What Jessie Did Next...

...being the inane ramblings of a mundane Yorkshire bird.

Tag: festivals

Right, so there’s this pub which isn’t exactly on the way to anywhere (unless you’re going to the Double Two factory shop). Used to be The Jolly Sailor in Thornes, but more recently became a bit of a restaurant-pub called The Wharfside. They’d put out a shout for bands to play at a one-day free music festival: Obvious Pseudonym put ourselves forward as did The Tracks. Time passed, we heard nothing, eventually with a fortnight to go Dorian and Faye (keys and bass players in The Tracks) headed down there to see what’s going on: they discovered from landlady Vicky there was no PA and no marquee and no lighting and… well, it could be disastrous. So we got involved…

Really it was all a bit ‘Challenge Anneka’: build a decent-sounding PA using kit I’d got in the garage, get the lighting rig down there, borrow a van, and work out how to use the digital desk with a full band. Dorian and Faye did the street-team thing with posters, and we put out calls for more acts to perform. In the end though it sounded and looked ace – definite proof to myself (if nobody else) that I can do it.

So came the day: I disappeared off at 8:30am to pick up the van, diverting via St Michaels to pick up Dorian and Mac (The Tracks’ drummer) who are both young lads with muscles. We loaded the van with every bit of kit under the sun (it just fit) and headed to Wharfside to find Graham and Harry of StagePro sitting outside waiting to unload the drum riser we’d hired. A bit of huffing and puffing later, we’d got all the tables out of the way and the riser was in place. Next up: the marquee.

Now, this damn marquee wasn’t in the best of nick – it had obviously been used a lot and the plastic poles were cracking from stresses unknown (presumably in the course of its life at Diamond Studios, who’d kindly lent it to us). Mix in the complication that it was so windy getting it erected was going to be a bit of a mad job! It took six of us to get it upright at which point it became evident something was wrong as the wind was whipping it up far too much (“it’s going to end up flying across the Calder!”) and no amount of of gaffer tape was going to fix it. Fearing a Pukkelpop moment, Vicky and I passed the buck between us on whether we’d have the marquee at all. Then…
     “‘ang on, this isn’t right…” opined John J, who’d turned up mid-erection (fnar).
     I stared, trying to work out why the guyropes were on the inside. “Er. Oh. The roof’s on upside down, it’s meant to fasten up.”
     “Right. Let’s flip it over, might work, and if not then we do without it!”
It was a bit more stable after that!

I built up the PA using amplifiers I’ve had kicking around for ages and various other bits of stuff, all lashed together to a programmable digital remote desk FOH where I could also control the lighting rig. I had the usual bits of EQ and had a discussion with a few folks to try and get the best mix. Consensus was that it sounded excellent, and we’d easily packed enough power for the event. Maybe if anything it was a bit mid-heavy at the sides of the venue but you can’t have everything can you.

So to recap, 3pm: marquee’s up, PA is in place (7KW of stuff with an exceptionally heavy amp cab and borrowed tops from OP’s bloke Pete), lighting rig is in one piece and working, we’re surviving the onslaught of quips from volunteer Chris and there have been no disasters yet. Hooray! We soundcheck with The Tracks, who are the first full band and due to hit the stage four hours later at 7pm.

First act was up: Dorian and Tom doing an acoustic set, 20 minutes of songs to get things going. I wasn’t expecting it to be busy at all until about 6pm although the beer garden started to fill up once the music began. Sound was good, a couple of tweaks on the EQ but nothing serious. Nicky arrived and started taking photos, so it was documented – excellent! At this point Chris grabbed me and pointed at the left sub speaker which was lying on the floor having been blown out from its cabinet by the sheer air pressure involved in moving a 1KW high-end Celestion 15″ driver. Oopsie, I guess building a new cab for those is on my job list this week!

Callum Macintyre next: one mic, one guitar. He was excellent, no disasters, place is filling up nicely. I looked across to see Rob Dee (Philophobia music boss) had arrived with Mike Ainsley and Harry Rhodes ready for their slot, plenty of friends milling around and other luminaries from the Wakefield music scene. We were running to time – maybe slightly ahead of it, good. I rigged and line-checked for a duo called ReaderMeetAuthor who announced this was their first gig and they’d only formed as a band three hours ago: cue epic muddling through some covers, but it sounded OK (Mathieu’s other band The Ran Tan Waltz is a lot more polished and I recommend a listen). Nice to see Jon Pinder and John Jowett photographing lots.

