Great British Folk Festival 2015

This was held at Butlin's Skegness 4th-6th December.  Lorraine and I were booked in for the 3 nights but as Lorraine was working on Friday until 8.30 pm we decided to drive down to Skegness on the Saturday morning and just have 2 nights there.  The big draw for me was Steeleye Span, but it was also on my bucket list to go to a music festival, and this seemed more civilised than the tents and wellies in rain and mud version.

We set off at 8.30 hoping to arrive about midday - but unfortunately we had a slight navigational error with the Google Map instructions when we came off the M1 and were nearly at Oxford before  realised we were going in the wrong direction.  So we had to retrace our steps some 20 miles back again.  Otherwise it was a hassle-free journey and we arrived about 1.30.  We checked in and found we had been upgraded from a Silver room to a Silver apartment - it was lovely, with a small kitchenette and living room, two bedrooms and a bathroom.  It was on the third floor - in the apex of the roof - and was nicely decorated, clean and cosy.  We were struck by how quiet the camp seemed - there were hardly any people walking around. We did notice that the 3 YX chalets had been converted for disabled use - and had been renamed the Royal Arthur Apartments.  How appropriate given how many years Dad booked YX3 for us!

Coco and the Butterfields
We dumped our stuff and then headed off to Reds where The Legendary Blues Folk were just finishing a set.  They were very good and set a good standard for the rest of the weekend.  We got a drink and settled down to eat humus (homemade by Lorraine) and crisps for lunch.  When that group had finished there was a bit of a lull and some people left, so we went and found good seats slap bang in front of the stage for the next act.  This was Coco and the Butterfields, and they were absolutely amazing - although quite loud and more of a rock band than folk.  The percussion was all provided by a band member using his voice!  Lorraine really enjoyed this band and we bought 3 CDs afterwards.  Lorraine commented about everyone queuing nicely for the CDs - at the festivals she goes to it is much more of a scrum, elbows out etc.  I had noticed earlier that everyone was queuing for the bar in two neat lines, just like the post office or bank!

It was noticeable that nearly all the people attending were 50+ - which made the whole thing very civilised as everyone was so well behaved.  We were also seeing Butlins as we had never seen it before.  There were Christmas lights and decorations everywhere, and there were no children!

The afternoon session in Reds finished at 4 pm - and we then went to the Introducing Stage in the pavillion where they had a succession of bands doing 45 minutes each until 7 pm.  They were of varying quality but very enjoyable to sit and listen to them. There was an opportunity to vote for the one you liked most each day - which would give them a chance of being invited back next year on one of the main stages.  Coco and the Butterfields were on the Introducing Stage last year.

Then we went to find something to eat - and found it was very difficult to get in to the restaurants because everyone had the same idea.  So we booked the Italian one for the following evening, and then went and waited for a table at the Fire House.  The wait wasn't long, and the service was excellent and the food good.  They were very helpful with sourcing and producing vegan-friendly food for Lorraine.  In the evening we went to watch Tom Robinson in Centre Stage - who was brilliant - and then moved on to Reds for Sharon Shannon and Alan Connor who were quite watchable.  We both opted for an early night and I was in bed by 9.45 and fell straight to sleep!

The music didn't start until 1 pm the next day, so I got up quite late and after a shower sat and read my book - I am still ploughing through Jane Hawkin's biography.  Lorraine appeared about midday and we wandered down to the Skyline for some lunch.  We had some really lovely butter bean soup - I don't usually like butter beans but the soup was delicious - and I also had a goats cheese toasted ciabatta.  We went to Centre Stage at 1 pm, climbing up to the upper balcony where we got seats and a man to take our photo, and watched TradArr - who were reasonably good - and then one of the big names "Jacqui McShee’s Pentangle".  I had high hopes of this as I remembered Pentangle from the 60s but it was awful.  She droned away absolutely torturing "She Moved through the Fair" (to the extent that the couple at the table in front of us both nodded off) and then said she was going to slow it down a bit!  At that point we both decided to go and try Reds.  We saw Blazing Fiddles there - a group of 4 fiddlers from the Scottish Highlands whom I thought were brilliant but Lorraine was expecting more variety.  Then it was back to the Introducing Stage for more 45 minute sets before heading off for our Italian restaurant supper at 6.30 pm.

We had a lovely meal - again they were very helpful with the vegan stuff - although the waiter was initially a little irritating with his antics and in fact ended up getting the order (and subsequently the bill) wrong.  I was very nervous about being able to get in to see Steeleye Span - people had been queuing for both the main venues from about 5.30 pm - but as it happened we found seats in the seating area, and there was a free seat in front which gave an excellent view of the stage.  Lorraine very kindly let me have this seat - she had to wait until half way through before she could see properly (when the people in front left).  Steeleye Span were just amazing - and we all sang lustily along to the chorus of All Around My Hat!  I went to bed exceedingly happy - we had both had an absolutely brilliant time and were talking about doing it again next year!

The next morning we drove home - and made yet another navigational error although not quite as long this time - and were doing really well for time until we hit traffic caused by an accident in Hendon which delayed us for about 30 minutes.  Lorraine was keen to get to a works party in the evening so dived off at Hendon Central and got the tube and train to Gatwick.  I finally got in around 3 pm - just in time to walk Suki before it got too dark.  When I got back from that there was a bunch of flowers in the letterbox - and a request from Joyce to type her Christmas newsletter for her.




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