The End Of The Summer

Friends tell me that the fabulous Shambala festival has once again been a riotous success over in Market Harborough. It’s always been one of my favourite festivals – and one that leaves me exceptionally sad when packing up the tent to head home on August Bank Holiday Monday. 

In years gone by, it’s marked the end of Summer for me. Often, but not always, it’s been my last festival of the year. The days can’t help but get shorter and colder; it’s not long before the central heating has to kick into action again; that’s if it hasn’t already done so. Schoolteacher friends have to head back to jobs they hate. There’s little bonus to look forward to in Autumn and Winter when Christmas rarely floats your boat.

This year feels different. July and August have frankly been too hot in this part of Spain but I’m told that September and October are much better months to experience. Far from being dejected, I’m excited by the new things I’m likely to discover. This is a year that’ll keep on giving. 

Progress on the novel has been slow and I’ve hardly been churning blog posts out with dedicated profligacy. 

Profligacy – there’s a word I really should avoid using in the future.

It has been a wonderful summer though. If I was truly able to live in the moment, I’d probably say it’s been one of my best ever; it’s certainly one that I’ll look back on fondly in years from now. Not having to worry about a day job has given me all sorts of freedoms I otherwise wouldn’t have. 

I slept under canvas when back in England for three weeks; the weather helped but what a glorious thing to be able to do. Looking out from the dewy tent over perfect panoramas of the Dorset coast; poring over newspapers and magazines and being truly able to appreciate the columnists’ craft without having ‘something’ else to do; not beating myself up for not rushing around madly; finding my own pace. These have been my favourite experiences. 

British festivals ensured that my need for the chaotic was still achieved; from the wet and cosy Lunar (review here) through to the simply extraordinary, out of the world Boomtown (review here) via the sizzling Bestival (review here), they’ve all provided summer memories to cherish. 

Just last week after a day exploring the Ricote Valley here in Spain (highly recommended when it’s less hot), Sarah and I stumbled upon the thermal baths and day spa at Archena. Full of water jets and forceful showers, plunge pools and wave trails, here you could massage and pummel your achy joints and muscles whilst looking out to the mountains north of Murcia. I’ll go there again. 

Fine food, simple sea swimming and  surprises beyond every T-junction that are waiting to be explored. 

It’s the end of Summer but it’s not the end of this crazy adventure. 


Douglas Dare – Swim

It’s been many years since I ran away from Dorset seeking a better life. Indeed, it’s over half my life ago that I lived there. Back then, the closest any of us came to the glamorous world of pop was when Sigue Sigue Sputnik decided to stop off in Dorchester to buy some hairspray from Woolworths. From time to time, it’s lovely to head home. Things have changed; there are now new shops, cinemas and restaurants. Woolworths became Wellworths.

Billy Bragg lives in Burton Bradstock and PJ Harvey is from Beaminster. Great as they are, this hardly makes a scene. 

Admittedly, Douglas Dare no longer lives in Bridport. He’s had to head to London via Liverpool to seek his fame, fortune and glory. But us Dorset people are proud sorts and I’m still claiming him as one of us. 

Douglas has an album, ‘Whelm’, coming out on the much revered ‘Erased tapes’ label on May 12th. In advance of that, the 23 year old has released this fabulous track from it. Taken literally, ‘Swim’ is all about standing by the side of a pool and jumping in after somebody else has made some ripples. But, I don’t think this is a track that’s meant to be taken literally. 

This is a song about embarking upon a new journey. It’s a song about overcoming fears, taking risks and not holding back. It’s also a bloody beautiful, mesmeric piece of music. And it builds to a wonderful climax. 

The boy from Dorset has done good.