In various places, including my facebook page, twitter account and brand new website (more about that another time), I have been talking about a new Welsh festival called Gwyl Coda, which took place on the final weekend in July. Now I have had time to dry out my tent, and my feet, I figured I should let you know more. Being a (fairly) logical kind of person, I have opted to approach the weekend in date order, and assign a post to each day.
Friday 27th July
After extensive faffing about, including much wrangling of space-hoppers and consulting of Google Maps, I finally set off for a field in mid-Wales. The Dol Llys campsite and Llanidloes, to be precise, venue for the aforementioned Gwyl Coda festival. (If anyone is wondering about the origin of this festival, and of the name, it may interest you to follow this link to an article by Stuart Elliott, who helped organise the event.)
Despite having told her I would be there a number of hours before I actually arrived, I met up with a long-standing friend in the drizzly registration queue around 4pm (I am not sure if she had been standing in the queue for a long time, simply that she has been my friend for a good many years). We exchanged notes on when we had got there, and where we intended to pitch our tents, before embarking on an effort to outwit the Welsh weather. This endeavour met with relative success, leading to my bijou shelter and her frankly palatial structure being erected before the worst of the rain set in. Hurrah!
Then came the first of my sessions for the weekend. This involved a space-hopper, a hat and a copy of my newly published little chapbook (more about that later too), and took place under a rather lovely horse-chestnut tree. My friend and another good pal of many years joined me beneath the tree with their various family members, plus a lovely lady who appeared to have ended up there by mistake. I read some poems and explained what the whole Hop4Hope aspect of the weekend was due to be. This was all met with interest, applause and perhaps a little bemusement.
After this, I thanked folk for their time, and set off with space-hopper to put together my interactive installation for the weekend – the intention of which was to get people to think about what brings them hope. By the time I reached the quiet reflective tent, where I had been told the installation would probably fit best, I had gained a trail of interested acolytes. The children of my friend, and some friends of theirs, were eyeing my space-hopper hopefully. They followed me into the marquee, which was in semi-darkness. They followed me around the circumference of the marquee, as I wondered where to place my installation. Finally, they followed me back out of the marquee again, as my injunctions to be quiet and stop disturbing the meditative people did not appear to be working.
The best course of action at this point was to give the kids a space-hopper and pump to play with, whilst I returned to the tent attempted to create something suitably arty and interactive with my installation (apologies again to the people I disturbed in doing so). Having got to a point at which I was relatively happy, and having been politely asked to leave so that the 8pm reflective event could take place, I opted to cut my losses and return the next day.*
The rest of the evening passed well, including food and music with friends, plus much laughing at people on space-hoppers. I finally retired to my tent, snuggled into my sleeping bag and fell asleep to the sound of happy festival goers and rain on the canvas.
*See Saturday’s post for more…