Hubby and I are no longer festival virgins (or the biblical kind....I've mentioned the five kids, right?).
Thursday last week we headed off to the Hop Farm Festival near Tonbridge in Kent. Arriving in beautiful sunshine and met by all the other early arrivals with huge smiles and eager anticipation. The three night break away for us was enough to be excited about (half-pint is only four so we were looking forward to a lie-in or two!) the line-up however had us so wired we couldn't stop grinning inanely at each other.
My other half is a major Bob Dylan fan and, don't shoot me, I am not. However I was so chuffed for him to be able to see one of his all time idols that I was looking forward to him headlining on the Saturday night too....Bob Dylan that is, not my husband!
One or two of my favourites were playing too and on Saturday afternoon I got myself positioned right at the very front of the crowd and was thoroughly overwhelmed with 'Love and Affection' when the lovely Joan Armatrading played some of her most famous songs - 'I Love it When You Call Me Names', 'Drop The Pilot' and 'All The Way From America'. Fabulous!!
There were so many moments of brilliance over the weekend that I can't do a complete roll-call but special mentions should go to: Randy Crawford, Billy Ocean - who was just unbelievably brilliant and had the whole crowd dancing and singing - I didn't realise I knew so many of his songs! The Stranglers certainly didn't disappoint when they sang 'Duchess' and 'Peaches' - the soundtrack to my teenage years along with Gary Numan and Cars!
Bruce Forsyth was a random addition to the line-up and if hadn't been for the fact that Joan was following I would have disappeared off to join the long queue to hell (more of that later). However, as soon as Brucie set foot on the main stage the love from the crowd was palpable - everyone willing this veteran entertainer to be his very best on his festival debut - he's no longer a virgin either!
Three Blind Wolves are worth you-tubing if you get a chance - three lads upfront with guitars and great tunes and a drummer with a penchant for undressing! Very very entertaining! I'll definitely be getting their stuff on to my ipod (God i'm so 21st century!)
The melodious voice of Damien Rice cut through the night like a knife - the crowd hanging on his every poignant word - just one man a guitar a huge stage and a throng held in his songs - I've loved him for 10 years and have seen him a couple of times live in more intimate venues and was worried that this event wouldn't have the same atmosphere for a performer like Damien - I was so wrong - he was just magical.
Suede ended the festival on Sunday night. I have never been a massive fan of them before but, my word, I am now. What a performance! They played all their big hits and played them fantastically with all the energy and passion of twenty year olds!
For me though, the very best performance of the whole three days was from 'Bellowhead'. I'm ashamed to admit that i'd never heard of them before and again was only down the front by the railings waiting for Joan!
A band of amazing musicians with fiddles and saxophone, penny whistles and a tuba to name a few. Such an amazing and fun set. Traditional British folk songs with a modern and sexy twist. If they were for hire for New Year's Eve I would most certainly book them.....somehow with their talent I have a feeling I would be saving for a very long time before I could even afford the penny whistle solo! At one point three of the boys came to the front of the stage and performed a song, which if memory serves me right, was called Hop. They did a little jig involving jumping and encouraged the crowd to join in. Always being one to do as i'm told I joined in most enthusiastically. Jumping too much probably as, some minutes into my wild abandon, I felt something around my ankles...yep, you guessed it....I jigged right out of my pants!.....I should add that, mercifully, I had put them on OVER my leggings (in an attempt to keep the leggings up! major wardrobe fail!) Anyway, I styled it out, pulled them up with haste and continued to dance clinging desperately through my dress to the aforementioned undergarments!!!
The music at The Hop Farm was diverse and thrilling having something for just about everyone. It was well organised and on the whole the staff were friendly, However, I did get the feeling when moving around from the main arena to the campsite that I was being marshalled around a POW camp. The constant bag checks and being ordered to throw away open bottles of water as you can't take the from one place to another was pretty jarring after a while - especially as the MC for the event constantly reminding the crowd to keep hydrated - I would do Dave, but I have just thrown away my third almost full bottle of water for the day (£6 worth....I thank you!)
|Essentials for toilet trip!|
Now....The toilets - I know everyone warns the virgins about these but Christ on a bike, I never expected anything like it! On the second morning I went for the obligatory early morning pee and after queuing for ten minutes was scared that my kidneys were about to implode, finally stepping up into the dark plastic box and dropping my drawers (a theme emerging here!) I genuinely gagged and fell out of the cubicle with the sting of acrid tears falling down my face! From that moment my subconscious had a very strong word with my bladder and bowel, urging them to refrain from needing abluting for the next two days! There should have been at least double the amount of toilets and toilet cleaners....gross!
And.....the showers.....a festival with thousands of campers and ......14 showers....that's right....14 showers! Which were closed from 12 lunchtime to some random time in the evening then opened for a short while (begrudgingly) and then closed between midnight and 6am.....not enough Mr Power....nowhere near enough!
Finally....my very last complaint....for those people who brought their own food along there was nowhere for the to wash up dishes apart from the sinks next to the toilets and the open urinals where people were washing fecal matter from their hands and also having to brush their teeth.....not good, especially as there were many small children enjoying the festival. Generally I can put up with this kind of thing....if i'm not paying a handsome price for the privilege! Come on....sort it out!
All in all though a bloomin' fantastic weekend! And, Bellowhead, if your ever in Hastings and fancy a cuppa.......!