The Green Gathering

August 28, 2019

At the start of August I went to The Green Gathering, a vegetarian festival run entirely off renewable energy, with a focus on sustainability, activism and the arts. Now a few weeks later (due to technical difficulties), I'm gonna tell you all about my experience. 

 The beautiful festival site

 

I went with Jamie, my mum, my friend Laura, and her three kids, Aiden, Alex and Ophelia. We chose The Green Gathering because me and my mum had been before, once when I was 5, (it was known as The Big Green Gathering back in those days) and once three years ago. I really enjoyed it last time I went, and noticed that it was very family friendly which was perfect for Laura and the kids. The festival is situated in Chepstow, on a large public park next to Chepstow race course. It overlooks the river Seven and the Seven crossing, so it's got a stunning view. The site itself is quite large and the festival is relatively small, so there loads of space for kids to run around, and to set up a nice camp with a communal area. Your not pitched up on top of strangers basically. We camped near to,  but not in family camping. We chose a pitch right next to a communal camp fire, which was great in the evenings. 

The day we got there we set our tents up, which took a hell of a long time. The festival is a bus ride away from the carpark, so me mum and Jamie put up our tents. Then Jamie and mum did a second trip back to the car. Mean while Laura arrived and we went to set up her tent. But Laura had forgotten the tent pegs (very typical Laura!), so she had to go back to the carpark. Jamie and mum arrived back,  and told me the buses had reduced their frequency. So we sat and waited with the kids for Laura's return. It was around 6 when she left. God knows what she was doing at the car, but many hours later (maybe 2) she arrived back with the pegs and a whole load of other stuff. After all the tents were finally built we adventured out into the festival and found dinner. Me and Ophelia chose falafel platters from The Chai Shop Organic, while the others had pizza. The platters were huge, and very tasty, plus you got to add as much chilli sauce, sauerkraut and olives as you wanted! I forgot to take a photo of the platter that evening as it was pretty late by the time we ate dinner and I was pretty tired. We paid a £1 deposit each for a china plate from Crock and Rock, that we could return to be washed up, rather than recyclable paper plates. I tried to do this as much as often throughout the festival, or use one of the containers I brought with me for food. A couple of times traders forgot we had paid the deposit and gave us paper by accident, but in the main this scheme worked really well. After that the kids went to bed, and me, Jamie and mum went to explore the music. We didn't stay out particularly late that evening because we were all a bit knackered, but we definitely cut a few shapes.

 Ethical Outfit of the Day - Coat: Second hand from a charity shop

- Top: second hand from a friend

- Trousers : from Adorned 

- Scraf: Second hand from a charity shop

- Trainers: Not ethical but I've owned them for almost 10 years, very beaten and worn, but are my trusty festi trainers

- Glitter: from Ecostardust

 

The second day we got up quite early eager to see what the festival offered in the day time. It was a super hot day, perfect for getting tan, and I was pleased to have my sunscreen. I gave me, Laura and Ophelia matching facepaint and glitter, unfortunately we didn't get a photo of all three of us, but here's me and Ophelia!

 Ethical Outfit of the Day - Hat: second hand from Traid

- Top: second hand from a charity shop

- Shorts : vintage from Depop 

- Bag: second hand from Traid

- Glitter: from Ecostardust

-Vegan Facepaint: from Ruby Red

 

Me and Jamie got an Indian breakfast from Lalita's Kitchen. I loved the savoury doughnut called an Medhu Vadai. The breakfast was really filling, and was just what I needed to start the day right. It was also the perfect amount of spice, it definitely had a kick, but wasn't going to burn your tongue off first thing in the morning.

Afterwards we wondered into the permaculture area, which is through the woods, and out into a clearing and dip in the valley. The entrance to the woods, is surrounded by magical creatures made from recycled materials. A lot of the creatures move, and throughout the festival we were lucky enough to see some of them being taken for a spin. 

In the woods beautiful banners, all about permaculture flank the path. In the clearing a fairy fountain is ready for wishes. And then you come to the permaculture tents. We wondered around and saw that an introduction to permaculture was on at 2pm so we thought we'd come back for that. 

After a bit more wondering about and mooching at the tent, picking up cans from the cool bag. We walked back over to the permaculture area in time for the talk. The talk was lead by Mike Feingold. It covered the basic principles of Permaculture. Permaculture began in the 1970s in Australia, and is a sustainable way of gardening and living. One great quote I took from Mike was "Permaculture is applied common natural sense with an ethic." It's all about replicating natural processes and creating balance within your environment. I really enjoyed the talk and would love to learn more about permaculture.  

