Last weekend was spent at the Up The Creek Music Festival near Swellendam which is about 200km east of Stellenbosch.
We set off from home at about 1300hrs for the 2-2.5 hour drive but within half an hour we had run into the first set of roadworks just outside Somerset West. We didn't realise it at the time but this would be the first of many! Once again the scenery was absolutely stunning though I'm now getting used to it and spend a little less time saying 'wow'!
Eventually we got to our turning and it was time for me to drive on a 'dirt' road for the first time. For 'dirt' read 'rock and boulder' and you'll have some idea of what the poor 'bakkie' was put through for 20kms. Bits of the road were bad, some very bad and the rest terrible, a proper dusty boneshaker of a journey but very enjoyable!
Once we had checked in and had our tasteful green armbands applied it was time for us, as first ones there, to stake out and claim a suitable campsite for ourselves and everyone who would be arriving after us. What we thought was a nice spot (despite a few rocks and a bit of a slope!) was claimed and we sat and waited. Minutes later Ninja and Stoffel arrived and, as UTC veterans, identified a far better spot which we duly moved to!
Over the next few hours more and more people arrived and our little tented village took shape. Linda and Meiring (who had earlier that day attempted to cut off his little finger and spent some time in the hospital being stitched up!) arrived with the tent which Elaine and I were borrowing and we were all set. Then it was time for a quick bite to eat and off to the main stage for some entertainment.
I'm not sure what time we eventually collapsed in bed but the bands were still going strong at 0300hrs and we drifted off to sleep to the reggae sounds of Tidal Waves.
We were woken up very early on Saturday morning (6 ish) by one of the most annoying laughs we have ever heard! The people behind us (not part of our group) were up and ready to party but one poor unfortunate girl had a laugh that could curdle milk! Seeing that Stoffel was already up (or maybe hadn't gone to bed) I joined him and left Elaine in the tent with her earplugs!
Coffee soon led to the inevitable 'hair of the dog' hangover cures and the day started! Ninja made Bloody Marys and Stoffel beheaded a watermelon, mashed up the pulp and made a cocktail out of whatever was to hand. When she woke up Elaine thought that this was a very agreeable breakfast indeed!
Following breakfast it was time to blow up the inflatable devices ready for a morning of floating on the river and listening to music. Elaine had 'Puff' the Dragon (a cousin of 'Frodo' for those of you in the know), Ninja had a fantastic Butterfly and I had a boring but highly manoeverable lilo! Equipped with inflatables, plastic drinking bottles, sun screen and bubbles for Elaine we set off to the river for a paddle!
The river was full of people and their collection of inflatables though the current meant that it was impossible to stay still so the bands who were due to play there actually played on the main stage up the hill. We didn't mind, we could hear the music and were all happy! I spent most of my time acting as a tug boat for 'Puff' who turned out to be pretty difficult to control and nearly impossible for Elaine to move at speed!
As the day wore on the temperature just kept rising, definately one of the hottest days I have experienced here. I'm not sure how the guys running the industrial sized Braai managed to do it but hats off to them they kept the food coming!
Later in the afternoon and evening we spent lots of time watching bands, all of whom I thought were great though some obviously were better than others! For me special mentions go to Boulevard Blues Band, Dan Patlansky, The Plastics (definitely influenced by the Arctic Monkeys), Blues Broers, Taxi Violence (angle grinder showering the crowd with sparks) and Wonderboom (with their insane drummer!).
Just to round a great day off we were treated to some typical British festival weather....... RAIN! It was great! The South Africans didn't seem too pleased to see it but I loved it, just like home! It wasn't enough to create the huge mud baths of Glastonbury but........ For some reason or other (it was late, we had been drinking etc) Elaine and I decided that we should sleep in the Bakkie that night and so moved our bedding from the tent and went off to see one last band before collapsing!
Predictably I woke up feeling pretty uncomfortable on Sunday morning with my feet hanging out of the back door of the canopy being lightly toasted by the morning sun! Elaine of course had snored her way through the night in perfect comfort. We 'broke camp' in preparation for departure later that afternoon and headed back off to the river again for a swim (or wash as I like to call it!). Some more music, a hotdog and some pancakes (pannekoek) were sampled before saying our goodbyes to those still left and we started the long slog back to Stellenbosch, this time avoiding all of the roadworks!
We both thoroughly enjoyed our first 'Up The Creek' experience and will not doubt be back for more in the future. The event was very well organised and we were well provided for. Perhaps the thing that gives this event such a special feel is that there is a limit of 2000 tickets, this makes it feel quite intimate and gives you the opportunity to mix with fellow festivalgoers and the bands themselves. All in all a brilliant weekend.
If you would like to see some more then have a little look here - Up The Creek Music Festival - Channel 24 - if you look closely you will see Elaine and 'Puff' during the first clip!