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Michael’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 13 Jun 2007

Location: Southampton, England

MapFinally, I have a chance to write the update for the weeks gone past, which will no doubt focus strongly on the Isle of Wight Festival.  Funnily enough, the spare time I have had to write this was actually my lunch break at work - ha... spare time, what is that?  Anyway, hope you've had a chance to look at the pics, and there are a few still to come, so stay tuned.  I am also working on putting up some videos from the cheese roll and the festival but am having troubles with youtube, and getting enough bandwidth out of the internet connection at home to upload a video in under 5 hours....
So, the cheese roll... lets cast our minds back.  I spent the long weekend pretty quietly actually.  The Friday night was a quiet one at home, and then Saturday I went to N & C's house to house-sit and basically spent 15 hours on the internet.  Like oxygen, [and that other thing ;-) ] it's amazing how much you miss it when you don't have any...  But there was a mission to my internet use aside from emails, pictures, banking and buying stuff online, I was determined to find a way to extend my visa - and after almost 12 hours, I have found something that I qualify for.  I still have to collect all of the documents, which I am in the process of, but will be applying shortly and will hopefully have an idea with in the next 3 months (given I have 3 months left of work on my visa tomorrow!) if I get the new visa.  Stay tuned....
Sunday I headed home and then turned around and left for Swindon with Dan and Meg.  After stopping by Dan's parents house in Newbury we swung round to some quiet town about 20 minutes outside of Swindon where Meg's parents live.  They have this awesome little farm with cows, chickens, geese, lambs and who knows what else.  The house is gorgeous, and presumably old as hell given that the size of the front door seems more akin to a Hobbit living there that a visiting 6 foot Aussie.  Meg's parents were awesomely generous, cooking a monster meal for us, including heaps of fresh veggies from the garden and a chicken that they had bread - and then clearly killed :-(  It was tasty as hell though.  About the only thing that wasn't made from scratch was the bread sauce, which of course Dan said "this sauce is great, how'd you make it"... of all the things on the table, he picked the one thing that came from a shop!
That night we headed out to Swindon with Alex, Meg's friend from high school (presumably?) and Meg's brother and his girlfriend.  We hit a couple of places, but they seemed to be almost haven's for Chav's (council housed and violent). Dan went to the toilet and before he'd taken 5 steps some bloke had stolen his seat from the table.  I walked up and said it was still being used and took it back... with the looks I was getting from the guy, and his mates, I wasn't too fussed when we left soon after.  No offence to Dan, love the guy, but not the first man I'd pick to back me up in a bar fight! 
On to the second bar, The Long Bar, and this was more my speed.  It was very long, and had a couple different types of music.  We could all see that the night wasn't going to last very long, and eventually toasted Dan for his birthday around 11pm (an hour before his birthday) so that we could head home and get rest for the Cheese Roll.  The next day was the cheese roll, as was detailed in a previous entry... have a scroll back a couple entries...
So between then and now...
A couple games of football, and we are now 3-2 sitting second on the ladder with 3 games left.  This week we play top of the ladder, and play the team currently in third in the last round of the season, so with 3 wins, we will sit atop the ladder.  We hold our own destiny at this stage.  Check the club homepage for the weekly match reports:
God knows that club takes up a whole lot of my time, but I'm starting to get more help from the guys thank god.
Aside from that, the previous couple weeks had been quiet until the whirlwind that was last weekend arrived.... Let's start at Thursday.
Thursday avo Milo and Karla rocked up to Southampton and I headed straight from work to meet them on the main land.  I got them settled in, and then headed to training.  After training, the team headed to the pub for the team meeting (as they do every Thursday) and Milo and Karla joined us and we had a feed.  We caught there most of the night, and eventually headed home.  This would be the start of some major sleep deprivation. 
Milo and I stayed catching up till 130am, and I snuck in just over 4 hrs sleep before heading off to work.  I squeezed out my five hours, and got stuck doing almost an hours overtime, and then headed to the Folly Inn, the closest pub to work.  It's a beautiful pub on the Medina River, and is easiest reached by water taxi.  Milo and Karla had made their way there, as had Laura, Matty and Will from work, plus a cast of hundreds getting ready for the festival.  At 330 pm we headed off on foot to the festival and arrived half an hour later.  What a mess!  I had never seen anything like it, and trying to find our tent proved to be a mission - there were thousands, maybe 10's of thousands.  From all reports, it was a festival with 60,000 tickets, 35,000 of those being camping tickets, that's a lot of campers, and a lot of tents.  After an hour, we finally found our camp, perched nicely under the (one of many) South African flags that Cari and Nat had brought along.  Even better, our tents had been erected the night before and we just had to simply move in.  Too easy, if only all camping was so simple.

