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Monday, July 02, 2012

So much fun it hurt!

I've just been away for a weekend at Dove Holes jazz festival.  Ohmiword, I cannot begin to tell you the fun we had.

We drove up on Friday, and arrived just in time to put the tent up before the gale force winds struck! Dove, is by its own admission, an unspectacular little village just above Buxton in Derbyshire. But whilst the village iteslf may not have any great claims to fame (other than, of course, this annual jazz delight) it is set in the most beautiful area of the Peak district. Our drive up was slow and deliberate as we marvelled as always at the changing scenery our little island bestows upon us.  We left Surrey, drove up the M40, saw the Red Kites flying across the fields in Buckinghamshire, big arable fields on either side of the motorway, the occasional deer or pheasant nestled in the middle of some of them! On to the M6 and the M6 toll, and then off a lot earlier than we had both anticipated to the A38 from Burton Upon Trent (It was on the signposts as Burton -U-Trent, and we wondered, given the extraordinary amount of rain we've had this year, whether that was Upon or Under) On we travelled, round the side of Derby, and then the scenery began to change again, to the wilder looking grasslands, on a little bit further, gentle change by gentle change, until we came upon the full blown landscape of the Peak District..... Stunning, absolutely stunning.

Unfortunately there are no photos, because quite frankly the weather prohibited the taking of anything other than raindrops, but take my word for it, the area is beautiful.

As I say we arrived just in time to get the tent up, then off to the nearest supermarket for milk and supplies (god bless the iphone and a little app called Around Me which finds you the nearest supermarket/pub/cashpoint etc)  As it happens there was also a little cafe in Morrisons and so we had an early evening meal to save cooking in the rain (turned out to be a good move)

As we began to get our bearings we also began to see familar faces. The wonderful thing about these jazz festivals is that you do slowly begin to recognise each other. Of course there are dear friends that you meet and chat to at one time or another, and always it is such a pleasure to see each other again. We walked into the Pub on that Friday night, for the first nights entertainment by the wonderfully talented Bennett Brothers, with Adrian Cox (taking a weekend break from playing with Bad Manners!) and Dorine De Wit, and so many hugs and smiles and laughs. To look around was to see a sea of smiling faces. It truly made your heart sing.  As the band played, the smiles got broader. There was no room for dancing (in all honesty there was barely room for standing) but we tapped our toes, and wriggled our shoulders to the beat, and sang out and laughed, and smiled til our faces ached. Daddy Bennett got up and sung one number with his boys, which was wonderful, and Dorine sang a song, which instantly made me think of my dear Uncle John, "Midnight special"....... a lively, bouncing song which I couldn't help but mist up to a little, as i remembered John in the later weeks of his life singing it from beginning to end..... I had never known the song before, but now I equally remember and treasure each word.

MrNoo and I were standing at the bar for the entire gig.....we were way too late for tables or chairs (by about a fortnight I think!)  But the good part about that was that we were pretty close to the band - they were stood a the end of the bar..... we watched as Richard sang and played and closed his eyes, a smile slowly creeping across his face, someone had just played something clever? or he pictures the music or the story he tells? or he'd realised he'd forgotten the words to the next verse?  - Who knows, but that smile was a privilege to see. Somewhere deep within themselves these wonderful young musicians find the very bones of old trad jazz, and make it their own, and it makes them smile as much as it does us...... that's pretty awesome.

On Saturday after a night in a slightly soggy, but still on the ground (for which we were grateful) tent, We decided to go for a walk, and went up to Lady Bower resevoir and Derwent water, which was one of the places the bouncing bomb had been tested in UK in World War II

Info about Dam Busters:

Top of the dam:

Bottom of the dam - clearly it hasn't rained quite enough yet?!

We walked about an hour and a half along the edge of the resevoirs, and were thrilled to see so many people out walking and cycling. Young people with t-shirts and rucksacks.... (presumably carrying a waterproof coat - they'd have needed that later) Lots of people just on their own taking a Saturday morning walk.... it was good to see.

Meanwhile, us old codgers, having walked an hour or so up hill, turned back down, and revived ourselves with the realisation that by the time we got back to Dove, the afternoon jazz would be well under-way and the beer would be flowing. ;)

We got back just in time to see Gentleman Jim McIntosh.  Jim is a well known banjo player (he should be well known, he's been doing it long enough) but we were in for a wonderful surprise and treat.... he fronted the band this weekend ..... On Trombone! Fabulous stuff.  Musicians are an incredible species, give them something that makes a noise and they can make a tune out of it.  - That's not to say it's easy. I know Jim worked hard practising to get "match fit" on the trombone. But he did a sterling job, and it was so much fun to see him do something different.  We were also blessed to hear the wonderful voice of Christine Tyrrell again. I haven't see Christine since Phil Mason's band stopped playing together, but this wonderful gospel singer is a pleasure to see every time. We had a good natter afterwards too.... a few years' of gossip to catch up on!

Other than that we spent the rest of the weekends ambling between the beer tent where Martin (daddy) Bennett seemed to be playing all the time  (deserves a medal) with an array of interlopers, jammers, and family members!  (That marquee nearly lifted off it's scaffold, and not due to the weather - due to the intense energy that was consistently on offer in there.) and the community hall which served up the Bennett boys and their band again, Jim mcintosh and a couple of other bands who were all fabulous.

The festival itself, was lively and light-hearted. Fun, easy going, and full of exceptional talent.  I am lucky in that I can call a good few of the performers friends and that makes it all the more special. To have time to catch up and have  a laugh together, then watch them do what they do best, and make an audience laugh, cry and join in singing, all in a few breaths....... well I am blessed is all i can say.

Loved every minute, danced in the rain,  laughed so much my belly still hurts, and came away feeling like we'd had a good few days rest.

My next blog post will be about finally opening  The Crafters' Barn, new website and the journey I now find myself on for crafters everywhere! ;)

T'il soon ♥