We’d stayed in Cheltenham for my birthday. Some how we’d found the perfect position outside a great Pizza place on the corner of Crescent Place and Clarence Street opposite The Boston Tea Party coffee bar I reckoned probably the best in town. Great coffee easy and laid back, and friendly staff, if I lived here that is where I would gravitate too. Fantastic place.
I’d wanted to write but after a few hours I began to feel guilty and anxious. I don’t think she’d realized just how much work goes into it. It’s beginning to be cause of tension.
Later we walked back up to Henrys bar where I’d had a great IPA the night before we’d gone up to Wychwood then abled back to the Pizza place next to the van. We’d had an extra Pizza just because we could. We were tired but I woke at 1am so sat in the cab for the next few hours watching the unsuspecting night clubbers staggering home, some singing to themselves some talking to invisible company and others having a really good pick at their noses.
At around 3am Jean from Santa Cruz face booked me and I am not sure how but we managed to skype. There I was stood in a street in Chelmsford in my undies while Kia her son blew raspberries at me. Finally got into bed at 4.30am
Next day we had quite a lot of work to do, Orsi researched the contacts Hannah had given us for Switzerland and France for the winter. We paid out £450 for the pitch at the Beautiful Days festival a huge gamble for us right now. Orsi’s face welled with tears as we paid, it touched my heart and I think broke it a little.
Then after more dead ends at DIY shops gave up, only to pass B&Q on the way out of town. I marched in, I’d been sold something the week before with a piece missing. So I replaced it and left. We’d also found a wooden bookshelf in a second hand shop for £2 that suited pearl perfectly.
I’d wanted to visit to two dear friends, Tipi Jean and Yazz for some time now. Two older ladies who live out in the most beautiful place called Witney on Wye right on the Welsh borders so we were fairly close. I’d asked myself what would I have don in the US. Obvious. I said to Orsi “Come on let’s go, they’re great” So off we sailed.
It was a beautiful drive on the A40 through the Gloucestershire countryside the trees massive lush, fleshy and heavy almost at their limits, the fields too as if they were about to burst, delicate gentle red yellow and white flowers all along the road side. England was an overwhelming breathtaking carpet of green. We followed slow boats along the A47 Orsi my conscience reminding me there was no rush.
We pulled into a tiny village called Lugwardine on the A458 with its ancient Norman Church of St Peters just outside Hereford, Orsi made some amazing food under the shade of the huge ceder tree whilst I went pushed open the Magnificent oak doors into the beautiful peaceful church. Paid my respects to Wiliam Read Armiger reclining their in the entrance porch and sat and had a seeing. Mary came all in Blue a vivid flash, she handed me a cup rather like the Tarot ace of cups, a chalice. Handing me happiness and perhaps more, we shall see. It took me a little while to realize what had happened and I wasn’t sure how long I’d been there and trying to be aware not to leave Orsi too long alone, I kept it to myself for a while.
Called in at Hereford, Orsi also got some chocolates ‘for the girls’ a bottle of red and supplies. Then off along the A438 toward Brecon coasting around the side of the black mountains then at Rhydspence just past Whitney turned up into the hills.
I’d said to Orsi that Pearl would just about get through give or take a few inches. I wasn’t kidding. The grasses and abundant June flowers up the steep banks of the lanes stroked and tickled Pearl all the winding way up there.
I had first met the remarkable Jean and Yazz at the Green Gathering Festival last year 2015. I’d been there on my own first night feeling a little melancholy amongst the Tipi’s. Jean had seen me and thought she recognized me from somewhere and offered me a cup of tea. We stood outside her tipi talking Horses for a good hour or more that evening. I met Yazz a little later and did a healing on her knee and foot. Jean & Yazz call themselves “Horse Drawn” on account of them living a large part of their lives living in horse drawn painted wooden wagons wandering the roads and lanes of Britain. I’d kept in touch and went to visit them a month or so later. We seemed to hit it off and to be honest, these two older ladies of their obvious reputation and intelligence opened their door and their world to me, truly authentic and inspirational people. I was an am touched by them.
