This year we went to End of the Road festival in Dorset again. We took Huxley last year and he absolutely loved it so it was always something we would have considered going to again. When we found out I was pregnant in February it was pushed to the back of our minds as something that we’d have to miss out on this year. However, once the line-up was released I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was my dream line-up. I couldn’t believe it. I felt like the bands had been hand-picked just for me. Devendra Banhart, Cat Power, Bat for Lashes, Joanna Newsom – all my absolute favourites for the past 10 years.
Now the main thing stopping me from booking tickets was the cost (festivals are bloody expensive!) but I managed to talk Nick into it as we were unlikely to be going away on holiday anytime soon so this was a good alternative. Thankfully, we are fortunate enough to live a mere 20 minutes away from the festival so I didn’t even have to consider camping at 8 months pregnant as we drove home and slept in our own comfy, warm bed every night (a fact which I was even more grateful for when the weather turned out to be a bit pants!).
We turned up on the Thursday night quite late and stood and watched The Shins playing while Huxley gradually got sleepier and sleepier before heading home to get a good night’s sleep before a full day of festival fun on the Friday.
The best thing about End of the Road (for parents) is that there is TONS of stuff for kids to do, even though it’s not really marketed as a ‘family festival’ and it’s all FREE (unlike at Camp Bestival). There are loads of little tents offering various craft & music activities and even without all of that, it’s so much fun just running around and exploring all the hidden treasures in the gardens and forests that you could spend all weekend doing just that without even seeing any music. Our first stop was at the circus tent where kids can learn to do various tricks and Hux had tons of fun trying out the diabolos and pedal-gos before we whisked him off to the indoor cinema to watch the new Jungle Book (which he LOVED).
(I can’t believe how tired he looks in this photo and it’s only day 1!)
After we finished in the cinema we sat down to make some animals out of clay (which we totally forgot to collect later – oops!), grabbed an ice-cream and explored the woods.
My musical highlight for Friday was definitely Whitney on the Garden Stage. Whitney are quite a new band to me and I’d only heard a couple of their songs on Spotify but they’ve just got the most fun, upbeat vibe that you can’t help dancing around to them. The Guardian describe them like this: “think Bon Iver, with elements of folk and country, only given a Chicago soul makeover”. I also really enjoyed Cat Power who headlined the Garden Stage on Friday night. She’s definitely someone I’d been desperate to see for years and years and it’s so awesome to be able to see her somewhere as cool as End of the Road festival.
On Saturday morning, we dropped Huxley off at Nick’s mum’s house as she was going to be looking after him all day as well as having him overnight for us so that we could have the day off. It was just as well because the weather was well and truly horrendous and Huxley would have been totally miserable. We spent most of the day huddled in beer tents, making mad dashes in between the Big Top & the Tipi Tent. I really enjoyed watching Bas Jan in the Tipi Tent which is a band I’d never heard of before but they were really good fun. The Big Moon in the Big Top also totally rocked. Yay for girl bands! We were a bit gutted about missing Local Natives after a quick trip back to the car turned into an accidental hour and a half nap but we obviously needed the sleep! Once we’d woken up we headed over to the Woods stage to watch a bit of Goat (who are totally mental) before grabbing some dinner. The highlight of the day for me was without doubt Bat For Lashes who headlined on the Woods stage. Bat For Lashes are another huge favourite of mine that I’d been desperate to see for years. Thankfully the rain had started to ease off by then but the moody weather made her already very ethereal set even more moody and atmospheric and watching the smoke swirling around her in the breeze made all my hairs stand on end. Definitely worth spending the whole day soaking wet and freezing cold for.
On Sunday we were all a little worse for wear (me from extreme exhaustion, not drinking!) but thankfully the weather was slightly better so we cracked out the picnic blanket and camping chairs at every opportunity. Huxley was also exhausted after a busy day running round with his cousins at Grandma’s house and just spent the whole day sat quietly in his pushchair with the iPad. He even made me drape a blanket over the top of his pushchair so that he didn’t have to see or talk to anyone! Sunday was probably the day we were most excited for musically as Devendra Banhart has been both mine & Nick’s favourite artist for the last 10 years. We’ve seen him twice before in London years ago so we knew we were in for a good show. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I spotted on Twitter that he was going to be doing an interview on a teeny tiny stage hidden in the middle of the trees with Uncut magazine. We made sure we got there super early for that and I fan-girled so hard the entire time. I don’t think I’ve ever been a metre away from someone I’ve idolised for such a long time and I was super star struck. He was wonderful and charming and lovely and funny (and gorgeous) and the interview was intimate and strange and definitely an experience I’ll never forget.
We headed over to the Woods stage where we planned on staying for the rest of the evening and got super close to the front for Broken Social Scene (or as close as you can get with a pushchair anyway!) which is one of Nick’s all-time favourite bands. Unfortunately when Broken Social Scene had finished and we were waiting for Devendra Banhart to play, a security guy came over and made us move way, way to the back as he said it was going to get really busy and people would trip over the pushchair. I was totally gutted – even more so when it didn’t actually get that busy and wasn’t even dark when Devendra Banhart played. They definitely didn’t have that rule last year. Despite that, Devendra’s set on the Woods stage was out of this world, although it started a little slow and our friends got bored and wandered off but we stuck around and were treated to a wonderful range of classics that I couldn’t stop dancing to (which is an impressive feat for an 8-month pregnant lady after 3 days of standing around in a cold, wet field!).
The evening finished with a performance by Joanna Newsom who was the headline act. At this point, there were no other bands playing on any of the other stages, so every single person at the festival had to watch her, or head back to their tents. I think this is due to the fact that her music is super quiet and she just sits on stage and plays the harp. I love Joanna Newsom but we’d already seen her live at the Royal Albert Hall a few years ago and by 9pm on Sunday we were definitely all ready to go home. We stayed and watched two or three songs right from the back of the field before slowing trudging our way back to the car.
All in all, I had a fabulous weekend, despite the back-breaking pain and sucky weather! I just want to say an ENORMOUS thank you to the guys at End of the Road festival who allowed me to park in the disabled parking area as it made a massive difference to my weekend. I don’t think we’ll be going back next year as the new baby will still be quite little but I’m sure this won’t be our last one as it really is such a great weekend!