Woke today warm and peaceful I’d been somewhere very deep in sleep last night. Not a move do I recall. The van rocked a little, Oris was up and getting ready for a swim. I’d noticed my stomach yesterday though we seem to be always busy I haven’t had time to keep up with training. So I sat up Dracula style fell forward of the bed and managed to get my things together, I would go too. Somehow I was first out of the van, I was torn between writing, I watched a man coming in from the beach, the tide of the Humber Estuary there at Cleethorpes was about ¾ of a mile out everything was still glorious sunshine peace, the man was all on his own just slowly coming in off the sandy beech he had started to pick up pieces of litter and discarded plastic the nearer he’d got to the dry golden sandy beech that fringed the promenade, he didn’t seem irritated, he was just doing it, just as we had done yesterday as the tide had receded. All along the line where lite met dark along the sea shore there was litter, bags, plastic buckets, discarded wasted pieces of family thoughtlessness.
After we came out of the swimming baths feeling wasted and hungry but bodies feeling tighter and grateful to us, I sat in the cab and watched a tractor pulling a trailer that scooped up all the rubbish of the beeches, I took a momentary pride in the English. Orsi had been telling me last night as we picked up the garbage yesterday irritated, of a holiday she’d been on the Bulgaria as a child where the tractor had ploughed the rubbish back into the sand, so that in fact the beach was just a sand covered rubbish dump they were all going to lye on.
I patted myself on the back, you gotta love the English I said to myself. But then pulled my national pride back in sharpish, as we’d walked along the beech yesterday it was the English pigs that had brought piles of rubbish to the beach and the ocean, had stupidly and selfishly dumped all their waste along the waters edge, somehow perhaps in awe that no matter how many times they came down here, when ever they came next time it had magically disappeared and the beach was always golden, selfish, basically dumb and stupid and at the end of it dumb stupid people inhabit all countries no matter how much I had raged whist in India, they were the same here, we just had tractors and council workers to drive along the beech with expensive bits of kit to keep the seaside resorts clean. Shame on them
I digress and not sure whether I feel better for that blast, hasn’t changed anything has it. So where were we?
Right, we’d arrived in Cleethorpes late yesterday afternoon after a wonderful unexpected Festival 8 over in North Lincolshire at a place called Carbourne Parva near the village of Caistor. A lady there had said
‘Yeah you should go to Grimsby and Cleethorpes it needs love and light, you should take it”
Which to be honest didn’t sell it to me. But I’d never been and it was just down the road. The place seemed busy with holiday makers as we dropped gear and coasted into town, the promenade was wide open looking out north along the Humber estuary, dramatic sea dramatic skies, but the waters not really inviting somehow, it all looked a little murky and I was aware of what was just upstream along the Humber. I’d noted the forest of chimneys, the flag poles of industry that poked up over the heaving swelling wheat covered farm lands we’d crossed towards the coast, sprawling out from any vantage point we found ourselves on. We’d done the usual drive through town all the way to pleasure island holiday park and back then, paddled out into the shallow sea there just wanting to bath , just wanting to submerge.
Not sure why, but we just wanted to immerse ourselves after the last week, we’d waded into the ocean at one point walked at least half a mile out but the waters only ever came up to our thighs. So we’d gone for a shower at swimming baths. A lady there had let us in for an 80p shower, we came out feeling so much better and after a walk along the sands laughing at screaming girls splashing the cold waters on each other way out in the bay, a bag of chips and just a wound down, we then brought Pearl up into town, so to speak.
We were in search of the England and as we came down the prom there was a group of Morris Men. A Morris men groupie waved aggressively at us for some reason as we approached a round about. We were both puzzled and I, I have to come clean was irritated by her and I’m ashamed to say muttered.
I’m thinking on about my irritability, more about that perhaps another time.
We parked up further along and we’re just walking,
I said “Lets go and see what the Morris men are up to, I promise I wont start a fight with that lady”
We’d walked round and there at a place called willies were sat 4 delightful looking gents in white trousers white shirts black top hats decked out in red ribbons. I asked if it was ok to take a photo, they all stood up grinning and wise cracking at me, instantly warm, wonderful, open and wonderfully English.
They pointed to the prom where there was another group who they said were all out to have a dance tonight and why don’t we come across.
We spent the next 3 hours chatting with and absolutely charmed by them. Most of them came over to us, to say hello, I think it was obvious from out faces we loved what they were doing, as I keep saying, just matter of fact, just getting along with it, part of our consciousness, the culture, the color, real and tangable, our lineage and our history right there for us to connect with, whether you laugh at them or give them due respect, you know where they come from, you may not be able to put it into words, but I’ll wager you feel something of what they are doing. I very definitely turn to face them I let them see my gaze,
They were dancing in Oxfordshire dress, in white, they had handkerchiefs, to wave up the energy of summer and wipe or chase away the winter , they wore bells and stamped to waken up the earth, They were tidy and orderly they said, Romanesque.
