Into Bridport, the travels begin!

Wednesday 30th June – The first day of our post-Glasto travels. We had decided some time before that after Glastonbury we would head down to the South-West, through Devon and Cornwall, before turning back and heading towards Scotland.

Our first step was to drive down to Bridport in Dorset, were we booked two nights at Bingham’s Caravan and Campsite. A very well-run site with superb facilities (including individual shower rooms).

We had a look round Bridport, enjoying a meal in The Ropemakers pub as once more Tim Henman got knocked out of Wimbledon.

A Day of Recovery

Tuesday 29th June – A day to consolidate in the van. We went and got a couple of new tyres for the van (the spare was looking iffy too), and some new hose for the gas stove. We also worked out why we couldn’t get the cooker to light and sorted that out. Provisions were gathered, we made sure that we were signed-off from our benefit claims as of the previous week and we rested and planned.

Vic started to come down with a cold, probably a result of the damp conditions and lack of proper nutrition at Glastonbury. Bacon sandwiches, and sausages in rolls are great for warming you up but don’t give your immune system much help.

Chatted to a couple who had sold their home after retiring and now lived in a 30 foot long Winnebago, travelling round the country and between their children in Chester and Brighton. They seemed very happy with the life (the husband had been a lorry driver before retirement, so handling the Winnebago wasn’t much of a challenge for him.

Out of Glasto, Back to Salisbury

Monday 28th June – The rain continued, which did not bode well for the vans trying to get off our field. We saw several stuck in the mud as we packed away the awning and tents. We waited until we thought the rain had eased and tried to make it to the semi-hard roadway. We got most of the way before sinking into the mire. With the help of five extra bodies we got the van through the mud and onto the road. After that it was plain sailing and we were soon on the road back to Salisbury.

We had booked an extra night back at Alderbury Park before the festival, knowing that we’d need somewhere to go and recuperate (and have a shower!). We dropped Cedric off in Salisbury to catch his coach home, and went on to the camp site.

After parking up and relaxing a bit, we popped over to The Three Crowns for another excellent meal and couple of pints of Greene King’s Triumph beer. And so to bed.

Glasto Day 5

Sunday 27th June – Still more rain, mud sticky, slippery and nasty. Most of our field was woken by one of our neighbours playing the Keane album over and over again at top volume from their car stereo. There were cries of “Change the CD!” but they were in vain. After the third repetition, everyone was heartily sick of it (and some of us who weren’t fond of Keane to start with had grown to loathe them).

Eyi had lost her coach ticket so left early to try to sort that out (which she did, successfully). Vic and I decided it would be a good time to sort out the tyre changing, as we wouldn’t be caught in a rush with people leaving. After much wandering and advice gathering we put the van’s jack on a large flat stone, jacked it up and changed the wheel with relative ease. All ready to leave on Monday. We had decided to take the rest of the day easy, without slogging backwards and forwards between stages, so headed for the Green Fields and spent some time enjoying the atmosphere, the food and the general vibe.

Eyi’s bus left around 3pm so we didn’t catch up with her before she left, though we’ve heard she made it home safely.

Feeling much more chilled after that, we passed by the Radio One stage where Fatboy Slim was obviously enjoying DJing in front of a few hundred rain-sodden, but happy individuals. We watched for a while before moving on.

Back to the Cider Bus, bumping into several Urban 75 folk again (hi Stig, William, MrMoose and Mike again!) while Morrissey performed on the nearby Pyramid Stage.

The last event of the festival for Vic and I was in the small Avalon Stage tent up in the Green Fields. We weren’t bothered about seeing any of the main headliners (Muse, Orbital, Ozomatli) so went to see Adrian Sherwood and “special guests”. The Avalon tent was pretty empty but the vibe was great. Everyone was really relaxed and Mr Sherwood played some fantastic dub reggae. The guests turned out to a bongo player, whose name I forget, Ghetto Priest, and one Denise Sherwood, Adrian’s young daughter who gave a great performance of “I’m tired of ‘Soon Come'” – great voice and definitely one to watch. After that, we watched the traditional end-of-festival fireworks before heading back to the van, encountering a giant golden Praying Mantis on the way (no really… it was a performance by a troupe from Montpelier in France on the Fire and Dance Stage).

