After being invited to play at Chilled Cider 2010 and missing it, due to back trouble and general ill health and a bit of apathy, there was no way I was going to miss this one. I’d heard from all quarters that 2010 was possibly the best Chilled Cider to date; great music, great cider and most importantly, great weather.
So Nina and I packed the trusty camper on the Saturday morning and made the trip from Harrow all the way down the the Isle of Purbeck, where the Square and Compass pub is situated. For the uninitiated, it’s a superb boozer with views of the sea that serves the most delicious ciders and local ales to an appreciative clientele. En route to the venue, we met up with Marcus in his camper van and enjoyed a late brunch in Verwood before heading to the car park just up the road from the pub.
Previous years had seen us being rudely awakened by the local parochial warden asking us to move on from the car park at ungodly hours of the morning, but for me, it’s still worth the risk of parking up in such a convenient location literally yards from the Square and Compass, rather than having the long trudge back to the campsite at the end of ingesting numerous ciders and tasty bar snacks. As it happens this year, we had a sound, uninterrupted nights sleep – more on this later.
The weather was certinaly smiling on us on the Saturday; a bright, strong sun but with a stiff breeze that took the edge off the heat. Perfect for this kind of event. Pete Lawrence had, as is now customary, organised the music – a mixture of live folk-tinged stuff and some eclectic DJs. I sat in the latter category – throughout the day, we enjoyed music from Newanderthal who played a completely improvised set but sounded as polished and professional as ever. Corncrow played a decent folk set, complete with clog dancer.
I was due on at about 7pm, just before the Memory Band did their thing, and to be honest by this point I was pretty frazzled from the cider and ale that I’d been enjoying throughout the day. Also, with the lack of space inside the pub [we’d all moved inside by this point] I had to play in a space that I can only describe as minimal. I wasn’t really feeling the vibes to be honest; I ended up playing a rather lacklustre set of other peoples material; in hindsight I should have really performed a set of my own work, but hey. The Memory Band came on after me and played a storming set considering that there were only three of the usually 13 or 14 strong band there.
The rest of the night is a bit of a blur to be honest – once I realised that I’d imbibed enough of the local booze, I took myself off to bed, only to be re-awakened by a motley crew of Simon, Sandra, Nina, Marcus and Judy, who proceeded to party on for a further hour or so in the camper. The rains started to fall and the wind picked up at around 1am, so they left Nina and I to get some much needed kip. We were snug as hell in the camper as the rain battered off the roof, whilst stiff gusts of wind shook the van around. It’s a beautiful feeling being so warm and cosy when you know all hell is breaking loose outside!
The following morning, it was still raining, overcast and grey. Pete’s tent had taken a severe battering in the night, being actually picked up and blown into an adjacent garden! That’s how strong the storm was. We decided to get away sooner rather than later, missing out on some great sets from the likes of Bessos and Jackie Oates, who played a lovely acoustic gig inside surrounded by a small but appreciative audience.
Still a highlight of the musical calendar for me.