Camping at Tarrant Keynston

IT’S EIGHT o’clock on Sunday morning, it’s raining hard and our tent has collapsed.

We’re camping at the Figure 8 Festival at the True Lover’s Knot pub near Wimborne and having a blast. It’s a reunion of five former reporters who worked for the Dorset Echo. As always, it’s a bit of a messy affair.

The two-day music festival was organised by Laura Williams in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support after her cousin successfully fought off the disease. We rock up on Saturday afternoon, crack open the pink fizz and scrumpy, pitch our tents along with maybe 30 others, pump up the inflatable mattresses and join in the fun. Friesians are gently nibbling the grass not far from the Portaloos. We fall on a supper of grated cheese, barbecued sausages and trout.

Laura’s done an incredible job. She’s arranged all the elements of festival fun – camping field, face painting, wristbands, a bar, art auction, bands playing on a stage in a marquee, temporary toilets, bohemian-looking musicians, ladies with colourful dreadlocks, cider and cow pats and best of all, a nice warm pub for us to sit in. Oh, and I discover new favourite artists – Goan Dogs and David Ford. Wow.

As boutique festivals go this is the smallest – and sweetest – I’ve been to. There’s one stage, one pie tent, one bar and even a bucking bronco (I fell off twice). As the hordes stampede to register for Glastonbury 2013, I decide I’m giving the Vale of Avalon a miss in favour of Figure 8 Festival here in my native county of Dorset (so I hope they’ll hold it again next year).

People snog…

people party…

people nearly pass out…

Sure, it’s a little risky camping in late September and yes, we got very wet indeed. But you know what? Camping is still the best fun you can have in Dorset. Even if you wake up, as we did, to find that the organisers have legged it in their Winnebago! Lucky buggers.

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