There’s a two-man tent buried in my loft at home that bears the scars of many a music festival visit over the years – comical graffiti plus stains from spilt drinks, thrown food and careless cigarette disposal. You might imagine it’d be best retired to landfill, but there’s a charm to its battle-worn patina that reminds me of happy hedonistic weekends in Hampshire fields and more ambitious European adventures in Holland, Spain, France and Germany.
One place I never quite managed, though, was the biggest – Glastonbury. We’d tried and missed ticket ballots a few times, and after three or four years away from the festival scene we didn’t have high hopes for 2015 – and when we did make the cut, I’ll admit to being a little conflicted. Much as this trip could be the final notch in my old tent’s proverbial bedpost, was I past all that crawling around under canvas, fear of break-ins and general wet-weather misery?
In short, yes. ‘Too old for Glasto?’, I wondered, as I made plans to haul Practical Caravan’s long-term Swift Lifestyle 4 down to Somerset behind our Škoda Octavia Scout. The main motivation for this most middle class of festival visits was mainly having access to power and light, a proper fixed bed and, of course, a toilet unspoilt by the non-stop deposits of thousands of welly-wearing revellers.
But none of that ranked as the biggest ‘win’ of the weekend. Car parks miles away from camping areas at festivals gone by left hideous memories of traipsing for hours with tent, crates of sun-cooked beer, camping chairs and the like. Loading everything into car and caravan means you drive in, park, wind down the steadies and get straight into the action (which in our case meant a nice glass of chilled wine from the fridge ahead of strolling down for ticket/pass collection – a world away from shameless suckling on warm, cheap carton wine in a canvas porch).
The caravan/motorhome fields are a bit of a trek from Glastonbury ‘centre’, but given that the bustling community that pops up for a week each year is large enough to become the seventh biggest city in the south of England, you have got to get your head around the walking. Actually, the distance was a bonus as we found our little area quiet enough to sleep in the evening (if we didn’t fancy chasing sunrise on one of the 100 or so stages that stay open all night).
We did without an electric hook-up for the four days, but a good overnight plug-in beforehand gave us enough power to run lights and water during our stay. I took a couple of spare tent lamps and we were careful not to waste the power we had, but in the end could probably have run the fridge a couple of times on the gas rather than rely on it as a mere coolbox after chilling itself on the back-home charge.
One final major plus of the tin tent at Glasto involved just a trickle of a fluke. We happened, because of work commitments, to travel on the Thursday before the event despite the park opening from Tuesday evening for arrivals. This meant we were last in and therefore first out when it came to leaving on the Monday. No queuing from the car park, just a quick hook-up and a clean exit – our only delay was the unavoidable single-carriageway queue at Stonehenge (please, someone, fix that bottleneck).
So, too old for Glasto? Not at all. Half of me even wondered if I was too young at times, such was the eclectic mix of faces among the 200,000-odd crowds lining up to see acts as varied as trapeze artists and comedians, to Lionel Richie and The Chemical Brothers. I cannot recommend it enough – especially with the relative luxury of car and caravan to supply comforts from home. I wonder whether the old tent will ever see daylight again…
You drive in, park, wind down the steadies and get straight into the action