Ms Markontour and I have been enjoying a blissful bank holiday weekend at Knepp Wildland Safari in southern England. We’ve been wanting to visit since reading Isabella Tree’s ‘Wilding’ a few years ago – an account of how she and her husband, Charlie Burrell, decided to see what happened if nature was permitted to manage itself on their 3,000 acre loss-making farm. The result is the most exhilarating nature site in Britain. A place that echoes all day and night to bird-song, has welcomed back multiple species that were on the brink of extinction in Britain from the Turtle Dove to the Nightingale, and where bramble and scrub have proven to be the catalyst for abundance, variety and beauty, rather than a nuisance to be cleared away. I could have happily stayed forever.
I’m not sure I’ve ever laughed so much at a music gig. Caitlin Rose self-deprecatingly protested that half her act was comedy and it was almost true. Almost except the most compelling voice in alt-country back on stage for the first time in seven years, to the delight of a sell-out crowd at Bristol’s The Fleece.
The Museum of Broadway made for educative departure-day lunch break after a busy week in New York. Charting the genesis of the world’s most famous theatre district, on what an opening frame recognises as Lenape land, the museum takes the visitor on a chronological entertainment journey filled with song, costume and, less expectedly, mirrors.
Swansea’s Dylan Thomas Centre pays fitting homage to the unique talent of Wales’ greatest writer. While the exhibition space is modest in comparison to the depth of Thomas’ literary contribution, it is so wonderfully curated, with Thomas’ sonorous voice regaling visitors with excerpts of his poems, letters and plays at every turn, that a full afternoon was necessary for our visit.
Cycling down a wooded cut through to Groesffordd yesterday we disturbed a sleek, grey raptor, who wheeled suddenly in front of us and then swept up the path at high speed, flying just inches above the ground. It was a breathtaking display and with such characteristics could only have been one bird – the usually elusive Merlin.
It is the season of lists and best-of-the-year’s, so here’s my annual contribution: the fifteen songs released in 2022 which have most inspired and uplifted me. In keeping with precedent, there are more than fifteen songs in the list and none of them are festive. I am indebted as always to the late, great John Peel and the inspiration of his Festive Fifty.
Nestled between the west bank of the river Usk and the eastern side of the Monmouth and Brecon canal, protected by the gently rolling hulk of the Black Mountains, and boasting the best selection of beers and ciders at any festival I’ve ever been too, Green Man is much more than a music event. Here follows markontour’s review of the bliss that was Green Man 2022.
Part adventure travelogue, part popular science journalism, part conveyor of big truths, Ben Rawlence‘s The Treeline is a beautifully written, mind-opening account of how trees are migrating north in response to climate breakdown. It’s a page-turner and yet also book I lingered over, because there were so many passages that necessitated an intake of breath, followed by a solemn stare into the distance, and then a re-read to make sure I had fully understood the devastating implications of the new information just imbibed.
What a perfect weekend. Despite the late nights, I always come away from Latitude feeling relaxed rather than tired. This was a largely hot one and so we managed to spend most of Sunday just lounging in the wooded shade of the Sunrise stage, watching great new band after great new band. Elsewhere, alongside all the music, there was Disco Yoga, Maseoke, street dance, performance poetry, decent vegan/veggie food, and swimming in the lake. Couldn’t ask for more.