Posted June 30, 2007on:
I went to Glastonbury last weekend. It was the first time I’ve ever been (and the first time I’ve ever camped at a festival) and I had a really, really good time. Here are my pictures, along with a commentary of just about every thought that popped into my head during the 6 days:
I was planning to get to the festival as soon as possible after it opened on Wednesday morning but, as it turned out, that would have meant about 2 hours sleep and having to rush packing so I picked the sensible option and left later. Unfortunately I left a bit too late so I hit the early evening rush hour and my train ticket was no longer valid so I had to wait at Paddington for an hour and a half for the end of the peak time period. I eventually arrived at the festival just as the sun was going down at about half-past nine.
I had been looking for good places to camp on the map beforehand and one of those that I’d picked out was right near the festival gates, but when I got there it was a little crowded so I went looking for other places (carrying my tent, clothes, wellies and all the rest).
There was a bizarre phenomenon happening on Wednesday night where spontaneous cheering would erupt somewhere and ripple across the site. I guess we were all just chuffed to be there.
Here’s what the Pyramid Stage (the main one) looks like before everything has started:
After an hour or two of walking around I couldn’t find anywhere better to camp and by that time my arms were killing me so I trudged back up to near the entrance and found a spot just big enough for my tent. It went up without much hassle, which was good because I was expecting it to be difficult in the dark. By the time I’d put the tent up it was about 1am and I decided to give my aching shoulders a rest and try and get some sleep.
It turns out my choice of camping position wasn’t that brilliant. I was right next to a path which had people walking past all night, but actually they weren’t very loud or bothersome all weekend. The much bigger problem was that Jeeps kept driving past, one every couple of hours, and they woke me up every time for the first couple of nights. I also had a slight fear that one of them was going to come off the road for some reason and run straight over my tent, but I got over that fear eventually.
On Thursday I just spent the whole day walking around, trying to see as much as possible and get my bearings. The site is just colossal, which I knew already from looking at the map and from hearing that it takes an hour to walk from one end to the other. Even knowing that I was still surprised and hugely impressed by the size of the thing. I’m an absolutely useless navigator so I was constantly checking my map all the way through the festival. I don’t think I saw anyone else checking a map the whole time, so either everyone else has amazing navigation skills or they don’t really care where they are (probably a bit of both).
I found a stall selling “Vegan & Vegetarian” food, and it was nice to find that early on because I always knew there were somewhere I could go to get some food without worrying about it. There were three stalls run by the same business around the place and I had just about everything on their menu over the weekend. All the food was way more expensive than I was expecting (£3.90 for a burger without any fries or anything). There were a few “bargains” to be had around a place, like a liter of water for £1.50, instead of the usual £1.80-£2 for a half liter at most of the stalls. There was also a stand selling fresh fruit for 50p a piece which would have come in very handy in a budgetary crisis. I reckon I spent a bit less than £15 a day on food, and I had taken some filling snacks with me (two chocolate bars, a half loaf of bread and several packets of peanuts and Bombay mix).
On Thursday night the open-air cinema started showing films. It was a bit cold but I watched Ghostbusters (which I’d shamefully never seen before) and The Blues Brothers. Both were very cool with tons of audience participation and singing along (although the guy who shouted out “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re our only hope” whenever Carrie Fisher came on got a bit tiresome after the third time). Pulp Fiction (one of my all-time favorites) was also showing on Thursday night in a second smaller cinema screen inside a marquee, but unfortunately it wasn’t starting until around 3am. I had a peek in at about a quarter to four, and there were still a few hundred people there, but I’d already seen two films that night and was starting to feel the cold and tiredness so I didn’t stay very long. Still, I saw the whole Vince and Mia sequence so that was probably the best bit to watch. Some people got up and danced in front of the screen during the dancing scene and that was fun.
Watching some films was a nice way to spend an evening, but to be honest by this point I was getting a little bored, so I was ready on Friday for the festival to start properly.
In the afternoon I found myself at The Acoustic Stage and watched someone called “Emmy The Great“. She had a beautiful voice and had these beautiful sounding songs, at least some of which, if I’m not very much mistaken, had subtly filthy lyrics, which is nice. I’ve just noticed on her MySpace that she lists the first three Weezer albums as her (only) influences so that’s always a plus.
This is what the Pyramid Stage looks like in the early evening when someone is coming on stage soon:
This is The Other Stage shortly afterwards when someone was playing. It’s not quite as impressive but still a huge number of people.
