Download of the legal variety pt.1

I am of course talking about the Download festival held at Donnington Park. I attended this year but with trepidation. The music Download plays is, for the most part, not my thing at all. I went mainly as a companion for my significant other who I strongly think may have died without someone to pitch a tent for him. Anyway, I shall just launch right into it.

We booked a coach to take us to Download for one simple reason – It would not matter how tired we were on Monday morning because we wouldn’t have to worry about driving/changing trains/getting a seat or anything else for that matter. We could just fall onto the coach and sleep. I have travelled to festivals on trains before and it was no where near as comfortable or easy as the coach. I think coach travel will be the only way I go to a festival in future. It’s just so convenient! We arrived at the festival grounds by about 12:30 on Thursday afternoon and started trudging across muddy ground to try and find a campsite. The first two sites we went past were all full so we ended up at the black camp site. It wasn’t so bad. It was quite close to the entertainment tents but far enough away to not hear them too much when it was time to sleep. We were also convenient for the water supply taps and toilets. By toilets, I don’t mean the horrible porta loo’s you get, I mean the Comfy Crapper toilets. We had purchased a wristband each from their website that entitled us to unlimited use of clean, chemical free toilets. It was the single best thing we bought all weekend. Festival porta toilets are things of nightmares so to know I could wake up in the morning and not be faced with a horror movie esq. experience was sheer joy. Thank you Comfy Crappers!

Anyway, tent got pitched, airbed got inflated and then we trotted straight off to have a walk around the campsite ‘Village’. It was basically just a mass of food vans and shopping tents. They had an off license though and it would sell you 4 cold cans of pear cider for £5. We wandered around with cans in our hands just soaking up the atmosphere. There really was a huge variety of stalls there. I say clothes places, shoe places, jewellery places, a supermarket, camping retailers, a chlamydia screening place, an all day breakfast ‘cafe’, a bar and many many fair ground rides. It was quite a sight! I didn’t take any picture of the village but I did make a video of a wondrous sight – Domino’s Pizza.

It was glorious! We held off a domino’s pizza until the very last day. We then caved and forked out the £15 they were charging but oh man it was tasty!

A stall that I loved very much was the flag stall. I loved it for 2 reasons. 1) they had some of the funkiest flags I have ever seen and 2) they sold me my Bee. Now my Bee is a beautiful thing. He was intended as a kite really but we strapped him to a pole and made him the navigation point so i could find our tent. I think you’ll agree he’s a charming fellow and quite possibly the only reason I wasn’t hideously lost all weekend.

So Thursday was mainly spent wandering round the village before heading back to the tent for a nice cup of tea. here’s my enjoying the festival luxery

We were fairly drunk and tired on Thursday night so we did just, well, we went to bed quite early. But that was ok because the music started the next morning.

As mentioned previously, I was not really very enthralled by the line up of music on the stages. There were maybe two or three acts I wanted to see. I opted to mainly wander around and have a listen to most things and to just stop and enjoy when I heard something I liked. So, we ventured out on Friday morning. The man knew what he wanted to do so we allocated a rally point and agreed to meet there for food later. I wandered off and into the Tuborg tent. It was here, early on a Friday that I discovered Sleepercurve.

What a joy they were to listen to! I have a very good ear for music. It’s an ear that earned my review privileges on the Roadrunner Street team many years ago and a spot on local radio reviewing bands. It’s never really failed me when I have hunted for talent and ingenuity in a band or single musician so when it liked Sleepercurve I thought I ought to pay some attention. Sleepercurve is the only band since Mad at Gravity that made my hairs stand on end in all the right places. Their sound was, basically, flawless. You can tell how much blood, sweat tears and grey matter have been applied to every song they played. There were completely polished in every sense. I would estimate less than 100 people were in the tent for their segment but that didn’t matter, Sleepercurve played it like they were on the main stage with 50,000 watching them. Here’s a snap I took of the singer/guitarist mid excitement

I really could not have asked for anything more. The start of my festival went much better than expected thanks to these fine fellows and their music. I could rattle on more about them but I really shouldn’t as there’s a lot more blog to get through so we shall leave Sleepercurve there with a single word. Awesome.

Next I tottered over to the main stage and caught the end of Hollywood Undead. Their music was unimaginative, samey and really just a lot like House of Pain. Thankfully I only had to suffer the last 5 minutes of their set.

The next band up on the main stage were ‘The Blackout’. These guys had something very interesting going on. They had one vocalist shouting at me, and one vocalist singing very well at me. I’m still not sure about how sold I am on this fusion of singing and shouting but it didn’t offend me by a long shot. I stood and listened to their whole set so I must take my hat off to them. I am normally very offended by bands that ‘shout’ at me but I forgave these blokes because the singing was enough to get my fingers back out my ears. The tunes were catchy and I tapped my foot but my ears remained confused. I can see these guys doing very well. Think Lost Prophets but not useless live.

By now we were pretty much in the thick of the main stage crowd so we just hung about and watched the next two acts on there. First up was Staind. I remember this band form years back. They were very miserable then and they’re still very miserable now. Catchy tunes but I like my wrists intact so i didn’t listen too hard for fear of an overwhelming need to kill myself. The members also just stood still on stage. All in all, a subdued and melancholy performance.

