Soo, we’re off again and Michael O’Leary gets the custom. After numerous successful flight cancellations, ours remains untouched and we’re on our way courtesy, of Kirsty taxis, to Leeds/Bradford Airport.
The weather is cool but sunny and Wharfedale is beautiful so we’re slightly anxious but in good spirit and with only minor delays we’re dropped off on Whitehouse Lane to avoid the ‘drop off’ fees. It’s surprisingly quiet in the terminal and we’re already checked in with no hold baggage so we head straight to the information desk to check on the possibility of me losing my walking stick which could, in theory, be called a weapon! It’s a specially adapted one that has a screw thingy at the top that can be swivelled in any direction so it can act as a monopod for the camera. I’ve had it for several years and have grown quite attached to it for its versatility as a monopod and functionality as a stick (it’s kept me upright on several occasions especially on steep slopes and muddy terrains) I call it Cyril.
It’s strapped to the outside of my rucksack so there’s no chance of it being mistaken as a clandestine attempt to smuggle it onto the plane. After a brief discussion with his colleagues, it is declared safe; however, the final word is with the security staff so I adopt a low profile approach but forget to tell the Pilgrim.
The security queues are no more than a couple of minutes long and after the previous debacle at Leeds Bradford where it was rammed with people and the whole thing was chaotic we’re both astonished and delighted in equal measure.
I unpack the laptop and put the rucksack on the belt as the Pilgrim starts asking the security guy about the stick. I’m telling him that I’ve taken advice from the information office and they’re OK with it but the Pilgrim is asking him if it’s ‘Really OK’ and starting the whole process off again? I’m trying to ‘thought-transfer’ a message to her to not say any more but she’s like a dog with a bone.
“I had mine taken off me in Santiago”, she’s telling him. I’m still trying to just let it go along the conveyor and he seems to be trying to do the same but the Pilgrim comes back at him with, “So it’s OK then?”. I’m now acting like it doesn’t exist but she’s pointing at it and asking again, “So the stick”, pause, “…it’s OK then?”. He’s looking for middle ground and says, “We’ll check it out after it’s gone through the scanner” and it disappears into the machine as we move on to the next stage of ‘being checked’.
Leeds/Bradford have a new toy that scans your whole body. You stand in a cubicle and raise your hands like Mo Farrer at the end of a race with your feet firmly planted on two disembodied foot marks painted on the floor. They’re like forensic markers that depict the location of a body in an American gangster movie. After several seconds I’m declared clean, and allowed to move on to collect my bag and stick that’s magically reappeared at the other end of the scanner.
I’m picking everything up when the Pilgrim reappears, picks up her stuff and in a raised voice asks, “…the stick’… it’s OK then?
Suddenly, she forgets the stick and say, “Look who’s here then”, and we bump into the Malones who’re joining us at the Festival – double bonus, she’s forgotten the stick and it’s great to see our chums.
Long Story Short, I’m in Portugal now and Cyril’s still with me, now I’ve got to get it up to Seville, over to Northern Spain and on to Deba when we’ve met the two Daves who’re flying into Bilbao next week. I’m hoping the hard part is over as we’re likely to be using surface transport to Seville and then a cheap internal flight so it shouldn’t be an issue (I’m touching wood – and the stick).
So we’re at Faro Airport and cadge a lift off the lovely people at Enjoy Travel to the venue which is a wonderful Grande Santa Eulalia Hotel just out of Albufeira where we’re allocated an apartment with a shared pool area and lawns directly behind it. It’s a bit of a trek from reception so we’re treated to a golf buggy ride and the porter is clearly an ex GP driver leaving rubber on the cobbles as we set off.
Day zero has no official itinerary so we meet old and new friends then listen to a few impromptu sessions followed by a great evening meal with the Muldoons and there’s a bonus (well it seemed like a bonus at the time) the wine is free! — it’s a very promising start and topped out when Flossie arrives.
Day one dawns and there’s unbroken blue sky although the free wine last night does create a bit of a haze that clears with the consumption of a fried breakfast and copious amounts of fresh orange juice and excellent coffee.
We sunbathe until early afternoon and make our way to the first outdoor concert that’s been set up on a well-kept lawn with sun-beds distributed around a heated pool and chairs positioned with an excellent view of the stage and equally good sonic clarity.
We choose four seats at the edge and the Pilgrim throws caution to the wind, strips ‘hippy-style’ and lays on the grass to capitalise on the fabulous weather.
The opening act is always a tough one but Noble Jacks hit us with a wall of sound that would compete with Phil Spectre and don’t let up until the end of their set – they’re phenomenal. If you see them advertised anywhere in the UK I seriously recommend them, you won’t be disappointed.
They’re followed by Flossie who’s always brilliant and another person I would recommend you see. She’s funny, articulate and has a fabulous voice and all of that is coupled with the fact that she’s also an extremely nice person – you don’t get a lot better than that.
Mike’s on form and tells us the tale of a youngster that’s having a day off school and taking the opportunity to watch some daytime television whilst his mum is making the evening meal.
As she puts the kettle on he shouts, “Hey Mum, what’s ‘love juice’?”
She drops the kettle and heads for the living room whilst shouting, “What the hell are you watching?”
“Tennis”, was his reply.
State of the Union is the final act in the afternoon session and deliver a great set as we doze in the sunshine. The musical mix is exceptional and if you don’t like one artist then there’s another going to be along that will please.
The evening is an equally eclectic mix and we’re off to a great start with the free wine – this could be a tricky week!
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