In the afternoon I went to see Bright Eyes on that stage. I only really knew one of his songs and I watched a couple of others on YouTube before I left for the festival but it was pretty cool nonetheless. I’d like to get some of his stuff soon (particularly this song and this one).
So at about half past nine I was wandering about (I didn’t have anything I particularly wanted to see until the headliners) and I found myself at The Park. This was a new area at this year’s festival and it’s a little self-contained mini-festival run by Michael Eavis’ daughter Emily. It had some really nice touches like a bunch of sheltered sofas to sit on, and a 20 meter tall viewing tower which is apparently the highest point on the whole site. I was queueing up to go up the tower (about a 45 minute wait) when the compere came on stage and announced that Eavis himself would be coming on to cut a ribbon to officially launch the Park Stage and announcing a very special guest. Sounded cool, I thought, but when he did come on stage he only announced that Lily bloody Allen was the special guest! I was second from the front of the queue but I abandoned it and trundled down to the stage (it was mercifully easy to get to the front) and watched Lily do a really nice 5-song acoustic set. Unfortunately you can’t see it in the only decent picture I got below, but she was wearing these nifty pure-white wellies to match the dress: looked very good.
I had an inkling that Lily was playing a secret show because even though there was nothing on the official line-up, she had an entry on her MySpace tour listings for something on Friday at Glastonbury (as well as her official slot on the Pyramid Stage on Saturday). Even so, it was pure fluke that I happened to be at the right place at the right time so it was a lovely serendipity.
This is one of the many little art installations that were about the place at the festival. It’s made entirely out of sand (no, I don’t know what she did when it rained).
So, after Lily finished I grabbed some falafel for sustenance and rushed back over to the Pyramid Stage for the Arctic Monkeys. They’re one of my favorite bands and I’ve not seen them live before so I was really looking forward to it. I’m afraid none of the pictures came out well so you’ll just have to imagine what it looked like… Well done. The show was really great; I had a decent position with enthusiastic people around and the band played all my favorite songs.
This is what the Pyramid Stage arena looked like a few hours after they’d finished playing:
The mud is obviously the main thing that gets written about regarding the festival, but honestly it wasn’t that bad, from my point of view. The vast majority of the rain was during the night and the days and evenings were almost all comfortably warm. Wearing wellies was not fun; they hurt my feet in all manner of ways, and after half a day of wearing them I had to buy a new pair that fit better (20 bloody quid; it was quite painful to hand that money over). The mud makes it take three times as long to walk anywhere, but I could learn to live with that. All in all it was hardly ideal, but well worth it for the fun of the festival.
I’d heard that one of the “must-do” things at Glastonbury is to watch the sunrise from the King’s Meadow/Sacred Space. This is a grassy hill (and it miraculously stayed pretty grassy even after all the rain!) at the southern end of the site. There are a couple of art installations (photos below) and some protest banners around the edge but it’s basically a place where people sit and relax and light fires.
There were also a bunch of people inhaling something from balloons, which I didn’t know what it was at the time. I’ve now learnt that it’s laughing gas (nitrous oxide), which is some sort of nearly-legal high (legal to buy and possess it because it’s used in things like whipped-cream dispensers, but probably not legal to sell it for the purposes of inhaling it recreationally). There were a couple of people walking around with their little dispensers filling up balloons for people for a quid a go. That’s the only overt drug-selling that I saw in the whole festival, perhaps because the area is a triangular hill enclosed on two sides, so when you’re sitting at the top you could see any police coming from a great distance.
So, back to the chronology: When I got back to my tent on Friday night/Saturday morning at about 2am it looked like it was going to be a dry night so I thought I’d get a couple hours of kip and get up at 4am to make it down there for the 4:55 sunrise (yes, I looked it up before I left). Of course, I failed to realize that it actually starts getting light long before the actual sunrise, but it was still worth going to see hundreds of people chilling out at 5am with some guy pounding away on a drum.
This is Stonehenge made out of Portaloos, put up by Banksy and with the graffiti added by festival attendees:
Some other bits of art in the vicinity:
Perhaps this is a prediction of the effect of climate change on sea levels? Or perhaps it’s just a cow in a tree…
Here is the Pyramid Stage arena at around 6am on Saturday on the way back to my tent. This is probably my favorite photo. I like the litter scattered about in the distance:
This is the open-air cinema and the tent in the background is the smaller “Marquee Cinema”. Notice that there’s still some grass to be found at this point.
