When I received the email that said “Congratulations, we are inviting you to volunteer with Greenpeace at Glastonbury this year!” I was absolutely thrilled! Yay, I would be spending almost a whole week as part of the festival crew campaigning to save the Arctic and I would get to see the Rolling Stones! It would also be my first festival ever. And my first camping experience for that matter. And then all the horrible stories people have told me over the years came rushing back. It will rain. A lot. Because it’s Glastonbury and it always rains a lot. I will be knee-deep in mud and my tent will float away in the floods. I will be smelly and dirty and won’t be able to wash my hair for a week. And the loos, well, let’s not think about the loos.
So I did what any city-dwelling control freak would do. I researched. I read all the blogs about Glastonbury, hundreds of festival-specific packing lists and how to prepare for the worst. I annoyed all my friends with silly questions about tents, tarps and trolleys. I borrowed and bought ALL the equipment I considered essential, including multiple fleece welly socks (of a well-known welly brand made famous by Kate Moss), a camping chair with drinks holder and about 17 packs of various types of wet-wipes (all biodegradable of course). I even practised being dirty and using wet-wipe “showers” for almost a week. I trial-ran different festival hair dos including the fishtail plaits and bandana styles. However, I had ignored the first of all packing rules: pack light.
The day before the festival I felt calm and prepared. I had been checking multiple weather forecasts for weeks now and was overjoyed at the mainly sunny predictions. I hadn’t managed to pack all my “essentials” for the six days into my 55 L backpack and had to fit the tent, chair and my monstrous roll-mat into my flowery shopping trolley, to which I had strapped my pink fairy wings (absolutely essential). Nothing could go wrong.
Or so I thought until I had to drag the whole lot all the way to Paddington station on the tube. I looked like a packing mule, especially after purchasing another bag full of booze at the station to drink on the train. Little did I know that I would have to walk another 30 minutes minimum from the shuttle drop-off to our camp site. By that time I was thanking the lord that the ground wasn’t muddy as my flimsy little trolley would’ve got stuck and died for sure. I was with five friends who all offered to help me with the trolley but as I had brought this upon myself I thought I’d deal with the consequences. We had to take multiple breaks on the walk and my friends gave me a head start each time as I was so slow. By the time we arrived I was in agony. My feet were killing me inside my sweaty wellies and I was cursing the trolley. My fairy wings got completely crumpled on the tube/train/shuttle and looked like a glittery, pink bird got hit by a tractor.
At least I managed to put up my tent in record time, the practice runs in the garden the previous day had paid off.
The next six days went by in a haze. It only ended up raining once which resulted in the infamous Glastonbury mud. Turns out mud is just part of the fun at Glastonbury, me and a bunch of new friends ended up dancing in the mud doing the welly-wobble and other classic moves (the microwave anybody?) all night long. Yes, I was dirty, and even though we had crew showers we could use around the clock, I only opted to shower twice in six days (I had to be presentable when talking to the public about the Arctic). My clothes were muddy and the loos were unspeakable (next time I will SO buy a she-wee!) but I had one of the best weeks of my whole life.
But almost everything I packed was a mistake. So I am working on a Glastonbury packing list for girls who dance in the mud. Stay tuned. Let me just say, the fairy wings? Not so essential after all.
Have you ever been to Glastonbury? What did you pack?