I arose on Saturday morning incredibly early after only a few hours sleep to catch the train to the bus station. I met Graeme, my friend who was coming with me and we caught the T in the Park bus to Balado, an abandoned airstrip near Kinross and Perth. By the looks of some of the passengers, the party had obviously started early, possibly from the night before, with vast quantities of alcohol being consumed...this was the 9am bus...not by me of course, I'm beyond such revelling...but it was fun to watch the carry-on and listen to the spontaneous sing song that broke out now and then and the cheer when the bus pulled into our destination.
We were met by hundreds, if not thousands of people littering the area outside T in the Park with beer bottles, rucksacks, boxes of wine, discarded wellies and themselves. It looked like many had camped there from the Friday night, no doubt waiting for their weekend tickets to become eligible, waiting for friends or trying to buy a ticket from passers by or touts.
We entered through the hospitality entrance, thanks to the wonderful Mairi and Gary who had got me the tickets and entered a nice, quiet field with a huge bar, enormous T in the Park chair (think Alice in Wonderland size) and clean toilets. Relief. The field was filling up by early afternoon but the bar remained accessible, we could always find a seat and the music coming from behind the giant sized radio was excellent leading the entire filed to break out into spontaneous song, particularly when Sweet Caroline was played!
After burger and chips and a pint of Tennent's lager (mines was a shandy!) in the Balado Bar and Lounge...it has to be the first meal at a festival...we entered the main area and explored. It was a sight to behold; there was an amazing flag art installation which looked just brilliant blowing in the wind, a huge blue Toblerone pointed stage tent which turned out to be King Tuts Wah Wah Hut and hundreds of other food, drink and music emporiums which made Balado Airfield Scotland's fifth largest city for that weekend.
The sun shone beautifully and all the girls rocked the Kate Moss look: a multitude of welly designs, mainly Hunter (the kind the Queen wears) with the shortest of skirts or shorts, tanned legs and quirky make-up. The lads were in a variety of cheeky t-shirts, costumes and dresses...yes, dresses. There is something about the British male that just loves any excuse to dress up in as feminine a way as possible. They all appeared so comfortable, especially the crazy guy in the fur coat, apron, fishnets, blonde wig, eyeliner and huge sunglasses.
I never got his name but along with his friend the fireman, they were the funniest double act of the festival. They plonked down beside us and regaled us with tales of their disaffected relationship and encounters at T in the Park. Their long suffering friend Heather was glad of a reprieve and after apologising for leaving them with me, danced away to The Ting Tings...which we missed most of, listening to their patter instead...but I laughed so much, it was worth it. The fireman told us that the day before he was dressed as Peter Pan and how he got really annoyed that people kept mixing him up with Robin Hood; he pointed to his sword and asked them all "Does that look like a bleedin' bow and arrow?".
We saw a succession of amazing acts but in some ways (many will disagree), the best was Bjorn Again, a tribute Abba band who started off the Saturday by getting the entire audience to it's feet, singing and dancing. Whoever booked them deserves a medal...ingenious. It got everyone ready for more. The best act of all however, amongst a lot of great acts, was Seasick Steve...."I'm lyin' there in the glass, in the GLASS, in the grass". He was funny, self-deprecating and talented..."see this? (holding up a guitar with three strings).."this is a three stringed piece of s%^&" and then began to play it beautifully, then did the same thing with an an actual stick with one string.
I was delighted to see Squeeze play and hearing them sing the classic 'Up the Junction' live was a highlight of the weekend. Paolo Nutini and Elbow were really good of course although the lead singer of Elbow was talking rather a lot of mince to cries of "sing already, ya numpty!" and Lady Gaga left me perplexed. A huge crowd descended on the NME stage to watch Lily Allen but the sound was awful (not due to her singing) and we left after a short while.
On Sunday night, Snow Patrol were delayed because the Blur singer was rushed to hospital but yet managed to be ok in time to come on stage late. We saw some of Snow Patrol but missed Blur as we had to get the bus home but I'm guessing he may have gotten a hard time from the crowd as many did not believe the story being fed.
But enough of the music...this is a food blog after all. If I had to score the food I'd give it ten out of ten. I think there may have been a problem with the noodles from a particular establishment however as the entire festival site became Noodle City; noodles littered everywhere, as far as the eye could see. Apart from the usual festival grub of burgers, fish and chips, falafel, chinese food and donuts there was Healthy T; they served homemade stovies, porridge, hog roasts, fresh seafood from Loch Fyne, smoked-in-front-of-your-eyes kippers from Spinks, sushi, stone baked pizza, noodles and freshly cooked pasta, to name but a few.
After our burger and chips and several performances, we headed over to Healthy T for some good Scottish fayre. I started with Cullen Skink, a fish and potato soup and then a salmon roll: freshly cooked pink salmon in a wholewheat bun with falafel mayonnaise and salad leaves in a lovely dressing. Truly delicious. Graeme went for the stovies which they inexplicably served with beetroot and oatcakes...we think because they'd bought plates with three sections and for no other reason...but Graeme said it was good. As the weekend progressed, I had a hog roast roll with crackling and mustard...wish I'd seen the apple sauce first...a smoked kipper, spring rolls and donuts with milk chocolate dipping sauce. This weekend was worth it for the food alone.
Now that I'm home, all I crave is a cup of tea in the house, the Sunday Papers and a lazy day. All have been provided, along with bacon rolls and a small antipasti for lunch. Thank you, husband.