Latitude – a festival with attitude

As if by magic, a village of tents had appeared in a Suffolk park.Where once had been 3,000 sheep were 10,000 campers, 1,000 ice-creams and around 100,000 pints of beer.

As if by magic, a village of tents had appeared in a Suffolk park.

Where once had been 3,000 sheep were 10,000 campers, 1,000 ice-creams and around 100,000 pints of beer. People wandered through woods and across a lake, or just sat in deckchairs and soaked up the sun. There was even a game of football or two.

Of course, there was the music - the Lemonheads and the Zutons, and Snow Patrol to round off the evening.

On the main stage, Norwich band Cord helped to warm things up on the first day of the Latitude festival yesterday.

Their audience suffered from competition from comedian Marcus Brigstocke, but they certainly picked up a few new fans.

Lead singer James Leeds said: “It went really well. I think it is lovely, it has a real buzz. There have been lots of people and the crowd was really great.”

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Among those enjoying themselves were Mark and Marcia Davey, from nearby Brampton. Mr Davey said: “I think it is a good venue. Because of the trees and woods you wouldn't even know it was here.”

It is Glastonbury organisers Mean Fiddler and Henham estate manager Hektor Rous to whom festival-goers should be grateful. As he walked around in jeans and a T-shirt yesterday, few would have guessed this was the son of the Earl of Stradbroke - but then this eccentric Australian family have never done what people expect. Now Mr Rous's plans to raise the estate's profile seem to be bearing fruit.

In the surrounding towns and villages, people were coping fairly well with the influx of visitors. The Henham estate, between Beccles and Southwold, is so tucked away that even its closest neighbours would barely have noticed a festival happening. For some reason signs were directing visitors down a single-track road, but by and large the traffic flowed smoothly.

Southwold seemed a little busier than usual yesterday, but on a July weekend the pubs and guesthouses would have had plenty of trade anyway.

The Sole Bay Inn and the Lord Nelson found things much the same as usual, while Purdy's newsagent did a good trade in snacks.

Back at the festival, plenty of things ran late, while the gondola rides on the lake were more of a punt.

But at least the toilets worked, and there were more or less enough of them.

“Hasn't it been a lovely day?” said Greg Davies, the MC at the comedy tent.

Actually, it was quite windy, and not as warm as it looked. But everyone shouted yes, all the same.

BAA, BAA PINK AND GREEN SHEEP

“Oh crikey, I've got bright green ones!” says Melvin Benn.

It would be easy to take his observation the wrong way, but the managing director of Mean Fiddler had just seen a few more of his sheep.

Strolling across Henham Park, as he approached the lake the sheep came into view - first pink, then yellow, then an astonishing bright

green.

They have been dipped in food colouring to liven up the scenery, and if they are confused it is probably no more confusing than having your park invaded by 10,000 festival-goers.

The sheep were certainly a big hit, and by now will be well used to having their picture taken.

There were also people dressed as fairies, with pirates' hats, and picnic tables painted green with daisies on, and toilets decorated likewise.

It is not the biggest festival this summer, but thanks not least to the Suffolk landscape, it is almost certainly the prettiest.