Billy Talent. Oh Billy Talent! How happy thou did make me! After standing through Staind and feeling like the sky might actually fall, Billy Talent were the explosion of energy and happy feelings the crowd needed. I thought they were bloody brilliant. The sound they make is completely mental, but they’re from Canada so that’s explained away fairly easily. The guitarists hair is also simply fabulous. It’s taller than most houses and perfectly sculpted. I do feel though that Billy Talent lose a lot when translated to disc. I enjoyed them much more live than I do their recorded stuff. If you have maybe a vague liking of Billy Talent from their album you MUST see them live. They will make you fall in love with them through sheer enthusiastic mentalness.

I exited stage left for Killswitch Engage. I remembered form my Roadrunner days how noisy they were and how big their fans normally are. I left my boyfriend in the middle for them and escaped to a safe distance for cider, beer and an ice cream. he said Killswitch were very good but you’ll have to take his word for it.

Next were the three big headliners. Limp Bizkit, Korn and Faith No More. I was looking forward to Limp Bizkit and Korn because my teens had been spent rocking out to songs like Nookie and A.D.I.D.A.S. I will admit that limp Bizkit did not disappoint. I had a sinking feeling that they would be utter rubbish but they weren’t. They seemed sincerely pleased to be back and playing a big show again. I thoroughly enjoyed their set and was surprised when Fred Durst pulled 2 fans out the crowed and allowed them to jump all over the stage and join in with the performance on 2 songs. Those guys really did look like every Christmas, birthday and New Year had just arrived at once. The elation on their faces was unmatched by anything else I saw that weekend. Truly inspiring viewing.

Korn made me sad. They made me sad because they were distinctly average. After a day of new discoveries and being surprised at the quality of music, Korn let the side down. Very little movement on stage, the same chit chat with the crowd that every other band had done all day long. nothing original, nothing exiting, nothing new but more importantly – not enough classics! the classics they did do weren’t delivered with much oomph either. How sad that made me.

Finally Faith No More. What a hype they had made for themselves. Only playing one show at Brixton before a massive crowd like Download. Kissing and making up especially to tour etc etc. I left after three songs. The singer was off tune and unsteady, the guitarist seemed to be off on his own planet. Only the drummer and bassist seemed to actually be on the stage and focusing. Such a let down! I tramped back to the tent with the distinct feeling that a promising start had been sorely let down by the 2 main headliners on the main stage. I wish i had gone over to the second stage for Motley Crue but by then I was beyond consoling.

Saturday had to provide better results…………………….to be continued!

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Catching up with the technology

Up until now, mine and his technology has been mostly inherited second or third hand. This is purely due to financial constraints. I however got very sick of our third hand TV in the front room because the speakers were going. One moment it was loud as hell, then you couldn’t hear a thing. Occasionally the speakers also sounded like they were breaking wind. Not good for trying to enjoy anything on television. The DVD player in the front room was also on the blink. It was very temperamental about what it would and wouldn’t play. If it did play, it often skipped back to the start of the film midway through. The most annoying thing it ever did was in the last 5 minutes of ‘The Departed’. You were just about to see the whole plot round up and it started the film again. I was ready to throw things. So I did. I threw out the old TV and DVD player.

We finally invested in a HD TV and a HDMI capable DVD player. here’s a snap of the TV which isn’t very good because I still haven’t got the knack of my beautiful new camera yet.

It’s an LG 32″ LH2000 and it is Beautiful. It was also a bargain from good old Argos. 9 months interest free to pay it off the store card. We could not be more pleased with our investment. All I can say to those of you umming and ahhing about going HD/HDMI/Blu Ray, whatever, if you enjoy movies or TV, you NEED to upgrade to a HD TV. The difference in quality is simply staggering.

A word of caution though – it may result in your other half finally buying the xBox 360 he’s wanted for ages but never bought because now it’ll look “Awesome” on your new TV.

Lapse in Everything

It has been some time since I blogged anything. The reason for that is mainly the sheer volume of things that have been happening to me recently.

The first big thing to happen was that I went for my student paramedic interview. I was successful which is brilliant. Finding out you’re successful brings into play another set of things you need to get done. In my case, it is acquiring the C1 category on my driving license. I set the ball rolling on this the same day I got my acceptance letter and duly ordered the book/DVD I needed for the theory tests. I also managed to find a driving school that will teach me all I need to know about how not to crash in a lorry. I also realised that, upon my starting ‘Paramedic School’, I wouldn’t be able to take a break or holiday for the first 6 months of training. I haven’t had a holiday since May last year so I figured, I better take it while I can. The ‘while I can’ time bracket seemed to be now or never so I packed myself off for 2 weeks back home to my Mother.