Almost 6pm: level-check for The Cullens and they’re on. I see Danny Cullen in town quite a bit (especially at Open Mic Monday) but I don’t think I’ve actually concentrated on their sound before which was wonderfully polished, and by this point we’d got some folks dancing. The beer-garden was full, and looking across towards the river there were people lying on the verges in what Summer sun was shining, having a beer and enjoying the afternoon. Taxis arrived ferrying new listeners, still no disasters and still no rain despite it being forecast for around 5pm. As we were a little ahead of time, the Cullens got a couple of extra songs: sound-man’s privilege 😉

Mike Ainsley was up next, together with Tim and Harry from St Gregory Orange. They insisted on sitting down and we couldn’t find any chairs or stools so we pulled up a few unused guitar amps – very rustic. No major adjustments on the desk, maybe a little bit of EQ on Harry’s guitar. A really rather splendid set from Mike (another act I’d been remiss in not listening to previously) and that was our acoustic acts done! I spotted various OP followers in the audience including Jayne and Bez, and felt a little buzz of pride that they’d come down to the out-of-town venue to see it all.

The Tracks were on at 7:15pm and I was all-on to get the sound right so didn’t stray far from the FOH post. They’ve got lots of dynamics in each song with thrashy crashy guitars followed by quiet thoughtful passages, full drum kit mike-up and all 12 XLR channels on the sound desk which lit up like a Christmas tree. Lots of dancing, two scruffy old blokes have shinned the fence and are trying to get people to buy them beer, and some nutter in the audience has got hold of a tambourine. Tom’s face is a picture. Good reception and an encore was demanded: the band did not disappoint their fans!

All of Obvious Pseudonym were present and accounted for by now, so while The Tracks got their stuff offstage we loaded ours in and tarped it at the side. Still no rain although there were a couple of reports of it spitting a little. Nothing blew up: always the important thing. Meantime the next act (“I R Hero”) set up with a little bit of a problem in that the drummer only had one working arm and needed an extra snare mic for his kick-snare. No problems I guess, especially since they’d initially asked for a 10-mic setup on the drums – er, no chance boys…!

I R Hero launched into their rock-pop-punk set, but no sign of the snare kick on the sound-desk… I sent Dorian up to investigate but we ended up replacing the mic. It was still a bit touch-and-go with the monitor mix not being brilliant, but again the sound out front was ace. I left to find a pint of Guinness, and came back just as the drummer resigned from the band. A bloke in the crowd stepped up and drummed on their last song… the drummer wasn’t seen again.

9pm, we were running to time, nothing destroyed, no disasters, no rain; I bravely ventured an opinion that the whole thing seemed to be going OK. Vicky glared at me: don’t jinx it sunshine. We plonked Obvious Pseudonym’s stuff on stage and I set up the keys on the drum riser so I had a little stage of my own, woo! Dorian familiarised himself with the desk to do our sound. I admitted to myself I was nervous, this was the first time I’d trusted someone at the controls who wasn’t a professional sound engineer or music technician: be strong, lad!

We went on at 9:20pm, five minutes late, bouncing into Westgate Run and doing the Summer set we’d mostly done for the past four weeks on our International Tour Of Wakefield with one notable exception: Eclipsed had been replaced by the new song Dad Dancing. People danced, genuinely and ironically. It sounded good from where I was, and we got some excellent comments: one couple even came across from the flats over the Calder to see us after hearing what we were like. New fans!

We came off around 10pm and by midnight everything was back in the van. Nicky and Jayne were dispatched to find curry and I sat in the bar with a (fresh) pint of Guinness (after not getting around to drinking the last one). Still no disasters, still no rain, and we’d managed to put on our first full festival; thoughts of next year pervaded through the exhaustion as Dorian, Jim, Faye and I came down off the ceiling. Pretty damn good for amateurs and the sound was ace, I just hope the desk recording is as good: I’ll find out later. Uberthanks to the people who helped by lugging, lifting, erecting, removing and all that stuff including Chris, John, Jim, Nicky, Ben, Carl, Tom, Rob and Mac. You guys were ace and made the job so much easier; I’m exceptionally proud of what we achieved.

