Friday, 5 June 2015

The Most Unforgettable Weekend

I've always wanted to go to a festival, you always hear you have know idea what its like until you experience one yourself so when I seen that you can volunteer at festivals I jumped at the chance.. here is how the story unfolded as I went to my first ever festival...

Me and my good friend Laura set off to Life Festival 2015 in our finest festival gear stopping for a mortifying tea bag stop in town on the way dressed to the nines (flower headbands, wellies, the lot) but once we got to the venue it was just amazing. The first day was volunteers and staff only and because of this we all grouped together and made a little family. I get attached way to easily and am so emotional when saying goodbye so when I make friends I make them for life, and I certainly have with the people I met at this festival. It was a quite night as you can expected but it was a disastrous one with torrential rain ending up with us moving our tent five times till at last we found the perfect spot on a hill away from the weather. We both happened to not have our shift until 6pm the next day so we could chill out and relax at camp until evening. Even as I write only a few days after its hard to remember the little things, life at a festival is constant, five days feels like three weeks and I still haven't come back to earth from the amazing buzz of the place.
Now on to the good bit, my first shift. When I got car park duty 6pm till 2am I was dreading it but I couldn't have been more lucky. I was first with two security lads, John and Mikey on the main road into the venue where we would direct which car park to go into, now I know it doesn't sound all that exciting but the bants we had with everyone arriving was just brilliant. To be the first person people met as they are about to have the time of their lives at a festival is just amazing and I really had a great time chatting with everyone. John and Mikey were quite serious about there job and basically did everything as they wanted to look after me too, but slowly they started to see I was up to help and we worked great together. When their shift ended David and Danny came on with me, now it was of course a bit awks at first but I just cracked on with doing the job as they didn't really know what to do and tbh weren't all that interested but again as we got to know each other we had a great time. As it got darker and darker it was more fun because we just so happened to be out beside the golf course and found a few balls to chuck around at each other. It felt like we were in our own world out on the road as there were few lights and as the evening went on less traffic also there was a serious amount of bats, but I still believe they were birds not bats no matter what the lads say. Now and again we would 'confiscate' a bottle here and there and have it for ourselves.. perks of the job and all that. So as I had a red bull and me being the biggest lightweight it went straight to my head which had us all cracking up as they genuinely though I was drunk. I honestly had the best night, I loved seeing a car coming round the corner going to see what madness awaited me and then having the bants with the lads all night. I was actually gutted when my shift ended but when I met up with Laura after her shift in another area we decided to walk back out with tea for the lads, and could we find them... did I mention this was in a forest, and at 3am we got completely lost walking around with cold cups of tea. After we finally made our way back (through security searches, then wrong campsite and a stop at the medic for a bandage) we decided to call it a night as there wouldn't be any point heading into the festival that late we'd start fresh the next day as we had the whole day off.
We were so excited to head into the festival the next day the minute the gates opened we headed in. The thing I loved about this festival was it was split up into different sections, there was about nine different stages and lots of areas such as rave music, dance music, Simma Down area ( my favourite) and many more. We had a great look around at all the amazing stalls and we each got a gorgeous dread with charms put in our hair, thb it was nearly not normal to not have dreads at this festival, everyone had them it was amazing. We spent the day with 'Plates' one of our new volunteer/ family members. It was so amazing to just chill out in Simma Down area with relaxed reggae music, happy people and an amazing atmosphere. It genuinely felt like we were a world away from everything else and nothing else mattered but the here and now. We also went to the Holi Fest which was basically a paint fight with coloured powder, it was quite fun but only lasted 10 minutes and then you were dirty and sticky for the rest of the weekend. After we had mopped about for a bit we decided to head back to the campsite for a rest.  