Monday, 13 August 2012

Field Days

Warning - may or may not contain actual field

           It’s hard to explain to those who don’t ‘get it’ why choosing to live under canvas in a field for a few weeks in a country regaled for it’s unreliable weather could ever be considered a holiday…. The thing is that despite the frequent rainy days and nights, the potential for storms that will demolish the very shelters you’re sleeping in (and yes, that has happened before), the mud, the very limited showers / toilets (to the point that if they were more limited they would disappear like a Cheshire Cat, leaving just a grin to say ‘Well, you complained about me whilst I was here, what are you going to do if I’m gone…..?’).

          You see this particular field is pretty much that – a field. In fact it’s two big fields, both the size of several football pitches, camping only allowed around the edges, on a cliff, facing the North Atlantic. No glitz, no attempt at entering the twenty first century. We replace the cows that live there for a few weeks every year. And it’s heaven ! As a bonus there’s absolutely no mobile signal either. There’s a kind of allowable anarchy that runs the place and that’s why I go back. Imagine a festival with no music, no crowds, no entrance fee and you pretty much have it (sorry to go all hippy on you but don’t imagine something like modern Glastonbury or V, rather stroll back to early Stonehenge or maybe take a walk even further and picture a mediaeval encampment with wood fires and lute players strolling ‘round whilst wenches dispense rough wine from earthenware urns…..

          OK perhaps stick with the picture of a field with tents around the edge….. That said there were plenty of late night fires with guitars and much much rough wine, Joe Strummer would have been at home there. 

          In fact the only real complaint from the younger Tins was that someone was playing the bongos into the early hours and whoever it was had no rhythm… I had to admit that I thought it was a good idea at the time… until you’ve heard That’s Entertainment accompanied by bongo’s, well….  (and for accuracy I should point out it was a djemba I was torturing)

          It was / is a place where I can just forget the rest of the world. The kids know my ambition once there is to spend the whole time not leaving the field apart from walking the five minutes or so to one of the most perfect Famous Five type beaches I have ever seen. Uncrowded, surfable, rocky outcrops to climb and leap off, caves, blowholes, islands, poisonous fish  (Oh I didn’t mention the Weever fish did I?  This year being notable as for the first time in years I didn’t get stung by one of the evil sand lurking spiny devils and thus avoided everyone telling me they’d piss on my foot – It doesn’t work by the way, the water needs to be hotter !).

          Then there’s the other people. Hell can maybe be other people but there it just generally isn’t. That’s where the manageable anarchy comes in. There are no rules, but if anyone starts to make it hard for anyone else there then a few people will absolutely always step in.  Provided you don’t set fire to anyone’s tent then you can do what you like. Personally for me that involves shedding layers of clothes and wandering unselfconsciously about in a towel for most of the morning drinking an early glass of red wine like a primitive Noel Coward – so far no-one’s asked me to leave because of that…. Maybe next year ?

           It’s the physical space that my soul needs, that my head needs and that my life needs. I guess we all find the ones that suit us best. I’m by no means averse to cities, I love them, and I’d love to go off to a villa in Greece or a hotel in New York. But this place always does it for me. And as a measure of its charm the kids always, despite now being old enough to do their own thing, eagerly anticipate going there (and amazingly still seem to want to spend their time hanging out with me which is so not what I wanted to do with my parents at their age !) – the youngest spent some months in Australia and Bali earlier in the year and one of the first things he asked when he touched back down was ‘ When are we going to the field….?

          I could write reams just about being there but I don’t want this to turn into the blog equivalent of being invited over for a sherry and a light ale and a look at the neighbours’ holiday slides, so I’ll try to restrict myself over the next week or so. Although do expect some specifics to show up now and again.

           I’d invite you all there to join me, but like all the best locations it’s a secret spot...
 And yes it's obvious - but I love this version of the song....

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