My intentions of 2 weeks back home were to generally relax and sort a few bits and bobs out. On the Tuesday of arrival, my main objective was to fetch and repair the bicycle sister number 1 had said I could borrow whilst in town. I did that and found it only needed a new break cable so that was put down as a job for the next day. It rained the next day so I decided an indoor activity could be sorting and clearing out some of the stuff I had stored in Mothers spare room.  I realised quite quickly that I had an enormous amount of stuff and decided a car boot sale would be the best way to shift it all. I also figured that if you’re going to do a car boot sale, you may as well do it properly so over the rest of the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I ventured into uncharted areas of the loft and garage in an effort to round up everything I wanted to sell. What a success it was! I found stuff I thought I would never see again. I was most pleased though to discover my flute safe and sounding beautiful.

The flute went onto the pile of things to come back to London with me. The pile of things to car boot was considerably (read four times) larger than the London pile. I only have a small car so I roped my sisters in to lend assistance with their much larger vehicles. Thanks you two!!! There were mishaps along the way. My eldest sister managed to either break or dislocate her little toe. We really aren’t sure which happened. All we know is that it looked like this. Ouch

It was a fairly interesting situation as children needed to be looked after while we car booted on the Saturday morning so a ‘sleep over’ plan was hatched upon. The night before the car boot, everyone would sleep at Mothers so as not to disturb respective husbands/children with the 5am start. So, in a two bed roomed bungalow, we had Mother, me, sister number 1, sister number 2, niece number 1 and niece number 2 all sleeping peacefully on the Friday night.

To the car boot we took one packed BMW Estate (of sister number 2’s junk) and one packed VW Golf (of my junk). By 6:10am Saturday morning, we were gaily setting everything up and beginning to sell. This is the amount of space all our stuff covered. We occupied the stretch from the front of the silver golf, to the rear of the green beemer and all the space in between.

It was very warm as the sun blazed down on us but all the buyers seemed in very good spirits. As a result, I managed to sell so much stuff that only four boxes and £140 returned home with me. Sister number 2 also did well. All in all, a veritable success story. I did pick up a rather awful case of sunburn though. I felt horribly ill on the Sunday, despite going though half a 500ml tub of aqueous cream and about 7 litres of water, so it was spent wallowing in bed.

Monday brought news of my provisional driving license arriving back in London. I heaved a sigh of relief at this because I was horribly worried they would refuse the license on the grounds of pretty terrible uncorrected eyesight. But they didn’t so hooray! I immediately set about trying to book myself the theory and hazard perception tests. I began by looking in London only to find that none of the test centres could fit me in before 17th June. How frustrating. So I took a punt and had a look in the Lincolnshire area. It came up trumps. There was a spot at the Grantham test centre for both theory and hazard perception on the Friday of that week! Bloody brilliant! I asked the London party to please special delivery my driving license to me and went ahead and booked myself in for both tests on Friday 5th. Then started the revising. Oh lord the revising. You would think there is only 1 way to ask you about how much extra space you need to stop in wet conditions wouldn’t you? Well apparently there are 9 different ways you can ask the same question. It was terribly monotonous and tedious but I knuckled down to the 480 page revision book and DVD for 3 days. It paid off because I scored 100% on the theory test and 76% on the hazard perception, both passing marks. So now all I have to do is book my practical course and we are all systems go! I can see the finish line and it has a green uniform on it.

Also, in between all of these other things I was doing in Boston, I managed to sort Mum out with the various jobs I swear she saves exclusively for me e.g. new keyboard and mouse shopping/setting up, new lamp shopping/setting up, general moving/sorting. I also got the car MoT’d and serviced, dismantled and stored my bed from the spare room, ordered Mum’s new sofa bed for her, went to the Zhu Guang buffet in torrential rain, got the bicycle cable fixed and attached all my panniers and other general cycling paraphernalia to it securely, saw my Father, Step Mother and grandmother, find the most bargain priced HDMI cables I have ever come across (£2.99 in Home Bargains), purchased all the dried food 2 people could possibly consume at a music festival and finally remembered to take pictures for my blog! All in all, i think for 2 weeks that’s a pretty mammoth effort of getting things done and sorted. I am now OFFICIALLY, after  years, moved away from home as there is nothing significant left inside my Mothers place that belongs to me. Huzzah!!!

Lastly, I wish to tell you about one of the Best things about going home to Boston. It’s quite unexpected, and it’s ice cream. There’s a family run ice creamery in Boston called Skinners, and they produce 1 flavour ice cream and they do it to perfection. All they make is vanilla ice cream but it is the single most beautiful sight in the world for a Boston native. Here is a picture of Mother modelling our cones

This ice cream does not come out of a machine to make it look swirly and yummy. no no, they spin it onto the cone with a wooden spoon. It is the epitome of simplicity and it Tastes SO good! I have always been surprised that the pubs and restaurants have never coupled up with skinners ice cream for their desserts as it would be a winner for both of them. Skinners gets extra ice cream and Bostonians wouldn’t have to half fill their freezers with Skinners for the winter when they’re not open. they can just go out to whatever pub/Restaurant has skinners on the menu as a dessert and enjoy. I can’t think of a better enterprise for the winter months really. I’d go and buy it form a pub for sure.

I think that’s enough for this entry but I do have more to write about that I will update over the next couple of days!

Happy living!!!