This post has been a long time coming, I wrote it up a couple of weeks back then ‘computer said no’  boom, crash, oops I forgot to save it, soooo here we go again….

Beatherder Festival is like visiting a warm, friendly entirely dysfunctional family; loads of people you meet go back year after year, because once you’ve dipped in your toes to test the waters and found it ‘just right’ why wouldn’t you want to bath in it’s charm again and again….and one more time just for luck?  

I read somewhere that it’s child-friendly and there were a few broad minded parents with young kids trundling around.  After the sights they see there I reckon those kids will turn out one of two ways (1) the next wave of music appreciating ‘addled’ fuck-ups (or 2) religious evangelists saving the world from depravity one sermon at a time.

Saturday is dress up day which adds another fun level to the crazy, though a lot of people stay dressed up for the entire weekend – that’s how I like to roll, way more fun!

Making the leap from a 200,000 people-monster of a festival like Glastonbury to 10,000 people at Beatherder (just 3 weeks later) was a bit of an adjustment.  That said, the great thing about Beatherder is its size, everything is wonderfully close, you can flit between stages with ease, not to mention zip back to the tent if you want to grab another layer of clothing in the evening.

I arrived around 7.00pm after working a half day on Friday then jumping on a train, which was a seamlessly easy way to get there from London, especially as Jetman had driven up with all our gear and a couple of friends, so when I swanned in they were just sitting down to a well-deserved cider, before we glittered-up and headed in to the festival.

I now realise that arriving early to a festival, ideally the day before sits better with me, I need time to tune in to the vibe, it felt pretty jarring at first and after a 6.00am start for work and all the travel, despite my best efforts, by midnight I was cream crackered and skulked off back to the tent a little shame faced.

Personally, I think the only way to do Beatherder it to Glamp it.  Last time I was there I did general camping and it was fine, apart from the tents of young cainers nearby that were up all night every night shout-talking utter bollocks….and the porter loos were a bit of a walk away.

Glamping on the other hand – you turn up, your tent is pitched, it comes complete with airbed, sheets, pillow and duvet, carpet, fairy lights inside and bunting on the outside; ours overlooked beautiful rolling hills and gave great sunsets. I never festival without my fluffy leopard print blanket and used it as a bottom sheet this time which is so cosy to come back to in the damp chill of the evenings.  As well as that there were showers with individual changing rooms, a communal dressing yurt with mirrors and electric sockets for hairdryers and such and proper flushing toilets nearby that you rarely had to queue for, which had plenty of loo paper and sinks with running water and soap.  It’s the little comforts in life that make all the difference at festivals!

If I’m completely honest, there seemed to be more young fuckwits there this time, usually they’re corralled into the hard-core trance dance tents but I noticed a bit more aggressive yehaa than before.  Thankfully we saw plenty more lovely and beautifully-bonkers people to balance things out, so don’t let that put you off, just beware that there is a small element of that there.

Beatherder is not a festival for foodies – you can find enough sustenance  but generally it’s pizza/ burger/ fried.  My favourite place for breakfast was Smokey Tentacles in the more quiet shopping area – among other things they do a gorgeous breakfast wrap of quality bacon, caramelised onion chutney, omelette, spinach and mushrooms – even now just thinking about it makes me salivate.

Fret not though, for every yin there is a yang, the food may be considered a bit shit (depending on your level of expectation) but booze is real cheap, the bars plentiful and the queues minimal. hurrah!

Beatherder caters to most dance music tastes, yes it’s a fairly young crowd but there are loads of 30 – 45 year olds (and over) busting their moves; one of the big draw cards (musically) for me was Dutty Moonshine, who did both a dj set and a set with his big band.  I’m such a fan – think deep badass ‘can help but shake what ya mama gave ya!’ bass with electro swing overtures, then his big band throws in a full brass section, two singer/ rappers, a cellist, piano, beats, drums and Dutty himself.  Anyhoo, don’t just take my word for it, check em out – no matter what your musical preferences, I think this kind of quality shines for all to appreciate.

I also fangirled all over Madam Electrifie (quite literally – we met outside some portaloos, not my coolest moment) she’s kinda under the electro swing umbrella too, never entirely know what you’re gonna get but you can be assured that you’ll have no choice but to get-down to it.  I love her mixing style, in this age of computers and digital mixing it’s the skill of layering tracks to tell different story’s that I really admire.  I love seeing woman dj’s throw down, she brings tough, sassy, sexy and whole heaping of hell-yeah! to the party

We saw loads of great music throughout the weekend, though worth a special mention were the Faithless DJ set, Dub Pistols, Oh My God it’s the Church! and Kelis – her recent work is surprisingly danceable and when she broke in to the Milkshake song….well, just watch the video – priceless.

