It is interesting to realize what I had held close in my mind all these months and these past couple of years since we had first talked about it, that we would set off across the British landscape with all its rolls and ups and downs in search of the healing that I had suspected is going on all across and underneath this green land. We had wanted to visit it, learn from it and take part in it.
It now seems to be presenting itself to us or we appearing and presenting ourselves to it. I had said initially that it was underground but that suggests something clandestine, secret, and exclusive rather than people just getting on with it as the British I suspect always have done. Some how you know when it’s for real as there are no great declarations and we seem to be running across it, just as I’d hoped, but still surprisingly and at the most unsuspecting times and places, people just getting on with it, there is that thought running through the land it seems, just as I had suspected. We live in those times and the time is now.
We have just arrived in the sleepy leafy capitol ,as I call it, of the Peak District Buxton, the landscape definitely taking me back to my roots. My Nan & Grandad and my early childhood, I recognized the buildings, the style the stones, the hills the green and the way people are. Lancashire and Northern Derbyshire. I know these people, I know this way, it’s the landscape I was born into, I recognized the air.
We have just had 4 days at the Buckle & Boots country festival at Etherow Country park at the White bottom farm. We arrived there after few excellent and surprising days over at Whitby again, where we met the remarkable james Fearnely his partner Lucy at the dispensary, where we seemed to be connected and plugged into many wonderful happenings in and around the Whitby North Yorkshire Moors but more of that later.
We’d driven from Whitby across the Yorkshire Moors & Dales and then across the Peak district through the picturesque stone villages and winding roads we’d noted the busy polling stations all the way along, we were hoping for a stay vote, We’d noticed over the last few weeks the placards and boards saying ‘Leave’ all along the English road sides, we had listened and got fed up with all the arguments as I am sure everyone did. In the end I was for staying, for many reasons, but that is not what I am writing about right now.
We followed the sat nav through the depressed looking Barnsley where we stopped justy long enough to stock up with supplies. Then quickly onwards along the A628 over the peak district coasting alongside the 5 reservoirs of woodhead Torside Rhodeswood Valehouse & bottoms where eventually the river Etherow runs free until the weir at Etherow Park. We turned off the B6104 the compsall road, along the row of what seemed miniature stone terraced houses of Montague street Only just a little bigger than the crazy golf houses on whitby promenade. The locals returned our sparking excited eyes with a sort or resigned coolness. We obeyed the 10mph sign and rolled slowly into Etherow Country Park.
When I’d originally seen the Stockport post code and address i’d been expecting an inner city Country and Western event, rhinestones, white leather fringe work and big hats. My expectations were to be way way off the mark.
We crept in first gear along side the River Etherow through what seemed to be a tree tunnel that seemed to be getting more and more dense and went on for just a little too long and we began thinking we’d taken a wrong turning and were lost in some ancient woodland, it was only the narrow tarmac road that calmed my nerve right then. I couldn’t believe that somewhere so lush was well within a stones throw from Manchester. I would have turned back except if I’d tried we would have certainly sank Pearl beneath the dark brown peaty waters of the Etherow flowing right beside her wheels
We were told later that some of the locals had removed signs to the festival, there was apparently little tension about vehicles coming and going along the little terraced row.
We could hear rushing waters somewhere up ahead from down the track in the thick lush woodlands, i’d slowed Pearl right down, but the narrow road led right up too and over the weir. It was then we got our first glimpse of the Whitebottom farm and rolled into the beautiful wel manicured and surprising open area
I said “Where are we Orsh?”
Both of us craning forward over the dash, still trying to figure out if we were in the right place.
I rolled Pearl up towards some stone farmhouses, barns and a few gazebos being erected up on a hill at the far end of the magical looking glade. If there were gazebos, we were probably in the right place. It looked busy and as we stepped cautiously out we were met almost immediately by Karl the owner and promoter of the festival, an instantly likeable man, stocky, open, and warm and down to earth, his daughter Laura too darker haired with a quieter warmth, intelligent and also instantly welcoming. A young chap called James who lived next door out there in one of the houses with his family. Made me smile, next door, here, on Whitebottom farm, a beautiful lush green island hideaway.
