Ever since I arrived back from last year's End of the Road Festival, I have been trying to persuade Ant that he would have enjoyed it, despite his professed hatred of festivals in general. It's unfortunate that to date his only festival experiences have involved excessive rain and mud (Green Man, Fleadh, Roskilde) or boring mainstream music (Isle of Wight), which meant that it was a bit of an effort to convince him that End of the Road is brilliantly different and much more up his street. I couldn't promise no mud, but based on 2009's experience, it seemed there'd be a fair chance of sunshine and I could confidently promise great music and a charming atmosphere. When I also mentioned the on-site therapies, real ale and abundant use of camping chairs, he agreed to give it a try.
Arriving on site on Thursday evening, there was a definite feeling of trepidation on my part as I sensed his misgivings about the whole proceedings. But by Sunday evening, wine-fuelled, music-soaked and massaged to within an inch of his life, a grinning Ant gracefully admitted that End of the Road had restored his jaded faith in festivals. Phew. I'd had a wonderful time too - there were so many good bands it'd be impossible to review them all, but highlights included Wolf People, Mountain Goats, Three Trapped Tigers, Citay, Ben Ottewell and Mountain Man. Aside from much musical enjoyment, we indulged in plenty of people watching, dancing, bantering, cake eating, curry eating, pizza eating, pie eating, chilli eating, tea drinking, stargazing and laid back bimbling. Once again, the sparkly woods provided much magic, especially the spontaneous late night jams and secret acoustic gigs on the woodland stage.
A game of Kubb on Sunday was a new experience for us both and something we'll definitely be looking to make or purchase for our own back garden. A Swedish skittles-chess hybrid, Kubb involves throwing large blocks of wood to knock out an opposing team's pieces; shins beware. The things that have grated at previous festivals - shouty teens, grotty toilets, epic walks between stages and back to camp, conspicuous security and bag searching, the sound of nitrous oxdide balloons emptying every few seconds - didn't really factor at End of the Road. The only thing I wanted for was a shower (there is only one block on site), but apart from that it really was a very very lovely festival and I shall definitely be going back next year. Based on his reaction, hopefully so will Ant.
Here's a little video I made of some of the bands we saw and the other activities in between. The sound quality is a bit rubbish on a few of the clips, but hopefully it gives you a flavour for the event.