Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Diary of a Festival Virgin.

Eating red pepper humus sandwiches on the train to Reading. Listening to my 'Fest' playlist and feeling the most immense anticipation mixed with anxiety. I have my backpack on my lap and my tent all packed away in a bag on the seat next to me. Most of the regulars on the train are gawking at me, probably wondering why I'm wearing wellies and denim shorts plus a headband of flowers. The rest of the people on the train are also carrying oversized backpacks and wearing impractical clothing; they nod and smile at me knowingly. We're going the same way, you and I.

My best mate Phil's rather cool vlog about Fest. I guest star.

The next five days are more of a haze than a blur. The sun shines almost constantly, and when it rains it pours - but doesn't dampen the spirit (much). My friends are screaming at me "Grace, you're at a festival!" whenever I complain about the state of my hair or lack of makeup. I'm searching every crowd frantically for a glimpse of friends from home or my ex-boyfriend. I desperately want to be on the Big Screen at the Main Stage. My friends and I loot an abandoned tent nearby to find a loaf of bread, several packets of Snack A Jacks and custard creams, and we shout "guys, we've struck gold!" upon finding a sealed jar of Nutella. We get drunk at noon. I'm so used to the smell of weed that coming across a pocket of fresh air is both alien and unexpected. We ran to the arena in the rain to catch Green Day's secret gig; I stared up at Billy Joe and was suddenly fifteen again. We tried to light a campfire consisting of damp cardboard and Fosters cans. I cried in the arms of my best friend for most of the second night, then was laughing again the next morning. Every single person who walks past while we're mid-conversation gets pointed at and told "this guy knows what I'm talking about!" We spent one afternoon scribbling all over one another's exposed skin with face paint pens and Sharpie. People are constantly coming to our campsite asking if we're selling drugs, or offering us some; "Noss"/laughing gas is wildly popular, we even meet a guy who has 90 canisters in his tent and is giving out freebies. We grab a cheeky five minutes inhaling oxygen for £5 at the Oxygen Bar, to keep our energy up for the Foo Fighters gig. Our crazy drunk friend wears a FREE HUGS shirt and thus it takes us forever to get through the crowds. My bestie and I fall asleep at 9pm, wake up at 11pm and go to the Silent Arena. My moods change on an hourly basis and I'm not sure why; is it the antibiotics, the drinking, the lack of sleep, my Pill, my friends, the sex, the crowds, the music, being away from home? Who knows. I'm terrified of being up on someone's shoulders, but I love the feeling. Talking to random people and finding they're all lovely and friendly (and just as chatty as me) is the nicest and most shocking thing about this festival business. Feeling close to people I've only just met, and even closer to my existing friends, is the best. The toilets are disgusting and as the week progresses I can smell them from across the campsite; I'm not comfortable talking about toilets or bodily functions so I sit and cringe quietly while all my friends do. Everyone is giving up smoking after this weekend. The girl two tents over needs a smack and a reality check - she also needs to stop stealing my friends. I accidentally stole a bottle of Archers from Sainsbury's. I desperately need a shower. Florence Welch is like a real-life fairy, Dave Grohl is insane and Tom Delonge calls himself Thomas. The expression "bantabantabanta" is not going to become a thing. All girls on site seem to be perfectly comfortable showing half their arses all day long; the drinking game Slut Shorts is guaranteed to get you wankered. We said hi to Fearne Cotton and Greg James. I had a shower in Sunningdale. We quote Drake & Josh. I was amazed at how incredible the music was, and how much I enjoyed it, given that the main reason I'd come to Fest was for the social antics and the atmosphere.

My stupid and pointless Reading Festival video.

I'm coming home in filthy clothes, covered in pen scribbles and with a grumbling tummy, immediately watching the Reading highlights on TV, being practically pushed into the shower by my family... This festival virgin has had the best week/weekend ever, and is sad to be back in the real world.

Monday, 27 August 2012


Hi, my name's Gracie. I've lost my festival virginity, my moods change on an hourly basis, I've been told I talk "softly, but a lot", I've never done drugs, my pen running out of ink is devastating to me, I've finally got into the habit of drinking tea but I still wouldn't say I'm a tea drinker, I fancy Tom Delonge, I'm unbelievably lucky when it counts, I wish on the first star of the night, I'm getting a phone upgrade soon, I have "open all hours" written on my leg and it won't wash off, I save all my train tickets, I like being home, I hate being home, all my friends love my mum, I own an Obey snapback, I've learned how to drive on motorways, I'm making more grown-up decisions recently, my past keeps catching up with me, and I'm not letting it own me.