We were shown into the field and were just told to set up where ever we felt liked “Maybe make an avenue’ One side the Aberdeen Angus burgers, Pizzas, Churroz, Glazed chicken street food and the blue acoustic tent with its bar. And right then, as we were early, on the other side; us and our blue dome, up thereon the hill.
I remembered writing to them, getting the email back, the feeling from Jan’s email had been warm and welcoming. It’s curious to write after the fact, but I had said all along, something good was going to happen there. On meeting them they were people we wanted to work with, people we wanted to connect with, something authentic about them. We both just felt comfortable there and the feeling came from the
There was a big log cabin on the right hand side as you drove in, just between the barn where the main stage was and a pond scattered with great helpings of dreamy lily’s, its surface rippled with pond life, kingfishers fished from its banks, herons stood motionless among the reeds, ducks waddled around its edge and splashed in its waters whilst big black crows kept an eye on things from a hillside nearby, the place seemed to be alive, it was beautiful. I mentioned it to Carl
He told us he had built it for Uncle Ken who had founded this place, Carl had been brought up in Singapore from the age of 4 his father had passed away and he’d moved back here to the UK when he was 15 His uncle had taken him in, ‘family’ uncle Ken had said. Carl told us he’d become a little too frail for the old stone farm house that looked out over the beautiful place, it had a lot of steps that had become harder for him to negotiate so they’d had the log cabin built. Apparently uncle Ken loved it once he was in there, looking out south west out over the lovely soothing water and down to the woodlands and the weir. It truly was in a beautiful place. We met Jan that day too, an athletic fit looking woman with dark straight hair combed back tightly who had a few days earlier been tending to her magnificent 18 hands horse, something had spooked her, it had recoiled swung its head and smashed her straight in the face, broken her nose and cracked her left eye. She appeared looking, I have to say, in a terrible way. Big criss-crossed cotton band aids across the bridge of her nose, a deep cut just under her left eye brow and deep purple bruising right across both her eyes. It really must have hurt.
She was disarmingly pragmatic about it, said it wasn’t the horse fault, that she’d managed to get him back in the barn before staggering up the house, with blood streaming down her face and then been rushed off to the hospital. She just directed us to where we were to set up and we just got on with it. We told her she must come and have some healing with us.
“If I get time” she said.
I laughed and said “Oh I get you already, you’re going to be hard to pin down”
She laughed too.
The farm was apparently well known for Aberdeen Angus bulls, they’d been moved somewhere and the barn area had been turned into huge bar the floor covered with soft spongy wood chips and bails of hay placed all around the edges for people to sit and relax on. The barn was open at both ends and there across the yard the stage open to the elements but well under the roof of another converted barn. It was a great stage with impressive lighting rig and PA. Rustic sure but tasteful and very comfortable and very well put together. There were proper toilets too and showers with hot water between 7am-11pm. which is we have come to know, always an indication of quality and care.
We were stood in the barn bar area taking it all in, Karl was chatting to us about the festival and the farm, a few guys stood around like guys do, a Scottish guy who it seemed by his own account had had various near death experiences in motor cars and bikes. A cross between TV presenter Neil Oliver and Dads army Character James Frazer, even though he’d broken every bone in his body at various times had managed to get up and walk away, I digress, but then so did he, anyway I’d said
“We’ve never done a Country and Western festival before”
The place, the barn, the air went still, it seemed even the Crows outside froze in mid air and looked our way. Everyone blinked at us. The Scott looked at us as if he were looking at us over the top of old schoolteacher glasses and said very gently, rolling those R’s beautifully
“Don’t say that word. It’s a Country festival”
Karl saved us and went onto explain that this was a Country festival and that there would be very few sequins here. The Country scene was very different from the Country and W scene. There would be a lot of young bands and singers here.
