Today, is going to be a long but exciting day, Neil and I are taking part in the charity walk for the Love Hope and Strength Foundation, it may be the shorter route of 6 miles rather then 20 miles, but there are good reasons!!!
We left quite early and had a good drive to Avebury, just got a bit confusing where exactly it was, where to park, where to go……nobody seems to know too much.
We decided to leave the car near the Festival site and pre-booked a taxi to the meeting point of the 6 mile walkers. The taxi driver was very friendly but didn’t have a clue where he was going, at some point we drove up this dirt track, all I can say, I’m glad it wasn’t my car. After a wild goose chase we finally got dropped off at the meeting point, a few people hanging around, nobody seems to know where what is happening so we just joined in and waited.
Eventually a couple of girls arrive, they give out our lanyards which will let us into the festival. We are told that the 20 mile walkers are a little behind and that we should make our way up to Adam’s Grave, the iron age hill fort overlooking Alton Barnes and its white horse, where we would wait for the other walkers to arrive, have a little musical entertainment and walk the rest together. Breath taking views from there and a crop circle to our feet, bonus. Shame it started to rain and being at the top it was blowing a cold strong wind. And we waited and waited, an hour and half later Neil and I decided to go ahead, a couple of seasoned walkers had left a little while earlier and we decided to follow in their steps and hope we arrive back at the festival site. It was a lovely walk, it took us 2.5 hours, Neil did very well and had well and truly earned all the sponsor money. We arrived back at Avebury, desperate for a cup of coffee and a sit down.
We found a space among the wet, tired walkers and we got talking to a Scottish guy, he plays in a band called Credo, another band to look out for :-), he told us that Mike Peters won’t actually play tonight as he has to be somewhere else, just a touch disappointing!!! 😦
While we were sitting there I also heard the quote of the day ” I fancy a walk”, that was so funny coming from a girl wet and covered in mud….hehehhehehe, you needed to be there!
I went inside the little hut to get more coffee, The lady who took my money told me that the young man standing by the door was Avebury’s very own Rock Star
George Wilding, he opened last years event too.
It was time to find a spot from where we would be watching the concert, people were already scattered, sitting on chairs or waterproof rugs, umbrellas up to create a shelter as the rain just wouldn’t stop. It was that drizzly rain that soaks you in minutes without you noticing. We stood near stage right, it was only a tiny stage, and the barriers were made of hay bales. Children togged up in waterproofs and wellies were running around climbing onto the hay bales, the atmosphere was pretty chilled. One reveller had even found alternative rain protection for his head, a huge great big leaf, seems to fit into the whole theme.
Finally George took to the stage, introduced by Nick Harper, the man behind the idea, who thanked everyone for participating and raising money.
George did well, first he appeared really nervous but soon settled into performing his songs, a lovely voice and a great start to the evening. Let’s just dance in the rain.
Swans In Flight next, I read that as a band they produce a great rock sound, but today we only had one Swan doing an acoustic set. To be completely honest, I found it very boring, it just didn’t do anything for me :-(.
Nick Harper arrived on stage again once he had finished waving an England football t-shirt which was signed by……sorry I can’t remember, water on the brain I think (still dark heavy skies and rain). Anyway the shirt was the price for the highest bidder in an auction, all to raise more money for today’s chosen charity: The Prospect Hospice and CALM.
The third band on was The Jess Hall Band, I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this band very much, it is the female voices I struggle with and although they did a great performance it wasn’t for me and therefor didn’t stay in my mind. Sorry guys.
At one point when I was just looking around I thought I spotted Mike Peters, but it couldn’t be, he wasn’t coming, still I kept looking into the direction of the tea & cake tent, I decided to take a photo zooming in as far as I could. Yes, I was right, it was Mike, I told Neil and we decided to go and say hello. We went over and waited for a moment as Mike was talking to someone, eventually I grabbed the chance to get his attention. I introduced myself and Neil, took a couple of mug shots, a quick chat and we left him alone. Mike told us that he will play today after all, even though he only just flew in from New York this morning and raced down here from Manchester. He pointed at a young kid saying proudly that it is his son and that the kids love this event. We walked away pleased to have been able to catch up with Mike, but, we were pretty sure he had no idea who we actually were (which was confirmed in an email sent to Neil later on).
