I came across the green gathering festival last year, while searching online. After reading some information about it I really fancied going along. Last year I couldn’t make it as I had my spine operation at the end of July.
I had completely forgot about the festival until a couple of months ago I came across it again. I know I wouldn’t be able to camp, not even for one night, but I gave them an email to ask about coming along for the day. They said they do have day passes! Yes! At the price of £34 each it was still quite expensive on the budget I’m on. Some places and events have a concession rate or where the disabled person or carer is free. The green gathering did too! Well that made it even better! I asked my friend Jess along and we split the ticket price between us. My lovely friend Jess said she would drive us too!
Ive been really excited over the coming weeks but I had to remind myself there was always a chance that myself or my friend may not have been well enough to go.
We were planning to go on the Thursday, but had to change it to the Sunday.
I woke up to a beautiful blue sky on Sunday morning! Yes it’s dry! We still would have went if it was raining, but it made it so much more pleasant with the warm sunshine out. It was just right. Not boiling sticky burning hot, and it wasn’t chilly.
I had packed some snacks and two drinks in my back pack, along with a mack In a bag raincoat, a small knitted multicolour blanket my nan made, my oramorph painkiller and my iPad. My iPhone is playing up and even though I’ve deleted loads it still says I have no memory (I do need to get this looked into!), so I took the iPad incase I wanted to take a photo or video. I also took my lovely very small shoulder bag that kept my phone and money in. I brought along, a fold away stool that can be stored and carried. I had my wheelchair of course to sit on, and the stool was ideal for Jess to have a rest on.
Jess picked me up about 10am, we went to the garage just to check all tyres pump them up, grabbed a sandwich and some sweets, and we were off! If I’m the only passenger I always navigate out of courtesy of the driver. I know from my driving days how difficult it is to concentrate and find somewhere you don’t know. We were a good team! Found the car park without any wrong turns!
We mentioned to the steward that I was a wheelchair user and had a blue badge, so we were very lucky and parked right by the porto cabin box office and bus stop. I knew it would be hard in my manual wheelchair. When I think of festivals I think of grass, mud and stones, well I was right. The car park was gravel and stones, so I have to tip my chair onto its back wheels in order to move forward. We waited for about half hour to get on the mini bus to take us up to the field where the festival was. It was a bit rough looking and could smell the fumes coming out of it, and I wondered if we would break down (we didn’t by the way), but hey, it all added to the festival experience. I crawled up the couple of steps to get on mini bus and one of the men also hopping on, very kindly lifted my wheelchair on for me. They crammed it as full as they could! Sitting on laps, standing and sitting on the floor, with lots of bags and kit inbetween, including a small trailer on the back. The man driving the mini bus was very chirpy, and I enjoyed his chit chatter commentary as we went over the hills, bumps and through the forest. I wondered how chirpy he would be at the end of the day with all the back and fore, all day long . I felt very fortunate to use this voluntary service, because there is no way, Jess or I, could have made it from the car park to the festival. If we go back next year we are going to ask if we can drive up to the festival site ourselves and park there.
Off the mini bus, wheeling into the festival, out of breath, pushing up the steep grass and stone track, sore hands already, despite this, yay we made it here! My new power wheelchair would have been ideal to use, but it is not possible to lift it and it wouldn’t fit in a normal size car. I’m hoping to change our motorbility car so I can take it places. That’s a subject to talk about another time!
The smell of incense and wood burning greeted us. I’m sure I could smell something ‘herbal’ in the air too. Just what I imagined. There were food stalls and craft stalls at the beginning. You could see tents, gazebos, tippee, yurts, cabins, horse boxes and mini vans, caravans and camper vans everywhere, from up close, and spread across the fields. We decided to stroll through, soaking up the atmosphere and stop to have some refreshments. We came across Wayne’s woods, which I had seen advertised on my research prior to coming, and we booked in on his final workshop, to carve a wooden spoon, later on in the afternoon.
We ended up at the furthest point away, where there was a very large tent with a stage in, a man singing and playing the guitar, and next to that was another large tent that sold alcohol and soft drinks. We settled here for a bit, hydrated ourselves, had a nibble on some sweets and snacks. Next on the stage was a group of ukulele players, there were so many of them of all ages. With my sugar levels recharged, having a stretch out on the grass, chatting randomly (In particular trying to work out what animal the wooden carved statue was), and know we have booked our spoon workshop for later on, I started to relax a little, and get into the spirit more.
Here is a short video of the singing and playing of the ukulele players. I took it as a memory for me to look back on. I’ve uploaded it up to you tube, especially, to share on my blog.
Green Gathering Video
After listening to the ukulele players we used the porto loo cabin toilets, a disabled one, which was so much better for me so I could drive my chair right in. I try avoid using them, but if you have to go, you don’t really have any other choice.
It was a great view from where we had a toilet stop, you could see how everything at the festival was spread out. It was very popular, lots of people, but because of the amount of space it didn’t feel like it, I loved it!
I bought some of the light weight hareem trousers I like to wear from one of the stalls, while we were on our way over to our workshop.
So the spoon carving workshop. When we booked in for the £10 2 hour session earlier, we had to sign a form about any accidents etc is not their liability. I understand why they do it, because there could be potential injuries from using super sharp knives , and these days people are into sueing and blaming, they have to protect themselves too.