From the tent we started the long walk that we made on many occasions for the weekend.  Around tents, tripping over guy ropes until you made it to the walk ways, avoiding pot holes and people (often walking not so straight) and litter on the paths, behind and around food vendors that are in every corner of the campsite, running past the source of the stench, trying not to slip in the putrid overflow that covered the ground, cutting through lines of people trying to get fresh drinking water and washing their hands and face, ducking under flags waving over the path hanging off peoples tent, down the hill and then wait for the traffic to cross the road and the gate to open to let pedestrians keep moving.  All that and we weren't even a quarter of the way to the arena!  The place was HUGE, and with a quick walk (damn quick actually for Wolfmother on the Saturday) it took 20 minutes from the tent to the front section of the arena.
The first big section from the camp site contained a heap of stalls selling market stuff (never looked at them to be honest) and the Carling Beer Amnesty.  Not a bad idea in reality - bring whatever cans of beer you have (glass was prohibited from the event) and trade them in for cold cans of Carling.  It saved any need for buying ice and trying to keep the beers cold, so that came in handy.  Best part though was that you could bring in any brand, and people who new better were bring in Tesco brand (homebrand) beer cans and, though some would argue otherwise, trading up.
Moving on towards the area, passing the arts, crafts and food stalls on the right, showers and toilets on the let, we cross more fields of tents to get to the security check with everyone finishing of the last of their drinks, and throwing out their empty cans (you could bring your own beer to the camp site, but not into the main attractions) or pocketing their empty plastic bottle to refill with tap water on the other side of the security check.  All bags searched, sniffer dogs checking for drugs (trust me, they may have made 300 arrests, but plenty got through) and eventually you make it into Strawberry Fields.  This was Marquee city, and still only just over half way to the stage. 
Marquees set up to sell stuff from hats, arty stuff, oxygen bar, 'herbal ecstasy' bar (got shut down on Saturday evening by the cops) and of course carnival games of 'skill'.  Most dominating though were the Marquees set up for partying.  The Hipshaker Room playing old music, the Bacardi B-Live tent playing dance and hip-hop, Pussy Parlour which was the tent that was set up in front of the Arts centre in Melbourne a couple years back doing burlesque dance shows each night, Babylon Bar playing pub music, Zebra Champage tent, and Strongbow Cider house playing trance late at night.  The entertainment was endless... and then the rides started.  There was just so much to see and do.
Eventually, the arena entrance appeared, and by the time we arrived, all in super high spirits, we needed a rest from the walk.  The arena was lined on each side with food and drink stalls, as well as toilets, and funnelled down hill to the stage.  The Felling were on as we arrived, and grabbing a beer we made our way into the crowd.  Friday night was bar far the best atmosphere in the arena in my opinion.  We lost Cari, Nat and Jen almost the second we headed off, but the rest of us charged forward, and by the time Groove Armada took the stage we were well in and 'shaking that ass' away to the music.  They probably had the best part atmosphere for the whole weekend and were playing early on the Friday night.  Just after 1015 pm, Snow Patrol took to the stage and did a good 90 minute set, and then the crowd filed (very slowly) out of the arena and back into the Marquee area.
Trying to get into the Bacardi tent proved pointless due to the line, and Meg and I found ourselves kicking back on the grass drinking champagne and chatting with everyone else that had similar ideas to us.  Later we kicked on into the Babylon Bar and danced there till the marquees shut down at around 2am.  Then started the long walk back to the tents for a little bit of sleep!
The next morning, up early and a lot of travelling.  I grabbed Milo and Karla and we headed back to Southampton, jumped on a train (Karla stayed at home) and went to Bournemouth to play football.  Was an easy game, winning 136-53, and I kicked 3 goals.  Both Milo and I made the best on ground, though Milo was feeling a little sorry for himself after the game having not had to do so much exercise in a long time!  Check the match report on the team website:
Straight away we left and headed home, with the one goal of seeing Wolfmother.  It was going to be an uphill battle.  Everybody showered, and food purchased for the Saturday evening BBQ, we pushed off and were back on the island an hour before the Wolfmother were due to start.  A bus into Newport, and we gave ourselves a chance, but had to pick up bread after leaving it all at home - doh.  That cost us catching the first bus out of Newport and we had to wait minute for the next bus to leave.  As we rode to the fields, the British Red Arrows took to the air and all eyes were looking skyward... to me it just meant that no-one must be on stage and Wolfmother were due up.
Arriving, I set a hot pace for the tent to drop off the meat and disposable BBQ's and Milo and Karla kept up... just!  Just as we set off from the tents to the arena, the first chords of Dimension started playing, and you could hear it all the way from the tents - we set off quick. We missed the first 20 minutes of the set, and were charging to the front of the crowd when the one we were waiting for, Woman, started playing.  The crowd, clearly dominated by Aussies, were clearly enjoying it, as were the band.  The rocked harder than anyone else for the weekend, and finishing with Joker & The Thief, the crowd packed in at the front went nuts.  At the end of the set, the lads were clearly pumped, and the drummer stood up on the drum kit to take photos of the crowd....
After the show we chatted with some of the Aussies there, then turned and headed back to the tents, a little slower on the way back.  We fired up the BBQ's and started throwing on the meat, with everyone snacking on burgers, sausages, spare ribs and lamb sticks, and having a not so cold anymore Carling to wash it down. 
After dinner, we set off as a group to watch the evening performances. Kasabian were playing as we arrived, and everyone grabbed a drink and headed towards the stage. They were pretty good in my opinion. Not brilliant, but kept the crowd interested. Then, the headline act for the night, and the group voted best live act last year in the UK... I was hyped, but clearly too much. From what I'd listened to, it didn't sound like a Saturday night rock out or party group, but more of a lazy Sunday avo group. They were harder than I had figured on the night, but best live act in the UK? Aside from the flashy lights on the stage, which each of the night headline acts got, there was nothing remarkable going on. In the end the majority of us bailed to the Bacardi tent and chilled there for most of the evening. At midnight, DJ A-Skillz came on and he blew me away. I wish I had of stayed the whole time. The guy is a hip-hop R&B DJ, but mixed for his full 2 hour set, not letting a single track play for more than a minute. Sometimes that gets on my nerves, but this guy was good. Instead we headed to the hip-shaker tent for 60's jams, but that sucked and next thing it was just Karla, Milo and I kicking on, so we wandered around and ended up at Pussy Parlour. After leaving there at 2am, we headed home and I decided to visit every camp site of people still awake and crawled into bed as the sun started rising around 430 am. Looong day.

