There’s only one good thing about jetlag, those few extra creative hours you earn in the day, when the frost is still licking at the grass and the dewy morning breath is still hanging heavy inside the warm confinement of the van, the brain is on overtime.
It's been pretty clear over the past few months that I’m a horrible sleeper and this is only amplified by living #vanlife. I’ve just flown for 2 days across 3 different time changes, first Sydney to Los Angeles, a 13hr flight travelling backwards in time and losing 17 hours, followed by a 12-hour stopover in the Californian mecca that is LA. Due to poor seat selection, I’d had no sleep on that first flight, so I couldn’t muster up the enthusiasm or energy to remove myself from the stiff and unforgiving airport seating when I landed. My second flight was 9 and a half hours over to London Heathrow, a place I haven’t seen in a couple of years now and to be fair, my initial reaction was pretty "Meeeh"! I’d just gained myself another 8hrs in time, however, my body has absolutely no idea what day or time it is.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows when you touch down in the motherland, after a 2 year love affair with foreign territories. No one is there to give me the movie style greeting I dream of every time I fly anywhere, because I’ve flown into the country to immediately start work. This weekend is the first festival of the Braidy Bunch season and I’m cutting it as close as I can to arrive. After buying an English sim card and grabbing a much-needed coffee, I call the super excited mumma bear. We figure out the next few hours of travel needed to get me over to Haughley Park to the "Alive and V Dubbin Festival".
Two underground connections, way too many stairs with torn ankle ligaments and too much luggage later, I arrive at London Liverpool Street. I think I’ve prepared the cash I’ll need for the next train to Stowmarket with the crisp 10-pound note I’ve conveniently placed in my pocket to pay for what I thought was a 20-minute train journey. It turns out the ticket is 4 times that price and the journey 3 times as long! I guess I’ve been away a while. I try to call mum back before I hit a breaking point and with no answer, I suck it up and do what’s needed; buy the ticket, get some sushi and pour a G&T kindly donated by American Airlines for such a moment!
I’m greeted at Stowmarket station by a couple of vagabond looking folks I’m proud to call my family. I haven’t seen them in over 18 months and it’s just the best feeling in the world being squeezed by your mum after so long apart. We bundle back into the van and head over to the field to complete phase one of the stall setup. After dragging a few tables and a bunch of stock into the already erected stall, we flip out a pop-up tent for Lee. He unpacks a bunch of his shirts and his guitar and we finally have access to the kettle, so it’s time for the first of many cups tea.
My body got very confused: the sun stays in the sky until 9 pm here in the UK so the rest of the evening is filled with reacquainting with all of the festival circuit characters. Great spending time with people like Amy from the Nomads Bazaar and her adorable brood, our beloved bohemian friend Gail, and also getting to know some new gems like Mum’s friend Julie ‘posh bags’ and her awesome festival sidekick Shelly. The unrelenting tiredness kicks in and I’m no longer able to socialise, so I climb into bed with the van still filled with friends and Marshal the dog joins me. I wake after a little nap to realise only mum is left and in true jet lag style, stay awake till 3 am chatting in bed and drinking lots more tea. Only 3 hours later I’m wide awake and feeling creative so do some writing while I wait for the day to wake up around me.
Mum and the rest of the gang wake up around 9 am and we cooked ourselves a big breakfast before mum lost her footing on the van steps and army rolled out of the door, finishing sprawled out flat on the ground. After checking she wasn’t hurt we all burst out laughing took some photos, then decided we needed to get the stall set up fully. We leisurely spent the morning and most of the afternoon arranging stock, stuffing bags and pricing up all the new things we’ve been working on over the winter. After being heckled by a middle aged bald man drinking a cider about not being open, we agreed it was time to roll up the doors.
The lack of sleep, coupled with the soothing sound of Lee’s guitar was catching up with me; so we only kept the doors up for a couple of hours before we called it a night. We had a few of the guys come and join us in the van after dinner and spent a few hours laughing and playing with Amy’s little ones, with this season's silly accessories before I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. Mum and the others, however, stayed up till the tiny hours catching up on all the gossip from the winter months since they’d all not seen each other.
Saturday started with a little light rain, so I catapulted myself from the bed to make sure all the chairs were under the van and not getting soaked. Then we got ourselves washed and dressed so we were
fresh for the big day ahead. 10 am and our first booking arrives, the lovely Joe Chambers. This is a regular lady whos hair we have braided at many festivals. She picks her colours and decides to also go for some bright pink feather braid. After some fun banter with her husband, they disappear off into the festival only to return a few hours later to get some more feathers on the advice of her husband. We also met the awesome organisers of a festival we’re attending later on this summer called Trunchonbury Festival. The rest of our day was slow but steady, we were all pretty pleased when dinner o’clock swung around and we could close up for the night. After a
couple of ciders and a good feed we headed over to the music tents to see if there were some nice sounds, but decided our resident musician was much better, so we set up a private show around our camp. After the main stage closed there was an acoustic area set up at one of the VW Campers and Lee and the gang all went over to jam till the early hours.
Sunday was a slow starter, more than a few cups of tea were needed to rustle up enthusiasm amongst the troops, but we had ourselves set up and open for 10.30ish. We were pretty steady for the first half of the morning met some really great people that brightened the Sunday mood. By 2 pm it had all slowed down and by three we were starting a slow pack down. Because it was our first festival of the season, some serious re-organisation of the van was needed, so we had an easier time unpacking for our next adventure next weekend. All in all the consensus we got from the traders and customers was that the festival wasn’t quite as busy or as well organised as previous years and that was felt in the profits this weekend, but it was the first time in the new location, so hopefully, next year will be more fruitful!
For more info on where we’re at next weekend and the following weekends check out our page for full event details…