So much of my struggle with arthritis has been finding ways to do the things I love within the confines of my condition, and a festival just about sums up the pinnacle of achievement for me, it’s my personal Everest: I want to do it so badly, and I really struggle to do it (which I like to keep a secret because no one ever wants to look like they’re struggling), but I really love every minute of it. This weekend I went to the Bluedot festival in Cheshire and, while not quite a full on Everest, it was certainly an important base-camp event, and I had a great time!
So, despite this being a three-day festival, I decided to do just the Sunday because, musically, it wasn’t something I wanted to do a lot of (I really like electronic music, but it’s not my favourite genre) and I wanted to treat this as a warm up for a bigger festival later in the summer. In addition, I knew it was going to be quite sciency and, given I work with science all week, there’s only so much of that I can deal with in my spare time.
I also cheated massively (which is my first tip for handling festivals with arthritis: if you can make it easier for yourself, do) because my parents live just down the road and I slept in a real bed, and had access to hot showers and flushing toilets… LIVING THE DREAM.
My second tip is to obsessively check the weather forecast because this will affect what you’re going to wear. My original plan, when it was heatwave central last week, was to wear denim shorts and Clarks Tri Alexia sandals, but of course the weather decided otherwise. I grew up in Cheshire so I know it rains all the time, thus I was well prepared. In the end, this is what I wore:
I’m not really one for dressing up in flower-crowns pretending to be a hippie at festivals as it’s not the sort of thing I wear anyway, so I like to keep my outfit as true to myself as possible: old white t-shirt, jeans I didn’t mind getting wrecked (Gap high-rise skinny) and an awesome parka from Oliver Bonas, which was showerproof and, importantly for sore bones, warm! I highly recommend it as the yellow trim makes it stand out from all the other parkas I’ve ever seen. But, as it’s a festival I did want to do something a bit special, so I embraced the science-theme with my accessories:
This eyeshadow doesn’t have amazing lasting power, it’s much more of a night-out thing rather than an all-day thing, but it’s beautifully iridescent, gold and pink at the same time, like the dawn sky, very appropriate for a space-centred weekend. I also wore this necklace, which was a birthday present, because it’s both awesome and geometrical:
But, most importantly, what did I wear on my feet? Well, I was planning on wearing the Clarks Tri Alexia, but when I got to the site I quickly realised that, despite having a heatwave the week before, the heavy Cheshire clay was still a little swampy and, as rain was forecast, I changed into my wellies.
I love these boots so much. I find full knee-high wellington boots really difficult to wear, having to push my joints to have the flexibility required to get them on and off, and then they restrict my movement when I try to walk. These boots are easy to get on and off, I am happy to wear them on my torrential-rain-soaked commutes as they look like cool normal boots (but they’re waterproof), and I even wear them for horse riding with a pair of half chaps (I’ll talk about riding in another post). Basically, these boots do it all. They are completely flat inside, so they don’t have much arch support, and don’t have much roll in the sole so they’re not as comfortable as approach shoes, and I did struggle by the end of the day; however, they do better in deeper mud, and look pretty cool at the same time. (In addition, the portaloos at the festival got into the cesspit state towards the end, and I was pleased I wasn’t wearing sandals!)
And, as for the festival itself, I really enjoyed it. There really was something for everyone, I really enjoyed the music: Everything Everything, an intellectual band who fitted in well at this festival, were energetic, and really got the crowd together:
And Caribou, had a beautiful set, which looked stunning under the shadow of the telescope:
But it wasn’t just the music, the science was interesting for kids and grownups (especially if you are interested in space), with talks and hands-on experiments, comedy, interviews, and art:
The luminarium is a sculpture in which you are immersed in colour and sweeping curves of the soft walls. It’s a beautiful place to be, and this is important. Most festivals have somewhere you can chill out, and it’s important to use these spaces to give your body a break from being tense and standing, while not feeling that you’re totally missing out.
We were lucky, in that it didn’t start pouring with rain, just a few drops, which was manageable:
and the sun came out in the afternoon, which gave perfect weather for a negroni, misting with dry ice:
So I declare this festival a success and, if you do have arthritis, there are ways to make your time at festivals easier. My next one, a full residential affair (in a camper van, I’m too old for tents), will be a harder, and I will let you know how that goes.