Trader Tales 2013

July 2, 2013

In 2010 and 2011, writer/cook Maite Cicognini blogged for us about her experiences working at the Italian Kitchen stall in the Park. This year, her partner Dorian has taken on the role, and he’ll be writing about his experiences throughout the Festival….

Tuesday 2 July

Our pack down yesterday was very quick; the lack of mud this year has really made things a lot easier. We served breakfast until about 1 and by 7pm we were done and ready for some dinner. We went up to crew camping behind The Park stage and had the first proper sit down meal we have eaten for about a week. We even had pudding… I think I had two. Although we are surrounded by food when we are working, eating on the hoof just doesn’t count.

The washing line came down today. It’s an interesting sight watching a man way up high on a tele-handler picking off multicoloured washing one by one with a safety hat on. Everything around us is being broken down and packed away. I guess in a few weeks The Park will be empty of generators, tents and other structures and the cows will eventually return.

Breakfast this morning consisted of cereal bars and trail mix. You have to plan ahead for these moments, but it only needs to get us to the closest services on the motorway to fuel up with caffeine for the long journey up north.

The campsites look less littered than previous years. Perhaps everyone has been more conscious and made a bigger effort to take everything home with them. Still, there are a few broken tents and gazebo frames standing bent and waiting for removal.
It’s 11 am on Tuesday morning as I write this and as soon as we change a flat tyre we will be leaving site. We are heading onto another festival called BeatHerder in Lancashire, small in contrast to Glastonbury Festival, but full of the same spirit.
All that’s left for me to say is thank you Michael and Emily Eavis for sharing your Farm with us yet again, and we are already looking forward to 2014.



Sunday 30 June

I’ve just been for my last wander round The Park with the Festival being open. You would expect things to have quietened down by 4.30 am, but far from it. The Rabbit Hole is banging out some heavy beats and, in contrast, all you can hear from the Silent Disco is dancers chanting, "It must be love, love, love".  The sound of people singing from the Silent Disco is very familiar, as for several years here in The Park I have gone to bed listening to the Silent Disco.

Earlier on today, Cass – a very old friend and this year a crew member too – and I managed to work our way through the crowds to the wholesale market to pick up some stuff we were running low on. Going down the hill was easy. Coming back up was a different story. But we made it, and the panini made it too.

I remember coming to Glastonbury Festival in earlier years of my life, way before the Italian Kitchen was born, and I recognise the body language of all the people walking around at this stage of the Festival. Some are carrying injuries from having walked about 5 miles a day in ridiculous footwear and limping. Others are still bouncing and have forgotten completely that they have to go to work on Tuesday. But most look tired and content at the same time, albeit reluctant to go to sleep knowing what lies ahead tomorrow: a long journey home and another year to wait until they get a chance to return to Worthy Farm.

For me, I am OK that the Festival is coming to a close. We have been on site for over a week now and all good things must eventually come to an end. The week has flown by, we have fed a lot people and given them the energy they need to survive another year at Glastonbury Festival.

Our crew have had a whale of a time, especially those who have never been before. It’s always great to have a Glastonbury virgin on the crew as you get to experience it all over again for the first time, through their eyes… and although obviously it’s not the same, it goes some way to reminding of how you felt the first time you got lost in a field somewhere on the site…

Saturday 29 June

The squeaky horn had a busy day today at The Italian Kitchen. It sits on top of our vintage till and we use it to get people’s attention when they are queuing up to order food. It always gets a giggle from the customers and sometimes gets them to the counter with a bit more haste. It’s quite amazing how many faces you get to see at Glastonbury but you don’t always get a chance to speak to them, being behind a counter often leads to some very varied and interesting interactions with the public and there have definitely been a few this year. A lot of conversations get lost over the counter and with the background noise and sleep deprived nights it can be quite tricky for both parties to make sense and comprehend each other – but we always get there in the end in good spirits.

