Posts Tagged ‘Glastonbury’

Down the rabbit hole. And back again.

July 19, 2013

I met an old friend for coffee the other day and was extolling the joys and virtues of blogging to him. I told him how it stretches my mind and how writing it takes me along pathways I don’t even realise exist, until I put virtual pen to virtual paper.

At its absolute best that’s what blogging does for me – takes me on surprise journeys through my own mind, creating links where I didn’t realise there were links and taking me along avenues of thought I wouldn’t otherwise visit. Nothing profound you understand, I’m not smart enough for that, but meandering, ambling strolls that I enjoy and always hope others will too.

tudor canal narrow boat

It’s amazing how the act of writing a few particular words at a certain moment can take me off down a certain little track. And had I written different words at that very moment then the pathway would be completely different. Without getting too deep and meaningless, it makes me think that maybe I should be able to influence how I feel and react to stuff that happens in life by crafting my response to it. But that’s a post for another day…

After I left the coffee shop and my friend Jon, I thought to myself, so if it’s so great why haven’t you written a blog post for ages, missus? I could contemplate my navel here and come up with complex reasons why, and indeed there are some questions in my mind about audience, expectations, hopes and self-doubt, but in the main, life’s just been too busy, so I lost sight of the blogging thread for a while. Anyway I’ve found it now, it was in a corner, peeping out from beneath some must-do paperwork that I still haven’t done.

So what busy-ness is that then? Is that where the word business comes from by the way? Well; husband absent for over 3 weeks, a loooooong weekend at Glastonbury and then friends staying with us for nearly two weeks out of three (they arrived on the doorstep 30 minutes after I downed my Glastonbury backpack!) and now a cling-on ride on the ‘end-of-term-comet’ that we parents board before the Summer holidays.

All this has meant I’ve had my head down for several weeks now, pulled along by everything going on around me. Mostly it’s been okay and sometimes great, but at other times I’ve felt like I’m being dragged along. So I fight against the tide. I’m not sure why really.

It’s true that it has been tricky at times, with all this stuff going on, but it’s also true that I have a tendency sometimes to make life harder for myself (and no doubt others) than it needs to be. I find that if my hopes and (high?) expectations aren’t met I’m crestfallen, dismayed and upset. Not sure why. And of course this takes me back to the first paragraph. Couldn’t I change those moods and influence those feelings by choosing how I interpret events and happenings; choosing which path I follow. Certainly in principle, but in practice…?

In any event it’s been full on and I do feel like I’ve been down the proverbial rabbit hole for a bit too long. So it’s nice to be back in the fresh air, especially as I can see that with all this sunshine, the lettuces are doing rather well up here. Mmmm…

Glastonbury sign

Before the crowds!

At Glastonbury we were literally down a rabbit hole, well not literally, literally you understand, but in a weenie club called the Rabbit Hole where we witnessed one of my aforementioned wished for festival highlights. In this instance Keith Allen and his famous-actor-y mates performing “Hit me with your Rhythm Stick” in Japanese and Welsh, though not at the same time. They made a fine job of it and such is Keith Allen’s charisma and joie de vivre that the tiny audience of about 40 (out of 170,000 Glasto punters) enjoyed themselves very much indeed.

Rabbit hole club with Keith Allen singing

Down the rabbit hole with Keith Allen and friends

I could talk about Glastonbury for a loooooong time, but I’ve been so remiss in filing my report that it is most definitely yesterday’s news. In fact that particular newspaper has been used for chips and recycled into toilet paper by now.

But while I don’t feel a blow by blow account is in order, I will give you a taste of my Glastonbury Festival; which was bigger, bolder and brighter than I imagined it could be. As it’s 13 years since I last went (B.C.), the sheer scale of it now is mind-blowing. And yet while there are missions and must-see moments to pursue and long journeys to make across field and hill, there’s also (if you allow yourself) plenty of opportunity to hang out and just be; watching the Glastonbury World go by; dipping in and out of the madness as you see fit.

Board man at glasto

Board man

I think so long as you don’t try and see it all then you won’t be disappointed. Danny for one refused to go to the John Peel stage because it was just too far away, but with about 99 other stages to visit, stumble upon or avoid it’s probably good that we struck one off our list!

I daresay we missed some cracking music there but we had our own musical highlights including Alt-J (twice), the Hives (with a frontman who knows how to play a festival), daily breakfast with our friends Foghorn Leghorn on stage, the glory of Nick Cave on the Pyramid stage (who needs the Rolling Stones) and our finest musical moment of all: Nile Rodgers and Chic.

If I could write ‘Chic’ in sparkling, glittering, shimmering colours right here and now, I would, but I can’t, so instead I’ll just tell you: Chic were amazing and fabulous and wonderful and had the whole crowd dancing and singing to their parade of endless hits.