Here’s my tent. It was sold as a four-person tent but it suited me quite well as a spacious one-person tent. The porch in the front was good for keeping my wellies in so that it was mostly mud-free inside.
Here are some other tents in the vicinity. I was up in the northwest of the site in an area called “Wicket Ground”. Overall I’d probably recommend it, but being right next to the road wasn’t ideal (as mentioned above) and the films at the nearby cinema go on until at least half-past three in the morning and — depending on the prevailing winds — they can be heard quite clearly from here (to be more precise, the rear channels of the surround sound can be heard quite clearly so there’s lots of rumbling and crashing and other sound effects, but the dialogue is not nearly as noticeable).
So, I went back to bed at around 6am on Saturday and got up again in the early afternoon. At this point I was getting quite used to the noise and didn’t have much trouble sleeping through most things. Also the sun must have been mercifully mild because on some days it was roasting inside the tent by 9am.
It occurred to me that I hadn’t seen my reflection since I left arrived on Wednesday (there simply weren’t any mirrors about). I wanted to check if my hair was a mess yet to see whether I should tie it back, so I took this hugely flattering self-portrait:
On that evidence I amazingly decided that another day with the hair down would be fine. Oh well.
I was quite excited on Saturday because two of the bands I was most looking forward to were on. First up was CSS at 15:50 on The Other Stage and then Lily Allen immediately afterwards at 16:30 at The Pyramid.
CSS were bloody fantastic. They were probably my favourite discovery of last year but I’ve shamefully managed to miss all the live performances they’ve done in London so I was eager to make amends. The lead singer — Lovefoxxx — is a marvelous performer. She was wearing this technicolored skintight suit and danced about the stage in the way that everybody would dance if there were no inhibitions or self-conciousness in the world. They also played a cover of L7’s “Pretend We’re Dead” which suited their sound very well (there’s a mashup of “Pretend We’re Dead” and the CSS song “Alala” on CSS’s MySpace).
After CSS I ran (yes, ran, in the mud) over to The Pyramid Stage to watch Lily Allen. FYI it takes 9 and a half minutes to do that journey in a hurry when a band is just finishing (so there’s a lot of foot traffic) and the mud is as thick as it’s gunna get.
I got there half-way through the first song and I approached from the side at the front of the crowd which worked out alright, but not brilliantly, ‘cos as you can see I was near the front and could just about see Lily, but I couldn’t see either of the screens because just to my right there was a tall wall.
It was nice to see her playing her main stage performance because she’s a Glastonbury veteran (she was 5 weeks old the first time she went and has been to every festival since) and it was clearly quite special for her to finally be there as a performer.
Check out below who was in the audience for Lily’s performance:
There’s a bit of a story there because he (comedian Harry Enfield, if you don’t recognize him) was in a relationship with Lily’s mum and lived with them for a time so he was a stepdad figure to Lily for a while.
This photo is of the one of the “Herbal Highs” stands (“Legal Ecstacy! Legal Speed!”). The sign in the middle of the picture made me laugh out loud so I thought I’d take a photo.
I fell asleep early on Saturday evening, which is perhaps not very surprising given the running between stages (I actually ran back to The Other Stage after Lily Allen in hopes of seeing The Klaxons, but they were just finishing by the time I got there). I woke up at about 21:30 and had a look in the programme for something to do. To my annoyance Annie Mac‘s DJ set had already been going on for an hour. She’s my favorite DJ on the radio. She plays a wonderful mix of all sorts of dance, electronic and alternative stuff, and is very unpretentious and “accessible”, despite the fact that I know just about zero about dance music (I couldn’t tell you the difference between House and Drum & Bass, or identify examples of either).
I hoofed off down to the Dance Area (which was mercifully close to my tent) and caught the last 15 minutes of her set. I was amused by how suprised I was when she said the F word on stage. The DJs on Radio 1 aren’t allowed to swear (even late at night) so it was strangely jarring to hear someone whose voice you know well saying rude words for the first time: very much like hearing your parents swear.
After Annie Mac I had a bit of a look round the Dance Area and Mika was finishing off so I caught his last two songs (including Grace Kelly). He was one of a few artists who were playing multiple times throughout the festival on different stages.
