30 Sept 2016

Festival No.6: the good, the bad, the ugly | Day 4 (Aka Stranded In A Flooded Field)

Festival No.6

So I'm recapping our time at Festival No.6 at the beginning of September. This final post doesn't include seeing Bastille live as we did on Day One (here) or halloumi fries like we had on Day Two (here) or gorgeous estuary views like we saw on Day Three (also here).

Yup, it's finally time to tell you about Day Four and how we got stranded in a flooded field.

Festival No.6

Day Four

The good: 

• Unopened tube of Pringles still in the car. Win.

• Er, that’s it.

The bad:

Someone (looking at you FN6 organisers, looking at you) thought it would be a good idea to have the park and ride site on a KNOWN FLOOD PLAIN.

HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF ANYTHING MORE RIDICULOUS?

Nah. Didn’t think so.

For the record, we were not aware of this when we parked our lil (note: white) Fiat Panda in the field when we arrived. If we had, we may have considered parking elsewhere. If we’d know it was going to rain two inches in 12 hours and the river would burst its banks... we’d have got the train.

Before leaving the site on Monday morning, event organisers were walking around asking us what time we arrived. The deal was; if you arrived before 2pm on Friday, your car probably wasn’t underwater. If you arrived after 2pm on Friday, stay on site cos you were fucked.

We arrived at 10:30am on the Friday so we took our chances. We pressed our mud-stained faces against the window of the shuttle bus as we drove into the park and ride site. G saw our lil car and, from a distance, she looked like she was still standing so we felt hopeful.

LOL.

They told us that those in the furthest field shouldn’t even attempt to get out but the rest of us should try and, if we got stuck, to put our hazards on and a tractor would come save us.

Um, come again?

Yeah, 20 tractors and a JCB digger driving round rescuing smelly festival goers and their cars from the mud.

Festival No.6


The ugly:

Our car was right at the end of the field before the end field. I.E. we were a mini swamp and traffic cone away from being in the field that was totally buggered. But, hey, we could still see a great big patch of green grass near our car. We had hope.

We were idiots.

We got approximately five foot from our original parking space before we were in the middle of what can only be described as a well disguised swamp. That patch of green grass wasn’t such a good thing after all.

After several unsuccessful, mud-spattering attempts to move, we accepted we were well and truly stuck, flicked the hazards on and sat politely in the car waiting for a tractor to come and save us.
Just in case I had to get back out in the rain again, I kept my waterproof on but pulled a bin bag over myself in an attempt to keep the car seat dry. Just call me Kate Moss.

What soon became obvious, however, was that this was not a time to be ultimately British. There was no order, no system, no ‘who was here first’. The JCB digger came past us several times without registering our existence (but then he also got stuck in the mud which was equally satisfying [karma] and worrying...) and the tractors weren’t coming anywhere near our direction. More and more people were arriving back to their cars, flicking on their hazards without even attempting to move and being rescued before us simply because they were in close proximity to the tractors.

This was less than ideal.

Eventually, I got out and waded/slipped my way over to another car who had been there a while and the woman inside told me that a blue tractor was making the rounds in that area but it might be best to wave when he’s nearby so he’s aware we were there.

Which is how I ended up jumping up and down in the mud wearing a bin bag every time I saw a tractor nearby. What is life.

 FINALLY, after what felt like hours, the JCB digger returned after freeing itself from the mud. The driver stopped by us and shouted down at me.

“Have you got your tow-eye in?”

My what?!

He raised his eyebrows at me.

“That would be advisable” he said with a look of disdain and DROVE OFF. 

This from the man who had managed to get a JCB digger stuck earlier.

Prick.

After literally ripping off the cover in the boot (turns out G can snap a hefty chunk of plastic in half when he’s annoyed enough), dropping the tent into the swamp (where it fully submerged itself in swampy water) and scrambling through the car manual (So. Many. Paper. Cuts.), we found the tow-eye buried under the spare wheel and screwed it into the front of the car.

We then both did some more jumping up and down like lunatics as tractors kept driving to save other people and finally, with epic music playing in the background*, a tractor drove towards us.

The driver gave us a polite nod, hopped down, tied the car and tractor together and off we went.

Now, if you have ever had you car pulled over what can only be described as actual MOUNTAINS of mud by a cheery welsh tractor driver, then you will probably understand how surreal and ridiculous those few minutes felt. If you haven’t, I can’t help you I’m afraid.

