Thursday, 23 August 2012

Tillie's first VW festival


Due to winning the preloved VW competition (thanks to those who voted) it was a bit daunting to find I have won the tickets to a VW festival..in Leeds

After working out on google map it was a 136 miles to the festy I ummed and aahed until the last minute as to whether it was such a wise decision to go.

Throwing caution to the wind, charging the phone and sticking AA on speed dial, I set off Friday night and arrived at Leeds for 8pm (about 4 hours - not entirely Tillie's reluctancy to going over 50mph, the motorway traffic was crap)




All pitched and a cold beer, I then sat and waited for Steve to join me - He was planning to get there 11pm, after finishing work at 7:30pm. Sitting outside in the humid evening with a chilled beer and gazing at the clear sky, what could possibly go wrong?

Well quite a lot actually....

11pm I get a phone call....'I am stuck at the entrance and they wont let me in. No car access after 9pm'. Bggr. So after his dramatic squeals of 'I'm driving straight back home, this is hopeless, no where to put the car etc'...I get the dogs leads on and walk a mile up the entrance to try and sort something out.

Speaking to the security there is indeed no way he is getting in, but he can park across the road and get the car in the morning.

After faffing for half hour while he gets his bag, wine and god knows what else (but was an absolute necessity for that night), we start to walk back, much to Homer and Barleys delight, as they are knackered

Half way back I can hear mumbling, and then he drops the next little bombshell...'FFS I have got the camping pass in my hand but I must have dropped my wristband'...

Blummin great. Pitch black, miles from the tent and the dogs legs are like casters now

So we search all the path, amble back to the car again, have a chat with the security guards. They say to speak to the organisers in the morning as they are sure they will be able to sort something out

Carrying Homer on my head we eventually get back to the campsite, forget the tea and ham sandwich planned, instead we down a large amount of alcohol in 5 mins flat

Next morning all is sunny and happy again and the stress of the night before over

We go to the cash desks, get pointed to the main entrance ticket sales who have ran out of wristbands, who point us to security who only have a Saturday wristband, who send us back to the campsite entrance to speak to the organisers to get a weekend one (keep up)

Happily the organisers couldn't do enough after explaining our predicament. So Steve armed with his Saturday wristband, then gets given his Weekend wristband. Plus altho the site is on lockdown again till 5pm for vehicle access, they decide to give us VIP treatment and radio for a buggy to take us to the main entrance to collect the car.


We then proceeded to tell every security guard on the entire site it was fine to let us through as 'Adey said so'. It was like Moses and the Red Sea, as the gates all parted to give us personal access (would have been less embarrasing if we werent in a bloody Renault Clio)

So car collected, we empty out the chairs and he faffs about a bit getting his stuff together to go in the show. Going through his bag he finds....THE BLOODY WEEKEND WRISTBAND!!!!

Overjoyed (I want to slap him with a golf club) we can finally go into the actual show, with Steve wearing his new designer bracelets


(I'm sure this goes a long way to explaining why i like to 'solo' camp)

Enjoyable day walking round the festival with the dogs, I managed to coup a few cushions (again) and some other oddments of junk. Some nice conversions to stands as well...

The cake VW


Excellent use of a Coleman Event Shelter


The UV Bar which looked stunning at night...


but i must admit I thought it looked very attractive during the day as well....

In fact I zoomed in to get a better look at the 'paintwork'...


until i got 'rumbled'...


Hastily moving on I got the dogs some nice Lei's so they could feel part of the whole hippy vibe


Homer having never been to a festy before loved the free food side of things. He managed to hoover his way through every delicacy available by just truffling through the grass. At one embarrasing stage he did just stand and stare at a couple who had just purchased cheesy chips and mayo. They did comment 'he's a bit forward isn't he?'...

He was soon appeased with a nice bag of sugary doughnuts though, wearing the bag on his nose for 5 minutes until the last trace of sugar was gone


Back to the tent for a siesta, then I settled the dogs in Tillie and we went down for the evening entertainment. Large amounts of beer later (bring your own was allowed, love these Northerners for a cheap do) we headed to the main tent - singing at full voice to covers from the Killers, Stereophonics, and a whole host of indie classics

It was supposed to be a beach theme weekend and a few had made the effort - loved this lobster


Not quite sure where Scooby fitted in the beach theme but he was cute


So a load of kopperberg, gaymers and a pork and stuffing baguette all contributed to a great night

The following morning we walked round the show again then visited some of the attractions in the grounds - the bird gardens and Harewood House. After an argument with Lurch on the door about whether it was supposed to be free entrance or not we stumped up a concessionary £5 and looked round the house.