So that was it for Saturday, oddly enough. I wasn’t enthusiastic about any of the headliners, so I decided to go see a film and get a relatively early night. The film was Hot Fuzz which was showing at 23:15 and was apparently to be followed by a Q&A with “stars from the film”, which I presumed meant Simon Pegg and Nick Frost so that sounded fun. Unfortunately when I got there the sound was down way too low (I later learned this was probably because unusual weather was making the sound carry to the village and they had to turn it down to comply with the festival license; The Killers on The Pyramid apparently had the same problem). I could just about hear the dialogue but every 10th word or so was inaudible so it was an effort to piece it together. After about 10 minutes it was too frustrating so I left and got a very early night and a very welcome 12 hours of sleep.
On Sunday afternoon on the way back from the toilets I snapped a picture of this amusingly-soiled tent, but it was right next to the camp site helpers’ caravan so I have my suspicions that it was set up deliberately as a warning/modern art piece:
There wasn’t any music of interest to me on Sunday afternoon so instead I went down to the “Left Field” tent (left as in left-wing politics) and went to see Tony Benn speaking (another of those “must-see” Glastonbury occasions that I’d heard about). He’s a ledge, even if I don’t agree with everything he says and despite the fact that he has some unusual views about Hiroshima (I can’t find a good quotation online, but he basically said that the US dropped the bombs despite the Japanese having already offered to surrender. Needless to say, that is not the mainstream historical view). I still found several things he said that I could enthusiastically applaud to (like his condemnation of the cancelling of the BAE/Saudi Arabia probe).
After Tony Benn were the nice surprises of Shazia Mirza (who was wickedly funny: “Primark is like bisexuality, no-one wants to admit to it, but we all have a dabble”) and Mark Thomas (who is just as angry as he was when his show was on TV, and thankfully just as funny with it). Afterwards some band came on but I’d been put in the mood for comedy so I headed for the Cabaret Stage to see what was going on there. Shortly after I got there a guy calling himself “Reverend Obadiah Steppenwolfe III”; a southern-US preacher character who is extremely un-PC. He pulled off the not-unformidable task of actually offending me, so kudos to him for that.
I only caught about 10 minutes of that performance before I left because the next band I wanted to see was coming up soon and I really wanted to get a good position.
One of the downsides of solo festival-going: no pictures of yourself! But never fear: timer technology and a conveniently-tall menu board outside a café to the rescue:
Next up were The Go! Team, who were one of my favourite bands of 2005. I’ve seen them a few times but they were always great fun so I was looking forward to seeing them again. They played at the last Glastonbury in 2005 but apparently they suffered heartbreaking equipment failure during their set, so I think they were compensated by getting a higher billing this time around than their popularity would normally dictate.
They rose to the occasion brilliantly though. Ninja, the frontwoman, spends much of the set enthusiastically encouraging the audience to dance more (even in the rain!) which could potentially be annoying but it’s just the right side of nagging. They made the risky move of playing lots of new songs off their soon-to-be-released album, but they all had that “single quality” whereby they sound good the first time you hear them, so it worked fine. The rain was coming down during this performance: enough to have the poncho hood up but not enough to call it heavy rain. It was alright, though; I think the band’s summer-filled sound was a fine antidote for the weather.
The trick to getting a reasonably good position is basically to be in the area and ready when the band before the one you want to see goes off stage. Then, approach from the side near the front and keep a hawkish eye out for streams of people leaving the area. When the stream stops you can zoom in before the gap closes and get closer without causing any significant bother because you didn’t have to push past anyone. Just repeat that and jump into any spaces that appear and pretty soon you’ll be acceptably close to the front.
I have to admit that on Sunday afternoon I did consider leaving early after The Go! Team. My sleeping bag was, let’s say, dirty, so I wasn’t keen to get back into it. I might have just been able to make it to the last train back to London, but it would have been a horrendous rush and everything would have had to have gone perfectly. In the end I was glad I stayed to see one of the final headliners so that I could say I had the full Glastonbury experience from Wednesday to Monday. I turned my sleeping bag inside out on Sunday night and got a few more hours use out of it before chucking it on a skip on Monday morning.
I managed to go the whole festival without having to use any of the legendary chemical toilets or “long drops”. “How?”, you ask? In the north of the site, up by the farm, there is this wonderful sanctuary of civilization in the form of a block of actual flushing toilets. It’s out of the way and not sign-posted so it seems that not many people know about it. I didn’t have to queue once, although to be fair I only saw any toilet queues about two or three times throughout the whole festival.
The other secret to my excretory success was an apparently recent invention called the Travel John. They are little resealable bags that contain a gel that absorbs liquid, and together with wet wipes and hand-sanitizing gel they let me go number one in the privacy of my own tent, which was frankly a godsend (the sound isn’t as loud as you’d think so no-one outside could tell what was going on). If you do ever use a Travel John in a tent, be sure to be careful when you’ve just woken up, otherwise things might not go where they’re supposed to, and you might end up with a sleeping bag that you’ll want to throw out (don’t make that face! You didn’t want me to sugar-coat the festival experience did you?)
