Saturday 19 October 2013

Glamping With Silvers

The first wonderful surprise I had leading up to my birthday, was the discovery that I had unexpectedly won a competition that I had drunkenly entered into with JK and the Iron Dwarf at Glastonbury on our crazy Friday bender.

It was mid-afternoon on that Friday, and after beginning our drinking at about 9am, it was an inescapable fact that we were inebriated beyond all recognition. Quite simply, we were drunk as shit.

After deciding hard liquor was the best choice of breakfast, at around 3pm the alcohol-fueled hunger became a full-on plight, and luckily we were just sober enough to stumble our way to the food tents.

That's where, by pure whim, we decided to snack at the Soulful Food Co stall. I can't quite remember what I had, all I remember was picking something off the boards, handing over my sticky change and nomming down on an absolute orgasmic angel's pocket of deliciousness, that (okay so perhaps because I was a little drunk and hadn't eaten in 24 hours) genuinely tasted like it was sent from the gods.

We then noticed that with our order we'd been given little heart-shaped temporary tattoos. As you can imagine, we lost our shit and stuck them all over each other in childish glee. 

"You know, if you take a picture with them and submit it online, you could win a glamping holiday."

"A... camping holiday?" I slurred.

"Oh no, not 'camping'," said the vendor, leaning in with a dramatic whisper, "Glamping."

And that was more than enough excitement for us. 

We got the vendors to take a picture for us, scoffed down the rest of our heaven-sent foods and skipped off to continue our adventure, almost instantly forgetting about the competition. 

It wasn't until two weeks later, when I got my disposables developed, that I found the picture. My mind was hazy as to how the photo had come about, and as I remembered, I couldn't help but grin at how awful it was, and how amazing we were certain it was at the time.

With a combination of 'hey, why not?' and my apparent ability to randomly win things, I submitted it to the competition with no real expectation of it actually going anywhere.

I never would have thought in a million years that I'd actually win.

It was about a month and a half after I entered, when I had well and truly forgotten about it, when I received a random email from Soulful Food Co. Curiously I opened it, and let out an audible 'No frickin' way!' as I read on to discover that by some sweet miracle, that silly little picture had actually been selected by random to win. 

So, once all the details had been confirmed, me and two guests of my choice (as JK and the Iron Dwarf were unavailable, I selected my sisters in silver, Ariella and Florentine) on a drizzling late September afternoon, set off into the unknown wilderness that was THE WEST COUNTRY. 

...The four days that followed turned out to be the most unexpectedly hilarious of my entire life.

 And as we left Somerset disappearing over the horizon, all sat in silence as our little car pooted onto the motorway, the sadness at our adventure coming to an end palpable in the air. But this sadness was met with an even greater glow at what we'd just experienced - one of the most hilarious trips I think I'll ever take.


"There better be some eye candy. A sexy little farmhand will do nicely."

At midday on Friday 20th September, with a heavily laden car groaning under the weight of clothes and wine alone, IT BEGAN.

With the music pounding from someone's ipod and Florentine in the back seat buried up to her eyeballs in Christmas jumpers, we hit the motorway in anticipation of the mammoth journey we had ahead of us. However, the trip was surprisingly easy, with light traffic and nothing remarkably eventful occurring. 

Then we hit the gridlock traffic outside Stonehenge.

Now, of course, as is done in all situations of slight confusion whilst driving, the music volume went from 100 to 10 in a matter of seconds, as if this was going to somehow improve our eyesight or understanding of why we were sat in the middle of nowhere with the engine off, surrounded by nothing by fields, sheep and pissed of motorists. 

We sat in a sigh-filled silence as we crawled forward at such a speed that it didn't even register on the speedometer, when suddenly, came the rhythimc beat.
Dum, dum dum. Dum, dum dum. Dum, dum, dum.
We all whipped round to one another, and in such perfect timing that could never be imitated, Ariella whacked up the volume and we all shouted in perfect unison;


And absolutely fell about in fits of laughter. 

That was the moment that we discovered that each of us knew every single word to the 'Hairspray' soundtrack off by heart.

We continued to howl along to every single song on the entire album, much to the combined delight, amusement and absolute hatred of the surrounding motorists who could not escape our angelic vocals. 

After an eventful rest of the journey including all the people in the car in front of us projectile vomiting out of their car windows numerous times, (much to our constant and inexplicably loud screaming) and a brigade over about 72 police motorbikes passing us on the other side of the road (to which we then deduced a zombie apocalypse had occurred, we were stuck in the jam of people trying to escape it, and the people in front were infected) at 6pm we FINALLY made it to Gilcombe Farm in Bruton, Somerset.  

We were shown to our tent by the lovely Porch family and decided there was nothing else for it, but to find the local pub and have a stiff drink to get over the long and eventful journey. 