Quick walk round the grounds as well, highlight being the statue of the man with huge bllx


The penguins may as well have been stuffed as they didnt move


We had 'Afternoon Tea' in the house. Declining the £33 afternoon special of 2 sandwiches and a pot of Earl Grey, we settled for breakfast tea and a Yorkshire Fat Rascal (same as a normal scone with an almond on it)

Another walk round the event looking at the show and shine



Maybe not so shiny but cute...


Have no idea how this even moves as its so low


More interesting were the various dogs....Homer was a bit jealous of this ones trolley..(after his midnight walk with the wristband farce I think he is saving his gravy bones to buy one)


Not sure if the dog was weirder in the pants or the owner (who was very weird - sort of like Susan Boyle but worse)


Another dog trying the 'Why cant I have a trolley' routine?


Walking round...

The Graffiti tent in action (in hindsight I should have secretly volunteered the Clio for this)


In keeping with the VW speed theme...donkey rides


Ambled back to the van to unpitch the tent to go home...

Some of the vans on the site were nicer than the show and shines


A little teardrop van


Just time to take the dogs a last walk...in the corner of the campsite we were spoilt for choice on where to go..

there was either the fields round the corner...


the woods


or what for some reason was their favourite the church and graveyard


The graveyard also had a secret passage - my brave and fearless dogs...sent Steve down to check it out


Once they were happy he wasnt molested and left for dead they went down as well


Steve had a fascination for the gravestones and I appear to have about 20 pics of these....


Just as well really, as if he loses his wristband next year he will be under one....

Happily Tillie made it home in one piece too!!!

Thank you Tillie!


And finally...

I have just noticed that the blog has been going for a year now - over 42000 views so I may as well keep it going! Thanks to all that read it, it makes it more worthwhile if someone else is interested in my rantings

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

The Wonders of Wickham and Wurzels


Annie suggested a few months back a visit to Wickham Festival. Having never been to a small scale affair, I decided to give it a go. Avidly checking the line up I realised for £70 for whole camping package for 4 nights we were never going attract the more obvious acts.

So with an impressive line up of headliners which included the Proclaimers and the Levellers and some obscure bands headlining Saturday I knew I was in a for a musical treat. Bear in mind these are the name droppers, I also had to endure Jools Holland and his ego, plus the star of Sunday afternoon, The Wurzels (it's not set in a corn field for nothing). I'm sure I saw one of their gigs advertised at Watford Coffee Shop a few months back, so it was worrying they might get stage fright with an audience of over 30 people.

Arrived Thursday morning at Westlands Farm Shop as the camping was in their usual sheep field. It must be the only festival where you get a sausage wrapped round your wrist instead of a wristband.

Campsite was pretty full so after a bit of negotiations until the steward lost the will to live, managed to bag a nice huge camping area for my and Annies bell tents

The Campsite Before (and in fairness a lot of the time it looked this anyway. The festy doesn't attract the usual gorgeous slim festy goers)


With the tents pitched


Strangely this family had brought their 3 ferrets with them (they probably knew more of the bands than me though)


First night was the delights of Jools. We wandered over the corn field to the main arena, got our sausage wristbands, couple of pints of cider and black (we're not students honest) at the Moose Bar. The moose became animated during the evening and repeated the same jokes over and over again. Really bad jokes. If it wasn't for the tasty barman and the fact the only other bar was a real ale one that smelt of gone off vinegar we might not have returned here religiously every night


So we endured the light fingered piano playing and crescendo brass for a while, then special guest Chris Difford came on stage with them. Now your talking....in full stereo me and Annie sang at the top of our voices to classics 'Up the Junction', 'Cool for cats' etc.
Unfortunately no one else did. It was a blot on the intellectual music level to everyone around us, as their confused faces look mortified that Jools could possibly be involved with this commoner music...

I'm not sure what these people were doing during the peak of Squeeze, but by their miserable faces they looked more up the junction than cool for cats.

I'm not sure our appearance gave us any credibility either.....

It started off with a tail....


Then a nice top hat....


Finished off with a bit of face painting....


Annie in full tribal make up courtesy of Sarah our new personal make up artist


So slightly worse for wear we stumbled back across the cornfield and had a nice lie in.

I had my new 'solar light headboard' set up, which actually worked really well for reading in bed. Although i do have to take Annie everywhere with me to hold the back of the magnet while I clip them on


Luckily we could park next to the tents, so the Mr Men got kitted out pretty comfy. Plus we had posh showers, washing up facilities, fresh water and decent loos. Something to be said for these little festies




Annie took the olympics to heart, and decided to fly the flag...






Saturday we visited Wickham, bought up half the co-op and mooched back again

We passed the deluxe camping at £160 a night...really????!!!...They were lined up like domino's and no space at either entrance - no imagination whatsoever


Didn't take many pictures at Wickham so here's all 3 piled up.