Unfortunately this is also where things took an unexpected turn. On our way back to the campsite there was extreme rain and Laura got incredible cold. After many many blankets, soups, tea and heaters they managed to stabilize her in the medic tent but we made the decision it would be best for her to go home as she didn't have to do her next shift and she would just get cold again. This is also where things went places I never even thought about. Everyone really chipped in to look after me and I basically got special treatment because I didn't fancy the idea of staying in the tent on my own they allowed me to stay in the back of the production office in the warm, dry and company until 6am when they were closing. Thing is, me and Plates headed back into the festival for 'a bop' as she calls it and we stayed out till about 4.30 so I didn't really need somewhere to stay as I only got about two hours sleep. I love how you immediately bond with people and everyone looks out for each other it was just such a good feeling. After a great night we headed back to the cabin and Plates was so amazing to look after me she had a word with security and got be in there dry room with two other security members whos tents had been washed out. They were all just so nice I couldn't get over it and I spent the night chatting with the girl. It was extremely hard to sleep with all the noise from the radios but it was dry and warm thats all that mattered. Next morning however I had my second shift this time 10am till 6pm and lack of sleep was not helping but luckily enough it was right outside the production office so I didn't have far to go. This time I was on the production crossing which was basically helping people get accross the road from the campsite into the festival and not get knocked down. It started off quite funny as tbh I'm tiny and hi-viz jacket or no hi-viz jacket no one was paying attention to me. It was great craic though again joking around with everyone heading into the festival and the two security I was on with. Also John, David and Danny along with other volunteers I made friends with would pass along and we'd have chats now and again. It just felt like we'd known each other all our lives and it was totally normal to stop for a chat. It was such a hot day and everyone was making the most of it. I loved working there because I was constantly kept busy and having a laugh with everyone. When my shift ended I headed straight back to the production office to take a nap because I wanted to get into the festival that evening however I started to get really ill. I just made it to the medic tent before I got worse and then realised I was suffering from sunstroke.. yes everyone had a laugh about this because there wasn't much sun all day but I think the 8 hours standing in one spot without food or water got to me. Luckily my coordinator came in with salt and vinegar crisps and a can of coke and I swear it was the best I've ever felt in my life, the salt worked wonders and I was suddenly full of energy. After that miraculous recovery I met Plates and we headed into the festival. We went straight for our Simma Down area where we got falafels which were AMAZING then headed to the beach (lake) stage and bumped into other volunteers. It was amazing to be by the lake as the sunset with amazing people enjoying themselves and I also happened to bump into an old school friend to top it all off.  John, one of the security men had met me and heard about my disastrous night before so he had an empty nine people tent beside his tent where his friends were on night shift so he told me to come bunk in there.  After eventually finding him and the tent and also a mortifying walk past all the security lads with my bags into john's tent ( yes you can imagine how that looked) I set up my little room and headed back into the festival with Plates. As the night went on everything slowly started to finnish and we randomly met a group, Mathew, Rohan and Jane, that we hung out with. Again it was like we known each other forever and we just stuck together for a good dance and then we made our way back to the campsite. This time it was the main campsite for all the punters and it was the maddest thing I have ever seen. it was just mayhem but it was hilarious also David happened to be working there that night so we'd bump into each other constantly. We cruised around the tents and ended up under a kazbo chilling, drinking, and chatting until 7.30am when we all watched the sunrise which just ended the whole thing perfectly. I kept thinking how surreal it was to be sitting in a campsite full of random people having the time of our lives together and enjoying every minute of it. Eventually as we started to loose the feeling in our.. well everything we headed back to johns tent where they all bunked in with me and we were nice and toasty, expect too exhausted to sleep. About 1pm all hell broke loose as we were told we had two minutes to be up the tents were coming down... this was okay apart from niagara falls was going on outside. I've never seen rain like it and it was just so awful to go out in. I happened to bump into John on his shift and he is hooking me up to join security as its the same job only this way I'd get paid. I bid my farewells to my roomies and had to trudge up and down with all my stuff in the absolutely pissing rain then go and find my tent and take it down. It was not the best ending but once I got in the car and out of the rain I remembered how amazing it all was and to be soaked to my skin, severely sunburnt, my hair like cement and my hands black with dirt was all worth it.
I will never forget the people, volunteers, security and stewards that I became so close with , the laughs I had and the atmosphere of the whole thing.
But one thing I will certainly never forget is how it has all changed me for the better. This time last year I wouldn't stay in my own brothers house, now to go to a festival, to camp on my own, to met new people and feel comfortable and excited to do so is just an incredible feeling. I can't put into words the way all this had boosted my confidence for the better but I know for sure it has set me on the right track to accomplish even more things as I can do them... and I will do them.

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