Archive | August, 2012


29 Aug



26 Aug

SIRF Friday: Labyrinth and Legging It

26 Aug

Late to bed, late to rise, makes for a good start to Friday at the festival. We had a bit of a full-on weekend lined up, so took it (relatively) easy and had a wander round the Labyrinth. It was built beside the ruins of a church, from recycled wood; packing cases, pallets etc. Around the maze were strange wooden creations and words that seemed simple or obvious but left you thinking about the kind of world we live in. Music drifted across the site from the small makeshift stage at one end, local artists entertaining us as we sat for a while on the hay bales. Lovely.

We would have liked to have spent more time here, but we had some family stuff that needed doing as well as a nap for son before the evening’s events.

This is where things started to get tricky. Running alongside SIRF is the Stockton Weekender. It started off as part of the festival but grew, and grew until it is now a festival itself. So there are now two separate festivals running at the same time. As there was only one entrance to the Weekender, it was quite a trek to move between sites if you wanted to try and see specific acts. Not easy with a three year old in tow. Son really wanted to see Beatlemania and ‘the jiggy music’ which I foolishly agreed to, even though they were on different sites.

We started off our evening back at the Labyrinth. As the sun went down, it took on an entirely different feel. Candles lit the way and a small campfire was built as people gathered around the stage. We just caught the end of Avital Raz, backed by a guy playing electric guitar with a violin bow, creating a very unique sound.

“Is it time for the jiggy music now?” Err… no. There was almost a major meltdown from an already tired toddler, but Sarah Proctor saved the day. A hugely talented singer songwriter with a fantastic voice, who managed to hold his attention until he said, “I think that maybe she could be my new girlfriend”, with a cheeky smile and a slow nod of the head. Look out, Sarah! James Hammill was up next, but other than the fact he can knock out a pretty good tune or three, I know absolutely nothing else about him.

Finally, it was time for the jiggy music as Mike McGrother and The Rogues took to the stage. Newly formed and unrehearsed, about ten musicians (mostly from other local bands, I think) belted out a selection of Pogues hits with the aid of chords being shouted across the stage and the words being held up by an audience member. Absolutely brilliant. Son had a ball; shrieking, clapping and grinning from ear to ear. He wanted to go and dance at the front but was too scared as it was dark, so had to make do with spinning me round instead.

As soon as the Rogues had finished, we nipped over to the ruined church to see the Lanterns Of Terracotta Warriors Exhibition. The lanterns were originally made to mark the Beijing Olympics and this was the first time they had been seen outside China.

I hadn’t expected much really, I only popped in because I thought it would make a nice photograph, so the atmosphere inside the old church took me completely by surprise. Even with a main road and a circus just outside, as you stepped through the arched doorway the sounds seemed to melt away to almost silence.¬†On a warm, summery night, the air was cool and an air of stillness and calm filled the ruins. It would have been lovely to stay a while and wander between the lanterns, but time was ticking on.

As I mentioned before, the layout of the sites was not great. The entrance to the Weekender was at the opposite end of the site to where we were. If there had been an entrance at this end, it would have been about half a mile to the main stage. The way it was set out meant going way past the main stage, then doubling back to actually get in, making it about a mile in total. There was less than 15 minutes of Beatlemania’s set left. I had a three year old in a pushchair and a couple of bags to carry. I am so unfit it’s ridiculous.

“Can we see the Beatles now, mammy, pleeeaaase, can we?” I should have explained that we were too far away, told him they’d finished early, anything so that he didn’t get his hopes up. What I actually said was, “Course we can. Hold on tight, mammy’s gonna leg it.” What??? What the hell did I just say? Oh crap.

Son thought it was brilliant, he was cheering me on all the way. Half way there and we could hear Beatlemania, but they were on the other side of the fence singing Back in the USSR. They’ll never finish with that, I thought, we’ve got a few minutes. My head went a bit fuzzy after that. I remember making it on site, son shouting “to the front” and pointing manically, getting him out of the pushchair and lifting him up…and they walked off stage.

Son’s face fell. “But where have they gone, mammy?”

I *may* have shouted something at the empty stage, like “how about getting back out here and singing us some songs, don’t you know I’ve just legged it across town for you lot?” Not that it made any difference as I’m sure the encore would have been planned already! Ha ha, we made it! They even saved son’s two favourite Beatles songs until the very end when he was up on my shoulders, waving his arms and singing along. Couldn’t have timed it any better, a superb end to the night.



ShowOff Showcase


22 Aug



19 Aug

Everybody’s Gone SIRFin’…

19 Aug

…SIRFin’… by the Tees?!!?

And what fun we had too! A couple of weeks ago we went to the 25th Stockton International Riverside Festival. It’s a fantastic free festival featuring a variety of performances from around the world. I remember going as a child and it was one of the few things that I missed when I lived down south, so I’ve been looking forward to the time when my son was old enough to enjoy it too.

I took him last year, just for a couple of hours. He seemed to enjoy it but that was enough for him and I don’t think he was impressed by the lack of ZingZillas. This year, however, he was a proper little festival goer.

The first show we saw was the official opening event, Prometheus Awakes, on the Thursday night. As it didn’t start until 10pm, son was told he could only go if he had a sleep in the afternoon. He had already seen some pictures of what was on and was really excited about going. I mean, what three year old wouldn’t get excited about going out after bedtime to see an 8 metre tall puppet walk down the high street?

With images projected onto nearby buildings, dancers on stage and mass aerial choreography, a cast of over 60 disabled and non-disabled volunteers from the north-east, not to mention the giant form of Prometheus making his way down the high street, it was a spectacular start to the festival. There is a video on the SIRF website if you’d like to see for yourself.



17 Aug



16 Aug


15 Aug


14 Aug

TheBoyandMe's 366 Linky