Something Else in the Dean offers a slice of old school festivalling

Something Else in the Dean 2013 review

published: Thu 3rd Oct 2013

around the festival site

Friday 27th to Sunday 29th September 2013
Elton Farm, Littledean Road, Newnham-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, GL14 1JU, England MAP
£24 for weekend with camping
daily capacity: 500
last updated: Thu 3rd Oct 2013

We first came into contact with Gail and the Something Else crew at the first Bearded Theory we went to several years ago, and we loved what they do. So we were delighted to find they were running their own festival last year. Something prevented us from being there in 2012 so we were even more delighted to hear that they were going for it again in 2013 and got our tickets in February to make sure we wouldn’t miss out this year.

Taking place at the Elton Farm Maize Maze near Westbury-upon-Severn, it’s a great location for a festival – two lovely camping areas with the festival arena nestled in the middle with the added excitement of a bike track, an adventure maze, and the maize maze itself all close by. The site is in a real “get away from it all” location and it’s easy to be propelled straight into the laid-back good time vibe that is obvious as soon as we arrive. We are directed to the campsite on the far side of the festival where we get some lovely views and waking up in the morning is a real pleasure when we open the door to the van and survey the countryside around us.

No intimidating heavy security is needed – everyone there wants a nice time and that is exactly what we all get. We see lots of faces from previous festivals this summer so even though we weren’t there last year, we know instantly that we will feel at home. We never did get our hands on a running order so there was no pressure to be anywhere at a specific time and instead we meet lots of nice people as we discussed who was coming on next. Having lots of the artists stay on site for the duration made it extra special and is a testimony to the loveliness of the festival.

Before we arrived, we reckoned that the festival would be like the way festivals were “way back when” before much of the festival scene got corporate sponsors and became a massive money making machine. The organisers have ensured that it keeps to its values – funding itself, respecting others and our environment, and supporting local enterprises.

The tickets were at an amazingly reasonable price, and so is all the food and drink – in consequence, we eat and drank much more of the festival offerings than we would normally be able to afford. There are four of us in our family and feeding all of us at a festival can be a costly business over three to four days. I take my hat off to the people behind the wonderful food! They are Café Chameleon and they provide a seemingly endless selection of delights all weekend offering a different menu for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with each menu offering a combination of meat and vegetarian choices to keep us all happy. The bar is equally as well stocked and offers a wide variety of local ales and ciders as well as some spirits. Anything pint size is priced at £3.00 which I think was possibly the cheapest pint we have purchased at a festival all summer. And of course, we had to treat ourselves to the lovely cakes and hot drinks!

As well as the music, there are lots of activities run by Labyrinth Arts to keep us all occupied should we need any diversion – that is, should the children tire of running around the mazes at any point – a pursuit that keeps them busy for hours at a go and they’re immensely happy. We try our hand at throwing pots and playing with clay and have come home with a wonderful assortment of bowls one of which bears a close resemblance to a Rolo chocolate. We also make a copper heart necklace, and produce almost every item on offer at the wood carving stall – the speedboats and the kazoos are a real hit and give an enormous amount of pleasure to both our children to make. In comparison to other festivals they’ve been to recently that have extortionately priced fun fairs and vast quantities of festival tat, they rate SEITD as their top festival for the summer – they had lots of fun with other kids just running about and escaping the badger cull, making stuff, jumping about to some great music, and meeting lots of nice people.

There are three stages – a covered “Something Else Stage (just in case the worst should happen with the weather - but it doesn’t!), with the Warren & James Stage (all the stages are powered by the sun) close by so we never have to move far. Lastly, the small and magical Maize Stage which is set next to the maze under the kind of tree that you can imagine providing shelter for wandering minstrels in times past. It’s here that I become acquainted with Ash Mandrake whose act with the loop machine is really entertaining. On the Friday we danced our socks off to 3 Daft Monkeys who we know and love from lots of other festivals. Another set to put in the memory bank is Ferocious Dog whose set we know we’re going to love, having seen them several times over the years. However, it’s a privilege to see their talents emerge more and more as they transform their set with their own work.

A new experience for me is the New Groove Formation. I happen on them by chance and can’t tear myself away from their set – by the looks of it, neither can lots of others (especially the people who are each wearing a fez), and the whole tent is bouncing madly with silly grins to their energetic mix of reggae and ska and they inspire us to buy the CD on the spot to listen to on the way home.

I’m sad to miss the Inner Terrestrials who my husband reckons put on one of his all-time favourite festival sets – their music really, really get everyone going and he can’t stop talking about them afterwards – another one that we’re going to try and hear more of over the winter months.

Sunday is a bit of a slow start for lots of people – we arrive down relatively early for breakfast and we’re rewarded by the sun coming out. We spend much of the day sitting and chatting near the acoustic stage and we are entertained by Attila the Stockbroker (who we can never tire of) then Gail herself as the Muddy Summers and the Dirty Field Whores before all too soon we have to head back to pack up the van ‘cos the party is over and hey, it’s work in the morning!

It’s obvious that Gail and her production team have put in a massive amount of effort to produce an amazing weekend for all concerned – it’s no mean feat pulling off a festival, especially when you have other stuff going on and I’d like to extend them a massive thank you. The only thing that makes me a bit sad is that I didn’t get to meet Gail to say it myself. It is the last festival of the season for us, and for lots of other people there, so it’s a kind of bittersweet feeling I have as we pull off site knowing it’s all over for a few months. We have had truly amazing summer with some lovely people in some lovely places.   SEITD was the perfect ending to it and we hope that Something Else Somewhere Else will be the perfect start to the 2014 season!!!


review by: Fiona Tayler

photos by: James Tayler

Friday 27th to Sunday 29th September 2013
Elton Farm, Littledean Road, Newnham-on-Severn, Gloucestershire, GL14 1JU, England MAP
£24 for weekend with camping
daily capacity: 500
last updated: Thu 3rd Oct 2013


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