They had quite a few outfits we were told, in winter time they danced in a costume they called Border with the painted black faces and long shaggy coats it was a wilder dance they said, the borders were to welcome in the winter and the darker months, it’s origin they said was Celtic.
We sat with them chatting about the dancing in a pub called the Nottingham up on the top behind the old fake ruined castle, the pubs sign hanging above the door was Robin Hood with a drawn bow.
They told us of how they are always looking for younger men to come and take up the reigns; they spoke highly of the younger groups who had come into being in London, particularly Hammersmith they said.
“They are young and vigorous” they said laughing “They make us old ones jealous with how high they can leap”
It was a wonderful evening but the cider the bar maid kept bringing up from the cellars was taking its toll on us, we were finding it hard to absorb all we were told. We said our good nights and one or two of them seemed a little sad to see us go. We walked back to Pearl, Cleethorpes was peaceful and even the boy racers who used the car park outside the swimming pool where we’d parked seemed to go home at around 12ish.
Cornbury seems such a long time ago, I had written a piece on that weekend but annoyingly it hadn’t saved. So much has happened since, things falling into place, Orsi and I still clashing and but working through it, that is all part of the journey too, I don’t want to gloss over it in these pages, I am trying to be honest about the journey.
We’d called back into Blackthorn where the Buckle & Boots country festival had been, We’d had quite a time there with the music and the organizers Karl, Jan Laura Julie and the Passing of Uncle Ken. Jan had prepared some wonderful food much to our surprise the whole family came to visit with us, we’d parked up there again and It was just good to see them all again.
We’d driven down towards Worcester next day and though it looked quite inviting I recall it still had a feeling of the 1970’s road planners having driven through its essence, parking restrictions too right up to 8pm so after a few loops we were on the road toward Evesham. My friend Ian Black and his family had lived for many years in the area, he had Welsh roots and Wales were playing Portugal that night and we wanted to watch the game.
Orsi and I had agreed first pub we see we stop, we were not having another Winchester to Salisbury moment. So along we shot along the road towards Evesham an came to the Nightingale pub , the manager that night turned out to be welsh and I think noticed our enthusiasm for Wales and so let us stay in the car park. Turned out to be a sad night for the Welsh though we had a lovely night chatting with the locals.
Next day after after a few tense moments due to a gallon to much coffee we arrived at Cornbury festival. We’d both looked forward to Cornbury very much, We’d be with the Nina & the Therapixies a very talented bunch who we have come to like very much. Most of them had already arrived and we were greeted warmly one by one by them all. Nina & Jason, Debbie, Clair Hannah, Gemma, Wendy, Vicky and her husband Kalvin, Catherine and Valerie. Great group of very gifted people. We have always felt touched that they took us right in, they seemed to see us.
One of the things we have come to Judge a festival on its quality is it’s water availability, showers and toilets, its always an indication of the organizers care and attention to detail. Up to that point Cornbury has been the best with a close second being Wychwood, though I have to say festival 8 though much smaller would prove to be astonishing.
We wandered through the camp sites at the far end each morning as middle England awoke and began its ritual of fried bacon & eggs, I have been a vegetarian for over 35 years now but there is no denying that the smell of bacon just does something to the taste buds. Middle England came kitted out and the sizzle and spit of those cooking breakfasts was somehow reassuring, took me back to childhood feeling of safety and security, perhaps. Both of us always really enjoyed the walk down Cornburys bacon and egg avenue to the showers.
We jogged and worked out there too, people smiling here, a wave there, as we’d pass by. Manners maketh a festival, and manners were worn on everybody’s shirt or dressing gown sleeve or painted in day glow or glitter on the faces. Cornbury is a lovely place to be.
We had noticed yesterday that Middle England, as I call them with genuine affection, are curious, searching warm friendly and trying hard for self awareness. The punks amongst you out there may sneer at it, but it might be the same in Middle Scotland or Middle Wales. Nothing wrong with self awareness and being generous with oneself.
Consequently we did some really good work there, I had been really in the zone having to use my voice to its maximum effect, working really close to the persons ear as the music was of course quite loud. Orsi too did really well first and third day. I did a lot of work with some of the therapists there and as usual talking people down of many a metaphorical ledge concerning Hypnotherapy, the superstitions people carry around is at times staggering.
