Download 2015 Day One: Slipknot

Friday started off so well.  It was sunshiny as my best friend and I packed the car up, my teepee/tipi had arrived and I’d sprayed it with Solarproof waterproof spray to keep it extra dry.  I’d got my patches on the way for the bands I’ve already seen (new sewing project).  Everything was set to make it a memorable summery weekend of relaxation, good music and great company.

It started to go wrong when we got off the M1 motorway, and E’s car suddenly slipped out of gear, doing a strange thing which meant we coasted a bit and the gears wouldn’t engage.  The car conked out, and we had to fiddle with it to get it to go again.

We hoped this would be the end of our troubles.  It was only the beginning of one of the longest days of my life.

1. Queueing for entry: We had taken a sizeable armload of stuff so we could hurry to the campsite, pitch up and get set up quickly.  We were then left holding it for an hour and a half while we waited to get into the campsite.  Festival security was pretending to be stringent while not really bothering, and they only had half of the gates open.  Why they were bothering was beyond me – there were plenty of people inside selling things they shouldn’t be, and the staff didn’t check my handbag (the logical place to stash anything) but patted down my sleeping bag and tent.  Next time, I would recommend gaining an entry wristband, then going straight back to the car for the equipment.  We thought it had been a long walk with our stuff but the journey from the entry gate to our campsite was about twice that same distance again.

2. Campsite full – pitched on nettles.  We actually got the very last pitch in  the quiet camping – no-one else wanted it because it was covered in nettles and thistles.  Other people were turned away and told to camp even further away in the furthest campsite.  I worried a little about my tent because I got stung by nettles through the groundsheet, but it was sunny and I thought it would be fine as long as it remained sunny.

3. Once the tents were pitched, we went to the arena, which was a phenomenal walk – I missed Lacuna Coil because it took so long to get in and pitch the tent at the campsite.

4. It started to rain a bit.

5. Lost E. when she wanted to see some random band and dragged me away from Judas Priest.  Rain got worse.

6. Gave up looking for her.  Rain got worse.

7. Went to see Slipknot.  They were actually pretty good, the 2 drummers both played on a revolving drum kit each side of the stage, and they did all the classic favourites.  They officially christened this festival “Downpour 2015” which was pretty apt.  Rain got worse.

8. Went back to tent.  Rain got worse.

9. My tent was absolutely flooded.  Turns out they had used the most non-watertight zips in the history of tent zip production, so while the panels were keeping the water out (due to the spray I had used), the water was streaming in through every zipped area (which was 4 of the 6 panels).  From hers, I could hear that she was not alone.  Rain got worse.  Unfortunately, waterproof spray only works on things which were waterproof in the first place.

This was the floor of my tent.  One of many puddles.  The sleeve here was absolutely sodden and the water just kept coming.
This was the floor of my tent. One of many puddles. The sleeve here was absolutely sodden and the water just kept coming.  Behind it is another puddle in the background.

10. I went to bed in a wet tent, thinking it couldn’t get worse.    All I could do was cower in my sleeping bag and try to protect my phone and cuddly unicorn.  Thankfully, they both survived.

This was another puddle that I tried to bail out with a cup but it wasn't making a dent in this thing.
This was another puddle that I tried to bail out with a cup but it wasn’t making a dent in this thing.

11. I was awakened by a drip on the head.  The waterproof spray had capitulated and the whole tent was raining water over me and my belongings.  Luckily, she was awake and alone again by now, so I could at least get my less wet belongings into her less flooded tent…

Another puddle in my tent that didn't go away when I spent ages trying to bail it out.
Another puddle in my tent that didn’t go away when I spent ages trying to bail it out.

…As a comparison, on the day we left, we only tipped about a litre of water out of hers.  That was after it had 2 days to dry out under a gazebo.  Mine was worse.  We left it there because it had failed in its basic function as a tent.  I was heartbroken because it had looked so awesome.  All across the campsite, people with the same tent as me took them down on Saturday morning; I guess they either shared with someone who had a fit-for-purpose tent (like I did), went home, or checked into a hotel.  I would imagine that tent will get a few bad reviews now.  The brand was Yellowstone and the tent was the Yellowstone Festival TiPi.  I have no faith in this brand now, because it started to flood long before it reasonably should have.  I would link to it on Amazon but I’ve come home to find they’ve axed my Amazon Associates account because it didn’t generate any sales in 6 months.  Oh well, it was clearly a huge waste of time anyway.

Find Download Festival 2015 Review Day 2 here…

See what’s on the rest of my Bands Bucket list
Other concerts I’ve reviewed.

Wedding Wednesday: The Venue

The venue (aka: WHAT IF IT RAINS?????? WRING YOUR HANDS AND GRAB A SAUSAGE!!!)

Note: I am going to a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert this evening and have a trial shift at a new job tomorrow all day, so I have pre-scheduled this post and tomorrow’s.  Comments might take a while to get an approval/reply.

I looked at a lot of venues. One thing no-one mentioned about planning a wedding is the sheer amount of time you’ll spend looking at crap you’ll never have. I felt like I’d had several weddings by the time mine rolled around. Reading other people’s weddings, particularly on Offbeat Bride, was a big thing I spent my time on. They have some of the most beautiful and unique weddings on there, and I don’t regret the time I spent looking; it didn’t mean I was going to change my plan, but I felt it was definitely important to look into alternatives and second guess myself just to be sure that I was getting the wedding I wanted rather than the wedding that was easy, cheap, least stressful, or any other independent factors.

