Green Man festival: a review

Last weekend me and my pal Jonny went to Green Man festival in the Brecon Beacons, the ticket for which I’d bought purely to see Warpaint (again).

We didn’t leave Liverpool until around 8pm on Thursday, when I was already drunk as a skunk. I puked twice on the way down and it tasted exactly like the BBQ Pringles I’d just eaten. And we almost killed fox.

Anyway.

Despite kipping in the car and pitching on the Friday morning, we still ended up 20 seconds from the festival site. We were woken from our power naps by the unfortunately named Deep Throat Choir.

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Mountain Stage

The first thing we noticed was the kids. Kids, everywhere. Oh God, we thought. The clientele appeared to be made up of old hippies, young hippies, and hippies with kids.

A medium sized festival, it is known for being one of the cleanest and most peaceful in the UK. The festival places a large emphasis on recycling, so every attendee paid £1 for a plastic cup with their first drink purchase and carried it around for the weekend.

Wandering about the grounds, I found the Fairylove stall I’ve raved about in a previous post. By day two I’d caved and bought this amazing rainbow bra. You’ll never wear it again, you say? Already have around Liverpool 🙂

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Because they cost £30 – £5 less than I’d originally thought – I figured I could afford to finish the look off with some £60 wings. Here’s Jonny modelling them, along with his new wizard hat and pants which I glimpsed a silhouette of his bollocks through:

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There were lots of lamas. I’m not sure why.

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The festival grounds provided plenty of nooks and crannies to get up to no good, and we found this LED cube whilst exploring.

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Toilets are always a festival talking point, but these were the best I’ve ever experienced. Not sure if that’s down to cleaners or half the festival being made up of mums. We salute you!

It also rained a lot, but what would a Welsh festival be without rain? Pointless, that’s what.

The biggest crowd of the weekend seemed to be for Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros. I wasn’t familiar with them, apart from that song off the advert, but I had so much fun. Such a great live band!

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Charlotte Church’s Late Night Pop Dungeon were on in the Walled Garden, comprising of unusual covers and mash ups. Charlotte Church! Sequins!! Operatic Happy Together!!! So much fun and not even in an ironic way.

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The act I was most looking for was Meilyr Jones, member of Welsh band Race Horses (formerly Radio Luxembourg).

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My Maths teacher gave our whole class Radio Lux singles when I was 13 because his son was a member, and it’s still under my bed many years later. I caught both of Meilyr’s sets, one of which was the worst kept secret and Green Man and went on until 3am.

Not only is Meilyr a pleasure to listen to, he’s a wonderful entertainer. He’s bashful and smiley and makes polo necks work. He first addresses the audience in Welsh instead of pandering the the non-19%. Here’s a clip of him on the Mountain Stage. Wela’i chi yn Lerpwl mis Hydref!

Considering I literally came to Green Man to see Warpaint, I was disappointed. Although they were phenomenal live, as always, their performances are wearing thin. If I just wanted phenomenal music I would listen to it on Spotify. But the point of live music, for me, is the performance. I never thought I was bothered about audience interaction, but Warpaint bummed me out to the point that I became quite bored. Not one smile, too much pouting. Bah!

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Green Man hosts the Chai Wallahs, the largest independent music venue touring the UK festival circuit. Giving insight into the UK’s alternative and underground music scene, we spent a good deal of time here. It’s a place you can dance like a lunatic or perch on the floor and rest your muddy feet.

On the last night we observed a group of teens, all of whom looked no older than 16 but more likely 14. One girl had scribbled ‘look into my eyes’ on her t-shirt, cutting out eye holes where  to expose boobage. We were disturbed.

Anyway. Highlights included Will Varley, who had a lot to say for himself. My favourite lyric was ‘If you know where you are when you wake up, something’s wrong,’

Rews, meanwhile, were are an alternative all-girl rock band from Dublin. Great to see girls rocking AND smiling!

