So, I’ve been pretty quiet lately, and that’s because I’ve been pretty busy.

I mentioned before about all the groovy stuff getting in the way of getting any actual work done, but it’s kinda difficult to feel bad about it given how just gosh-darn awesome everything has been for the past few weeks.

I suspect this will be a pretty long thing, so I’m gonna have to split it into a few parts. First up, the route to Metaldays!

For those (I suspect most) of you who’ve never heard of it, Metaldays is a week-long heavy metal festival in the mountains of Slovenia.

And guys, it’s really hard work.

I’ve been to this festival before, back in the long-long-ago when it was called Metalcamp and I could recover from hangovers much more easily.

But I’ve always flown, and this year we decided to roadtrip the thing, all the way from sunny Manchester, through France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Austria. And hell, what an idea that was!

With a bit of a rocky start – the Eurostar sold out just before we managed to book our tickets, so had to reorganise the trip around the ferry instead, leading us to spend the first night of the trip crashing in the van in a pub car park in Maidstone – the rest of the trip went pretty smoothly.

As we got into Belgium, ready to stock up on water and snacks for the long drive south, we were surprised at how quiet it was. Slightly later, we were surprised at why the Aldi was closed, even though the sign quite clearly said it should still be open for another six hours. Slightly later still, we discovered that July 21st was Belgian National Day, and thus everything was closed. Bugger. Eventually, after some frantic googling, we managed to find a supermarket across town that was still open for half an hour. Foot down,  a scramble down the supermarket aisles and some frantic French translation later, and we had some basic provisions to last us all the way to the camp site in Luxembourg. Huzzah!

Actually, the camp site in Luxembourg was by far the nicest one we stayed at over the course of the trip. Even in spite of the kids’ disco that inexplicably ran into the early hours, a camp site with decent facilities makes all the difference, particularly when you’re unlikely to sleep indoors for another week and a half.

As it turned out, that wasn’t the case. Despite heavy traffic, and heavier rain meaning that we were delayed in getting to the city – and didn’t have time to explore, boo! – we met up with some friends in Freising, and got drunk Bavarian style with those guys, before crashing on their collection of couches and air beds.

It was a shame that the heavy rain and heavy traffic meant that we didn’t get to see a great deal of Germany, but the next day driving through Austria was completely different. Driving through the tunnels and mountains afforded us stunning scenery. And if the mountains themselves weren’t stunning enough, the Austrians have done a bit of decorating over the centuries, and adorned half of the mountaintops with magnificent castles. Who needs fantasy landscapes when this is the view from the motorway?

From there it was a flat out drive to Slovenia!

…with one stop. Of course, it couldn’t be that simple. As we entered Slovenia through the mountains, the weather was at a balmy 27°C, the roads were steep and single-lane, and the brake discs began to let off smoke.

Now, this isn’t a good thing at any point, but at the top of a mountain, with at least a mile until the next place it’s possible to stop, in the blazing sun and a steep downhill road where the brakes will be needed constantly? That’s an issue. Eventually, though, we found a place to stop, and honestly, I can think of worse places.

Luckily, the stopping point was by a glacial river. Not that that helped a great deal; over an hour later, and after around 8 litres of icy cold water dumped on each brake disc, and water was still boiling on contact. Honestly, I think that if it has been a little further away, the van just wouldn’t have made it intact (or at least, the wheels wouldn’t).

Clearly the gods of metal were raising the sign of the hammer at us that day, because we made it to Metaldays, rather than Valhalla.


To be continued.