It’s just gone 10pm and The Park feels very empty. The Park stage is deserted and there are only a few people milling around the Tree House cafe where I am currently sitting enjoying a lovely sticky toffee pudding and a coffee, with freestyle poetry happening over a PA system. We have quite a few late night venues up here but it tends to thin out about this time for the main acts and then suddenly it’s bursting at the seams around midnight. I don’t remember ever seeing it this empty. I suppose it’s not everyday you get to see Mick Jagger on the Pyramid Stage. I wonder how many people are watching it on TV… and how many songs the BBC were allowed to broadcast.

I have had a lovely festival so far. To be honest I haven’t been to see very many places. I am always content here in The Park, passing the same old faces on our little ‘backstage’ trader run and coming to the same little venues dotted around the hill. Our crew this year have been amazing, the energy and enthusiasm has been unprecedented. We have had some very busy moments and as always there have been a few challenges along the way. So a big thank you to all of The Italian Kitchen crew for being solid, reliable and properly good fun.  

It’s not over yet though. We still have Sunday and a bit of Monday to look forward to…

Thursday 27 June

We knew the rain was coming. It was forecast several days ago. Not much, but enough to send everyone back to their choice of accommodation (mostly tents I imagine, apart from the lucky few), to dig out their waterproofs and wellies. I guess Glastonbury wouldn’t be the same with at least a few hours spent in your wellies. After tonight the remaining three days of the Festival are forecast to be dry so hopefully everyone can put away the waterproof gear and get back into flip flops.

Last night as we worked in our kitchen we could hear Arcadia letting off steam down the hill from us. You can feel the power of the burning LPG from literally miles away and if you haven’t seen the spider at work, it is quite an experience. There was also an impressive fireworks display up on the hill last night, just along from us. It felt like it was coming from near the Stone Circle, and it lit up the valley, like some sort of opening ceremony.

I was up very late, and also up very early. So sleep wasn’t really on the agenda. The absence of sausages in our fridge trailer meant an early trip in the Defender down to the wholesale market, which this year has moved down to behind the Other stage. Soon enough my sausages were loaded up and I was back on my way home in about 10 minutes.

This afternoon I had a visit from a friend, Helen, who looks after us traders at Solfest in the Lake District. Solfest is a lovely little festival on the Solway Firth just north of the Lake District and we trade there every year. She came up for a coffee and a chat, one of several organisers of other festivals that I have seen at Glastonbury already.

Today the rain has meant a slow afternoon of trading as everyone sorts themselves out for the rest of the day. Tonight in The Park there is plenty to do and it will no doubt be another late one. As for me, a much needed afternoon nap has given me new life…only to have some of it sucked away almost immediately after an hour spent underneath a broken pasta boiler.
However, said pasta boiler is now, the kitchen is all hands on deck and the show goes on. The Festival hasn’t really started properly yet, but again, somehow it manages to feel like it never really finished.

Wednesday 26 June

So… the gates are open and in flood the happy people, the golden ticket winners. All full of anticipation. It’s amazing how fast the fields fill up and how quickly the atmosphere gets going. No other festival compares. And it doesn’t matter how many times I see it happen, it always surprises me.
Watching everyone arrive reminds me of everyone leaving. ‘Love The Farm, Leave No Trace’ is the Glastonbury saying. Let’s hope that everyone makes a real effort to follow that mantra and takes all their belongings home with them this year. It seems only fair.

Yesterday I had a good look around The Park. The ribbon tower was nearly finished and a few of us even managed to get down into the market area for a chai latte (only at Glastonbury – normally an Earl Grey does the job!). The site felt busy last night, even before the golden ticket winners had arrived, and the main drag was full of people milling about looking for some action. Most of the traders looked busy but by 11 o’clock everything had shut down due to licensing laws. This seems to make sense; it’s a long weekend.

This year, for the first time, there are 300 compost toilets on site. We have been lucky enough to have some of these behind our run of traders and they seem to be working very well. It’s hard not to notice the well-decorated ‘She Pees’ (female urinals) scattered around the site (looked after by Water Aid) and the giggles, mystery and confusion that seems to surround them.

The Park is slowly filling up now and everyone is refuelling after their different journeys onto the site. Even though the main stages aren’t open tonight there are so many quiet – and noisy – corners to revisit or discover, that no one will go short of things to see and do.

