My Highlights Of 2007

The Bestival Festival, The Isle of Wight, September 2007

Having heard a lot of hype about this festival before hand The Bestival had a lot to live up to. This was especially the case since I was unable (for the first time ever) to get tickets for Glastonbury this year. In fact from certain camps I had been reliably informed this was better than Glastonbury with more of the original spirit of peace and love that the oversized commercial beast had long since lost. It sounded exactly what was required this year, I really did not have the stomach for a mud bath… or a 3 day ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ style cainer! Maybe I’m getting old, I prefer to see it as I know what I don’t want.

The holiday did not start well, firstly my girlfriend and I left late, something we had sworn we would not do the day before. However come the day there was all the predictable extra little jobs we had forgotten about which inevitably meant we where rushing out the door in a blind panic.

The journey down to Portsmouth was surprisingly hassle free, although only thanks to my girlfriend keeping the average speed above 95 for the entire length of whatever motorway the satnav sent us down! However that was about to change when we arrived at Portsmouth harbour to find ‘we’ (my girlfriend) had forgotten ‘our’ tickets for the ferry. I had one of those moments to point out the fact the tickets were the only important item she was supposed to remember. However we all know that is a very bad idea to say this to your girlfriend at the best of times, plus karma has a habit of biting you in the ass when you do things like that! So I buttoned my lip and preyed we could get on the ferry!

As it turns out there was only one queue for those with or without tickets… a very long, sweaty, slightly pissed queue that was rapidly losing its party atmosphere! For me it was one of those why can’t they fucking organise this shit better!!!" moments that we normally experience at practically every festival… it’s all part of the experience I suppose! I wish it wasn’t though, I mean it’s not rocket science, fuck you know there going to be 30,000 people going through 1 point over the period of 1 day surely you can sort some extra boats out! ‘Breath’, ok that’s my rant over, where am I?

Oh yes, well we eventually got on the boat to The Isle of Wight. For those of you that don’t know this is a small island off the south coast of England, its peaceful, beautiful and occasionally allows vast hoards of city folk to descend upon it for a few summer festivals. The Bestival is one of them, the last of the year in fact, cunningly held in the first week of September. I say cunningly because that time of year always seems to bring out the best of the English weather… unlike Glastonbury, held over the summer solstice which is, well, usually shit!

After a short 30min ferry journey we arrived, to predictably the same queues and pissed off faces at the other end, only now waiting to get a bus to the campsite. Using all our experience and knowledge of festival situations we went to the nearest pub…and sat it out. As it turns out this was an ingenious idea with the added bonus of getting us well on the way to being nicely pissed. Eventually a bus turned up and the queue was small enough for us to join! So we made our way to the site and set up for the first evening at The Bestival.

Once the tent was up I could finally relax and it gave me a chance to look around at the festival site. The first thing that struck was the sun was shining, in fact there was not a cloud in the sky, a bonus indeed. The second thing that struck me was the size of the place, pretty small compared to other festivals, in fact a quarter of the size of Glastonbury would be pretty accurate! The third thing was the countryside, the site itself is located within a valley, it’s very green and very peaceful…definitely a place to relax. I do prefer that type of setting compared to the vast open fields of other sites like Reading, I don’t know why, I suppose being a city dweller I like to be reminded I’m in the country side and not just a park in ‘Saaf’ London. It also feels confined, cosy, like you are in a bubble and away from the everyday realities of life. The fourth thing of course was the people, definitely very relaxed and more friendlier than other events in the UK. This was good to see!

The first evening of the festival went well, the sun shined, the evening was warm and the beer with cold. We had surprisingly good pies, with surprisingly good gravy with surprisingly good mash. We watched The Chemical Brothers on the main stage (with everybody else it seemed like) and all was well. I would like to say I remember what happened after that, however the memories are vague at best… I remember waking up in a Tee Pee with my girlfriend in one arm and a bottle of cider in the other…that’s about it!

The next day was Saturday, and it was a scorcher from morning to evening. It was also fancy dress day, a Bestival tradition on the Saturday! I had decided going dressed as a monk was the only way forward. I remember thinking a habit would be ideal if it rains with the option of going commando if it doesn’t! However it was unexpectedly pretty damn hot and there was only so long I could stand wearing it before it started feeling the heat… and nobody likes a sweaty monk trust me! The day was surreal, especially by mid afternoon when everybody was in costume. Everywhere you looked somebody was dressed in something daft, stupid or outrageous. My favourite was the guy dressed as Marge Simpson, this included painting himself entirely in blue…which I thought was brave considering! However my most surreal moment of the holiday happened that evening when I was trying to take another beer fuelled leek in the communal gents toilets. Opposite me was Pavarotti, next to him a cowboy, on my left a pirate and on my right… Amy Winehouse? Or at least a gentleman in an Amy Winehouse wig, mini skirt and a sign proclaiming she will do something for crack…sorry but I didn’t really want to lean over and find out the exact words!

So anyway the festival went on for another day in a similar vain. The weather stayed great, the beer continued to flow and the music played until the early hours. I had a great time, it was different to other festivals, smaller, friendlier, with more space to spread out and get away from the crowds. I would liken it most to the Green fields at Glastonbury, it had the same atmosphere. However it did lack that certain punch that many of the big festivals offer. The Chemical Brothers and The Beastie boys are ok, but they are not really the big names you want to see at a festival. Saying that however the other stages all had their fair share of good music, some known some unknown… but in the end who cares as long as its good!

In the end I found that the facilities, atmosphere, space, food and people where top notch and I would recommend the weekend to anybody looking for a classic festive vibe without having to be a complete tramp while your there… bring on The Bestival 2008!

Journal Comments

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