So we’re back, from outer space – and by outer space I mean a large country estate near Northampton. To be fair, at times it was almost like being on another planet (but that’s just the beauty of festival life).
We arrived in Market Harborough after 3 trains, laden down with camping paraphernalia & without having knocked any old ladies over with my oversized, wide load of a rucksack. My good friend DTR collected us from the station; picked up his pal en route then took us to his cracking little Tapas restaurant in Northampton, Sol Y Luna. You should totally go there, if only for the gambas al ajillo.
Fortified with various Spanish delicacies & fine wine it was time to head to DTR’s & take his lovely dog for a walk. This is when the first injuries occurred & A ended up with a mahoosive bruise on her leg & a knock to the head in 2 separate over-zealous see-saw incidents.
Next day, after a quick trip to th’Asda for new wellies & PJs for the childerbeast, we were dropped off on site ready for our Utopian quest for festival fulfillment. I was much amused by the airport body scanner / Men in Black style set up before we joined the queue, where my girls were almost refused entry for sporting matching Little Mix hoodies. Allowed through by a tongue in cheek, stern security lady with the words “I think you should use your time at festival to reflect on what you’ve done here girls” we joined the end of a long line of equally heavily laden down partygoers, whilst being serenaded by fancy dress festooned, afro wig wearing, glittery revelers.
40 minutes later we were in & another half an hour later the ‘Pink Panther’ was pitched & it was time to head to the main site to see what glittery, sparkly, nonsensical whimsiness was on offer (& more importantly, what was for tea?)
Beards were in full effect. There’s a lot of them about at the moment. Many men bearing an uncanny likeness to that lad who just got kicked off the Great British Bake Off for chucking his baked Alaska in the trash.
Also lots of painfully handsome young bucks and luscious slender young ladies around aswell. Think ‘The O.C’. if they had a glitter wrestling contest in a fancy dress shop with the cast of ‘Made in Chelsea’! Obviously I was 20+ years too old to run with that crowd, so me & my vintage Run DMC Tee, shorts, wellies & unkempt barnet just stuck to admiring & envying them in equal measure from afar. You know what though – young, nubile & more glittery than me they may have been, but I carved more than a few of them up on the old rollerboots at BUMP Rollerdisco in the Kamikaze tent I tell you. I might have to get me a pair of skates. It’s one way of getting around at work. Stern, no-nonsense-taking and on wheels. Nice!
Next time I want DTR and his mate to have a go. What could possibly go wrong? #A&E
A thoroughly enjoyed the rollerdisco, which was the main reason she wanted to go to Shambala at all. She was like a 9 year old roller ninja – weaving & speeding her way through the collective of small children, cider casualties and Mums like me reliving their tweenage years.
The first night I incurred a rope burn across my foot from a guy rope negotiation fail on the way to the composting loos in the dark. Ouch!
Friday night was Mum’s night off while the childerbeast headed into a woodland area a mile away from site for an overnight bush camp with Jimmy Savile, Dave Lee Travis and Gary Glitter. (Not really – it was with a well respected bushcraft expert with all the correct credentials and a team of lovely police-checked helpers.) I dropped them off at The Family Yurt with their sleeping bags at 4pm & looked forward to a full night of frivolities where I could try to ingratiate myself in with the beautiful people; drinking tequila & rolling around in glitter; joining in with the jelly wrestling at Sham City & waking up to the kind of hangover they make a trilogy of movies about. Monkeys in waistcoats & erroneous tattoos would be involved and everything…
What actually happened was that I sat in the tent reading for an hour after I’d dropped them off. Listening to the posh man in the tent behind me singing along to ‘Atomic Dog’, playing in the nearby Disco Tunnel. This made me mad for the reason that the song actually playing was ‘More Bounce’ to the Ounce by Zapp. It was time to leave the tent before I lost my calm; in search of childfree adventure where what happens in Utopia stays in Utopia.
I saw circus acts, beatboxers who defied belief, bands I can’t remember & I ate the best Macca Cheese ever from Anna Mae’s Mac & Cheese (The spicy Juan). I ventured into the Enchanted Woodland with a DJ in a treehouse; I saw a unicorn that vomited a rainbow – a Pukicorn by all accounts. I was about to fly down the Helter Skelter bra-less (or was I?) when I made the mistake of turning my phone on to see if I had any messages. Sadly therein lay a voicemail with the ominous message beginning, “Hello, it’s Chris from the bushcamp – erm we’re having a bit of an issue with Alison…”
…Of course you are. What on earth possessed me to think that you wouldn’t be?
We had already had issues ourselves when after barely 12 hours on site she had lost her purse with all her money in it. We’d turned the tent upside down & emptied all the bags out searching in vain for it but to no avail. Reaching the conclusion that she had lost it in the compost loo on the first night, we wrote it off as a bummer & hoped that somebody deserving had found it. In A’s own words “I hope whoever found it is a child & not some drunken bum who will just buy beer with it.”
Eventually, I got in touch with the bushcraft man (who had not left his number on the voicemail & my phone had helpfully not stored it). This was without any help from the man of little English I spoke to at the information hub who was as useful as the proverbial chocolate fireguard.
At 1030pm I was waiting at the Blue Gate next to the disco tunnel, as per instructions to repossess my troublesome childerbeast who had decided it was “too dark” to sleep out in the woods! At 1035pm I received a text informing me that security wouldn’t let them in at the blue gate so could I now meet at the green gate.
Asking some stewards the way I followed their directions to the letter where I found myself trying to explain to a confused looking burly security dude why I was in a blue wristband at the red gate asking where the green gate was! FFS!
I finally found the green gate 15 minutes after I was meant to meet, just as I got another text telling me that as I wasn’t there, the children were now back at our tent!
Holy shit & buggeration!
My hipflask ‘tequila tights’ had now worn off completely, I was cold, agitated & any hopes of being front of the crowd for the Beatbox Collective, arms aloft, like a scene from the finale of 8 Mile were shot to bits!
Ah well. It was what it was & I enjoyed it while it lasted (& the glittery O.C crowd would doubtless by grateful that their number was not infiltrated by a 42 year old woman attempting to inveigle her way into the hip crowd on a rare evening of childless, husbandless reckless abandon).
Childerbeast No. 1 now had a nice scratch to the under eye where she’d walked into a tree branch aswell. Injury No. 4.
Silver lining to this tale is that whilst I was briefly free of offspring, I checked at the Lost & Found tent and blow me if Al’s purse had not been handed in with all monies still within! Faith in human nature temporarily restored. Many thanks to Twitpeep @Lyndonlarge & the Shambala team for being honest & kind enough to do so. Xx
Sunday saw me doing pretty much an entire year’s worth of exercise by going rollerskating again; joining in with RaggaRobics in the Roots Yard, Power Ballad Yoga by the Tea Bus; bouncing at the Police Rave Unit & having a bloody good jive around in the Kamikaze tent at the Swingamajig Big Swing Dance.
All good things must come to an end however and Monday morning came around far too soon. The rain arrived too – signaling the end of the party process, the good times and inevitably, the end of the summer holidays. We reluctantly packed away the soggy Pink Panther and trudged off site to the Shambala Shuttle bus to Market Harborough & back on the train… until next year when I shall ensure my daughter doesn’t take her purse off all weekend, I shall pack more glitter & more tequila and, if my kids go on the bush camp again, not answer my phone!
Shambala over and out!
PS. I can highly recommend listening to The Mouse Outfit (who were disappointingly not dressed as mice), Gentlemens Dub Club and if you’re feeling like getting your Latino on – Cumbia All Stars.