in 1964 Jean was 18 had been working for Ford Motors buying properties for their executives to live in in the UK I believe, she’d been married and things were just ticking along nicely. Then one day on her way home from a Canadian Goose had, they thought in retrospect, seen the reflections of the car windscreens on the motorway mistaken it for water, tried to land, she’d seen it narrowly miss being hit by the lorry in front, lift up and then smash directly through her windscreen and hit her bulls eye in her third eye. She spent a long time in hospital, lucky to be alive. It changed her life and in 1966 with £4 she thrown everything in and went off to wales met who she describes as group or renegades and fell in love with tipi life eventually moving into Tipi valley in 1976.
Around about the same period Yazz was living and working as a bus conductor in central London. One day her bus had been travelling along Piccadilly, she’d heard music, she also saw all the hippy’s and was captivated by them. She’d asked one of them who the band were and what the music was . It turned out to be the Rolling Stones. She made a decision there and then, went up to the driver handed him her ticket machine and her money bag and said ”I’m leaving” She squatted for some time in London getting into quite a few very heavy experiences with the establishment narrowly missed jail. It was soon after she too left the city for the roaming life of the horse drawn and the road. How they had ended up there in that incredibly beautiful place is another story in itself, a story of belief, trust and good wholesome helpings of intelligence. Yazz had built the two story, stone, and wood walled, tin roofed house and Jean lives in a Yurt up on the hill at the top of the field. They are warm and amazing people, there is magic around them and I don’t mean to patronize them, I mean that word it in all its practicalities and the belief and focus it implies. Yazz is a book reader and Jean is an internet facebook wizard.
Last time I’d seen them I’d been saying we were thinking about taking off. They’d been good and listened. But I recall nobody had pushed. Now here we were rolling into their field with Pearl. It felt good to see them and they seemed genuinely glad to see us. They were witnessing our maiden voyage. They knew something about it and were happy for us.
Orsi and I went for a walk over the beautiful countryside with Jean and Boo her dog who found a dead sheep skin and proudly tried to bring it home to bury it in jeans vegetable patch. Yazz and her sister Tanya and her husband John who had also left the city and were staying there in between houses came up to Jeans Yurt and joined us. It was a lovely night. Warmth and conversation flowed easily and effortlessly.
Yazz had been a little ill so we went back down with her later and did some healing with her, Yazz went very very deep, the energy strong and she seemed to get a lot out of it and slept like a trooper that night, we all did.
We’d only gone across for a visit just to touch base really but it turned out John was a highly skilled electrician and showed me how to wire the water pump. I liked him very much. I’d noticed something with him the night before. I thought I could help him, he was open and so we did a session the next morning, which went very well, I felt a quite remarkable lift and shift. I did another session with Yazz too who again went very deep, it felt good to be able to do something for her. Jean brought me a Hawks feather and Yazz gave us a tap for Pearland gave Orsi a beautiful cut glass mirror for the back of the van. I gave them both a buzzards feather each from the US. Everyone giving what they could, it was such a lovely morning
Jean said “I love it when that happens’
All around them the countryside was just alive with wildlife, everything bursting and reaching and amazing, what a place. They are the real deal, we are inspired.
We tore ourselves away and it was a tear, it was big hugs all round, then rolled Pearl out into the overwhelming ocean of green, massive trees, seas of yellow fields the roads bursting with white and yellow flowers at the junction of the main road to Hereford a hawk lifted into the air with rabbit in its claws, right by us, just as I shifted Pearl into third gear.
We sat in a McDonalds in Hereford, good internet connection you see, and got to work on my CV and a few other letters then a few hours later when we were satisfied, north to Donnington.
I am not sure why we are so wiped out. Orsi is really quite sick and I seem to be running on empty. Perhaps still getting used to being at sea.
