I’ve packed my Hunter wellingtons, my Hiawatha headdress and my face paint – I’m off to Glastonbury and am determined to be the height of Fido festival fashion. Grrr-huzzah. Backstage pass please. Who’s playing? I ask Jane, imagining myself hanging out with U Chew. Maybe Bonio himself will want to meet me!
But my joy is short lived because, Jane says, dogs aren’t allowed into Glastonbury The Festival and, instead, we are visiting Glastonbury The Town. What a load of old rubbish that is. I’ve been to billions of TOWNS but I’ve never been to a FESTIVAL.
I brighten, though, when I hear where we are staying – Middlewick Holiday Cottages, where Mumford and Sons kipped during last year’s festival. Maybe I will be able to experience something of the Rock and Rover lifestyle after all?
And, when we check in, I am impressed. We’re shown to our berth by Maggie and Ellie, two Glasto girls who have met all the stars and are rightly impressed by meeting me too. They’d asked me in advance what a celebrity of my calibre required in my rider and, I’m glad to report, my needs have been met with a bag of treats, bottled water – still, not sparkling – and a shiny metal bowl from which to scoff.
Maggie has experienced the limelight herself, having starred in Alastair Pawday’s dog-friendly Britain book – but we don’t mention that, seeing as Jane and I have our own dog-friendly book coming out in May and it’s much better. BRAG AND WAG! (You can order it by clicking on the Amazon button on the right. Houndtag #JustSaying.)
Right, commercial break over and back to Middlewick. Jane and I might not be at The Festival but we are sleeping under the stars, in an e-den, which is wooden pod in a field with views of Glastonbury Tor. The e-dens aren’t camping – they are GLAMPING, with a double bed inside, a fridge, a kettle, electric lights for dogs who are scared of the dark, heating and double glazing. They even have private loo’s and shower cubicles which guests have their own keys to so they don’t have to share with anyone else. Obviously I don’t require these facilities – in fact, I prefer to pee where another dog has just pee-ed, to show my superiority. What’s the point in pee-ing if no-one’s going to smell it?
Off to explore Glastonbury The Town for the afternoon – a 20-minute or so tramp through the fields from Middlewick. When we arrive my nose twitches as there’s a rather pleasing smell emanating from many of the shops on the main street – sweet and sort of soothing too. That’s incense, Jane says, which confuses me rather as the smell is the opposite of INCENSED – it’s pretty relaxing actually.
Inside these INCENSED shops – some of which have rather odd names like The Psychic Piglet and the Cat and Cauldron – all manner of unusual items are for sale. Costumes for witches – more Dodger the cat’s territory than mine, that back of the broomstick stuff – and crystals and a unicorn horn for cats. Jane and I snap that up to take home for Dodger quick smart. He loves to sport a unicorn horn of an afternoon!
The reason for all these ethereal emporiums selling spiritual swag is that Glastonbury is a magical, mystical town that’s on an island called the Isle of Avalon. (It isn’t a geographical island – it’s a meta-physical island or a metaphorical island or some-such. Jane doesn’t really understand so she can’t explain it properly to me – she just sings a bit of Roxy Music and nods, knowingly. But she doesn’t know and so I don’t know either. Sorry.)
Anyway, the rules of the Isle of Avalon are that every burgher should be peaceable and live in harmony with their fellow man and their fellow dog and this translates into dogs being welcome EVERYWHERE. Hurrah for the hippies – a hound’s best friend!
Jane and I pop into not just one coffee shop for a cup of tea but two, so thrilled are we to discover such a bountiful supply of dog-friendly digs. There’s the 100 Monkeys, which is rather laidback and cool and there’s the Lazy Gecko, which is cheerful and cosy. Even though I am neither primate nor lizard, I am hailed in both as a handsome chap and a very welcome guest. I am really feeling the Glastonbury vibe by now and ask Jane whether it would be possible to have some braiding in my forelock or perhaps a small henna tattoo on my paw. I am informed that it would not be possible. She’s such a SQUARE sometimes.
For our evening repast we repair to the Who’d Have Thought It – a pub and inn where pie and sausages are on the menu. There is a scantily clad young woman in a telephone box and a Well beneath the stone floor, covered by glass so there are no accidents among the inebriated. Who’d Have Thought It indeed but I am growing used to Glastonbury’s quixotic quirks by now so I take it all in my stride.
We meet a rather fine Tibetan Terrier, whose job it is to guard monks. Jane and her friend Pennie lavish much praise and fuss upon him. Normally I would be rather put out by this and my nose well and truly out of joint but hey – peace and love, dog.
(Unfortunately I didn’t write this fine fellow’s name down in my repawter’s note book so if anyone recognises him please inform him he’s on Phileas Dogg. I wouldn’t want him to miss out on his moment of fame and he does a good job, guarding those monks so he deserves it.)
I’m rather tired by now so we return to our e-den. We need to take a tour of the Tor, I inform Jane as we bed down for the night – we must climb it at dawn and greet the sunrise to connect with our inner spiritual selves. But, when dawn rises and I’m snug as a dug in a rug in my e-den, my sleepy self vanquishes my spiritual self and it’s 11am before we eventually start our ascent.
But so much for inner – or outer – peace on this fine morn. For one, SHEEPS are also taking a tour of the Tor. Come off it – SHEEPS aren’t mystical beings. They are things that exist purely for dogs to chase, like balls and sticks. Except, as we all know, dogs aren’t allowed to chase SHEEPS – even on the Isle of Avalon where the pleasure principle rules. Grrrr-HUMPH!
Then, just as we nearly reach the summit of the Tor, where I am very hopeful of finding DOG – or God, at least – a massive gale whips up around us, buffeting us from all sides. I am resilient in the face of danger and high winds but Jane isn’t and insists that we turn tail and hot foot and paw it back down the Tor. THE SHAME! The SHEEPS are laughing at me.
We hike back to Glastonbury where we have a much more sedate walk around the Abbey grounds – 36 dog-friendly acres but it’s leads-on chaps. I rather hope to meet our friend the Tibetan Terrier from our previous night’s adventures – surely he should be here, guarding the monks?
And then it’s time to depart Glastonbury, the town of peace and love, and return to Camberwell where sometimes, it has to be barked, peace and love is in short supply on the frenzied city streets. I am rather gloomy about it all but then we present Dodger with his unicorn horn and – ah well, what dog on earth could not be cheered by this sight?
Phileas Phacts: Glastonbury
- Middlewick Holiday Cottages, Wick Lane, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 8JW Tel: 01458 832351; website: www.middlewickholidaycottages.co.uk
- Price: starts at £65 per e-den per night.
- Charge for dogs: £15 for a weekend and £25 for a week
- Hundred Monkeys, 52 High Street, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9DY Tel: 01458 833386; www.hundredmonkeyscafe.com
- Lazy Gecko Cafe, 8 Magdalene Street, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9EH
- Who’d A Thought It, Northload Street, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9JJ Tel: 01458 834460; www.whodathoughtit.co.uk