Finally we are here, together, at Latitude Festival. And what a mission it was.
We had craftily purloined a couple of spaces on the coach with Theatre503 (who have two shows at this year's festival, Epic and PLAYlist). We were set to get going at 6:30am from London so they could make their technical rehearsal. It was a good plan in essence.
But then Alex is told he'd be filming in the morning. In Cardiff. So yesterday morning it was just me on my own with a coach load of actors from 503. It turned out there were a few friendly faces amongst the cast, so I wasn't too lonely. Not that I spoke much. I'm not great on coaches at the best of times, but having got up at 4:45 to travel across London to a pickup point outside the Old Vic, I was a bit of a zombie.
It was about this time that I remembered why I liked Latitude so much last year.
We got to the Latitude site (which is based in Southwold) at about 11. The Theatre503 were in a bit of a panic. The bus driver had been delayed, so they were frantically trying to make their tech time in the theatre-tent. With so many acts over the weekend, I can imagine that they have to be quite strict on the schedule. So I make my way over to the press office and find out we aren't allowed on site until 4:30pm.
And so I camped out, first in the queue waiting for the doors to open. And the people came in dribs and drabs. It was about this time that I remembered why I liked Latitude so much last year. The audience, the clientelle, whatever you want to call them, well… they're just so friendly. I'm not a devout festivalgoer by any means, but there is something about this crazy little arty gathering that is just wonderful. I'd also forgotten how eco-friendly the festival is. Recycling points dotted around everywhere, wooden cutlery, re-usable drinks glasses. It's incredibly clean as far as festivals go. And the toilet facilities are… novel.
I get onto the site and the first thing that hits me, quite literally, is the wind. As those who followed my first few hours of tweeting may have noticed it took me about two and a half hours to pitch my tent. Maybe more. One man battling against the rage of the almighty. In the end, I gave up and helped my neighbours in their equally windswept efforts and they, in turn, helped me.
So at about 8ish I'm ready and rearing to head into the festival proper. Only one thing. Alex…
Meanwhile, Alex finishes filming in Cardiff. He gets a train to Paddington, a changeover to Liverpool Street, a delayed train to Ipswich and finally a 45 minute taxi to the site. Thankfully, the last leg of his journey he found the same Latitude trademark “kindness of strangers” that I had experienced, so he managed to share the aforementioned taxi with seven other people on the same journey.
Cut to the chase, Rhys.
So at about 10pm we have both arrived, pitched the tent, gathered our bearings and grabbed some food. Now, what were we here for? Oh yes. A festival.
We were too late (and too tired) to catch anything at the theatre tent that evening, so we spent the evening getting to grips with the wild assortment of treats on offer. We popped into the Film and Music for “The Blues Brothers all singing, all dancing live experience”. We had a boogie, met up with some fellow actors, drama students and got a feel for the place. It was surprisingly packed for the first night, and Tom Jones' midnight gig at the In The Woods area was heaving. So much so, I could have sworn I heard the bridge over the lake creak and groan with the stampede that ensued.
Later that night, after Tom had finished his set and the audience were stumbling back to the camping area, we found a great little hideaway with a piano in the woods (see the youTube video below!). After a good old-fashioned sing-song and a lot of ‘getting-to-know-yous' we got back to the tent in the wee hours and crashed.
Wish us luck, and fingers crossed that I don't get too sunburnt. The weather is (jinx aside please) holding up very well.
And remember, you can follow us on twitter over the whole of this weekend.