…now, I’m off to unload the van and collect the drum riser!

Another year, another Clarence: Wakefield Music Collective’s almost-annual jaunt down to Clarence Park Bandstand for fun, japery and a big pile of bands, all cemented together by a crowd sat in the sun on The Hill lubricated by alcohol.

Whereas in previous years I’ve been on the periphery, this year I was a little more involved. I say ‘a little more’ as the Collective organisational meetings take place on Wednesdays which is notorious for being booked up with other stuff (mostly for Nicky which means I need to source a babysitter). However I did get tasked with putting together the poster, programme and branding which considering I’m not a designer didn’t come out half bad: you can get a PDF of it by clicking here, brought up to date with the stand-in bands.

Load of acts playing (including us, but I’ll come to that in a mo) and those I was really impressed with included acoustic lass Hannah Atkins who looped together herself playing guitar, keyboard and violin to build up entire accompaniments live; I’ve coveted a loopstation of some sort for a while but I don’t think I have the talent to bring it off (at least not multitimbral talent!) and I’m always impressed when I see someone using one competently. I also quite liked Diamond Dac’s Delta blues guitar and dobro work, very relaxing for Sunday. The real highlight of my weekend though was Lorenza Woods, a female-fronted rock group which borrowed bits of Rage Against The Machine, Cannibal Corpse and other similar genres to build up some really angry screamy rock interspersed with quiet sweet sections; they’re a Wakefield band so I think I’ll try and catch them again sometime.

We played, sans Dan on guitar cos he was on holiday. This wasn’t planned at all – we were asked to play only a few days before and thankfully we’ve got a pile of gigs coming up so have a playable set (without Dad Dancing, you’ll have to wait for that one): it went well really, a lot better than I expected especially when the backing/drum machine crashed off the table towards the end of Sex Noises and left us without percussion. Oops. We carried on as if nothing had happened and ended with an acoustic take on it – a definite tribute to Pete keeping the rhythm going on the bass! I’m not sure many people noticed. Jon Pinder has some photos here (et seq.). I am also extremely proud to announce that Obvious Pseudonym were the first act this year to knock a tile off the bandstand roof with the sound; this is becoming an annual challenge, and were it not for the netting in place the tile would have ended up embedded in John J’s head. Again, oops. Oh and we were the first act where the sub-bass rattled the hill: according to Marci you could feel it through the ground – yay!

One thing I was really impressed with was sound engineers Middi and Tom using the iPad to remote-engineer from halfway up the hill; I spent ten minutes watching Middi twiddling EQ and all sorts of things during The Greeting Committee’s set, remote-controlling the desk on-stage where Tom was keeping an eye. It’s a great way of keeping the budgets down and negates the use of a front-of-house tower. Still, it’d be nice to have a delay tower next year 😉

So, yeah, it went well. Clarence is a lot easier these days with the absence of the second big stage and the addition of the security stuff at the bandstand – it means that at the end of Saturday it can all be securely stowed and we don’t need to have a large security presence on-site. That said we did have some security issues still overnight, but mostly due to pissed-up kids coming back from town and seeing if there was anything left in the beer tent. There wasn’t, of course… but it’s still a pain in the arse. Lots of people came to watch, and I think that it’s still a success despite being a shadow of its former (Council-funded) self. Damn you, austerity measures.

(ps. I wasn’t going to mention it but I got stung by a wasp, and it bloody hurt. Ended up pulling the sting out with my leatherman. Ouchie. I may or may not have mentioned it over the weekend.)

Recently I blogged about Long Division Festival 2011, which took place a couple of weekends ago.

