we're back from Greenbelt.
for the uninitiated, Grenbelt is a christian Arts festival, held on the racecourse in Cheltenham, and it's been going for about 35 years now [don't know the exact figure, but i have vague memories that it celebrated it's thirtieth year a few summers back...]
i went a couple of times as a teenager - cliff richard [yay!] headlined one of those festivals, and i also remember standing next to half of depeche mode in a queue for pizza, and arriving on site the day after a very youthful U2 had turned up unexpectedly and played support to garth hewitt. i can also remember the dj peter powell in ridiculously skimpy shorts presenting a radio1 special from the mainstage... ah, the eighties... then i found other stuff to fill my summers with and didn't go again for years.
anyhow, since we've been up north, a weekend at the festival has become a landmark in our year - revive have always been into Greenbelt in a big way, and so in the weeks and months ahead of the bank holiday we're making stuff to contribute to the arts and/or worship programme.
and then the weekend of the festival itself has come to signify the beginning of the end of the holidays for us and the kids. once we're home it's all about getting ready for the new term [for both sue and the boys...]
if i'm honest, last year i succumbed to curmudgeonliness and as a result didn't have the greatest of times, so i was determined to enjoy it this time round. and this year was really great.
the weather was fantastic all weekend for a start!
and recently eddie and joe have suddenly latched onto music and started developing their own tastes - so we spent some time ahead of the festival checking out myspace and listening to some of the bands due to play the festival. i was disappointed that rosie thomas was ill and couldn't make it, and i missed denison witmer because joe wanted to see andy yorke and the timings clashed, but sarah masen, kathryn williams, nizar al-issa, kanda bongo man and soweto kinch were all excellent, and duke special and billy bragg were both absolutely superb.
other highlights included paul cookson and stewart henderson's annual 'tickling in public' show which just seems to get better every year, lloydy filling in as billy bragg's guitar tech/tea-maker, and shaun the sheep on the big screen [even more enjoyable when watched communally]
it was also good to meet up with some good folk again - dave walker [if only fleetingly], ian and gail, steve and lis and harv, kevin and lucy, chris goan, and matt and donna [and sam and noah]...
we took down three large maps, which seemed to work pretty well - especially the one with the little papier mache figures of performers on it [see below] - though the three jesus figures that we made didn't work quite as well as i'd hoped - maybe sue was right when she said that they should have been displayed together rather than in different venues around the site... ah well, you live and learn...
overall though, perhaps the greatest thing about Greenbelt is the good-natured and friendly atmosphere of the whole thing - on the last night i got chatting to a stall-holder who told me that of all the events that they'd done this summer, Greenbelt was by far the loveliest in terms of the punters' behaviour and the lack of hassle - she told me that if they weren't working the festival next year she and her husband would be back as paying customers, which i think says something about the event. we let eddie go off round the site with his mate sam every day - can't think that we'd feel happy giving him that much license to roam at any other festivals...
[here are some snaps - the figures that we made, lloydy being techy and brewing up for billy bragg, the great man himself, and duke special - sorry for the picture quality - eddie has yet to master the camera, but there's a certain arty murkiness to them that we quite like...! there are, of course, much better shots from the festival on the official website if you want to go browse there - the link's on the right...]