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Isle of Wight 2011 Madness

Lucky, The Tourist & PLW

The madness began in earnest a few months ago with the purchase of leopard-print wellies. And where one foot leads, the other shall follow: we leopard-printed everything. Well, almost. What wasn’t leopard-print was black so that we could better accessorize with leopard-print. It was going to be fabulous! By the end of the weekend even the car had succumbed to the leopard-print craze – although I’ve heard that a little water can change that?

When your wellies come in a bag like this, you are right to have great expectations!

From Thursday I started to get truly excited – mainly because I was super keen to wear ridiculous amounts of leopard-print – but also because I had no idea of what to expect. A lot of clock-watching happened that day. Followed by a trip down to Southampton and some more leopard-print ogling in ASDA.  

On Friday morning we woke up early. Each of us knew that this would be the last shower we would have until Monday. The last warm water and soap that would caress our bodies, before the carnage of festival wet-wipes took over. I savoured the moment.

Dressed and ready to leopard we set off for the ferry. It was my first time driving onto a ferry – I was nervous. What if it was like the scary ramps that you have to drive up when you get your car serviced? The ones where you have to be so precise otherwise you’ll drive off. Heaven forbid your foot slips on the accelerator and the car lurches too far forward when you are uncomfortably distracted by the guys in grease and overalls whose hand directions are questionably aimed at your wheels. Luckily the ramp onto the ferry wasn’t like this. It was a bit sturdier, and partially made of cement: good.

Ferry fun

The ferry trip itself wasn’t particularly interesting. We passed The New Castle (sorry, insider joke) and took great delight in the compliments our outfits were getting.

Careful shopping the night before had ensured that we had a sufficient water supply – 6 x 2 litre bottles each, enough fresh fruit for several more days than we were planning on staying for, ditto bubbly, vodka and crisps. Carrying it was something that we would deal with later. However, unfortunately now was later. So we loaded up and headed off in search of a suitable spot to pitch our tent. Eventually PLW and The Tourist found what we were to call home... It needed slight renovation: the disposable BBQ was disposed of, and the ground sheet laid. It was around this time that I arrived, Un-lucky to have decided to carry, amongst other things 6 x 2 litres of water in one bag.

Amongst our neighbours were many doubting men. They saw three girls, loads of luggage (only half really – we still had to make trip #2) and a tent that needed putting up. I like to think that when they saw the leopard-print outfits their doubting thoughts turned to dust. But it probably only added to their premature opinions. However, within 16 minutes we had the tent up, bags inside and guy-ropes fastened. Boom. We rocked putting that tent up. Then we made friends with our neighbours – after all they no longer had a recreational area. We, however, had a tent with a patio and space to unfold our conveniently cup-holding chairs.

 The fruitier side of tent-life

Making the most of our garden furniture

That night we got close to the stage. Really close to the stage. The kind of close where being pushed to the ground is not uncommon. Where you begin the evening at one end, and end it at the other. It’s also the kind of close that I don’t enjoy. So while the Kings of Leon were setting the stage on fire and PLW and The Tourist were stoking the coals, I tried for the view from afar. Unfortunately that view involved rain, so it was back to the tent for me.

 Friday night shenanigans

Did someone say "Cheesy chips?"

The next morning (Saturday) we were up early – luckily – because getting to the toilets before everyone else  was important. They weren’t nice at the best of times – but it’s definitely nicer that we say no more on that topic.

Saturday was a fabulous day. Sunny and warm – we even debated wearing flip-flops. However, when you have leopard-print wellies it would be rude not to wear them. We had a cocktail on the beach, spied a topless fairy and lazed on the lawn, listening to Iggy Pop, Sea-sick Steve and Pulp.

  Yes, that would be filter coffee

We made friends with the boys sitting next to us. They had unfortunately been the victims of a robbery – their tent had been slashed and the contents stolen. We felt badly for them, so donated some deodorant...

Hope they weren’t expecting the small can to be full / to be able to use the deodorant however they wished?

