M’era Luna 2018 – 798km

One of my favourite times of year is when I drive the 798km to Hildesheim in Germany. It takes about a day to get there and a further day to return, however, it is so incredibly worth it. Smith and I go there to spend the weekend camping in a tent city of 20,000 people to watch bands and be a part of the atmosphere.

Thursday was the day to leave Kent around lunchtime, drive the short distance to the magical train where you put cars on board and it drives you underneath the English Channel. Once we arrived in France we set about navigating our way to Bochum which is where we have a stop for the night. We travel through France, Belgium and the Netherlands to get to Germany and I will be really fucking pissed off if next year we have to pay for visas to get through those. Also, I suspect that the “leaving the UK” system will be a crock of shit. Fuck Brexit.

Friday morning we woke early and headed to Hildesheim. It’s another three hours or so of driving and we wanted to get there before the campsite opened to try and get a good spot to stay. We’d filled up with fuel back in Bochum so we should be good for the rest of the trip. Once in Hildesheim we followed the SatNav to the festival and managed to find the normal entrance to the car park. This year the fields were dry and we were much earlier than other times and so able to park reasonably close to the festival. We got some bits together and then joined the 400m long queue to enter the campsite. We had about an hour before the campsite opened but the queue was long already. It took ninety minutes to get into the old Army Air Corps base.

Mera Site
Mera Site

The Google Map star in the field is where I parked the car. We then walked due south and the campsite started at the runway. The grass area to the north of the runway is all campsite. The festival pretty much all takes place in between four hangers, where the red cross is marked.

The Friday was spent chilling, looking around the Middle Ages market and generally getting used to what’s around. We also had to do another run to the car to collect more equipment. Around 22:00 we headed to the disco hangar.

Daniel Graves DJing
Daniel Graves DJ-ing

The disco was good fun. Daniel Graves of Aesthetic Perfection spent an hour at the mixing desk and it was good to see him doing this stuff.

At some point that night we went back to the tent but I have no idea what time that might have been.

Saturday started with getting dressed up for the day. I recycled a costume from a couple of years ago. I was planning to wear the coloured mask that day but it was quite heavy and not easy to carry [except on my head]. If I was going to dance and mosh then I wanted a simple costume. Therefore I went for the human butcher look again.

The bands on that evening were Ministry and Prodigy, I expected both of these to be really good and possibly ones I would dance along to. So, the following is a list of the bands seen and what I thought:

Whispering Sons – hangar stage – Goth. Androgynous singer. Goth indie. Songs were ok.

Erdling – main stage – German rock. Pretty good.

Cephalgy – hangar – heavy dance but not fast. Ok. Blonde keyboardist. Singer had shirt tucked into his jeans. Not great crowd interaction. Songs slightly too long? Left after about 5 songs. My anticipation for The Prodigy is immense.

Merciful Nuns – main stage – samey songs, but goth. Goth shit.

Eisfabrik – hangar stage – dance. Snowman on stage. I guess someone has to corner the snow market? Didn’t really watch it, just saw them on the screens from outside the hangar.

Rabia Sorda – hangar stage – best so far. Good solid rock set.

Lord Of The Lost – main stage – pretty solid set. The band did well.

Ministry – main stage – by this time I was drunk, had been for a few hours, but I have to say that Ministry were pretty amazing. I saw them about 20 years ago at Brixton and this was just as good, if not better. Smith and I were in the mosh pit for quite a bit of the set. There’s a live steam video and we appear a number of times. Just look for the two people dressed in white next to each other.

In the video you can see me and Smith at 18:42 in the middle of the screen. Look for the white and me clapping.

Next band up were In Extremo but I have written no notes about them so I can’t comment. I don’t remember a huge amount about the rest of the day/

The final band were THE PRODIGY. I was very pumped to see them. They were on stage for about 90 minutes but I will admit that apart from knowing it was amazing I have very little recollection of the event. I don’t think there is any video either which is a shame because I would love to see what songs they played and possible see me in the mosh pit. All I can say is that at then end of the set I was drenched in sweat and absolutely knackered. Smith lost his phone. I know I had an amazing time. I just don’t remember much of it.