“You’ll get it’ He said “When it all begins”
Over the next few days our respect for Carl would grow and grow, just watching him deal with people, greeting people, arriving bands and people coming to the festival, locals police and firemen, he treated everybody the same, warmly down to earth, and we would find out it was mostly his handy work that had created the festival area.
We went to set up that evening, prime spot right on the top of the hill, looking down onto what would be the camping and caravan area. Things between Orsi and I now seemed to be settling down, Orsi seems to be seeing the pattern that is emerging too.
I went for a shower, while she cooked red lentil soup, it had been a long drive that day and I was a little dazed. But the electric wasn’t switched on yet and boy that was a cold shower. It took me a few runs at it but once under I really enjoyed it. Certainly brought all my senses in from up on the lush wooded hills and the clouds above me, focused happy and alive I most certainly was. I floated back over the hill, we sat on Pearls step, finished of the big bag of corncobs we’d been given beetroot dreadlocked café tent at Willowman. We sipped red wine and Guinness, I played Guitar sitting watching people rolling up in great big camper vans. I think we must have appeared like a pair of grinning crows sat there, our beaks craning this way and that as people arrived. But it began to get cold and the rains started again
I think we said hello to just about everybody that passed by, comical really, but genuine and very happy just to be there. Something was going to happen, we’d both said it, it just felt like something good was going to unfold or something would start from there. We weren’t sure, how could we be.
Next morning Orsi had gone for a run, I got up switched the radio on. We were leaving the European Union! It was a stunning, though we’d nervously expected it. Orsi arrived back just as I’d switched on the Radio.
“What happened?” she said
I just looked at her. We both felt the force of it and were just silent for some time. Orsi was in tears, she called a few friends who live in the UK who were also feeling very unwanted and unappreciated by the vote of the other 51% My friend Stuart too, his love a Lithuanian girl, who works hard as a nurse here was feeling the same apparently.
The feeling of disappointment was hard to shake off all day. Cameron resigning, the specters of johnson & farage looming, gosh !!
We opened up the dome that day at around 3pm. Next to us now on top of the hill a beautiful vintage tea company run by a very handsome couple, it was beautifully presented both the stall and them, very 1930’s 40’s retro with that wonderful big band swing music playing and floating gently across the traders stall area. Beautiful cakes and sweets delicate English china tea sets, tablecloths and Union Jack bunting. They were very impressive and though quite shy, very sweet, we both complimented them and their presentation and attention to detail. Orsi had her eyes on their cake and it wouldn’t surprise me if she was off munching when I wasn’t looking.
It had been raining on and off all day, we moved the table in and out all day. We didn’t get even a sniff, it was pretty quiet that first and as usual those that were there that night were walking the stalls siing everything up, we sat there till 7.30pm it seemed this festival was going to be a quiet one, it was a little demoralizing for us, but we didn’t loose it, Orsi kept saying
“Don’t loose the feeling, don’t loose the mood”
We did have that feeling and we managed to keep it.
We strolled into the big barn just in time to catch “Sonia Lee” Gosh she was so good. More than that in fact, she was punky had attitude and was really great. I wasn’t sure what to expect now we’d been educated about the W word. But as the next few days unfolded I came to have a huge respect for the bands and the people who had organized chosen and booked the bands. They were youthful creative energetic and very very good. The level of musicianship was fantastic.
I’d pop off for a few minutes now and again when Orsi was doing a reading. I’d come back enthusing about some singer, guitarist or band I’d never heard of before. It was a high standard and really great not to be hearing cover versions and tribute bands again. It seemed a healthy scene and for some reason, perhaps because we were situated between the two stages on the hill we got to hear quite a lot of the music and managed to catch quite a few bands at this festival
Lisa wright on the acoustic stage, beautiful voice, the really fantastic Laura Oaks and her brilliant band just made it all look so easy and effortless, such a talented group of people a great voice and ace cool guitarist who reminded me of Kerry from The Fits. Luke and Mel quality, Sarabeth belting it out with a band who’d never all played together before that night, Claydon O’Conner from the Isle of White I think, telling stories and playing in a way that made me want to listen to them. Phil Vassar, I wanted to dislike but he was just so good and the final band Jess and the Bandits to finish of the weekend, such a deep and powerful voice, but by that time on the Sunday the rain had been coming down non stop since around 3pm so the crowd had thinned, but they treated those that were left.
