Festivals Part 4: Camping

While Worthing was probably the biggest ‘ticket’ in town so to speak, it wasn’t the only one. Other mixed festivals that involved staying over (always camping) included HMS Dryad, HMS Sultan, Basingstoke, Rickmansworth and Swanage. The camping in itself, at times, could be as much of an adventure as the rest of the weekend. Putting your own tent up alongside a team full of (generally) intoxicated hockey players is a challenge in itself. Image0050 (2)As soon as you have one part of the tent up and move on to the next part, a teammate is normally disassembling the first part. (Well, in my experience anyway……..yes I know, sometimes ….well, quite often, it was me doing it to other people, but I was on the receiving end quite a lot as well.) Tent pegs would be hammered into the ground and, as soon as you’d move around the tent, they would be pulled out again……this could go on for a very long time……particularly if there was nothing else to do.

I think my most memorable experience in a tent (not like that!) was at a Salisbury August festival. I was sharing with a team mate in a small, two person tent. On the Friday night/Saturday morning we’d got back to the tent late after helping clean up the bar and clubhouse (collecting and washing glasses, mopping the floor, chasing everyone out of the clubhouse). My team mate was rather drunk, but managed competently to get into the tent, slip into his sleeping bag and fall asleep at the same time as I. With it being August, it was as you’d expect…hot!…….really hot, and light very early in the morning. I was woken by my team mate announcing to me at some ungodly hour (about 6 am) that he was “going home to have a shower” and that he would “see me later”. On only a few hours’ sleep, I mumbled “goodbye” and fell back into not quite the blissful sleep it had been before being so rudely awoken. On dropping back to sleep, I was aware of two things. One: the middle part of my body was definitely lying in a dip, and two: it was getting incredibly warm, indeed, so much so, that I had started to sweat profusely. Despite these two things, I fell back to sleep, exhausted from all the work and the fun of the day before. When I finally awoke, it was only half an hour before the matches were due to start, and even then, only because people had been shouting at my tent as they walked past, for me to “WAKE UP!” The first thing that occurred to me as I came to, was that perhaps I was unwell. My back and legs ached….sleeping on the bare ground in just a sleeping bag, but I was absolutely drenched in sweat. After 60 seconds or so, I thrust my hands out of the sleeping bag and slowly slid the zip down the side. To say the sleeping bag and I were a little “moist” would be like describing the Thames as a little trickle. I sat up and tried to extricate my sticky, damp legs from the sleeping bag. It was then that I noticed…………..IT! To one side of the tent….not my side…. lay an empty pint glass on its side. For a few seconds I was overcome with confusion……..that is, until I followed the trail of damp, foamy grass from the top of the glass……all the way to the very-nearly-full-of-beer dip, in which I’d been sleeping. In my team mate’s clumsy attempt to leave the tent earlier in the morning, he’d knocked over his nearly full pint of beer that he’d brought back in to the tent with him in the early hours. The beer had found the dip in which I had been lying, and consequently I’d been rolling around in it, in my sleeping bag, for a couple of hours. So not only was I damp and sticky, but I smelt like a brewery, something as a non-drinker that wasn’t very pleasant. When I explained what had happened to my team mate (naively expecting sympathy), he laughed almost to the point of some pee coming out, I seem to remember.

Another August festival at Salisbury had me camped just to one side of one of the grass pitches, and for some reason I’d gone to bed a little early (hmmmm…..midnight, or just after). Lots of fun and games were going on around and about…….you know the kind of thing……drinking, singing (v. loud), mucking about……..the usual! I remember falling asleep straight away…….well it was Sunday night, and again I was totally shattered. I was having a dream about flying through the air on my back, only to discover that, a whole load of hockey players had taken out the tent pegs of my tent, and were moving it with me in it. Snuggled up in my sleeping bag, I was……trapped! What they then did, astounded me. They put the tent back down, and then proceeded to hammer in all the tent pegs, one by one. “What’s wrong with that?” I hear you ask. Between where my tent had been and the hockey pitch, was a rather steep, grassy bank. They’d pitched my tent on that steep bank, hammered in all of the pegs, and then just walked away laughing. What made it worse, was the fact that my head was at the lower end, with my legs effectively in the air, way above my head. In the end, I couldn’t face getting out and repitching the tent, so I eventually managed to turn round and slept on that steep slope all night. They were all very proud of their jolly jape in the morning.

Let me know what you think, and your own hockey festival experiences for a chance to win a copy of my book.

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