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The last act of the weekend were Belle & Sebastian. I was reluctant to watch because they’ve never done it for me, but Jonny was adamant that they’re an amazing live band. And what a show it was. Great visuals, great performers, great stage presence. I didn’t stop dancing.

Fans were invited onstage, to the point a stage manager appeared and scolded the band. Cue mutters of “Hillsborough” from the audience.

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The end of the night was marked by the ritual burning of the Green Man, which everybody had tagged with wishes during weekend (Jonny wished it could be Christmas every day. I wished for ‘peace, love and lemons,’ obv). I was bursting with a wee and nobody joined us for the national anthem – mainly because we only knew the first couple of lines – but it was a magical moment. Top fireworks, too.

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How a Flirty Photoshoot Improved my Confidence

A couple of years ago, never would I have considered getting my kit off onstage or in front of a camera. I would literally rather make love to a cactus.

I’ve become somewhat desensitised to topless women over the past couple of years thanks to having them shoved in my face whether I like it or not.

I felt pretty having had my hair and makeup done professionally – that was, until my friend Rachael emerged after her makeover looking a right bird.

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As an actress, Rachael knows how to rock the camera. I wasn’t nervous about getting my kit off, but I was bricking it about the actual posing. I HATE photos. I don’t do seductive or sensual, it’s either smiling or no photo. I was literally shaking with nerves despite the glass of fizz and the photographer had to help me fasten my suspender belt.

The shoot was less terrifying than I’d expected. The photographer told me exactly where to place each limb, so I slowly relaxed.

Going back to view the 40 or so photos a week later was nerve racking. What if I was the exception to the rule and they really couldn’t make me look attractive/thinner/etc etc?

Some were terrible. Of the 11 I chose, I still wasn’t keen on them all. But I blown away by these two in particular:

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A few others were nice too, although they have a vague brothel vibe.

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I was so, so excited to get home and post the photos onto Facebook. I never thought I could look so nice.

For the most part, comments were positive. It was a huge confidence boost hearing how lovely I looked.

But by the next morning, I was contemplating taking them all down because of messages like ‘I just wanna take those god damn tassels off your nipples and lick them crazy!!’

Maybe I was asking for it by posting them. Becoming interested in burlesque has made me very liberal towards bare skin, but despite that I’m actually a right prude and too polite to tell anyone they’ve offended me in case I hurt their feelings.

People can appreciate my photos, but that doesn’t mean they’re entitled to me.

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People also commented that they were unprofessional and I would never be able to write for children’s television. My answer to that is: right now, I do not write for children’s television. Maybe I’ll get there someday, but I’m not going to avoid doing things I want to do now on the off-chance I’ll do something else great in the future.

An old (male) friend unintentionally upset me by asking what I got out of posting the photos online. Wouldn’t keeping them for myself have “fulfilled” my hobby?

I am personally not that interested in seeing them, therefore I’m not that arsed. You’re free to do as you please with your own Facebook. I appreciate that it’s part of what make you a more “free” spirit than most women… you seem to give the impression that you want other people to validate what you do, and am curious as to why.

Wasn’t it enough for me to know in my heart of hearts that I looked good? He was like a dog with a bone and I felt terrible about myself. Was everybody secretly calling me a slut? Or snickering about the airbrushing and how disappointing I looked in person?

After a pep talk from a friend, I decided: screw them. They weren’t there to see the 30 photos where I looked like a beached whale and wanted to die of shame.

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I am proud of my photos. I did something that scared me and felt empowered. I am 24 years old and probably not going to look this good again, so why should I hide my body? Why are women – who make up 50% of the global population – made to feel like their bodies are something to be ashamed of?

Showing off my figure doesn’t mean that I’m promiscuous and welcome creepy comments. It means that I can celebrate myself despite my flaws, and the only thing I would go back and change is to put a smile on my face – because regardless of spots, stretchmarks or cellulite – everybody is beautiful with a smile.

