I looked forward to unzipping the tent and boiling my kettle for a cup of tea by the gentle heat of the rising sun but when I peered out at 6.30 I could barely see across our field. A dense mist slumped over us. Pitching the tent with the entrance facing east, towards the sunrise, had been somewhat pointless but I fired up the propane stove anyway. The little blue kettle took its time to boil but eventually achieved its purpose in life. The heat from the sun slowly dissolved the mist, completing the task by the time we were showered and organised. Roger made a trip to the Stewards Tent where he bought our ‘Wicked’ subsistence wrist bands. For £3 a day we would have access to unlimited tea and coffee, toast and soup, fruit and crisps, use of toaster and microwave and a big table to sit round chatting to other vols. This seemed perfect if attending alone and was never empty.
On our arrival the previous day we had been told that we couldn’t register until 10am the following morning, when we would also have our briefing. Our neighbour was a veteran volunteer, a mine of useful information (we’d helped erect her tent so there was some reciprocation). She returned to her tent at 9.15, having registered and acquired her ‘working personnel’ and ‘crew camping’ wrist bands. We duly trotted over and filled our lower arms with neon green and yellow bracelets.
Making our way back at 9.45 for the 10 o’clock briefing, I couldn’t help noticing that there weren’t many people around, perhaps because we were early. I nipped back to the tent for my sun hat and found Roger on the phone when I returned. One of the ski companies, which we were due to visit the following week for an interview, was still trying to ascertain which posts we’d applied for. We hadn’t. Our CVs had been passed on, unbeknown to us, by a recruitment agent. It had all become rather confusing even before we’d left and now, the weak phone signal complicated matters further. Roger hung up a couple of minutes later as we noticed that there were actually fewer people than before, not more. We were meant to attend the briefing at the glamping site, not the stewards’ tent as we’d been told. Just as well we’d already registered.
The main arena, containing the four stages and all the stalls and concessions, was fenced in and closed off. Surrounding this were the various campsites which were also completely enclosed by high fencing although the intermittent gates were open. Our crew campsite was outside the campervan park, so on the periphery. Glamping was located almost 180 degrees from crew camping and we’d have to walk all the way around the outside of the arena fencing. Consulting the site map it appeared that walking counter-clockwise would be marginally shorter. We set off knowing that we couldn’t cover the distance in less than 5 minutes so would be late. Not only an inauspicious start but we might miss out on crucial information. Everything would be important to us as we had no idea what was expected of us.
We entered the nearest gate to the punters’ camping zone which took us past the campsite we’d used when we’d attended this festival five years previously. Access to the direct route across the arena was denied so we began the trek around the back of the main stage, having forgotten how steep the hill was. Signs for ‘glamping’ appeared so we diligently followed them but they seemed to be taking us to a different area to where we had expected, but couldn’t be wrong.
We ended up right at the bottom of the hill, at a deserted glamping site displaying teepees and ridge tents. We discovered a woman in a hi-vis jacket who denied all knowledge of stewards’ briefing. Another guy took his head out of his van and told us there was another glampsite, still on the other side of the arena. We were not far from our starting point but much lower down the slope. We began the climb back up the hill over uneven tussocked grass. A gate into the arena was open so we took it. If challenged, we decided we’d be ok as we sported an assortment of wristbands, even if not the correct one.
The avenue of stalls were opening, stocking and decorating. A sign for the Hairy Bikers Pop-up Restaurant leant against a huge triple teepee at the end, blocking our way. We veered to the right, past the English sparkling wine double-decker bus bar, across the top of the area from where to watch the main stage lower down the slope. Through the gate at the bottom, still unchallenged, (we should have gone this way in the first instance) we climbed back up the hill on the far side of the arena and arrived at the main glamping site. Everyone, except 2 people, was dispersing, our neighbour was disappearing along a track, having wondered where we’d got to, as she knew we were in the same team.
The two remaining people, the couple we had walked back with from the pub the previous night, directed us to our supervisor. After our profuse apologies he said that he still needed 2 more people to man the lower glamp site and as we knew where it was…. We agreed but explained that there was no point going back as there was no-one there. Oh, there would be, they’d set off five minutes before, so we turned round and retraced our steps through the middle of the arena and found a man in an orange hi-vis jacket, who was managing this lower site.
We grabbed the opportunity to have a nosey in these posh tents. One of the teepees contained a full sized double wooden bed and three ridge tents had en-suite bathrooms. There were six places with their own tilting mirrors and a hairdryer each in the pamper tent. We said our cheerios and headed back up the hill again, to our campsite for brunch – bacon, egg, sausage and beans cooked over the camping stove – before our return to start shift at 1pm.