[Laura Marling, Pyramid stage]
[A view from above]
[The ribbon tower on Observation Hill]
[Storm clouds ahead]
[Pirate ship, near the unfairgrounds]
[The gooey gooey mud bath]
How do you like your eggs? I can cook them any which way on my skin. My arms are puffy from fluid retention. My skin is scrorched red and blistered, and still radiating enough heat to fry up a full English breakfast. The slighest contact of my shirt sleeves sends my nerve endings firing in pain and discomfort. This is the worse sunbrun I've had in years - yet I'm positively grinning. In fact I've just registered to do it all again in 2013. Yup, I'm in deep. I'm in love with Glastonbury.
The weather swung from extreme cold to blistering heat. The skies bucketed down with rain, tents buckled with wicked winds. Walking anywhere was a journey requiring focused effort, gritted determination, a robust level of cardiovascular endurance and a smattering of good fortune - as by day two the grounds had turned into swampy bog land. Swift footwork was the key, any momentary pause could result in your gumboots sinking into the mud. The mud had an astonishingly steely grip and you needed to be yanked free, hopefully managing to keep your feet in your boots! Yet no one complained. In facct the more outrageous the weather, the more of a laugh it was.
I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of the punters - from toddlers, to teens, to twany twenties, thirties and well up into the seventies. I meet so many people from all over Britain - Wales, Scotland, London, Manchester, Canterbury, Brimingham - all willing to muck in for five days sans showers and decent sanitation [the enviro loos were extreme to say the least, you hoped that it was mud and rainwater smeared around the interior...]. All had a ready smile and set to return in 2013 (The festival is having a break in 2012). In fact I chatted with a bloke who was there when it flooded in 2005 - the flooding was so bad that the organisers feared a cholera outbreak and had to send divers to check if anyone had drowned in their tents - I asked if he considered leaving early 'Of course not! It was grand, the water receeded eventually and there was too much on to miss out on because of a bit of rain!'
The festival site is a bustling metropolises, the tent city houses 175,000 people and is sprawled over the undulating countryside. It is so vast that it's divided into hamlets and boroughs with place names that are so quintessentially English, that it almost sounds like a coded conversation when planning to meant someone or organise a route through the grounds - Diary ground, Hawkwell, Bushy Ground, Lower Mead, Top Webbs Ash, Lime Kiln Ground, Woodsies, Darble, Big Lickle, Whitelake meadow.
Then there are the mega stages and the boutique bars. There is something going on at all hours of the day - be that mediation in the Stone Circle, woodwork in the Craft field, muscle melting gravity defying circus tricks in the Big Top, Raves in Shangri-La, sweaty jazz sets in Bourbon Street, swing dancing in the 1950's diner, importune fireside gigs in Stummerville. The music was beyond anything I've ever experienced. There were so many bands and so many stages, that I managed to experience some really intimate gigs as well as some sweeping statium shows.
Day one: Brother, Summer Camp, Two Door Cinema Club, Jim Jones Revue, The Vaccines, The Wombats, Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons, U2
Day two: Tame Impala, The Gaslight Anthem, Jessie J, Patrick Wolf, Warpaint, Friendly Fires, White Lies, Chemical Brothers
Day three: Fisherman's Friends, The Low Anthem, Foster the People, Noisettes, Laura Marling, The Bees, Eels, Lykke Li, Kaiser Chiefs, Beyonce
I can't wait to wear my leopard print wellies once more, this time I'll make sure I'm slathered in sunscreen!