So, we’re up to Sunday night. There were a couple of things that I wanted to see so I had to choose between Pendulum and KT Tunstall (hey, I have broad tastes!). I went for Ms. Tunstall at The Acoustic Tent, mainly because I had doubts about being able to see Pendulum and get back to the main area for the headliners. When I got to The Acoustic Tent it wasn’t so great. It was raining so the tent was packed and the audience area for that stage is completely flat, so it was very difficult to see anything. I decided to leave after about 10 minutes to get something to eat and concentrate my efforts on getting a good position for the headliner. So all that was left was to pick which one to see. I went for The Chemical Brothers over The Who, since I only know one song by The Who, and I could think of four from The Chemical Brothers (they didn’t play my favorite, though!)
I’ve never been to see a dance act live before so it was quite a strange experience. The two guys stand on a dark stage bashing away on synthesizers and sequencers and twiddling knobs on racks of audio equipment for an hour and a half. One of them didn’t even seem to be doing much of the bashing, although maybe they were changing roles for different songs and I just didn’t notice.
A major part of the performance is the light show which accompanies the music. It’s displayed on the normal stage screens as well as on a giant screen that fills the whole width and height of the stage area and plays video pieces that the music is synchronized to. Many of them were beautiful trippy patterns but there was one of a grotesque clown face that I really didn’t like.
The guy standing next to me in the crowd was popping pills which I thought was terribly clichéd. There was also a guy standing behind me who spoiled things by continuously bumping into me with his backpack, or his shoulders or whatever. He was one of those people who insists on turning around and facing the wrong way and having conversations and generally being the worst sort of person to stand near in a crowd. He didn’t respond to any of the usual ways of dealing with people continuously bumping into you (standing firmly so that they absorb the brunt of the impact rather than you, and looking round with a severe look on your face), so I guess he was out of his head too. Despite that, it was still a very worthwhile experience; I’ve learned that I can bluff my way through a dance act performance by rocking my shoulders around a little bit and bouncing up and down for the bassy parts, so maybe I can go see Daft Punk one day.
Here’s a rubbish picture of a part where the screens were dark but some of the lasers were blasting out:
After the headliners there was still a certain amount of activity about the place, so I thought I’d head down to The Park and try going up the Ribbon Tower again. The queue wasn’t quite as bad this time, and the nighttime view was still pretty impressive, what with all the little rows of lights:
So that was the end of the festival. Unfortunately it was raining quite a lot during The Chemical Brothers so despite the poncho my jeans were quite wet. I went back to the tent and got a few hours sleep. All through the night I could hear the announcer at the nearby coach station calling out over a megaphone, “coach 105 to Leeds, now boarding” and such. Still, I got a couple of hours of sleep before waking up at 6:15. I’d followed some good advice I’d read and kept a clean set of clothes to go home in. At least I thought I did. I couldn’t find the clean pair of jeans and briefly entertained the idea that they might have been stolen (yeah, ripped 522s are a real hot ticket for the tent thieves… They don’t make them any more; maybe they’re vintage!) Turns out, of course, that they were still sitting in my wardrobe when I got back home. So, unfortunately, I had to put back on my slightly damp jeans to go home in. Next time I go to something like this I’ll definitely be investing in some waterproof trousers and a waterproof jacket. Any concept of style goes out the window very soon after the rain starts and practicality quickly becomes king.
It took me a little longer than I was expecting to throw out my rubbish and get everything ready to go. Then I got out of the tent and unfortunately it was raining quite hard at this point. I didn’t have much choice so I got to work packing up the tent. That would have been difficult wearing the poncho or even my coat so unfortunately I was doing this in just my hoody (and the hood doesn’t stay up, so bare-headed). Have you noticed how many times I’ve used the word “unfortunately” recently? Yeah, there’s more to come. Taking the tent down was less than fun but it all went into the bag eventually. The zip wouldn’t do up but no-one’s perfect. At this point I actually uttered a few expletives out loud directed at the now-vanquished tent and took one last picture to record my achievement:
I headed off to the nearest camp site helpers to donate my tent (apparently they’re used for camping trips by youth groups and the like). I was glad to get that weight off my shoulders so I was travelling significantly lighter on the way back than I was on the outward journey.
