A few reflections from my 7th End of the Road Festival in Dorset. Or Salisbury, if you want to make people afraid to shake your hand.
Getting that campervan was our best ever investment, saving 43 hours queueing for showers and loos over the weekend.
Though dragging your tent over the stony path to the campsite, as we used to do, is no doubt character-building.
Your sympathy for the lads and lasses lugging their trolley up the hill diminishes as you see that half their luggage is cans of Strongbow Fruits and Punk IPA.
The appeal of End of the Road for me is about 60% music, 20% food, 5% beer and 15% the site itself. I’d knock off half an NBSS point for the healing tent, but I never found it.
Exploring the gardens (4.5/5) is worth a few hours of your time, either at 9am when you get to play “splat the badger”,
or at night when it’s so pretty you could be in a small German town at Christmas.
Deep in the woods is a proper cinema where you can watch as many (18) rated weird German films as your brain allows you, or just get up early and watch “The Wrong Trousers” (5/5) on Friday morning with toddlers.
The music (4/5) is less about the headliners, more about discovering new artists I guess you’d stick under lazy labels like “Female singer/songwriter” “Americana” “noisy pop” and “weird”. Like this;
Matt missed the Plastic Mermaids, and Julien Baker (my all-time greatest gig), but saw IDLES and Shame, the concession to the Kidz.
But Matt did make his way through most of the 24 food (5/5) vendors, munching about 19,000 calories worth of Thai, Mexican, Nepalese, Vietnamese, Indian, French, Morrocan, Japanese and Chippish over 4 days.
He left the filthy vegan cauliflower bites to me.
True CAMRA aficionados will no doubt have been following the drama of undercooked broccoli at the Great British Beer Festival; these were perfect.
More vegetables brought into music making action in the activity tent, which is maximum Guardian reader.
But the Beavertown (£6 a pint of Neck Oil, £5 a half of the strong stuff) edged the local stuff for me, as it costs more and is therefore better for you.
The crowd at End of the Road is about 40% 20-30, 35% over 50s, and 25% folk in the middle with small children. I reckon the young lot were drinking as much cask as anyone.
Views on Beavertown post-Big Beer are illuminating.
Scandalously, no-one on that End of the Road seems interested in a return of the Ringwood Best I so enjoyed in 2011.