Friday, 13 May 2011

Is It Radio 1's Big Weekend Or Bog Weekend?

Driving past the site where Radio 1 are planning to hold their Big Weekend, I didn't hold out too much hope. I watched a large vehicle install the portaloos and churn up the field as he did so. They'd better tell Lady Gaga to pack a warm coat and bring her wellies.

But this is Cumbria, the wettest county in England. The weather can always be unpredictable. I suspect there will be some nice sunny spells amongst the showere. It will be the wind chill which will be instantly noticeable.

'That's just the way we like it,' said an excited student. 'We'll be out there tomorrow, wearing vests and shorts. Lovely.'

In fact there is a ripple of excitement generally running through the area. It must be the biggest event in the Carlisle area for many years, discarding the Cumberland Agricultural Show. In amongst the confusion,I detect profiteering, panic and perhaps an impending thought that chaos will ensue.

The access road to the venue is just a single track A road. With 20,000 people descending, the queues will be magnificent.

'They'll get up here by train, alright,' said the railway inforrmation, 'but they may struggle to get back. Terrible engineering works, you know. Some might not even get back at all..'

The bus shuttle service seems to be a new venture in making as much money as you can. The Big Weekend has always put on shuttle buses. In 2009 Swindon Council met the cost and they were free. Last year the return fare to Bangor was £5. This year it will be £10 (on the day) - three times what the normal bus fare would be. But, it could be worse, taxis are £20.

There is a buzz of anticipation around the county that there is a great deal of money to be made. The take-aways are looking forward to the rush after the event. The farmers will fill their fields with tents, and there will be many teas and coffees sold.

Where the real money could be made, is in the towing out of cars, if it really does rain. The place will turn to a bog and there will be happy farmers charging for a tow with their tractors.

'You see, what you want to do,' said a burly passenger, eyes glistening, 'is you charge 'em to get in - then you charge them double to get out again.

Bon chance festival goers. Welcome to Cumbria.

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