Where does one begin when writing about their first ever festival experience? You see pictures of the mud and what looks like miles of tents, people in face paint, partying into the night, but you never expect that to be your experience – except it was. The rain, threatening on the Wednesday, fell almost non-stop from Thursday to Saturday, putting the waterproofing of my little £45 two-person tent to the test, and turning every square metre of grass into a 3-inch thick mire. I won’t forget how it felt, sucking at my wellies underfoot with a sticky squelch like cake batter. This led to the irony of every portaloo – famed for their grossness – having a carpet of mud but a surprisingly clean bowl.
Another festival essential was the wet wipe shower which, in lieu of an actual shower, worked well in conjunction with dry shampoo for the five days I was camping on site, leaving me feeling pleasantly clean. That’s not to say I wasn’t relieved when I finally had a shower once back in civilisation – nothing beats warm water to wash away the sweat built up by mud wading, rushing from venue to venue, hauling printer paper up-hill, and raw creativity put to a deadline. And those deadlines felt tight some days, especially when the ideas just wouldn’t stick like flies to the proverbial flypaper of the mind.
I loved having a task assigned each day, something I could go away and see, take notes on, and write about, or invent from scratch, but all too often the words to do things/events/people justice just didn’t want to make themselves known. Added to that was the uncharacteristic cold, wet, and windy weather which assaulted us while writing and sketching under a tent whose roof routinely filled with water. My one and only interview with the wonderfully unique Hannah Silva was conducted under an umbrella off a rapidly wilting sheet of questions! So, I am genuinely amazed at the dedication of everyone to get their pieces finished, allowing for a swift morning delivery of the completed magazine each day.
And, of course, come the Sunday – our day of rest – I was away from camp all day, taking in the glorious sunshine (at last), spending way too much money on food and alcohol, and getting extremely lucky. From a book signing by Carla Valentine just as I was leaving the book tent, a chance meeting with local band Cousin Buzz (which didn’t stop me catching Rob Auton’s bizarre poetry), and ending the day with the beautifully powerful Haunt the Woods when I had thought I’d be seeing Son of Dave.
Then it was time to go home. Some part of me was reluctant to leave, despite being cold, cramped, and sweaty in my mercifully dry tent. Maybe I will come back next year and do it all again. My first festival certainly won’t be my last.