We were up very early this morning having hooked up last night (all except the electrics) so that we could get away quietly with minimum disruption for our neighbours. We finally slipped off the drive about 6.40, with a plan to have a coffee (gasp!) and brekker at Sutton Scotney services. It was a pleasant morning to be on the road and although we did not entirely escape the rush-hour build up we soon made it to Sutton Scotney where we broke our fast. After breakfast, we hit the road again and noted on Twitter that, due to a build up of traffic, they had opened the camspites an hour earlier than anticipated. Note that I say campsites plural. We were off to Cropredy!
Cropredy is a pretty village five miles north of Banbury in Oxfordshire. Every August since the 1970s, its inhabitants “welcome” an ever-increasing invasion of up to 20,000 music-lovers for Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. The event is held over the second full weekend of August, from Thursday afternoon to midnight on Saturday. The last time I visited was in the late 70s, when – from memory, it was just a one-day event so this was going to be exciting. All the more so, since we were meeting up with the chaps I used to be in a band with around that time (see pics below). They were leaving later than us, but we hoped to camp on the same field – 7b in the map below.
Sadly, that was not to be. We were told that our rig was too big for that field and directed into 7a. Again – note the use of the world field. It was just that – complete with furrows, cow-pats and thistles. We were packed in like sardines, too. It took a while to get level, as you might imagine, but we were soon settled. Coffee and a wait for the boys to arrive ensued. And the cars and vans poured in. An inexorable stream of campers.
We were in touch with the boys by text but sadly they were not able to join us in field 7a and they ended up in field 7b. A look at the aerial pic below shows the sheer scale of it all. We ended up roughly where the red dot is and the boys were roughly where the purple dot is. Not ideal but thank goodness for mobiles – although the signal wasn’t brilliant!
Barry popped over to see us and it took around 30 minutes to walk from theirs and find us – again using mobiles. We agreed a plan to meet at the “The Bridge” at 4 pm ready for the kick off. The bridge is over the Oxford Canal.which we have cruised many times. We always planned to come to Cropredy by boat, someday, but I think you’d haver to arrive at Easter to get anywhere near the site!!
We queued pretty much all the way from the bridge to the Arena field and then we queued again to get our wristbands. Once that was done, we rushed in to get ourselves settled. All this had taken some time and the show had already started by the time we eventually got seated
It was a beautiful evening and there was an amazing sunset, but the highlight of that evening for me was Steve Hackett and a rendition of “Supper’s Ready” in its entirety. Poor Paul – not a big Genesis fan. 🙂 The funniest quote of the evening was from a bunch of middle-aged guys behind us. When they heard the opening chords from Steve Hackett, one of them asked if anyone had any drugs. Another replied that he had some statins. A measure of the age we have all attained!
We stumbled off to bed some 7 hours after we had arrived at the arena, stopping for coffee on the way back. After a great night’s sleep, we had breakfast and then prepared some grub to take with us (I had baked some Banana bread and we cooked some sausages in the van). It was quite a stomp to the field, with a lot to carry – may take a trolley if we come again! We met up and found a good location from whence to watch the day’s proceedings. It was a lovely day again and we had a great time. High points were Benjamin Folke Thomas, Churchfitters and the headliners, The Australian Pink Floyd.
Towards the late afternoon. though, the clouds began to bubble up and it started to rain. And then it rained and rained. I have never been so wet whilst fully dressed. Even with wet weather gear and a brolley we were soaked! It was actually quite funny rather than the miserable experience you might have imagined it to be. We laughed through Chas & Dave but by the time we got to the final act of the evening – The Australian Pink Floyd – our teeth were starting to chatter- although the lasers were certainly enhanced by the raindrops!
Chris Nash enjoying the weather
After the APF set, we made our way damply back to the van. We hung all our wet stuff up in the shower to drip and spared a thought for our friends who were tent camping. We went straight to bed to warm up and quickly dropped off after a long and happy day. Then disaster struck. At around 3 o’clock I awoke to extreme feelings of nausea and spent the rest of the night alternating between vomiting and – ahem – the other end. I felt awful and a caravan is not the best place for such activities. We hung around for a bit the next day in the hope that I would be feeling better, but eventually decided to go home to a house with proper plumbing. I was gutted to have to go and felt more than a bit cheated that we could not see out our Cropredy experience. We thoroughly enjoyed what we did have, though and will look back on the weekend largely with fondness. The festival is really well organised and everything has been thought of. They even make Cropredy village one-way only for the weekend. The villagers must love that, although some must make money on it to be sure. Some even let their drives for parking and the local school does breakfasts for school funds. Enterprising.
A full list of who we saw and what we missed can be found here.