and a 4 day Belgian music festival
As the mercury rises and summer approaches our London lives have become increasingly hectic and sweaty. Hectic due to both the number of Aussie visitors taking advantage of the upside-down seasons and of course the craziness of the World Cup and sweaty as London goes through their token heat wave of 28ish degrees.
So far the Mansion has had several overnight guests including Rocky and Kate, who are backpacking around Europe for several months, Shirlbags and Froggy who took a weekend away from Paris to dominate the local Walkabout for the Aussie V Ghana match and Skrogz who spent a night curled up on our one seater sofa due to a ‘no room at the inn’ situation. Sorry Skrogz! Also to add to the List was Ryan, one of Nath's family friends who he hadnt properly spoken for a number of years, and after both growing up together still got along like a couple of houses on fire. Lucky for these guests on our walk back from the gym one afternoon we found a seemingly non-soiled mattress out the front of a house a block away from out place. So over our heads it went, much to the amusement of bus drivers and commuters... and our ‘spare bed’ was born.
As well as Mansion guests we have had several other catch ups with Aussie visitors including a PHS reunion in Soho with Sagan, Brett, Skrogz, Bron, Han and myself and Nath (crashing the PHS reunion in style) as well as more recently Nath catching up with Fabs, a mate from Uni and Alison, a friend from summer camp.
We have also recently just returned from our first 4 day camping festival experience, a festival called Rock Werchter held just outside of Brussels, Belgium. We travelled by train to Brussels (Eurostar) which is amazingly quick and easy, and relatively inexpensive (we will undoubtly use this mode of transport again). Not only was this our first camping festival experience but it was also our first stay in a European cobblestoned street...which was absolutely going off! After arriving in Brussels late Wednesday night, we managed to find our hotel and Nath’s wayward phone battery after a 15 minute search of the taxi. Our last night of bed and showers for a while was spent in a cheap (but nice) hotel in the middle of Party Central. After a quick walk around Party Central we discovered the Sydney Town Hall of Brussels and the Kings Cross Coke sign of Brussels as well as a pub with a huge screen for people to play FIFA 10 on Playstation 3, which Nath was stoked with.
After attempting a good night’s sleep in Party Central and having a traditional Belgian waffle breakfast (but with no toppings...WTF!), we caught the tram to meet up with the rest of the crew, and board the train with thousands of other festival goers. A short train and then bus ride saw us at the festival ground ready to set up our cheapo Argos 2 man tent (pushing at 1 and a half man really). After setting up our homes for the next 4 days we made our way into the festival to check out some amazing artists.
Over the next few days we managed to see Kyteman’s HipHop Orchestra, Skunk Anansie (a crazy black bald headed chick), Phoenix (front row!), La Roux, Bloody Beetroots (absolutely amazing, the floor literally threw you up like a trampoline everyone was jumping around that much), Muse, Crookers, Rise Against, Paramore, 30 Seconds to Mars, Editors, Green Day (amazing 3 hour set, where we were right in amongst it and definitely the loudest fans in Belgium), Delphic, Temper Trap (front and centre), Yeasayer, Porcupine Tree, Florence and the Machine (front and centre), Pink (who arrived by falling out of a box attached to a crane and then did her acrobatics things, which 2 weeks later she did at a German gig and completely stacked it....check it out on Youtube), Ramstein (crazy crazy show with people being set on fire and fireworks being shot out and then back in to the stage), the Black Keys, Alice in Chains, Gomez, Vampire Weekend, Them Crooked Vultures, Arcade Fire and Pearl Jam (who even got Dave Grohl to come out and smash a tamborine around for their finale despite their past differences).
The festival was completely unlike any Australian festival we had ever been too. Not only was the line up completely unheard of, but the shows that some of the artists put on would never have been performed at an Australian festival. Costume changes, set designs, acrobatics, a big freakin crane, fireworks, a foam cannon and fire were all part of the festival acts.
Unlike Glastonbury’s history there was no need to bring out the newly bought Dunlop wellies, however shade in our unprepared camping area became the issue. With temperatures reaching 44 degrees and no shade apart from the stuffiness of our windowless tents, some innovation was needed. Using everybody’s one spare pole that comes with each tent, a ground sheet and some male handiness, ‘Shanty Town’ was erected. With the shade and Sal’s not so sturdy 1 pound spray bottle we managed to survive the crazy heat.
Our last day in Belgium was spent exploring the cobblestoned streets of Brussels where our tour guide Kieran showed us the famous pissing statue, the Tin Tin store (no photos please) and the Town Square. We also sampled some Belgian chocolates, did the Mussels in Brussels thing during a 3 course lunch with FREE wine and beer, had real Belgian waffles with ice-cream whilst watching some toothless crazy man shout out Belgian ramblings from the top of a fountain, and see the inside of our first of what will be many cathedrals.
Belgium overall; freakin fantastic! Great vibe, awesome crew of people, amazing weather, a crazy list of artists and the festival stench we came home with, wasn’t even that bad.
The weeks following the Belgium trip have been spent lying low and hermitting from the world in preparation for 6 payless weeks of the summer holidays and saving for our Topdeck tour where we will do the basic loop of Europe covering 9 countries in 22 days of camping. We are both incredibly excited for the trip and are counting down the days until we leave...1 to go...
Miss you all!
Nath and Sal