Tuesday 25 June

Today’s an exciting day. The rest of our crew are due to arrive, the Festival begins tomorrow and we are well on schedule to be ready to open with the gates – which means a relaxing evening tonight and a few ales with friends.

Glastonbury has always been about seeing friends and this year is no exception. Other traders, our crew, old friends and new friends. There are lots of people to talk to and plenty to talk about.

For many of the food traders today is about deliveries. As I write food is being swept across the site by various vehicles and I’m sure if I were to head down to the wholesale market this afternoon, it would be the busiest spot in the Festival. We’ve been lucky this year as most of our deliveries arrived yesterday.

Last night we walked to the top of The Park up by the Glastonbury sign. The views were epic and a photo wouldn’t do it justice. Again, the sunset was incredible. It was very pleasing to see the silhouette of a large tractor cutting the dry grass of a field in the distance in preparation for the mass of bodies that will soon rest upon it.

We all feel very lucky to be up in The Park. Ever since it was created in 2007 it has always felt like a special place. Every year the crew up here make a massive effort. One of my favourite things are the wooden benches they make in all shapes and sizes. You can check out the photo but to fully appreciate how much effort has gone into them, you really need to come up here and sit on one for while and check out the views of the site.

The ribbon tower was still naked last night, but I imagine now it’s being dressed and on its way to being fully clothed. The well-known Tree Cafe looks as enticing as ever. It’s one of my favourite places to go in The Park and take a bit of time off.

Meet a couple of local food traders up here in the Park: Robyn (Vegetaria) and Andy (La Creperia) Between them they have over 30 years experience trading at Glastonbury. It looks like they are having a good chinwag about either the forthcoming week or perhaps the ups and downs of the last few days. Either way, we are all anticipating a good week of trading ahead with plenty of happy customers.

By tomorrow – Wednesday night – the site will more than 100,000 people on it. It’s hard to imagine right now – a bit like trying to conjure up the feel of a hot summers day in the middle of winter – difficult to visualise in the moment, but you know it’s coming.

Monday 24 June

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. This couldn’t be more true for Glastonbury Festival this year.

Yesterday morning security made us wait outside Blue gate for longer than normal. There were literally hundreds of lorries, vans, converted buses – you name it – every type of festival vehicle was there ready to pounce on the gate at 7.59am.
The security guards had been waving traffic on for hours. Most years they let us in early so I guess that’s what we are used to. Eventually they gave us the green light and we were off down a familiar county lane past some lovely houses (one in particular – look out for it) on our way to traders’ check in and into the site.

The security checks were brisk, but professionally done, and we were down the hill and by the meeting place in a flash. The first thing that struck me was how green the whole site was. It seems that the fallow year was much needed and the farm now looks as good I can ever remember.

The day passed quickly but efficiently. We, along with many other crews who are building stuff and moving vehicles, have found it very smooth running so far. After Glastonbury Festival 2011 where we had to deal with arriving on site to mud, getting stuck and then more rain, it seems that everyone is ahead of the game. Despite today being Monday, it feels more like Tuesday.
Up in the Park where we are sited, the washing line is up, all the bespoke seating is in place and there is a calm peacefulness in the air – especially at 6am this morning when I felt like I was the only person awake on the whole site! We had a wonderful baby girl last winter and my sleeping habits are not what they used to be (I think it might work to my advantage this year). Although waking up in my lorry with the buzz of generators humming all around isn’t the same as waking up to little Alba smiling up at me while she works out the difference between ‘gaga’ and ‘dada’, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s great to be back.

Last night we watched the sunset on one side of the site, while the moon rose on the other. What a moon it was. A ‘super moon’ is what the press are calling it. I am pretty sure it’s still the same old moon. But yes, it did look especially super as it rose over the Tipi field behind us.

The weather forecast is near perfect; we all know forecasts change but let’s be optimistic about it. At the moment the ground is solid and we are heading towards very pleasant temperatures and almost no rain. What a treat.
We have another busy day ahead of us. Our kitchen is built and now we have to concentrate on putting up our facade. An Italian building in a field… it all happens very smoothly these days, but that hasn’t always been the case.

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