I’ve recently learned about the concept of Allemansrätt (or Freedom To Roam, which is the Wikipedia page you end up on when you google it). This essentially means that the beauty of nature is open to anyone as long as they respect it, and exists across most of Europe but the ‘freedom’ in question can be quite different. I think the most generous application of this rule is in Scandinavia, with the description in the Swedish Constitution being “everyone shall have access to nature in accordance with allemansrätten“, which I think is quite beautiful.
Last weekend I went to Glastonbury, one of the best music festivals in the world, set in some of the UK’s most beautiful countryside, but despite the fact that most of the attendees are camping for 4/5 days, it couldn’t be further from the ideals of Allenmansrätt. The water and electricity requirements of the site are equivalent to the city of Bath, and I have no idea how much waste there is left at the end.
BUT those are issues for another day, because I’m still in absolute awe at how fantastic it was. I’ve seen so much coverage of the festival over the years, but never been, and I wasn’t quite prepared for the physical scale in terms of how many things were going on and how many people were there.
Traditionally it can be quite a muddy event, and this year didn’t disappoint. But luckily I had prepared in proper grown up style, and bought a heavy duty raincoat which I wore pretty much all the time.
With such a big group (there were about 40 of us) we have learned the hard way that having a Flag is essential to find people. ICE was the lucky piece of material that helped us stumble through crowds to be united with friends for magical sets.
Hair flowers are pretty much mandatory, as is drinking cider before 3pm. I’m already excited about the things I can wear next year. Given the limited (non-existent?) showering facilities, it’s about clothes you can wear for 5 days that don’t show the dirt, and jazzy accessories like glitter, false eyelashes and dry shampoo.
[Just because it’s a cliché doesn’t mean it’s not amazing. Watching the sun rise from the Stone Circle.]
[The inspiration for Dolly Parton’s bizarre song ‘Mud’…]
There were so many highlights, from a set in the dance tent with Foxes, followed by Annie Mac, followed by Fatboy Slim, to Elbow’s twilight set, but for me the standout set was Kodaline. That feeling of hearing an album you have played to death being sung live and sung better that you’ve heard it before. It was tipping it down with rain, and I couldn’t have cared less. That is something that will stick with me for a long time.
So while it wasn’t an education in how fabulous nature can be, it was an education in music, in atmosphere, and it making the most of opportunities to experience things you haven’t before.
If you’ve always been tempted but never actually gone to Glastonbury, that GO. You will not regret it.
(I’ll get the ‘experiencing beautiful nature without disturbing it’ when I go to Ireland in a weeks time!)