After a blisteringly hot Glade Festival
in 2007 -when the sun shone and everyone danced in the woodland shade dazzled by the sunlight sparkling on radiant colours and glimmering off mirrors hanging in the trees- I was first in line to be away with fairies for a repeat performance in 2008. I was expecting nothing less that reliving the memories of a perfect summer weekend in the British countryside. However whilst aquaplaning down the motorway with the heavens continuing to open I realised this was not going to be the weekend I had been expecting.
After driving slowly down the winding country roads which were running like rivers, the rain did eventually stop although the clouds kept rolling with menace. We were on the road that leads to the festival site when a steward stepped in front of my car and said that no more vehicles would be allowed down the road as the flood water was rising too fast. I was mercifully directed to a pub car park with high ground and sat drinking pints watching as more rain poured down and bedraggled festival goers reported that it was all off - The Glade was cancelled. More and more people arrived, more and more rain fell and we sat watching as the water covered the roads , then the bollards in the roads & then started seeping in through the pub doors.
Amazingly though – a beacon of hope appeared as the rain stopped, although the flood water was still rising the thump of a bass line drifted across the field to the pub car park. Too excited to stop and think about it we decided to wade through the water to the festival site with only “The Bare Essentials”!
So before having time to think about it, what exactly did I think were “The Bare Essentials”?
Tent? - No but I had friends already on site who would share so I didn’t have to worry about that.
Sleeping Bag? – No I thought I would be warm in the tent that I hadn’t even seen and besides I had a sarong!
Wellies? – No but I would wear my crocs and if they got muddy I could just wash my feet and the crocs, it would be easy.
Any sort of coat or waterproof jacket?- No but I had a plastic bag for my hair which I had straightened so I didn’t want to get that wet!
A change of clothes? – No clothes but a change of underwear as I had put on my swimming costume to wade through the water. Why I had a swimming costume I have no idea but it came in handy.
Fancy dress? – Yes of course, clearly a festival essential.
A selection of hats and sunglasses? – Yes, naturally, I never attend a festival without a selection of straw hats for sunny days, beanies for night time and animal hats with battery powered lights so I may be found by friends when a little worse for wear. I make it a priority to acquire more hats at every festival to replace the ones lost/trashed at the previous one!
Beer? – Yes!!!! You know it’s always really expensive when you get in there, have to sneak some in.
So with a carrier bag each and beer in hand we started wading through the flood water watching out for missing man hole covers in the road, hoping that the sewers were not erupting! It took us an hour and we were waist deep at times but we did get there and get in and have an amazing time. The mud was thick though and didn’t dry out all weekend, there was not a blade of grass in sight. The lower fields were unusable so a couple of dance tents were out of order. It didn’t matter though it was still brilliant but I do have a different idea of what the absolute “Bare Essentials” for a Festival are.
Tent-Essential! Somewhere warm and dry to lie down, it doesn’t have to be comfortable, you won’t care but warm and dry are essential, if you get wet you get cold and if you can’t get warm its miserable.
Sleeping bag – Essential. A sarong really won’t do as a sleeping bag, it has many uses but sleeping bag is not one of them. I repeat the words warm and dry.
Wellies - Essential if it is muddy. The thing about mud is that apart from being wet, its cold and when it’s stuck to your feet through sandals your feet get cold. Unpleasant, you really want your feet to stay warm and dry. Trust me, trying to wash mud off crocs, in the dark, whilst standing in the mud, before having to walk back through the mud is a complete waste of time.
Water proof coat – Essential. Yes it will keep you warm and dry.
Change of clothes- Not essential but would have been nice after a couple of days.
Fancy Dress – Pains me to say it, but it’s not essential.
Hats and Glasses – Hmm? Essential for me, they don’t take up much space after all.
Beer – Essential, but available on site if for a price.
Cash – Essential and take it with you if you can, the queues for cash machines at festivals can be soul destroying, just keep it somewhere safe. Everything you may need to eat, drink or keep warm and dry is available to hire or buy if you have the funds.
Basically when it comes down to it try to arrive in suitable clothes with a tent and a sleeping bag, you need a ticket, a reasonable amount of cash in your pocket and a sense of humour about the weather. So would I do it all again if faced with the same situation? Yes, I would just be more selective about what I took with me, only one light up animal hat is really necessary the others would just be taking up perfectly good beer space!