WOMAD 2001 

Having enjoyed the Big Green Gathering the previous summer, I was greatly disappointed to discover that it wasn't going to take place in 2001 (the foot-and-mouth crisis put paid to that, and as for the Welsh one that had been planned, the local police authorities put the serious work in to scupper that!). The annual world music festival known as WOMAD (World Of Music, Art and Dance) was still going ahead though, and so I got a ticket to go to that instead.
            In the week leading up to me reaching down Reading way (where the fest was located), I bought a few things I reckoned I'd need, like a mini stove, backpack and some compact pans amongst over things. I also had to sort out 'Red Nev' again, as my bike of choice had suffered from another mishap (the rear forks on my old Moulton Deluxe had gotten a particularly nasty crack - an annoying trait of ones manufactured built in Kirkby, Liverpool, where it seemed that "everyday was like Friday", as far as anyone  working at the BMC factory where my bike was made back in 1964 were concerned), and was languishing in the shed at the bottom of the garden for most of the year as a result, so I got about on my other bike (a 'Mk III' Moulton from 1970, I christened
'Young Shorty') in the meantime.
            I had the old forks replaced with a new pair from Moulton Preservation (thanks once again, Mr.Woolf!), got those re-enamelled down Kentish Town, and put them onto the rest of the bike in the kitchen the Friday evening before the festy. I felt a little guilty about going off when my dad had only just been diagnosed (just in time, as it turned out) with cancer, but my mum told me not to worry and I needed a break from work (+ college) anyway.  

            When the day for me to go finally came, I carefully stacked my camping gear and other bits onto 'Red Nev', and gingerly cycled down to Bruce Grove Stn. to make my way to work at the library. Stepping through the entrance, the staff and the usual kids I see at Lewis Carroll were a little stunned by the amount I had on my bike and myself (courtesy of the backpack). "I couldn't sleep outside at night in that," said young Brinkley, as she noticed my sleeping bag. "So we'll have to pack your bunk bed when go camping, then," said Keeley (Brinkley's mum). "Don't be silly mum, you wouldn't do that!" was her embarrassed reply.    

The journey to Reading was totally uneventful compared with my (sort of) epic cycle/walk to Lord's Hill, where the B.G.G. took place the previous year (although Sharon and Theo from the library watched as I wobbled down the road to get the tube from King's Cross to Paddington on 'Red Nev'. Coming out of Reading Stn., I went down a hill, turned left and headed along the road towards the Rivermead Centre. When I got there, a steward came up to me and told me that my friend from Brighton named Dawn, along with her son Jasper and their Polish au-pair/helper, named Kasia (whom I'd met previously, when they'd come down to London for the festy we all went to in Kilburn a few weeks earlier) were waiting for me. I looked to my left, and saw them sitting on a slight hill.
            Trundling 'Red Nev' with what camping bits of mine I'd strapped onto the carriers, I followed the three of found myself in the part of the field where they'd set up their tent, and with Kasia's help, mine was up in no time. I had go at using the mini-stove and a pan fore the first time, and then Dawn & I headed off to check out the camp site, Kasia stayed behind keeping a eye on Jasper. We found a v.nice lady selling 'organic chocolate' (that's what she told us!) and we bought a chunk each off her. Finding a
cafe tent to sit ourselves in nearby, we gulped down some chai and caught up on what we'd been up to since we last hooked up.
            The night was warm and mood in the cafe was mellow when Dawn & I finally got up to go back to our tents - and we duly got lost in the process! I'd expected her to go into "are we there yet, Lawrence?" mode, but the chai and the 'organic chocolate' had chilled her out no end (my good luck I was given a major squeeze like that!), plus I spotted a steward with a walkie-talkie who guided us back to where we both wanted to go. Peeking through my tent flap after a few hours sleep later that morning, I saw an eerie mist over the field where all the tents in the field were pitched. Here's some snaps I took stepping out into the chilly morning air.



I got this snap later on in the morning while exploring the campsite after I'd gone to have a shower. I came across two girls aged 12-13, messing about in a hammock and got what you see below. They came up to me later on in the day and I gave them the site's URL.

Getting back to my tent, I found Dawn, Jasper and Kasia had woken up and had eaten breakfast. Here's Dawn (with Jasper).....

......here's Kasia (looking a little thoughtful)...

....and here I am, snapped by Kasia
(sporting a mildly garish sarong).

The next two pics were taken within the Siam tent, which housed the main covered stage for the festival. Whoever came up with the design is a genius of sorts, as it was both cavernous and intimate simultaneously. The perfect place to get away and shield from the hot sun.

Lessons in stick juggling under the Siam tent.

Italian-Eastern European folk group in
performance on a colourful stage.

Various ornaments on display for sale (pricy, but nice). I got myself a drum to have a bash on, plus a penny whistle which promptly fell out of my bag (Dawn kindly got me a new one for my birthday some months later, which was a nice surprise) from a music stall nearby. 


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