will be drinking far more than the odd glass of wine and will be seen as often at the Rum Bar or the Bloody Mary Bar as they will at The Courtyard.
With our second beer in our hands, Gino and I head off to Chai Wallahs to see By The Rivers and the Gene Dudley Group. Both are excellent. Then we head to the Far Out Stage to see Wild Beasts. Their set includes some really great numbers but there are also a few that do very little for me. I retire fairly early – not long after midnight – but I can’t sleep. It’s not the dull thud of festival music, it’s not the uneven ground I’m sleeping on…..it’s the man in the next tent who is snoring so loud, he may as well be in my tent!