Glasto Day 4

Saturday 26th June – The rain started again and soon turned the site into a muddy reconstruction of the Somme again. We all went down to see the Scissor Sisters on The Pyramid Stage, and they put on a great show despite the pretty foul weather. Vic, Cedric and I all looked such a site in our army surplus ponchos that a girl asked whether she could take a photo of the three of us.

After that, Vic and I returned to the van to dry out a little, before returning with the intention of seeing The Killers, only to find the New Tent full and the crowd outside some 20 people deep. We wandered once more, spotting Radio One and Four’s John Peel just by the market areas close to the Pyramid Stage.

During the evening we went down to see the Scissor Sisters in the Dance Tent but the tent was rammed due to the continuing inclement weather so we abandoned that idea and found a dry spot by the bar and imbibed some more Burrow Hill.

Last set on the Other Stage on Saturday was Basement Jaxx who put on a great show, lots of lights and favourite tunes. A good end to the day.

Glasto Day 3

Friday 25th June – The festival proper started, the rain eased up, the mud started to dry out, and despite his good intentions, Cedric missed the first of his “bands to see” as they were first on The Pyramid Stage. Vic and I wandered down to the New Stage to see The Experimental Pop Band, but due to a mix up in the various guides, they actually started 20 minutes before the time we thought. As a result we only caught their last three songs, “Bang Bang You’re Dead”, “Punk Rock Classic” and “The Hippies Don’t Know”. A great performance (especially considering they were on shortly after noon) and it bodes well for their new album.

After that we wandered again, with general intention to see various bands but often as not, we didn’t get there in time, or the tent was so full you couldn’t see anything. We weren’t bothered though, Glastonbury is about a lot more than rushing from one band to another. It’s nice to watch people and performers and just absorb the open, friendly atmosphere.

We chatted to a group of older Welsh guys who were at the festival with their families but who all banded together and sat in the bar by the Dance Tent. Mani (ex-Stone Roses, Primal Scream) was also sitting in there having a beer.

We met up with Eyi, who was arriving by coach, at around 5pm, before dropping her stuff off at one of the lockup points. Over to the New Tent again, this time to see “The Bees They put on a great show and were obviously very popular with the large crowd. They played songs from both of their albums and got everyone moving, despite the mud. After that, it was over to the Other Stage to watch The Chemical Brothers set; very impressive, great light show and very loud. It must be fantastic fun to be allowed to make that amount of noise!

We did consider hanging around at The Glade for “Drunk Soul Brother” , who we guessed could be Norman “Fatboy Slim” Cook, but decided we were too tired and The Glade was too busy so went back to the van for a good night’s sleep. It turns out we were right, as Fatboy Slim AND The Chemical Brothers appeared in The Glade later that night.

Glasto Day 2

Thursday 24th June – A quiet day, lots of people at the festival but no significant events on, the rain still coming down and the mud getting more and more slippery. We wandered around the site with Cedric, bumping into Mike, the editor of Urban 75 down in The Glade. We sat up in the Sacred Field by the Stone Circle for a while during the afternoon. The hangovers were taking effect so we didn’t partake of much Burrow Hill cider and by 9pm we were all tired enough to return to the van for the night.

Glasto Day 1

Wednesday 23rd June – The original plan here was to get up early and head to Glastonbury for when the gates opened at 10am. In reality, it was still chucking it down with rain, so we had some bacon sandwiches, cooked on a mini gas cooker (because we couldn’t get the gas working in the van), and finally set off at about 11:30am.

The drive to Glastonbury was uneventful, despite the rain and high winds making the driving experience closer to sailing a schooner as we got blown around the road.

Just before we reached the site, I managed to stall the van on a really steep hill, which was a bit worrying but after a few seconds we were running up and over the top to join the queue to enter the festival site.

We were directed to one of the Camper and Caravan fields, which are outside the festival fence. Each van is allocated a 6m square pitch so things are a lot less chaotic than in the camping fields. The camper fields are also a lot quieter than the main festival campsites.

On reaching our pitch, we decided to put up our awning. This was, shall we say, challenging; not only had we never put up the awning before, we hadn’t even got a clue as to what shape it was supposed to be. After struggling for several minutes, we were joined by a couple of helpers, Andy and Jackie who were in a Type 2 Bay Window VW camper just behind us. Andy is a dab-hand with tents and after a bit of struggling, we worked out which poles went where and got everything assembled.

