Grace picked me up just after four (unusually almost on time), we bought drinks and petrol and were off along the M4 towards London. We hadn't spoken for a while so the first 45 minutes of our trip were spent talking at high speed and high pitch to get out everything we'd been doing and seeing. The rest of the time was spent listening to the new Fleet Foxes album so Grace could prepare herself for the concert. We actually made good time until we hit the rush hour traffic (good thing it was Thursday and not Friday) but getting into London wasn't as hard as getting to Kew Bridge. Pid met us and we changed at her house. We knew the doors opened at eight and arrived there at half past. I was shocked by the lack of people outside and how they were casually lounging against the barriers. With hindsight, we could have arrived 30 minutes later, it would have allowed the twins to eat a proper meal (I'd had one at lunchtime). The support band were The Bees (so I actually heard These Are The Ghosts, Ken's song, played live!), who were pretty good, but I'm pretty sure most of us were just willing the Foxes to get on the stage by nine.
What can I say about Fleet Foxes? The first time I saw them was three years ago at Hard Rock Calling in Hyde Park when they made the rain stop by playing Sun Rising and Sun Giant one after the other. Totally different atmosphere here, of course, though you wouldn't have known it if you'd been sitting in front of four chattering girls like I was. I refused to let them bother me in the end. It was a bit harder to ignore the two people who kept making us all get up so they could get drinks. I know that it was really hot in the theatre, but come on. Personal highlights were Mykonos (dear God this song), Lorelai (current personal anthem), Your Protector, The Shrine/An Argument (which ended up being Pid's favourite after us fearing that she would hate the jazz interlude in the middle) and Helplessness Blues, which was their final encore (I might have punched the air and yelled "yes"). Bless Robin Pecknold, he still seemed shocked by how much we cheered him back onto the stage for his solo encore of Oliver James. Lot of people yelling "Steven", which is the call sign for listeners of a 6 Music show, but I'd forgotten that and I don't think anyone had explained it to him. Wonder if it's worth emailing him on the site.
Afterwards, we stumbled outside and drove back to Pid's house, changed into pyjamas and watched Tangled while eating toast and honey. I finally met the twins' cousin, George. Grace was mortified afterwards to discover that was the first time we'd actually met and apologised for not introducing me. I reminded her that it was up to Pid as she lives with him and it should have been her introducing us, not Grace. They enjoyed the film, though we agreed it's not as good as The Princess and the Frog.
Grace and I went had breakfast in the Maids of Honour tea-room the next day. Grace asked the waitress if we could have the weekend breakfast even though it was only Friday. The waitress couldn't have been more helpful but I think the chef was annoyed with the demand as we both felt a little bit ill after that meal. We bought a couple of maids of honour to eat for later (we ended up forgetting to eat them). Grace wanted to go to Selfridges as they were having a marine biology exhibit there or something but she'd forgotten her Oyster card, it would have taken us 45 minutes to get there from Kew Bridge and I told her that driving wouldn't get us to Selfridges any faster, as we'd have to pay the congestion charge and then find a parking space. So we decided to drive back to Cheltenham and have a rest before going to the Cotswold Olimpick Games. Predating our modern Olympics by over two hundred years (2012 is their four hundredth year anniversary), the Cotswold Olimpicks are composed mainly of rural sports, including the famous Shin Kicking Championships.
Grace insisted on going to a Maidenhead Aquatics branch to check out some aquariums before we reached Gloucester. This wouldn't have been a problem except she'd never been to this branch before and had no idea to get to it. Neither did I, obviously. Tempers frayed and nearly snapped. ("You don't need to take that aggrieved tone." "It wasn't aggrieved before - IT IS NOW!") Even when we finally reached the business park, we couldn't find the place, because it was at the back of a garden centre! Ridiculous. Once inside the cool darkness, our tempers improved slightly, because watching fish IS very soothing.
We dropped off some of my stuff at Gloucester and then collapsed in Grace's Cheltenham flat. Grace was so tired that she actually went to bed, which I didn't mind because I was able to get started on her copy of Witches Abroad (which rapidly became my second favourite Pratchett book of all time next to A Hat Full Of Sky). I went to Waitrose and bought some food for our Olimpicks picnic and some scented candles for me (Fairy Dust, White Lily and Daisy Dip from Lily Flame). They do these marvellous Indian snack bags which contain bhajis and samosas, perfect for keeping your stomach full. Also bought strawberries and raspberries. I woke Grace up at seven and we then watched some Father Ted on YouTube. I discovered that she hasn't seen Corpse Bride. Must remedy this ASAP.
We actually made it to Chipping Campden without taking a wrong turn once (we did MISS a turn, because Grace was driving too fast, but she was able to find a driveway and turn around without too much trouble). Fortunately for us, the weather was glorious that Friday and the Cotswolds were bathed in sunlight, which made them look even prettier than they usually are. We drove through little villages, past a real life station called Honeybourne and eventually drove all the way up Dover's Hill and back down again because we were getting the coach from Chipping Campden this time instead of walking up. We parked around the back of Chipping Campden Secondary School (which is up Cider Mill Lane, I love the Cotswolds sometimes) and just managed to catch the last coach up to the crossroads (£1 for the ride, donated to keeping the Games running). We payed £3 each to get into the Olimpicks (a better bargain than the 2012 Games, I think you'll agree) and then made our way to the Lower Arena, which is part of a natural ampitheatre created by the slope of the hill easing into a plateau. I thought there were less people this year, maybe it's because we arrived later.
The Games were actually running about 15 minutes AHEAD of schedule, which meant there was more light, so Grace was able to take some really good photos of the shin kicking and the arrival of Robert Dover and Endymion (yes, his name really was Endymion) Porter on horseback. This also meant we were able to see the fireworks at the end of the Games, the lighting of the truly massive bonfire, and we then took part in the Torchlit Procession down to Chipping Campden. You buy sticks that have been coated in flammable material (not sure what) and then everyone on the hill walks down to the village. I think there was over 1,000 people in the procession. People of all ages took part and I don't think there were any accidents despite all those flaming torches and all those little children. It felt amazing to be there, doing something that people had been doing for nearly 400 years in the same time and place, as if time had fallen away. I could have bumped into a Georgian or Victorian and not been surprised.
After we finally reached Chipping Campden (it's 4.25 miles from the top of the hill to the Square), we threw our torches in a skip, bought a couple of burgers and then drove back to Gloucester. I was so tired that I slept until nearly midday on Saturday. Missed my hairdresser's appointment but couldn't really care. Saturday was spent doing absolutely nothing apart from watching A Good Man Goes To War and then trying to stop my brain leaking through my ears afterwards.
Here endeth Part I of my June Adventures. Part II will be up soon!