I first made the journey to the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts (die-hards never call it 'Glasto') in 1994 as an innocent, callow youth and, for work or pleasure, have attended every festival in the intervening 21 years. I’ve arrived by bicycle, by car, by bus, by Land Rover, by Luton van, by helicopter and, on one occasion, on roller skates whilst dressed as Johnny Cash. Never before have I arrived by motorhome.
So after all those trips to Worthy Farm, 2015 was a first for me, as I was going in a Benimar Mileo 231 kindly loaned to me by the Practical Motorhome team. The usual pre-prep involves a week of stockpiling clothes, wet weather gear, footwear from flip-flops to wellies, loo roll, industrial quantities of wet wipes and various other paraphernalia to survive the physical and mental onslaught of the five-day, six-night jamboree. The misery of transporting it all on site from the car parks to the campsite is a familiar one to the experienced festival goer, and the gift to the Glastonbury virgin. It was blissful, therefore, to be able to load the Benimar and drive it straight into the campervan field, literally a home away from home.
Fifteen years ago, people would arrive at Glastonbury on the Friday morning, but since both 'The Fence' and the prices have gone up (a basic ticket is £225, if you can get one), everyone is looking to extract every drop of enjoyment and value from the experience, so they arrive any time from the Tuesday night.
We breezed in on the Thursday evening with no hold-ups other than a somewhat draconian security inspection wherein our three bottles of champagne fell foul of the no glass bottles policy. A marshal popped into the left-hand seat and directed us to a spot in the East 24 campervan field, a short walk to the Williams Green stage and in a happily elevated position above the quagmire below.
Glastonbury in the sun is as close as it gets to heaven on earth. Music drifts out from its dozens of stages, the food is wonderful, the various strata of society actually talk to each other, and there is a general kindness and generosity you rarely see in everyday life. Glastonbury in the rain, however, is hard work. A 10-minute stroll from the John Peel Stage to the Acoustic Tent becomes a half-hour trudge, like a scene from Saving Private Ryan.
The worse the conditions get, though, the more supportive people become (you can’t say that trying to get a cab on Oxford Street in the rain) and you wouldn’t be experiencing the real Glastonbury without a little mud. Friday’s mid-afternoon downpour, therefore, gave the weekend a thankfully brief period of misery and authenticity, enough to drive us back into the Benimar, from which we could watch Mary J Blige rock the Pyramid Stage in superb comfort.
The ‘van did its job beautifully over the course of the weekend. The bed was comfortable (although leg room was a little restricted by a cupboard), the space was light and airy, and there was more storage capacity than we could use. We hadn’t brought a usable gas canister so the water ran cold, but in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king, and this was a step up from the Glastonbury facilities, and the toilet was easy to use and quick to empty.
The Benimar was perfect for a couple. The only real complaint would be the fiddliness of the locks; not what you want when you’re trying to get in at three o’clock in the morning.
Work commitments meant that we made an early departure on Sunday afternoon, thankfully avoiding the mass exodus of 177,000 people trying to squeeze down the same tiny Somerset lanes on Monday morning. On one memorable occasion it took us nine hours just to get off site. Glastonbury Carmaggedon is a thing to behold – if you’ve seen The Walking Dead or any Hollywood post-nuclear-disaster movie, you’ll get the idea. This time, though, we sailed out in a matter of minutes, with Lionel Richie ringing in our ears.
Glastonbury isn’t for the faint-hearted but it’ll reward you with lifelong memories, as long as you stay away from the pear cider. Glastonbury 2015 for me will mean Kanye West, Years & Years and the Benimar Mileo 231. Now there’s a good name for a band…