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Saturday, July 22, 2006

ASHTON COURT: Better than a day at the beach

Someone turns up for the bristol ballon festival early

Ashton Court Festival, Bristol, has an odd place in the psyche of the Iguana. You can’t camp there, so we don’t really consider it to be a festival. They often have a few good bands on the line up but it is not something that forms part of the planning of the Iguana summer. I have probably been 10 or 15 times but it is usually somewhere we go if there is nothing else on that weekend; in fact the decision to go this year was not made until the morning of the gig.

There was a time when it was free but as it grew they started asking for donations, which was fair enough. Then Or*nge took over running it and the donations became mandatory, although it was still only a fiver; this year though it has gone up to £9 which I suppose is still value for money but is definitely a disincentive to attending both days. The arrival of Or*nge also meant just about every stage is sponsored these days, so they must be making a lot of money before a single punter has gone through the turnstile.

The Cleverly named WKD stage

They tend to splash out on a handful of headliners over the weekend and fill the bill up with mainly local bands. Fortunately Bristol has a history of producing some half decent talent so there have been some cool bands over the years.

It has grown over the years in terms of entertainment; there are now 7 stages, plus the usual market, food stall and mini fun fair.

The Relentless Stage... no doubt we will be hearing lots about this new energy drink in the months to come.

This year I had been contemplating going but the final decision was actually made by Tara Iguana, I had planned on taking her to the beach, but when she found out Aston Court was on there was no choice as far as she was concerned. Made me quite proud actually!

The noiseiest maze in the world

Of all the years I have been I think there are probably only two or three years where I did not end up driving (SPARKY, GINGER… are you listening?), but as I had Tara on board I did not really mind. When we got there we headed straight for the kids area, face painting, out door theatre, swing boats, banging, cutting and sticking etc.

Tara sends herself around the bend for a change
After a while we met up with some of the other usual suspects (Sparky and Ginger still not driving) and soon we had a bigger than expected posse together. We chilled for a while watching Small Axe, then Tara and I went for a walk, firstly via the fun fair then around the market. Needless to say we ended up in the bubble stall, where Tara got waylaid for ages. She discovered edible bubbles, which you were supposed to blow then catch, but she opted for drinking neat bubble fluid….

By coincidence a few of the others from the gang had moved to a spot near the bubble stall, where you could see the main stage, so we chilled with them for a while before finishing off our look around the market.

We had to set off early to pick up Zoë Iguana who had gone to see the Lost Prophets in Cardiff (number one daughter going to gigs on her own, and decent bands at that, something else that has made me proud). I did not mind too much, it meant missing Dreadzone (who I saw last week) and The Heads. I would have loved to have seen the Heads, never seen them yet. They were playing in the ‘Blackout’ tent, a tent that has the sides down so it is dark all day. They were going to have a full on lightshow and the volume turned up to 11, which I would have loved to experience, but I am certain that Tara would not have tolerated that for one minute.

All in all a great day out, despite not really seeing any bands, and as Tara put it, “much better than going to the beach”.


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