For the first time in its short but hailed existence, Soho Farmhouse was upstaged by its neighbour, (quite literally), as stages sprung up on the Great Tew Estate. The well-healed put down their chopsticks, moored their rowing boats and pedalled their wicker-basket-bicycles to the boundary and ventured out of “the countryside” (for Londoners) and into the real thing.
Much to their delight, some familiar faces like Jamie Cullum, Bryan Ferry and All Saints had taken the same initiative, and so it came to be that over a balmy July weekend, Oxfordshire was taken by storm. The VIP tent was obvs the place to be, but when it was bursting at its seams (with sofas occupied and the main stage was sounding silence), the crowds flocked to The Songbird Stage and Pubs on Wheels took up the gauntlet. With a mixture of country, jazz and ska vibes filling the air throughout the weekend, not to mention its own pumping soundtrack, it was the place to partay. Serving bottles of sinkable pale rose, refreshing pints of cider and chilled beer to a corrugated iron backdrop, throats were kept well lubricated and toes a-tapping as the festival sprung to life around it.
Back on the main stage, amidst a canvas of magnificent oak and ash, the crowds had assembled to support the All Saints revival. To a celebrated and much-anticipated 90s mash of white denim, old school trackies, high tops and a few tears, the crowd sung along to an hour of songs they never imagined they knew the words to. “Corn-Berry”, you are awesome,” congratulated Shazney, only to be corrected by an unamused, bespectacled, binocular holding oldie, “It’s Corn-Bury, actually.” But his spirits quickly lifted when he remarked that only two were wearing wedding rings. It’s all to play for…
After a few more pints at PoW (as it’s affectionately known), with darkness falling it was back to the main stage to ogle over Bryan Ferry. Suddenly it was crushed with a mass of highly excited and very flustered middle-aged women (and men), being seduced by Bryan’s gyrating hips and golden hits. As the saxophone drifted across the rolling landscape and Bryan’s ‘seductive croon’ filled the airwaves, Oxfordshire was alive with a touch of magic and there was nowhere else we’d have rather been.
Cornbury, let’s stick together. We’ll see you next year.