The Prodigy
The Prodigy

Once the set was finished and Smith had used my phone to cancel his handset and we spent a short while looking over the ground it was time to head back to the tent [a 12 minute walk] and then shower the make up off. The showers were open all night so that wasn’t too much of a problem and to be fair the showers are pretty good. The biggest problem for me now was making sure I didn’t have a monster hangover, my hangovers are legendary.

Sunday morning was a little rough and eventually I got up, had an intake of caffeine and tablets, there was a headache there, brewing, waiting for the right opportunity to strike and limit me to slow movements and quiet. I struggled through trying to get ready for the day, which meant mostly painting Smith.

So, here is the run down of the day, after we had been to the Info Point to see if a phone had been handed in.

Massive Ego – hangar stage -goth with a reasonable heavy but slow beat. British band. Buns on his head. Some of the longer deeper sung notes were not good. We saw this singer hanging around the main arena later on and that’s pretty cool,

FabrikC – hangar stage – heavy fast dance. Singer talks too much. Really heavy sound. No real singing and lots of samples from movies.

Aesthetic Perfection – hangar stage – really impressive again. Joe Letz on drums.

Rotersand – hangar stage – bloody brilliant, as usual.

Atari Teenage Riot – hangar stage – first two songs were really poor but after that it turned into high energy industrial punk. Pretty good.

Front 242 – main stage – really good sound. Songs were solid but very 242

Eisbrecher – main stage – A very good set. Impressive show. I liked the snow on stage.

Considering the amount of alcohol I drank on Saturday along with being drunk before midday, sobering a little and then getting drunk again, the Sunday went remarkably well. I didn’t have a headache, I did drink lots of water, I didn’t have any alcohol this day.

I think the show finished around 22:00 and then there were showers to be had. Monday morning was all about packing up, getting everything to the car, Smith going to the police station and then driving the 798km home. This was easily the best M’era Luna so far. My suspicion is that although I am into EBM now, I have been a metal head for over thirty years and this M’era Luna was more of that than goth.

Just so you can see, here are two diagrams that show how much I moved over the two main days of the festival.

M'era Luna Saturday
M’era Luna Saturday
M'era Luna Sunday
M’era Luna Sunday

I am already thinking about costumes for next year and looking forward to it!

M'era Luna 2019
M’era Luna 2019

Best Bike Trip Ever

It has taken a while to get around to writing this communication but I hope to give you some of the flavour of my best ever bike trip.

France 99 Montage

In the summer of 1999 Daryl, John, Chris and I headed off for a week long tour of France. Our aim was to get to the Mediterranean and stay at a place Daryl had visited on his previous trip. I was riding a Honda NTV 650 v-twin called Libby. I had a top box, tank bag and pannier set. The top box had a tool kit and emergency stuff. The tank bag and panniers held clothes and camping equipment. This is a picture of us in Old Harlow just before we set off for the ferry.

France 99 Departure
France 99 Departure

Just after this photo was taken we travelled about a mile to rev up the engines outside my mum’s workplace and waved to her. Then we set off for Dover. After a smooth channel crossing we headed to Boulogne where Daryl and I camped the Friday night.

The first day was a journey to Nevers in the centre of France. We headed south, had coffee and lunch in Paris, negotiated the Champs-Elysees and the enjoyment of the traffic around the Arc De Triomphe. The open road beckoned and we stayed in a Formula1 hotel on the edge of Nevers for the Saturday night.

Sunday and we headed south. Coffee and cigarettes at Clermont Ferrand, Le Puy (curiously twinned with the borough in which I now live) and then Daryl and I bombed down to the coast. We reached the Mediterranean late that night but I was exhilarated. To have travelled on a motorbike all the way to the south coast of France seemed fantastic. All the pain and ache had been worth it. We found a campsite and set up for a few days.