I do one of these posts every month.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Here we go again...

The suitcase is packed, I've picked out my "airport/plane outfit", I've got my envelope of Euros, my camera is charged, my iPod is updated, I've set up a queue on Tumblr, my overdraft is paid off, I've bought myself three new books and two magazines, the pets are all at their holiday homes, my mum is about to pass out from stress, I'm listening to acoustic guitar music, all my jewellery is in a box, I have bags of sweets and bars of chocolate, my passport photo is as hideous as ever, I've said my goodbyes to my friends, my pets, my house and my car.

It's holiday time.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

FINALLY (again).

I've said it a million times before and I will say it a million times more; my birthday takes forever to come around. It cannot be just a year. A year is only three hundred and sixty-five days. It takes my special day at least three hundred and sixty-five thousand days to arrive.
I love nothing more than being the birthday girl. Not because I get to eat cake, wear a musical tiara, have everyone shower me with presents and have a legitimate reason to order people around all day; because for the whole day, no matter what I'm doing I have a lovely sparkly feeling surrounding me and even the dullest of tasks such as going to Sainsbury's or running errands in town are almost magical.

Birthday breakfast; real princess treatment.

Last year was the big one-eight, and I don't think I realised until this year just how big it was. Obviously the beautiful legality of walking into a club, buying a drink and dancing with my friends was, at the time, the biggest and most wonderful thing I could imagine. Also, watching the sun go down over the Gold Coast from the top deck of the tallest building on the Southern Hemisphere, with my family all around me and a complimentary $16 Pina Colada in my hand, was one of the biggest and most wonderful moments of my life. Being given amazing permanent presents and more cards than ever before, and for once not feeling even the tiniest bit guilty that this one day was all about me, was quite simply the best. How do you top that?

Nineteen is, as I'd been warned by all my older friends, the most boring age imaginable. It's like a gigantic let down plus a slap in the face after having turned Exciting Eighteen the year before. Also, for a lot of family and friends, nineteen is the age when you stop giving presents and putting notes in cards. Luckily I'm not so materialistic that I need a million parcels to open or have a tantrum when I open a card and money doesn't fall out, but it's still a shame to see the pile of presents dwindling each year.
My birthday spirit will not be vanquished, however! Boring age or not, it's still my special day. I still get the birthday sparkles.

I turned nineteen while sitting on a train out of London Waterloo East, listening to Joshua Radin's classic 'Winter' and staring at the clock on my phone, counting down the minutes until midnight, sleepy but wide awake. I smiled like an idiot when it hit 00:00, did a little wiggle in my seat and got some scared and confused looks from an older couple sitting across the aisle from me who had until that point been happily munching on their Burger King goodies. I got my first birthday texts at 00:01 from a friend of a friend (who's become a friend) and my 24-hour twin (also born at 6:01pm, just the day after me). I got my first birthday phone call at 00:06 from a best friend travelling on a train in the opposite direction; "hey, so I heard it's your birthday or something..."

I got my very own blue French horn... Oh my gosh.

I spent the day with the family, planning our activities around three big meals. Just a nice, quiet and chilled day. I got 95 Facebook posts, 18 tweets and 15 Tumblr messages wishing me a Happy Birthday. A rather awesome best friend called me from Spain, AND sent me a present First Class when he got back two days later.

What was especially lovely about my birthday this year is that it was on a Wednesday, and I'd planned a night out in town to celebrate three days later on the Saturday (last night). I changed the plans from a nice dinner out to just a good old-fashioned drinking session in wonderfully cheap and delightfully dodgy Hastings; several friends from home made an appearance, plus an especially awesome friend from uni who got his first taste of the crazy seaside Sussex nightlife and gained the approval of all my friends (and trust me, they are hard to impress) within a matter of hours and ciders. I had a genuinely lovely night thanks to a borrowed dress, lots of Malibu, a drunk Scottish lad, a few stolen chips and some pretty cool people. I remember thinking as I got into bed that night, nineteen isn't so boring.

My birthday cake this year combined my two favourite things: ladybirds and chocolate.
© Almost Amazing Grace.. Design by Fearne.