I'd previously mentioned that I'd planned a Retirement trip consisting of attending two music festivals in the South of England then going to Spain for a tour. Unfortunately, the Spain part of the trip has been delayed until May, but I went to the two music festivals. I've decided to refer to this as 'The Music Trip' and have split it into three parts.
The total trip was of around 1200 miles/1900 km and spread over 12 days. With the exception of some rain showers for the first 3 hours or so of the first day, the entire trip took place during exceptionally hot and sunny weather with some parts of the UK experiencing the hottest days since records began. The bike performed perfectly, but I had some issues with other things (more later).
First part of the trip was going to the Wickham Festival near Southampton. This was going to be the longest travelling day of the trip, about 450 miles/725 km of almost entirely motorway riding as as boring as you can imagine.
I set off in showery rain that lasted for the first 3 hours or so before it became much hotter and the sun came out. This continued for the rest of the journey other than the last hour or so where it started to cloud a bit. There's not much you can say about travelling on the British motorway network, but at least there were few hold ups and I got to the festival site after about 8.5 hours of riding. Only problem I had was that my sat nav started acting erratically, as if I was repeatedly touching the touch screen, and I had to restart it a number of times to get it to lead me to the site.
Once on site I was led to a suitable camping spot by very helpful volunteers, pitched my tent, then had to move my bike to the 'campers carpark' as they didn't allow vehicles next to the tents for 'safety reasons'. Spoke to some other campers, a very friendly bunch, and they warned me that the Security firm employed 'could be a problem'. Although this was the day before the festival officially started, some entertainment had been put on for people arriving early, mostly solo signers and a Fleetwood Mac tribute act. There were plenty of food and drink vendors so I got something to eat then went to bed.
My tent was a lot smaller than everyone else's!
During the night I realised that I'd made a mistake when packing. As we had been experiencing unusually high temperatures, I had decided not to bring a 'proper' sleeping bag, instead only brought a liner thinking that would be enough. Unfortunately, it got quite cold at night and I had to get up and put more clothes on.
Next day and the first day of the festival. Technically, the festival didn't start until 17:00 and we couldn't access the arena area until then as there was another event on. So I spent the day wandering around the very nice nearby village of Wickham.
Not referring to me I hope!
As I'd been cold the night before, I looked to see if I could buy a sleeping bag, or even a duvet, but without success. Best I could get was a throw type blanket for covering furniture, so bought that.
Back at the festival site I was getting something from the bike when one of the volunteers approached me saying that Security had been looking for me and that I was to move my bike as it was 'causing an obstruction' as they wanted to put an access road through where I was parked. I asked if a nearby space was OK, they agreed, so I moved my bike. Ten minutes later I was passing and noticed two cars parked where my bike had been! The same volunteer was there and embarrassingly told me that as soon as I had moved, Security had ushered the two cars into the space. It appeared that the drivers were friends of Security and wanted to park nearer the entrance!
I went into the arena area, got something to eat and settled down to watch some bands. There were two main stages, plus about for secondary stages, so there was plenty to choose from and I moved about watching various bands' sets.
10cc (Graham Gouldman is only original member)
At the end of the night's entertainment it was back to my tent and although I now had a blanket and put on extra clothes, it was still a bit cold.
Up next morning, had breakfast, and went for a walk round the area as bands wouldn't be on until noon. Was at the bike later and two of the Security drove up in one of the buggies they used and very aggressively told me I'd have to move my bike (again!). Despite me saying that's where I was told to park, they told me to move it or 'they'd have my wristband' (ie I wouldn't be able to get back into the festival). There was a degree of threat in the way this was put, so I moved my bike again, this time parking between two trees in a space a car couldn't get into, and facing a ditch so there could be no reason to ask me to move again. Back at the campsite, in conversation with other campers there was a bad feeling about the place caused by the thuggish behaviour of the Security firm, totally at odds with the easy going peaceful atmosphere of the festival. It was also noted that there were a couple of cars and one bike that had remained on the campsite next to tents without any comment from Security and the consensus was that these were friends of theirs.
Anyway, it was back to the arena area and another day of watching bands.
Blue Rose Code
After another cold night, I decided I would go out in the morning and buy a sleeping bag so got up early and rode to the nearby town of Farnham. I arrived just before 9 and the first shop I saw was a branch of Millets outdoor stores – no problem getting a sleeping bag then! As the shop wasn't yet open I walked along the main shopping street and spotted this old Moto Guzzi in the window of a furniture store.
At the end of the main street I saw a branch of Aldi, it was open and I bought a sleeping bag for £14.99 – I doubt Millets had anything that cheap. After a walk round town I made my way back to my bike and rode back to the festival site. At the gate there were a number of Security who aggressively and quite rudely told me that I couldn't come in. Despite showing me my wristband and explaining I was camping there, they refused to told me I wasn't getting in and would have to park in 'day parking' some distance from the site. I made my way there to find an open, ungated field next to a public road (other areas were gated) that the public had access to. Luckily I managed the lock the bike to a fence, but I wasn't very happy about the safety of my bike.
Back at the festival site and another day of watching bands in brilliant sunshine.
Another thing at the festival were displays of Morris Dancing. I'd never seen Morris Dancing before (don't think it's done in Scotland), but it is fascinating to watch.
That night I had to unzip my new sleeping bag as I was too warm!
Up the next morning and the final day of the festival. I'd had a problem with my camera, sometimes it would lock up and not work. I tried taking the battery out to rest it but it would still fail now and again. However, the following day it worked perfectly and didn't fail again! Strange.
Another cosy night in my new sleeping bag and the following morning I got up, packed up my stuff and left for what will be reported in Part 2.
Overall, Wickham is a really good festival – lots of good bands, almost too many as sometimes you have to miss one that is playing the same time as another that you want to see. Plenty of high quality food vendors, always something to see, and a very friendly atmosphere about it. Would I go again? Only if the organisers employed more professional Security. The current company ruined the festival for me and others by their rude aggressive attitude towards customers. I am particularly annoyed at the security of my bike, as well as other bikes and cars, is compromised solely by the Security firm flexing their muscles. The 'campers' parking' we were evicted from was still half empty for the rest of the weekend, and that just left a bad taste in my mouth. There are plenty of other festivals taking place over the summer, so Wickham is one that I'm unlikely to return to.