This year’s Druid Camp was different in so many ways to those of previous years. I suppose it always is really, so many different energies are brought out at Camp, and the focus shifts from one Camp to the next; Bardic, Ovatic, Druid… But this year both the venue and the weather were very, very different. Heavy storms and torrential rainfall (although of course not as torrential as folk in the north east had endured) meant that our customary campsite, at Dingestow in the Forest of Dean, was flooded and inaccessible. It was very possible that Camp could be cancelled for this year, but at the last minute a new site was found at Westbury on Severn.
Where the Dingestow site is set into a shallow hollow, encircled with trees and with a flowing brook at one end, The Westbury on Severn site was a hilltop plateau, encircled by a wide horizon and big, big skies. Bounded also on three sides by Sabrina, or the River Severn. And as the site was so wholly different, so was the weather!
Arriving on the Wednesday morning in the camper van (first Camp without the tent), I joined one of the many fire circles already in place, and started the long and wholly wonderful pleasure of greetings with friends old and new, already known in the real and sometimes thus far only on the Internet. The Camp met in ritual for the opening ceremony, and also crafted a quiet area of the site for those who wished to meditate in peace. In other years this is created in an adjacent field under a majestic oak, and also in a hollowed oak grove hung with mistletoe.
Thursday was brilliantly sunny and I burned like a fool, having failed to remember the sun block. This year Camp is one day longer than previously, and this gave a bit more time for socialising rather than rushing from one workshop to another – out in the sunshine rather than under marquees! Carolyn Hillyar and Nigel Shaw played some moving music using drums and flutes, with tunes and words inspired by indigineous tribes around the world, and the evening continued around the camp fire – and eventually ended there too (at least as far as I can remember. I know I woke up in my camper van, but how I got there I have nooooo idea!). Lots of liquid fun, including a bottle of last years chilli vodka, lots of different meads and several whiskies of scotch, irish american and canadian types. And beer.
But then Friday downed, grey and troublesome. The rain was fierce, cold and very wet! Exposed as we were on top of the hill there was no hiding from it (unless it be in the lovely dry warm comfortable and kinda bouncy camper van!). I had remembered to take my Drizabone long coat, and my hat, and even gaiters, so I was pretty ok about the rain, and in between workshops went visiting with folk in other fire circles. Workshops included one by lovely Kris Hughes (newly published, go buy his book!) and we had some fine electric harp playing from Jade Hamzelou. The evening entertainment included Paul Mitchell, Bardic Satirist, who included a great new song all about CoBOD the Elephant (or something like that! LOL)
Saturday dawned with clearing skies, and the weather had swapped once more. Sunshine and gentle breezes carried us through some more workshops (a splendid one with Paul Mitchell on ‘Folk Music and Druidry’ stood out for me) to another evening of fun. We had three comics, including the now perennial return of lovely Will Hodgson, and a set from The Dolmen. I wasn’t overly impressed by them; for me at least they were far far too loud and out of keeping with Druid Camp. The use of a petrol generator might have influenced this viewpoint – I love the simplicity of our customary pedal-powered stage sound and lighting set…
Sunday brought more rain and wind, dousing the tents of those planning to leave, and making the drive down from the hill to the road… interesting. Given that the weather was so bad I was unsurprised to have few folk attend my showing and discussion of ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, which had been requested by several folk on the forums. Still, we had a good chat about the message behind the movie. The rest of the day I spent with various folk around the camp until it was time to slide the camper down the hill and drive home from a very different but no less wonderful Camp.