Shauna's Port Eliot 2017 - What a Mud-perience

As we stood by the side of the road in the rain, with my car steaming and spluttering, it quickly became apparent that this five-day experience was not going to be plain sailing. I opened the bonnet and steam poured from it, a wasp flew in and landed. I heard it sizzling. With that ominous sign, I rang Dave Hotchkiss, the leader of the operation, and explained our situation whilst we waited for some kind soul to pull over and come to our aid. My top tip to all students, don’t scrimp on car insurance by not adding breakdown cover, the lovely man that saved us was heaven sent but the twenty-minute wait in a winding lane for our angel was not fun.

Once we’d finally gotten my not so trusty stead going again, we rolled our way to the festival. As it turned out, we were only five minutes away. However, it was already a wash out; our tent pitch was a bog and the groups catering truck was slowly sinking. Luckily the rain had stopped so we pitched our tent with ease and settled in for a cuppa and a chat with our team for the week. The excitement was clear on everyone faces, even if they were already slightly muddy.

We headed up to the Murmuring Guillemot HQ and began the set up. After rescuing the University van from the mud, well done Dave, the printer was moved from one end of the gardens to the other using plaster board slats which, after the first ten minutes began to crumble. After some interesting manoeuvring we needed food, so we headed back for the most delicious Nachos and decided to go out for an exploration and a team boogie.

That became our pattern for the next three days: dance, sleep, write, repeat. As a journalistic team, we sourced interesting and entertaining articles, that were then amazingly illustrated by our arty companions. I can honestly say that despite the wind and pouring rain not one person slacked. Everyone, including Ropa with high level pain killers on hand for two injured knees, worked tirelessly and our efforts were rewarded every morning when we handed our papers out to eager festival-goers. The late nights of folding 100s of sheets of paper together with nothing but torch light and a cheeky cider were all made worth it to me by one little girl who claimed, “I’ve been looking for a magazine for me and I think this is it.”


I am really trying to not make this sound cheesy but I can’t because over the five-day experience I had the most amazing opportunities: I interviewed the amazingly talented graphic artist Brian Selznick, the hilarious author Matt Haig and the kooky and wonderful Neo-Naturists. And then, when the writing day over, we danced the night away in muddy tents soaked by the rain and covered in glitter.

But it wasn’t just my fellow students and the line-up that made it an awesome time, I need to give a hand to the ‘grown-ups’ who accompanied us:

Ben Smith- you’re a wonder and your cheerful quips got everyone through.

John Kilburn- I respect your valiant attempts to out dance the student gang night after night. Although you didn’t quite make it, your 4am trip to Boogie Round will never be forgotten.

Lucy Kerr- your constant smile and bubbliness was a welcome inspiration to our tired and fuddled minds.

Sarah Cave- your mud flapper Charleston was fabulous, you did the Mud King proud.

Charlie Sherrat- a true festival hero. Your hobbit feet wrapped in plastic bags were a feat of genius.

Luke Thompson- for making sense of our nonsensical ideas and editing them down into something wonderful, thank you.

David Hotchkiss- thank you for making it all happen, we are eternally grateful.