I had a lie-in this morning. After a whirlwind of a weekend it was well needed and shows I’m getting old!
It began with a stressful few moments on Thursday afternoon when I pulled up my booking details for The Catherine Wheel Hotel in Henley-on-Thames, only to discover that I’d made a bit of an error.
I’d done the reservation all the way back in January, when my uncle’s 60th birthday celebration at the Rewind South Festival was first suggested. Having never been to a music festival, and because I hate camping, I thought I’d book us in to something with solid walls as close as possible so we could make full use of our Saturday day tickets.
The plan was to sedately swan in on the water taxi to the festival site. However. After realising that my bargain two-night deal was actually an extortionate one-nighter in a now fully-booked place, I managed to beg a bed off one of my cousins who lives in Slough, for the following night, which meant driving.
My cousin, along with nearly 60 other family members and friends, was convening on the Saturday too, which was handy. The forecast was looking marvellous and we drove down on the Friday to an 80s playlist Anne had made up to get us the mood. God knows what the people in the neighbouring cars thought of us as we did our version of Carpool Karaoke. There were a fair few opportunities to eyeball us too with all the congestion on the roads.
Henley-on-Thames is famous for the Regatta, and for rowing generally, but as we looked from the main bridge, I only spotted one rower amongst the several motorised boats. I wonder how they can remain steady with all the wake of the waves from the speedsters. It seems a lovely town, but was heaving with car traffic. I hope it’s just for occasional weekends like this as it would be rubbish to live with those fumes all the time.
I had decided to run the Henley Parkrun on Saturday morning as we weren’t meeting up ‘til the afternoon. Looking at their website, the average number of finishers is 59.2. An strange number, which makes me wonder if someone collapsed before the end while gamely flinging an arm over the line.
It was also a very small number of people, which always makes me nervous as I feel like there are less places to hide. The organisers were very friendly though and, in fact, I think the number of tourists out swelled it to over 70. It is a shame the run isn’t more supported locally. It’s a great route, all off-road, and mostly in the shade which was a blessing on Saturday morning. Granted you have to be patient about overtaking because of the several narrow paths but it’s still a nice challenge. There is one tough but manageable hill that you have to scale twice on the two-lap course, and it’s virtually all through woodland.
I had been a bit worried about how I would fare, given that I hadn’t packed my running shorts. I had to wear regular ones, that allowed for a lot more thigh jiggling, and possible chafing. Within the first few strides, though, I’d forgotten all about them, and just enjoyed the course, chatting occasionally to other runners, some of whom were going to Rewind later too. This was definitely my favourite part of Henley.
When we first got into the grounds of the festival at around half 12, it was still relatively empty. But within an hour, well before Bjorn Again took to the stage at 2pm, it was teeming. Apparently Saturday was fancy dress day, and some people had gone to town. I saw The Flintstones, looking a bit worse for wear, E.T., and even a guy in a Rubik’s cube which doubled up as a handy drinks stand when he took it off.
We had many people in our party who remembered the bad fashions from the 80s the first time around, and lots of younger people who were witnessing the dayglo legwarmers, the shoulder pads and the shell suits for the first time. In fact, another, very much younger, cousin of mine couldn’t work out why there seemed to be so many far-right anti-abortionists at the festival. When I looked at him quizzically, he described the words on their T-shirts. I laughed, and told him it was related to those worn by Wham. The ‘CHOOSE LIFE’ logo had been designed in the early 80s as a pithy message against drug abuse and suicide attempts, and the Wham boys had made it famous on their ‘Wake Me Up’ video.
I had worn a ‘Frankie Says Relax’ T-shirt, but the headline act was disappointing. Holly Johnson (lead singer of the erstwhile band Frankie Goes To Hollywood) seemed to think he was some rock legend, strutting up and down the stage with his shades on while guitar solos extended his songs to fill his hour-long slot, and some second-rate graphics and smoke effects tried to big up his ego.
He should have taken a leaf out of the bands before him. Belinda Carlisle, who I had a bit of a crush on in her heyday, did not disappoint, and a bunch of us wove our way to the stage area to get a bit more up-close atmosphere and dance our socks off. Kim Wilde and Odyssey were also great, and who knew Martin Kemp (Spandau Ballet) could get mileage out of a leopard skin shirt and other people’s records on his DJ set?!
So by the time Holly came on, we were thinking that we were too knackered to hang around too long anyway. My cousin had asked for a lift back as her kids were planning on taking the car to another party elsewhere. So that made me feel even older.
It was the best birthday party ever, I have to say. We had such a lovely time catching up, dancing, singing, drinking shots of contraband tequila (not me I hasten to add, as a designated driver). I’m pretty sure my uncle had the best time too, if he can remember any of it!
The weekend was not over though, because when we got home on Sunday, we had to hotfoot it back out again to a ‘Gender Reveal’ party. Anne’s youngest son and his wife are expecting their first child early next year, and we all got to find out whether it would be a boy or girl together.
Reader, it’s a boy!