The car was covered in mud; most worryingly, it was stuck on the underside and in the wheels, and we lost the cap that covered the area where the tow-eye screwed in but it still worked and we managed to make the four hour trip back. Other people weren’t so lucky and the mud caused irreversible damage to their cars. May those four-wheeled heroes rest in peace. 

The rest of the day included a desperate attempt to find a public toilet in the middle of Snowdonia National Park, a filthy Burger King, horrendous traffic around Birmingham and the discovery that my thumb had gone grey (literally) after wearing a plaster for four days.

Needless to say, we were both exceptionally happy to get home, shower and sleep.


*alright, the epic music may have just been in my head.



Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6

26 Sept 2016

Festival No.6: the good, the bad, the ugly | Days 2-3

Festival No.6

Part #1 here. Last year's posts here and here.

Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6


Day Two

The good:

• Listen up. The day started with banana, peanut butter and salted caramel crumpets. Yeah, exactly.

• It was really interesting to listen to a Q&A with Ricky Tomlinson and Johnny Vegas talking about Ricky’s time as a political prisoner and the film they made documenting it. 

• We hid from the rain in the comedy tent all afternoon. Discovering new comedians that made our ribs hurt from giggling helped us forget that we resembled a pair of drowned slugs.

• Welsh choir. I spoke about these guys last year but they are so very impressive no matter how many times you see them. 

• Halloumi fries. I don’t really need to say anymore, surely?

• A cute, make-shift wine bar. It had fairy lights and was a lil bit magical. The cushions on the seats were soaking after the downpour so hi wet arse but you can’t have everything. Fairy lights and wine made up for it.

The bad:

• It rained two inches of rain in 12 hours. Literally bouncing back, with little shelter. It took approximately one and half minutes for every single person at the festival to be soaked to the very, dark core. There were also 40mph winds. Just to add to the bants.

• The comedy tent had a power cut thanks to the weather and we were all ‘evacuated’ because health and safety regulations meant that no one was allowed to stay in the tent whilst they fixed it. We stood in the rain for 45 minutes waiting to be let back in. Oh torrential downpour you cutie.

The ugly:

The mud. Imagine Glastonbury. But with everything on a fuck-off big slope. And without any of Glastonbury’s methods of dealing with it. How I escaped with both my wellies, I’ll never know.  Also my laptop keeps trying to correct ‘wellies’ to ‘willies’ and I’m giggling like a five year old.

Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6


Day Three

The good: 

• Last year, I discovered the performance poet JB Barrington who is so, so good. We were part of the crowd in his intimate, 45 minute performance this year and therefore part of the few people who saw him propose to his partner. Pretty darn special experience.

• Remember the goat’s cheese, walnut and honey sandwich from last year? Yeah, well, it happened again.

• So we got lost in the woods (on purpose) and then made it our mission to get down to the beach. When we finally got down there (after a spot of abseiling... don’t ask, just look below), we basically spent two hours walking along the endless sand and clambering over rocks in our wellies, like we were kids all over again.

• A hot dog covered in chilli, cheese and jalapeƱos and a peppermint hot chocolate. So many new taste sensations in one go!

• Oh and I also experienced literally the best mint choc chip ice cream I’ve ever had. Life complete.

• I mean, who doesn’t want to see Noel Gallagher and several thousand people sing Wonderwall live? All together now: I said maybeeeeeee.... 

The bad:

Yeah, so you’d have thought getting down to the beach would have been simple but it involved just a spot of, ya know, abseiling. You had to grab this old piece of rope that looked like it was there by accident, swing off the path and shimmy down a small cliff face. Yeah sure, it was only a few feet but this shit does not come naturally to me. G shimmied down all casual... I dropped like a potato. And got rope burn.

The ugly:

• Whilst in the crowd watching Echo and the Bunnymen, the girl next to us was attempting to toss off her boyfriend. I did warn you it was ugly.

• Warnings were flashing up on the screens asking people who had driven to the festival to remain on site the next morning due to the fact that the fields where the cars were parked had flooded... Oh, that would be us then.

Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6

Keep an eye out for the next post which involves a car park on a flood plain, tractors & JCB diggers and a hella lot of mud... 

21 Sept 2016

Festival No.6: the good, the bad, the ugly | Day 1

Festival No.6

Bastille’s new album came out the week before last and G stopped by HMV on his way back from work on the day it came out to pick it up for me. If that doesn’t speak marriage material then I dunno what does.

