I’m Alan. Welcome to my Blog. I’m 25, a writer, comedian, journalist and I have a passion for discovering all things new in life. This summer, over 6 weeks I travelled by bus from the very top to the very bottom and to all sides and middles of this lovely green patch of land.
With the help of my followers, I discovered great places, met interesting people, attended some great events, gigs and festivals. This blog is a record of this amazing experience, I hope it gives you inspiration.
Phenomenal goings on at Body & Soul
Bus Eireann ran a special service to the Body and Soul Festival from Custom House Quay. This is where I got on the bus at twelve o'clock. This is where it all began.
Body and Soul may have put on the gig of the year. What a festival, where to begin?
The grounds of Ballinlough Castle were absolutely stunning. The campsite was on a golf course, I was on the fairway - a spectacular place to pitch a tent. Trees surrounded the whole area, and old stone walls surrounded small inner areas.
I met Oliver Smith, a photographer who I knew from college, he got the same bus as me. I decided to get him to take all of my pictures for the blog, this way they'd be way better and ye readers would be happier. Little did I know Oliver's camera would be stolen thus leaving me with no images at all.
The crowd at the festival were just so ridiculously lovely. You'd swear they were all friends. Everyone talked to everyone and helped each other out. It was beautiful. There were so many babies and children. It was a very family friendly festival, and it was great. I never once heard a baby crying, they just brought a different kind of energy to the whole day. There were month old babies there, strapped tightly on to humans that I imagine they must have hired for the event. A good vehicle, I wish I had thought about it in advance myself, but no, there was me walking around on my own using my own legs like a fool.
These kids have absolutely no choice but to be the coolest people on the planet when they grow up. Think about it, a festival that was this level of cool already! In 18 years time there could be 18 year olds who have been to Body and Soul or Electric Picnic 18 times. I can't compete with that much cool.
How do you know Body and Soul was better than WestFest? There were people in the hot tubs. And there were a few of them, always being used. Thats the key that proves it.
There were restaurants and coffee shops and huts all around that had music and wonderful decoration. There were swings, there was sporadic art, there were lights, there were seats, i.e. a big wicker boat that about 20 people could sit in. There was a session in it at about 4am.
Everyone was floating along on a wave of love, community and vegetarianism. The main stage was probably as big as the smallest stage at Electric Picnic. It was perfect; it was set in a natural amphitheatre at the bottom of a hill and enclosed by big trees. The stage itself was sheltered by a tent which was held up with logs and branches. It was decorated with squashed tin cans and bits of wood and string, just stuff really.
There were people who built impressive art structures using the litter which they were collecting. There was a man with a keg of hot water on his back selling tea and coffee all night. There were yoga classes. There was a drama/spoken word area. A kids area. A cool Hansel and Gretel looking house decorated with tins and apples in the middle of the forest. A Cupid tent. There were showers, a place to charge your phone, a campsite for families, they really thought of everything, it was amazing. I have never been so comfortable at a festival.
The line up was great. Not all my type of music but all very high quality. For me the highlight was Lisa Hannigan who played a great set and seemed genuinely happy. That feeling spread to the crowd, I'd say everyone was just one step away from hugging everyone else.
I bumped into so many people I knew (what can I say? I know cool people) and even the people I didn't know talked to me like we were old friends.
The food was top class as expected. There was great diversity and loads of good options for vegetarians, which takes a lot for me to say because I'm a ravenous carnivore.
Aside from the main stage there was a dance tent where I didn't spend too much time but it seemed to be always busy, and one called Casa Habana. As I'm sure you can guess Casa Habana was a Latino themed tent, selling mojitos etc. It was absolutely brilliant. I spent a lot of time in there dancing to this Dj who was mixing crazy things together and making it work. He went straight from this hard fast dance beat instantly into Long Tall Sally, it was so much fun.
I think the other thing that made the festival such an unreal success for me was the company I was with. I camped with Oliver's friends, who I hope are now my friends, Dave, Sarah and Justine. Such generous, fun, amazing people, and hilarious, I laughed constantly.
The other thing that I will say about it, and it gives me great pleasure to pay the festival this compliment because I really think this wouldn't happen anywhere else, is that Oliver's camera turned up! It was worth a couple of grand and still nobody decided they would like it for themselves. It ended up in the production office, who tweeted me and the whole story got an amazing happy ending.
I scrambled into my tent at about 4 am and my neighbours, who saw that my phone battery died, told me they'd wake me up in the morning. The festival gave me an alarm clock too. Phenomenal.