A Glastonbury Story
As always Glastonbury was a whirlwind of flashing lights, glitter, baby wipes, pumping music, bass vibrating through my chest and lots of laughter.
We set off on the Wednesday morning, catching a taxi over to the O2 Coach Park to get the 7am coach. For some unknown reason our coach driver sat at the wheel whilst we all queued outside for 40 minutes before finally letting us on but once we had bags stowed we were on our way by 8am. Traffic wasn’t too awful despite heading out of London in rush hour traffic and we got to Glastonbury by noon. There was zero queue and we made our way through the gate, picked up our mermaid-esque wristband and had set off to find a camp spot by 12.30pm which might just be a record for getting through. Despite promises of more rigorous searches only one of our party was given a cursory pat down so we needn’t have worried so much. What then took forever was finding a camping spot!
In previous years Leigh’s uncle has always very kindly taken our tent and set it up for us but as he was campervan-ing this year we had to find our own spot. We headed to where we normally camp but alas there was no room in the inn. By this time we were all pouring with sweat and I had to rest as I was starting to feel dizzy and I was shaking so much I was struggling to drink from my water bottle. Trying to walk in 31 degree heat with a very heavy backpack is never going to be easy, and by the time we finally found somewhere to camp we had been walking for 2 hours. We all struggled to set up our tents as none of us wanted to be inside them but eventually we were settled and unpacked. Looking around we realised that we had actually lucked out with our spot in Paines Ground, we were close to a water source, decent compost toilets and by a pedestrian track, not a metal one, so there would be no clunking from hordes of people. We were also relatively close to the track so no need to trip over ropes finding our tent at night. We finally went off in search of some much needed shade at around 3.30pm!
We have always headed up to the top of Glastonbury on the Wednesday night to look out over the festival and even after six years the view never gets tired. It has always been one of my favourite parts of the whole five days. With Wednesday being the longest day of the year however it meant that the fireworks didn’t start until nearly 11, and as we were desperate for the toilet by this point we actually ended up watching the fireworks from the toilet. The first time I have ever wee’d to a full display of fireworks above my head! We went and sat by the huge fire for an hour or so before calling it a night, exhausted from the early start and heat.
Waking up in a tent is always a funny thing. It is always a race to get dressed as quickly as possible before it gets too hot, and you are so aware of all the people around you as well. I love a good tent eavesdrop, people seem to forget that they can be heard! On the Thursday we had a walk around, re-familiarised ourselves with the festival and soaked up the atmosphere. We made sure to head over to over favourite Hog Roast food vendor, the same one we have been going to for years and grabbed a roll. The food at Glastonbury is part of the whole experience, I like to try and find my new must have food whilst there but I definitely have my go to's from previous years.
Shy FX were on at the Dance Village at 2am which we stayed up for but the crowd was awful. Leigh and I managed to make it inside the tent but it wasn’t safe, we were squeezed from all sides and Leigh was worried about general safety so we got caught up in a tide of bodies trying to leave. I was a bit upset as I had been looking forward to it all day but the crush was unreal. We headed to bed our feet weary from walking, but with the promise of music the following day!
Friday dawned and with a full day of music ahead we headed out. On the day’s agenda were Charlie XCX, Dua Lipa, Royal Blood, Little Dragon, Clean Bandit and Major Lazer. The stand outs on the day for me were Dua Lipa, Royal Blood and Major Lazer. Dua Lipa played all of the hits whilst swaying her hips and it was good to have my first proper dance. Royal Blood absolutely smashed it, the choice to see them was Leigh’s but I’m so glad I went along as they were so good and although I had listened to a few songs before I am now a full convert. Major Lazer was always going to be one of my favourite performances and I danced until my legs screamed from jumping all over the place. I am so glad I finally got to see them perform after missing them, due to a clash, a few years ago. Food of the day was a very good Pad Thai from Manna and must have been filling as it’s the only thing we ate that day! We made the mistake of heading back to the tent to grab some bits and ended up passing out instead, although looking back this was probably the best thing as it rained from 1am – this was the only real rain of the whole festival though!