In short, it was utterly mindblowing and Wakefield did us proud (for the most part but we’ll get to that later). Six venues were involved on Saturday: Mustang Sally’s, The Hop, The Graziers, Wakefield Cathedral, Wakefield Town Hall and Henry Boon’s; you needed a wristband to get into each one, which involved forking out the pithy sum of £12 to see 40 acts throughout the day and evening. A phenomenal bargain when you consider some of the acts playing – hell, The Wedding Present would charge that for a single gig. It was all the brainchild of local fanzine editor Dean Freeman and local promoter Chris Morse (aka Morsey), both familiar faces on the scene and both of whom I enjoy a pint with occasionally.

For my initial involvement I’d volunteered to do photography together with a small team of friends – John J, Nicky and Laurie Cooper-Murray (of StageZero photography). Morsey knew I’d lit the Cathedral for the Dr Feelgood gig last year and asked if I’d do the same again for the acts there – no problem, but a few days before the festival started he also asked if I’d got a rig for the Town Hall too. Um, OK, in for a penny and all that 😛

So Saturday came: the first job was rigging up the Town Hall. I got there with Ellie at about 9:30am to find nobody around and the stage in bits… turns out everyone was already running a little bit late! Middy, Harry and the StagePro chaps (who were doing sound for all the venues) showed up presently and I lent a hand lugging stuff around before I had to disappear to deliver Ellie to orchestra practice. Home for a quick shower and change of shirt and I’m off in with the camera kit to get started, calling at The Hop to pick up a press pass and my yellow Long Division t-shirt (photo courtesy of John J).

First band I saw was Blood Oranges, catchy indie-pop up at the Town Hall. Nice guys, very enjoyable and I was pleasantly surprised how many people were there from the start – the Kingswood Suite was almost full already and some foot-tapping going on. Good one. This also gave me a chance to get the lighting right and take the first photos of the day in a non-stressful atmosphere. Earplugs in and off we go!

I figured I should get used to the headline venue, Mustang Sally’s, so strolled down there to catch The Finnlys – again, jangly guitar indie but I find it hard to take a band seriously when the lead singer looks like Roy out of The IT Crowd. The red saturation in the venue was horrendous (quite probably the worst conditions in which I’ve found myself shooting) and we’d already had a stipulation of ‘no flash’ – I did try a couple early on to see what it’d be like but really it was absolutely awful.

The next band on my list was Dinosaur Pile Up. Last time these guys were on at The Hop, John had photographed them and said they were loud – bizarrely this time round they were quieter! This was a distinction which didn’t carry through the rest of the bands upstairs at The Hop: despite sound engineer Tom’s efforts the new PA rig is just a bit too loud for that small room I think. Some work needed.

Once I’d got enough shots there I wandered down to the Graziers (stopping in at the Bull & Fairhouse en-route for a sneaky half-pint with Lisa the landlady). I’ve not photographed down there before and was surprised to find a full stage although there was no lighting which reduced me to the sole gig where I had to resort to flashgun. On-stage was Standaloft, a young rapper beatboxing various comedic songs (and some not so comedic) along to a backing on an iPod. I was pretty impressed actually, not usually my cup of tea but songs which wouldn’t be out-of-place in Joel Veitch‘s repertoire.

A stroll back down to catch my only act at Henry Boon’s: a lass called Clemence Freschard backed by various members of David Tattersall’s band The Wave Pictures. It was packed in there and very little air circulation but I stayed long enough to grab some shots and listen to her singing. Very pleasant stuff, made even more pleasant by the French accent (via Berlin, apparently) – I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. Both Laurie and I didn’t last in there cramped in a corner and disappeared off to the bar to find a quiet half-pint – how the heck Nicky managed to do the whole set of The Wave Pictures themselves I don’t know.

The Wind-Up Birds weren’t on the Long Division band page so I was largely in the dark regarding their style when they hit the stage up at Mustang’s. Not too shabby, quite similar in style to the Cardiacs (the lead singer bore more than a passing resemblance to Cardiacs frontman Tim Smith) and they played an extended set as the subsequent act had pulled out.

I left in time to get up to the Town Hall for one of the bands I definitely didn’t want to miss: Fonda 500. Both John and I had been seriously impressed with this lot when they visited The Hop earlier in the year and we expected a treat. Unfortunately, although the band went through the motions I don’t think the lead singer really wanted to be there and seemed out of sorts consistently stating that ‘this might be our last song’ after the first couple. Boo. Don’t let this minor aberration stop you from seeing them in the future though!

