After a 2 year wait we are finally making preparations for my all-time favourite festival, Glastonbury! We secured tickets for the 50th year anniversary in 2020 but the pandemic hit. The festival was postponed and although I understood why and there were much bigger things going on, it was such a disappointment. We just had to be patient and now our patience has paid off and we are going. Yay!!
The fact that we are very lucky is not lost on me. I know there are those that had tickets in 2020 who have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and circumstances over the last two years and cannot attend this year.
This year’s festival throws up a few new challenges for me and these are raising several emotions for me, but I am ready to face it all. I’ve written this blog to share how I am feeling and what I’m doing to make Glastonbury work for me as a blind woman.
I have clocked up 17 festivals over the years, going back to some over and over like Kendal and Glastonbury. I’ve even been to Benicassim in Spain which was a whole different challenge because of the intense heat. I have always loved festivals and camping at them. Being in a crowd, connecting with like-minded people cheering and singing at the top of your voice, then retreating to a cosy tent whilst enjoying all aspects of nature. There isn’t a better feeling for me, I feel secure but free, and completely at home. Glastonbury tops them all for me.
But this year for the first time ever I am somewhat nervous about my return to the colourful fields of Glastonbury.
What am I doing to combat these nerves?
Since losing my sight I have become very good at organisation which has been a surprise to those that knew me before! Having no sight means that organisation is a must, it makes life so much easier.
My packing this year has taken my organisation up a level. Each tent area has a bag and then within each bag everything is marked with tactile stickers or bobbles. I wouldn’t want to try cooking with washing up liquid instead of olive oil or to be drinking caffeine too late. All the toiletries are organised using different shaped bottles so I can tell the difference between products. We have purchased a new camping table with storage shelves underneath and camping cots rather than air beds to create more storage space.
My first experience at a festival as a blind women was Kendal Calling in August 2019. This was a great trial run as it’s a smaller site, and my mum decided to come to knock a festival off her bucket list. It was fun but hard work because it rained intensively. Everything was all over the place in the tent which made me feel out of control or that I couldn’t participate. After surviving that weekend I swore to be more organised!
My memories of Glastonbury mean so much to me and I am determined to uphold these this year and organisation is the key to this. It will help to make it as stress free as possible and if I can reduce my stress levels it will help my Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS). Anxiety, stress and upset causes my hallucinations to be stronger, more defined and I see more of the horrific images. When I am at a gig immersed in the sounds and smells it really helps my CBS. It maybe because my mind is distracted or that I am in a better place emotionally, but it works! So, I am hoping that if I can create a better camping experience it will help to enrich the Glasto vibes.
I am a little apprehensive about what the boys are going to have to go through. I know for sure it is going to be emotional. I can’t really think about it without getting a lump in my throat. The thought of not seeing the crowds with their flags at the pyramid stage or the eclectic range of objects and people is difficult. I loved nothing more than sitting in the field watching the array of people walking through the market area admiring all the colours, objects and art works. I have to stay strong and be open to a new experience of the festival. It is Dylan’s first trip and I want him to fall in love with it as I did. Never returning is unthinkable for me and I am the only one who can stop that happening, so full steam ahead!
Sharing how I am feeling and what I am thinking helps me be present with my thoughts and sit with my emotions. It gives me clarity and the space to build a foundation of strength for the weekend ahead. I think there is so much power in sharing, and I thank you for reading. I will write a follow up blog to let you know how it all went. I have been asked to appear on BBC Radio Four’s In Touch show to speak about my experience of Glastonbury as a Visually Impaired Person. So, listen out for that and keep your fingers crossed for me and for the weather!
Sending lots of festival love and vibes,