Festival Packing: Reading 2014

Now I know that festival season is coming to a close here in the UK and there is already a whole host of festival packing lists floating around, but I figured I would hop on the bandwagon and share what little wisdom I have to offer as I pack for Reading festival, which I leave for tomorrow. I’m not going to bother with the obvious things like underwear and a toothbrush- I think we are all grown up enough to be able to figure this out for ourselves by now, this isn’t primary school. Think of this as a compilation of things that you’ll think you don’t need, then find yourself sat in the mud at 4am wishing you’d listened to that advice. Just warning you.

  •  Baby wipes- honestly if you only brought one thing to a festival it should be baby wipes, you don’t quite realise just how many uses these things have and trust me, they’ll be a god send when you are unlikely to be able to shower for the four or five days you’re there for (you can get Huggies wipes for 99p in Boots for a huge pack)
  • Face wipes- along the same lines but for any girls that aren’t quite ready to embrace the no-makeup look, you really don’t want to be bringing along your endless cleansers and toners and fancy make-up removers- it’s time to crack out the face wipes. Primark do a range of different types that are only £1 for two packs so you can hardly go wrong.
  • Toilet roll and tissues- needless to say, festival toilets are disgusting. There is rarely any toilet roll available (in fact Reading have said this year they won’t be providing any) so these are most certainly essential to have- tissue packets are especially good as you can just stick one in your pocket or bumbag each day and you’re set.. plus you can buy 4 packets for £1 in Primark at the moment (you can tell where I do all my festival shopping)
  • Dry shampoo- back on the no washing theme, my hair is certainly not used to surviving five days without a shower so anything I can do to make it look slightly less slick with grease is always a bonus- dry shampoo, bandanas and hats are all good solutions here
  • Other toiletries- deodorant, hand sanitiser, paracetamol and a lip balm with spf (even if it isn’t meant to be hot) are definitely essentials in my opinion along with any hayfever tablets if you suffer from that
  • Suncream and sunglasses- may seem a tad optimistic seeing as the weather forecast for this weekend isn’t meant to be the best, but you never know with this English weather and being outside all day can have disastrous consequences when you’re as ginger and pale as I am
  • Raincoat and wellies- on the opposite end of the scale and much more likely to come in use, it’s a pretty obvious essential for any English festival
  • Bin bags- weird thing to add but they take up no room at all and without fail will always come in handy- make-do raincoats, rubbish bag, bag for your wet clothes, etc etc
  • Torch- those obstacle courses of guy ropes are hard enough to navigate in the light, don’t make it harder for yourself that it need be
  • Small towel- not essential but definitely handy if you have room in your bag, especially if it’s a wet weekend
  • Pillowcase- I’m definitely not one of those people that is going to be lugging round a pillow with me but I do love to bring a case at least to stuff with jumpers in an attempt to make sleeping at least a little less impossible
  • Crappy old phone- I’m taking my year 7 slide up (classy I know) but to be quite honest, all I need to be able to do is text and ring my friends to meet up with them- if you are tweeting every moment of your weekend you are clearly not enjoying yourself and to be brutally honest, I think if you take your iPhone to a festival then you deserve to get it stolen
  • Some other kind of shoes you don’t mind getting ruined- I’m taking some cheap black high tops from H&M that are just super comfortable and make a nice change if the ground is dry and wellies are no longer needed (a girl can dream)
  • Bumbag- not the coolest thing in the world (although you can get some pretty nice ones- mine is from depop) but so handy for carrying round essentials without having to carry a bag around and worry about everything getting stolen
  • Glitter/ face paint- when else do you get the chance to wander round with your hair full of glitter and paint on your face without getting some weird looks?
  • Plastic bottles/ hip flask- you’re not allowed to take in any glass so if you’re planning on bringing alcohol it’ll need to be decanted into plastic bottles- definitely handy to bring a couple of extras as trips to Tescos are a lot more popular than paying the extortionate bar prizes and you don’t want to be stuck with nothing to decant those glass bottles into. Having not been to Reading before, I don’t know how strict they are about bringing alcohol into the arena, but it’s always handy to have a hip flask or something similar you can slip down your wellies for ease

So there you have it, my probably completely useless checklist for Reading and Leeds (or any other UK festival for that matter). To be honest, if you are going to Reading there is a huge Tesco’s just a few minutes walk from the site where you can stock up on anything you have forgotten, so don’t panic too much. Most of all just have an amazing time no matter how dirty and wet you are; I know I will.

