After a three year hiatus (during which both Kristi and I were certainly worried that we’d been to the last-ever one in 2007), this year the magical Beyond The Border international storytelling festival returned once more to the fantastic setting of St Donats Arts Centre / Atlantic College in the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales.
If you’re remotely creative, or you love reading or listening to stories, then this festival is one for you. I could go on about the line-up (which never disappoints in quality or diversity), and the amazing stories that they tell, but that alone wouldn’t do the festival justice. Around the rich and varied performances is weaved an ambience to match, and that’s partly due to the setting itself.
It is also helped by being able to chill out on the festival campsite (which appears to be the college’s sports field during the rest of the year). Sadly, for the first time, we weren’t able to camp this year because of my injured knee, and I definitely think we missed out as a result. So if you’re going to the next festival (which is 2012), having now tried both camping and travelling in each day, I can’t recommend camping highly enough.
Unfortunately, one area where the festival is stuck in the past (and not in a good way) is social media and being able to take photos of the performers in full flow, so as in previous years I don’t have any photos of the storytellers to share with you. (There were a couple of official photographers, and whilst I was glad to see that they were shooting with Nikon and not Canon, it looked like they were using kit lenses instead of fast glass or specialist portrait lenses, which must have limited their results somewhat if that was the case).
But the grounds of St Donats always provide new photo opportunities each and every year, so here’s the best of this year’s photos from Beyond The Border 2010.
Part of the magic of the Beyond The Border festival is the walk to and from the camping field (which doubles as the festival car park). The walk takes you under trees and through a field and down the hill towards Atlantic College and the Jousting Field.
The trees are somehow bewitching, and every year that I go I make a new attempt at capturing their magic. This year, by chance I picked the one day where the light was utterly flat, which I think has created an image where the eye is drawn to the detail trailing off into the distance because the colours are so uniform.
One of the joys of the Beyond The Border festival is being able to share much of the grounds of St Donats with its usual occupants – the staff and students of Atlantic College. The grounds are made up mostly of interconnected terraces, so if you come here for the next festival, be prepared to climb up and down a lot of stairs.
If stairs are a problem for you (which is certainly the case for me atm), the best advice I can offer is to make sure you bring a good stick with you!
Spotted this pretty and strikingly colourful arrangement that someone had left on the flagstones in the rose garden at St Donats during Beyond The Border 2010.
I’ve covered these before, but I challenge anyone who enjoys taking photos to pass up on the opportunity to photograph the wonderful statues in the Animal Garden!
In the gardens are a couple of strategically-placed shelters, and hiding inside them from the hot sun, it’s very easy to imagine lounging there, with the butler bringing a fresh pimms or brandy to sip on whilst reading a book and sneaking glances over the top of the pages to enjoy the beautiful gardens beyond.
Well, the age of empires and butlers is long gone, and modern technology is working hard on replacing the pages of books too. At least we’ll still have alcoholic drinks to enjoy no matter what, though 🙂
However, if you don’t like things that fly and crawl, this shelter isn’t for you … as it is right next to the college’s beehives!
I photographed this eye-catching silk flower on the table in the Roots Cafe at this year’s Beyond The Border international storyteller festival.
The coloured drapes inside the Roots Cafe were very eye-catching, if you thought to look up from the yummy food on offer 🙂
Every year, several temporary venues are erected for the festival, which are great for sheltering from the sun or the rain in order to enjoy great performances like Hugh Lupton’s Praise Song The Homing Stone.
There was a good chuckle at the start of that performance, with one of the festival staff announcing to everyone inside the tent that everyone outside the tent (who couldn’t get in because all the seats had already gone) needed to move away from the doors, otherwise he couldn’t let the performance start for health and safety reasons. After a couple of repeated announcements he finally twigged on and headed outside to where the people who needed to move actually were …
… I didn’t spot if he came back into the pavilion afterwards, but if he did, he would have heard Chris Wood (who was performing the Homing Stone with Hugh Lupton) mercilessly taking the piss out of him and our nanny state culture throughout the show, much to the repeated approval of the audience.
If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.