I had never heard of any of them before and so when we had a chance to see a band just sitting there on a hay bail taking in what ever was being played, just as it should be, no influences, no preconceived ideas or expectations, reminded me of the early days of punk rock somehow, not the subject matter, just the joy of being there and enjoying fresh original music.
That day I’d found a field covered with hundreds of geese feathers just over by the showers, to my eyes a treasure trove. There were solitary oak trees up on the steep sloping fields above. Dense woodland on the hills on either side, I had a feeling there were things in the woods, benevolent curious eyes looking out upon what was unfolding in the cleared manicured space. We walked down to the weir that first night chatting to the staff at the entrance and the very sweet James who showed us pics of the place in winter. I’d also text Jan to let her know we’d set up and come across anytime.
We’d also got to see some line dancing I had sniggered at it on watching on the TV, but right there I was quite surprised at the speed and intricacy of it, some guy from one of the bands tried to join in, mocking them, they kept on and in the end he looked like a bit of a dick. Respect to those big hipped ladies.
The second day I’d woken up at 4.30am needing to write. It felt good to get it out. It has become quite a driving force with me, though I have been unable to write as much and as in the moment as I had in the US. I want to try to keep up and see what will develop.
Later that morning i’d gone up to open up the dome and overheard the funny girls on the Aberdeen Angus burger stall opposite in their black T shirts and peak black caps with little red garlands of flowers around them. They were talking about slogans that would pull the punters in
One said “Don’t worry eat curry” much to everyone’s laughter. She seemed quite stung
“I think it’s a great idea” She said
Just in front of them at the wooden tables underneath the Bulmers cider umbrellas a couple of guys and a few girls who looked like they were in a group were discussing things of great importance. One of them seemed to know much more than the rest who were listening.
He was looking slyly across to our dome and our sign that says HOW Hypnotherapy.
“None of these things work” he said “Cos they’re not scientifically proven”
I had a wry smile to myself and wondered if his band were ‘the Flat Earth Society’ or the “Bleeding Leaches” or “the Saw Doctors’ I think someone already had the latter. I thought of many more but I’ll spare you, some of them were pretty good. Made me laugh
Orsi looked so beautiful, long wavy dark hair, silver and turquoise ear rings and neat leather jacket, She was trying to shake off a bad dream she’d had for most of the morning. It was quite prophetic,it made sense and as the day went on it seemed clear to me how far she has come. She was pretty busy all day, people had begun to arrive and the acoustic tent brought crowds past us in waves. People peer at us, then slowly gravitate back, when they realize we are in fact quite safe. Some I’m sure never get past that, pity. She is such a good reader now, confident, makes me happy to see the smiling faces emerge from the dome.
“Was it ok” I ask as people emerge
“Brilliant” is just about always the answer. “isn’t she great”
I did a couple of healings too and a great hypnosis session with a lady with ME. Very effective, new levels and deeper understanding. It is private of course but I will say it is amazing what the mind can create in a body and so it is remarkable what it can heal. I have heard many times that it was ‘as if it was just switched on’ or that something ‘switched it over’. If that is the case then it is logical to presume that there is a switch back again isn’t it? It is a work, my work in progress. In many cases and we don’t have as much time as we’d like for the follow-ups but right now we plant healthy fresh seeds in hopefully receptive and ignited minds. I liked the lady very much and so invited her back to have a session next morning. The pain turned down from 10 to 3 in two sessions. She left smiling and empowered. That is what we are out here for.