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Another Wednesday, another explore

Plan A was a convent in Lancashire, which had been knocked down by the time we got there and replaced with fancy houses that stood empty because nobody could afford them.

Plan B was St Joseph’s seminary down the road. Opened in 1883, its grounds boast a large greenhouse, cemetery and gorgeous lake.

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The building itself is riddled with cameras and alarms, and we staked it out for a long time.

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Can you spot the guard?

There appeared to only be one security guard…

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We crept up on him. Notice how he’s no longer in his chair. He’d somehow managed to creep up on us – literally about 25 ft away – without even spotting us. Amazing.

Eventually we just risked it and walking right past the cameras. Still nothing. All previous entries had been boarded up. It’s such a stunning building and we were desperate to get inside, but my climbing skills weren’t up to scratch. Here’s a report from someone who did make it in.

From then on, we were on the lookout for some TOADS (Temporary, Obsolete, Abandoned and Derelict Spaces).

We found an abandoned cottage near the car and went to investigate. The view was phenomenal and I got the obligatory corn field shot.

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I even saw my first swede field! A swede, growing out of the ground! Day = made.

We scrambled across the overgrown garden to have a gander through the windows. What we saw was mostly furnished, which is my favourite kind of discovery. At first we wondered whether it was actually abandoned. Maybe someone just really hated gardening? No photos exist of the back garden, but the brambles were taller than us.

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An adorable old lady came to greet us, excited at the porspect of someone finally moving in. She explained how many people had stopped to ask about the cottage over the years, which had once been owned by an old man with a “strange son” who died approximately 20 years ago.

Onwards!

On our way to an abandoned garden centre or Camelot we passed an abandoned mansion. Searching for a parking place, we were distracted by a high-walled bridge, and on peeking over the edge on our tippy-toas because we’re both short stuff, spotted an abandoned mill.

Upon further inspection it appeared impossible to reach, so we embarked on a mission to find an alternative route.

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After half an hour’s clambering through plants taller than us and plenty of brambles (just for a change), as well as completing other obstacles, we were there. The mill looked beautiful alongside the river.

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Although the door was wide open, our guards were up in case we encountered squatters. A poster suggested the place had been out of action for around a decade.

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There was roll upon roll of herbal supplement stickers unravelling all over the floor, leading us to gather that the place had most recently been used as a factory.

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We’re pretty sure we were the first people to rediscover this place. Although some buildings had suffered the general deterioration that occurs with lack of central heating and whatnot, there was no vandalism or graffiti and even the copper pipes remained intact. Exploring always gives me the heebie jeebies, so it was easier to relax knowing there was no security or anyone else here.

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We found a pair of overalls and a cute woolly jumper on our travels…

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We sat up here, listening to the river and watching the rain for a long time.

Then we found a dead pigeon.

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We figured that this path was to keep visitors out of harm’s way.

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This was labelled the printing room and had yet more stickers.

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*Someone* couldn’t resist giving the fire extinguishers a go.

Although it was a brilliant find, despite the brambles, trying to find a way in is often the best part. Not so much out though. What I learned: it’s really scary climbing over a spiky fence that is alarmingly close to your vagina.

Back at the car it was getting dark, but we decided to quickly check out the abandoned mansion which we’d all but forgotten about. Unfortunately the phone had died we didn’t get photos.

On a huge plot of land, there was a winding driveway with an overgrown garden which was probably gorgeous way back when. The home’s architecture gave the place an Addams Family vibe.

Inside was  little disappointing, having suffered extensive fire damage and vandalism. Most of the floors had collapsed.

However, some period features remained including arched windows, stone pillars and a carved staircase. What made the visit worthwhile, though, was a huge antique fireplace adorned with a carving depicting a ship at sea. Such a tragedy that only a cartoon enjoying a biffter was there to appreciate it full time.

Images by Phill Gaffney.