Thanks for joining me.
Had a fantastic night last night.
It didn’t pan out quite as we had planned,
but nonetheless, it was a night to remember, as they say!
We went to spend an evening in the company of a few good people, a couple of extrordinary folk singers,
and – wait for it – the nightingales.
Magical? I’d say so!
I switched my phone off as we approached the campfire,
and so have no photographic evidence of the 8 hours that ensued.
This shard of slate welcomed us with wonderful lines of poetry by Gerard Manley Hopkins –
I looked it up and discovered the poem in its entirety….
Glory be to God for dappled things—For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;All things counter, original, spare, strange;He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;Praise Him.
It was an amazing and exciting evening.
We sat round the fire, ate stew, drank tea
and listened to beautiful folksongs.
We listened to Sam Lee – great singer and storyteller –
who – when it was pitch black at midnight – led us into the forest to sing with the nightingales.
And that’s when it all went to poop!
Just as we left the campsite, a few drops of rain began to fall.
Undeterred, we put on our Weather proofs and followed Sam into the dead of night.
About 25 of us in single file, walking through the forest.
Long story short, we walked straight into a lightning show to remember. The skies lit up, the thunder clapped and the rain started to ‘avit, as they say round these parts.
I was so glad I had worn my Glastonbury wellies!
It was t o r r e n t i a l.
But you know what we Brits are like.
Any sane person would have turned on their heels and headed straight for the carpark.
But oh no! We still trudged through the night following Sam.
And it was BLACK DARK.
No torches, nothing. I had one in my bag, dib dib dib dob dob dob, but thought better of using it in case it scared the nightingales away.
(This is where you have to wonder at how mental I actually am).
There was an older lady who I took under my wing, a young woman with a child, whom Dave helped, and a pregnant girl.
Honestly, it was like the start of one of those scarey Friday 13th films. All lovely jubbly, but then it starts to get a bit iffy.
Sam told us that the nightingales lived along the railway track, so we stumbled around in the dark over a by now very slippery sleeper-bridge, over tree roots and through 5ft high stingy nettles.
Are we having fun yet????
Then we stood huddled in a group, and waited in silence.
The overhead powerlines were rather disconcerting, and I couldn’t help thinking it wasn’t the best place to be standing in a serious lightening storm.
But we were there to sing with the nightingales, so we waited.
Did the nightingales show up though?
The posh older lady under my wing whispered to me,
“No self-respecting nightingale in its right mind is going to venture out here in this storm!”
And she was right.
Nightingales weren’t up for it. Not even a peep.
But poor old Sam was desperate that we should have this unique experience, so he single-filed us poor soaking sods back the way we came to a safer spot, (away from the overhead power cables) and then started to sing to the trees, hoping to get the birds fired up.
Did it work?
Did it heck.
The rain was coming down in torrents by now,
and we were seriously drenched to the skin.
Groping around in the dark,
we could just about make out who was who.
The two reporters from the Times who had come along for the experience were huddled under a tree wondering what had hit them, and I got a serious fit of the giggles.
You know when you suddenly take stock of the hilarity of the moment.
Standing in the pissing rain in the pitch dark with a bloke and his two friends who are singing, trying to wake the nightingales.
But do you know what?
It was brilliant. We got home at past 2am,
But laughing and happy, with the BEST memories.
Did we hear nightingales?
Of course not! No self-respecting nightingale in its right mind would have ventured out in that storm !!
The whole purpose of the evening with Sam Lee was to become attuned to our surroundings, to listen to the silence.
We did that – and then some.
I can’t wait till next year.
Love & hugs,