At points we’d be back at the van sat in the front or on the steps eating something delicious Orsi had made. Many of the bands playing there were camped out in the field all around us. Each morning beautiful blonde country girls with freshly straightend hair trudged past Pearl with their guitars and cowboy boots wading through the wet grass, off to sound check.
We’d been watching what I though was one of the singers, no idea who, a beautiful girl who was obviously attracted to a thick set tough looking guy who seemed a little shall we say thick skinned, but had a certain shall we say physicality. Anyway they were playing pass the American football, more and more people came to join them, I presumed the rest of the band. The girl was funny but couldn’t catch a ball to save her life, it was funny, frilly white shorts, long muscular legs in cowboy boots, messy blond curly hair and a loose cotton top, you could see the joy and flirtation in it all.
We saw them both later that night at the bar, much closer and conspiratorial. Orsi and I smiled at one another. “Aw”
Then next day it became obvious where all those lonely broken, wistful country girls’ songs and trembling voices come from. We watched the same two having a stand off at the bottom of the hill, the body language completely different now.
He chin out, then a reasonable gesture with his hand, that was spurned with the flick of a blonde lock. She turned to walk sullenly up the hill, he stomp after her, frustrated, a turn to face, then a resignation gesture and he walked off up the hill past her. Then a turn back face to face, a stand off, them a huff and both walk away past one another her up and him back down. Then her striding nonchalantly back towards him, now seated and sulking by a tent, seeing one another, pause, then she walk right past pretending they’d not seen each other even though there were only the two of them, then turn a bark and a growl and a hunch of the shoulder the wag of a finger his chin sticking out. It was quite a scene and only the day before we’d seen such joy and possibilities floating colorfully on the air. She eventually say on a stool opposite him. And they talked, phew!!
All that day from that next morning the songs and voices of Lisa, Emma, Shantell & Lizzie floated over from the acoustic tent, though all different, all trembling and shuddering and shaking a quiver and a quaking with that emotion of lost love heartbreak and betrayal . You do wonder what happens don’t you. Then again we’ve all been there, right. The power of country, I did think at a couple of times with a particularly cheesy line. “Oh please stop it.. Enough
We’d noticed the police cars there and hadn’t thought too much about it. Earlier a lady two vans down from us had had an epileptic fit, ambulances had been called and she’d been taken off
Then later that afternoon Jan had arrived and said could she have some healing. I was delighted she’d come of course. I thought we could do something. She mentioned that an uncle had died over the weekend, I gave my condolences of course, but she was in a hurry
She said “I have 15 minutes can you do anything
I said, “20 minutes how’s that”
She said, “Deal, if the phone doesn’t go”
The energy was immediately so strong, as if when she’d walked into the dome somebody had walked in with her. My hands were cooking.
She’d thought she might be a little resistant to it, but would give it a try. She’d told us briefly about her horses the day before, a horse person. I told her a little of my story, how I’d learnt healing from the horses, I knew she would respomnd to that, working with horses is all about working with energies. I explained a little and then just began. The phone went after about 5 minutes
She answered “Hello Blackthorn office” then proceeded to give instructions about the toilets flooding as she laid there on the bench. I stood there holding the frequency till she’d done, my hands burning.
Then when she’d done said without batting an eye lid “Ok 5 More minutes”
After about 8 minutes the phone went again, at that point the energy dropped. Time for her to go, but it had been very strong and I knew she had taken something, a very good session, quick and effective.
It was only later that evening when Orsi heard somebody say to Carl
“Sorry to hear about your Uncle” that the penny dropped. I felt awful for not having realized earlier when Jan had come to see us
Next day in the afternoon a lady came up the path to us she seemed in distress. It turned out to be Karl’s X wife Julie. Who lives there on the farm. She seemed quite shaken up. She said could she have some healing. Orsi immediately knew who she was and indicated to me she was with the Blackthorn organization, which is what they call themselves.
