So that was Greenbelt 2012…

Greenbelt 2012 will forever be known in Greenbelt history as the year of the mud…

The result of no wellies…

Muddy guy lay down in the mud for a free pint.
Graham found his hiking boots didn’t quite cut it.
Always good to see the purple wellies being well used.
So, so much mud. And obviously, you don’t get that much mud without a decent quantity of water. Like the river that ran through G:Source (the exhibition area, which my friend Shannon frequently referred to as the G:Spot – awkward) ending up a foot deep in places.
 That water was moving at quite some speed.
At every single one of my previous 14 Greenbelts I’ve come prepared for mud. Some years there was *some* mud – I remember a particularly quagmirish beer tent three or four years ago – but never has there been so much of it. But you know what? It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it could have been. Admittedly, I managed to be under cover during every single one of the torrential downpours that occurred on Saturday afternoon; and yes, none of my tent mates informed me that water was coming up from the ground into the tent until after they’d sorted it all out; but I still had to navigate the fields of deep sludge for two days. Even friends with children said it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be – everyone was cheerful and the only people I heard complain were those sans wellies. 

As ever, there are many highlights from my own experience of the festival – the silent disco has already been documented, as has my day of doing absolutely nothing from the programme, but there was more. For a start, hanging out in the Performance Cafe is always well-worth doing, simply because of the quality of the performers. Saturday night was a particular highlight thanks to Harry Baker and his poetry. Hot on the heels of his highly commended Edinburgh Fringe appearances, his set at Greenbelt had the audience in stitches, even when performing in German. (The ever fabulous baby Jacob was particularly delighted by the German rapping – that child clearly already has a thing for hip hop.) Lost? You need to watch some videos…

A slightly more musical and spiritual highlight was the Rend Collective Experiment. I tell you, it takes something special to get me into a venue for 9am at a festival, but these guys are something special. Somehow I’d missed them live previously, but had seen enough YouTube videos to know that I wanted to experience them in the flesh. For years and years I’ve found spiritually enlightening worship at Greenbelt hard to come by, but this was absolutely the best worship experience I’ve had there in a long time. You could say that they were the Mumford & Sons of worship bands, but that would be doing them a disservice. They’re creative, Norther Irish, have an awesome collection of instruments and a percussionist to whom I have awarded the title of ‘best beard and jumper combo at Greenbelt 2012’. Oh, and they resurrected a classic Graham Kendrick tune without a hint of irony and did it much justice (an entire blogpost is brewing on this topic).
To be honest, nothing says Greenbelt more than slam poetry and folk worship. Roll on 2013…

Wellingtons are always fun – especially on Fridays

Regular readers will be familiar with my passion for my purple wellies. They bring joy to my life, even though I’ve not had to wear them for some time. Wellies in general are great – you can leap into puddles without getting your feet wet and walk through mud without trailing your trousers in it. However, they bring about some issues…

Do you fear, when you put on your boots, that something unsavoury might be lurking in its toes? A spider, dustballs, or – God forbid – a dead mouse? Fear not, Wellitops are available to come to your rescue:

It amuses me that last week when I posted the ‘Pajama Jeans’  I laughed and thought “those crazy Americans!”, while this week I’ve watched the above video and thought “genius idea – only in Britain!”. Honestly, the creatures in boots thing is a genuine fear of mine, particularly because I keep my ankle boots on top of my wardrobe, where creepy crawlies are likely to dwell. Without fail, I give them a good shake before putting them on.

A few comments on the video:
– I’ve learnt that wellies can be damaged if they’re left bent at the ankles. [I immediately went to our cupboard of junk to return the purple wellies to their special Hunter shoe box so that this didn’t happen.]
– Untidy shoes are unsightly. Clipped together wellies are much more aesthetically pleasing.
– It’s so aimed at the Home Counties crew that they’ve used names they’d be familiar with – like Miles. Brilliant.

Guess what everyone I know is getting at the next present-giving opportunity?

Oh, and I realise this has been rather niche fun. To make up for it, how about an interesting online clock to pass the time with? [Warning: NSFW unless people can’t really see your screen, or you work at home.]

Inappropriate footwear

I should have known it was mistake to go straight for the radio when I woke up this morning. In doing so I missed the London news bulletin at 7.30 that usually gives me the latest on both London Transport and the weather – key information to have prior to getting dressed and leaving for work. Instead, all I had was Radio 1 weather, which is sketchy to say the least. All I knew was that it would be wet in Scotland (surprising) and that it would be cooler than yesterday (when London hit a balmy 25c).

As a result, I found my feet rather inappropriately dressed when I emerged from Baker Street station into rain that stubbornly persisted all morning. By lunch it was torrential, yet I still ventured out for a jaunt to Oxford Street. Within minutes my legs (clad in purple tights) and feet (nestled in the beautiful red shoes) were soaked.

Then someone in a pair of Hunters passed me and I could have kicked myself (had that not simply made my legs wetter and dirtied my tights). I own the most fantastic wellies and yet didn’t have them with me in perfect wellie conditions. Idiot!

