Ahh Scotland.. land of mountains, lochs, bagpipes and haggis. Not to mention festivals and party goers.. Imagine driving for 6 hours through the night.. it's dark, it's misty most of the time and you almost get stopped by the police cos you're doing 115 miles an hour on the M something or other (which is probably illegal, but I won't tell if you don't).
At 7am you arrive at Loch Ness.. The surrounding mountains are shrouded in mist and it's not that warm. The press office doesn't open til 9 and you're gagging for a cup of tea and a few hours sleep. What do you do?
Well.. you put up your tent and head off to the local Tesco for breakfast (which is overpriced and over cooked and served by a man who has no business being in the catering trade) and return to the site at 9. get your press passes and then pour yourself a vodka and coke and plan the weekend ahead.
And what a weekend you have in store.
Manic Street Preachers, Chemical Brothers, Daft Punk, Kelis, Cuban Brothers, Levellers, The Charlatans, The Feeling, Tiny Dancers, Groove Armada, Tom Findlay, Mark Ronson, Dub Pistols etc etc etc..
How do you choose?
Well, you don't really, you try but it proves impossible to see everything and everyone you want to.
What you do is pick out a few and do your best to make it to their sets.
For the rest of the time you wander from arena to arena catching a bit of this and a bit of that with occasional trips back to your tent to top up on booze cos the drinks prices are scandalous and you're not a millionaire.
I actually paid £9 for a double Bacardi and Coke.. I wont be doing that again!
In the meantime you meet some amazing people and have long and interesting chats about stuff you know nothing about with people you never met before and will never see again.
I spent an hour discussing football with a lad from Perth.. it was a very good conversation, but I have no idea how I managed to keep it up cos I wouldn't' know one end of a football from another.
I lost track of the number of people who asked me if I was having a good time and invited me to have a drink with them at their tent.
I spent a lot of time drinking with people at their tents.
In amongst all this there was the most marvellous festival going on.
The sun came out about 10am and burnt of all the mist and from then on it was sunburn all the way. Who would have thought of taking sun tan lotion to Scotland in June? I wish I had now cos I'm peeling.
The main stage was set in the bottom of a natural amphitheatre with Loch Ness as a backdrop.. How cool is that?
What a brilliant and perfect setting.
Huge banks of speakers threw the music a good half mile to the back of the crowd, beyond which were various other arenas, stalls, toilets and camp sites.
I don't know the exact size of the site, but it was immense and it had to be as there were around 32,000 other people there.
The main highlights, for me, were:
1. The Chemical Brothers, but not for the music (though that was good) it was the light show that impressed me. I have to say they didn't seem to be putting much effort into their show; it was almost as if they were just going through the motions, but the light show really was good.. all credit to the lighting team for that.
2. The Feeling. They really energised the whole place with a cover of The Buggles' Video Killed the Radio Star and followed it with Queen's Fat Bottomed Girls. Before and after that they were just brilliant.
3. The Cuban Brothers were hilarious.
4. Groove Armada... what can you say about this outfit? I'm very much looking forward to seeing them a couple more times over the summer because they are just sooooo good.
5. The Levellers, who I have to confess I've never heard of before, with a sort of celtic rock thing going on which I liked very much
6. The Speed Dating Tent which, when I passed, seemed to be full of drunks recovering from the night before and not arranging many dates!
7. The Dub Pistols who I've seen before at Godskitchen. They impressed me then and did so again here.
8. The weather, but only on Saturday. Sunday wasn't much fun as it was cold and misty most of the day
9. The dance tent in the campsite after everything else had finished was absolutely banging.
10. The Manic Street Preachers, who played the tightest set I've seen for many a year. Mind you, they've been at it a while now, so you'd expect that I suppose. There was plenty to please everyone with songs old and new and all played with perfection.
11. Kelis.. I didn't actually see her set as I was sat outside my tent sunbathing and drinking, but she sounded fabulous
12. The security staff who were all extremely helpful and friendly
13. And finally everyone else who was there.
This was, without doubt, one of the friendliest festivals I've ever been to. It was well organised, It had a great line-up and the setting was second to none. I'm very much looking forward to going again next year and would recommend that you do the same.