I didn’t hesitate; “Please come in” I said “Do you work for blackthorn”
She said, “I live here yes
It was then she told me that she was family and that it had been Uncle Ken who had died. She’d been the one who’d found him. He’d been 90 and had passed peacefully in his bed and though it turned out that she had a deep spiritual strength, it had of course still been a shock and was a great loss to their family
I won’t go into what was done or said during, lets just say that the energy was again very strong, and for a brief moment the sun came out and shone directly onto the dome, it was at a particular time during the session. It felt significant. She left feeling much more peaceful and the shaking had stopped. I felt we were in the right place and stepped up to the mark and did what we do best. I would like to write more but these things are personal aren’t they.
I have to say that they all kept it together so well, there wasn’t time right then we supposed to sit and dwell or fall apart, there were things going off all around the place, we noted Karl later, something had touched him, it was because of Uncle Ken that all of this had grown from but he’d left peacefully and he’d left almost certainly with great guitarist playing him over.
That last day was very quiet, the rain started at just after mid day and really didn’t stop. Orsi said it was the first time she had actually thought of emigrating. It really did stop it in its tracks for us. It had been the first country festival they’d done, and though it had been a fairly quiet as far as attendance went, you could just tell that this one Buckle & Boots was going to grow, it had been done so well, it had an informality and friendliness that we’d not come across before. It felt new and exciting.
As that last evening drew to a close a few people asked for a session next day and for card readings we of course said yes. We arranged to be up and ready for 10am which we were. But as we are finding out many people do not realize what is under their nose and what is being offered.
That morning I’d gone over to have a shower, the electricity was switched off, so it was another stunning cold shower start to the day. As I’d gone toward the shower block at the bottom of the field next to the river, I noticed all the Canadian Geese were back and seemed to be just stirring and quacking and pecking at the lush green grass. When I reemerged they’d all disappeared and in their place was a great big Crow and a Heron, I startled them and they startled me. All three of us just froze for a second, the Crow was off first then the Heron and then me
I thought, “It’s gonna be a good day”
Back up on the hill, just about to strip the dome down, Jan arrived at 10.30 as arranged, I did a last session with her, this time we had the time. It was her third one. She’d said she had tried the energy between the hands just before she went to sleep and guess what she’d gone fast asleep, and woken feeling much better, for the last two nights.
The bruising too was looking so much better, she was doing it all herself and that is how it is. We start it, people follow through, remarkable things happen, the power of the subconscious mind and the miraculous power of the body to heal if the right instruction is given and accepted. It was really satisfying working with her. She gave us a little lesson afterwards about how she directs energy with the horses. I watched closely. Always watch when somebody is showing you how they become at one with something else, no matter what it is, its in the body language and its in the eyes.
Julie arrived not long after too looking so much better as well. Oris went off to do a reading with Jan and Julie and I stood talking for some time about shamanism and healing. I hadn’t realized yesterday just how informed she was. It was because of her we decided to go to Buxton and check out a few interesting places out in the wilderness of the peak district in the coming days. Julie makes shaman rattles out of Y shaped wood from the apple trees and flattened old pennies. She demonstrated a couple for me, it was quite remarkable the air around me seemed to dance and penetrate me as she worked them, Orsi and I had both noticed a calmness and solidness about her, a talented landscape gardener for many years apparently, there is something about people who have worked in that way with the earth, its as if a little bit of the earth as been absorbed by them
It was fascinating and as I said at the beginning of this piece, here they all were doing remarkable things all in their own way. Jan with the dogs and horses, Julie with the earth and the plants. Laura with her savvy intelligence and her lovely smile, and course Carl with his good nature, his sociability and love of people and his physicality where they all lived out a relationship with one another and with the land they lived upon, where they lived reflected it. It was beautiful.
Boots and Buckles will grow, we feel pretty sure about that and we are certainly richer for meeting them all, oh and yeah the Country music was great, Uncle Ken must have been quite a guy and quietly proud of them all.