Sunday woke up sweating, as you do in tents, and fired up the last of the BBQ's for coffee and bacon snadwhiches. Great breakfast. Took apart the camp site and, despite everyone saying it couldn't be done, I loaded myself up to the rafters with gear so that we made it all in one trip. About 20 minutes further away from the stage. The trip involved the heaviest my backpack has ever weighed, and a trolley overflowing at the top being pushed through rugged grass and dirt paths... awesome.

From there we headed to the arena, as the beer amnesty had run out of beer, and grabbed some lunch. Jen lined up for 90 minutes to get some cash from the ATM, while I dozed under a tree listening to Mel C. We all headed in and set up camp at the back of the arena for the day and listened to James Morrison, Paulo Nutini, The Fratellis, and Keane, before the big event. Having eaten dinner, Meg and I charged through the crowd to get as far in as possible (which wasn't far at all compared to the previous nights) to watch the Rolling Stones. From the front the sound and hype was awesome, and they rocked the set opener - Start Me Up.

For most peoples tastes, they played too much lesser known stuff, but played an amazing sounding jazz/blues instrumental. Paulo Nutini guested for a song, as did Amy Whinehouse who had no chemistry what so ever with Mick (unlike Paulo). After an hour (10pm) we pushed off out of the crush in an attempt to get home and grab some shut eye. As we left the arena, they struck one chord and immediately I knew it was Satisfaction. Sure enough 10 seconds later they rocked it out as we walked into Newport to catch the bus. A bus ride to Cowes, the 1115pm ferry to Southampton, and a taxi had us home at midnight. After showers and toilets (what a blessing) it was 130 am before my head hit a pillow - on the couch in the lounge room. A wake up call as Dan got home from the festival at 340am, then the alarm at 5am to get Milo and Karla in the cab to the airport. Another hour snoozing in my bed and I was up to head to work, for one of the toughest days ever... but all in all, WHAT A WEEKEND!