Monday, 6 September 2010


Next came a whirlwind of museums - the British Museum just before the Poetry Cafe, then the Ashmolean Musuem, and History of Science Museum in Oxford, and some van hassles (mysterious leaks, driving round like a headless chicken trying to find a friendly garage, etc.! the usual shoestring stress), and then our performance at the Bunkfest in Oxfordshire. The Bunkfest is a really charming three day festival with an unusual mixture of big rock festival quality stalls and food and hordes of folks, (and of course lots of music), contrasted with a town festival - with events happening in parks, pubs, the main square road-blocked and given over to entertainment surrounded by stalls and peopled with happy pedestrians - and the social mix was almost greater than at some much bigger festivals, because representatives of every community in the town turned up seemingly as well as a heap of visitors, so there was a real community feel to it too. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and the weather was lovely. As soon as we walked along the Saxon walls - very wonderful they are too, and hidden by trees and hedges around the perimeter of the park - we saw marquees and some of the usual suspects at festivals with banners flying in the breeze below, and went down into the fray. The stalls were of extremely high quality (so much so that I had to break a resolution not to buy anything!), and the atmosphere buzzy - we checked in, and were given our wristbands and welcome packs and free programmes, and then into the town centre and square where dark Morris dancers were being dramatic, followed by a splendid African dance and singing and drumming group called Zulu - there was a wonderful continuity between the two acts, and it seemed to me that different countries in far flung continents had come up with remarkably similar ways of expressing celebration and ritual. The stalls were some of the best food/farmer's markets I'd seen all summer, and the almond croissants were not to be missed! to say nothing of the goat's cheese, olives, and other treats. There were antique and vintage junk stalls too, and all in all it was surprisingly hard to tear oneself away to gather the props and set up in the venue.
The courtyard of the George Hotel was a delightful space to perform in, and we shared the three hour performance time with Tim O' The Oak, surrounded by black wicker sofas and chairs with deep white cushions (reminiscent of French cafes) and smoked glass tables. Each set went really well, and our audiences were attentive and rewarding, joining in or cheering at the right places, and Tim bought us drinks very kindly. We were sorry to leave, but had to be off back to Devon to prepare for the Porlock Festival. It's hard to pin down why the Bunkfest was so special - perhaps its mixture of everyone coming out to have fun, serendipity for those not expecting it, large number of free events and generally taking over the town yet being a 'proper festival' was hard to beat, and I was surprised how much fun one could pack into a single day.
BIG thanks to Dave for booking us, the whole Bunkfest team for putting on such a great show, Tim O' The Oak for being so good to share a venue with, and telling such verve filled tales, and the staff at the George Hotel for being so accommodating, and our lovely audiences!

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