After that I met up with mum. We had a look at a nutshell garden that had been built from recycled materials. Between the garden and my permaculture lesson I'm feeling so inspired for my own garden next season. The nutshell garden had the most imaginative uses of recycled materials ever, they even had old bras as plant pots! Take a look at the photos below to be inspired yourself.

Extinction Rebellion Flag Flying Proudly

 

Next we headed to the campaign field, to have a look around. The campaign field is the heart of all the activism at Green Gathering, it's a very inspiring area to just hang out in. There's plenty of meaningful art, and your sure to hear some empowering speeches.

After a long hot day in the sun, me and mum decided to treat ourselves with a vegan icecream from Ice Green. Mum got maple and pecan, and I went for apple crumble. Both flavours were phenomenal, the apple crumble was lovely and cinnamony. It made me really want to step up my ice-cream game. 

We headed back to the tent, and I got changed for the evening. 

 Ethical Outfit of the Day - Top: second hand from a charity shop

- Skirt: vintage from Ebay 

- Necklace: secondhand from a charity shop

- Glitter: from Ecostardust

-Vegan Facepaint: from Ruby Red

 

Then me and Ophelia had a lasagne date! The previous night we had misread the menu at The Chai Shop Organic, we had thought we could get lasagne but it was only available Fridays. We were disappointed despite the fact the falafel platters were good, so we made a date for Friday night! Laura also joined us, cos who doesn't love lasagne. Well Jamie and the boys cos they went and got Pizza. The lasagne was excellent, and Ophelia gave me her mushrooms, so mine was even better!

Afterwards we took the kids out for a bit of a boogie and to watch fire dancers at the main stage. They then got comfy at a huge fire pit outside the 99% bar. While me, Jamie and mum snuck off to The Patachute Club disco. The Parachute club was one of our favourite parts of the whole festival. It's a tiny tent that moves throughout the night, so you have to go on a hunt for it. Yes that's right it moves, every few hours, they stop the music, kick everyone out and pick up the tent and move to the next location. It's a really odd sight in the dark, as they keep the tent  lights on, so it sorta looks like a giant floating jellyfish as it scuttles across the field.

Saturday morning I was feeling a little worse for wear. I'd had one too many rum and diet cokes the night before. I did try some of the cider that was on tap (all the cider at the festival was vegan) but I wasn't loving it. I got a whole pint and could only drink two sips. It was that proper cider, that country people drink, but I like sweet cider. Give me a brother's strawberries and cream every day. So I went back to the rum I brought with me! So the morning started slowly, there was a lot more mooching at the tent, sitting around chatting.  I then went with Ophelia to get my hair braided, cos it was getting greasy! Ophelia got a single braid too, which looked super adorable. We then went to make bracelts, but the bracelet making tent was having a break, so we decided to do rockpainting instead. Ophelia really let her creative juices run wild. Before long Laura found us and joined in. Between us we ended up with a hell of a lot of painted rocks, we were all very pleased with out masterpieces.

For lunch me and mum headed to Mr Croquewich for a vegan grilled cheese, I got the indian Summer which contained a sweet spicey chutney and, red onion and fresh corriander.  I loved this grilled cheese, like really loved it. It was greasy (in a good way), melty and super cheesey. What more could you want?! Meanwhile Jamie went for a burrito box.

After that I found a foraging talk starting in the campaign field at 2. We got back to the tent picked up a drink and a jumper, because the clouds had come over and it was starting to rain a little and headed back to the campaign field. The foraging talk was ran by Chris, who took us on a tour of the festival site and showed us various plants that had both edible and medicinal qualities. We saw plantain, hawthorn, st john's wort and nettles. He also explained about the plants family groups, and therefore how to identify other similar plants. I wouldn't say I'm a pro forager yet but I can now definitely identify plantain and I keep spotting it everywhere (not the banana plantain by the way, the little green leafy one like this!).

After the foraging walk, I really needed a lie down. The hangover hit real sudden, and a nap was necessary.

I woke up to mum making pesto pasta on the campstove, and so that was dinner sorted!