It was at this point I’d got it noted down to go to the Cathedral and set the lighting up for Emmy The Great. Lots of folks told me to try and catch her, and I was fortunate to find the band were soundchecking when I arrived. As I cabled the lights around them I got my own little show which was lovely and I resolved to go back later on and catch at least some of her set. A wander back up Westgate via Subway for a hurried tea, getting goosed by Rachel of Chat Noir who was on a hunt for cheap vodka.

The next ‘must-see’ was Darwin Deez. Pete Fabs (he of Obvious Pseudonym) told me of their stage antics, and they really did not disappoint: choreographed dance moves between toe-tapping bittersweet songs, and the venue was packed out for it. Photogenic guy, I stopped for the entire set and bought the album on my way out: not the first Amazon 1-click iPhone order of the day, certainly not the last.

Back to the Town Hall for I Like Trains. I was still a bit worried about the lighting rig falling over as it was wobbling a bit, but this particular band were somewhat gentler. There wasn’t much illumination to the front of the stage by now owing to closed curtains and some fading light but a few fisheye shots were squeezed out and then dashed back to Mustangs to catch Piskie Sits.

Well that was the plan anyway. I got there to see Harry and co soundchecking but was distracted by Morsey waving frantically from the other end of the stage to check my phone which read “urgent sarah needs photos at hop quick”. I made a swift exit and dashed across Westgate narrowly avoiding the Saturday traffic where landlord Ian Fisher was waiting for me, “the sponsor for upstairs needs photos, it’s a condition of the sponsorship, it’s rammed up there though…” – hardly surprising since the next act was Los Campesinos! and even I’ve heard of them.

The thought process went something like this: “250 people, I reckon, all squished into a room which wasn’t designed for 250 people. Hardly any aircon, windows wide open. I look across the venue to where I need to stand, co-photographer Jon Pinder has chosen the easy corner near the door and I need to get to the other side. Urgh. Right. Excuse me please mate, can I just get thr… what the f…” I felt myself being bodily lifted up, camera kit and all, raised aloft on a sea of wristbanded hands. It’s years since I last crowdsurfed and at the age of 37 I wasn’t really prepared to do it again. Too bad, the only thing going through my mind was “Er, crap, there’s a wide open window coming towards me, and we’re on the first floor!” – so I nosedived, landed head-first on the aluminium crowdbarrier and almost hoofed the poor teenager behind me in her mush with my boot. But there I was – I grabbed the required crowd photos plus some of Los Campesinos! themselves and reversed the process to get to the door (which was, mercifully, a lot easier).

At that point I’d guess it was around 8:30pm. The Piskies were still on at Mustangs but I had a stinker of a headache by that point, almost a migraine. I wandered outside The Hop and bumped into Dean (Freeman) who commented I didn’t look too well, but I needed to man up and get the Piskies on their largest stage gig. Back at Mustangs the lighting hadn’t improved but there were quite a few folks watching the band, mostly stragglers from the Darwins set or who had arrived early for The Wedding Present. Long-standing drinking buddy Bez had arrived by then and bought me a beer which did nothing to improve the migraine situation but rehydrated me enough to get the shots I needed in the final two songs of their set.

A wander back to the Cathedral to listen to some of Emmy The Great with Laurie. Both Nicky and John were already there: I’d missed a lot of the set plus this migraine was really kicking in by now. Laurie had suggested I chug a can of full-fat Coke and some ibuprofen which seemed to do the trick at least temporarily: I soaked in the beautiful sounds in the Cathedral while dumping off some photos onto the netbook hard disk as I’d run out of CF (or at least the non-Kingston CF, and remember the last time I used those). Some quiet long-lens photos of Emmy, some relaxation, and then I was raring to go again.

