Paul ReganSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Paul Regan
"Muddiest Glastonbury yet," said the press even before we’d got within 50 miles of Worthy Farm for this year’s festival. I’ll admit it crossed my mind to wonder why the wet dirt surprises people so much – the clue is in the word ‘farm’ and even though the event may be the size of a small city, urban it is evidently not.
But by the time we were close enough for the airwaves to crackle into life with the on-site radio station, it was clear we were facing something a little more challenging than simply swapping last year’s trainers for a pair of wellies. The rain-soaked ground meant our queue for the caravan and campervan field ran into hours – the only way to get from farm gate to festival pitch was to be dragged in, one-by-one, behind a tractor.
Such is the universally good mood at the event that singing and sharing of provisions passed the time quickly enough (just!) and by the time the odd sensation of ‘being towed while towing’ delivered us to our weekend resting place (even our capable Ford Mondeo tow car had not even the slightest influence over direction of travel in that field), the wait was long forgotten.
Barely had the steadies of our Knaus Sport & Fun been wound into the soft earth before it started scoring points in our mucky environment. Its large rear door and open floor area to the rear (with carpets removed, of course) made easy work of dry welly storage while containing the sludge.
Given the packed-in nature of the caravan space at Glasto – and that the S&F is a European van – we were also pleased not to have our offside door opening directly in the faces of those pitched next door, too (our neighbours were even able to put up an awning which would otherwise have blocked our exit completely).
Our bed for the weekend, tucked in the nose of the Knaus, was at the opposite end to the gaping door and well out of the way of the outdoors. We stowed the table in the ‘garage’ at the front of the van to maximise floor space in our stay and covered the seating area in a towel or two just in case the field transferred itself via mucky clothes. The S&F’s handy little ‘box stool’ that pulls out from beneath the fridge like a drawer, ably took care of dining requirements (namely pizza takeaways and beer!).
Storage is innovative in the Knaus. With only two of us we stowed five days’ worth of supplies among the many clever cubbies, but found it a little annoying that the designers seemed to have forgotten to add any hooks for coats or towels besides the rail in the wardrobe. For two, it was also big enough that we were able to set up for our stay just once, rather than perform interior adjustments to make use of the space – and the leisure battery kept those clever little moveable lights bright for the entire stay.
Late nights meant late mornings and long breakfasts in the van, and it was a delight to swing open that vast door at the rear to let in some light to the otherwise quite dark living area – we quickly wondered why Knaus failed to take full advantage of this by adding windows or even a stable-style split-opening function. With our set-up we could also have easily done without the side door altogether and used the room for a grill or microwave (you try cooking crumpets on a gas hob, we did…), and maybe to return the little ‘slice’ of the bed that's chopped off to permit exit and entrance.
One final little quibble was the size of the bathroom. Even without hot running water, a shower of sorts would have been a blessing during the weekend, and for a taller chap like myself, making use of the facilities sometimes meant contortion of a standard even the circus tent would have winced at. But (and this for a festival van we cannot stress enough) I would rather ‘wash’ with wet wipes and a tiny sink than lose that wide rear door and open floor area, given the clean space it afforded for boots, coats and bags away from where we sat and slept.
So clean, in fact, did the Knaus remain after the weekend’s festivities, that when we woke on Monday morning to the parade of ‘tent folk’ trudging homeward, we decided to stay put for one last brunch and wait for the crowds to pass. We may have needed the tractor again on the way out, but we didn’t queue, our shoes were clean, and both caravan and tow car were unfazed by their mudbath when back on the relative normality of British roads.
Muddiest Glasto yet? Probably. But if you choose a tourer designed for adventure then the farm becomes your friend. Just one change for next year – a Land Rover Defender with a lift kit...