“You wont turn me into a chicken will you?” they ask
“Only if you want to be” is always my response, and everything you need to know about Hypnosis is in that reply.
We’d gone to See Wilco Johnson, I’d been so looking forward to seeing him. He didn’t let me down. A long time ago we’d played support to him at the Tunnel club on the south side of the Blackwall tunnel in London. I can’t remember what happened, I think he’d wanted the dressing room to himself after we’d played, somehow a few amongst us had taken offence and he’d been spoken too quite roughly by my girl at the time. I have winced many times about it, we’d been young and hadn’t realized greatness was in the room with us, we’d thought we were great too. We were, but perhaps not so much. Anyway in the back of my mind I had wanted to go and send him some long overdue love from me. To make amends quietly.
He was great, a master class in effortless ease rock and roll, and though Norman Watts on bass was a little weird to my eyes, there is no doubt that he can play. Drummer too, a great a three piece band that just did easily what everybody who has ever been in a band wants to do, gel, lock in, lighten up and just go surfing, such a treat to see them.
Then there was Seal who it has to be said is a beautiful man. Orsi stood next to me was actually blushing all the way through and normally has to be dragged forward to a better view, this time she led me by the hand.
She coo’d and awed “Isn’t he great” & “He gives people what the people want” & “Oh he’s great isn’t he”
Bloody hell, yeah, he’s alright.
“Ok Orsi .. yeah he’s great” and he was. I was in the loos later after the gig, big guys in there were having a pee, any guy reading this knows male toilet etiquete, you don’t look around whilst your peeing, you don’t talk to the guy next to you, you most certainly don’t look down at the guy next to you … right!!?
Not that night, things were being said like
“If I was going to swing the other way there is only one man I would do with, that is seal”
A short uncomfortable silence whilst 20 blokes absorbed what had just been said. Then another gruff voice.
“Yeah if I was going to, it would have to be seal, he’s got everything just right”
Another silence, I’m just looking straight ahead, perhaps a quick glance down to check aim as my attention had spiked
Then another rough voice announced “Yeah he is a good lucking geezer ain’t he”
I kept quiet. Kept my thoughts to myself and kept looking straight ahead.
There was also a hilarious moment of Englishness during his set,
Seal was introducing a song.
He was talking about about special songs and how some songs come from the heart, a sharing his soul with us moment
“You know some songs………. just come out from deep within and stand out……. I’d like to play you a song that is very personal…… it’s special to me and every time we play it……. it brings a tear to my eye, it’s a beautiful piece
You getting the idea, Seal was sharing with us, the rodies had rushed on and set up his stool, he sat down and was being very informal the band was hushed the rodie handed him a beautiful acoustic guitar. There was a second hushed moment, I think I saw a glitter of a tear in his beautiful oval eyes
Then he said .. “yeah it’s a naked piece
I ripple went through the crowd and then all around us people began chuckling and shouting
“Cor naked” … “woahr naked .. yeah” “Wooo hooo
For a moment he looked baffled blinked and with a resigned voice said
“You like naked eh?
“Woah ho ho..” “coooor yeah” said the various voices out of the stillness
He rolled his eyes up to the heavens and said “Oh to be back in England” and then began the naked song. I was howling laughing, just the moment. Loved it. I’m still laughing now. Its wonderful to see bubbles bursting isn’t it.
Cornbury is set amongst the beautiful golden fields of Oxfordshire about 5 miles from chipping Norton. The towns on the way are I suppose what you would imagine the archetypal England to be, ancient yellow standstone houses that suggest a time of prosperity and a trust in something bigger, perhaps that land, perhaps order, perhaps community, perhaps longevity and tradition, perhaps even the church, something real and tangible, just a feeling of peace as you drive through. What ever it is, it just felt good to be amongst and move through it.
Great Tew where the festival is actually held has some of the most beautiful trees you could imagine, islands of tranquility, majesty and grandeur that the flow and energy of the fair and the festival moves around like a streams around rocks. They house and shade something wonderful there. Without them the place would not have the charm it does and I am sure bring something to the place that goes unnoticed except in the peripheral vision of the soul. I had to climb the one next to us, I peeped under its massive boughs saw a path through the nettles and I was instantly in another time. It didn’t mind me, I was sure it felt my joy.
We’d gone to see Brian Ferry too another great British institution and I have been a fan of Roxy and Brian Ferry, and he was good, I think we were a little restless, we watched a few songs he had a 13 piece band that was slick and pro and after a playing Bob Dylans brilliant “Don’t think twice it’s alright” which always did bring a tear to my eye, we decided to move on and go and talk to the Indian lady from Accrington on the African stall we stood and chatted for sometime about Northern England, till we saw the flood of people all flowing by and realized Brian had left the stage. It was ok.
