It is a challenge to describe the ‘Secret Garden Party’ in anything but clichés…magical, beautiful, enchanting, wondrous… Actually I’m not sure anyone ever uses the word ‘wondrous’ anymore, at least not since before 1994, which was when the festival began.
This was my second year attending the not-so-secret, Abbots Ripton-based Garden Party. The weather forecast had not looked promising over the few days of preparation but, in its truly magical way, it pulled through and Thursday dawned dry. I put on my ‘Hunters’ anyway (as any Hunter-owner knows, one really has to get wear out of them when they can) and see-through skirt, with velvet bloomers and grey t-shirt. This ridiculous combination was later labelled “The Temptress”. Hilariously mislabeled - “aging ballerina” may have been more apt.
As I got closer to the flouro-vested attendants and signs, it was clear the myriad complaints that last year’s capacity-enlargement had caused had been taken seriously. I got in with no hassle and only met a queue waiting for the shuttle bus. As seems to be the case of all “gardeners”, they were a delightful group of people, and in no time a couple had offered to help me with my silly amount of bags/tents (I offered to provide a tent for my boyfriend and myself, and another friend, to save him a trip to Tesco’s). Waiting in the queue, I was fortunate to bump into my boyfriend’s sister and a friend of hers. We got the buses up the long dusty track and were dropped off next to the entrance where we waited for friends from inside. Here, a girl gave me her ‘toffee-apple cider’ as you cannot take glass bottles on to the site. This really was probably the low point of the festival - if you haven’t had it before, don’t - it’s gross. “It tastes like Halloween”.
After an easy rendez-vous, we went in and set up camp with a group of friends and friends of friends…and friends of friends of friends. And so on.
From then on it is hard to know exactly what happened on what days as they merge into a happy, sunny, (cider-y) blur.
The rest of Thursday afternoon was spent sitting at the campsite, de-bagging, and waiting for other friends to arrive. Then we wandered around, sat in the Badger tree house, and danced in the Collusillyum (a stage made entirely of hay bales).
Friday morning was glorious. We dondered around a bit more, experienced the delights of the Collusillyum’s mud-wrestling (where two people have to wrestle until one succeeds in taking a black rag from the other's ankle), and then danced - mostly in the Wormfood tent and the one further down that looks like the Wordfood tent. After much merriment, we lay around in the Chaiwalla tent and drank chai, and coffee and brandy. After a touch more…wandering, my boyfriend and I headed back to the tent - via the Juke Box where people were playing their ipods and dancing around. By this point the rain had set in so we happily splished around for a bit - me in my new ‘rain bonnet’ - and then went to sleep.
Saturday brought more sun (luckily, as it dried up the floor from the night before), The Correspondents - whom I love, BLONDIE - who was predictably amazing, and then the fireworks and blowing up of the insect stage in the middle of the lake to the backdrop of the night sky. It was truly a sight to behold. Euphoric.
Saturday was only marred slightly by the onset of a savage toothache (relating to the dodgy dentist in my previous post).
Sunday was full of reggae (such as David Rodigan) and loveliness and sunshine on the main stage (and a lot of observations that DJs are surprisingly un-cool looking), a brief and refreshing swimming, and an amazing folk band in a small tent in the evening. And toothache - but that isn’t fun to talk about. By Sunday night I felt a bit feeble about going to bed at 1ish after a great set from Joe Driscoll, but thought it was best - for mind, body and general well-being. And tooth-ache.
By Monday I was sad to be going but looked and felt like a tired, dusty weasel so thought it was probably about time.
SGP 2012 in -8664 hours. And counting …
25 July 2011