Bike to The Future ’23 Tour – Part 1
The first leg of the tour saw us cycling 56 miles from Bath to Dillington Park, Ilminster. This is the new home (since 2021) of Shindig Festival: a Drum & Bass-heavy weekend of dance, live music and comedy – in that order. More of which later.
The journey down was tough but familiar – the first section being the well-ridden route to Glastonbury. Along the way, we passed hedgerows full of spring flowers, woodlands brimming with wild garlic and set-aside fields ablaze with colour. Overhead were many birds, among them gold finches, skylarks and buzzards.
This Spring idyll was somewhat marred by ranks of flatbed HGVs taking freshly cut peat from the Somerset Levels. Surely this can’t be allowed when peat bog is know to be a valuable natural carbon sink? Not to mention the devastation caused to this delicate wetland habitat.
Having made the journey to Shindig (solo) last year, I was confident that the worst of the climbs were behind us once we’d cleared the vicious inclines of the Mendips. But no. This time, I’d prepared the route using a different mapping tool. And this one was, frankly, taking the piss.
At one point, we were faced with what appeared a totally unnecessary hill amidst relatively flat surroundings. Our route – naturally – went right over it. On stopping at a hostelry for refreshment on the other side, a local told us that cyclists come from miles around because this is the only ‘proper’ hill in the area. Of course it is.
Once at the festival site, we quickly regrouped. It’s always amazing how you can feel completely drained but then bounce back after just a few minutes’ rest. The crew camping was spacious, with lush grass in a flat area. Tents were quickly erected and a couple of beers ‘borrowed’ from some friends from Bath.
The festival itself was pure joy. What a relief to be in a place where everyone was just happy to be there. Shindig doesn’t have a ‘main stage’ as such and – aside from one or two well-established names – eschews headline acts. Rather, it feels like one big party: a place to escape the rigours and mundanity of ‘normal’ life
We were booked to perform on the Hobo Stage: a space with no fixed location and a coordinator (‘Arnie’) so laid back he’s virtually horizontal. Our traveling rig includes travel guitar, fiddle, ukulele bass, ‘stomp’ (a microphone in my guitar case) and vocals. The PA that emerged looked unlikely to cope with our demands.
Fortunately, fellow-performer Marick Baxter had taken the liberty of bringing his own mixing desk. Which had all the channels and inputs we needed. And Marick generously stuck around after his slot to help us set up. All was good: the sun shone, the PA worked and everyone was happy.