Annie didn't see any of wickham she stood talking in a shop doorway for about 3 hours as normal. I thought my mum was full of rattle but Annie could get medals for it. She talks to EVERYONE!
Including a particularly annoying bloke on the campsite who got named 'chatty man'. I got into the habit of crawling under the car when he walked past rather than listening to his musing of the day, but Annie would sit their patiently and converse with him. I did try and hypnotise her into staring directly at me when he walked past, but she still succumbed to his amazing tales of tent poles and roast dinners

Friday night was busy as the Headliner was the Proclaimers (preceded by K T Tunstall) So we waited for 4 hours to sing 2 songs we knew. Letter from America and 500 miles for the encore



Saturday we took a drive out to Bishops waltham, then Alresford . Bought a few bits for the tent as usual and stuffed our faces with cake. Highlight was a nice orange fridge

Never heard of the bands on tonight so we mooched down to the arena, got the faces painted again and watched the world go by outside the Moose bar. All very civilised...to start with. Then we get Wickhams equivalent of the Inbetweeners come over to 'chat us up'.

I was my usual graceful self and told lookey likey Alistair McGowan and his mate Micky the Mullet to clear off and come back when their balls had dropped. Annie was more civil and not one to miss an opportunity engaged in deep meaningful conversation with Mr Beige (top to toe in the colour with a jumper made out of what looked like exhibition carpet)

For some strange reason Annie offered to pay for Carpet Boy to have his face painted, plus the entire male population of the moose bar. So we sat and watched as a bevy of beauties were painted. It transpired the new addition of blokes were a stag party so were pretty game for a few sparkles to be painted on them.

Must admit I thought the 2 twins were a bit tasty...I think it was the Paolo Nutini eyes...(not the ones painted down his face, the ones in the sockets)


Mask Man seemed to like his


Not all went down that well though, altho 'Gay Boy George' did seem to embrace his glittery tiger eye after a few beers.

Nicely tanked up we said our goodbyes and mooched back to the tents, ready for our final day

Sunday afternoon was the Wurzels. We couldn't miss that. Not because I have any great love for them at all, merely because I had heard of them, and sadly knew more of their songs than anyone else the entire weekend

Walked up to the site passing this landrover conversion - I reckon Gumball should have a go at one of these


So spent our time in the sun eating and drinking blummin soft drinks (driving home straight after tonight)



Highlight meeting Sheridan the Dog! He was real, honest. I didn't like to ask what happened to his legs as the poor thing spent most of the time on his mobility scooter


Piss poor copy really....but nice to see one


I mooched off and watched the black face morris dancers for a while (border morris men evidently). Started taking a few photo's....and then got accosted by them. I think somehow I have now agreed to join some strange morris dancing club, send all my photos to some strange man who gave me his card and have made best friends with half the group



Another hot date


Finally got round to watching the Wurzels..finale being this revolting character stripping off to his underpants. It wasn't just Gary Glitter that was a bit warped from that generation


In the evening Annies cousin Andy joined us. Apart from having a very unique taste in shoes (awful....white birkenstocks?!) he appeared to have borrowed his shorts from a relative of Coco the clown


Weirdly, altho he bought his shorts with 'plenty of room to grow into'...his socks barely managed to reach the top of his feet. His shoes seemed to eat them up and spit them out. They might come in handy if he decides to take up ballet tho


Annie suggested we make a pathway through the crowds to get front row access to The Levellers.....nice theory...

However Annie had also suggested on Friday night we do exactly the same. So after stamping on half the audience, ignoring abuse and squashing ourselves into prime position...Annie said 'My feet hurt I want to get out now'....

Slightly wary of doing the same again, she re-assured us her feet were fine as she hadn't stood on them all day. So we went through the torrent of abuse walk again and within touching distance of the stage we got ready....10 minutes later Annie mentioned....'Actually I get a bit claustrophobic....'. So we ejected Annie back out again

I remained in the scrum with Andy and we were determined to stay in position. It turned out to be a ringside seat...for the several fights actually. There was a good one between 2 girls over a robbed hat. Annie should have stayed for that one at least

The Levellers weren't quite the tasty band from the 90's that they were (Mr dreads is seriously UGLY)


Altho the fiddler was blummin good


So they played 'Beautiful Day' at the start...and that was it!! NOTHING else I knew :(. They didn't do Hope Street and more more more annoying they didn't do 'Just the One'.



So one final drink later and the weekend was over. Leaving at 12pm with a face painted as a brown cat creature I seriously hoped I wouldn't get pulled up on the motorway or need the loo....

Wicked weekend!

REVIEW: 'Camping under the Stars' 5m Bell Tent

Camping Under The Stars 12 months ago, Tommy approached me and asked if I would like to review one of his bell tents. No problem.. ...