Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Branscombe Beer Festival

Last Saturday the TUSC tour bus once again took to the road. This time we were away to the annual Branscombe Beer Festival in Devon. After battling our way though the mean streets of Honiton we managed to get within spitting distance of the picturesque village of Branscombe, however the narrow Devonian roads became increasingly difficult and only with a police escort did we manage to make it in. After a lunch of crab sandwiches, the now infamous TUSC desire for beer spurred us on to the festival venue.

The weather gods had smiled on us and with the sun burning down we decided to play outside. Quickly setting up and arranging our new Moogly Moo TUSC banner, it was soon time for our first set.

'Fran and Carol being ably assisted by TUSC roady Bill'

Grant and Tony (Pre-beer)

At half past three we launched into all the TUSC favourites. The good natured audience were very appriciative and responded warmly to all our songs. They particularly enjoyed 'Rudi' and 'The Israelites' and sang along with great gusto.

And so with the first set over it was time to begin enjoying the 30 local real ales available. I particularly enjoyed Branscombe Vale Brewery's 'Otter Bright' and Red Rock Brewery's 'Drift Wood'. There really is nothing better than strumming ukulele while drinking a good beer, in the company of good friends.

Debbie, Sarah, Scott and Tony enjoying a beer

There was just the little matter of our second set and so at half past seven we once again entertained the audience with our best songs. At Sarah's suggestion we also played 'Amarillo' for the very first time......thankfully it was a winner with the crowd and we kept it together though out the song.

We then really got stuck into the beer......some more than others.

Steve "Cheers"

Tony, Jim, Fran and Grant enjoy the beers

After a while we headed over to Sarah's cottage for some well needed food.

Fran and Bill prepare a feast

Steve lends a hand with his flaccid loaf

Grant is unimpressed by Steve's loaf

Drunken love birds

And so a great day drew to an end and we retired to tents. caravans, and sofas happy with a successful TUSC outing. But there was just one nagging question. What happen to Tony? He had left us earlier in the evening and set out to walk to his camp site a few miles away. I'll let Tony take up the story as he described it on a well know ukulele bulletin board...

"TUSC played two sets at the Masons' Arms Beer Festival in Branscombe last are a few helpful hints on how to ensure a really good walk home after a uke gig at a beer festival:

Preparation is everything. Make sure you are woken in your rain-sodden tent at 5 a.m. on the day. A spaniel standing on your chest makes a handy alarm clock. Don't bother eating much; a small pilchard sandwich will suffice for lunch. Solids are for wimps.

Drink steadily through the afternoon and evening. Choose beers with names like "Crudgington's Olde XXX Goat Thumper". A gallon or so may be enough; more is better. The adrenalin from the gig means you won't really feel the effects until you pack up to go home.

Choose your route with care. The two and a half miles to the campsite starts with an envigorating 400ft ascent up the side of the East Cliff. This will test the ability of the ale to turn your legs to jelly. The path is important. When you drop to the ground from exhaustion and bewilderment, it's nice to know that there are plenty of flint shards to embed in your knees and palms.

Kit is crucial. Shorts and a pair of cheap plastic sandals are great for steep, rocky terrain. Two ukuleles, a rucksack and a shoulder bag stuffed full of songbooks and a music stand are the very minimum you should carry.

Timing is important too. Set off so that it becomes ominously dark before you're halfway home. And try to make sure that dusk is accompanied by torrential rain and a squally northerly wind. An Aloha shirt will give plenty of protection.

When you reach your tent an hour and a half after leaving the gig, it's perfectly acceptable to fall face first onto the groundsheet, raging and wailing against fate, the weather, the Devon countryside, and that stupid bloody sleeping cow you fell over. Try to subside into speechless weeping and gibbering before you wake up the kids.

Great gig, though."

It really was a great weekend. Big thanks go to Steve for driving the tour bus and for the marvellous cooked breakfast on Sunday Morning. Also a huge thank you to Sarah for organising the gig, camp site and welcoming us into her lovely home. And finally thanks to all the TUSC members who came along and made it all such fun.


PS. Sarah informs me that TUSC have been asked back to next years festival and they said we were the best entertainment all weekend!

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