We didn’t get to spend to much time with the Therapixies this time as everyone was pretty busy, we had been too, though some how Irish Debbie always seemed to have the lights on when we got back to camp and for a couple of nights there she’d continually filled up my cup with red wine and I unthinkingly kept sipping wondering cloudily how come the little tea cup I was drinking from never seemed to be empty, I think one night our laughter as we sat there had disturbed the whole camp. I was a little sheepish the next day and swore I’d keep and eye on my cup in future around Debbie, we have grown to like her very much.
As is always the way the end of the festival we did a few more sessions that morning, made warm plans to meet up with everyone at various places around the country in the coming months. We were the last to leave apart from Nina and Jason it seems to becoming a tradition.
We then headed up the M40 onto the M6 to Chester. We had a job interview for Chalet Hosts job in the French Alps during the winter the address was west Kirby so I’d thought Chester would be a nice place to stop over, and it was we found a great place right by the River Dee side, a launderette and just unwound a little there dipping into our imaginations that the Roman walls and the 15th century pubs and houses stimulated. Then next day over for the interview at West Kirby which was a real surprise leafy, red brick, and seemed to be hidden just off any major road artery at the mouth of the River Dee estury.
We’d expected the interview to be a half hour affair but we ended up being there for over an hour and a half, we liked the lady Vicky very much. We’d said what ever we did we wanted to continue with the Hypnotherapy, Healing and Orsi wanted to offer Nutrition advice. We’d said IF we got offered and we couldn’t practice, wed decline. To be honest we didn’t think they’d take us seriously, but they did. I think she realised our commitment. Anyway we have been offered a position starting middle of December. We are still pinching ourselves, but more of that later.
We spent the night there in West Kirby enjoying the winds from the Irish sea, me revisiting my ancestors in amongst the peace of the place. We walked out across the sands to Hilbre island that evening in amongst the noisy sea birds of the wildlife reserve. In our minds Roman Galleys sailed past us and across the estuary the wild Celts and Angles looked across and down at us.
Debbie had offered us tickets to Larner tree down in Devon, I‘d wanted to go, but right then it seemed a long way away, we’d be just going to the festival and not able to work, I wondered what we’d do, so I dithered and made a bit of a hash really and only declined the tickets a the last minute. I had been touched as she’d offered them because of our mutual warmth for each other, it had been difficult for me to say no to that. I am learning. I was touched by it and so got tongue tied.
As we sat there in west Kirby that night an email popped up from a lady called Bayari from a festival I’d almost forgotten I’d written too called festival 8 in North Lincolnshire. Our email had gone to Junk mail but would we like to come over the pitch was £50 for the three days.
I jumped at it, Orsi was irritated by all the chopping and changing. We clashed and the repercussions went on for a few days.
It is fascinating to me how things happen. My instincts when Debbie had offered Larmer tree had signaled to me, I’d over rode it because I liked Debbie very much. When we finally said no, almost within a minute, I am not exaggerating here, the email popped up in the in box.
We wrote back from a rather suspicious point of view partly also because we’d been arguing, it later embarrassed me very much, on my own steam I knew it was right. We just didn’t want another Willowman and we’d set our sights on drive through wales.
Anyway after another day in Chester we set off across to a place called Carbourne Parva where festival 8 was being held. I’d checked the site and there were no bands I’d ever heard of but there was quite a prominent healing aspect to the site it seemed. We were in for a real surprise.
After a silent drive across country towards Grimsby we turned off and orsi guided us in. The site was situated in and behind a group of ancient massive Sycamore trees.
We were met at the gates by a tall wiry red headed Yorkshire guy; who told us immediately that it had been all his idea to do this festival. Then Bayari who I’d imagined to be Indian but who turned out to be a Scott from Glasgow I think, came to meet us. She had a wide rounded open face was obviously curious about us as we were about her.
She directed us to just in past the first red brick barn up a gravel drive towards the beautiful half visible farm house and told us we’d be working there underneath the Yew trees, for a split second I thought we’d been placed out of the way. But sense kicked in immediately, it felt right under the Yew trees. Orsi I think took a little longer and I saw Bayari looking with a puzzled expression at Orsi’s reaction. It didn’t last long though.
Festival 8 just unfolded magically in front of us. Next door a lady who turned out to be Rachel grumpily set up her tent with her quietly suffering husband. We judged them harshly at first and would again be proven embarrassingly wrong about her, she turned out to be a gem.
