This was my 13th Glastonbury Festival. I first started going to Glastonbury in 1998, and then 1999. I still have the T-shirts which I wore to Glastonbury. A few suitable comments were made by other festival goers. I took a break for a few years and started attending again. I’ve been to every Glastonbury held since 2009. The Glastonbury Festivals I have been to are 1998, 1999, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014 ,2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2022, 2023.
This year was another dry Glastonbury. A week or so before Glastonbury, showers were expected during the show. As the date neared, the rain disappeared from the forecasts. Those who arrived on Tuesday were rained upon. I arrived on Wednesday, and it was dry and hot throughout the whole festival, with only one exception of a very small shower early on Monday morning.
I drove to Glastonbury in my EV on Wednesday, arriving in the early afternoon. Stopped for a coffee and a quick charge on route. The Blue route, taken by campervans, was empty with no delays. I arrived at Love Fields and was soon installed in my yurt. Love Fields has installed a large building, called The Barn, replacing the Teepee for breakfasts and meals. Breakfasts served downstairs, and cocktails upstairs. The bar and stage area lower down the fields were still in place.
Met up with Ed, Mary, her brother, and Jon while they were still on shift at the Silver Hayes area. Afterwards we had a few drinks, and then watched the opening fireworks. This evening we wandered around spending time in the Green Fields. I was back in Love Fields at 4am.
Some bands were playing today in the small venues. I started off at the Rabbit Hole, watching Prima Queen, and then spent most of my time at the Bread and Roses, listening to small bands, such as Duo, The Love Buzz, Frankie Morrow, N’Famady Kouyate. I rushed over to the Southwest corner to see some metal, but the place was so packed I gave up and returned to the principal areas. It’s a shame I somehow missed the Vlure playing at Bread and Roses. Not to worry, the Glasgow band was playing again on another day.
The main days of the festival open. I started off with an exercise class run by Joe Wicks. Twenty-five minutes, plus a warmup session beforehand. I met up with Ed and Mary, it was their day off. After a while I went my own way and headed to West Holts stage. It is my favourite area, good cider, decent food and good music. I watched Louis Cole, Young Fathers and the headline act Kelis.
The first band of the day was The Last Dinner Party at Woodsies (the new name for the John Peel Stage). Here I met Mark and his daughter. They were standing two rows in front of me. After this show I rushed back to the Greenpeace Stage to watch N’Famady Kouyate., again. He was playing five shows during Glastonbury and had won the emerging talent show at the Pilton Working Mens Club. Then it was Sudan Archives before rushing over to see Vlure at BBC Introducing. At the Other Stage, I watched the Manic Street Preachers, Plenty of room. Next for me was Guns and Roses on the Pyramid stage. I was disheartened because the area looked full for Lizzo. But after Lizzo finished, space opened up and I was able to find room in front of the barrier. Despite the reviews, the show was enjoyable, the crowd were ecstatic. Rumours circulated that Paul McCartney may come on to sing Live and Let Die. This did not happen. Shame it would have been a nice touch. After the headline act, I went on over to The Glade to watch the The Steve Hillage Band.
Already I was nearing the end of the festival. First off was a hike up to the Crow’s Nest to see Professor Alice Robers with Rebecca Wragg Sykes talk about early humans and archaeology. Now back to normal, The Chicks at the Pyramid Stage, Bird on the Wire: The Songs of Leonard Cohen at the Acoustic Stage, followed by a fabulous show by Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp. I wasn’t going to miss the Mongolian Metal band, The Hu, at the West Holts. Saw them at Download. I then watched Barrington Levy at West Holts and headed over to the Other Stage to see the end of The War On Drugs and finally Queens of the Stone Age. It was a shame for the The War On Drugs, when so many people left to get to the Pyramid Stage to watch Elton John. Queens of the Stone Age were excellent.
Pack up and leave. Join the queue on Pylle Road. This can be slow as the mobile homes are allowed out onto the road from the same exit. It took me an hour to go the few miles. Once I was on the A37, there was no problem. I did hear that some people leaving the festival from the main car parks were held up for 7 hours. I count myself lucky. What I don’t understand is that despite all the walking, I seemed to put on a kilo.
