This camping and travel blog is written by a solo, camping obsessed lady camper hailing from the west of Northern Ireland.



The Sunflower Festival 2012

I'm off next weekend, small festival and there's only two of us, so the list is One tepee tent, two SI mats, two sleeping bags, and basic tea making/reheating facilities. It's paper plates all the way, the coolbox will by my seat (my teenager can sit on the ground, he's young) and a couple of torches our only lighting. We'll see how that goes - things have a habit of finding their way into the car even when I intend to take it easy. Report to follow.....

Well, I'm back in one piece, just about! It was a bit of a disaster. The car park field was water-logged and muddy due to a week of rain. It was not possible to get any more cars through the churned up entrance and so we were all redirected to Lisnagarvey Hockey Club to park our cars. This would have been fair enough, if only the promised 'Shuttle Bus' had materialised. It didn't. I paid for a taxi instead, and left my car in a car park four miles from the venue just off a main road with no cameras or security. The taxi was a bit dear.

We had two large rucksacks, a trolly with the coolbox on board and a few bulky but light items strapped to the top of the coolbox. It was difficult and heavy to lug around, but what choice did we have. The taxi could only take us so far, then we had to carry all our stuff to the top of a hill, up through a field that had been driven over and churned through with cars and tractors. Of course by the time we got up there a tractor went down to the bottom of the hill to pick some people up, too late for us then! I was angry as hell by this stage, and by the time we got to the ticket tent I was ready to bite the head off the next person who presented me with any other challenge other than to just get through. It was so frustrating and I was close to tears.

We got in and got pitched in the one area of the campsite that wasn't churned up in mud, which was behind a row of portaloos. Not a pretty view but hey ho, rather that than a mud bath. A while later heard the main car park was open again, so I got another (overpriced) taxi to retrieve my car. But by the time I got the car to the main gate it was closed again, whereupon I was re-directed to another car park a mile or so down the road. But when I got there that car park just had closed too! There was no other option but to go back to the Hockey Club and this time I could not get a taxi. Luckily the manager of 'The Bonnevilles' was going our way and so this time we got a lift through the artists entrance, which luckily was right beside our 'family' campsite. I later caught up with the same guy and bought him a pint.

So as if things weren't bad enough, nothing could have prepared me for the 'electric disco shed' which was right beside the family camping area, and therefore, my tent. The disco was a tented area with open sides and from it poured out extremely loud dance music, dubstep and at one point I was informed, 8 bit. It should be pointed out that neither I or anyone else around me was given one of the leaflets, which meant that I did not see the festival map. Had I seen it, and seen the 'disco tent' bit, I would have gone as far away from it as was possible.

Who thought that putting a really really noisy thing like this beside the FAMILY camping area was nuts. A family who'd camped in two small tents close to me had two crying children, probably in and around 5 years old. The parents struggled getting two tents and gear packed up again, consoling these two upset children and off they went to the far side of the field (which was pretty much liquid brown stuff by that stage).

The year before that whole field was planted in long grass or barley, or something (not being a farmer I wouldn't know) but this time the field was in grass and it would have been much cleaner if it had of been planted as it had the year before.

So - yes I could have moved my tent, if I had any energy after the ordeal of just getting there. If i'd been able to park my car in the main car park, if the porters which transport your gear for a charitable donation had of been there and available (no sign of these guys whatsoever), if the ground in all the other parts of the field weren't mud.

We put in earplugs and persevered, and when it got too much I went to the campfire stage, went slightly up the hill to a quieter area and put down a picnic blanket. I was in a foul mood most of the weekend. It didn't help when an organiser cheerily said 'well at least you didn't have to pay for the car park'. Well, I would have happily paid the £3 for the car park, rather than the £30 or so quid I gave to the taxi drivers. It was such an insensitive thing to say I felt like pushing her down through a few layers of mud.

All the negativities out of the way (there's a few more actually - I spent full bar prices and was down £42 in beer tokens before I found out about the offie which was hidden away behind a retail tent) what can I say, the music was great. The bands were fantastic, and the cinema in the trees was hilarious, glad as I am that they screened the 'university challenge' episode of 'The Young Ones'. 

Will I go next year? I'm really not sure.

I've just remembered one really positive thing, the weather was great all weekend. 

 Using the Tepee tent this time, A Vango Juno 500

It was just myself and one of my sons who went this time, here he is!

The extremely badly sited 'Electric Disco Shed' - my tent was less than 6m away from this

The main retail section

The Campfire Stage

A Plastic Rose, on the Main Stage

Million Dollar Reload at the Barn Stage

Pocket Billiards filling the main stage area

The 'singles' camping area in the background, the campfire Stage in front

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