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Glastonbury – Thursday

So, the second day was better….but still low key.

I awoke in an oven-like tent about 7:00am.  Not much sleeping in possible when you account for my location (and the noise) of being by the path and the heat of the early morning sun.  I hiked off to the nearest “Long-Drop” toilet and it lived exactly down to it’s reputation.  Not going to be very easy to deal with.  Imagine a phone booth where you don’t want to touch anything…and it hovers over an open cesspit….and “welcomes” hundreds of people each hour.  And, believe me these were the better of the options that available anywhere near my tent.

I bought some fresh milk off the milk wagon (we are on a dairy farm after all) and went to my tent to “clean up” for the morning/day.  I sat in the doorway of my tent and relaxed for a hour or so…ate some breakfast out of the food I’d brought and generally tried to acclimate.

I decided to go meet the e-fest folks at the campsite and joined them for what would become a morning tradition of chatting.  They were cooking ribs, chicken, sausage and all manner of BBQ foods for a communal breakfast, but I’d just eaten fruit and cereal at my tent, so I passed.  Everyone was just as nice as they’d been at the cider bus the night before and I began to relax a little.

Still no music to see, but there was the e-fest world cup of football to be held at the Pyramid field.  So, we started out for there en-mass.  It was a pickup game pitting the English against the rest of the world.  Everyone had pledged a donation to water aid and as a group almost 9,000 pounds was raised!

Before the match I saw my first music: Hobo Jones and the Junkyard Dogs.  An acoustic act that mixed comedy and music.  They were quite fun and very entertaining…but, damn it was hot!

The match started and I honestly couldn’t tell you much of what happened.  Think of it as a kegger softball game in the states and you’ll have an idea of the organization and skill on exhibition.  But, it was all in good fun.  Slipped away for a fish and chips lunch…missed most of the halftime act “a cowpunk type act” called Pronghorn joined with a number of other musicians.  I spent a lot of the middle of the game talking with Mike (his dad Roy was playing in the match.)

In the end, the English won…(for the only time that weekend).

Post match there was anther concert by a band called Supernova who did a few songs.  (all of these bands donated their time to help raise funds, so much praise to them).  Sadly, the special guest, Michael Eavis was tied up with Prince Charles and ended up a no show to present the trophy.

Regardless, a good (sweltering) time was had by all.

I wandered the site with Gordon, Tom and Depack….three of my new efest friends.  They showed me the Acoustic area, circus area, Bella’s Field and Avalon.  Heard lots of stories about past festivals.  Discussed politics, drug policies, gay marriage and the price of Ale.  It was exactly the sort of thing that I’d envisioned the festival to be….starting to get the rhythm and feel for the place.

Ended up at West Holts stage with a Brother Cider in hand and Bob Marley blasting through the system as they did line checks….the afternoon began to compensate for the challenges getting in and settled and I finally began to relax.

I popped back to the tent and then joined Tom and Depack to go hear a guy called “Beardyman” (a beatboxer) in the dance area.  He was to be followed by Boy George doing a live set.  Beardyman was talented, but not really my thing, so I split from the guys to sit down for a bit.

Glasto Tip two:

If you separate from your group, it’s unlikely you’ll ever find them again…honestly, that was the last time I saw Depack for the entire festival….

Boy George was running late, very late.  After waiting a half an hour past his start time I finally gave up and walked away from the crowd and under a full moon I made my way slowly back to the tent to turn in early and get ready for the first day of music tomorrow.

Better day….much better day.

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Glastonbury – Wednesday

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.

I did.

Sort of.

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.

Lesson 1:

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.

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Excitement

5:48am and I’m wide awake for the last hour.  My taxi arrives at 7:45am, but I just couldn’t sleep.  Silly little last minute details keep popping into my head and needing to be checked off the mental list.  Things have gone great so far, but it’s just in my nature to stress a little before each new thing on a trip like this.

Went to the Rifleman’s Pub last night to meet people from e-Festivals.  Had dinner there as well, they had a “limited” menu…you could get a burger…

That’s it, a burger…not even any chips (fries).  But, they had seven kinds of local cider, so after a couple of those I guess it doesn’t matter as much.  Met a dozen or so people I’ve talked to on the forum.  The general consensus is that I’m going to love it and they all wish they could go back in time and go for a first time once again.  I’ve been told very consistently that it’s not even about the music as much as the “spirit” of the place.  All of them swear that no matter what I say now…I’ll have to return in the future.  Once you’ve gone, you just have to go back.

They all make it sound a sort of Brigadoon, his fantastic village that appears every so often and then disappears back into the mists.  Truly like nothing I can think of in the states except maybe Coachella, Bonaroo or Burning Man…(None of which I’ve attended.)

Well, 6:00am now…

Soon I’m off to see this place firsthand.  Months of planning have lead up to right now!

Cheers!

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