Category: <span>Glastonbury</span>

My first visit was to northern France on a posh camping trip with my parents. We drove down, got the ferry across (to St.Malo I think), and then head to southern Brittany to a pre-erected tent with beds, a fridge, cooking equipment, table and chairs. It was warm, but a different kind of heat than I’d ever experienced a dry, crisp heat, different from the muggy humid heat of a Scottish summer. I was 15.

The next year we did the same, visiting different camp sites (but always with everything ready and waiting for us when we got there), and I also went to Ibiza for a fortnight. What a summer that was, five weeks of holidays!

Then it was southern Spain for many years, with my in-laws owning property in Nerja, and latterly Torrox. Cheap flights and accommodation, guaranteed sunshine, we took as much benefit of those times as we could.

After that my next country was Hungary, a visit to Budapest with friends, then Denmark and Copenhagen for a work conference, and more recently I took myself to Germany to visit Berlin and last year we headed to Sweden for a wonderful long weekend in Gothenburg.

It’s been a few days since the UK officially left the European Union. Brexit was voted for by the majority (a few years ago), and we have a political party who drove it home knowing it would allow them to retain power for a few more years at least.

Europe still exists, of course, but it’s different now. Well, not now, the trade agreements, the laws, the ratification and debate will take some time to come to decisions on some things so for a while nothing will change. Until slowly, the change begins.

I don’t know what those changes will be, it seems likely that we will end up paying more for things than we have in the past. It may mean it becomes cheaper to visit non-European countries, or prices travel out of the reach for many people. It may mean some of the things we have grown used to having are no longer available to us, be they products, services, or just cultural experiences.

I did not vote for Brexit.

I do not know what the future will hold, maybe it will all be fine.

But my real fear isn’t in the cost to me (although that fear is real and valid) but that this is one more step towards a more nationalistic view, the return to the sovereign state, the continued focused on southern England as the ‘UK’, and the slow eradication of all the wonderful regional differences that England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently enjoy.

Brexit might be the best thing that has ever happened to the UK, for all citizens of the UK. I doubt it but I’m trying to remain open-minded. However it’s very very hard to do so when we are now governed by a group of people who I do not trust, and have no faith in to act in anything other than their own best interests. They are more interested in being IN power and retaining that power, than any of the responsibilities that come with that.

As Douglas Adams wrote:

The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

And here I falter. I am scared for the future. My future, your future; regardless of where you come from, where you now live, what you work as, what colour your skin is, what religion you follow, what people you are attracted to, what your disability is, how much money you earn.

And again I falter to find the words, and so I turn to others.

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. —Abraham Lincoln

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any. —Alice Walker

We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. —George Orwell

In Scotland, of course, there is a different discussion, one driven by the hope for Independence, one revived by the outcome of Brexit, one which calls for a step away from the increasingly blusterous and dismissive noise of Westminster. I’m not sure what the future holds there either.

I’m not sure 2020 is going to provide many answers and this has been my issue all along, it started with the first Scottish Independence Referendum and burbled along with no small measure of bamboozled amazement in the run up to the Brexit vote and beyond.

I woke in a field in Glastonbury to the Brexit news. It sent a shock-wave through the festival that day, dominating the conversation with random strangers bumped into in bars, at stages, whilst eating food. What on earth happened and, more pertinently, what happens next?

And there it is, the question no-one could answer back then, and the one that no-one can answer today; What’s Next? How will things sit by the end of 2020? By the end of 2021? By the year 2030??

It all feels so reactionary, so short-sighted and blinkered and badly considered. No-one on either side can do little more than provide a brief commentary of guesses and blundering nonsense, sound-bites to placate the masses.

Perhaps my real fear is the growing realisation that, despite having million dollar budgets, thousands of workers, and surely no shortage of intelligence (somewhere), the people running the country have little to no idea how any of this will pan out. The growing realisation that all my adult life I’ve presumed that that was their job, to look at the bigger picture, look beyond today and tomorrow, and that they might act with a sense to the greater good, seems to proving false.

How naive.

