Midwinter Fair

So, I have decided that festivals and I simply do not mix. Seriously, right before this festival, having had nothing for months, I had a major flair up that meant I slept not a wink the night before and felt like utter crap for the Saturday (and not so great on the Sunday but there we go). That aside, I had a wonderful time but my photos were a bit lacking and the descriptions, no doubt, will be similarly so.
The Saturday was the long day of the Midwinter Fair so, in order to ensure we could get home again afterwards, Thijs, Zoë and I cycled to the central station. That’s normally a really easy ride but with me in my stupid no sleep and no food state it took us a heckishly long time and I am so grateful to my companions for not getting really annoyed with me! Anyway, that adventure over we caught a couple of trains and arrived in Alphen aan den Rijn which is where the thing was held.
I can’t say that I got to look around Alphen aan den Rijn much at all but the bits I saw were very sweet and rather pretty. When it starts to get a bit warmer, and with my newly purchased travel card, I may visit again to chill a bit in the sun. Definite bonus as the streets (etc) were named after continents, countries, and cities. The only place where, if you get lost, you literally go round the whole world in order to find your way 😉

At the event

The Midwinter Fair itself was lovely. It’s quite small which is actually really nice because, to be quite honest, there’s only so many places you can be at once and only so many things you can do in a short period of time. On the Saturday and the Sunday we took things rather slowly and just enjoyed looking around and taking things in a bit.
The fact that it’s held in a living museum (I think that’s an accurate description) means that it’s rather atmospheric. With old fashioned buildings from multiple time periods, tree lined winding paths and little streams with simple plank bridges it really does allow you to take a step back from the rush of modernity for just a little while. There were also some lovely food stands and a little market selling a mix of stuff from statues to clothes to drinking horns. Talking of which, I managed to buy some mead to take to England for Christmas so that’s a definite bonus!


As for the music, the first full set we caught was that of AmmA. I keep managing to catch a few songs by them but never a full performance so it was a bit unusual to sit at the side of the stage and watch from beginning to end. Really do love their sound though!
After a fair bit of exploring and lurking, which involved sitting round outside fires pretending that we were keeping warm and not simply getting a face full of smoke, we went to catch the evening shows of LEAF, Shireen, Harmony Glenn, and The Dolmen.
Poor LEAF had some technical issues setting up and so on which must have been so annoying for them. Kept the audience in suspense mind 😉
Shireen are a group that I’ve had a very limited awareness of, hearing their EP when it was featured on Wyldwood radio, I think. I was really impressed by their sound, however, which is quite an open, somewhat jazzy and rocky one… I’ve not really described that well but yeah, they have their own sound, do it well, and stand out for it. 
Thijs and I have discussed our wish to see Harmony Glenn live at some point and this was our day. Oh my goodness, what performers. I think I can speak for both of us, and probably Zoë too, when I say that they were worth seeing. And I guess I’ll be hoping to catch them again too! In fact, I can’t help but think that my mother would love them so lets see if I can book tickets for one of their shows when she comes to visit.

My stunning friends enjoying the evening entertainment 😉

Finally, The Dolmen closed up the evening with their loud rocky music. Actually, a gentleman asked Thijs is they were the “noise band” so I think that pretty much sums up The Dolmen!! This would be my fourth time, I think, seeing them in the Netherlands yet they are from just down the road of my old home in the UK so I’m still not sure how this has worked out. That aside, it felt wonderful just to let down my hair and dance/bob to the music with no care in the world. It always feels good to just let go but when you’re listening to good music, with friends, and in the midst of a flurry of finals it is pure bliss, I tell you!

On the downside, I did have “Dead Cats Don’t Meow” stuck in my head all night… I also fell asleep on Zoë on the way home but shhh, that’s our secret!
Day two was just Zoë and me as Thijs was being sensible and working on the paper we both had to hand in on the Monday. His absence did mean I was suddenly the Zoë-translator of the onstage banter and explanations which was a rather scary position to be in with my beginners Dutch! We did quickly develop a series of shorthand between us for the most common concepts such as which could see speeches of a minute reduced to the concise version: “Buy our stuff” 😉

During Sowulo’s set

Anyway, the first act we saw on Saturday was Sowulo, another group whose music I knew but whom I had not yet managed to catch live. Their show is quite clearly a real experience and it was great to be in the audience. I mean, their music is something special in its own right but the energy that you get when you’re in a room hearing it live… that gives it a whole new dimension. Thijs did insist that we saw them for a very good reason!
Zoë and I followed up by watching the full set of Kaunan as we’d only managed to see part of the set on Saturday. There was something lovely about the lack of pretense to their set. Everyone sat down on the floor (or a couple danced) and just listened to three men playing tunes with the odd bit of explanation and banter in between. It wasn’t a performance per se, as much as I enjoy performances, and it was refreshing to see something so stripped back. The fact that we went to see them twice, and both wanted to, probably says something about the quality of the music here.
During Rapalje’s set

Finally, it was Rapalje time! More dancing and singing along and generally enjoying myself. It seems they went down well with Zoë too so I’m classing that as an all round success. Wasn’t quite so strange to see them without my family this time, possibly because I had a friend from home and possibly because I’m getting used to it… who knows!

It was certainly a good way to spend the weekend and I’m pleased that Zoë was there to share it with me, and Thijs too. 
This post is not for facebook because it is long, rambling, and late. Oops.

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