Headliners The Wedding Present were trumpeted, not least because it was their first visit to Wakefield in 20 years. I arrived at Mustangs after the set had started and annoyingly I’d already missed my favourite Weddos song ‘Kennedy’. The sound wasn’t fantastic but quite literally the joint was jumping – too much in fact and the bouncers kicked off at the poor punters. While bearing in mind that the bouncers are usually used to a raucous Saturday night Wakefield crowd they were completely out of order – any exuberant pogoing and you got ejected out the back door with a few well-aimed punches from the door-staff at the same time. Very very sad and put a damper on what was otherwise a fantastic day. For my part I was right above where the bouncers were kicking off and managed to get a couple of photos of the ruckus but nothing useful. The gig was stopped while the bouncers were ejected from the premises – I mean, it must be bad for the security staff to get thrown out of the gig they’re meant to be policing!

After all of that, Gedge and co went back on, I took lots more photos, it was pretty good, and once they’d finished I went back outside to find Saturday-night Westgate in its typical unsurprising state of pissed-up perma-tan tarts and Ben Sherman meatheads. A bit of a scene-change. John, Laurie, Jon P, Nicky and I decided it was time for a hard-earned pint and repaired to The Jam Inn (the new chillout bit of The Hop) for a jar of Yorkshire Blonde and a chinwag. Hardcore to the last, Laurie caught Middleman (as they’re “his” band) but I was just too knackered and I’ve seen them before a few times anyway.

So that was my Saturday. We gigged on the Sunday but that was about it – I’d planned some more photos from the Fringe but was just too shattered and I’d got over 20,000 photos to sort through. There’s some good reviews of it all including this one at Sweeping The Nation and Dean’s account of the day from an organiser’s perspective (just in case you think I nicked his idea for this blog, I actually started writing it the day after the festival… best laid plans though, I’ve had a lot of photos to sort and I forgot to take the following Monday off work!).

A selection of photos from the day are being uploaded to my Long Division set on Flickr and there’s some pics from other photographers in the Long Division Flickr Group. Full sets of bands are gradually going up to photos.jml.net as I’m sorting through them. Should be finished in the next few days hopefully.

(A postscript: Monday morning came and a delivery van showed up with a large box of CDs. The moral? Multi-venue festivals and iPhone Amazon 1-click don’t mix. Ouch.)

Day Rover tickets for Nicky and Si – check; KWVR membership renewed – check; KWVR tickets – check; cameras – check… I think this was probably the most organised I’d been in years and to cap it all we’d managed to get the kids babysat so on came two days of lovely lovely freedom up at Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Beer & Music Festival 2009.

We were joined by Si, Nicky’s Dad and his partner Sue, as well as obligatory appearances by Lee, Jerry and Jem. I did note Lee and Jerry’s unhealthy obsession with a loco, and as the night wore on sheer comedy came in the shape of rousing choruses of Cwm Rhondda (I’m pretty sure Lee doesn’t really know the Welsh words – it’s damn close to Klingon): so good the girls refused to even sit in the same carriage as us. Altogether now, Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch…

Music was provided by Fevertrees, The Bluekings and Dr Busker & The Dorset Rats.

Beers, all at Oxenhope shed (aka ‘Festival Bar’) unless noted otherwise:

  1. Goose Eye (Ingrow): ‘Keighley & Worth Valley’ (on-train bar)
  2. Bob’s (Ossett): ‘Pomona’
  3. Goose Eye (Ingrow): ‘Hobgoslin’
  4. Oakham (Peterborough): ‘Bishops Farewell’
  5. Naylor’s (Cross Hills): ‘Standard 4’
  6. Dark Star (Ansty, Sussex): ‘Festival’
  7. Acorn (Barnsley): ‘Yorkshire Pride’
  8. Inveralmond (Perth): ‘Independence’
  9. Mallinsons (Huddersfield): ‘Festival’
  10. Timothy Taylor (Keighley): ‘Golden Best’
  11. Millstone (Mossley, Cheshire): ‘Tiger Rut’
  12. Newby Wyke (Little Bytham, Lincolnshire): ‘HMS Revenge’
  13. Withens: ‘IPA’ (on-train bar)
  14. Old Spot (Cullingworth): ‘Inn-Spired’ (Keighley platform)

And after all that, Nicky and I popped for a curry en route back through Wakefield, getting in at about half past midnight. Hurrah!

Photos are here.

