My son has been asking to go to the Download festival the last two years. Now he’s fourteen, I agreed he was old enough. And I needed a break to recharge the batteries after barely having a day off in six months.
It was a gruelling weekend, yet I do feel strangely refreshed
I’ve been to arena concerts before and have 40 years experience camping but I was unprepared for what awaited us. It was a mud bath!
You’re not allowed to park on the campsite so we transported our gear over three miles from the car park. It was impossible to take our trolly through the thick mud that awaited us at the campsite. We set the trolly to one side of the entrance and carried everything by hand until the load was light enough to pull it though the mud. Seven hours after arriving we had our tent set up and all our gear at our pitch.
The following morning I walked into the campsite village (about a mile away) to buy wellie boots and stronger ponchos. Our boots held out fine but my son was worried about his Dr. Martins.
After seeing bands play all afternoon in the arena, my son asked to go back to camp to cook dinner before the evening entertainment. As we waded our way the muddy campsite to our field we saw flattened tents, a tent floating on the muddy path and even one sitting on top of a barb wire fence. I thought about the poor owners coming back in the middle of the night to find their refuge gone. We turned the corner to find our tent still standing but badly torn and barely standing up to the high winds…
We hit rock bottom. I re-secured some tent pegs but the tear in the tent wall went along most of the width of the tent. The tear was along the base and I suspect it was caused accidentally by the person(s) who had pitched their tent right next to ours. It wasn't possible to repair, and the sleeping area was bowing drastically in the wind - much more than the surrounding tents. There was a real possibility that the tent wouldn't stand until the next day.It wasn't a risk I could take with my son, so I decided we had to abandon camp. We could only take what we could carry as our trolly had been taken. Cold, wet and exhausted, we packed our clothes, boots and sleeping bags and started walking. We hoped to get the shuttle bus from the Arena but was told it wasn't running any longer that day. We hiked another three miles back to the car. We got back home at 2:30am after driving through the night.
Cleaning all our gear up on the Saturday, I couldn't stop thinking about all the bands we were missing and especially Black Sabbath who were headlining. Sunday morning over breakfast, I said that I was going back. My son, surprisingly, said yes OK lets go! The Arena was no where near as muddy as the campsite, but we were shocked to see it had dried out albeit soft under foot.
After seeing Lamb of God and Megadeth we made our way closer to the stage for Soundgarden.
We got really close to one side of the stage before Black Sabbath came on to headline. But we were still a long way from centre stage - you can just about make out Ozzy standing in front of his microphone. Everyone went crazy as Black Sabbath put out an amazing performance proving their still the best after 40 years at the top of their game.
Everyone goes wild as Tony plays the classic riff of IRON MAN.
The show concludes with a spectacular firework display behind the main stage. After a long drive we got back home exhausted at 4:30am. But it was worth it
These pictures were taken on my mobile phone and looked awful. With a little magic from Nik software, it was possible to create reasonable images although they wouldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of being printed.