The nicest venues I looked at were Gray’s Court Hotel and The Hospitium, in St Mary’s Abbey. We actually wanted to hire the gardens, but you can’t do that, apparently, and because the whole place is classed as a public park, the gates would get locked at 5pm which would have been a serious party killer.

I didn’t want the package on offer, however, because I didn’t really want a “bespoke wedding service” where someone else selected caterers, entertainment, etc and let me choose who sat where. There were no vegan friendly caterers in my city, and my future-husband-to-be had vetoed El Piano because he hates their food.  A package wedding wasn’t remotely appealing, so the need to have control of my own wedding (and to not feel pressured into expensive extras) took me elsewhere, although the pictures of the inside were beautiful. Also I wanted it to all happen outdoors, and I got the feeling they were geared more towards indoor weddings.

The stress on finding a venue was compounded by a LOT of relatives at Christmas (like, two weeks after we set a date, six months before the wedding) who kept asking question after question after question. We ended up divulging the vaguely held plans we didn’t really want to discuss and the structure of the conversation went something like this:

“Laura’s wedding was in a really nice place. Where are you having yours?”

“Well, we’re going to have the legal bit in a registry office because we’ve already booked it. Then we’re having a big party somewhere, but we haven’t quite decided yet.”

“What about hiring a hotel? There’s some really nice ones in your area!”

“We didn’t really want a hotel, they’re so corporate and impersonal.”

“They’re not all expensive! You can get packages starting from £3000.”

“Our budget is £500. But that’s not the point…”

Dead silence.

Crickets chirp.

Forced laughter.

“We always said we would help pay for your wedding. We have £3000 saved for your wedding so you don’t have to settle for something you might regret.”

“Thanks, but we want to do it ourselves. But that’s not the point, we really don’t want a hotel.”

“But you won’t be able to have a wedding for that amount. Sometimes it looks like things are cheap but in reality when you add the costs up it’s quite expensive.”

“We were thinking of taking a LOT of the cost out of it by having it outside.”

“OUTSIDE???????”

Dead silence.

More crickets chirping.

“But… but what if it rains?”

“Um… We haven’t really looked into it yet.”

These conversations went on and on, round and round in circles. I will dish about how I dealt with this constant erosion of my confidence in my vision of our wedding day in a later article, because it deserves an article of its own.

Anyway, I really didn’t care if it rained. But I recognised that some guests might care. Namely the ones raising the most objections during the planning phase. So I started to research solutions.

First was the suggestion by a well meaning relative to hire a bus and have the party on the bus.  I was so desperate to stop the constant questioning on and on and on with the underlying implied judgement, that I ignored the fact that I get profoundly bus sick on the best of days and emailed two bus companies for quotes.  I’m really glad that one was trippin’ on their pricing structure (who in their right mind pays £5,000 for a day’s bus hire????  Oh that’s right, I mentioned the word wedding) and the other never got back to me.  I didn’t follow it up.  Instead I stopped answering my phone and I moved on with my research.

I saw a lot of suggestions online for gazebos, so I looked into them. The ones you buy from places all cost over £100 and it’s not like we would ever use a gazebo again. We’re not really gazebo people. So I looked into hiring one. They also cost over £100 to hire. And during the research, I realised that if we’re not gazebo people in our everyday life, then why would we want to change to being pro-gazebo for our wedding?? This might sound trivial, but when you’re spending one fifth of your budget on something, it’s got to be right.

So I was back to “what if it rains?” It echoed round and round in my head and haunted me for weeks.  I’d been thinking a beach wedding but the rain conundrum really threw me.

My next thought was that we could maybe get a tent of some description. We might not be gazebo people, but we have occasionally been known to stay in a tent. Since we’d dismissed the beach as being too far away at this point, we settled on Rowntree Park as it had good opening hours and was near a lot of non-park public open space, so even if it closed there was a plan B.

We went to Go Outdoors and looked for tents. There were some nice ones that were a good size, and we nearly spent a couple of hundred on a big party sized tent that we could do some serious camping in at a later date. The problems were that you’re not allowed to pitch tents in public parks, and the tents were ridiculously heavy (like, 40lb). In the end, we changed our mind and didn’t bother.

I have to say a big thank you to Vince and Ali for sharing their amazing story on the internet, about how they got married in the rain and had an awesome time, which gave me the confidence to go ahead with our wedding outdoors regardless of whether it rained or shone.  I wish I’d found this amazing article before all the months of drama (although there’s a bit of the “it’s in the last place you look” going on here), because once I’d found it, I knew exactly what to do if it rained – and it was what had been in my heart all along and had the confidence to press on.

So I went to the Pound Shop and bought all their zebra print umbrellas. They only had seven, I figured the people who gave a damn could share or bring their own. Total cost: £7. I also added a note on the wedding invites telling people this was an outdoor wedding, and that if they were the type of people to get upset by rain, to bring a coat or something just in case.

And THAT’s what to do if it rains on your outdoor wedding.

I think the real problem here was that people were throwing their selfish problems at me and I was taking them on board and trying to ensure everybody was looked after and catered for and not feeling left out, because I knew that, even though my wedding was going to be under £500 and minimalist and vegan, it was also going to be well-mannered and polite.  That would have been fine except the same people then found something else and something else and something else to criticize.  When I realised this was MY wedding day not theirs, it took a lot of the stress out of wedding planning and I started to find my own opinions and listen to them regardless of what other people were saying.

Also: It didn’t rain. I was slightly disappointed after I got totally psyched about rain wedding pics.