I joined Lee at 19th Doncaster Beer Festival last Saturday, a pretty laid-back afternoon meeting new people and drinking lots of ale. Lovely to see Jerry again, and meet Rachel among others.


  1. Mallinson’s P A H (4.1%)
  2. Great Oakley Wagtail (3.9%)
  3. Grafters Brewer’s Troop (4.1%)
  4. Rudgate Ruby Mild (4.4%)
  5. Captain Cook Slipway (4.2%)
  6. Empire Parliamentary Expenses (3.9%)
  7. Great Gable Brown Tongue (5.2%)
  8. Dark Tribe Admiral Sydney Smith (3.8%)
  9. Idle West Coopers (4.3%)
  10. Old Mill Aviator’s Ale (4.3%)
  11. And finally, Flying Dog Dogtoberfest (5.3%), a German-style seasonal beer from the USA from the continental bar.

To be fair, pickings were sparse when I got there around 3pm – once again it seemed that Doncaster CAMRA didn’t order in enough beer so I had to be guided a bit in my choices by what was still available.

Particularly interesting was spending an hour or so with one of the brewers from Acorn Brewery in Barnsley, who do my favourite session ale ‘Barnsley Bitter’. Congrats to them who won the ‘Mild Of The Festival’ award.

Photos of the event are here.

In what’s now an annual event, it was the Wakefield Festival of Food, Drink and Rhubarb this weekend. Wakefield is of course slap bang on the middle of the Rhubarb Triangle, being the area of West Yorkshire where it’s impossible to get the ruddy stuff out of your garden.

I’d already promised Ellie I would take her since Ben had a party to go to, and I hot-foot it back up the motorway in time for a lunchtime wander. Wakefield’s precinct was full of marquees and tents selling ‘Yorkshire Fare’, nothing much different from the monthly Farmer’s Market but we did enjoy a wander picking up a jar of lime curd for me and some cheese for Ellie. At that point Ellie decided she wanted to wander up to the Cathedral, and read gravestones.

Parenthesis here: Ellie’s doing lots of reading. It’s hard to stop her reading, she got a school trophy for ‘Literacy’ on Friday, and today her particular penchant was street signs, a map she’d picked up from the Ridings Shopping Centre, and gravestones outside the Cathedral. As a result of the latter we found – quite unexpectedly – the grave of one of Luis Fernandes’ daughters. Fernandes was one of Wakefield’s brewers whose story is told in Aspects of Wakefield 3 and is whom the current Fernandes Brewery is named after.

Back around the marquees to the ‘Local Government’ one where we managed to pick up info about the sort of school dinners Ellie has – great, since she never tells us and we have no idea whether she’s into turkey twizzlers or carrot sticks. The local fire service are running a drive to replace smoke alarms with their ‘recommended’ model free-of-charge so I signed us up for that, and discussed bicycle routes with a local group who were kind enough to provide maps of where the children could ride their bikes when the weather gets warmer.

Sadly we weren’t in time for any of the presentations and the queue for “example” food was waaaay too long, but it looked like fun. Ellie would like to try some Thai food which considering we have problems getting her near anything spicy is an absolute bloody miracle.

Finally after picking up the groceries from the market we saw some street entertainers and wandered back to the car.

If headaches and hangovers are a measure of how good the previous night was, yesterday’s score at Keighley & Worth Valley Beer and Music Festival was spectacular. We left the house at around 10:30am and got to Keighley for the midday steam service, stopping off at Haworth for fish and chips then getting up to Oxenhope shed (including beers en route of course – the train bars were excellent!). Colin, Si, Howard and Sarah joined us on the service from Leeds to Keighley where we had jelly babies and took photos.

We were presently joined during the day by George and Lizzie who’d come over from Hebden Bridge, Ruth and Brian who’d had a 3-hour journey from Kettlethorpe (!), Jem and Lee (you can’t keep that man away from a festival if it’s got trains and beer), and many other friends who we bumped into. The kids were absolute stars, and had great fun dancing to Welsh-T Band.