So it goes without saying that I’m writing this whilst listening to their new album.

Also I saw them live for the first time during the first weekend of September and that still makes me a little emotional every time I think about it.

I am just all about Bastille right now.

I finally saw them live at Festival No.6 in Wales. It was our second year at the festival and it felt a lot more dramatic than last year which was so super chilled. But then last year we didn’t have two inches of rain in less than 12 hours or 40mph gale force winds.

Or end the weekend with our car needing to be pulled out of a flooded field by a tractor.

Yeah. That happened.

I think this year, more than ever, the whole festival experience was reinforced for me. Let’s say it how it is guys. Those people who post photos on social media with flowers in the hair and dots on their face are putting across that image that we all like to have of festivals. That it’s all sun and fruit ciders and amazing bands.

When the reality is not so picturesque and we all know it. 

Well, unless you’ve never been to a festival and you thought it was all sun and fruit ciders and amazing bands. In which case, I may be about to ruin all your pre-conceived notions forevs. Soz an that.

Every festival I’ve been to has been bloody hard work. Yet filled with unforgettable, magical moments. In one day you can have one of the best life experiences (i.e. finally seeing Bastille live) and then the worst (i.e. getting the shits in a festival portaloo... um, soz if you were eating). It’s a total  head fuck.

So this is pretty much how our weekend went down, warts and all, and split into more than one post just to prolong the excitement of the tractor story.

(FYI – Festival No. 6 is set around Portmeirion in Wales. There’s two main fields, the wacky and wonderful town of Portmeirion, a massive forest and an estuary. If you get confused, last year’s post is here. Past Kate probably explains it better.)

The alarm went off at 5am on the Friday and we dragged ourselves from bed to car. It’s a 4 hour drive from St A to Wales and we wanted to miss the rush hour traffic around Birmingham hence the hideousness of the hour.

We stopped briefly for croissants and couldn’t find the park n ride for an age when we made it to Portmeirion but by midday we had parked up, hopped on the shuttle bus to the site, walked up a hefty hill and had found a spot to pitch the tent.

Oh and it wasn’t raining.

Win.

Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6


Festival No.6


Day One

The good: 

In keeping with last year, we got some chorizo and red pepper scotch eggs with sweet potato fries for our lunch, and first food of the festival. We went and found a bench in the main field where we played spot the difference between FN6 2015 and FN6 2016. Oh and a guy leaned over and told me he couldn’t stop staring at my egg. I think he was high.

We walked round the main field, into the small field, through the town and right down to the estuary, still checking out the differences from last year. The buzz started to feel infectious and we both got a craving for a cider. So we watched the paddle boarders for a while whilst sipping on Summer Berries Old Mout Cider and the sun peaked through. Yay.

We decided to solve our mid-afternoon energy slump with churros whilst watching Clean Cut Kid in the main field. Yeah baby.

Hollie McNish. A sassy, empowering performance poet and author who I freakin love. She performed and made me laugh and cry and basically get all the emotional feels. Also, she’s bizarrely performed at my mum’s work conference and instagrammed a pic of my mum last year calling her a ‘fucking don’. My mum thought she was being insulted, I had to explain slang; it was bants. I eventually plucked up the courage to go tell Hollie this story (which she thought was hilarious), and that I love her work. She hugged me and so I can only assume we’re now bffs? No one reading this will understand what the eff I’m chatting here but I don’t even care. It was marvellous.

I ate Anna Mae’s mac n cheese (oh maaaan) whilst watching Kaiser Chiefs. We also discovered the Crumble Shack which, hands down, best crumble I have EVER had. Fiiiiianlly people who understand my custard – topping – fruit ratio. So. Effing. Good.

BASTILLE LIVE AFTER WAITING HALF MY LIFE. Danced and cried in equal unison and it was beautiful. I was so tired afterwards (been awake for soooo long) but the adrenaline was too much so we sat people watching for a while whilst drinking plum juice. Hashtag wild party gal.

The bad:

I literally ripped half my nail off when putting up the tent. It caught on a clip and literally tore from my skin. It bled. It stung like a bitch.

Good job I packed that family pack of plasters eh? Hashtag adulting. 

The ugly: 

I woke up at 2am 98% sure I was going to vom, or ya know... the other one. This is some kind of hellish experience on the best of days but when you’re in a tent and your only way to a toilet is through the death trap of overlapping tent guy ropes, I assure you it is NOT THE ONE. Also the only option of toilet is a festival portaloo. And the security guard thought I was drunk and lost. Good oh.

Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6
Festival No.6

Keep an eye out for the next post which involves power cuts, halloumi fries and dodgy sexual shenanigans...  

16 Sept 2016

To the person verbally abusing the homeless man,

A letter

You know nothing about me. Although, that doesn’t seem to be something that bothers you in life. 

Just for info, I’m the girl who gave you the deepest look of disgust outside St Pancras station yesterday evening. When you were verbally abusing the homeless man begging on the side of the street.

I stood on my train home from work and I wanted to throw things at you tbh. You'd just disgusted me in so many ways and created this hot anger inside of me.

Go fuck yourself.

Is what I wanted to say.

I didn’t. Not to your face anyway. I am on here, but I don't imagine my blog is a regular destination in your internet browsing.

I walk a mile and a half every day, from the station to my office. The amount of homeless people on this walk has tripled in the 18 months I've been doing it.

It pains me to admit that I walk past them every day with little recognition. Don't we all? It’s like none of us know how to truly react so we keep on walking with our heads down, hoping we don’t catch their eye. And don't we all feel horribly uncomfortable about it?

Not you obviously.

Yesterday was the first time I witnessed someone verbally abusing someone begging on the ground as we all hurried on by. That was you btw.

I walked passed him first. Black. Big, brown eyes. Dangerously thin. He caught my attention because he had an expressive sort of face. Meaning the desperation on it was particularly clear. It was a young, yet prematurely aged face. One hand was raised in the air. I don't know for sure, but the build of him, the way the blanket was wrapped around him, suggested he had some kind of disability in his legs. I felt a pang as I, almost automatically, walked passed him. I think it was his expressive face. I'd just had the desire to turn around when I heard you.

Shouting.

I heard you despite the fact that Bastille were blasting in my ears; my headphones turned up high as usual to block out the sound of Euston Road traffic.

'Would help if you got a fucking job. Go get a job you lazy piece of shit.'

I turned round and saw you. White. Grey. Dangerously overweight. Fag hanging from mouth. Hands rolling another.

Stereotypical judgements jumped to mind automatically. Your football shirt suggested that you yourself were not part of the throng of people rushing into St Panc station on their way home from work. Yet you were not old enough to be retired. Your slow, lumbering walk suggested you are not able to rush anywhere tbh.

I hate these automatic judgements and how they slip so easily into mind, in all walks of life. We are all conditioned with them but I try hard to fight against them when they pop into my own brain. It is one of the reasons I have chastised friends in the past for the belief that someone who is homeless has got there by their own admission. I am not perfect. Like so many of us, I do not stop to speak to those who are homeless. I rarely give them money. But I do believe you cannot know their story simply by looking at them. You don't know the mistakes they have made. The lot that life has given them. I am in the place I am because life has been kind to me. Because none of my mistakes have been catastrophic and, even if they had been, I have people in my life who will catch me when I fall. Many people are not so lucky and I believe it is a lot easier to end up in a heap on those London streets then any of us can ever imagine.

I don't like that I am assuming you probably cannot work because of your obesity. The girl inside of me that shouts about body-positivity cringes. I don't like that your football shirt makes me jump to bullshit assumptions. I know as little of your life as I do of the man you’re shouting at.

We are all guilty of these notions. Pre-conceived conceptions. Like I say, they are continuously pushed upon us and it is a lot more effort to fight against them in our own head than it is to just accept them.

But that is the difference between you and me I guess. I choose to fight against them. Like I say, I am not perfect. I could do more. But I try to not let myself be, well, you. To not descend down the slippery slope that leads to you and those similar. You choose to, not only accept those notions, but to embrace and act upon them.

I frowned at you. You caught my eye. I hope you saw my disgust. But I didn’t challenge you. And I feel ashamed for not doing so. For walking past the nameless homeless guy in the first place.

Once thing is clear: whilst I try not to make assumptions about your life, just as I believe we shouldn’t make assumptions about those forced to live on the streets, you’re yelling abuse at a complete stranger.

So, yes, I will work hard to not judge you on your obesity, your football shirt, your fag. I know nothing of your life.

But I’m sure as hell going to judge you for being a nasty shit who shouts degrading abuse at the vulnerable.

Not-so-kind regards,

The girl who gave you evils

11 Sept 2016

13 Reasons To Be Pretty Darn Excited About Autumn

13 Reasons To Be Pretty Darn Excited About Autumn

Controversial statement: I haven’t been feeling summer this year.