I headed over to the bus and coach station to catch my bus to the train station, which would surely be waiting for me when I arrived, just like the one on the way to festival, right? Not so much… It took me several minutes to even find the correct queue for the train station bus, and the queue looked painfully long, even though it was only about 7:30 at this point and the vast majority of tents were still up in the camp site, so I assumed that I’d gotten away early.
The next two hours were easily, hands-down the worst part of the festival. The queue was outside in the exposed cold and still heavy rain. The ground was about two inches of water, so I didn’t want to put my bags down for fear of getting the contents drenched. The queue was almost entirely a sea of silent misery and disappointment, with the exception of a handful of people who managed to quietly sing some ironic songs (“I’m walking on sunshine, whoahoahoah” etc.) as we got close to the goal. The insides of my wellies were wet at this point, so each step was uncomfortable and standing still wasn’t much better. All I could do was occupy my mind with tasks like trying to remember all the member states of the EU (I memorized them for no particular reason a year or two ago) or remembering all the acts I’d seen over the weekend and putting them in order of coolness.
Eventually we got to a bus and the driver looked at the boarding passengers with a look of sheer pity, which was welcome, frankly. The bus was nice and warm and the collective feeling of relief on the twenty minute ride to the train station was palpable. Along the roads there were numerous people who’d decided (as I had considered doing) to just walk to the train station. Thankfully though, I remembered looking up the journey on Google Maps before I left, and remembered that it was nine miles, which is a very long way even when you’re not carrying three bags. The number of people walking along the side of the road dwindled as we got closer to the station so I don’t know if anyone actually made it along that route. I imagine the misery involved there was even greater than for those of us waiting in the bus queue.
When the bus pulled up to the station, the feeling of relief vanished immediately. There was another queue for the train and this one looked nearly as long as the bus queue back at the festival! However, I had forgotten an important fact, which is that trains have a lot more seats than buses, and it actually wasn’t more than 15 minutes before I was sitting on a train to Swindon. At Swindon there was a connecting train for Paddington waiting for us to arrive, and from there the journey was plain sailing and relatively warm and comfortable. It felt so good at the Paddington tube station to be walking in my soft trainers on hard ground instead of walking in my hard wellies on soft mud as I had been all weekend. I got back home in the middle of the afternoon but unfortunately over the rest of the day I felt a cold developing and it arrived the next morning so I’ve been nursing it for the four days since then.
The festival makes a big deal of trying to persuade people to use public transport (for the environmental reasons, but also because the huge local traffic during the festival is a big issue for the council who issue the festival’s license). However, it would be impossible to recommend it to anyone after that experience. The queues may be bad if you leave at the wrong time in a car (apparently it can take 9 hours in the busiest periods), but cars have roofs and heaters and I’ll bet that no-one in a car caught a cold on the way out. I’d also bet that a significant percentage of those travelling by coach or train did. From what I’ve read I was actually an early bird and the wait for buses and coaches did get much worse during the rest of Monday. The main problem would be solved by putting huge marquees over the waiting areas, and I’m going to write to suggest that, but I don’t know whether the cost would be reasonable or not.
Despite the ending being disappointing, overall I had a really great time at the festival. I was hugely impressed by the whole thing, not least the scale, which is hard to convey. I saw loads of great acts and a few times I had that rare feeling that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world at that moment.
Camping is not my thing, but it was made tolerable by the Travel Johns and finding the proper toilets. It also wasn’t as bad as you might think going to the festival on my own; the whole time I was either doing something, on the way somewhere or too tired to do anything but sleep, so there wasn’t a lot of time to sit about feeling lonely. It would have been nice to share it all, of course, but going alone does have the advantage that you don’t have to negotiate what to do between several people with conflicting priorities.
Will I go again next year? It’s hard to imagine another festival lineup being as good as this one from my point of view, but who knows. I’ll wait for the memories of the camping and the travelling to fade a little before thinking about next year. I had originally planned to hire a campervan this year, but my finances didn’t work out quite to plan so I couldn’t do that, but it seems like an even better idea now than it did before going. The thought of having a warm, soft bed to go to would make a significant difference, I think, and driving right up to the parking space without having to carry a single thing sounds hugely luxurious. Someone suggested that the campervan areas at festivals are less social than the regular camping areas, and I suspect that’s true but I don’t think it’s important. At Glastonbury, at least, if you’re in a camping area then you’re missing something interesting that’s happening elsewhere: the only good reason to go back to the tent is to sleep.