Last weekend saw two fugitives make a daring escape from our dear old university to try and get in touch with nature. Wood Festival, set in (occasionally) sunny Braziers Park and an offshoot of the bigger Truck Festival, was the target, its verdant hills playing host to all manner of absurd delights for the three-day weekend.
Advertised as a family-friendly festival, Wood was bursting with young sprogs with or without their laid-back parents as well as veterans of the festival scene clad in ponchos, flowers and sandals: an uplifting scene to behold as we arrived to help as stewards.
And tough work it was, too: we had to police the crowd, at its worst comprising a gaggle of youngsters eager to catch giant, many-shaped bubbles blown with particular care and chased with reckless abandon. In the lulls in ‘criminal’ activity, we indulged in all the delights that Wood had to offer: two music stages, the Wood Stage and the Tree Tent, playing host to a wide variety of artists, from the Oxford Ukeleles to Jack Cade & The Everyday Sinners, who belted out heartfelt folk anthems to an enraptured crowd. However, unlike the majority of festivals, Wood offered a great deal more than just music, with teepees and yurts (traditional Asian tents decked out luxuriously) holding traditional drumming sessions, totem pole carving and all manner of arts and crafts. On the more relaxing side, there was traditional dyeing featuring gargantuan, bubbling cauldrons on a wood fire whence a mystically skilled lady produced colour-changing fabrics to make beautiful rainbows, as well as innumerable massage and home remedy tents to squeeze away what little stress might be left in you by the end.
Particular personal highlights included being transformed into a ferocious (and glittery) lion by the masterful hand of Cheltenham Face Painting, along with the food, wide-ranging and exquisite; rustic hobbitty stews, delectable calvados-infused sausages (so authentic that the vendor assured us that he knew the pigs by name) and, best of all, a majestic hog roast with all the piggy trimmings all graced the festival and our voracious stomachs with their most welcome presence.
Wood allowed us to try all kinds of new experiences as well as to meet many wacky characters, including a self-proclaimed ‘song and dance man’ and a high-powered city barrister who tells us that he comes back to Wood every year as it’s the perfect remedy for the innumerable pressures of work and serious, grown-up life. Overstressed, library-dwelling Oxonians, take note: Wood is the place to be.