I guess I must take the prize for the “Greenbelt post blogged so long after the event that it’s but a hazy memory” award. My excuses are pretty feeble: the principal one being the necessity of putting my photos through the boil wash – aka Flickr before they’d load on WordPress, the lesser, my usual attack of Miffyesque procrasinitis. To be fair, life since the Bank hols has been quite full, with a number of to-ings, fro-ings and new experiences, which I may write about on my other, Greenpatches blog.
So, Greenbelt, my third, and in many ways the best experience so far. Year One, of course, being all “Ooh, look! Shiny!” New things, new people, a breath of fresh air at a time when to say I was experiencing problems with the institutional church was to make the understatement of the year. Year Two – well, let’s say, after Year Two, I seriously considered giving it all a miss. This time – all round positive, after the teensiest wobble on arrival. But no more than teensy. After being dispatched down the hill to buy emergency sustenance for Mr M, and finding on my return,that our Nice Next-Door Neighbours had helped him put up what must have been the world’s largest awning (about three times the size of the van!) the only way was up!
The reasons for the change? Well, I’d say – firstly, people, contact with. It’s become increasingly clear that the freedom of being a free agent, not tied down by obligation to a particular church group or organisation has its disadvantages. In 2009 I felt (despite the ever-steadfast Mr M to go back to) desperately lonely at times. I’m sure most folk have had the weird experience of being part of a crowd, yet simply not connecting with them; the more animated and ‘together’ they appear to you, the worse it feels. Then the worse it feels, the less you feel like being sociable, so the more isolated you become….. You get the picture. And there are only so many ‘worthy’ seminars and events I could go to before becoming thoroughly Greenbelted out!
Thank goodness for fellow ‘Seabirds,’ then! This time round, unlike previous years, I didn’t have much to do with the First Order Franciscan brothers and sisters, it was fellow tertiaries who made the difference – organising several get-togethers, (in the Beer Tent, naturally!). Not to mention bumping into others around the site. (On one occasion being recognised by the profession cross I was wearing). This gave me a few set points and a structure to the weekend. I’d also thought to contact the folk from last year’s course beforehand and did manage to bump into quite a few of them. Such little things help – like getting a text first thing on Saturday to saying ” Good morning – we’re meeting at such and such a time and before that we’ll be at…” or more amusingly, during one talk “We’re sitting however many rows ahead of you and to the side… ” Then there there were brief encounters with one ‘Ship’ couple who recognised us before we did them and with whom we were able to talk this and that , and bewail the shortage of beer in the Jesus Arms. (Thank you, N and D). P, whom I don’t tend to think of as a Ship person anymore, whose frenetic texts made me laugh,and who helped me in the annual Wandering round the tea tent looking lost trying to recognise the group I’m looking for routine. It was great to chat to Truthsign again,also, and thanks also to TG and FM who popped round the back of the paper canon during the Peace at the Sunday morning service, to say hi.
We planned in some lighter stuff this year, like Late Night Twist on the Friday evening, the Big Sing on Saturday and one of the art workshops. Apart from one of the excellent Richard Rohr talks (which I’d not originally intended to go to ), most of the weightier stuff was left to the later part of the weekend. I nearly forgot the audience with James Cook and Tom Hollander of ‘Rev,’ definitely in the well-worth waiting (and did we wait!) for category. Somebody said the BBC was filming on site. I’d love to know how they’re going to work that footage into a new series.
Betty Blue, our trusty hired campervan was a welcome refuge during the small amount of time we actually spent in her. We weren’t half cold though! My record on layers one night was four (vest, top, long-sleeved thermal baselayer, fleece) plus thermal base leggings, cargoes and three pairs of socks. Topped by a woolly shawl over my sleeping bag. I’m putting a hot water bottle down on the list next year, even if we have to fill it up in the grandstand loos.
And talking of ahem…”facilities,” the only cloud over the weekend as far as I was concerned, and even then it didn’t spoil it,was ongoing tummy problems. My fault – not watching what I was eating. There are only so many variations one can have on plain mashed potatoes. By the Monday night I was so bored with bland food that I cracked – and had some fish and chips. Big mistake! Should you have been in Soulspace early that evening and noticed a pale-faced demented looking woman rushing up and down the stairs twixt the panoramic restaurant and the entrance foyer, or sitting, doubled up in the final Dave T LTQ popping Gaviscon like there was no tomorrow, that was Yours Truly. A colonoscopy since has shown I have diverticulosis; I’ll spare you the details (TMI). Suffice it to say, it’s not exactly the most glamorous of complaints. Bring on the mashed potatoes.
Another happy discovery: The YMCA 24 hour cafe, (wonderful scrambled eggs on toast).
So, altogether, cool beans…as Ms M would say. Though maybe ‘beans’ isn’t the best choice of words, under the circs.