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The Coldest Summer Festival ever…

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

Well, that was what it seemed. In May 2018 I was flicking through Facebook when I came across a notification that a friend wanted me to like the page Love the Triangle. This refers to a landmark near where I live in Southampton where three roads meet, thus forming a triangle, and there is a clock tower in the middle. It is known as Bitterne Triangle, and there are a number of shops and eating places, plus two pubs and two churches nearby. The Facebook page mentioned that there was a festival happening on 16 June, Tri-Fest, with live music. This seemed like a great opportunity to play live locally, so I contacted the festival organiser to find out more details for myself and my husband who is also a singer-songwriter.


There was one snag – the festival was the same date as the next concert of the amateur orchestra that I play with. As I hadn’t missed a concert in the four years that I’ve been playing with them I decided to go for Tri-Fest and emailed my section leader to let her know.


My husband Steve, on the right, accompanied by friend George Wilson

To my delight, organiser of the music was a fellow ‘cellist who I had met a few years previously when she and her husband set up The Veg Shed, which for a while had sold locally produced fruit and vegetables from, literally, a shed opposite the clock tower at Bitterne Triangle. We had bumped into each other a few times, including at the local folk club when she played as part of a duo with a friend who was a singer-songwriter.


I drew up a set list which included my “Festival” song (naturally) and “Down by the river”, which was inspired by the local stretch of the River Itchen. There were also to be a few stalls, and one of these was being organised by my colleagues at October Books. Things were looking good, although Steve, my husband, was concerned that there would be no amplification, which he could cope with as he can bellow but my voice is rather quiet. Anyway, I rehearsed my set and Steve invited a friend that he was playing with regularly to accompany him for his set. There was live music planned for the afternoon and into the evening, so as I was performing at 3pm I thought I would either hang around or go home after my slot and wander down for the early evening.


So the day approached – the weather outlook didn’t look good, there was cloud and light rain forecast. Steve and his friend were on at 2pm, so we got there around lunchtime. There was a strong chilly wind, so there weren’t many people around. Then it started to rain, so my bookshop colleagues had to find something to cover the books on the stall with. I wandered around the other stalls, just to keep warm, and when Steve and George started playing I sat and shivered. While the next act, another musical acquaintance, played we had drinks from micro-pub The Butcher’s Hook, and the wind seemed to die down. My moment arrived – I was wearing a summer outfit but had to keep my jacket on as it was still pretty cold. I had to yell above the traffic, and I sang as loud as I could. About 20 minutes into the set the sun came out – at last! But it didn’t stay out for long, and by the time I finished I was ready to go home, just to warm up!


My plans of wandering back later on were thwarted by the weather – once we got home I couldn’t face going out again. I changed into some warmer clothes and settled in front of the TV – so much for summer festivals! It was a different story at the Beggars Fair in July, when I performed with the Southampton Folk Orchestra…