Long, green, lush grass: that was Thursday. Come Sunday, we were wading through gloopy, sticky, brown sludge. My wellies were nearly left behind in a particularly aggressive mud pit in the campsite. Come to the Brecon Beacons, they said. In Wales, they said. Sunny, sunny Wales, they said.
Okay, that’s a lie. No one has said that. Ever.
Why were we wallowing in a muddy field at the foot of a mountain in the Brecon Beacons? For a musical festival of course. Welcome to Green Man, the most gorgeously located music festival I have ever been too. Admittedly, the only other music festival I have been to was in Reading, so they didn’t have to try too hard. But still, look at it. They have a mountain and everything. It’s behind that cloud.
The Green Man festival is a music festival. This blog covers food and running (and guinea pigs and anything else I feel like talking about, but go with it), not music. So let’s not worry too much about the rockers and the folkers and the whatever-St-Vincent-is-ers. Let’s talk about the food.
Of which there was a lot. Oodles of noodles; plenty of pies; a feast of fish; and a place that did toast. I’m pretty certain that Mrs Running Buffet was most excited about the fact that there would be churros on hand almost 24 hours a day for three days. This was exactly the kind of festival at which you would find vegan catering vans, of which there were several, as well as stalls offering goan fish curry, one-pot stews, venison burgers, cups of chai and so very much more besides. If you had the money (and the antacid tablets), you could ignore the music completely and just eat your way around the festival site for an entire weekend.
What if you wanted a hearty meat meal? You could join the (always so very long) queue at the Pie Minister van, or you could step next door to the place with about a hundred chickens circling slowly on rotisserie spits. Apparently the potatoes there were very good. Wouldn’t know, we weren’t even close to getting around to trying that one.
But if you just concentrated on the food, then you would be missing out on what makes the festival so special. No, not the music, be quiet at the back. I’m talking about the beer festival, of course.
The Courtyard Bar is a pop-up bar in a courtyard. I know, how do they think of these names? Inside it you would find well over a hundred different types of festival goer, all trying to order from the well over a hundred different drinks on offer. Seventy five beers and thirty three ciders and perries were on offer, although you had to be quick to get hold of some of them. The bar men and women were working hard, but the punters were working harder, and some beers had disappeared by early afternoon on the Friday. By Sunday, you were lucky to get anything, such was the thirst that three days of heavy rain can inspire in a person.
And if you didn’t know what beers to try, then help was available. As well as music, comedy, massages and science experiments, the festival also puts on a great programme of talks. We saw one about how to draw birds (of the feathered variety, it wasn’t that kind of festival), one about reading books and one all about Croydon (in our defence, it was raining really hard and the talks are all held inside a tent). But we kicked the weekend off with a talk on matching beer with music from Pete Brown, the well-known beer writer (and one of the people responsible for the beers behind A Year in Beer, for those of you with a long memory). You really can match a beer with music; your perception of flavour, it turns out, is reliant on so much more than just the taste buds on your tongue. Don’t take sweets from strangers, kids, but if Pete Brown ever offers you a Skittle then it is well worth grabbing one; his Skittle experiment was really quite weird.
So there you have it. Want to spend a weekend getting fed and watered (and watered upon) in Wales? Then off to the Green Man festival you go. And, if you can squeeze it in, then there might just be some pretty awesome music to listen to as well. I don’t like picking favourites (there were so many great performances, across so many different styles, that comparing them with one another makes little sense), but Public Service Broadcasting were one of the standouts for me. Then there was the astonishing St Vincent set; the comedy of Darren Hanlon, The Pictish Trail and Sweet Baboo; the beautiful voice of Marika Hackman; the kinetic excitement of Atomic Bomb and Hot Chip…
I could go on but, as noted, this isn’t a music blog and many other musos are doing a much better job on that front than I ever could (you can check out the Green Man twitter feed for links to other, more music-based write-ups of the festival). In the meantime, I will just be humming Digital Witness over and over and over and…