Rebekah, Rebekah, Toby, Anna and Caleb decided to join the youth scratch choir. They had three rehearsals and then performed on the mainstage. Toby even did the male solo in Oh Happy Day.

So this seems to be another Greenbelt tradition, selling off the Divine chocolate very very cheaply – it’s not all ours honestly!

I made pancakes for everyone – not my best pancakes but they still seemed to be well received especially with chocolate spread!

Looks like Jamie Might be getting anointed here, well it is a Christian arts festival!

Boys looking sad 🙁

Boys looking happy 🙂

And this one is specially for Church on the Roundabout regulars “Hi you’ve caught me queueing for the chemi-loos at Greenbelt – and heeeeere’s this weeks notices!”

We really enjoyed spending an afternoon sitting in the the very chilled out space that was the Performance Cafe, drinking elderflower cordial (thanks Mick). It was just what we needed after being very busy. Jonathan sat and drew quite happily while we listened to amongst others Ellie Williams.

Not sure who is leading who astray here.

We really wanted to get another chance to see Jude Simpson and so went to the musical comedy showcase. We went and queued nearly and hour and a half before hand – luckily the lovely Sally and Tony had volunteered to have Jonathan and the girls were also queueing but not right next to us. We had got wise by Monday evening and had taken our little stools to sit on and a notebook and pens and book. It turned out that the venue wasn’t full anyway but we all got our favourite places to sit in – the kids downstairs on the floor at the front and us old fogeys in the balcony with seats!

Not only did we once again see Jude Simpson (and I’m delighted to say that the kids loved her too) but we got to see Folk On (Folk Off) who the kids had highly recommended and we thought they were brilliant and we are very sad that we can’t find anything at all about them online!

Then it was Tuesday Morning and time to go home 🙁

The long walk to the proper flushing loos

the empty site

And Dave finally gets into the festival spirit

This years Greenbelt gave us the experience of camping in the coldest weather we have ever experienced. The temperature went down to 0 on Saturday night, Nerissa woke up on Sunday morning to ice on the tent. I think I slept for about 2 hours in total and don’t think I have ever felt so cold.

This is what we all looked like heading off to watch the London Community Gospel Choir, please bear in mind that it is August, not February!

When we finally got to the mainstage, wrapped up for a winter’s evening we then had to do the other Greenbelt tradition and queue for the loos

Dancing while waiting

Tony doesn't think queueing for chemical loos is the done thing

Hanging around and watching LCGC.

The area in front of the mainstage got too busy for the kids to be able to see over everyone’s heads so we moved over to the side where they had lots of space for dancing.

As well as the events to go to (mostly music and comedy in our case and sometimes both together – did I mention already the fantastic Jude Simpson) there are loads of displays and activities going on around the site.

Christian Aid had a tent all about tax and the cost that tax avoidance by major companies has for the whole world.

And lots of art works around the site.

Jonathan was at the kids activities, the girls were off terrorising the rest of the camp-site with their friends there was finally time for martin and I to catch our breath and look at the program. We did this in the essential to visit venue. Now at the Isle of Wight Festival that would be the Solace Tent at Greenbelt (as at many other festivals) it is definitely the Tiny Tea Tent . Martin is concentrating very hard juggling the daily diary and the big guide and trying to work out what we want to do. We decided that we wouldn’t worry about going to any talks as we could download them afterwards, we would concentrate on going to more experiential things. So I decided I wanted to do Beer and Hymns (which in the end had too long a queue so I didn’t get into it) Taize worship and the Wild Goose Big Sing. We both wanted to do Milton Jones, London Community Gospel Choir and a few other bits and pieces. We managed most of what we wanted to do but not everthing and boy did we have to queue for some events!

On Sunday Morning Martin decided to chill out at the tent and the rest of us went to the main communion at the main stage. With the theme of looking sideways continued we had some unusual visual images. We looked though a mirror to see the mirror writing in our service handouts and also to see it on stage. It took me quite sometime to be able to see it in the mirror but eventually I got there.

We also put three different types of service sheet together to produce a word.

We used the red napkins in a responsive reading and had lots of confetti blown all over us and then shared communion together.

Usually at churches when they “share the peace” I look for an excuse to be somewhere else – I really hate doing the big phoney smile and hug or handshake thing. Small children are good for this as they can often be encouraged to start crying or need a nappy change at an opportune moment unfortunately mine are now to big for this and fortunately we don’t do this at our church. However even I enjoyed sharing the peace sat in a field surrounded by good friends some of whom seemed to be doing Rimmer impressions with the little mirrors – part of the looking sideways thing!

So ridiculously early on Friday morning we set off to Greenbelt. We were on the 6:30 Red Funnel from Cowes, joining with The Oustons and the Murphys. I felt sorry for the barely awake passengers on the ferry who were hoping for a quiet peaceful crossing.

We managed to meet up with everyone in our group in a car park just outside Cheltenham and then joined the long queue in.

The weather had been bad and we had been warned that we might not be allowed to take our car on to the racecourse to camp. When we arrived we were told this was the case but that we could get on to the main camping field with cars and that a steward would direct us. Well at the key point of making a decision between a preferable location where we could camp together and carrying the gear the stewards ran out and we were left fending for ourselves.

In true Gibson indecisiveness we (to the tune of the Hokey Cokey )”we got the stuff out of the car, the stuff in the car, got back into the cars and drove all about” eventually we went back to abandoning the cars and very naughtily dragged everything over the racecourse to get to an empty bit of ground. We were very grateful for Dave’s trailer which did sterling sevice dragging our gear illicitly across to our pitch.

So we got pitched, had some dinner and headed out. We started the complicated arrangements of who had which younger children, who was going to go and queue and what for, what time older ones might come back and when we would all manage to coincide and eat!

the rainbow after leaving the children's area

Shara and I headed off to a session on food and rituals – this was mostly little bits of talking and then discussion in small groups – it seemed that Shara and I did more food and rituals than others in the group so we didn’t really learn very much but picked up a few nice ideas. then it was off to join the big queue to get the children registered for the kids activities! Only it wasn’t there – there was no queue at all – we went straight in and got them sorted – amazing. although we were warned there would still be a horrific queue the next morning.

So back to the tent quick regroup and off to see the amazing Jude Simpson with Martin. When we were here two years ago we only just managed to get in to see her so we arrived early – we got in easily this time perhaps because she had been upgraded to the bigtop. She was just as funny as we remembered and it was a good start to Greenbelt

I was up early so had a bacon roll and hot chocolate in peace before heading for the queue.

Even if you are registered in the children’s area you are not guaranteed a space. Tokens for a session are handed out at 8.45. If you are in the queue at 8.45 and they run out you are guaranteed and afternoon place if you are there after 8.45 you are guaranteed nothing. So people go with their chairs and flasks and papers and wait early. I decided I didn’t care which session they went to so got there about 8.30 to wait. The queue was far longer than I expected and it took me a few minutes to walk to the end of it. When I arrived at the front I managed to get the children’s tickets and headed back to the tent to turn round again and return with the children <phew> just as well i could get tickets for all the children going.