Greenbelt – camping, mud, music, and children!

We’ve just returned from Greenbelt 2012. It’s not our first visit, but the first time we camped with the children.

Greenbelt runs Friday afternoon to Monday night over the August Bank Holiday, so we dutifully turned up Friday morning to pitch our (huge) tent, set up the kitchen area, and take a walk into the main festival area. I must say, we got a decent pitch in the end, albeit about a kilometre from the top of the site.

Highlights of the weekend included:

  • Shlomo – Beatboxing genius. Brilliant Sunday night set for half an hour. My sons were all quite impressed.
  • Hope & Social – A frantic Mainstage gig with obligatory segues into Baker Street.
  • Lobelia – American singer/songwriter who did a set in the Performance CafĂ© with @solobasssteve and @calamateur providing backup.
  • Meeting a bunch of crazies (e.g. Granny Turismo!), @SoVeryAPT and his lovely other half, some gothic biker campsite stewards off-duty in the beer tent (Thanks to “Zero” for the hint about buying a decent long coat, and for the pint. I owe you), and other people we know from the outside world (@peatk, yes I mean you as well) and who are for the most part just as sold on this festival as we are.
  • My sons getting used to the “camping at a festival” experience, developing a taste for the outdoor life, and walking their legs off getting between venues.
  • Seeing the whole Mainstage crowd come alive for the Proclaimers as they closed their set with 500 miles.

Of course, the Bank Holiday provided us with suitably epic weather as well. More rain fell on Saturday than had any right to really, and then Sunday was beautifully sunny for most of the day. When we awoke on Monday morning, it was still dry and we chose to strike camp early. Imagine, then, how irritating it felt this morning to wake to bright blue skies and sunshine at home having travelled back in the dark last night. The main field was a mudbath, the beer tent was flooded out, power was lost to venues, and water pressure on the campsite could be a bit hit and miss.

Everybody on Twitter and that I’ve spoken to in person agrees though that the weather didn’t break the festival, and that the volunteers (more than 1500 of them) saved the day. It was a strange Greenbelt, and although I enjoyed it and the boys loved camping, it’s good to be home and dry.

The blue skies of Sunday Morning

Beautiful blue skies on Sunday morning – a contrast to Saturday’s deluges.

The talks I missed because of mud and packing up are easily bought from the website (a whole team of people sit in on them with digital recorders) and the bands I missed this year will no doubt be on iTunes or Bandcamp. Or even there next year when we return. Because we will, you can count on it.

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