Now it’s 2012 and as I awkwardly ‘helped’ put up our plasticy flimsy makeshift home for the weekend of the 24th to the 27th of August, my mate cried out “We’re civilised, the Enlightenment happened, we don’t need to be outside anymore!”
On that first day of Doune the Rabbit Hole – a music festival hidden away in a fort in Carron Valley in Scotland – I agreed but by the end of it I knew how to take on the an outdoors and win! Here are my tips to festival survival and a wee look Doune the Rabbit Hole...
There are stars in the sky but they are not bright enough to get you back to your tent in the middle of the forest and they certainly won’t help you pee in the toilet basin in the portaloo. Euan and I wisely invested in two compact but mighty bright torches. I held mine between my teeth when I needed to successfully empty my bladder after sundown and managed to find my way back to the tent on the wettest and darkest of nights.
Tallulah, my friend and tent buddy, was not so lucky and ended up in a few ditches and one night didn’t make it back to the tent at all! Don’t worry she’s alive, a lovely thing about this festival, you were never too far from a friend who had a tent that was bigger and drier than yours.
Some people were lucky enough to hire something even more impressive than a big old tent. We had watched the one-man tent next to our own slowly sank in on itself, which made us question the whereabouts of the smiley man we’d the day before. He was yurt-ing it up with a number of folk who had sought a sturdier refuge for Saturday night’s downpour. How many people can you fit inside a 4 person yurt? – I am told on that occasion in had been 11 and they were all the warmer for it!
Bring provisions or possibly die of starvation.
Yes there were food stalls but there were also 399 other people at this festival and I was a tad strapped for cash. There were very nice food things to chomp on but by far the best for sheer deliciousness and price was the veggie stand. A standard £3 for curry and the best pakora I’d EVER had. They even ventured out in the mornings to the tent filled forest to bring you melon, grapes and strawberries – they were a lovely bunch!
I couldn’t always get to them and porridge isn’t for me so salvation came in the form of Skippy and Charlie who had brought fire with them.
They became the most welcoming of drop in centres for their friends, making us bacon butties and tea for breakfast and chilli for dinner. Yum.
I don’t think it counts as camping if there isn’t fire - be it wood or a paraffin stove. The hospitality at this tent was most certainly one of the highlights of my festival experience.
Music dose not a festival make
Yeah so it helps. I understand that this was one of the main reasons I had set up camp in forest for three days. The thing about Doune, it had that feeling of a little kind of Kingdom. There were different areas and tents and groups that made me feel like I was living in one of those fantasy books.
The toddler’s tent was right next to a very impressive stage made of twigs; all these miniature people, combined with the workshop tents where you could make lip balms and lotions, made it feel like a village of magical people with a whole economy in place. Although all I really saw the children do was roll about on the floor and one was spooning peanut butter out of a jar into its mouth. I do not advise this.
This area was at the bottom of the hill but the main stages Jabberwocky stage and Tenement TV stage were situated in a newly constructed fort (think re-enactments and kilted men) up on the hill. The top of the fort contained the beer tent and the food stalls; the roasted hog and tasty ale made this feel like a medieval banqueting hall, except outside. The setting was beautiful, albeit in part man made! We were right next to a reservoir, which actually just looked like a mind blowing beautiful loch, reflecting the hills in its still waters. We sat on a concert ledge, drank our beer and looked out onto the water.
Yes that was as close as I got to being one with nature that weekend, unless you include peeing in the forest, I’m sorry I was desperate. There were loos at the festival but they were a bit of a trek.
A lot of Glasgow had followed us into the countryside and one of those things was Tchai Ovna. Usually found on Otago Lane, when I lived in Glasgow I took all my London pals there. They have nothing like it in London and are pooper for it. At Doune, I enjoyed sitting in the cushiony serenity of the Tchai Ovna tent. This calming haven offered comforting spicy and sweet Yogi Chai as well as a well needed opportunity to take off my mucky wellies. It was the closest thing I found to indoors and was the rectifier of my hangover. Handily enough I could still hear the music form the main stage so I missed out on nothing!
Try to watch some bands
Ok so it’s not entirely true that I missed nothing. I missed a lot! This is actually the only regret I have of the weekend. I do not regret getting the psychedelic coloured Doune the Rabbit Hole Bus back to, as Udith would put it “civilisation”, on Sunday night – I was wet through! And Monday was just a giant evacuation in the relentless downpour of rain but yes, I could have seem more of the lovely people who graced the stages that weekend. Why did I miss out? I was drunk! And when I wasn’t drunk – I was hungover!
This meant on the Sunday morning, as I lay a still as a corpse on a dissecting table next to my friend Tallulah in our tent, I heard the most energetic and captivating music. I enjoyed it, as I lay motionless, still too weak to move. I wonder who that band was, alas I shall never know. I did mange to catch jaunty jangles of Glasgow band Honey and the Herbs and a fantastic set by the darkly synth Un Cadavre.
The array of music from Techno to Folk was what made this festival an all round wonderland for everyone in attendance. However, if you ask me what was the best thing on the stages of Doune, I can undoubtedly say it was the Karaoke! Fi hosted this sublime crowd lead extravaganza, sadly the was no time for Cher but the audience didn’t get there fill and in true Scottish style demanded “One more tune” to which we got YMCA. Of course.
You can see everything I missed, saw and sang along to here.
Look before you leap!
Doune the Rabbit Hole is a non profit festival that is in it’s third year which means it is intimate, laid back and not overrun with men who have T’s shaved into their back hair and are pissing on their passed out friend (thank you for that memory T in the Park 04).
The atmosphere was great, there was not one horrible person there, actually a lot of them were my friends and all the other people seemed to be babies – It was a winning combination!
What I mean by saying look before you leap is if I’d taken the time to see what bands were playing and what was going on and where, I’d have totally been beaming ear to ear by the time the weekend was over. This Doune the Rabbit Hole was one little discovery one after another and that, although shambollic in places, was fun too.
The organisers or Doune really made an effort to create an interesting and entertaining festival, there was an array of workshops, a spoken word tent and I only found out 2 hours before I left there was a frigging sauna! While it was too late to strip off and try and up my game on the whole festival experience I hoped that their would be a sauna next year and more importantly another Doune the Rabbit Hole; I’ve got further to fall and I can’t wait!