Monday, 16 June 2008

Ten Fab Things To Do At Indietracks

OK, we know it's, like, a MUSIC festival. People come along, watch bands, have a little singalong, jig about a bit and then go home to their tents/homes/hotel rooms for a little sleepie. But were you aware of all the other fab things there are to do in and around the festival area? Would you know what to do if you needed a little breather from watching bands, or simply fancied a wander round the site? With so many great bands playing, you may not even get chance, but just in case we've compiled a handy list of alternative activities sure to keep you entertained....just don't blame us if you get lost in the 26-acre woods - we warned you!

1. Visit the Brittain pit farm
Furry llamas, gentle goats, cute chickens and more exotic birds that you can shake a stick's the festival site farm area! Do visit it if you get chance, and if you don't have a child in tow then release your inner-toddler anyway. Stroking all that fur and inhaling country air is a fab way to unwind after a exhausting train or car journey, and the views across Amber Valley are fantastic.

2. Visit the railway memorabilia shop
This shop was a sure-fire hit with me last year, and I'm sure many a band will be visiting it to stock up on railway-themed attire. You can buy proper train driver caps, "choo choo" kazoo-style whistles and all sorts....and they're all as cheap as chips! The choo choo kazoos come in particularly handy for steam train sing-alongs....there's nowt like a well-timed "choo choo" to beef up an indiepop classic!

3. Take advantage of the free steam train rides
Of course, you will get free rides when you see bands play on the train, but it's also worth taking a proper sit-down train ride, where you can stare dreamily out of the window at the glorious countryside and pretend you're living in the 1950s. And, if you ask very nicely, you may even manage to persuade one of the drivers to let you pull on the cord that make the real "choo choo" noise". Do remember to ask nicely though! Here's a Youtube clip of one lucky Indietracks punter doing just that...

4. Gatecrash the Acoustic Gazebo/The Grassy Knoll
There is rumour of a grassy area being set aside for some impromptu acoustic appearances, so the time is ripe to start practicing at home. Brush up on your guitar, ukelele, bongos or whatever, and get ready to let loose at the gazebo! (Personally we refer The Grassy Knoll) Or, if you're feeling less-than-confident, creep along to the gazebo for an after-hours sing-along with people who are too tipsy to care how rubbish you are! Yay!

5. Sample the railway barbecue food...
Real burgers made on a proper barbecue, yeah! Perfect for when all that indiepopping has left you ravenous. It only made one appearance last year, but it was muchos, muchos appreciated by all the hungry indiepoppers. Who says fey kids don't eat much....hmm?

6. ...or the campsite cafe veggie tomatoes on toast
If you're a squeamish camper like me, then the Golden Valley Campsite Cafe is an absolute delight. Situated in a log cabin, it serves fresh, home-made breakfasts, including the all-time classic tomatoes on toast. They have telly if you're that way inclined, and all of the trashy Sunday papers. Ooh, and the prices are pretty flippin' purse-friendly too. Easily one of my fave things about the festival last year!

7. Visit the town of Ripley
There's the usual couple of pubs, including The Pear Tree and The Moss Cottage Hotel, as well as some small shops, but you could check out some of the 19th-century architecture such as Butterley Hall, which is now the headquarters of the Derbyshire Police Force. There is also the rather impressive Church of All Saints, erected near to the market place in 1820-21, and which has a distinctive tower. If you were feeling uber-adventurous, you could even visit the Denby Pottery Visitor Centre.

8. Lead a campsite sing-along
Fashion an ukelele out of some nearby twigs and leaves - or bring your own like a normal person - and lead an after-hours campsite sing-along! Last year, some folk took it to the max with a soft metal-athon that went well into the early hours, but we're looking forward to seeing what people come up with this year! Over at Indietracks Towers, we're still obsessed with the idea of Pete Green leading such a campsite sing-along, so when we heard that he wasn't even planning to bring along his guitar we were pretty taken aback. We're planning to start some kind of campaign, or something.....Pete - if you're reading this - the sing-along needs you!

9. Go for a walk in the woods
INDIETRACKS FACT: Did you know The Golden Valley campsite is actually set in 26 acres of gorgeous woodland, nestling alongside the Cromford Canal? No? Neither did we! Apparently the canal was once used to transport coal and iron from the area, but now it provides a handy route guide through the woods. It really is very scenic, and worth a peep if you have time - don't get lost though!

10. Visit the Matthew Kirtley Museum
There's just so much steam train memorabilia around, you may even find yourself becoming a bit of a choo choo geek. If this is the case, then you should definitely take a peek at this museum. We've not visited it yet, but apparently it houses a huge collection of locomotives and rolling stock covering steam, diesel and electric power from the 1860s to the present day, as well as the steam and diesel locomotives currently in use. Choo-choo-tastic!

Hmmm, well that's all we can think of for the time being, but we'd love to hear your suggestions too, so do write in and tell us if you think there's anything we've missed! Write to or just leave a comment here!

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