Jo Whiley on gardening, Glasto and DJing at Henley - the Spear's diary - Spear's Magazine

Jo Whiley on gardening, Glasto and DJing at Henley – the Spear’s diary

Jo Whiley on gardening, Glasto and DJing at Henley – the Spear’s diary

DJ and broadcaster Jo Whiley relishes the magic of festival season – even if it does keep her away from her beloved garden

All the UK festivals are something we should celebrate as a country – I mean who else would attend a festival when the chances of rain are 100 per cent?

We Brits seem to love to dance in the rain. I went to Glastonbury when I was young and, give or take a few years, have been ever since. I have roughed it with a very young baby in a two-man tent, I have stayed in camper vans, caravans, a Winnebago that had a smart car inside it which Kylie had used the week before, and also hotels.

When I’m working, doing TV and radio, I do need a hotel to get my head together in down time and to wash my hair so I don’t look too scary on the telly! If I’m going for fun, it’s all about the family and friends, so I don’t really mind. Due to my job, I’ve had the opportunity to attend virtually all the UK festivals in recent years, and all are doing something different from each other. Glasto is a world on its own.

Latitude is such a creative and friendly festival – there’s so much art and a real magical feel to the place. Wilderness is ace for food and has a huge lake to swim in naked (I kept my costume on, but the option was there!). Feastival is an amazing celebration of food and music, where the chefs are the superstars. From my experience, the UK festival scene just gets better and better.

River trance

Henley is a beautiful location for a festival. My first thought is always of the river (I love water), rowers (I can’t row) and long English summer days. It’s a stunning spot to hold a festival and the line-up is excellent, though I’m a little daunted by the slogan, ‘You can never be overdressed at Henley festival’.

Now I’m panicking! I’ll be playing my 90s Anthems set. I was presenting the Evening Session on Radio 1 for most of the Nineties and it was the most amazing time for music. Guitar bands started to rule the charts and dance music suddenly got very interesting.

The set will reflect this whole scene, so Oasis and Blur of course, Pulp, James, mixed in with some seminal dance tunes like Faithless, the Chemical brothers, Fatboy Slim etc, and maybe the odd big club banger like N-Trance or Black Box. If you were around in the Nineties and can – or better still cannot – remember it, it will be a great night! I think the UK is in a good place right now for emerging new artists.

Sam Fender and Jade Bird are both incredibly talented writers and singers. Yola sings country soul and has a phenomenal voice. Another tip: JS Ondara, a young musician from Kenya, blew us all away recently when he played live on my show.

Green fingers

Any day in the garden on my own, in silence, is a good day. At one with nature, birds singing, sun shining, peace – I’m not sure I’m ever happier. I love all aspects of it – the weeding is enormously satisfying and I like the feeling of being exhausted at the end of a long, strenuous day.

Planting a bunch of things and standing back and liking what you see is very gratifying. I do like colour, so roses and peonies are faves. Through the summer I’m going to various garden shows for the BBC and also my own selfish pleasure.

I was at Hampton Court and I’ll be at Tatton doing TV programmes with Joe Swift, but also tapping him up for gardening tips and buying lots of plants to throw into my borders. We grow all sorts in the veg patch at home. Potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, pumpkins, tomatoes, peas and herbs. I grow them and my daughter cooks them.

We’re big fans of Cornwall – even before we had kids we’d head there for a road trip. Now it feels like a second home and I love the familiarity of going back to the same place and seeing friendly faces year after year.

We play beach volleyball a lot, the rest of the family surf, and I paddle-board when I can find some flat water – I love the water, sea, rivers anything. The water brings me great peace and is also great fun.

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