September 1, 2013 by Tess Riley
I walked down Chiswick High Road yesterday and the smell of melons ripening in the sunshine took me instantly back to my childhood summers, when my parents and our hotch-potch family would gather in a forgotten French farmhouse for two weeks of outdoor adventures, Boggle by candlelight (after the inevitable power cuts) and long, lazy lunches, not to mention the lightening storms, mice invasions and the afternoon 6-year-old Tess almost ended her days when she decided to copy her teenage cousin and fling herself running down a steep slope. That’s a story for a different day, however.
The melons yesterday got me thinking. Some of my happiest memories over recent years have been spent with a friend (let’s call her F1) who’s now about to return to her home country of South Africa. I’ve done my best to keep F1 in London – even trying to marry her off. I wasn’t picky, anyone would have done… Just call me Sarah Beeny – but, like a migrating swallow, she’s being drawn back to South Africa by forces out of my control.
In honour of her departure therefore, F1 and I headed off to Green Man Festival a couple of weeks ago, me to review it for Huffington Post, her to soak up the last of the British drizzle before she goes. With glitter in one hand and gin in the other, we were ready for just about anything.
Here’s the Huff Post part of my conclusion:
1. Bear’s Den are spectacular live. If you’ve not yet entered the den, get in soon… and take some honey to keep those beautiful beardy boys sweet.
2. Take two handfuls of musicians, add in a dash of trumpet, mandolin, guitar, harmonica, violin, musical saw, flute and drums, bind with harmonies galore and melodies to get you a hip-hopping around the dance floor and you have yourself the one and only Cocos Lovers.
3. If you find yourself in the Rough Trade tent itching to buy an album, go for experimental indie rock duo Buke and Gase‘s wee number. This quirky Brooklyn pair have an album I can’t possibly name as its front cover is written entirely in code – just the thing to while away the hours while sitting on a grassy knoll.
4. Going ‘full circle’ with Half Moon Run is well worth elbowing yourself to the front of the barriers for.
5. The Jungle Book is perfect for a Sunday morning chillax. You’re in a cinema tent, in a field, drinking coffee and singing about the ‘Bear Necessities’. Enough said.
6. If you want to be transported to new musical heights, go see Mercury nominated Portico Quartet. You think you can imagine hypnotic minimalism, then you hear this East London loveliness and thinking goes out the window.
7. Nuala Honan‘s stage presence is enough in itself to make you fall in love with her before she even starts singing. Then she does. And it’s wonderful.
8. When the hour hits 3am and you’ve been dancing in the Chai Wallah’s tent for several hours non-stop, there’s nothing quite like a bit of tea and cake at the volunteer-run Community Café to restore your energy before returning to the dance floor.
9. In 2011, Ben Howard blew the Walled Garden stage audience away. Only two years later and this Devonshire lad’s doing the same again only this time he’s headlining to 10,000 people in his last performance before he and his band head into hiding to get album number two underway.
10. Green Man always rewards the adventurous. Whether it’s an energetic drum performance in a sunny field, late night capoeira-inspired revelry under the stars, an unsigned band on the Green Man Rising stage or an impromptu jam in the courtyard, you will only benefit from lots of exploration.
What I couldn’t really say in my Huff Post piece however, but which F1 and everyone reading this should know, is that the very best bit of all – having travelled 100s of miles to get there, seen bands we loved, danced the nights away, eaten delicious food and met some amazing musicians – I repeat, the very best bit of all, was the three hours we spent in our tent eating falafels, drinking tea and hanging out. This is what memories are really made of.