Glastonbury Holiday News Politics Travel

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I’m not always in the mood for dancing (sorry Nolan Sisters) but when I am, I do enjoy throwing some shapes, even if they are slightly awkward and inflexible looking ones. The rush of endorphins when a favourite song comes on and you lose yourself to the beats and rhythms never fails to make me happy. It’s the type of thing I don’t do enough of, but whenever I do I promise myself I won’t leave it so long again.

And so last Saturday found me excited to spend the night bopping and shimmying my heart out, along with a couple of hundred other be-headphone people, at the wonder that is the Silent Disco. What a great night it was too, bringing back fond memories of my first encounter with this wonderful type of event, a few years ago at Glastonbury.

~wibbly wobbly timey wimey ~

Glastonbury is a big place, and we had been on our feet most of the day. Exploring on the Thursday is a good way to get the lay of the land, figure out what is where (they move some things around almost every year) and just get into the festival spirit. The mass crowds don’t arrive until early the next morning, so it’s a calmer, less busy time and we’d been enjoying wandering around in the sunshine. By Thursday evening we’d had enough of exploring and decided to meander back to the tent (all the better to prepare ourselves for the long weekend of music and frivolity ahead).

We headed back through the Silver Hayes area and ahead of us, in one of the open sided dance tents, we could see some people dancing away inside. We were a distance away so couldn’t hear any music so it wasn’t until we got closer that we realised there was no music coming from that tent at all. How weird! Peering through the dusk we could see that everyone inside had lights glowing from their heads like some weird alien takeover. Some were green, some were blue, others were red.

Then it struck us, Silent Disco!!

We hustled over, paid our deposits, donned the headphones and wandered into the tent, a little bewildered but already itching to dance.

And ohhhh It was utterly joyous. The false privacy afforded by headphones means you truly are able to dance like no-one is watching (just close your eyes) and any interactions with other people were mostly through gestures. It’s such a simple idea, push a button on the headphones to pick between three channels of DJ and dance your heart out! And so we did, for over 4 hours before we gave up around 2am, exhausted but so happy.

So I was genuinely excited to be going to a silent disco again, and see how well it translated from the sunshine evenings of Glastonbury, to a cold dark winter night in Glasgow. Answer; very well indeed!!

Of course a silent disco is anything but – slipping your headphones off you can hear the cacophony of people singing along – yet it brings a wonderful camaraderie; a shared moment of delight when you and the people dancing next to you have just switched channels and your favourite song has just come on, the bewildering joy of trying to figure out what song THAT person is dancing to, and which song THAT person is singing along to with their head thrown back and arms reaching up to the sky.

Dance like no one is watching, love like you’ve never been hurt; sing like no one is listening, and live like it’s heaven on earth.

And, dear reader, I did and as we roll towards 2019 I’m more determined than ever to continue to do so.

Glastonbury Life Personal Musings

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I hadn’t really thought on it but as last weekend approached, and I chatted to people I knew who were going, I realised how much FOMO I was feeling with not going to Glastonbury this year.

Add in three of my favourite bands playing (one of which was a surprise addition) and the FOMO was strong with this one! Ohh and then ALL the sunshine whereas last year we had ALL the rain… pfffttttt!

Trying to explain why Glastonbury is such a wonderful experience, especially to those who haven’t been before, is tricky. Yes it’s massive, yes if it rains it kinda sucks to be sodden all day long, yes I have seen many of the bands already, yes you are outdoors the entire time, but none of that is the point.

It’s also tricky if your only experience is the bampot-laden drink/drugs/twat fest that T in the Park has become. Not that there aren’t drinks/drugs/twats at Glastonbury, more that it’s so massive you can easily stay away from them and even the drunkest drunk (or highest high) is usually apologetically stumbling around rather than looking for a fight.

So why do I enjoy Glastonbury? Why are the queues, the loos, and the expensive booze worth the hassle?

From arriving on the Wednesday you can revel in those first couple of days before it gets really busy, you have time to just wander about, marvelling at the artwork and the installations, and that’s when I find I start to relax and embrace the whole Glastonburyness of it. The entire space feels disconnected from the rest of the world and from the circus area to the green fields, everything is focussed on having fun, being happy, and being good to one another. What’s not to like?

But maybe it’s me.

I have a basic assumption about people. People are nice.

