This year, I ticked off another festival experience that had been on my list for quite a while – Cambridgeshire’s rather more bucolic answer to Burning Man, Secret Garden Party.
This year’s theme was Standing on Ceremony, so me and Party K (the initial here standing for my actual friend’s name, not a reference to ketamine) hit the road with our camping gear and a few days’ worth of costume changes: sailor girls, army lieutenants and Ebay-sourced ballgowns to top it all off with some poor taste glamour (seriously, we looked like Nancy Dell’Olio on crack).
There’s something amazing about festivals. There’s always a ‘do what you like’ attitude. You can hula-hoop at 8am in a studded leather thong and no one would bat an eyelid. You’ve left everything behind you, all material possessions, and you’re living in a field, out of a piece of flimsy fabric. Nothing really matters apart from having fun – and that doesn’t happen to me nearly as much as it used to. It’s the closest thing I can get to recreating my RTW trip only an hour away from home, a reminder that you can travel each day, just by doing something different, even if it’s just a tiny thing.
So, four days of freedom, and fun… and mud.
Oh, the mud. But at least it was followed by some gorgeous sunshine. And we saw some great stuff. Highlights included Tim Minchin’s Saturday afternoon set with a full live band, Robin Ince’s comedic musings on religion and science (with a hug for us afterwards), Sam and the Womp’s gypsy dubstep, an amazing, nameless blues singer, cuddling a chameleon, watching the annual paint fight, heart-stopping live dubstep from Engine Earz Experiment, cute ducklings learning to dive and a surprise appearance by The Correspondents (I’d never heard of them, but Party K seemed excited).
It was a great festival, but I was a bit taken aback by the sheer number of people operating in an alternative reality. The firework display on Saturday night was pretty great, but there were cries of actual ecstasy ringing out from around the lake. So it left me wondering whether I was missing out. I love travel, seeing and experiencing new things… so is there a whole world out there I’m not seeing?
But no, I’m just not one to indulge in too many mind-altering substances. Partly because:
a) I’m a scaredy-cat
b) I’m a bit of a control freak
c) I think the world is crazily, beautifully, breath-takingly amazing just as it is.