Buffalo Burgers and Mud Cakes

Wet or What!

Hydro may be Greek for water but Hydro Connect is Rock and Roll for Mud

Last weekend I experienced probably the best first of the year. We went to our first ever music festival; Hydro Connect, a boutique festival still in its infancy which is held in the impressive grounds of Inveraray Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll.

We wanted the whole outdoor festival experience so opted to camp, although we weren’t so brave as to take our own tent, we opted for ‘posh’ camping organised by Tangerine Fields. The tents were supplied and erected. All we had to do was lug our supplies in from the car park situated twenty minutes up a muddy path. Being festival virgins we were dismayed to realise that the dozen bottles of beers we carried in would be banned from the site. So we drank some, hid the rest in the woods and vowed to know better next time.

The weather was overcast on the Friday but warm and dry. The main stage was situated at the bottom of a field directly below the castle and because the tickets were limited to 20,000 it was possible to sit on your free poncho and watch the bands without any obstruction and dance around on the grass without spilling your drinks. It was also possible to spot friends you haven’t seen for over a year.

The Friday highlights for me were Manic Street Preachers and the brilliant and very tall Kasabian, who were headlining that stage.

We were further delighted to stumble upon Sparks, a weird band I remember from my teenage years.

The first night in the tent was not too bad, but that may have been helped by the alcohol consumed. We were disappointed that the dedicated toilets and showers promised to us by Tangerine Fields had not arrived. The line of Portaloos was found after a long traipse through a muddy field and were non too fresh by the evening.

The next day was still overcast but dry. The earlier line up was uninspiring so we headed towards the Speakeasy tent for brownies and coffee. Alan Bissett was due to appear at four but before that we saw an interview with the organiser and the Duke and saw a fantastic new band called Grace Emilys. It was such a treat. Alan Bissett performed his piece in wellies and was very entertaining.

Although I was ambivalent about seeing Paulo Nutini, he was the highlight of the day for me. His set was spot on and his new songs inspiring.

The tent field – no chance of escape

Our night in the tent was spent sleepless, listening to Tangerine Fields staff playing guitars and singing. There was one happy guy who held the title of “The world’s most irritating laugh”. If I had met him next morning I think I might just have punched his laugh out.

On the Saturday I noticed the camping and festival fields were morphing from grass to mire. When Sunday arrived wet with no outlook to clear, I predicted a mud riot in the car park later, so we packed up early and took the car out of the muddy field and parked it in Inveraray. Although the coffee shops there were filled with tourists, the owners welcomed all the festival goers and didn’t seem to mind the muck on their carpets.

Back at the field the mud was getting deeper and someone started a mud slide. Waiting in the queue for the toilets was like trying to walk through plastacine, and it stank because the urinals were overflowing (I was reliably informed).

The rain continued until six in the evening. When Sigur Ros came on stage the sky was clearing, mist was settling over the tops of the trees and the air was filled with a spooky anticipation. This is what I had been waiting for and I was not disappointed. They played a perfect pitch set and had the crowd baying for more.

Other highlights from Sunday were Elbow and Goldfrapp (what is it with her and clowns?)

The festival goers were a friendly bunch and just out for a good time. The setting was perfect despite the mud. I will be back next year – well done Duke of Argyll, thanks for giving up your home for the weekend

One other first from the weekend

One of the main festival attractions for me was the food on offer. Loch Fyne had a tent which served the best pre baked macaroni and cheese I have tasted (and I have tasted many because I have a personal challenge to find the best macaroni and cheese). They also have yummy lamb stovies and kebabs, and juicy cheese burgers. There was little of culinary interest outside this tent with the exception of The Puddledub Farm Stall. Have you ever tasted buffalo burgers? The nutritional value posted outside the stall was impressive. I had to try. They were succulent and tasty and hit the spot. I might catch them at a local farmers market later in the year and stock up my freezer.

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