On the whole the majority of people are nice, caring, kind at heart. Sure we all deal with assholes and brainless wonders every day (and remember, nice people don’t make the news!) but away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, where we are all caught up in our own worlds (and probably being a bit of an asshole to others in our own way as well) that’s where Glastonbury exists. A safe place, where the nicer and friendlier you are, the more rewarding it is. Where a smile is quickly shared and people are thoughtful and considerate.

Families pushing kids in buggies, the couple in their 70s who’ve been at every Glastonbury since 1983, the group all dressed in skintight neon lyrca disco gear, sit down next to any of them in a bar, or with a coffee on a bench, and strike up a conversation. The police officers smilingly rejecting the offer of a joint at 2am, the security guard dancing with Katy Perry, all the caterers and bar staff who are working 12 hour shifts but still smiling.

Jonny Greenwood captured it perfectly when he said “the thing about Glastonbury is that, when you leave on Monday, your faith in humanity is restored”. This is exactly why I was a bit sad I wasn’t there this year, dancing like an idiot in the silent disco on Thursday night, because it was always (even though I didn’t realise it) more of a re-grounding and re-connecting experience that I ever gave it credit for. It was big and new and scary and weird and wonderful and sometimes that’s just what you need to remind you that, actually, the world is pretty damn awesome if you keep your eyes and heart open.

Rain or shine, a few days outside in the fresh air is good for the soul. Be it amazing headliners on the Pyramid stage or a new discovery at the Pussy Parlour, music is good for the spirits. They all come together in a million and one memories that build a picture of happiness and love and acceptance.

THAT is Glastonbury.

That is the mental and emotional reset button that I now realised I was missing.

And then the Foo Fighters played Under Pressure…

Glastonbury Personal Musings

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Mud. Lots and lots of mud.

Thick, gloopy, sticky, and slippy all at once, my legs feel very toned after a few days of dealing with it, but hey, what’s a little mud amongst friends?

Glastonbury, for me, is a strange place full of experiences weird and wonderful, of random conversations with friendly strangers, of magical moments of connection, all underpinned by a sense of togetherness, a sense of something good and positive. Given the events that transpired whilst we were away it was a welcome distraction.

Glastonbury is also about performances. Music dominates, but everywhere you turn there is something to catch your eye. It’s a wonderful space, full of diversity and vibrancy.

Alas the mud – the effort of trawling through it at least – meant that my wanderings were more limited than in previous years. I didn’t make it to Shangri-la, nor to Greenfields, and only one wander through the Circus/Cabaret area, with the rest of my time spent wandering from music venue to music venue.

It did mean I caught a lot of acts, but few full sets – John Grant, Madness, ELO and Muse the only acts to get that distinction – but this was no bad thing.

Thursday was a quieter day, a day for wandering and sussing out where the muddiest spots were. It’s also a day for the Heds Party silent disco. It runs from 8pm to 7am and whilst we were virtually first in the queue, we did tap out around 1am, but ohhh it’s such fun!!

Friday saw us go our separate ways which for me meant catching Unknown Mortal Orchestra, White Denim, and Muse. I had planned on more but I’ve given up being too prescribed, so just went with the flow, stopping to listen to a catchy oompa-loompa style folk band at the bandstand, and chilling out whilst I ate some food with a reggae band who’s name I completely missed.

Saturday was a day for more determined wandering. Haelos, Nothing But Thieves, Squeeze, Madness, John Grant, Fatboy Slim and New Order before my legs told me to stop being such an idiot and an early night was called. Still wish I’d been able to get to the Philip Glass Heroes Symphony but c’est la vie.

Sunday brought us ELO (who didn’t bring blue skies but did stop the rain at least), Band of Horses, Of Monsters and Men, Beck, PJ Harvey and Earth, Wind and Fire. And then a nice smooth drive out of a very muddy field (phew) and on past Bristol before 2am!

Now, back to the run of the mill life. A place with indoor toilets, baths, and very little mud. It’s quite nice.