Glastonbury sign post at night

This long weekend was peppered with weird and wonderful sights, sounds, tastes and experiences to behold, but for me the bestest part of all was Shangri-la – a mind boggling world of fantastic clubs set in a post-apocalyptic World. Each club was crazier than the last: try the Horse Meat Disco with obligatory ‘taches for all and a transvestite catwalk show in which half the contestants looked like they’d spent all day creating their look while the other half looked like they’d backed out of their tents and were wearing whatever got attached on the way out.

Day of the Dead dancers at Glasto

Danny taught them the bus driver dance. Their repotoire is complete.

Then there was the Copper Dollar club with Day of the Dead dancing skelis whooping it up to fine electro-swing tunes. Of course obligatory in any post-apocalyptic World there was also Heaven, Hell and Purgatory to visit. We spent Saturday afternoon in Hell, except it was heaven: dancing to Norman Jay tunes in the sun. That was the first real day of scorching sunshine, it felt amazing and special – little did we know!

Heaven (you had to win to get in) was entirely white inside! Wellies off at the door please! And the piece de resistance: a row of white porcelain toilets right in the centre of the club. Heaven indeed in the middle of Glastonbury!

Underground club Glastonbury

The London Underground club in Block 9. Glad we missed the last train home.

And after another dance, some tea and a cheese toastie at the House of Ideas (Jules Verne rusting submarine-ish club complete with tunnel to the bar and leather wing-backed chairs should you want a nice sit down!), guess what? Non-drinking, non-smoking, non-anything me was the one still dancing and whooping it up at 4.30 a.m… Woo hoo!

Glasto Peely's dog_4241

And I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to wake up each day knowing I wasn’t going to have a hangover. Do you know that moment? The one when you first come to, where you first check out the state of your body and mind, before you actually wake up. Too often in the past, that moment has been defined for me with ‘oh no, I’m going to have a hangover’. Well not any more! I can so recommend it. I know I’m getting all evangelical here, but I hope not preachy – it wouldn’t do any good to preach anyhow, would it. All I can just say is that for me life after drink is a lot easier and better than life with it.

Cloud 9 sign at Glasto

Cloud 9 indeed

Ironically what one might do here is offer a toast, a ‘cheers’ to that! Because that’s what we do of course, celebrate everything with a drink! Ee gads. Well instead I shall celebrate with cake.

This is a ‘cake’ I invented, that you can EASILY reproduce, providing you have access to a watermelon. It’s perfect for this beautiful summer weather and best of all it requires NO BAKING whatsoever. Who wants to bake in this heat? Me sir. I want to bake myself, but I don’t want to bake cakes. No sir.

Watermelon cake

What could be easier!

So get making, not baking and allow your creation to cool in the fridge before you cut yourself a large slice, pour yourself a glass of lemonade and enjoy this wonderful sunshine. Cheers!

Slice of watermelon cake

Happy sunny weekend one and all!

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Glastonbury here I come…

June 26, 2013

..when I’ve finished writing lists that is.

I can’t wait! Danny has been there for a week already; helping to build the many bars that will serve pints and pints of beer to the 170,000 people who are limbering up to descend on this corner of Somerset over the next few days.

Glastonbury  set up: flowers and tents

Those pretty flowers won’t stand a chance…

It is an extraordinary event – a veritable town constructed in the middle of otherwise peaceful farmers fields, all for one long weekend of revelry and mayhem. It takes a good half hour to walk from one side of the site to the other and that’s now, before the crowds arrive to slow you down. It’s an astonishing transformation that happens because of the 30,000 people involved in the staging and set up of Glastonbury.

Glastonbury set up: tent pegs

Since time immemorial humans have held festivals; spectacular occasions at which to rejoice in the delights of being alive. Festivals are about escapism and celebration and I’m definitely up for both. I think I’ve loved parties (or at least the idea of them!) ever since my 6th or 7th birthday which was crowned with a 3D polystyrene fairy castle with lights in the turrets, built for me by my Dad. And now I can’t wait to go to Glastonbury with all its spires and magical kingdoms.

Glastonbury tree spraying

I have no idea…

I haven’t been since having the girls 12 years ago. More recently we’ve diverted our festival attention to family-focussed, smaller festivals like Green Man, Latitude, Truck and the tiniest and bestest of all: Wood Festival – yay!

But now the girls are getting a bit older and we can leave them on their own with tins of beans we’ve begun to sneak off for occasional grown-up festival moments. Last September we went to Portmeirion for Festival No. 6. which was absolutely fab, bar camping on a hill which I really don’t recommend.

Portmeirion festival no6 w/s

Portmeirion is very special to me, having spent many childhood Summer holidays in nearby Portmadog. We’d make an annual pilgrimage to Portmeirion village via the ‘train bach‘ and a secret over-the-fence back entrance that has long since been closed up. Walks in the woods, on the beach and in, out and around the wonderful architecture of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. All this first fuelled my love of quirkiness in all its glorious forms.