It was a fairly straight forward journey and we rolled up to Donnington park at around 7.30 surprised to find that the festival already open, like an ant hill with thousands of people already milling and buzzing around. We pondered on the idea of going in right then but decided to park up in the little town of Castle Donnington a few miles away on the other side of the airport. Lovely place and though there were cones all the way along the country lanes we managed to find a great place tucked away in behind the church of St Edwards King & Martyr up on the hill
A couple of people rustled their curtains suspiciously out their back windows of old stone houses as we parked in the glow orange of the street lamps and shadows of the old church, a crucifix hung on the wall right outside the van somehow felt soothing to me. It said it was a £100 fine but I figured that it was way past parking restrictions bed time and anyway we’d be gone first thing.
We sat with Peals back and side door open Orsi cooked up something amazing and I sat on a stool in the car park working on the bookshelf, The kitchen lights from the houses eventually went out as they we presumed realized we posed no threat. We were quite pleased with ourselves. Pearl is looking so much more like home.
Next day we woke to churchly people eying us. I’m not sure what the expression would be called, it wasn’t unfriendly, more like “Well..!!” I am sure they realized, like the people in the cottages we were going to the festival, and though ever so slightly disapproving, they let us be.
We’d rolled out and slowly down to the high street, Orsi found eggs croissants and two cups of hot coffee and then back up the orange cones lined lanes to the Donnington park that resembled what I imagined to military camp would be like.
The airport road that arched round Donnington park, hints of tents and parked cars flickered behind hedgerows as we got closer. Vehicles flowed and stopped at roadblocks and lights, stewards waved you this way and that, and above us all planes coming into land just above our heads. It was surreal, Easy Jet, Ryan air, DHL cargo planes coming in low every few minutes as we rolled into the eye of the hurricane. Stormy it wasn’t yet, more like the forces being drawn up together from all corners for the storm that was to come.
Everything seemed, relaxed flowing and easy, we found our way to car park C as instructed and rolled into the huge parking area out in a field hidden from view from the road. It was astonishing, the level of organization and sheer size of the place.
We were told we’d have to walk though the site to where Phil, Motley Brew and the rest of the Body Workers were meeting between 8am-10am at the Paddock area in the Pit Stop Café.
Sleepy slightly dopey guys in high viz orange vests pointed us this way and that way along the Donnington motor racing track, past the RIP camping, We eventually found the café, looked around and there across the track next to a porta cabins porta loos were a group people waving their arms enthusiastically at us.
Nina was already there pink haired and pixie looking. Nina runs the group of body workers called Therapixes. She’d connected us with Phil at Motley Brew who was running the healing area at Download, she is an old hand at all of this we were glad to see her. Phil came to greet us a big stocky likeable chap, bearded affable and organized.
We entered the cabin where two sleepy northern chaps gently made fun of all stood in front of them, they obviously knew Phil from old. We were in good hands, we’d landed. Orsi was really excited about being here, it was a privilege she’d said, it was very definitely something out of our orbit, watching the forces gathering there.
We then followed Nina and another girl Nicola, a down to earth Yorkshire lass from Harrogate into the arena to where we’d be working. The healing area was called “The Motley Brew Theatre Of Pain” We were situated around 2000 yards from the main stage on the other side of a high hedge row from the main arena at the bottom end of the field.
The land rose up in a great arch from the main stage below to the dogs head Download logo perched up on the hill above and lined all along the edge the stalls of various foods and beer and masses of T shirts, Orsi spotted 3 fish and chips stalls before we’d even crossed the main field.
There was that hum again of minds focused the casual friendly laid back good humour around us, everyone happy to be there chatting lightly and openly the huge site, just a handful of us people, putting the final touches
Phil pointed out our pitch we’d be on the outside looking across to the huge wrestling Ring … yes there would be wrestling just across from us.