So that’s a brief overview of the Beatherder festival – if you’re in to dance music, happy people, glitter, fun, a fab atmosphere and not too much walking between stages then this is a great one to check out.  My friends go on pilgrimage there every year.  Mum, if you’re reading this – it’s because they’re totally religious and terribly upright citizens;-).

Laters navigators. x

Follow:

Glastonbury,  the largest all-field festival in the world – for me it was like falling through the rabbit hole and finding a whole new existence, one where you’re free to be whoever you choose.

I used to be one of the smug ones; I would watch Glasto on those muddy years sipping a chilled glass of white wine on my sofa, safe in the knowledge that the loo down the hall was clean and there was no queue.  Then there were the good years and I’d think ‘wow that looks amazing… but I’m too much of a princess to handle the crowds and the camping.’

Well I’m now back from my 1st Glastonbury Music and Contemporary Arts festival and my mind was officially blown.   I needed a week to ‘process’ and physically recover from the late nights and the um partying but I am a convert, on the band wagon and blowing the Glasto trumpet!

My friends had tried to tell me how cool it was but there really aren’t words to describe the amazing atmosphere and the magic of the place.

Even without the incredible range of music and the fact that all the bands and artists that play there bring their A-game, everywhere you look is eye-candied wonderment.  You could happily wander around, not see any music and still have a great time.

The crowds are alive with glittering festival wear, it’s like a human bizarre of every colour, creed, age and musical taste.   Being united with that mass as one of your favourite bands or DJ’s is throwing down, kicking off and exploding all over the place – well, it’s like your heart is bursting (in a good way) it’s face splitting smiles, unabashed whoops, jumping, dancing and punching the sky.  It’s the very best sort of madness and I got to share it with some of my oldest and dearest friends, along with so many new people I met along the way.

You could argue that most music festivals encourage a certain kind of abandon and to some extent that is indeed correct but I’ve been to a lot of festivals and it is true what they say “there is nothing like Glastonbury”  its uniqueness is tied to the setting and amplified by thoughtful design which adds to the heart and soul of the place.  If you give Glastonbury your all, you will be rewarded with the best time of your life, you will be challenged and you will be changed in a positive way.  Well, that’s been my experience anyway.

We got there on Wednesday, not because we had to rush in to get a good camping spot (oh no – we glamped the shit outta Glasto) but because as it was our 1st time we wanted to have a spell for it all to sink in.  I honestly think arriving on Friday would have been too overwhelming for me.  It took me a couple of days to just get around the whole festival and begin to make sense of the map.

Going in we had a strategy – the plan was to start slow and have a couple of reasonably early nights then build to a peak on Saturday and chill on Sunday – unfortunately the line-up had other ideas for us, so while we did manage to get those first two days right, I got home at 4.00am on Friday and 6.00am on Saturday and Sunday.  It was Epic.

For me Glastonbury was a series of personal journeys.  It shook me out of my comfort-zone, made me open up to new people, made me get over the need for daily showers (there is no way I need a shower enough to queue for an hour or two in the heat with fuck all sleep and a hangover) and it got me over my princess-like toilet requirements.  I am now down with the squat over a longdrop technique and the portaloo hover method.

Glastonbury made me appreciate my life more and it made me feel more connected, to my husband and the friends that went on the journey with me, to hopes and dreams and in a sense to the wider populace (but that could’ve been the Jeremy Corban speech); it also tested my stamina and I’m proud to say that I exceeded my own expectations!

When I started my blog, I knew this year would be a transformative one but now I am beginning to feel it, there is a hard but brittle protection I encase myself in which feels more pliant and loose, like I can breathe a bit easier and am more the self I want to be.  Who knows what another two music festivals, a road trip in Italy, a road trip in Iceland and 2 months travelling in Asia will do to round that off but I am sure as hell eager to find out.

I’m going to post this now, have been dipping in and out of writing it for a couple of weeks; there is so much more to say but I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking and if you have any questions drop me line.

Laters navigators. x

Follow:

URBAN BEEKEEPING AND CRAFT BEER TASTING

 

Last weekend the Jetman and I were lucky enough to not only taste test delish London brewed honey beer by Hiver but also get some hands-on experience learning about urban bee keeping – it was bloody amazing and I don’t use that word lightly.

