Any Port(meirion) in a Storm…

We’d only booked one Festival this year: {No6} in the village of Portmeirion. Built in an Italianate style by Bertram Clough Williams-Ellis over the period from 1954 until 1976, the village is best known as the setting for The Prisoner, a 1960s TV series starring Patrick McGoohan which still has a cult following. It’s compulsory, if anyone mentions The Prisoner, to intone the phrase, “I am not a number; I am a free man” – I can just about remember it from my youth, although it was an ITV programme, a station less popular in our house than the BBC (hence I was a Blue Peter lad, rather than a follower of Magpie…).

In 2016 the Festival had problems with rain, with many cars stuck in the mud at the park and ride, several days after the event had finished. Still, it can’t be that rainy two years in a row, can it? Not even in Wales…

We set off on Thursday afternoon, once Alison had dropped Boris off at the dog boarder’s house. The drive down was quite pleasant, particularly as we left the M6 quite quickly to join the M56 and onwards to coastal North Wales. We stopped for a coffee and a bite to eat, although I avoided this particular offering. How can anyone enjoy Marmite? Far too bitter for me, I’m afraid. Although, I mean no offence to those who like it…

Fiona and Mike, two friends from the campervan world were also going to the Festival and they kindly reserved us a pitch next to them – we soon had our camp set up, despite the threat of worsening weather.

Absinthe, pitched next to the lovely, Patsy

There weren’t any bands booked for Thursday evening, so it was an opportunity to explore the village before the crowds arrived – the sun made an appearance and the place looked great.

We had a lie-in on Friday morning before heading down to the festival site for some food, and another explore.We bumped into Mike and Fiona in the real ale bar and enjoyed a couple of beers with them, whilst we watched a Welsh language lesson and then a Northern Soul dance class, which had Alison wearing her dancing shoes.

Not a bad backdrop

Northern Soul

The food stalls at Festivals are great, as was the Sipsmiths Gin Bar – it would have been rude not to have a taste.

You can take the boy out of Wigan…

“How much? You’re having a laugh”

One of Alison’s fav DJs: Mr Scruff

Alison had an unfortunate experience in the afternoon. It’s that time of year when wasp workers have been made redundant, and like all young adolescents with nothing better to do, they start to make trouble. We’d been fending them off down by the pool, so we headed towards the Central Piazza only for one to crawl behind Alison’s glasses and sting her twice near her good eye. We had to go back to the Village Green camping area to the Medical tent where they applied some cream and gave her some painkillers. It looked very painful and she was suffering for quite a few hours afterwards.

I’d love to turn one of these into a Campervan

In the evening, we caught Charlotte Church doing her Late Night Dungeon set in the The Grand Pavillion – the tent was packed and she put on a great show, with loads of covers and using her brilliant voice to belt out some powerful tunes.

Charlotte Church in the distance…

Later we headed over to the Castell Gardens stage to see Steve Davis and his friend, Kavus Torabi, do a DJ set. Yes, THAT Steve Davis of snooker fame. It was a bit too experimental/psychedelic for us and, to be honest, Steve looked a bit out of his comfort zone.

We wandered down to the Village and saw the Brythoniaid Welsh Male Voice Choir perform – they did some traditional numbers as well as Elbow and Rag’n’Bone Man covers – their version of One Day Like This may have caused a few tears to run down at least one sentimental old man’s cheek…

 

As the choir finished, the torchlight parade went by – looking stunning in such a great setting.

On Friday night the heavens opened and we didn’t get too much sleep as the canopy and windbreak were flapping all night. The rain continued into Saturday morning, with the ground in the campervan field getting more and more soaked. At 3pm we took the view that we’d head home. We’re off to Provence on Wednesday and we didn’t want to risk getting stuck in the field – a shame that we left, but it seemed like the sensible thing to do. The bands left on Saturday weren’t our favourites (although we would have enjoyed Public Service Broadcasting). If I’m honest we were a bit underwhelmed by the line ups – maybe we’re getting too old for mainstream Festivals – I think we’ll head back to Larmer Tree again next year.

Here’s a few more photos from our trip:

Always good to see Uncle Joe’s on sale

 

THINGS WE’VE LEARNED:

It’s best to check your gas bottle before setting off, particularly if there’s no electric hook up (thanks to F & M for hot water for a brew on Saturday morning)

It really can rain a lot in Wales

As soon as you decide to leave, the sun will come out

Hot showers will only be hot if the organisers remember to attached the gas bottles to the showers

Portmeirion is a magical place

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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