The Solas Festival was a wonderful oddity which was a distinctly Scottish affair, which is a good job because I doubt it could even have happened in England, (due to different Health and Safety legislation). This was the first year of what will hopefully grow to be a wonderful festival and here is my ickle diary of this virgin festival at Wiston Lodge.
Friday, we eventually managed to get a bus from Edinburgh which would drop us off at the right road junction to trudge off to the festival site, having had a very good meal from the 99p menu at 99 Hanover Street whilst we were waiting. Turned out this bus was one of only about 3 a day that took us to the right place, far easier to get the site from Glasgow particularly as buses were running to the site from Lanark. When we got to the site we looked for the campsite, having found what we thought was the disabled and steward camping area….turned out this one field was the campsite. Bizarre. Then it was off to the office to negotiate a camping rate based on what size tent we reckoned we had. In the end this was worked out on the number of people we had as ours wasn’t a huge tent. When we went wandering for food we found something looking like a village hall with bunting outside with a couple of tables outside ala Mothers Union style. So it was the food for the weekend was the cheapest festival food I’d come across this millenia. £2 for an organic burger, £1 for a cup of tea and so on. The deserts available were home made cakes. This was bizarre but cool. Friday evening was basically spent wandering about and saying hi to various peeps we knew.
Saturday: Seeing as Kathy Galloway was cancelled we ended up listening to a wonderful set of anacdotes and random comments from Chris Harvey MSP. It was warm and so his tie had been loosened and pulled to one side and he just rattled off his thoughts and comments including random intellectual quotes. Amazing. Stuart Blythe, a Baptist lecturer in Scotland, talked about a range of interesting things, particularly why he opposed the replacement of trident. Also finally got to hear Michael Northcott who was excellent. Northcott is an academic at Edinburgh Uni and has done loads on eco type Theology stuff and is a bit of a legend in his own lunchtime. I don’t know what I was expecting but it wasn’t what he was, altogether more well groomed than expected. Also caught a bit of Richard Holloway in convo later in the day before going and enjoying a meal with some really good friends who were also there.
Sunday: The communion service was alright. On the plus side it wasn’t as wacky as Greenbelt on the down side it was just pretty bland. If they’re looking for ideas for the future all I can suggest is that you get hold of Visions in York who have it nailed with their transendance thing. The rest of the day, day was spent doing things like working out how not to get stranded on a site most other people seemed to be leaving that evening. Good job that there are some lovely people out there who were more than willing to give us a comfy bed for the night on the trainline back to Edinburgh. Anyway talks wise. Alistair Macintosh, who is another legend in his own lunchtime, was listened to again. I have loved Alistair’s work since reading Soil and Soul and I particularly appreciate his very gentle fuck your way of doing things approach which is put forward through lovely stories and thoughts delivered in a wonderful lightly lilting accent. His wife’s session was a bit hippyfied for me, but was interesting. Pity though that TOH and I were the only people who got a silly laughing fit at the french woman pronouncing “our souls” when it sounded a bit more like a bit of the anatomy. Anyway, all good. Later in the day I heard Doug Gay defend Calvinist, Reformed, Evangelical perspectives in a seminar on post-secular Scotland. Have to say I was not impressed. This was in some ways a sloppy polemic which just ended up stating there is nothing unique about people owning those labels anymore apart from the fact they like Calvin. Then it was onto hear a Scottish Political Pundit, Scottish Asian woman Conservative Candidate and Labour MSP candidate who was the former leader of Edinburgh city council (names of all forgotten) on a panel together discussing politics in Scotland. Have to say it was refreshing and interesting.
In the evening on Sunday I finally got myself sorted to hear some music. Kim Edgar, who I see is on at Cambridge this year was excellent. She has the voice of an angel. Peat Bog Faeries were also excellent. My fave act of the evening though were Stanley Odd who were old skool hip hop with guitars, drums and sampler in the vane of PWEI, EMF and Beastie Boys (all sort of mixed into one). I leave you with a You Tube video of theirs: