This time last week we had just about set up our living space for the long haul at http://www.shambalafestival.org/ .
Our adventures in Utopia began last Wednesday when we tackled not one, not two, not three, but four trains, with all our camping gear to get to Market Harborough.
Got a lift from the station to our host, DTR’s house, from the lovely Garyman. Cheers for that dude. Much appreciated. The even lovelier Dave, took us down the pub for a late supper. Thank you muchly sir, you are too kind.
I then spent the first of several restless nights, beginning with a banana shaped attempt at sleep on DTR’s couch. I was just about too long for it – hence the banana shape. Lessons learned from that evening. A Woo-Woo cocktail in a can is no friend to an empty belly! I felt like I had swallowed a brick. A brick made of sherbert & alka-seltzer. Step away from the cans of ‘bitch piss’ (apart from the Mojito one – that one’s ok).
Next day, the ever fabulous Miss Sunshine arrived and it was time to play Tetris with the camping gear & the childerbeast in her little car. A little creative stacking of bags later and we were en route to Kelmarsh – the purportedly secret location of the festival. (Not that much of a secret if it’s been held there for several years).
What a beautiful location it is too.
After the quickest entry into a festival I’ve ever had! We had a bit of a wrestle with the old Pink Flamingo tent. It was in rather more of a poor state of repair than we had originally thought. A bit of tactical duct taping and re-engineering of the poles & it was finally erect (after a fashion). Not helped in any way by the windy weather!
It was just for Miss Sunshine & the food & drink supplies, so we hoped it would last the weekend. Worse case scenario she would have to squeeze in with us three in the Blue Baloo. (you have to name your tents – it’s the law).
We’d hardly ventured far into the main arena before Miss Sunshine bought herself a full length faux fur coat. She has several at home but hadn’t brought one with her. With that on & her Trilby, it would have been churlish not make some Game of Thrones meets Huggy Bear gags, particularly on Fruity Friday when we sported our dangly moustache & sunglasses combo.
We saw a fair few people who seemed to have over-indulged waaaaay too early into proceedings on Thursday. I did not envy how they might feel the next day. I did find myself saying things like “Let that be a warning to you kids” quite a lot over the days – but essentially, it was a festival. The very place to over-indulge and party. A time and place to let yourself go. Go barefoot. Dress up. Get naked. Paint your face. Cross-dress! Throw glitter in the air, roll around in it, eat it, shit it. Glitter & sequins everywhere – like Christmas card making week at primary school!
We did receive a text message on Saturday morning warning that 4 festival goers were in hospital due to been taken ill from drugs & that we should be mindful and take care. (Well done Shambala for the heads up). In fairness, if you do indulge, then you do run that risk. Same can be said for booze of course but that doesn’t have the same stigma attached because it’s legal! Seemingly these people are now ok, having been released from hospital. Allegedly it was something called DMT that they took. I’m 43 and don’t know what that is, but according to Google, it’s some form of hallucinogenic.
To be honest, there’s that much weirdness, oddity & at least 39 shades of cray going on at Shambala that any form of hallucinogen is neither necessary or isn’t the best idea, especially in the Enchanted Woods by night… but what do I know. I’m 43 and dull as fuck.
Since coming home & seeing the festival Facebook page, apparently there was a lot of drugs to be had. Some festival goers said that they were offered pills & powders almost every time they went to the loo. Can’t say that happened to us & I’m not sure whether to be happy about that or slightly disappointed. Clearly we actually look dull as fuck aswell!
Foodwise, I rekindled my romance with Anna Mae’s Spicy Juan mac & cheese. Delighted to report though that the childerbeast still said they prefer mine.
Our favourite ‘back at the tent’ meal was, without doubt, hallumi, peppers & mushrooms skewers. Took about 5 minutes and was so easy that even the childerbeast could do it.
We ate a fair few cheese toasties and of course that festival staple – the wood fired pizza. (That’d be fired not fried kids – read the sign properly!)
We actually found the kids woodland tribe area this year so the childerbeast made a mini raft each & had a go on the climbing nets, whilst Miss Sunshine & I had a child-free hour. They also did their usual circus skills & roller disco while we joined in the krumping and samba workshops, (which were both awesome.) We skipped out on the Withering Tights Kate Bush flashmob though, as we couldn’t hear a thing because of microphone issues.
The carnival theme this year was Cosmic Chaos. Me and the childerbeast had Toy Story alien onesies, while Miss Sunshine utilized her Kermit the Frog onesie. We met several other Toy Story aliens so there was lots of “The claw is our master” & “Strangers from the outside”. I don’t know how much tin foil and emergency foil blankets had been used to create some of the outfits but I suspect it was rather a lot. Shambalans do not disappoint with their approach to fancy dress. I saw a Tuskan raider from Star Wars shaking hands with, & hugging a Jawa. There were several variations of Darth Vadar & other Star Wars characters. Loads of random space creatures, cosmic girls & space cadets aplenty. Kids dressed as Mars bars & Galaxys, to a man dressed as Darwin on one side of his body & as God on the other. Entire constellations of stars & I even saw a man dressed as Shrodinger’s box. Genius.
I particularly liked it when a bridal party appeared on the lawn infront of Kelmarsh House and were essentially photobombed by 8,000 loons in fancy dress. I hope they keep at least one shot and don’t photoshop us all out.
Judge me if you wish but I think that exposing my girls to the craziness of a festival is very well-rounding for them. It teaches them tolerance & might even teach them lessons that they’ll remember later in life when they go out on their own. I’m not expecting them to never indulge of course. To truly learn, they’ll have to experience for themselves.
They’ve seen grown men wrestling in a paddling pool of glitter. They staged an intervention & refused to let me buy a shiny purple lycra leotard. (Probably for the best). I wish they had talked me into buying this stag head fascinator though:-
They watched ‘Being John Malkovitch’ & ‘Citizen Kane’ & didn’t complain once. We saw a 500 year old man playing the spoons on his own in the dark. They saw a boylesque show (that’s right I said boylesque, not burlesque). They saw just how many people took part in the nipple-tassle making workshop when they all chose to model their creations in the parade! They were completely unfazed. Even by having ‘Frozen’ ruined forever by seeing a couple of Princess Anna’s with beards & by witnessing their mum jumping around to The Jungle Brothers with her mate.
The Pink Flamingo will not be joining us on any more adventures into Utopia or, anywhere else for that matter. The steady, heavy rain on Sunday was the last straw.
We may however, give this festival a miss next year, if only because we’re hoping to have a proper holiday like normal people. One that involves airports & hot sun, with a pool & beaches. It’s about time we had a jolly holly that doesn’t mean sleeping on airbeds or wearing all your clothes at night to keep warm.
We’ll be back though Shambala. With glitter, sequins, furs & facepaints – but not those UV ones – they dry really hard & make your face all stiff. Like ravers botox!