The day started so well…
I was up early and excited. Finally heading out to start the camping and the fun of the Glastonbury Festival. My breakfast was ready and my taxi arrived early. (he even waited for me to finish my tea). Turns out the driver was a Brian Wilson fan and had seen him numerous times going back to the early 80’s. So, we chatted music as he snuck through the backroads to the drop off point. I asked myself…”How many tourists ever drive through North Wooten?” My answer was that I may have bee the first all week.
Exiting the taxi, I loaded up my trolley and shouldered my back pack. I was just before 8:00am…
The line formed almost immediately across the road. I could see hundreds ahead of me. But, heck…the gates open at 8:00am, how long could it take to get to Gate A?
Problem was, the line I was in was directed towards Gate D. About a half a mile away! Oh, and it merged with another line after 2/3’s of that distance…and that line seemed to have priority. Based on how long we’d stand motionless watching them walk freely in front of us.
Just before 11:30am I was finally in the cattle chute to have my ticket checked…
But, I was finally in and pulled out my site map…and learned had just about as far as I’d just walked still ahead of me to get top Pennard’s Hill and the e=Festival campsite. I struggled on…looking like some war refugee pushing a cart with his earthly possessions.
Did I mention it was HOT?
Something around 25 degrees C…(I tried to do the math conversion from Fahrenheit and decided that it was either extremely cold and I was delusional…or that it was around 172 degrees…I assumed the latter choice.)
Sometime close to noon I found myself pacing back and forth looking for “Camp Triangle” and the e-fests folks. I even called one of the contact numbers I had, but just couldn’t seem to find them. I finally saw a spot in the ever shrinking pool of spaces and decided to build my tent there and hope for the best. It looked so easy in the shop and on the video (filmed in a pristine alpine meadow). But neither of those had accounted for building it inches from a walkway filled with people and next to three other tents. I pushed and pulled, struggled and stumbled and after 45 minutes had the outer shell erected. I pulled my gear inside and fell onto the grass and slept for another 45 minutes or so in sheer exhaustion.
Feeling somewhat better, I finished the inner tent and spread my gear about the tent. Larder & dirty clothes on the right, trolley and hygiene in the middle and bedroom on the left.
Now, I needed my sleeping bag and other goods from Joe Bananas. I had passed their stall on my hike in, so I backtracked there and requested my goods. The teenaged clerk informed me that I needed to go to the “Main location” to collect prepaid items….wonderful…
She directed me down the long path near the Other Stage and told me to take the 2nd left…I couldn’t miss it.
Since her concept of left and right was apparently flexible and not based upon any actual reality.
I wandered that area for an hour and then went to the info booth. They sent me back in the same direction to a collection point…for Millets….
Two and half hours of wandering the heat, crowds and dust and I still didn’t have my bed or bag. Returning to the info booth for a third time (glutton for punishment?)….they finally figured out that I needed to go to A7…a spot quite distant. I set out, and stopped for an ice cream in route (knowing that I’d walked off plenty of calories already).
I reached Joe Bananas and learned that…the bag I’d ordered was stuck outside the site on a lorry and hadn’t been delivered. The stool I ordered never arrived at all….great, at least they had my water jug…
I bartered a bit with the owner ( a nice and apologetic lady). I walked away with a better air bed, a worse sleeping bag and a larger chair…(which still broke after two days, as did most of that model that I saw all weekend). Finally back to my tent at nearly 5:30pm….yes, that’s about 5 hours of searching….ack.
All this wandering also met that I missed the England football match completely.
The e-fest photographers meet was slated for 5:30 or so. I dumped my gear and headed to the Park to meet them. I arrived just after 6:00pm…no one there…
Okay, lets recap.
Horrific walk, tent follies, another horrific walk and unable to connect with anyone that I’d planned. Not the best of beginnings. But, I decided that I wasn’t going to give up after a little trouble. I headed for the Cider Bus meet of the e-fest folks and hoped for the best.
A couple of local ciders and a large group of actual people later I felt much better. So, much so that I ended up with Tom and a couple girls that he’d met at the bus striking out to the Stone Circle to watch lanterns being launched (illegally at that). We were up there until around 1am. Looking at the lights of the huge city that had sprung up, drinking wine and discussing each of our plans for the upcoming days. By the time I headed back to my tent, I was a bit more relaxed and willing to give it a chance and not just pack it in and go home.
Glastonbury is like life. Things are NOT ever going to go as planned and some of it will be challenging, frustrating and enough to make you want to quit. If you keep pushing ahead things will eventually sort themselves out. The plans may shift and adapt, but it won’t be all bad.
Thus ended my first day of Glastonbury.