Despite the heat wave I donned denim and trainers and headed over to Kennington park for our 3.30pm start.  The Bee Urban centre is easy to find via google maps and right next to the café in centre of the park. 

At the appointed time we got suited-up and taken around to the hives.  I expected to be more nervous but actually the experience of getting up close and personal with the bees was really relaxing, you need to be chilled and take things slowly – also they’re all zonked from the smoke.  Apparently it’s an instinctive reaction to smelling smoke, they gorge themselves on honey in preparation to move the hive in the instance of fire.  So basically, they’re feeling all mellow and nappish after a big feed.

I can’t tell you how cool it was to hold a plate of brew chambers up close as they’re crawling with a thousand bee’s going about the business of making honey and raising young.  The faint smell of bee’s wax and the humming eddying masses are natures magical kaleidoscope.

Which brings me to the wonders of bee biology.   It turns out that bee biology is astounding, did you know….. the worker bee’s make another Queen if she’s sick/old and not laying well or the hive is getting too big  and they need to split the hive?  They take a normal worker bee (female) larvae and pop it in a special roomy queen cell then feed her royal jelly and vwallah hey presto when she’s cooked 16 days later a queen bee emerges, theeeen the virgin queen takes off and leaves the hive, she flies as high and as fast as she can, being chased by the lazy arse male drone bees (their only job is eat and wait for the queen been to get frisky, which only happens once) so there she is like a big lush trophy that only the fastest drones can win to mate with her.  So the lucky Drones then proceed to shag her until they die,  at which point their peckers fall off inside her, and off they go to bee heaven, job well done.  Queenie mates with about 20 drones and that will keep her going with sperm for up to 5 years, she can lay up to 2000 eggs per day, it only takes her 20 seconds to pop one out.  That’s impressive don’t you think?!  

Anyway, I digress – once queenie has had her shagfest, she goes back to the hive and rests up for a bit, then if the purpose is to take over for an old queen she get’s on with the business of producing young or, she takes off with who ever wants to join her (it’s called a swarm) and they go find a new home.

Another of my favourites bee facts was that the lazy arse drones don’t have it all sweet; they get one free-loading summer then at the end of it the women worker bees kick them out into the cold and seal off the hive so they freeze to death. How terribly pragmatic.

We were super lucky, there happened to be a swarm while were were beer tasting.  There I was concentrating on listening to Seb (our charming tasting guide) when the intense sounds of bee buzz filtered in to my consciousness, our bee keeper then jumped in with jazz hands and told us to look up – there high up in the trees silhouetted by a beautiful blue late afternoon summer sky were thousands of bees swirling in a living pulsating vortex-like mass. It was truly mesmerising. Then just like ‘that’ they were gone again.

It was pretty hot in the bee suits so were all dived in gratefully to the beer tasting.  Naturally this was also fun (swam upstaging aside) we tasted 2 different beers along with the honey used in them, both were soooo different and that coupled with toasted and non toasted barely has me beginning to understand the complexity of craft beer brewing.

Hiver use honey from the hives in Kennington park and around London in there Lager and heather honey for their ale if you’re curious to try it but not into the bee thing I hear Ocado sell it and if you’re in London and want to experience this for yourself or even volunteer to help at Bee Urban in Kennington Park check out the links below.   I have a lot of good days out but this is one I’ll never forget, I can’t recommend the experience highly enough – educational, captivating and fun.

Bee Urban

Laters Navigators. x
Follow:

My time at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Restaurant is one of those never-gonna-forget-it days, though it’s a tricky one to write about because you might want to go there yourself and part of the magic is in the wonderment and surprise of it all.

As a self-confessed lucky cow, I am fortunate to have dined in several Michelin starred restaurants.  Before I went I was struggling with the justification of this one – it’s a lot of money for one meal….but I must confess, 2 courses in had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat and taking the ribbing my friends were giving me about my ‘lost morals’ on the chin.  Also, there is soooo much attention to detail, breadth of skill, imagination and creative flavour/ texture combinations involved that I feel the costs were justified.

From the minute you enter you get the sense that this is something a bit quirky; we walked from the bright sun outside into a small dim and fully mirrored cupboard-like hallway where we were greeted by one of the very friendly team of staff.