Going round to the back of the van to check out the space for Cedric’s tent, I noticed that the rear driver’s side tyre was flat. Using Andy’s footpump I found that there was a large split in the tyre and that it would need changing. Vic and I both then recalled hearing a bit of a “pop” was we’d been driving to the site, so that was probably when it went, but it didn’t go flat until we parked up. As we were in a muddy field with rain still pouring down, we decided to leave changing the wheel until later.

We had a few glasses of wine from the box and then headed into the festival site itself. Every time we went to and from the van we had to show our original tickets plus a pass-out ticket and our wristband. A bit of a bind but we managed not to lose anything.

Cedric needed some waterproofs, having been overly optimistic about the weather, so we found stalls selling wellington boots and ponchos which would keep out the worst of the elements.

After that we headed straight for the Cider Bus, where we indulged in a couple of pints of Burrow Hill cider. I chatted to a few Urban 75 folk who were also there (hi to Stig, William, Moose, MrMoose and more!). A hot pork roll later and it was time for bed, a little more drunk than we’d expected to be!

A Day In Salisbury

Tuesday 22nd June – We woke to a fine morning and drove into Salisbury to pick up some last minute provisions and make use of an internet cafe to sort out our finances and send a couple of emails. I didn’t get a chance to update my blog, hence this long entry!

In the evening we were due to meet Cedric who was coming down from London for Glasto. He missed his bus which meant he wouldn’t be arriving until around 11pm. Rather than wait in town we decided to return to the campsite via Tesco. Then the rain started, and the traffic slowed to a crawl. We waited it out in the car park of Tesco and after an hour or so the traffic eased.

While waiting we noticed that the skylight in the van was leaking, and on closer inspection whoever fitted it did a real botch-up on it. The skylight doesn’t appear to be designed for single-skin vehicles and so doesn’t fit correctly. I suspect that it’ll have to be replaced at some point in the near future. We’ve tried sealing it without any success.

On arriving back at the site, we erected Cedric’s tent which he had given to us before we left London to save him having to carry it all. It was a fairly simple, single-skin tent; enough to keep the rain out as long as nothing touches the sides.

We headed over to the pub once more, and tried some of the food there which was excellent, and very well presented. At closing time we went back to the site, and a few minutes later Cedric arrived. After getting him into his tent (it was still pouring with rain), we set up the van for sleeping again and turned in.

The Wedding and back to England

Saturday 19th June – The morning started with a huge thunderstorm with very heavy rain, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the day. Thankfully, things soon brightened up and by the time of the wedding at noon, the sun was shining and everything was dry. The civil ceremony all went well, though as 99% of it was in French, I’m having to assume that was the case. On, then, to the reception in a village hall a few miles away. Meal, speeches, wine, cake. More wine, disco, drunken dancing, more wine, cider etc. Everyone seemed to have a splendid time from what I can remember of it. Somehow we managed to get back to the chalets where we dug in for the forthcoming hangover.

Sunday 20th June – Vic and I remained in our chalet for much of the day, it rained a little and we were, as expected, a tad hungover. In the evening a few of us chowed down on some of the leftover cheese, bread and a variety of meat products accompanied by some Normandy beer and wine.

Monday 21st June – Our return ferry was due to leave at 18:00 so we helped Loic and Deb with some of the clearing up for the chalets and accompanied them to their house outside Caen for something to eat. Popped in to a wine merchants on the way to the ferry and bought a 10 litre wine box in preparation of our trip to Glastonbury and beyond.

Once more the ferry crossing was smooth and we were pleased to find the van as we left it at the car park. We sorted out a few bags of clothes etc and then set off in the van for the Alderbury Park Caravan and Camp site at Whaddon near Salisbury. We were booked in there for two nights while we prepared and waited for the Glastonbury Festival gates to open on Wednesday 23rd.

The journey flew by and we were at the site before dark. It’s a nice small, friendly site with good but simple facilities. The pub across the road, The Three Crowns, was opening that night under new ownership, so we popped in for a drink. There were a few other couples from the campsite there who had been to Stonehenge for the Summer Solstice celebrations.

After returning from the pub, we settled in for our first night sleeping in the van. It was at this point that we found we’d done our usual trick over over-packing, so that getting the “Rock’n’Roll” bed into position means moving half the contents of the van. Ah well….