I did watch some of the BBC recordings to see what else I missed and have to admit that there is something charmingly down-to-earth about Adele’s reaction, and that Coldplay do put on a good upbeat anthemic show. It also allowed me to see some of the acts I’d hoped to catch but couldn’t (far too many conflicts!) including Grimes, Guy Garvey, LCD Soundsystem, Roisin Murphy, Aurora, Explosions in the Sky and many more.

The weather was a bit of a dampener for sure, and I wasn’t really feeling right all the way through the weekend but regardless of a dodgy stomach, Glastonbury continues to be a unique experience and, money permitting, I’m hoping to make it back next year and praying that the mud won’t be quite as bad!


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With our tickets booked for Glastonbury this year, myself and the two lovely ladies who let me be a part of their lives are determined to be a bit fitter for it.

Glastonbury = walking. A LOT of walking and standing around. A LOT of walking and standing around and hills.

Basically it’s a big place and you spend a lot of time on your feet. Last year we promised ourselves we’d be better prepared but we never really managed it. This year I’m determined!

One of the issues we have is the location of our ‘off-site’ campsite which is at the top of the hill on the opposite side of the valley from the big GLASTONBURY sign (which is near the top of the hill on that side). Every night we have to leave Glastonbury and trudge up the hill… it’s a balance of sore feet and legs versus creature comforts (a quiet campsite, clean toilets, showers and plenty of space.

So, the plan is to do some hill-walking and in that respect we are very lucky as we have some gorgeous scenery and walks available to us, all just a short drive from Glasgow.

I’m looking forward to it as I’ll be revisiting several walks I did when I was younger and did them as part of various activities for the Boys Brigade. The first few are local enough to where I grew up you only had to walk for 30 mins to get to the start of the ‘walk’ itself.

Anyway, time marches on, it’s already February so we’d better get our fingers out! Not just from a fitness point of view but I’m already very aware that each week is zipping past with few gaps so, if nothing else, we at least need to get plans in place ASAP!

Glastonbury Health

It’s always a bit odd, returning home after spending 5 days trudging round fields, drinking cider and enjoying various forms of entertainment, the post festival blues are real.

My third time at Glastonbury and it continues to delight, amaze, annoy and bewilder all at the same time. I come away with real thoughts of changing my life, examining what I currently deem makes me happy – all these THINGS and OBJECTS, what do they give me? – and challenge myself to try and change, even a little. This, nicely, fits with the ongoing desire to simplify and minimise my life.

Entertainment wise, it was mostly music based this year, and a lot of walking and exploring, still didn’t find the hidden piano bar but did cover almost every single part of the site. Favourite performances were probably Nadine Shah, Mary J. Blige, and The Chemical Brothers. But a lot of other notable mentions – Furs, Gaz Coombes, Florence and the Machine, Pharrell…

Next time I’m determined to avoid the Pyramid and Other Stage as much as I can, but then I’d have missed Lionel Ritchie (biggest crowd of the weekend!), I still think it’s a good aim, there is so much to see and do.

And now back to reality which is devoid of cider, hills, and random conversations with strangers – this year we met Martin who was, it’s safe to say, completely off his face. Lovely bloke though.

A final highlight was a brief chat with one of the policemen who said he’d been working at the Festival for the past 20 years and it’s gone from being a nightmare to a pleasant, enjoyable experience.

Well done Glastonbury, maybe see you next year?


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It’s a different world. A different reality where hours and days merge, and you spend most of your time in a state of heightened attention as you try to absorb everything that is going on.

It was our second Glastonbury, the first rushing past in a blur of bands and mud. Last time around we spent too much time worrying about time, trying to get from stage to stage, thinking that we had to get the most from the weekend by seeing as many bands as we could.

This time around we took a different approach, made easier by the fact that a lot of the ‘big names’ weren’t really our cup of tea. Instead we wandered the Circus area, Greenfields, the smaller tents. We made stops for specific bands, The Villagers in the John Peel Tent, Portishead and Smashing Pumpklins on the Other Stage, Dizzee Rascal on the Pyramid Stage and yes, we were there for the Rolling Stones (more on that in a bit).

For the most part though we wandered. We stopped to watch a French woman do some amazing tricks on a bike, laughed and joined in with a juggler/magician/comedian on a tiny stage right on a busy corner of the site. We visited the Rabbit Hole, we danced and sang at the Silent Disco, we boogied in Beat Hotel (and other places), we explored Shangri-la during the day but didn’t make it back at night (that’ll be on the list for next time).