I had previously emailed and text Wayne, whose business it is, and asked about the times of the workshop. On the green gathering website it said what crafts there were going to be at the event, so I followed to his website to have a look. I know his workshop is what I wanted to try at the event. I’ve always wanted to try wood carving and I do like spoons! I’m a spoonie! A spoonie is referred to the spoon theory which is a way of explaining how someone with chronic illnesses copes day by day.
Click here to read the spoon theory
I think it was good that Wayne got us all to say our names and mention one fact about ourselves as it made it a little more personal. I didn’t know what to say. As people started speaking I was thinking what am I going to say, where I live, or the instruments I play, or that I have 2 children. As a couple of people mentioned spoons, I thought ok, I’ll mention why I like spoons because of the spoon theory.
I was intrigued about Wayne’s love and care of trees. I don’t know why exactly, but I have a love of trees too. I have the tree wall sticker on my living room wall, and green leaf curtains, green rug, and the canvas image of trees. If I could I would have a wall paper mural of trees on one of my walls. Then I have the wooden tree in my bedroom, that I have burned my close family tree on.
Wayne taught us some basic safety advice about the knives, and gave demonstrations throughout the workshop and answered any problems we encountered, and showed and shared this with everyone. The tips he shared were very handy, and for a first timer never using a knife, other than a kitchen knife to cut veg and other food, it really helped.
We were asked to select a piece of wood out of the basket. Wayne said he had cut down the tree himself to get the wood, from nearby, and that it was a cherry hard wood. The pieces of wood were already prepared, in that they were sort of cut in a spoon shape for us. I first thought it wouldn’t be much work for us and be easy, seen as there was a sort of spoon shape already. Well, I was wrong! I didn’t realise how much time and effort is put into making one.
We started working on the back of the spoon head, using a flat knife, taking small bits off at a time, giving it some shape. I noticed along the way, a split in the wood, and as I was putting more pressure on it, the split was moving. I’m glad I mentioned it, because it would have affected the outcome of it. So thankfully they had one spare I could swap with, so I started all over again.
I really enjoyed it. I was really concentrating and aware of it. I actually found it quite therapeutic. I was focused and relaxed.
After working on the back of the spoon head and handle, we were then introduced to the hook knife. As the names suggests it looks like a hook. It reminded me of Captain Hook! These were used to twist, shave and scoop the rounded bowl part of he spoon. I was getting tiny bits of using it, but I was having trouble holding it. Wayne came around indivually and showed us. Eventually I got the movement right. For me I couldn’t hold it the way he shows us, but I repositioned myself to what suited me, in order to go across the grain, and using the twisting movement shown, the bowl of my spoon started to form.
The time went really fast! My spoon was probably one of the worst out of the others, but I did have to start all over again so I was a little behind (look at me making excuses lol), but it did kind of look like a spoon and was useable! I was so into it and wanted to finish how I wanted it to look. I’m very tempted to get my own knife, to finish it off, and make another one at home.
I’m adding it to a list of tools I want to own. A saw, axe and drill are also on my list.
I love anything to do with making things, wood carving / whittling is a craft I would like to continue in. My aspiration for the future would be to make a Welsh love spoon. I think that’s a long way off yet! I need to get my own tools first.
Click here for Waynes wood website
Both Jess and I hands were aching! Not surprising when our hands had never done that before and were putting in so much concentration. My hands are used to wheel myself around too and on even ground I have to put a lot of force and energy to keep my chair moving or not moving in the direction I don’t want it to go. Jess was great though and offered on the bits I couldn’t. To be honest I would have liked to be pushed around everywhere as it was so difficult for me, but I didn’t want to make Jess worse for later on. On the bits gravity, the unevenness and steepness was winning against me, I had to ask Jess for help.
I loved this big sun model in the tree
We wandered back towards the entrance we had came in, and discovered lots of stalls selling items, more music and food! I liked the look of the Buddha cafe, I liked the decorations (lots of bright coloured buntings and flags and fabric murals with Buddhist related images) and the tables were low to the ground, and you had to sit on the floor to eat. I ordered a maple syrup pancake, which was very appertising after not eating anything for a while. My body was starting to slow down now, I could feel it and Jess could. We agreed if we were staying there, we would probably have a rest or nap at this point and come back out later.
Before leaving we had a look in some of them shops. I bought another little souvenir, which has 5 little birds on with a chime at the end, and a braided bracelet.
We could see the bridge and channel at one point on the top of the hill.
I noticed they also had climbing frames, swings and some activities for children. Cody and Cerys wouldn’t have coped here today while we were in the workshop. I may bring Cody next year, but I know we couldn’t do a workshop as he is still at the age he wouldn’t be able to sit still or stay near by. Saying that, he could change in one years time and he would have been in school on full days for a whole school year then.
To get back to the car, this time we got on a small blue bus. We skipped the que and came around to the front, but this was also because the ground was a little more flatter here. The wait wasn’t too long, and to have the lovely blue sky and feeling the warm sun on your skin, it was comfortable, and a good point to reflect on the day we had together.
I’m hoping they come back next year to Chepstow, if dates and weather ok, I’m going to go back again. I recommend it to others. It’s worth going to experience it. A great day or weekend of camping.