The Bruton Castle, the pub we went to, turned out to be our local watering hole for the rest of the trip, and we befriended the landlords, who, (I actually shit you not, these were their legit names) were the tall, mop-haired, bespectacled Caspar, and the tanned silver fox who we all secretly fancied, Giles.


Day 2

"I'll drink to that."

The next morning was our first real full glimpse of the farm, and our tent in daylight. 

Our little home was comprised of one main open plan kitchen/dining/living space, a toilet room, two bedrooms and a cupboard bed. One of the bedrooms had a bunkbed and a bookcase, which we affectionately termed our 'guest room' (in reality it was just a room to dump all our bags and excess belongings in.) 

The master room had one huge double bed that took up the majority of the room, much to the delight of Ariella and I. The cupboard bed was... well exactly that. It was a giant cupboard in the wall, inside of which was a huge double-sized bed, with cupboard doors on either side, one opening into the master bedroom, and the other into the living space. Florentine was in love. 

Like Goldilocks and the three bears, we draped our matching denim jackets, DM's and ukuleles on the three deck chairs in the living area, moved all our stuff in to our rooms, chucked some firewood into the stove to begin the lengthy process of making tea, and sat back to enjoy our adorable new home.

Our next adventure was to explore the rest of the farm and our delightful, mischievous and irritatingly vocal-in-the-morning new animal neighbours.

All of the glamping tents were located in their own field in the top right hard corner of the farm. We were away from the main animal pens, grazing fields and farm machinery, but we still had our own private little paddock with two pigs and four sheep in, that we grew to love so very fondly. 

After we'd greeted our neighbours, we decided to venture down into the village to pick up some ingredients to make a hearty home-cooked meal in the evening. As the weather wasn't great we decided to spend the rest of the day lounging around, writing songs and playing our ukuleles whilst overlooking the rolling hills of The West Country. 

After our impromptu jam sesh, we set to work on crafting our amazing from scratch dinner. 

Now it's a well-known fact that the best possible meal to eat in the the Great British Countryside is undoubtedly bangers and mash. 

So, whilst Ariella set to work prepping the fire in the stove, Floretine and I sat on our doorstep, peeling potatoes and talking about the world. It genuinely felt like a scene from a movie.

And my god. I don't think a meal has ever tasted so good. 

That evening we decided to return to our new favourite place The Bruton Castle.

Now, if ever we had underestimate the sleepy little countryside village of Bruton, my goodness me were we about to be proved wrong.

What began as a sophisticated evening drinking red wine and getting ready by candlelight, quickly descended into complete anarchy, screeching London Grammar at the top of our voices strolling drunkenly through the countryside at midnight.

Suddenly we found ourselves at a rock karaoke night at the local pub, which ended in a lock-in with the mayor, playing pool with our new best friends Maximus Marson, Titus Indigo Benedict, and Giles and Caspar, (None of those names made up!) playing bongo drums on stage along to The Arctic Monkeys with a Polish drummer.

Then out of the blue, Caspar, our young bespectacled (and extremely drunk) bartender friend suddenly flipped, shouting "I don't know how you girls do things in the city, but this is not the way we do things round here!" While his embarrassed friends and colleagues apologised profusely and begged us not to leave, we decided it was probably not best to get physically kicked out, so at about 3am we set off, somehow managing to snag a lift back to the farm from a very kind and not-even-slightly-a-murderer train driver in a Network Rail van.

And that's the story of how two bottles of wine plus one night of rock karaoke almost got us barred for life from a tiny little village pub in the middle of the West Country countryside.

Lordy, lordy.

Day 3 

"The Phantom Sconman"

We didn't feel so great the following morning.

Once we'd finally got over our hangovers, we traipsed down into the forest at the bottom of our paddock to collect some firewood and discuss our plans for the evening. When we returned we found one of the lovely Porch boys had come to pay us a visit.

"I was just going to ask if you'd like a tour of the farm Ladies, unless you have other plans?"

Which was followed by a resounding "ERM, YES?!"

Thus, the four us rambled about the farm meeting all the various farm animals, during which we were fully informed all about the process of milk pasteurisation, calf-rearing, chicken egg-collecting and, surprisingly, all about the mental acid raves that all the local kids throw in disused barns.

Huh, well you learn something new every day I guess.

We got to go inside the cow milking shed and see how it all worked, stroke the newborn baby calves and unexpectedly get nibbled by quite a few, we spent a good 40 minutes in the chicken house talking about birds and barn raves, and lastly ended up in the Farm shop discussing business and competition winning.

It was genuinely humbling to hear how hard they all worked, day in, day out, and never complained at all. It was refreshing to meet people that actually cared about and just all round loved what they did. We returned back to camp as it grew closer to dusk, each with a grin on our faces.

It was as we returned, that with a combination of disbelief and dismay, I glanced at our food stocks.

"Florentine... I don't mean to scare you, but..." She looked at me quizzically, "How many scones do you think we've eaten in total?"