Don’t hate on me and all that.

I love the sunshine and the heat... but not when I have to, ya know, live my life. I adore it abroad. Literally adore it. Or when I can sit under a big tree in the park with a book, notepad and relentless supply of Raspberry magnums.

But when I have to get on a Thameslink train and go to work?

NAH.

You know what overwhelmingly springs to mind when I think of summer this year? The incident on the over packed train home from work where I momentarily thought I’d had some kind of bladder-related accident.

IT WAS SWEAT. DRIPPING OFF MY LEGS.

No one fucking needs that.

This year, more than ever, I’ve realised autumn is my month. Or maybe it’s just that I’m done with the upper-lip sweat thing I constantly have going on atm.

Am I talking about sweat too much?

I’m so ready guys. In fact, I’ve never been so excited for a season to begin. I keep randomly listing all the things I love about autumn when they pop into my head and G isn’t finding it annoying at all.

Lol. Blatant lie. He’s praying I’ll stfu. So I’m writing it down instead.

1) Cosiness. Rain-lashing-against-the-window-whilst-you’re-so-warm-and-toasty-in-bed cosiness. Snuggling together under the duvet, rather than pushing as far away from your other half as is possible cos you’re about to melt wicked witch of the west style. ALL THE COSINESS. 

2) Cafes & hot chocolate. Cosy cafes are so the one. Catching up with friends, taking a break from the cold, watching the world go by, reading a book, sitting with your notepad. It’s all pretty fiiiiine. St Albans is FULL of cafes and I want to have tried them all before spring arrives again. Also, hot chocolate season is here. The only hot drink I will drink. IT’S MY TIME. I recently tried a peppermint hot chocolate and sweet heaven was it dreamy. I’ve googled it and Starbucks do them apparently and there’s a Starbucks 2 seconds from my flat. BOOM. 

3) Bubble baths. I don’t really trust people who don’t like baths... just putting it out there. They’re just not the same in summer though. But sinking into a steaming hot bath full of bubbles after being out in the cold may be one of the all-time best things in life. 

4) Candles and fairy lights. That soft glow that you can create with a small lamp but is so much more magical when created with candles and fairy lights. Once September wakes up and drops the temperature a few degrees (hurry up would ya pal?), I am going to indulge in a few scented candles because nothing creates all the cosiness feels better then having a load of candles gathered round the bath. 

5) TV. This is the time of year where TV dramas up their game. Have you been watching One of Us? I am hooooooked. Bake Off is dreamy aaaand, deep breath, Poldark is back. Then there’s all those boxsets you can crack on with and let’s not forget the joy of watching a film on a rainy, wintery Sunday afternoon. 

6) Blankets. Fresh, cosy pyjamas. Chunky, fluffy socks. ALL THE SCARVES. You get my gist. 

7) CHRISTMAS. Unapologetic Christmas-lover over here. The decorations, the lights, the food, the markets, the childlike joy. That magical, fairytale like feeling that only Christmas can create. I’m ready for ya Christmas me old pal. 

8) The colours. Yesterday, I took my first shoes-in-leaves shot (above) and I ain’t even sorry. Those autumnal colours are the stuff of dreams and I just cannot get enough of them.  

9) Those fresh, crisp days. You know the ones. Clear blue sky, a gentle wind swirling the golden leaves around, that crisp freshness in the air... Promise I’m not trying to write a poem about autumn. 

10) The lack of guilt when you get home from work and wrap yourself in approx twenty eight blankets and eat an enormous bar of choc in front of the TV. There’s no weather to go out and ‘enjoy’, it’s already dark. Basically bed time. Mwahaha. 

11) Glowing streetlamps on the walk back from the pub. Yeah so I realise this is very specific but I am so ready to sit in a warm, glowing pub with G. For a roast on a Sunday afternoon. Or for an evening of homely food and getting midly tipsy on an old, squashy sofa. And I flipping love walking home in the dark with that soft glow of the streetlamps. 

12) Baking. Comfort food. Don’t tell me you’re not ready for mash potato. Custard. Thick gravy. YORKSHIRE PUDDING. Crumbles. Spending an afternoon baking cakes. Oh man, the smells coming from that oven <3

13) Fireworks. Flipping heck, this year, for the first time in forever, I may even get a sparkler. Hells yeah bitches. 

Ain’t autumn so dreamy?