And we had a blast. We walked until our feet hurt, then stopped and danced and walked some more. There is so much to do at Glastonbury, so much away from the main stages to take in and all of it, every single second of it, is relaxed. Sure it can get busy, the crush coming out of the Acoustic tent after seeing KT Tunstall wasn’t great but not a patch on the madness that was Saturday night at the Pyramid Stage, but it’s never threatening. The spirit is very much ‘we are all in this together’.

We didn’t watch all of the Rolling Stones. Not because they were bad, but because we were too far away to feel connected to it. The crowds had built over the entire day, people camped out and waited from mid-afternoon. We heard the first few tracks then spent about an hour trying to fit our way through the crowds to get somewhere, anywhere, else.

That aside, it was a fantastic weekend. Will we go next year? Maybe, maybe not. For the same money we could spend a week on a warm beach but… would that make me feel so alive?

Coming back home (we left early on Sunday night as we weren’t bothered about the two main headliners) was odd. It’s funny how quickly you adjust to a new schedule, a new approach to the day to day aspects of life. Sure it’s great to have a hot shower, a comfortable bed, but every day life does seem quite boring, mundane even.

Glastonbury is huge, both in scale and in physical size. Even if you are only partially interested in the music aspect, I’d encourage you to go to experience it. Can’t wait until the next one.


We decided on a later start on Sunday, largely because we were knackered and not that fussed about seeing any of the bands on earlier. In hindsight this was a good move as it means we weren’t out in the blazing hot sun all day, but even then we had to seek out the shade whenever we could. This meant we heard a little of Laura Marling from the beer tent, but I don’t think we missed all that much.

We ventured out to try and find a spot of shade and catch Paul Simon, and whilst we couldn’t see much of what was going on, he delivered what sounded like a competent set. Definitely one of those artists that you forget has so many well known songs. Needless to say those from Graceland made the biggest impression, getting people up on their feet and dancing!

After that we headed to the Other Stage where we would spend the rest of the day. We stopped on the way for some food and caught the end of the TV on the Radio set (sounded good!), before setting up camp for Eels. Now THAT is one helluva hirsute band! Beards aside, they delivered a slick set with some good banter to keep things moving along. Didn’t know much of their stuff but will be seeking it out now.

And then the Kaiser Chiefs arrived. I hate the Kaiser Chiefs. Well, that’s not true, I don’t hate them, I just hate the fact that most of their songs are so bloody catchy they get stuck in my head (Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby! … see!!). I had heard they were good live and have to admit I was well impressed. Full of energy, upbeat and a great setup for the headliners. It was quite a sight to see the flags and raised hands silhouetted against the setting sun, and the Kaiser Chiefs were one of the surprises for me.

As darkness descended, on strode Josh Homme and Queens of the Stone Age. They were there to deliver, mostly, a set of songs chosen by their fans and from the outset they were loud, raucous and absolutely nailed it. Having seen them live a few weeks ago in Glasgow I had a sense of what they were about but, and I hate myself for admitting this, Josh Homme is just one stone cold, cool motherfucker. Swigging from a bottle of vodka? tequila?, cigarette dangling from his lips as he strummed the intro chords, they delivered a killer set and I swear the volume level went up for the last few tracks. Certainly the loudest thing I heard all weekend and a cracking way to finish Glastonbury for us.

Well, almost.

Wearily starting the walk back to the campsite, we could hear music off in the distance. As we got closer we realised it was Kool & the Gang and they’d just started playing Celebration. Cue many staggering, tired or just drunk people starting to sing along, quietly to themselves.

Standing at the tent, looking down the hill at the spotlights scanning the sky, the thumping bass from the dance tents still throbbing, and the general clatter for several thousand people milling around, talking and laughing, all of a sudden it was over. Just like that.

Would I go back? Yes.

Would I do it differently? Yes. There is so much to explore and we didn’t see even a quarter of what we could.

The good thing is I’ve got a couple of years to plan it…

Thank you Glastonbury, it was emotional!


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