We'd been on a big food shop before we'd left home, and decided last minute to buy some scones to enjoy for breakfast each morning.

"Erm, I don't know... Four?"

"We bought a pack of eight with us... and I know I've had four alone..." She gave me her best I'm-not-seeing-where-you're-going-with-this face. "Florentine," I whispered, "There's six scones left."

Her mouth fell open in a mock-horrified expression. "But... but that's not possible!" She said, mocking me.

"Maybe someone's been sneaking in to our tent and replenishing our scone stocks while we're sleeping."

"It's... It's..." She then looked at me, wide-eyed and deadly serious, and in a Scottish accent, whispered "It's The Phantom Sconman."

And although I was actually quite genuinely terrified about the sudden surplus of scones, I couldn't help but laugh, and resolved that if the most of our worries was that we seemed to persistently possess an abundance of baked goods, then we were probably going to be okay.

That final evening we decided it was probably not best to ever return to The Bruton Castle, so we gathered up our remaining firewood, cracked out another home-cooked meal of chicken, pesto and tomato pasta, and headed over to the big ol' bonfire pit in the centre of our meadow, passing the hours eating, laughing, singing campfire songs and slowly but surely getting very, very drunk.

It was a delightful way to spend our last night in the wilderness. 

Day 4
"Just so you know, I have just thought of a pun that I'm really excited to use..."

"...This is Cheddar Gorgeous"

And so alas, we woke up and began the tedious task of packing up all our belongings into my tiny little car, with a silent refusal to believe our trip was actually coming to an end.

After waving goodbye to the tent, our farm animal neighbours and the lovely Porch family, we hit the road again. 

After living off our own haphazardly-attempted home-cooked meals that took four hours to make in the chilly wilderness, we decided to stop at this sweet little restaurant called the Chapel. It turned out to be unexpectedly posh, and the food was unbelievably good.

Before we left Bruton for good, we decided to do one last tour, and discovered something quite remarkable. We'd glimpsed it on the way in, but weren't sure if we would be able to find it again, but there, right out of the blue it lay.

Silver Street.

Perhaps this was always meant to happen after all.

And with that we left Bruton forever. 

But our West Country adventure wasn't over yet, as we decided to cram in one last bit of sightseeing at Cheddar Gorge, the gargantuan naturally residing cave systems which pit the Somerset hills, some 50 miles from where we were. We actually drove very near to Glastonbury at one point, and it was an absolute marvel to think back to how this adventure had all begun

And my god, was the journey spectacular.

The swirling roads and rocky outcrops gave the illusion we were driving through Thailand or some great Eastern Rainforest - not a few miles South of Bristol. It was genuinely mesmerising, and we had to get out to appreciate the sheer scale, magnitude and powerful beauty of it all. 

The tiny little town of cheddar looked like a Christmas card scene out of season. The chocolate-box village lay centrally focused around the main tourist attraction - the caves themselves. Inside, it was cold, damp, bloody awesome and very brown. 

Afterwards we grabbed a coffee, indulged in a spot of rooftop ice-cream and climbed some mountains, and as the sun shone, I realised that this had been one of the happiest times of my entire life.

There were so many things that could have gone wrong, things that could have not worked out or got us into trouble... but it had all gone just perfectly.

And I was happy.

We were happy. 

We were alive.

And as the sun set on our final moments of our incredible adventure across the country, I could feel a certain little feeling in my chest, that feeling at 8 o'clock on a Sunday night when you were a schoolkid and you knew it was fast-approaching your bedtime. The feeling that it was all actually...over. 

But as the dying light dazzled across the windows of the car and we watched the countryside speed past us, I knew I could not be truly sad. Overall, I just felt unbelievably incredibly lucky - for many reasons. 

1) Because thanks to a sheer conincidence and the wonderful people at Soulful Food Co, I was able to have this experience.

2) For my two best friends in the world, Florentine and Ariella with whom I was so grateful to be able to share this opportunity - no two people in the universe would I rather have gone on this adventure with.

3) In a way, I guess I feel lucky... because I am able to understand. I have finally developed the frame of mind to appreciate the natural beauty of the world an relish in this sense of freedom that comes with seclusion and isolation away from all the seemingly-fundamental issues of modern life. And, lucky to acknowledge and truly understand the importance of keeping those that you treasure, close to you. 

While we were away on this trip, I missed freshers week at Uni and the first week when everyone moved into our new house. People that, with the absence of Pistol, I'm suddenly very able to see I am nothing like. And you know...I think that was the best thing that could have happened.

Life is about understanding who to truly value, and finding the power to let go of the people who do nothing but bring you down and hold you back.


If there was one thing I learnt from this holiday, it was the understanding of what peace is; inner, outer and eternal.

And I returned with the exact same thoughts and invigorated outlook on life as I had done when I returned from Glastonbury back in June.

Choose to be free. 

Choose to be happy. 

Choose to be lucky.

(It's amazing what a bit of fresh air can do really.)