They were the instigators of our next amusement: group photos. The shot would begin with a small group. The photographer would then gather as many people together as possible by asking strangers “could you move into the photo please”. It was hilarious and soon we had loads of photos, filled with who knows? But everyone was in a festive mood and was only too happy to oblige.

There’s what’s-his-name in the back...

That night the Foo Fighters were headlining. And they were good, but it had been a long day. And by too early I was ready for bed – albeit an inflatable mattress and a sleeping-bag (I did have a matching sheet and pillow cover, made from 50% cotton).  

The next day, Sunday, was definitely a wellie-day. It was actually a dry-suit day, but none of us had any of those, so we were left to make do with ‘raincoats’, ‘wellies’ and sodden clothes. My leggings were so weighted down with water that when I attempted to hoik them up, the touch of a fingernail caused them to rip. Or perhaps it was another leopard that attacked me – hard to say – I could hardly see further than my fingers!

Inspired by a dose of all the water raining down on us / general hygiene, The Tourist and I used some of the (cold) bottles of water and shampooed and conditioned our hair. Deciding that we were not too enthusiastic for an in-tent game of miniature boules, The Salon was opened up. The Tourist took on the role of The Senior Stylist, I was The Number One Favourite Client and PLW was The Junior Stylist. Now as The Number One Favourite Client I went to The Senior Stylist for my nails. But being The Senior Stylist meant that The Tourist hadn’t really spent a lot of time doing other peoples nails recently – and if I’m honest, I only went back for my hair because I got both a refund and a free hair-do, nothing to do with being stuck in a tent! But we were all very happy that The Salon had a sizeable mirror and a fine tooth comb at hand.

The Senior Stylist instructs The Junior Stylist while working on The Number One Favourite Client’s hair.

The next morning we were up really early – our ferry trip had been booked for 08:30. We had to get the tent down, gear packed up and into the car, all before actually getting down to the ferry, not knowing what the traffic would be like. Well the traffic was fine and, surprisingly, packing up the tent didn’t cause any unforeseen issues. However, driving the car through the mud was one of the scariest experiences I’ve ever had. I’d realised on the walk up to the car that there would be no turning around. Once I’d chosen my route I’d have to stick with it and hope that I’d chosen well. I also had to choose, keeping in mind that PLW and The Tourist were waiting with all the bags at a certain spot... Applying almost no accelerator, very little break, going with the slide and waiting and carefully watching the car in front of me, I made my way first up, then across and finally down the mud bog – wondering why I was ever nervous about driving onto the ferry!

Before we’d left for the IOW festival we had been given a challenge: as many leopard-like photo’s as possible. So here are some memorable moments...

 Freshly laundered leopards

 Refreshed leopards

 Is that a leopard in the bush?

 Surprise-bin leopards
 Mangy leopard

 Beach leopard

 Recyclable leopard


 Waterproof leopard

 Car-seat leopard

Extremely dedicated leopard

... Did someone say party-trick?

 The Tourist in training

 Lucky limbers up

PLW perfects the art of balance

When you were as wet, cold, unclean and camping as we were it is very easy to moan about your experience. However, we did actually have fun. We laughed for hours, really! And delighted in all things leopard – although we didn’t actually knowingly eat leopard, the burgers from Jimmy’s Farm (yes The Dad, same one as the programme we used to watch together) were delicious... We have some great photos, and some that even Facebook hasn’t seen. Along with the memories, those that we care to remember.

My advice for those going to a festival for the first time: take a tent – a really big tent that you can stand in, and that has a patio - would a bathroom be pushing it? And wet-wipes, anti-bacteria gel (loads of both), chairs, warm & comfy beds, proper wet weather kit and warm clothes, sun-cream and fondness for dirt. That last one is quite important – we met someone who had just (soberly) body-slid down a hill. And how cool that he was able to do that and feel happy with himself afterwards. He embraced the mud, and then it embraced him – for the rest of the night – everywhere! I prefer my mud in the garden or tastefully applied to my body while listening to ambient tunes and someone attends to my nail needs...

So thank-you girls. And happy festival season, and to all those going: may the weather be with you J



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