GreenBelt 2014

I’m pleased to say I had the most enjoyable time ever at GB this year. I have been going off and on since around 2001, probably soon after the festival moved to Cheltenham racecourse. Each time I go I have battled with camping with various degrees of successfulness. This year I conquered it which was all down to borrowing my parents two berth caravan in which I had full nights sleep, heating and washing facilities. Heaven.

But as for the festival itself, well, it was different and yet the same! Obvious I know. I’m going to get my whinges out first. The walking. Lots of it. It took 10 to 15mins walk from the caravan to the festival. Then another 5-10mins to get to the other side of the festival. Not because there was so much stuff but because of the way the festival was laid out. Then there was the toilets. That took another 5-15mins of queuing. Quite simply, there was not enough of the porta loos. Lastly, I felt very much for anyone who struggled with walking or were unfit or just not used to constantly walking. I am not fit, I carry a bit extra weight and have a dodgy back, knees and, just lately, ankle recovering from several sprains. The terrain was just not flat in places and quite an ordeal. Oh there were plastic pathways alright but they didn’t go right up to the door of each venue because that’s a bit ott. So I needed several pain killers get through the weekend. I coped… just.

So, the good stuff. I got to hear again my favourite speaker Nadia Bolz-weber. Not just once but twice! And there was the possibility of more had I woken up earlier on the Sunday and stayed around on the Monday. However, twice was more than enough. The thing about Nadia is that she is able to just live the Gospel within a community that is open, honest and passionate about what they do. Oh I should say for those who don’t know, Nadia is a Lutheran pastor in the USA. Here blog can be found here.
A couple of years ago she published her biographical book ‘Cranky, Beautiful Faith:For Irregular (and regular) People, which I gained a lot from. Basically she reminded me what my calling was all about when I was at a low ebb.
Here talk on the Friday night was a smorgasbord of what happens over the course of a year in her church punctuated both by anecdotes that brought both laughs and that stunned silence that only pain can bring. On reflection the main point I got from her talk was that honesty brings growth and real relationship rather than the superficiality of niceness. Niceness. Ugh. The thin veneer of comfort that hides the truth of how things really are. It’s something found a lot in Anglican churches. Everyone being nice, just wanting to get along and not ruffling feathers. Interestingly enough I found that this dis-ease of niceness wasn’t to be found in the pagan circles. The pagans I met were well aware of BS and were quick to expose it. Why? Not sure. Possibly because they had valued honesty higher than keeping friends with everyone. I guess if a person is not honest, they’re not worth keeping as a friend? Dunno. It’s been many years since I regularly mixed with such groups.
I’m going to end that section and move on as I need to think more on ‘niceness’ although the idea itself has been in my head a while. Be honest, less nice for nice sake…..

So who else did I hear and see. Well, Brian Mclaren speaking about the bible .3 and how interpretation belongs to all as all society has a hand in how they view it.

Saturday, hmm, I did a mindfulness seminar and promptly almost dropped off to sleep twice. Not cos I was bored but I was tired! The next day’s seminar was less sleep inducing. Picked up a couple of techniques I can use if I only practice them.
Later was metal hymns which was well known hymns set to well known metal songs. And much later a Goth Eucharist which began at 11:30pm and finished about 1:15am. BCP with awesome nChant singing.
Sunday was mostly about sleeping and having lunch and mooching about in the afternoon. The panel I was part of didn’t start till 7:30pm but I couldn’t really settle to do anything. The time soon came round. I was as nervous as heck! The huge queue lining up to go into the marquee didn’t help! But then we were on and off we went! And it seemed to go quite well! Lots of laughter from the audience and some good questions at the end.
Monday poured with rain. The weather had been kind to us during the day albeit freezing at night (hot water bottle on standby). So I decided to leave by 11am and so glad I did. There have been many horror stories of mud, cars stuck and, again, much walking but this time laden with tent equipment. I felt really bad for those who had to carry their kit for ages before being able to make camp. I certainly wouldn’t have coped.
So, will Greenbelt stay at Boughton House? Probably. The element of stubbornness always abounds. The grounds were lovely and more retreat like as there was no 3G or wifi (they tried but it didn’t work). The only weird bit in the grounds was the garden feature of a hole in the ground called Orpheus (and the under world?) and the symbol of the golden number next to it. Masonic? Hmm! Still, Slightly better than the Tote wording around the Cheltenham racecourse…..?!
Would I go again next year? Hmm, free ticket helped…. Caravan was a must have…. Perhaps if I get a motor home in the mean time?! Jury’s out!
I doubt Nadia will be back for a few years…. (Gee I sound like such a fan girl! Yuck!) 😉


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