If you haven’t been to Portmeirion please put it on your list of essential places to visit. It is spectacular and wondrous. If you don’t believe me, then follow all the hollywood stars, famous authors, top musicians and King Zog of Albania, all of whom have stayed here since the 1920s.

Portmeirion village

Just like Portmeirion, the thing I am most looking forward to at Glastonbury is the crazy architecture and the make-believe worlds which here will only exist for a few short, heady days. I hear tales of Block 9 with derelict buildings, abandoned New York cabs and a tube train, jostling for attention with the Unfairground – another dystopia built with plywood, paint and heaps of creativity.  Strange landscapes looming out of the countryside, that will only come alive at night once the live music finally subsides. I can’t wait. I think perhaps I would’ve, could’ve, should’ve done something in this kind of world, had life taken different turns. But I’m very happy to enjoy the magic rather than create it.

Glastonbury sign at night

Glastonbury in lights. Quilted lights of course.

And there are a few favourite haunts of old to revisit. The Tiny Tea tent in the Green Fields will be a daily destination for, err, tea. And now that I don’t drink alcohol it might be my bar of choice rather than the cider bus. This Glastonbury will doubtless be a very different experience for me because of the absence of booze, though none the worse I’m quite sure. I daresay some things will stay the same – like the mud and the toilets however I don’t think the grass will talk to me this time.

Glastonbury meeting place

In two days time there’ll be a thousand people on this spot alone…

And if the toilets are all too much without the numbing effects of drink then I’m in the luxurious position of being able to retreat to staff quarters. Danny and co. are working (hard I might say, 12 hour days mostly) for Avalon who provide many of the bars and the hospitality, so we camp in their staff enclosure complete with showers and toilets, which based on past experience will mostly work and mostly contain toilet roll. What more could a girl want. Not much actually; I’m quite happy to slum it and I definitely don’t need a hairdryer or an iron. It’s not a wedding is it?

Glastonbury Tiny Tea Tent

The Tiny Tea Tent takes shape

Being builders and seasoned Glastonbury workers, Danny’s gang have honed the art of a top-notch camp that is the envy of other crews on site. A well-equipped kitchen with fridge-freezer, stereo system and communal dining table all await. Torquay Mark is camp chef, turning out risotto, cheesecake and not a burnt sausage in sight. This year they’ve thankfully rejected the widescreen tv that invaded their camp for one year only! I kid you not: last year one of their number was found watching the bands on telly rather than going to see them play live in the next field. Oh so wrong!

Glastonbury camp

Camp Glastonbury

Slightly bizarrely perhaps, the music is a bit of a mystery to me. I’ve never chosen a particular festival because x, y, or z band are playing, though of course I won’t go to a festival that favours music I don’t like. But I go for the event itself, for the joy of it, to spend time with friends, play with the kids and see some great music at the same time. It is also true that as I ahem, mature, I have less and less idea who any of the bands are anyway. My first look at the line up for Glastonbury and I was a bit lost after the Rolling Stones and a handful of others. So it’s lucky that I like a surprise.

All I seek is my ‘festival highlight’ – it’s a quest, a mission of mine to experience at least one special moment and I haven’t yet been to a festival that has failed to deliver. We always find great musical moments though often not by the bands we expected greatness from. Gotan Project, Tunng, Gruff Rhys (thank you very much), John Grant, New Order, Future Islands – these have all been surprise highlights from past festivals.

Glastonbury bar building

I have high hopes that this expedition to Glastonbury will be no different and I can’t wait to experience it all through new, clear eyes. Mind you, with the organisation and planning that’s involved in getting me out of the house, my eyes will still be bleary, just for different reasons.

Honestly, will all you parents who are reading this please take a moment to congratulate yourselves for all that you do in the name of parenting. Writing detailed notes regarding the girls commitments for just a few days is like writing military manouvers and it makes me realise exactly how much is involved in this parenting game. So really, well done to all of us. Three cheers!

Glastonbury flags

What’s a festival without flags?

And while I’m here I offer another big cheer to the grandparents without whom I would not be going at all. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And to those lovely girls who will be entertaining themselves and their grandparents for the long weekend without us. Love you X

So just before I go and pack my essential festival sparkle and wellies (actually my wellies have sparkle), here are a few random festival camping tips from the bottom of our rucksack, just for you:

1. Wet wipes, take loads of wet wipes. And carry them round with you…

2. Take clothes for cold weather. Unless it’s a scorcher the evenings will still get cold.

3. Don’t try and fold your sleeping bag neatly – stuff it in the bag. It’s the best way and it’s very satisfying when we spend most of our lives trying to create order from chaos!

4. Boys; please don’t wee up the perimeter fences. Someone has to dismantle them afterwards.

5. Take an edible treat or two. A couple of bars of lovely chocolate can brighten the dullest day.

6. Snuggle up close with your valuables.

7. Pack your festival skirt. And wear it. Whatever the weather.

silver skirt

Told you I needed it.

See you on the other side…


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