Tatton Park Flower Festival
As I mentioned in my last post, I was recently sent off to work with the vegetarian food van that I worked for two summers ago during the Olympics and other events. I wasn’t sure where I was working this time until the last minute and, to be honest, I was dreading it. It’s not unusual to work 18 hour shifts – not finishing until the early hours of the morning, then waking up a few hours later to start all over again! The thing I was least looking forward to was the camping. I’m sure you’ve all heard about the horrors of festival toilets, and the staff ones aren’t usually much better. I was not looking forward to it one bit, but I desperately needed the money so I put it to the back of my mind for as long as possible and pretended it wasn’t happening.
A few days before I had to leave though, I found out that it wasn’t a music festival like I thought it would be, but a flower festival – much more civilised! I wasn’t really sure what to expect but braced myself for long days and poor camping conditions. It only got worse when I found out that I had to drive myself and two other people I barely knew the two and a half hours up to Manchester, along with a heavy boiler, several huge packs of drinks and some random pipes. We somehow managed to cram everything into my tiny Toyota Starlet and made our way up the country. We were talking about what to expect at a flower festival, and one of the girls decided to find out what times the show was open each day – it turned out it was only open from 10am to 6:30pm each day, and finished at 5pm on the last day! That was SO much better than I was expecting! We usually have to serve breakfast for the early risers, lunch for the hungover and late night meals for the dedicated drunks, but here it was just lunch for the civilised gardeners. Even better, we found out we were staying at a proper campsite! With working toilets!! And a SHOWER!!! I was beyond relieved, but was still cautious until I’d seen it for myself.
We arrived at the park and eventually found our boss and made our way over to one of the two units we had there. We were introduced to the other employees and were put straight to work setting up ready for the park to open. It took me a while to get into the swing of things after not working there for two years, but I soon got the hang of it. We serve three types of vegetarian burger (with optional halloumi), and pittas with either hummus and salad or falafel and salad (with optional hummus for 50p extra). We got through so many customers that I sometimes got a bit muddled in my head as to whether someone had ordered extra hummus or halloumi. I ended up imagining myself flicking a spoon ladled with hummus at the customers who ordered extra hummus and imagined it sliding down their face as they looked at me in disbelief. Then, when I got confused about whether they’d ordered extra hummus or not, I just looked at them and was like, ‘Oh yeah, haha! You had a spoonful of hummus running down your face a second ago, you must want some!’. Probably best not to mention that to any of them, but it worked for me.
Another surprisingly nice twist to this event was that because we finished early each day (about 7pm), we were all taken to a pub for a meal, all paid for by the company. It was really nice to have some down time together and get to know each other a bit better. There were nine of us and we all clicked straight away and got on really well, which was lovely. Back at the campsite and my worries were not necessary – we were camped on a nice field with a toilet block a few metres away, with a working shower that was just wonderful after a hot day in a sweaty burger van. They even opened another new shower while we were there, which was good apart from when the two showers were being used at the same time. If that happened, the shower just constantly changed from freezing cold to boiling hot and you had to jump in in between when the water was at an acceptable temperature. It was much better than I thought it would be though.
Overall, it wasn’t half as bad as I thought it would be and I actually ended up having a pretty good time. And being paid is just the best feeling ever! I have money again! (Although I think I still have to spend it all on boring things like leftover bills and petrol…). I’m working again for them in a couple of weeks at a local music festival which I did two years ago. I know it’s going to be much more intense and much harder work as there are only a couple of us working it. It’s only for three days though, so hopefully I’ll manage.
Sorry there are no photos in this post, I didn’t want to risk losing my camera while I was there. I’m sure you all understand! 🙂