So we just got on with it. The dome went up in no time and as usual Orsi made the interior look beautiful she’d even managed to get together some plastic ivy from somewhere, which she wound, around the poles of the Hypnotherapy banner. We’d forgotten we’d stored the banner poles under the van that morning and driven over them and cracked them, so I began fixing them with splints. I just got into the mood of it, we were really early so for the next few hours I worked on the sink, managed to make a circular wood cover that fits into the sink bowl when its not being used so we have another work surface, then put in the tap in Yazz had given us, fixed handles on the cupboard doors, even got around to putting up the figurehead of Pearl I’d brought back from the US and the thunderbird logo across the arch between the cab and rear. Peal is looking great. I was definitely in Oris’s good books, we now had what resembled a proper home
When we were all set up and done Nina suggested much to my merriment that we all go and have a shower, so with Nicola the 4 of us trotted to the caravan area with our high viz jackets while the main stage sound checked to AC/DC “Back in black. The clarity and volume of sound astonishing. We left Orsi in there as she said she was having fun.
Later we sat on the doorsteps of our vans coral style, all sipping wine or beers whilst Nicola cooked, all of us cozy warm and peaceful like a ring of flowers opening to one another, It was really good to see Nina again. She’s a good one.
It was just beginning to get dusky and being the restless type I wanted to see what’s happing up in the place they called the village, inside the festival, where the thousands of people already arrived had gathered for some fun before the gates of download opened the next day. Orsi Nina and I wandered through dimmed stages areas, along fenced grassey lanes, past security checks and crackling walkie talkies, dusty dirt makeshift avenues and roads, through wide open fields, behind us the horizon ringed with gazebos and tents selling anything a rocker may need on a weekend, too bewildering to list here, but lets just say anything and everything had been though of, it was again amazing to see it all.
We then came around a corner of a tarp covered fence to the most astonishing site off all, thousands of people all milling along a wide avenue hemmed in by bright glaring shops and stalls sound and colour, the whirlwind starting to gather strength up there on the hill. It was like walking into Sodem, but sodem seemed like a happy place, right then the air was dusty as all the circulating feet raised the dry stony earth into the air, everybody just getting out of their heads it seemed
I was taking a picture of a huge glowing fairground stall I’d seen, an interesting looking couple appeared as I knelt to take the shot, the girl had seen me and said ‘get a load of this’ or something similar, bent down and unclipped her false leg kicked the sock off the stump and then just began playing the false leg as an air guitar while the guy held her so she didn’t fall over into the dust. I wasn’t sure what to do in the moment, but I took the shot, I’d wanted to get closer, but I hesitated, and they were gone laughing and hopping away crazily into the throng.
Somebody had come up with the idea that a Native American head dresses might be a good seller at a festival, and boy they were right, it looked mental, black and skulls and blood spattered T shirts, I even saw death stood there in a full boiler suit, stood motionless, just looking on at the thousand scenes unfolding.
In a spikey big topped tent a band played at stunning barking ferocity, people shuddered and shook and screamed, we wandered through the madness dipping toes in various streams of thought and other wild eyes expressions, We’d forgotten we were wearing our high viz, but after one to many questions, we decided to take them off, but within minutes we lost each other in the milling churning crowd, so we put them back on, all the time planes coming in low over the top of us landing just over the other side of the perimeter fence as if pre arranged just to finish off the scene. It was an incredible sight.
We eventually wandered back to the Motley Brew down in the quiet valley, the three of us happily chatting and feeling a little bit tipsy as we wandered back down through the empty site and the arena it was hard to imagine how many people it would take to fill the place, but apparently they would.
Back at camp we sat with Phil and the other body workers for a while Orsi is developing quite a reputation as everybody keeps seeing her sipping Jack Daniels she swears it is for medicinal reasons, says whisky is good for her sore throat. We sat chatting for a while about the complexities of washing machines and all our intimate knowledge of peeing into buckets in the back of dark vans in fields and the quiet lanes of Britain
Tomorrow Sodom and all its inhabitants would be coming down to visit