Cropredy - Rain, sun, cold, hot, still, windy, the lot! - Just back from the annual Fairport Convention Cropredy festival in the Cherwell valley, Oxfordshire with our friends Stan, Kaz and Dan from Greatstone. A crazy three days of music, beer drinking, eating badly and even crazier weather; on Friday night the temperature dropped to 7C and by midday Saturday it was back up to 25C, and as for the rain...! Despite the mixed weather it was a lot of fun meeting up with old folkie friends from far and wide.
Thursday`s highlights were our favourites, Oysterband, who`ve now recruited two young `uns from the now defunct Bellowhead, followed by Brian Wilson (from Beach Boys fame) and his orchestra who were superb. Friday`s set was a mixed bag with the Barnsley Nightingale, Kate Rusby, having microphone problems and a very low key, almost acoustic set, from the normally fiery Levellers. However, Cregan and Co and The Travelling Band saved the day with outstanding performances that really got the crowd going.
And so to Saturday. Following a cold night in the tent we were in the arena early in bright sunshine for Richard Digance, as ever a real festival pleaser with his mix of anecdotes, jokes and bawdy ballards; plus a real tear-jerker about his home town of Salisbury and the aftermath of the nerve gas incidents. Three bands later Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys had just got the place rocking when the rain came down to dampen spirits through the Afro Celt Sound System set. Anyhow, us festival goers are made of stern stuff and we toughed it out until the legendary Al Stewart hit the stage, probably our all time favourite folkie, and he was on fine form along with Dave Nachmanoff and a guest appearance by Ralph Mctell. Eventually the rain relented and Fairport finished the festival with a massive tribute to the late Sandy Denny. A superb festival in great company with loads of laughs, mostly at Stan`s expense! We`ll be back next year for sure.
Hang on though, isn't this supposed to be a birding blog I hear you say... Well, I did see more Swallows and House Martins over the fields of the Cherwell than I`ve seen all year down here, while Buzzards were regular over the festival site in the afternoon. And on the way home this morning I counted 21 Red Kites through the Stokenchurch cutting on the Chilterns. Normal service will be resumed sometime this week.