Rosemary and I had our first campervan trip of the year to Cambridge. I had been to Cambridge in the van on my own to attend an Alumni event. Rosemary being left in hospital to have a replacement hip. I had later been to the Download festival with Selina. But this was our first Rosemary and I trip of the year.
We were attending a garden party at Gonville and Caius. I had chosen an off-grid camping pitch to test the new leisure battery. It was on grass and in an incredibly quiet area of the campsite. There were an interesting mix of people in our field. One couple from Holland were driving a Series 1 Landrover, and were taking it up North to a show. There were also a number of walking / cycling campers.
The weather was very good for the few days we were away. We managed to dodge the only rain.
Most days we caught the bus into Cambridge city centre. Friday we ate and drank at the famous Eagle pub and later sat in the sunshine outside Kings College drinking a glass of wine from the Cambridge Wine Merchants.
The garden party was on Saturday when the food was up to its usual high standard. We also visited the library where there was a special collection of old medical books on display. When you look at the surgical equipment in use in the 17th century, it doesn’t seem to have changed much in modern days. (This was brought home to us when we visited Egypt a few years ago. On one wall there were carvings of surgical equipment from the pharaoh times. They were very recognisable as surgical devices.)
It was a shame to see the Corpus Christie clock out of action. It had been removed. Some vandal had taken a hammer to the glass window which protects the clock from the elements. This glass was very resistant to attack and had not been broken through. I gather the clock is now back, so the congestion at the junction of Benet Street and Trumpington Street will be back.
The Download Festival time had arrived, Selina and I were spending the weekend there. I have been to Download several times now, always buying the RIP camping tickets, these allow me to take the campervan, and give you access to the Guest area. This year I left it too late to purchase those tickets. They sell out very quickly. Instead, I bought some Rock Retreat tickets. This was offsite camping a couple of miles away at Melbourne House. The campsite was nice, toilets and showers on site. The people there were friendly, and it was peaceful. The downside is you need to take a bus in and out. They ran regularly, so not too much of an issue. There was a long walk from the bus station to the arena, and a long-crowded walk back at the end of the evening. That walk was not so nice.
This year was the 20th anniversary of Download, so it was a four-day event. This caused chaos on the roads, and the future of Download has been put into doubt. It is rumouredthat 200 passengers using East Midlands airport missed their flights because of delays. On the Thursday we were held up in traffic for more than an hour, wish we had gone to Melbourne house across country from the West,
Metallica were the star of the show, playing two sets, one on Thursday and one on Saturday. The lighting and additional screens made it a spectacular show to watch. Even when you were near the back these additional screens on towers brought you into the show. Looking at other Metallica shows this year, it seems these towers, and twin shows were a Metallica hallmark. Other bands were allowed to use the towers. I would love to see them at future Download festivals and other open-air venues. They made such a huge difference.
The weather was hot and dry. In fact, too hot, Steve was reduced to drinking water on one day. The bars could do with some updating. The big bars serve one cider and one lager. There was the taphouse bar that sold a few American IPAs brewed in this country by Carlsberg. They were better, but the queues were horrendous. Download, please widen the range of beers in all the bars. The food was generally fine, so long as you steered away from the burgers, well actually most things that contained meat.
The final day, Sunday, we spent quite a lot of time trying to meet up with Selina’s cat’s Twitter friend. This twitter account is operated by Slipknot’s sound engineer. Alas this did not happen in the end, scheduling issues. The Slipknot show was going to happen during a thunderstorm. Thankfully, the storm happened all around us, and not over us. So, we were dry, and the ground did not turn to mud.
The YouTube below contains sessions from most of the bands we saw. The sound on my new Pixel 7 is very much better than my previous phone, so long as I remember not to put my finger over the microphone. I kept doing this. Now I know, I have become very careful. The microphone is just where you want to hold the camera in landscape mode. The image stabilization is very good, and the optical zoom helps get in close.