France 99 Cavaliere
France 99 Cavaliere

We stayed at Cavaliere for four nights. Spending time visiting the local area, St Tropez and generally lazing around. Daryl and I had an afternoon on a nudist beach which was a curious experience. Eventually our final night, Wednesday came along and we started to get ready for the journey home.

France 99 St Tropez
France 99 St Tropez

On the Thursday we worked our way to the Alps. We stopped off in Turin and saw the weir featured in the film The Italian Job and then wound our way into the mountains. Daryl and I stayed in a wonderful campsite near Lanslebourg. The views were fantastic. The next section of the journey was to get to Geneva or as far north of there as possible. We traversed the Col De L’Iseran which at roughly 7500ft is far taller than any mountain in the UK. The motorbikes weren’t happy with the low air pressure hear but they did keep working.

France 99 Alpine Pass
France 99 Alpine Pass

Daryl and I tried to run but found that we needed more oxygen, a few paces was really all we could muster although we did manage a snowball fight.

France 99 Alpine Snowball
France 99 Alpine Snowball

A few more miles of gorgeous alpine roads and we were stopping for lunch, coffee and a cigarette at Lake Annecy. The three lads on the trip had a swim. It was noticeably less buoyant water than the sea as it was freshwater.

France 99 Lake Annecy
France 99 Lake Annecy

From Annecy we found Geneva and there was a rock festival at the lake’s edge. We paid for an expensive McDonald’s from a trailer at the festival and then wandered out to the fountain.

France 99 Geneva
France 99 Geneva

At one point there was an odd wind that blew from the lake and we looked at each other. Time to see how far we could get before the storm arrived. Daryl and I made it to nearly the top of a mountain pass in the dark, wind and rain but when the lightning is below you and there are trees falling into the road you have to make a decision. We turned back down the pass and blagged ourselves a hotel room. Once inside we tried to wring out our bike clothes and sleep. The next day all was calm and we could see that we were probably only half a mile from the hotels at the top of the pass when we turned around. It was still the correct decision though.

France 99 Alpine Waterfall
France 99 Alpine Waterfall

Saturday was upon us and we headed for Calais. This was a very long day motoring along A roads until we decided that motorways would get us home quicker. That night we spent in tents on the beach at Calais. A ferry home and then two hours more biking and we had competed our journey. It was such a remarkable thing to do and great fun. The pain was worth it. If you aren’t sure what pain there could be then try spending 15 hours on a motorbike while attempting to map read, put glasses on, smoke and get caffeine into your system.

There are highlighted maps in the next communication. Up to you if you want to see them!

Odd memories:

  • Buying ham and cheese at a shop in Cavaliere.
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road one early morning.
  • Riding without a helmet on some alpine passes.
  • Attempting to smoke a cigarette while riding with a helmet on.
  • Cigarettes that only cost 20F per packet (about £2 then).
  • The woman in the blue swim suit.
  • Wearing my panama hat whenever I didn’t have my helmet on – I was paranoid about getting burnt.
  • Bombing along a French country road at 105mph just because it was straight.
  • Paris being crazy but great.
  • Le Puy looking beautiful as we approached.
  • Daryl being freaked out by a pretty big insect in the tent.
  • Daryl and me having radios to chat to each other while riding.
  • Gunning the throttle at a set of lights in Nice and Daryl zooming off as he thought the lights had changed.
  • Seeing Mont Blanc.
  • The alpine tunnels.
  • Smoking
  • Ordering stamps in Monaco
  • Bombing through the tunnel at Monaco
  • Coffee in Monaco (and a cigarette)
Could be called the Fairmont Hairpin or the Lowes Hairpin
Could be called the Fairmont Hairpin or the Lowes Hairpin

By the way, this was first drafted  on December 16 2011. It’s taken me three years to get around to completing this communication!