We went back to the stage and luckily found our spot waiting for us, just in time to see Nick Harper, the Marlborough singer/songwriter, taking the stage. He is funny and confident, his lyrics are most appealing, his exuberant energy lets you forget all about the dark skies and rain drops. Jon Leveller appeared in front of the stage, getting Nick’s attention: “can I have my coat back please”,so he gave it back mid set and nobody minded, everything was just taken in good spirits, like the young man behind us who obviously had plenty to drink and decided to more or less strip off and dance in the rain. Or the children jumping up and down the hay bales in front of the stage even though people were performing. Nick also decided to brave the rain and used the hay bales as a catwalk!
Next it was Cy Curnin and Jamie West-Oram of The Fixx who had both completed the 20 mile walk, including giving a little musical interlude on the way. The Fixx of course had many hits across the USA and are still very much active. Both of them are very passionate to fund raise money for the Love Hope and Strength Foundation, I love Cy’s voice, it’s totally drawing me in. I especially love the song “Remember me”, the lyrics are very sad but beautiful. Meanwhile their new album “Beautiful Friction” has been released, and I really think people should listen to it, I love it!
You could actually feel the excitement growing in the crowd with every Band/Singer taking the stage, it could of course be the alcohol, or the rain, but I believe it to be pure joy to be able to witness amazing musicians giving their all to this good cause. Cy for instance left his family behind in France and drove up from the Loire to be able to take part in the walk and performances.
Now it’s time for the one and only Mike Peters, member of The Alarm and Big Country of course, one of the founding members of the Love Hope and Strength Foundation due to his own health problems, having had Leukaemia not only once but twice, and has beaten it both times, what a great person to give hope to others. Mike will always help as much as he can, just ask Neil how kind he has been to him.
Mike takes the stage to do an acoustic set, thank everyone who turned up despite the rain, doing the walk and raising money. He invites Nick Harper onto the stage and they jam together, in front of the stage rather then behind. Their enthusiasm is contagious, the irony was not lost when he sang “Rain in the Summer Time”, everybody joined in to “In a Big Country”. Mike invited Cy and Jamie back on stage, took his microphone onto the hay bales and introduced his “NEW” three backing singers, it’s brilliant to see how much fun they are actually having! “Sixty Eight Guns” saw all of the audience join in, shouting the chorus at the top of our voices, leaving us charged with energy and the so called feel good vibe. What an amazing performance Mike, Cy, Jamie and Nick gave us, Neil and I for one are very happy to be able to take part in today’s events.
The rain decided to let off a little bit in time for The Levellers, who travelled overnight from Belgium to be here. More people seemed to have arrived now and pushing as near as possible to the front, children are lifted on shoulders or pushed through to sit on the hay bales. Next to me is a rather over excited girl, jumping up and down before the music even started. She apologises saying ” I’m loud and I don’t care” ” I’m from Bimingham /Reddich and we are like that” It really doesn’t matter as she is not rude or pushy, just excited. She is trying to chat up the camera man to possibly get a tiny bit nearer to The Levellers, it’s not working though. Finally the band comes on, a roar of cheers and appreciative screams ripple through the audience.
Surprisingly all the band members are actually sitting on the tiny stage rather then standing, but once the music started nothing matters anymore, what a great sound! Never mind being damp and cold, achy blistery feet, back ache from standing a long time……this is just amazing. Songs like “What a Beautiful Day” fill the air with folk rhythms, carry them across the field, a didgeridoo accompanies a couple of other songs, I’m sorry I’m not sure which ones they were as I’m not very familiar with their music…YET!!!!! The atmosphere seems to escalate as their set went on, finishing 20 minutes over their time, finishing with the song “The Recruiting Sergeant” and a crowed showing off their pogoing skills, loads of screaming and clapping, begging for more, but no, it’s all over, what a day!
Exhausted we make our way to the car, peeling off wet coats and muddy boots. I couldn’t be bothered to play contortionist in the car to get changed, I stripped off ( I don’t think anyone was interested at this point to see a bit of white flesh flashing) and put clean and dry clothes on, bliss!!
In the car, and on our way! Once we reached the motorway it should have been a quick drive home, but alas, no such thing, there was an accident and we came to a complete standstill. About two hours later there was finally some movement, the police had closed the M4 and unravelled the jam from the back, they made us turn around and leave the motorway via the slip road we came down. Finally we were on the way home.
But it was an amazing day, I would like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who sponsored me and Neil, I have raised £151 to date and if you feel generous there is still a chance to donate for another 3 weeks at http://www.justgiving.com/Stefanie-Wareham
Again, thank you all for your support 🙂