We have liked many places on this journey so far, but festival 8 was just beautiful. The level of detail and care was to us astonishing, the Toilets were porcelain, they flushed, there was soft loo roll. They had showers that had fluffy towels, moisturizer and shampoo, there was a steam room and a Jacuzzi, the Woodland stage was just beautiful in amongst gigantic trees, tha mai stage too in an open big top. The stalls there had a quality home made crafty flavor. Most people we talked to had been there the year before and all had wanted to come back. It was interesting to us to connect with another group of healers who obviously knew one another.
There was a group meal that first evening for everybody who was working there, people were encouraged to take something to contribute, we did, but once there realized that who ever was organizing the place had provided more than enough, It was a wonderful meal. We were taken aback to be honest. As we looked around and noticed the level of care that had gone into the place, the chairs the tables, decorations, flags, the lawns, the kitchens the bar were just amazing. The bar was remarkable, there was a mud wrestling pit and even a maze just outside the wooded area past the 3 big horses. The camp site was divided by hundreds of Tibetean prayer flags, there was subtle lighting everywhere, we just walked around, and though we were still a little sore with one another, but both of us realized that we had been given a gift, our mouths were open.
We have been to quite a few festivals over this last few months, people let their hair down, people take the opportunity to wear silly hats and strange outfits some take to wearing not to much at all, you can see who is just letting loose and who are for real somehow. But here the people seemed to be really unusual, such an eclectic mix of people, a jumble sale from throughout the ages and from across the world all gathered together, it all and they all just seemed to gell, I loved sitting next to the big fire in the middle of the field, the stalls fringed with the main stage at the end, just watching the shapes and expressions of people lit by the flickering flames, if felt like we’d walked into a dream
Over the next few days Orsi was as usual very busy, I think word got out amongst the therapists and the people there that she was a great reader, I stood guard and chatted to people who seemed surprised to find themselves in front of us.
I did some good work too, We both realized pretty quickly that this was a slightly different place, I did quite a lot of sessions for free simply because we were offered so much by everybody else. I’d said we just need to make the petrol money the pitch and food money across, I have to say here that the lions share of that was by Orsi. She worked hard, but it always makes her happy and I was glad to see her lifted and bouncing again.
We wandered each night not really sure what we would find, but it was always something beautiful. We came to know peter the owner, and his sons, there were the Psychic reader and artists from Hull and the body workers from Wapping almost next door to us. There was the lovely Brazilian Coaca priestess from bwho carried a guitar like a teddy with her virtually all the time. We came to like Rachel next door to us doing elemental bio-energetic balance, all very technical with her lap top and wires, she was so down to earth and very hnest about herself, I liked that very much. She later came to have a session with me, we did some great work.
She looked so much brighter later and said
“Very interesting, people seem to be being drawn in here all morning as if something has changed within me” Ever the scientist she said looking hard at me “very interesting.”
We both liked Rachel’s grounded honesty very much.
One evening whilst we’d been sat on pearls step just looking out across the campground sipping a glass of wine feeling better about one another. Orsi said
“A lady has just fallen down outside her tent, and she hasn’t got back up”
I didn’t take it too seriously at first. A minute or so later she said
“She is still lying there and her friend s panicking”
We stood up and walked slowly across and saw a few people come running across to the tent there then somebody run off for security a few minutes later the ambulance crew who’d been parked up at the front came running across and started giving here mouth to mouth and banging her chest.
We’d moved a little closer but stayed a respectful distance. Then to my great surprise I saw a light in the sky as if the clouds split, and a spiral of light shot towards the place where she led, like an arrow, and all I can say is that the light was full of angels.
I said to Orsi “She’s dying”
It was just a few seconds then the light spiraled back and disappeared into the clouds. I didn’t want to think what I’d just seen was true, you don’t want somebody to die, but I did see it. More medics arrived and began to give her shocks, but everybody seemed resigned. We went back into the trees to the festival. It was a remarkable thing.
As we were leaving a day or so later the lady who had been the driving force to create this beautiful festival came to see us and asked us to wait behind, it was good to meet her, a tough sounding Yorkshire lady with blond hair and blue eyes, she had authority but obviously had a powerful imagination. She told us the girl had been brought back but they weren’t sure if she wouldn’t pass in the next few days. We never did find out, but see it I did. It had been a great time there, we are always better when we are working, it is t seems when we come together, mutual resect there.
It’s always strange watching a festival dissolve, we’d packed up said warm goodbyes to the people around us, we both wanted to see the sea, we wanted to bathe, Julie had told us to try to Cleethorpes, its open there she said and from there we would see where too next.