This weekend saw a trip to the Blue Dot music festival at Jodrell Bank. 5 stages spread over a large main arena with the main stage overlooked by the famous radio telescope, of which we were treated to seeing it maneuvering through all angles as the new bearings were being tested, the first replacements since 1957, sitting on First World War One gun turret gearing would you believe. We saw some great acts including Beth Orton, Formation and Lets Eat Grandma among other, with some interesting science talks chucked in. But the highlights were seeing Air and Jean Michel Jarre on the main stage at the end of the evening. A big fan of both artists, it was the first time I’d seen Air and the first time in 23 years I’d seen Jarre since my trip to the old Wembley Stadium in 1993 when I was a mere 17 years old. The festival was well organised on site, with plenty of varied high quality food vendors who put a real effort into getting themselves noticed (the stone baked pizzas were spot on), loads of stuff for the kids to do, the walk between stages being at most 5 minutes and being well marshalled. The only downside was the park and ride, which we had to walk 40 minutes back at 11.15pm to due to coach queues and then wait 50 minutes to get out of the car park, getting back at 2am in the end.
As always at these events, food and drink is overpriced compared to the outside world, with mainstream bottles of beer at £4.50 a bottle, of which I only had one before decamping to the real ale bar for future drinks for the day. A pint of real ale was £4.50 a pint, expensive for the outside world, but acceptable for a closed festival and a far better price per volume than the main bar. The range of beer was good brewery and style wise and it was kept well, every pint our party had being well received. Beer was from Lancaster, Weetwood, Dunham Massey, Mobberley, Cheshire and Wincle breweries, so all relatively locally sourced. 12 ales and ciders were on offer in total, I tried Lancaster Raspberry Rose (4.2%, wheat beer with hint of english raspberry, quite refreshing), Lancashire Strawberry Cider (4.5%, nice clean refreshing mix of the fruit and cider), Weetwood Southern Cross (3.6%, pale ale with citrusy New Zealand hops, my favourite of the day), Dunham Massey Obelisk (3.9%, hoppy citrusy blonde ale, nice session ale) and finally Mobberly Elysium (4.7%, hoppy session IPA, plenty of body, second fave of the day). You could tell how tastes have changed beer wise, the mainstream bar you could walk up to the counter and get served within a minute, at the real ale bar it was about 5-10 minutes, despite 20-30 staff on at any time.
We had a good spot saved for our group about 50m back from the stage, although for Jean Michel Jarre, it was getting crowded, so we moved our stuff to just behind the sound tent and went back into the crowd for the performance while the kids played with glow sticks. We ended up getting a couple of pints at a time to save trips and avoid missing the bands. As I’ve found now, most festivals with a real ale bar do a range of beers between 3.5% and 5%, providing a good range of session ales over the day and I alway prefer buying a fresh pint of real ale over anything else at events like this. When I go Cloudspotting next weekend, they do about 8 real ales at about £3.50 a pint and although I could take a load of our own, I prefer to pay for a nice “poured in front of me” ale.
Beer and music go naturally together, they have for millennia, the thriving music scene in our pubs just shows that, but before I sign off for this week, back to Calderdale. I try to visit some pubs I’ve not visited for a long time every now and then, in the last couple of weeks I popped into the Old White Beare, Norwood Green and the Stump Cross Inn. The Old White Beare is more of a dining pub, dating back 450 years and still retains many old features from over the centuries. Their ale selection is mainstream from the likes of Timothy Taylor, Copper Dragon and Saltaire, but are kept well. I had a couple of the Saltaire Blonde and enjoyed a relaxing hour in pleasant surroundings. If in the area, it’d do you no harm to pop in for an hour. The Stump Cross Inn is also dining lead, their ale selection is one pump sadly, again mainstream, Copper Dragon Golden Pippin I think on my visit, not exciting but kept nicely. Pleasant enough but probably less of a stop off when you have a number of ale pubs back up the road at Hipperholme or just down the road on the outskirts of town.