Looking at my programme (where I usually number what I had and when) I managed to get through:

  1. Spotland Gold (Phoenix, Heywood)
  2. Tawny Bitter (Cotleigh, Somerset)
  3. Definitive (Durham Brewery)
  4. Gold (Green Mill, Rochdale)
  5. Good Ship Leonard (Newby Wyke, Lincs)
  6. K&WV Festival Ale (Goose Eye Brewery, Keighley)
  7. Cornish Knocker Ale (Skinner’s Brewing Co, Truro)
  8. Hornbeam Bitter (Hop Back Brewery, Wiltshire)
  9. Mid Autumn Gold (Mauldons, Suffolk)
  10. Lush (Hopstar Brewery, Lancashire)
  11. Hop Pickers Gold (Mayfields Brewery, Herefordshire)
  12. Carousel (Southport Brewery, Merseyside)
  13. Eden Pure Ale (Sharp’s Brewery, Cornwall)
  14. Pacific Bitter (Bank Top, Bolton)
  15. Blonde (Saltaire Brewery, Shipley)
  16. Arizona (Phoenix, Heywood)
  17. Rail Ale (Old Spot, Cullingworth)

The trip back was a bit hazy for me – I was utterly hammered according to Nicky and only just managed to hit the bench when I was sitting down. Because there were so many of us coming back to Wrenthorpe the cab wouldn’t take us, so we ended up getting a minibus from Leeds City Station back home (which actually worked out cheaper – thanks Fleet Taxis!). We had Chinese food for tea. I can’t remember any of it, but I assume I ate something since I didn’t feel too hungry this morning.

The hangover is almost gone now – photos of the day are here. Great to see so many old friends, and thanks to KWVR for a great day out!

Last night saw me popping off to the Wakefield Beer Festival, which (as seems to be usual now) took place at Lightwaves Leisure Centre. I arrived before any of my compadres so managed a few more than usual, half a pint of each of:

  1. Magna 800 (Wapping)
  2. Ale To The Tsar (Fernandes, Wakefield)
  3. Best (Ludlow Brewery, Shropshire)
  4. Idle Chef (Idle Brewery, Notts)
  5. Grasshopper (Westerham, Kent)
  6. Chameleon (Kelham Island, Sheffield)
  7. Woodcote (Hammerpot, West Sussex)
  8. Scotts 1816 (Copper Dragon, Skipton)
  9. Best Bitter (Ballards, Hampshire)
  10. Seasider (Ramsgate, Kent)
  11. Bishop’s Farewell (Oakham, Peterborough)
  12. OSB (Oldershaw, Lincolnshire)
  13. Takeout: Pater 6 (Sint Bernardus, Watou)

I was joined after the fourth by Lee and his friend Jerry, some odd nutter of a gentleman we’d never met before appeared around the fifth (he wah’d about his wife, then disappeared), and around the sixth Colin and Howard turned up. Howard flaunted his ginger beard in our general direction, which was nice.

Lightwaves is an odd venue for a beer festival – the main hall has no natural light, and gets very very stuffy during the course of the day owing to a lack of ventilation, plus of course the odour contributes to the general atmosphere (I pity the poor sods who’ll be wanting to use the changing rooms where the nearest toilet was – it stank).

A nice touch this year was the cheese stand provided by Cryer & Stott, my favourite cheesemongers who had some excellent Fountains Gold and the ubiquitous Yorkshire Blue.

Photos here.

I’m feeling rather tender this morning in the aftermath of Wakefield Beer Festival (photos here). Held at Lightwaves for (I think) the third year running, predictably it’s yielded a morning-after headache and a sense of “wondering what the hell I said last night”. As is customary on these occasions I jotted down what I’d had:

  1. Mauldon Brewery “Dickens
  2. Brown Cow “Styrian Bitter
  3. Acorn “Barnsley Gold
  4. Jarrow “Red Ellen” (purchased purely on the name – good Old Labour name that!)
  5. Bull Lane “EEL” (again, purchased purely on name – and you do not want to know why)
  6. WF6 “Pride
  7. Tigertops “Gardeners Stout
  8. George Wright “Pipe Dream
  9. Clark’s “Only Sixteen

Really quite enjoyable, although I do wish they’d find a venue with windows – Lightwaves Leisure Centre is all well and good but it’s a bit sparse getting hammered tasting beer in a sports hall.