Thursday February 23 2017 10:40 AM
This week Niamh McCarron writes about MS, music festivals, camping, muddy fields and shares some festival survival tips!
One of the things I most enjoy doing is getting away for a few days, forgetting all about work, MS and daily life. Luckily every few months we are in a position to head off for a week; in-between we squeeze in the odd over-nighter. I’m very aware that I might not always be well enough to hop in the car or on a plane so for now I am making the most of it!
This piece isn’t meant to be about MS, not today, but in reality, I have to consider it when I am making plans to escape for a while. I need to know that the places we visit are suitable and factor that in. So, the fact that one of the things I love to do most is to attend music festivals in our tent, might come as a surprise to people.
In fact, it’s down to MS Ireland that I discovered music festivals are my “thing”. A few years ago, Vantastival was announced as a charity partner of MS Ireland, and it popped up on my Facebook feed. As always, I was nosey and had a snoop around their website and ended up buying tickets for the weekend. Little did I realise I’d be bitten by the festival bug!
That first weekend trip was an eye-opener - both good and bad. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and even spent a happy hour shaking the MS Ireland collection bucket. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming, and we quickly settled into our weekend lodgings. I am a wimp when it comes to camping. I don’t like to take any chances, so I bring duvets and pillows and loads of clothes- I don’t like being cold and tents get very cold at night.
I hadn’t really allowed for the lack of sleep, and lack of toilets. These are two things that I really need to cope with my MS symptoms, so I wasn’t feeling too great by the middle of day two. It took me a few days to recover from the tiredness when I got home, and I realised I’d need to be better prepared in the future.
Since then, we’ve been back to Vantastival and tried out Electric Picnic last year. I am always a bit nervous of going to something new- just in case it isn’t MS friendly- but I’ve been pleasantly surprised each time by the accommodations made, ensuring that I have a great weekend and feel well looked after.
Electric Picnic in particular stands out- they have a specific camping area for people with disabilities, with staff on the gate at all times. These guys go out of their way to lend a hand, putting up tents and making sure you’re comfortable. They have a fridge for meds and keep an eye on everyone, without it feeling obtrusive. The facilities at each stage or tent are great too- there are platforms for wheelchairs and seating for people who can’t stand for long.
Each festival is a new experience and so far we’ve enjoyed every one. Our camping expectations have moved on- chances are we’re going to get soaked, covered in dirt and possibly sunburnt, all in the same day. We’ll end up stinking and longing for a hot shower and a bed more than two-inches off the ground. There will be little or no sleep late into the night, so I’ll aim for a cat nap during the afternoon. I also got around the lack of toilet by buying my own!
But none of that will matter this summer when we’re enjoying a few drinks, listening to the music and eating chips out of a van. We won’t have phones or laptops or meetings or deadlines. My tickets are booked and there is a big X on my calendar – sometimes the count-down is as enjoyable as the event itself!