A few weeks ago I banged on righteously about festivals being horrendous. This was with little to no experience of anything of the sort, unless Westlife concerts at Wembley counted (I was TWELVE, ok?). Then I was asked by Moxy Hotels to give it a go at Wilderness Festival (in case you didn't know, Moxy are Marriott's cool younger sister hotels for boutique stays on a budget - opening in Milan in a few weeks, and across Europe over 2015).
Wilderness is actually anything but (bar phone signal, see below). It is in fact the best example of British middle class living I have ever seen. I would imagine a good 50% of attendees were called Sebastian or Felix. The remainder were a combination of children (who were lucky enough to have their own carts to be carried around in all day) of parents who definitely drove Audis, and Waitrose shoppers. It was like middle class problems had vomited on Oxfordshire. Pure. Genius.
It would have been quite a sight watching me at Paddington station for my weekend camping expedition. For a start, I had no tent. Steph and I were relying on managing to track down one of my friends, Olivia, who had a spare (needless to say that I didn't see her for the entire weekend, not helped by the lack of phone signal as soon as I arrived, and were very lucky that another group of friends had a spare - albeit with a hole in).
We plonked our stuff down at the campsite (note to self, wheely suitcases are not suitable for camping) and head straight for the festival. Wading through the rain to get to it all, I spotted all of the teepees and various glamping camps (complete with hot tubs, masseuses on tap and unlimited gastro-pub type grub) and eyeballed everyone coming out from them with intense jealousy. As soon as I saw Mark Hix's bar offering espresso martinis, a Mulberry craft tent and a Laurent Perrier pop up I kind of knew I was going to be ok, or better still enjoy myself.
Everyone was just up for a really good time, a chill out, some good old fashioned fun. People went off and enjoyed their banquets, had a spa treatment, did some yoga (with Lululemon, I was seriously peeved I forgot my leggings as their pop up looked amazing)... It was just such a nice experience. To put it in perspective when we got to the main stage a few gallons of cocktails down, the man in front of me in the crowd apologised for being tall and moved behind me so I could see. 10 minutes later someone shouted out "I've found an iPhone 5s, does it belong to any of you?" before they strolled off to hand it in to lost property.
Free People Dress / Hunter Wellington boots (on sale!) / Accessorize flower garland / Accessorize bum bag
I dressed as one should for these things; wellington boots, hippie style dresses (just discovered Free People, amazing), flower garlands (yup, I know, I've slagged them off so much on Twitter, I'm a complete hypocrite) and even bought myself a bumbag at the Accessorize pop up. I loved it, a total escape from my jeans and t shirt self. Make up wise - bar the face paint I wore zero. No one did. It doesn't matter.
It was as appropriate to be blind drunk at 3am (once the little ones were all tucked up inside their winnebagos) as it was for our friends to bring their 10 week old baby (Hugo, obviously) along to experience his first live bands for the afternoon. I bumped in to friends I hadn't seen for years (surprisingly easy to spot male friends when they are all dressed in bright shades of Ralph Lauren chinos) and others dressed as postmen, black cats and bumble bees or some just who had face planted themselves in neon paint.
In a nutshell, I had such great fun. I thought I'd hate it. Granted, waking up to a sodden selection of clothes in the pouring rain (I think it rained more inside our tent than outside of it) wasn't a highlight, but everything else certainly was. If anyone hasn't "done" a festival before, do this one before any other. Bring your wellies, hampers and someone called Sebastian, Felix or Hugo (if nothing else just to translate what the different sizes of champagne bottles mean in real, size terms) and have a jolly good time. Thank you, Moxy Hotels!