It took 2.5 hours to get to Latitude festival in Suffolk and I joined a short queue for the day parking. People were already pitching up tents by their cars which I was told we weren't meant to do, so I concluded that I'd be sleeping in my van that night on site. Perfect: I could saunter off to watch the bands, drink and then saunter back and have a cosy sleep in the van. I later found out that as I slept soundly, Thom Yorke was playing a secret gig not far away...
I was hugely impressed with my first festival experience: people were relaxed, there was plenty of space to get up close to my favourites and the sun shone the whole time, apart from later at night when it wasn't even there. Even though it was my first festival I only made a few mistakes: I balked at the £10 programme guide and so had no idea when anyone was on having to rely upon asking everyone else to tell me. This meant I sort of missed stuff I'd have liked to have seen: some comedy notably. I also regretted some chips I had late at night which evolutionarily speaking hadn't really moved on since the potato! But apart from that, I was a professional.
I watched a bit of Benjamin Booker: great, but sound was a bit off. Badly Drawn Boy: he's not generally a happy bunny, but that's fair enough, but he's also not particularly good live, which isn't fair enough. However some lovely moments and he was right: he is one of the best songwriters of the past 20 years! Yes, he said that after swearing a lot, knocking over his beer, demanding another, then apologising for everything. Lianne La Havas: she's beautiful and sings well, but the songs aren't good enough or rather they're not really pop songs just soul, which I'm not that into. Jose Gonzales: I wandered off before he came on and when I came back I regretted wandering off! Lovely sunny festival music. When he played Heartbeats everyone was happy. Laura Marling: I think she is a genius. I didn't like her at first but her latest album has opened my ears (eyes). She was FABULOUS! Insanely good at times I just found myself shaking my head in wonder.
After that lot I just wondered around sampling a bit of poetry, book readings, comedy, etc. Great fun. I slept while Thom Yorke played his secret gig and then headed off to Minsmere nature reserve for my 9:30 guided walk...
RSPB Minsmere was properly impressive. There's a good mix of habitats that suit reed specialist birds such as bearded reedlings, reed warblers, bitterns and there are lakes and woodland all surrounded by heathland and the North Sea. When I went it was hot and sunny but very windy so that coupled with the fact that lots of birds were on their second broods meant that there wasn't that much flying around. The lakes were dotted with loads of waders and aquatic birds though, but I preferred the marsh harrier and red kites flying above and trying to get a proper sighting of a bearded tit in the reed beds.
I spent a good hour looking over the reedbeds with reed warblers flitting past and the odd bearded tit, I was told, doing the same. I never got to see a close up of one so I'll have to go back.
I also went for a long walk around the reserve over the heathland and making my way slightly wearily back along the beach 2 hours later spotting a porpoise or two and then back through the reedbeds to meet the volunteers studying the beewolves digging holes in the side of the path. I chatted with them a while and saw the beewolves carrying their honeybee prey into the holes before making my way back to my van.
In short a perfect weekend of beewolves, bearded tits and Laura Marling.