[Additionally, had I known it was going to rain I wouldn’t have bothered spending 40 minutes blow-drying my hair – despite ‘moisture barrier’ hairspray I still bore a more than passing resemblance to Hermione Granger when I got back to the office.]

My resolution for this autumn/winter is therefore to think practically and not to be afraid to get the Hunters out of their (rather awesome) shoe-box when it’s wet outside. They go perfectly with most of my expanding collection of tights and – most importantly – will keep both toes and calves warm and dry.

I may or may not try one of the interesting tights/wellies combos currently on display at Selfridges:

While on the subject of the fabulous wellies, the photo below (taken when a tad bored during a Greenbelt seminar) is now my most popular Flickr picture – want to get lots of photostream views, comments and favourites? Simply take photos of shoes…


In a little over an hour I’m going to head out and jump in some puddles wearing the fabulous wellies – I’m super excited. I’m just hoping that the very heavy rucksack I’ll be carrying won’t hinder my jumping ability.

Yes, I’m off camping again and this time the weather’s not playing ball. It’s raining in London and has been for days – with awesome vigour. However, my sister rang earlier (a lot earlier – it woke me up) to inform me that the sun’s shining in the shire and all will be well. But, the rain does at least mean I’ll look slightly less foolish wearing my wellies to travel in. [Golden rule of packing: wear your heaviest shoes to travel in.]

I’m not given to wearing practical clothing, as I think I’ve mentioned before. To be honest, I consider anoraks dorky clothing to wear in the city – best left to tourists and the middle aged – and prefer an umbrella to a hood. For some reason, manly men can pull off the ‘I’m just off on a hike’ look in an urban context, but women can’t. But in a field, amongst tents, I’m all for practicality – so the kag in a bag is packed, although as I write, I realise that its red hue clashes with my purple footwear. Ho hum…

It’s been practically autumnal the last couple of days, thanks to the rain and near gale-force winds – so much so that I resorted to tights and boots yesterday (in August!!). However, it made me happy because the tights in question are very special and provide me with a Friday Fun tip for you. (Though I realise that only certain readers will be interested in attractive, cosy tights, unless you’re of a male persuasion and find hosiery a little kinky…)

Aubin & Wills is a ridiculous store. It’s the upmarket brother of ‘university outfitters’ Jack Wills (beloved of teenagers in the Home Counties) and a place where I can ill-afford to shop, even in the sales. However, it’s one of C’s favourite places to window shop and there’s one near work, so I pop in sporadically to stroke cashmere sweaters.

On a recent trip I discovered something I could afford – tights, reduced from £29 to £7, a total bargain. [To explain to the men-folk: good tights are costly – though I draw the line at paying £29 for them.] I purchased one attractive purple pair which were worn yesterday and were so lovely that I went out at lunch to buy more. The good news is that there are still plenty of them online, should you not exist in the vicinity of a store. Colourful tights? What’s not to like?

Oh, you might be struggling to see the fun in this, well…colours are fun, autumn’s fun, shopping’s fun – see?

Canvas, Countryside and Christians

Normally, I subject myself to nights under canvas just once a year – my annual pilgrimage to the verdant fields of Cheltenham and the festival of Greenbelt. Post Greenbelt, I without fail moan about how much I hate camping. This year, for some unknown reason [actually, it may have something to do with this purchase] I’m gearing up for an additional seven nights under canvas. Count them: SEVEN. That’s more than double my usual annual quota in one stretch!

Clearly, there are several factors that will persuade me to camp:

  • Christians. This is another Christian event – not quite in the same vein as Greenbelt – but apparently the presence of God fearing people with guitars is a positive as far as my holidays are concerned. 
  • Friends. A whole host of people from church are going and they’ve worked their persuasive powers upon me. 
  • Clothing. I’m actually a bit of a fan of practical, camping clothing. Especially when it means I get to wear my fantastically purple Hunter wellies. How I love them.
In fact, I love them so much that last night I wore them while I began packing. ‘Packing’ is perhaps the wrong word. I wrote a list, gathered clothing into a large pile and then looked at the rucksack it was meant to go in and thought “that’s not going to work…”. Tonight I’ve successfully shrunk the pile and got it into the bag, but I’m still cursing TfL for, yet again, closing an essential tube line on a day when I’ve got lots of stuff to get to Paddington. Grrrrrrr. 
So, for the next week I shall be in a tent in Somerset. I will also be making a lot of coffee, a fact that has amused more than one friend who’s aware of my hatred of the substance and inability to make it in a palatable way. Fortunately, I love the smell and I’m a quick learner, so hopefully it won’t be too painful an experience for those I serve. Plus, I’ll be under canvas as I enter my third decade on the planet (that’s a poetic way of shoe-horning in the fact that it’s my birthday on Friday and I’ll be 29). I think this is a good thing, but I need to wait and see what happens… 

Posting will therefore be light, but I have an idea up my sleeve that may (if I have time tonight) result in a series of posts, just so those not in the middle of nowhere will have something to read. Aren’t I generous?

Prancing about while packing.
In my defence, I needed to check whether the jeans would tuck inside the wellies…