 Ethical Outfit of the Day - Top: second hand from a charity shop

- Hoodie : vintage from Preloved Kilo 

- Skirt: vintage Tommy Hilflinger from Rokit Vintage *gifted

- Necklace: second hand from a charity shop

- Glitter: from Ecostardust

 

After that we went to have a boogie, we started at The Parachute Club. At first the kids weren't too keen on going inside the tent so we danced outside, but eventually me, Laura and Ophelia got inside. Ophelia is a dancing queen when she wants to be!

 Jamie and Opehlia flossing earlier in the day

 

Then we headed over to the Triban stage, which was definitely a favourite stage of mine. This stage is dedicated to a lot of folk and acoustic music and is organised by the Triban band, who are fantastic in their own right. That evening we caught Mobius Loop, who describe themselves as philosophical folk. I loved their upbeat folky vibe, and their funny take on politics. A particular favourite of mine (being vegan) was why did the chicken cross the road. Watch the video below.

 Next we saw Hattie Hatstar, a solo artist who plays the accordian and sings witty lyrical melodies. I loved her satirical feminist take on the every day and the political. Check out her brilliant song Forty and Fat below.

The kids were getting a bit tired, so Laura took them off to bed. Mum went off to explore some more, while me and Jamie stayed at the Triban Stage. I got a chai tea with spiced rum, which was the perfect warmer, and we sat back and watched Triban Time. This was the Triban Band jamming out, they played lovely folky tunes, while me and Jamie lay on the grass, giggling and chatting and drinking. After that we decided to call it a night and headed back to the tent to sit around the campfire for one more night cap before we fell onto our blow up bed. 

 

Sunday, the final day! Laura took the decision to leave on Sunday because she was visiting family in Wales and needed to get off and see them. Laura wanted to catch the flamenco dancing at 2 with Ophelia, meanwhile I wanted to go to the vegan cheese making workshop. 

Me and Jamie headed over to the peace garden for a chill and to take some cute snaps.

 Ethical Outfit Of The Day - T-shirt: from Revival Collective

Skirt - vintage from Depop 

Shorts - second hand from my godmother 

 

Next we went to the campaign field, we stopped for lunch at Veggies Catering Campaign. A food stall that not only sells all vegan food, but also offers education materials on a vegan lifestyle. I got a double cheese burger, which was great. Really cheesey, and I put plenty of mayo and mustard on it.

Then we walked over to the Radical Wales tent for the cheese workshop. The workshop was ran by the lovely Mel, from Mel's Kindness Kitchen. She made a vegan Brie, which we got to try, and explained how to make cheddar. I was so impressed by the brie, it tasted exactly like what I remember brie to taste like. And I'm so excited to try her cheese recipes for myself. 

Next I headed over to Garden of Heathens, an ethical fairtrade stall, who make items of clothing from recycled Indian fabrics. I had seen they had a £10 sale rail earlier in the day and really wanted to treat myself. I found a really lovely blue top, and thought why the hell not?! 

Ethical Outfit Of the Day - Top: Garden of Heathens

- Skirt: Vintage from Depop

- Bag: Secondhand from Traid

- Glitter: From Ecostardust

- Vegan facepaint: from Ruby Red

 

When we got back to the tent, Laura had almost finished packing up and it was time to say goodbye. We helped her and the kids carry their stuff back to the shuttle bus, and waved them off. 

Funny thing about this photo, there is a man scratching his butt in the background

 

That evening, we spent our time dancing around the Flying Lotus tent listening to Magic Bus, and Arcadia Roots, and eating falafel platters (which I once again forgot to photograph). It was a great ending to a special weekend.

Thankyou to Green Gathering, for being such a progressive, caring, inspiring festival. I left feeling motivated, to do more for this world, for others and for myself. Most festivals I leave feeling like I need to sleep for 1000 years, and yeh sure I was tired, but I left Green Gathering feeling energised, and ready to flex my creative muscles to make a difference in this world. No other festival I have ever been to, really lives it values as much as Green Gathering. Everything is recycled, the toilets are compost ones (actually not as gross as they sound, I think they are much better than portaloos) and everything is run off renewable energy. They work hard to make sure that eco consciousness is at the heart of everything they do. Large festivals like Glastonbury, love to cry about ecological damage, but ultimately they are big capitalist organisations, ready to take your ticket money, and be done with it. If you are thinking about festivaling next year, why not think about a smaller festival who work hard to have as little impact on their surrounding as possible. Why not try Green Gathering? You might even catch me their, pretending I'm a pixie, dancing in the disco!

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