spoilt for choice in the Kids' Field on a day of classic singalongs at Wychwood

Wychwood 2010 review

published: Mon 14th Jun 2010

around the festival site (1)

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th June 2010
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
adult weekend £110, concession weekend £85, youth (10-15yrs) £50, under 10's free
daily capacity: 7500
last updated: Fri 28th May 2010

Against all odds and in the middle of the family camping field, we have a slow start to our Saturday morning and I'm woken from a glorious slumber at the very reasonable hour of 8:00. Our children play happily with other kids around us while we go about preparing for the day ahead with caffeine injections and breakfast fuelling.

It's early and the sun is already unleashing its power on a few pink arms. Heads less fuzzy and vision cleared, we head back over the race course to the main arena and the kids field.

around the festival site (1)
The children are spoilt for choice of activities but our son elects to join in the Circus Kaos workshop run by the amazing Steve Kaos and his chaotic band of helpers. There are a range of activities to join in with including juggling, devil sticks, plate spinning, unicycling and diablo. Our lad takes his Diablo over and one of the instructors adjusts his string and before we know it, he's throwing and catching successfully. He comes back to us feeling taller and with a daft grin on his face.

My wife and our friend are asked if our children would like to be involved in some filming for the CBeebies programme 'Something Special' starring Justin Fletcher (AKA Mr Tumble amongst many other characters). How could you refuse an offer like that?! Our daughter loves Justin and so do the rest of our party so we wait eagerly for the filming to begin. It's not a quick process so we watch from afar, armed with a cooling beer. Meanwhile, a trapeze show starts on the other side of the field and again we find ourselves spoilt for choice of entertainment – and this is the kids field!!!

When the filming draws to a close, I take our daughter (who is 4) into one of the marquees to watch 'A Mouse Tale' and we come back and make various animals out of clay at the clay workshop.

around the festival site (3)
A wander around and I spot hat making, people making pom poms, painting T-shirts and making mosaics as well as story telling and poetry writing. There really is no excuse for children to be bored at Wychwood!

We head back to the main stage to watch Piney Gir. The country genre is not high on my list of priorities but she somehow makes it fun and not all morose and about break-ups.

Talking of fun, it doesn't come much more offbeat than Aylesbury's finest – Mr John Otway. A legend of the punk scene Otway is a master lyricist and his reworking of great hits like 'The House Of The Rising Sun' have made him a real cult hero.

John Otway
It's difficult to write about Otway without ruining it for anyone who hasn't seen him. He is a one off and I think he should be listed and preserved like some kind of national treasure. His energy and inventiveness together with a warped sense of humour make him worth a visit if you ever get the chance. 'Body Talk' with drum pads in various pockets, 'Bunsen Burner' written for his daughters science project, and 'Rumplestiltskin', a punk song that "a dad can sing to a child and still sound cool", all go down well but 'U R Breaking Up' is my personal favourite.

Back from the big top and over to the main stage and Toumani Diabate is giving a master class in Kora playing. The gentle meandering sounds of the instrument punctuated by the deftly played Djembe drum work the crowd into an uplifting trance. The drummer’s giant hands work skilfully over the goat skins and a nodding head moves to restless feet and this is what a sunny afternoon at a festival is all about!

Next up on the main stage is Pauline Black formerly of The Selecter. Her powerful voice seems capable of stripping plaster from brick, (and incredibly getting a good many people up out of their folding chairs). One of our friends recognises several of the band. They were playing with Neville Staple last weekend.

The band rattles through some absolute classics. A cover of Toots and The Maytals 'Pressure Drop', '3 Minute Hero' and then technical issues strike as power to the stage is lost half way through 'On My Radio'. The band leave the stage and as time goes on, we don't expect to see them back, but, technical problems fixed, the band reappear some time later and pick up exactly where they left off. Their set comes to a close with 'Too Much Pressure' and a few weary legs sit back down again.

Lightning Seeds are next on the main stage. They're back after a 10 year break and they are another of those bands that have a lot more hits than you realise. Ian Broudie's voice falters and misses notes at various points in the set but it really is impressive to be able to play so many hits. I find myself thinking "Crikey, did they do that one as well?" 'Life of Riley' and 'Pure' are the tracks that stand out. As the set comes to an end, Broudie is left alone on stage with an acoustic guitar and he performs a magical version of '3 Lions'. It's one of those moments where the hair stands up on the back of the neck and less than a week before the start of the World Cup, the timing is fantastic. The crowd participation on this one is amazing.

Happy Mondays
Finally tonight on the Main Stage are Happy Mondays. The first disappointment comes when Shaun Rider tells us "Bez isn't with us today", (is he ever really with us?). They are joined on stage by vocalist Julie Gordon.

The second disappointment comes when the music starts. It's a bit of a let down and Shaun appears to be reading from an autocue. They blunder through the set and though they play many of The Monday's classics, such as 'Kinky Afro' and 'Step On', and the Black Grape classic 'Reverend Black Grape', they are a bit of a let down. In all honesty, I've seen crowds a lot less tolerant of better performances.

En route back to the tents, we stop for a chat with a few friendly looking faces and sit around talking through the day's events. The weather has been glorious and it is a warm and sticky night ahead (for a change) as we climb into our sleeping bags.

around the festival site (panorama)

Friday 4th to Sunday 6th June 2010
Cheltenham Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England MAP
adult weekend £110, concession weekend £85, youth (10-15yrs) £50, under 10's free
daily capacity: 7500
last updated: Fri 28th May 2010


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