Sunday, 26 May 2013

/21/ Watsky

I didn’t get up to anything nearly as exciting in fifth week as going to a festival, but it was eventful nonetheless. Particularly exciting was the fact that a friend, Owen, and I went to see Watsky in concert. If you aren’t familiar with his music, I highly suggest that you watch the video below, because I think he’s an excellent musician. He’s a rapper and poet and is seriously the quickest, wittiest, and most emotionally resonant wordsmith I have encountered. To see him live was so much fun, and something I didn’t really anticipate ever getting the chance to do so, seeing as his audience isn’t huge and he is based in California.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

/20/ Wood Festival

At the end of fourth week, I went to WOOD festival with some friends; Joe and I had been planning to go for a while, but Laura’s decision was very last minute and took place at about 4am the night before we booked tickets. 942342_10152861441060486_2146412099_n

The festival itself is very small and takes place on a field owned by a commune in the south of Oxfordshire. The first year in which I went, it was drummed into those of use working that we had to be very diligent in picking up rubbish because “the cows are back on Monday”. This year, however, I wasn’t working (though it wouldn’t have been possible to avoid responsible waste management anyway, with prominent recycling stations dotted all around the campsite and very little provision for unsorted “general” waste at all).


Joe, Laura and I spent the weekend lounging about outside our tent, eating food from Joe’s massive sack of provisions, wandering around in the fields and woods surrounding the festival, listening to the varied selection of music on the “main” stage (which is a minimal fraction of the size of the main stage at any regular festival, largely because it is powered solely through solar energy), browsing the odd shops and stalls dotted around, and trying (read: failing) to work up the energy to attend one of the many workshops which were on offer. You could do anything from making a totem pole, to spiritual animal healing magic (18+, apparently). We passed and instead lay on a blanket in front of the stage, giggling and snacking and blowing bubbles. It was absolutely idyllic escapism, and even though we were such passive participants I don’t think any of us would have done it any other way.


My favourite thing about the festival is that it is known for its ethical and all-inclusive approach to nature and conservation. Indeed, the recycling stations and solar energy are just the start. From the compostable toilets – beautifully constructed wooden huts where you use sawdust instead of toilet paper, and which are both less smelly and more hygienic than the abundance of portaloos which is normally provided at such events – to the wooden cutlery and paper plates in the food tent, I would go so far as to say that the adoration of nature defines this event more than an adoration of music. The organisers, delightful brothers and Oxfordshire locals, might even agree (though as they are also behind the far larger and more conventional Truck festival, they might not love that conclusion) In their own words, the festival is “a celebration of music and nature” and “a family festival powered by renewable energy & community spirit!”. That last part is certainly true, and nobody could debate it.


The festival was almost exclusively peopled by families with young children, children who formed packs within half an hour of arrival and traversed the festival site (large enough to provide plenty of entertainment and distraction, small enough that the parents don’t have to worry about their child never being seen again) in groups, singing and whistling and playing. This allowed the parents time to relax, drink a beer or two and enjoy the strains of folk and world music drifting from the Main Stage.

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Countless workshops and acts were aimed at children, and there was hardly any drinking or drugging at all on the site, bar the occasional whiff of weed, one jaded and 24-year-old who’d knocked back some nondescript pills and tried to climb into Laura’s and my tent at three in the morning, and one exceptional remnant of the 60s. This was a tall man with a long gray beard and long grey hair, clad in a rainbow-knitted robe, who stood right by the music tent and swayed for several hours a day. That really sums up the festival; slightly odd and completely peaceful.


Sunday, 12 May 2013

/19/ The Big Two-One

On Wednesday evening, my parents arrived from Reading – why, I can’t remember – and we ended up going to my favourite restaurant in Oxford. It’s a beautifully decorated tapas  place which feels like the South of Spain/ Morocco and whose staff are so friendly. I’ve genuinely lost count of how often I’ve been there, but if you only go to one restaurant in Oxford, go to Kazbar!

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Did that stop me from returning the next night with a group of friends, many of whom are my closest here in Oxford? Don’t be ridiculous. Luckily Tristan, see here, caught it all on camera:

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(Of my actual birthday-day, the Friday, I have few memories. Largely because I took no photos, which I really feel validates the first point on this list. Never mind. Rose, the girl whose birthday I joyfully share, and I and some friends went for breakfast and then we all went out in the evening.)

The week ended on a hilarious, wobbly high when Sam (pictured above in the red jacket) and I worked the bar at a ball. St Hilda’s Ball. It was a terrible ball, but we had a great time talking, laughing at ridiculous people and eating candy floss. That’s what friends are for, right?

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I feel so so so lucky. Up until now my birthdays have always been a little bit sad and disappointing but this week was so perfect. It was not all about me, but I was all about it (if that makes sense?) and even if I never have another one again, I will always have the memory of this Happy Birthday.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

/18/ The run-up…

This is the week I turned 21. It was excellent. It’s only a shame that my camera was still broken so all I have to offer are these phone-camera photos. Though my birthday was only near the end of the week, the first half of the week was an incredible run-up.

It began on Sunday when my family visited and we had Champagne High Tea. It felt grown up and silly all at once – perfect for the 21st birthday.

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On Tuesday, my friends and I went dancing – not clubbing, dancing. Itchy Feet is a kind of unconventional club night which tours the UK and its universities, offering “funk, rock n roll, soul, rhythm & blues, reggae and ska to get your hips greased”. Promise lived up to 200%. I danced so much my hips actually ached the next day.

Speaking of the next day, it was the 1st of May. It’s tradition to stay up all night the night before and go to the sunrise choir service on top of Magdalen tower, so stay up we did. Just. Chicca and I (Chicca is a weird, wonderful and indispensible addition to my life who would hate featuring on this blog)  left the party at about three and spent the next two hours or so sleepily wandering through Oxford, buying breakfast from a truck and trying not to all asleep in our College’s common room.

But we made it. And it was magical. I can’t really describe how or why I got so emotional – maybe it was the long night of love for friends, for my life and for this freaktown - but when the choir started to sing so proudly and the sunlight illuminated the old stone it made me cry a little bit. I’m tearing up now. SILLY FIONA CONTROL YOURSELF. If you want to get a taste, watch 00:45 to 01:10 of the following video:

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More to come.