Monday, August 15, 2005

Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2005

Below are some photos from Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2005. Tom and I wanted to see Uiscedwr perform, so we decided to take in all three days of this festival, which neither of us had previously heard of.

Apparently it has been going for 25 years on the second weekend of August in the small village of Cropredy, just north of Banbury. It's previous claim to fame was to be the site of the Battle of Cropredy Bridge in 1644, during the Civil War. The festival now attracts considerably more people than would have been present for that battle.

Our campsite was actually in the field adjoining the River Cherwell where the battle took place. Along with seven other fields, it was temporarily home to a gathering of 20,000 (yes, twenty thousand) people, young and old, and all intent on having a good musical time.

For those of you interested, the line-up included a whole range of diverse musical styles, from the traditional mandolin and guitar music of Hilary James and Simon Mayor, through Jah Wobble's bass and drum reinterpretation of traditional folk tunes, to Country Joe McDonald and his band (of Woodstock and the "Fish Cheer" fame). There were new solo singers like Edwina Hayes, old ones like Bob Fox, musically talented yet amusing sets by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and Richard Digance, old hippy rock from the Muffin Men (performing music by Frank Zappa, and featuring the vocalist from the Mothers of Invention), Beth Nielsen Chapman, Richard Thompson, and of course Fairport Convention themselves. But Tom and my personal favourites were, of course, Uiscedwr.

The weather wasn't brilliant on the final day, but nevertheless we enjoyed it. And three nights under canvas, showers in the local sports pavillion, and communal temporary toilets couldn't put a dampener on proceedings.

All in all a great long weekend, in John and Coral's congenial company, and a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Who knew such a large but little-known festival was going on year after year in the middle of rural Oxfordshire? Apart from the other 19,996 people who all seemed to be long-standing regulars, if their singing of Fairport's finale, "Meet on the Ledge" is anything to go by!

I spent most of my photograpy time on Uiscedwr, but there were other bands! Here are T @ LaTouche, laying down some heavy reggae beats. Posted by Picasa

A serious clown. He spent much of the time wandering the field, trying to text or make phone calls on his carrot. Much to everyone's amusement. Here he seems to be taking a serious view of Uiscedwr's performance! Posted by Picasa

Bob Fox, compere, folk singer and all-round good Northern bloke performing a song between sets. Posted by Picasa

Anna and Cormac creating interesting Spanish-inflected rythms during their encore. Posted by Picasa

Anna Esslemont in a serious mood, but playing beautifully. Posted by Picasa

Cormac Byrne, founder member and ace percussionist with Uiscedwr, beating out a driving rythm on the bodhran. You would not believe (without hearing and seeing him) the musicality he extracts from this (and other) percussion instruments. A graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music (where he and Anna met), he is one unassuming but highly gifted musician. Posted by Picasa

Anna Esslemont, founder member, violinist, singer and front person for Uiscedwr, belting out the opening number of their set. Posted by Picasa

Mr Kevin Dempsey, newest (and oldest) member of my favourite folk three-piece, Uiscedwr. He was delighted to recall that this was his umpteenth appearance at the Fairport Cropredy Convention, that some 20 years ago he had appeared when his young son was in the audience, and today he was appearing with his grandson in the audience. Posted by Picasa

Some typical festival fashions! Posted by Picasa

View over the performance field towards the stage. The fields in the middle to far distance are the overspill camping fields, absolutely crammed with tents, campers and caravans. Some 20,000 fans attended. Posted by Picasa

The happy (if wet) couple sitting next to us through Saturday's session. Posted by Picasa

John B enjoys the show. The guy in front was just embarking on a lengthy drinking binge, which lasted many hours, and culminated in him dancing wildly to Fairport's closing set. Posted by Picasa

Happy (if wet) young festival-goers. Posted by Picasa

Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2005 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Stokesay Castle

The Gatehouse and main tower, Stokesay Castle, Shropshire Posted by Picasa

Flower in the garden of Stokesay Castle, Shropshire Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Shropshire Walk

For the last few days of July and the first couple of August, Judith and I went on a walking holiday in the Shropshire hills, organised by Contours Walking Holidays . We picked the holiday because the walking didn't seem too strenuous, with average distances about 10 miles a day. It was rather more 'up and down' than we had anticipated though, so we got a good work-out!
Shropshire, which neither of us have visited before, is a beautiful and relatively quiet area - in five days of walking the Shropshire Way we met two other people!
Bishops Castle was one of the stops along the route. It has two brew-pubs; our favourite was the Three Tuns at the top of the High Street.
The walk included a visit to Bury Ditches, an Iron Age hill fort, with spectacular views over the surrounding countryside. I loved the place, and the quiet.

This is a whinberry (I think) on the Devils Chair, Stiperstones, Shropshire. Posted by Picasa

On Linley Hill (2)

On Linley Hill (2)
Originally uploaded by rowteight.
Despite being the end of July, the atmosphere on Linley Hill was moody, and inspired these photos. We'd just finished our sandwiches, and a shepherd had just driven by on a quad-bike, checking how many (if any) of his sheep had died. He commented that a sheep's daily ambition is to die, and a shepherd's is to make sure they die on the right day....

On Linley Hill

On Linley Hill
Originally uploaded by rowteight.
Taken on our walking holiday through Shropshire. See the separate post for more on the walk.

Black-faced sheep on Linley Hill

Here are the sheep which the shepherd was checking upon. All appeared to be living.