For those of you who have read previous year’s round up posts, this one is a bit different. Instead of splitting up by day I am splitting by topic so if you’re wanting to read about the music please bear with me and I’ll get that up soon, for everything else, read on.
Last year, as I sat in the 24 hour area of the campsite, watching the final band play, I had a thought: “This time next year I won’t be living in the Netherlands any more.” It was the first time that thought had actually hit me and I think that was the moment that I really knew I wanted to stay in the country permanently. A year later and, as you will know, it didn’t quite work out that way. In fact, I posted my deregistration of residency as I went to the airport after the festival. It was more tied up in it all than I had realised.
It’s perhaps no surprise then that this festival felt rather transitional for me, fitting, what with the theme of the wickerman and all. Besides and, indeed, perhaps in part, because of that, this weekend was a wonderful one for me. It’s left me physically in a bit of a mess but mentally rejuvenated, ready to take on the slightly frightening – yet exciting – changes ahead.
Before Castlefest began, I stayed with Heleen and the pair of us got the preparation underway, culminating in what can only be described as a mammoth baking session. Seriously, we are nothing if not prepared. Between us, we probably had medication for every ailment, enough food to breakfast a small army and repair kits for almost every camping mishap (although both of us lacked socks but that is another story).
That said, nothing could have quite prepared us for the conditions when we arrived. For a start, the campsite had moved – something we did know in advance. To be honest, I think it was a bad move. It didn’t seem we had gained much but the walk in over really quite tricky terrain was too long and especially when carrying camping equipment and the like. I also missed the presence of the cabins with sinks, mirrors, and hot water but there we go. The thing we couldn’t have predicted was the weather. The wind was insanely strong…. So much so that we had some difficulties with our tent, Dafni and Afroditi had some issues with theirs, while Kim, in her rented one, was absolutely fine. You also do not know how difficult it is to carry an inflated air mattress across a campsite in a gale. I nearly got blown away at one point while carrying it (no Kim, I’ve still not forgiven you for letting go)! To be honest though, despite the slight stress at the time, it was kinda hilarious and makes for some brilliant memories so who cares!
This wasn’t the only time the weather had a bit of a laugh at our expense, however. Saturday was quite glorious, weather wise. After a lovely day of mooching around, we settled into what was a great spot for the wicker burning (actually I was moaning that it would be too hot because we were so close – joke’s on me! Sorry for doubting you Kim and Rowan!). Suddenly, grey clouds rolled in and the sky opened. The four of us – Heleen, Kim, Rowan and myself – huddled under my woolen shawl for some semblance of shelter while Annelies and Siem, who had come for the day only, had come prepared with waterproofs. Despite the cold and damp, there was something quite cosy about the whole thing. Certainly, the community spirit – and dancing to the music playing over the speakers – made the whole situation a fun one!
To be honest, I think that the rain made the wicker burning even more powerful, if anything. The rawness of the nature, the feeling of togetherness that had grown through attempting to shelter together, and the profundity of the ritual itself… it all combined to make an awesome experience.
Before I close, I should probably give a special mention to those people who shared the festival with me, although most have been mentioned in passing above (you know who you are!). Castlefest is always a great festival – its atmosphere alone makes it an amazing place to be – but you guys made it extra special. Late night tea, endeavouring to dress a pirate, games of uno, attempting to dance, and nicknames I may never escape (alongside various other new catchphrases)… simply hanging out was delightful. Now can someone please help me explain “gezellig” to Kim? I think I might need to use it!
This year I did not take my camera because my scrapbook was heavy enough, therefore most photos were taken by Kim and are used here with her permission. Thanks Kim!!