Saturday arrived and we all wondered how the days were going by so fast. It always seems to be the way that once the music starts, time just slips by, I like to think because of all the fun that’s being had. Line up for the day comprised of the much anticipated Craig David set, Kaiser Chiefs, Katy Perry, Gorgon City, Birdy and Foo Fighters. Craig David was, of course, amazing! We managed to get 6 deep from the front of the stage, the closest I have ever been to the Pyramid Stage during a performance and you can even spot us in the crowd when you watch it back on BBC iplayer. Katy Perry was just the wonderful pop princess that she is and pulled out all of her hits, we had to leave a little early to get to Gorgon City, although I wish we had stayed with KP as Gorgon City were a bit of a let down and was more of a DJ set then I’d hoped for. Our feet were killing us and we didn’t want to trek over to Birdy so we went and sat and watched a performance from Ed Sansom on CN Bandstand with about 20 other people. He was really good and we went and had a chat with him after and bought his EP. Go and give him a listen here.
We finished the day on Foo Fighters who were awesome and a long time coming as we were meant to see them back in 2015 before he went and broke his leg! After they had finished we headed over to Shangri-La to carry on the party, swinging between several venues playing dance music although I can’t tell you too much as I may have been a little drunk by this point! We made friends with a couple of lovely girls, Sarah Jayne and Lisa, and had been sitting talking to them for several hours before we crawled into bed at 6am, after we realised it was actually very bright and we should probably go to bed. One of the things I love about Glastonbury are the people that you meet. I am a talker, I love to meet people and at Glasto everyone else relaxes and talks to each other as well so I am always in my element. Food for the day was another return visit to a Paella place we found in 2015, Paellaria, and was just as good as remembered! We also went to the favourite, Anne Maes, for our festival dose of mac and cheese.
Sunday, and the last day, came round all too quickly. Final acts to see were Rag & Bone Man, Groove Armada, Shaggy, Sampha, DJ Luck & MC Neat and Ed Sheeran. Rag & Bone man was a little depressing and I only really knew two songs although he seemed very humbled to be there. Groove Armada was a great dance, as was Shaggy who bought all the nostalgia and fun. We skipped Sampha & DJ Luck & MC Neat because the thought of walking there made us both feel very lazy (bad I know!). Instead we caught the end of Biffy Clyro and then settled in for an awesome Ed Sheeran set. He made reference to the first gig he did at Croissant Neuf in 2011 to about 500 people, Leigh and I were two of those people so it was lovely to see how far he has come. The way that man works a loop pedal is quite something to see. We finished up the day by heading to the Park Stage to have a few final drinks, although by this point I don’t think I ever wanted to look at another can of cider in my life. I’m going to have to find an alternate drink for a little bit. Food for the day - more Paella, it is very good and very filling. We also had a Duck Burger with Hoisin sauce from The Quack Shack and Raclette fries on the side from Raclette.
It is always crazy how quickly Monday rolls round after so many months of waiting. To think that next year is a fallow year and we are now going to have to wait until 2019 to go again is also sad. It always feels like we are going home again as we have so many emotional ties to Glastonbury, there really is no other place like it. For five days I was able to forget about all of the horrible tragedies that have been happening and just focus on having a good time with 200,000 other like-minded people.
I have sore feet, a sunburnt neck, croaky voice, I haven’t looked at a vegetable in a week, I made some new friends, discovered new music, managed for the sixth year to not go down the bloody Rabbit Hole (that queue was ridiculous), and enjoyed every moment. The one final very sad news though is that after 11 years the tent that has stood us so well finally gave up and had to be retired to the recycling. Which is how I feel after five days of the madness that is Glastonbury! See you on the other side Glasto 2019, it will be a while but there is nothing more in the world worth waiting for.