24 small courses of wonderment and WOW ensued and when I left, five and a half hours after arriving (it flew by!) I had been taken on a journey through Heston’s childhood excitement of summer holidays at the beach and in doing so had revisited innocent joys from my own childhood that I had forgotten – the wonder of picking up a shell and hearing the sea, juicy peaches that drip down your arm when you take that first bite, car trips to Nana’s with 4 kids in the back of the Ford Falcon, my stepsisters prickly legs as we were crammed together in the back seat (pre-teen years), running wild all day and only going to find your parents for lunch and dinner, exploring rockpools…..

I have nothing but praise and admiration for team at the Fat Duck, our service was professional and attentive yet playful, the incredibly knowledgeable staff noticed the things that fascinated us and went out of their way to explain elements further when questioned.

If you are lucky enough to be able to go to The Fat Duck, may I offer some advice?

  1. before you go you receive a questionnaire, fill it out! Be thorough and thoughtful – you will get more from your experience if you do.  My friend and I shed a nostalgic tear at one point as our heart strings were pulled.
  2. Go easy on the bread, it’s awesome but remember you’re in a marathon and not a sprint.
  3. Our party of 4 shared the 2 wine pairing’s with the meal and it worked well, I think a whole one each and we’d be too hammered at the end to remember what was eaten – we did have a bottle of champers to start though.
  4. Go to the Toilet – seriously, it’s an experience in itself, check out the glass to the wine area on the way.
  5. Get someone else to pay for the bill if at all possible, it’s so much less stressful that way. LOL
  6. When finished, there’s a lovely pub a minute down the road called The Crown (also owned by Heston), gorgeous beer garden out back and perfect for a post-fest tipple.
Follow:

I don’t know about you but anything to do with truffles and a Brass Band and I am all in!

I bought tickets to see Renegade Brass Band so long ago I’d completely forgotten about it, and only happened across the calendar reminder on Friday afternoon. My what a pleasant surprise – I love having a shit memory, it keeps things fresh.

Anyhoo; after a day spent in DIY purgatory sanding the hallway and after one of those showers that feels like its the best one you’ve ever had as it washes the dust, grime and doldrums away, I slapped on a bit of face paint and headed into Shoreditch with the Jetman.

We were on the hunt for a quick bite and I had a hankering for a nice burger but we had to get to the gig so didn’t want to waste time sitting in a restaurant. The food gods were listening and couldn’t have answered my prayers more succinctly. Hello ‘Flat Top Burgers@Block, streetfood court in Shoreditch

My mouth is still watering in memory of that Truffle Burger – think chunky yet soft beef patty (I saw them put the cheese on top of the cooked patty then pop a lid over it after squirting a little water on the grill to add steam), truffle cheese with truffle mayo and truffle glaze in a bap; even the rosemary salt fries were special. I loved the selection of craft beers and was impressed that the Kingpin’s we had were nice and cold.  It was the perfect start to our night.

A 3 minute walk down the road and we were at Richmix (cinema, café arts complex on Bethnal Green Road) in time to catch the last few songs of brass collective, Full Tilt. It’s unkind of me but I couldn’t help wondering if they all met in and American Pie version of bandcamp? They did a great job of warming the audience up; plenty of toes a tapping and dancing happening….though if I’m honest it was only the last half of the last song when they launched into a bit of a brass/drum and bass number that they completely reeled me in.

After a brief interlude it was time for the main act…

Love is a hard thing to describe, it has so many facets that sparkle in different light catching hues, you never know when it’s going to hit you.  I had never seen Renegade Brass band before and had no idea if a hip hop brass band was my thing, I was there on a whim… but as soon as they launched into their first song ‘boom!’ cupids arrow, in your face.

The recipe is perfect: a drummer and percussionist keep things super tight and swinging in the back line, while the scratch DJ is spicing things up on the side, an 8 piece all-star brass section ignites the flames deep in your very soul making you soar and roar and praise the heavens above while the MC throws gasoline on the fire until we were all melting in the pot, smiles splitting our faces as we dissolved.

I honestly haven’t enjoyed a gig that much in ages, superlatives’ aside, these guys are consummate musicians, they make it look easy, its a polished yet laid-back performance with engaging banter between songs, they look like they’re all mates having a great time and everyone’s swept along for the ride.

I love bands that make you lose your shit and leave your cool at the door – I was a sweaty mess by the end, giddy and post-coital-like as I floated out the door.

Now that’s what I call a perfect date night.  I cant recommend it enough.

Laters navigators

 

Follow: