I knew this would happen. Despite leaving mid-morning it is gone 5pm by the time we rock up to Guilfest, nice one M25. Anyway, here we are again for the 8th year in a row at what remains one of our favourite festivals. Much has been made of the line up this year and I must admit that on the face of it, it doesn't seem as strong as previous years but as always if you do a little digging there are a few gems hidden in there that are well worth checking out. I have my son in tow again this year (now 3) and he proves to be an astute critic all weekend, "not good" being his favoured response when asked what he thinks of a band.

First up for us is The Ramonas, yes you guessed it, an all female Ramones tribute band. They get a good couple of hundred in the Vive Le Rock tent and go down really well with plenty of crowd interaction, particularly to set closer Blitzkrieg Bop. I didn't really know what to expect from Beth Hart but she takes to the main stage and performs a surprisingly heavy set with some nice grooves and guitar solos and we find ourselves rather impressed! This is more than can be said for The South (The Beautiful South minus Paul Heaton). We saw them last year and not much has changed; I don't know what it is about them considering that pretty much every song is a recognisable hit. There's just something about them that makes them boring. Maybe it's the fact that they are dressed like they are off down the pub or perhaps it's that the songs are all a little lightweight? Either way it just doesn't work for me. Never mind.

Over on stage two the Doors Alive give a passable performance as their namesakes. As you'd expect the set is full of classic Doors songs and 'Morrison' does his job well. The only criticism would be that the rest of the band aren't quite wild enough, they lack that raw energy of the originals but still, it's a decent effort. Curry followed by a spell in the excellent kids zone is interrupted by Heaven 17, who turn out to be surprisingly good. They really go for it and give the impression of a band who are very much a going concern and not just going through the motions of re-hashing their past (whether they are or not!). Back down at Vive Le Rock we find one time Adverts frontman TV Smith plying his solo trade. There's no band with him this time, which is a shame but you have to love the guy, he really hasn't lost any of the passion or spirit that he had back in the day and although the crowd is small by the standards of this tent, those who are here give him a rapturous reception as he belts out a mixture of old and new songs. Contender for band of the day comes in the form of The Skints, a really excellent reggae/ska band who remind me of a cross between the Rhythm-ites and the King Blues but cooler than both! They get an excellent mix and a really good crowd and of all the bands this weekend, nobody else quite manages to get into the groove like they do. Well worth checking out and certainly one to watch.

I always like to catch a little bit of all the headliners if possible but it's a no brainer for where to start tonight with The Buzzcocks closing proceedings on the Vive Le Rock stage. This is the first time I've seen them since they supported the Sex Pistols at Finsbury Park in 1996 and they don't disappoint as they rip through an opening set of Boredom, Fast Cars, I Don't Mind and autonomy. The tent is rammed and huge clouds of steam rise off the crowd, many of whom have spent the last couple of hours out in the rain. For those who had waited all day for this set The Buzzcocks show just why they are still held in such high regard. A great band who could easily have held their own on the second stage. As we depart for the day we watch a little of ABC on stage two and find them to be exactly like they were 30 years ago, both in looks and sound. Whether that's good or bad is open to debate! Jools Holland closes off proceedings on the main stage and from what we see gives an entertaining set, joined by several guests, of whom we see Roland Gift (FYC) and Ruby Turner. It's a bit like watching 'Later...' but on a stage and whilst it's not really going to get the crowd overly excited it's enjoyable enough and a decent end to the first day.

We've been coming here for 8 years now and as well as being a music festival Guilfest is also very much a social gathering and a place to catch up with people that you might only ever see here, and that's exactly what we spend a lot of Saturday doing. Along with the obligatory visit to the kid zone and frequent trips to the bar (£4.50 for a pint of cider? Ouch!) we do however make some time to check out the bands; Republica knock out their old hits on the main stage and whilst I don't particularly care for Saffron's vocal style, much of the music is pretty good, leaning toward Senser and The Prodigy in style. Three piece melodic punkers Avondale 45, who we remembered from a couple of years ago, turn in a really good performance on the Vive Le Rock stage, engaging the crowd and injecting real energy. Another band we remembered from a couple of years back was Subsource and they really delivered this year in the Big Cheese tent with their brand of dubstep/metal and when they are joined on stage by Skindred frontman Benji the crowd goes nuts.

Back down at Vive Le Rock we're disappointed to have missed Goldblade and instead get The Glitter Band, who get a big crowd and play a solid enough set but it doesn't really blow me away, despite the addition of a few controversial 'Gary' songs. Up at the second stage not surprisingly Tim Minchin draws a big crowd and plays a great set, with full band backing. The songs are funny, as is the banter with the crowd but what really impresses is the quality of the tunes. A talented guy and the crowd love it. Fortunately I've seen Skindred numerous times, which is just as well, as there's no way I am getting the little fellas buggy into the crammed Big Cheese tent! I speak to a few guys afterwards though and it's no surprise to hear that Skindred totally ripped it up, staking their claim once again for best British live band. Being resented with an unexpected opportunity to check out Gary Numan turns out to be exceedingly fortuitous as he plays one of the sets of the weekend. It's clear to see why he is touted as an inspiration to the industrial scene; It really could be Trent Reznor up there! Numan gives a performance of real passion, as do the rest of his band and it's evident that he still has much to offer and isn't just going through the motions. Oh yes, we do catch a little of main stage headliner Olly Murs... moving swiftly on...

Sunday finally sees a bit of dry weather descend on Guilfest, which dries out some of the mud but in the middle of the pathways it's a thick quagmire that only increases in viscosity as the sun dries it out a little. We have to head back up north today so we try and cram in a good few bands beforehand and make a point of checking out the smaller stages, where predominantly local bands get the chance to ply their trade. First of all however we watch a bit of Alvin Stardust on the main stage. Now I know most people know him from his exuberant 70s glam period but his roots are firmly in rock and roll and with a decent band behind him he performs quite an enjoyable set. Heading up past the second stage we catch Hector's House and whilst they play an alright brand of tuneful rock it's not particularly memorable. Recently reformed Chords UK don't get too big a crowd in the Vive Le Rock tent and you'd have to say that they look their age but they still produce a big sound, very much in the late 70s mod vein. Does that mean that they sound like The Jam? Well, yes it does to an extent but hey, that's no bad thing and their set is an upbeat and enjoyable romp through their back catalogue. Black Iris are a little disappointing; they suffer from bad sound in the Big Cheese tent and that really doesn't help their rather generic brand of metalcore come across well. Lots of heavy riffs and screaming is tempered by more melodic choruses but it all sounds a bit messy and they bring nothing new to the table.

Our first visit of the day to the Surrey Advertiser stage finds MP5 performing a set of soul/rock covers. They do their thing well enough but we'd rather hear something original so we move onto the Palace Club Stage and check out Portsmouth's Dirty Legion. They get a disappointingly small crowd, which isn't helped by the fact that the way to this stage is tucked away in a corner and partly blocked by a large energy drinks stand, so a lot of punters probably don't even notice it! They turn out to be a decent band who play a very dark brand of mid paced rock, which I can imagine would be quite engaging in a small club setting. A large, bright and relatively empty tent doesn't really provide the right platform for them but they play well and the pained vocals work really well with the dark and brooding music. Band of the day though turns out to be The Priscillas; three girls and a guy who play a really enjoyable set of old skool punk/new wave that really captures the essence of that late 70s sound. The add some well worked harmonies and do a lot of smiling, subsequently everyone warms to them instantly and not surprisingly they get a great reaction. Back up in Big Cheese land Aussie rockers Invaders bring a bit of hip coolness to proceedings with some straight up rock but despite looking the part and being very accomplished at what they do it's nothing amazing really.

It's nearly time to go but before we do we make one last trip to the Surrey Advertiser stage for Red Eye, who despite a small crowd turn in a big performance and whilst they won't set the world alight they have a lot going for them with plenty of well delivered and catchy riffs. On the way out we catch a few songs from Candy Stanton and I'm surprised that I know all of them! So that's it for another year. This years festival was plagued with rain on every day and unusually for Guilfest the walkways did turn into a bit of a quagmire. This didn't dampen the overall mood however, it just made it a lot harder to get around (especially with the little guys buggy in tow) and the welcome addition of the new Cafe tent provided some respite. Yet again there was no trouble on site (although there was a very disturbing incident outside on Friday night when a father got put into a coma by a passenger in a car whilst helping his family cross the road) and the whole event ran exceedingly well. Tulisa cancelled but nobody over the age of 15 seemed too bothered. I know we say it every year but you'd be hard pressed to find a friendlier and more eclectic festival. The problems of underage drinking that plagued previous years seem to have been largely eradicated and we were pleased to see a few less chairs and blankets in front of the main stage this year - so the rain was good for something at least! Crowd numbers seemed a little down, probably a combination of the weaker line up and the weather but there was still a good atmosphere so happy 21st birthday Guilfest. See you next year.