 

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The Next Stage

As David Nicholls so rightly puts it, “the notion that you can somehow quantify intelligence by some ridiculous, antiquated system of written examinations is obviously specious.” Unfortunately for us, there’s not a lot we can do about that and we’re forced to go through the stress of increasingly harder exams year upon year in order to decide for us whether we are destined to be neurosurgeons or dustbinmen for the rest of our lives. As I’m sure most of you will have guessed, I talk about this because of the dreaded day that has been looming ever closer since the start of summer and is now but two days away; the day on which dreams are realised and crushed- and trust me, that’s no exaggeration.

Luckily for me, I’ve only got my AS results to collect which, whilst still worth half my A level and therefore clearly important, fade into insignificance when stood next to those in the year above whose envelope contains the answer to possibly what their life will look like for the next few years. And that’s pretty terrifying. I know that each year group has a tendency to downplay the importance of the stages which they’ve already experienced, but I would seriously give anything to be back in GCSE and only having to worry about getting my 4 B’s and 2 C’s to get into sixth form, rather than needing ridiculously unlikely high grades to have a chance of getting into any of the universities I want to end up at.

I write this sat on my bed with a mug of tea in hand and university prospectuses spread out in front of me, trying to differentiate between the accommodation prices at this university and the contact hours at that university and entrance grades and module choices and league table rankings and nightlife and things that I never thought I would have to think about for years to come. I still feel about 12 years old even though I turn 18 in less than four weeks, and that’s terrifying. The idea that what I decide in the next few months dictates pretty much what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life is overwhelming to say the least, and no number of open days or prospectuses or “useful” school assemblies on UCAS is going to change that. But whilst it may be terrifying and overwhelming and quite frankly incomprehensible at times, it’s also so bloody exciting. As much as I will miss my school, I can’t wait to get out into the world and experience somewhere a bit more diverse and real than the ‘bubble’ of where I live, which to be honest is pretty much anywhere. I want to get to a big city and meet interesting people and do interesting things in interesting places, and more than the worry or stress, I can’t wait for the future and so should you – it’s an exciting place.

So Let’s Talk About Exams

There’s no point avoiding the subject and pretending that they aren’t coming anymore, I hate to say. With GCSE and AS exams starting tomorrow, and A2s only a few weeks away, it’s fair to say that the general atmosphere at the moment is one of high stress levels, short tempers,  and over-eating. I’ve seen millions of articles floating around, and plenty of presentations at school, about how to control the stress and actually motivate yourself to revise, but I’m yet to find one that really helps.

I’ll be the first to put my hands up and say I am truly awful at motivating myself to revise. I’m one of those people that managed to get through GCSEs by revising the night before and partially winging it, then got to A level and realised that just wasn’t going to cut it. It’s impossible to get even half-decent marks with no work at this stage, so I’ve had to completely rethink my way of working. In a way it’s a whole lot better than last year in that you are only taking subjects that you enjoy (hopefully) so the work is more enjoyable, but even someone who loves literature as much as I do can get fed up analysing WW1 poetry to death for hours on end.

I think what I’ve found to be the most important thing is to go into revision with a positive attitude, or else you’ll simply get nothing done. I’ve spent countless evenings at my desk with books spread out, beating myself up about how I should be revising and refusing to move from that spot, but not actually being able to work up the motivation to do it. It took me surprisingly long to realise that if you don’t feel like revising at all, then don’t. Put it out of your mind for a bit, do something proactive like going on a walk or meeting some friends for an hour or so, then come back to it when you’re in a more positive frame of mind.

Of course, this can easily lead to continuous procrastination meaning you never actually get round to revising, so make sure you keep what you have to do, and how long you have to do it, in perspective. I’ve tried countless revision timetables, but never stuck to them so I gave that idea up a long time ago. Sure, everyone is different so it might work for some people and it’s a great way of staying on track. Instead though, I’ve found a better method is to write down the things you need to do in order to revise for each subject in the order of importance, then simply work down the lists and tick them off as you go. This means you still stay focused on what needs to be done, but leaves it flexible and stops you getting stressed if you’re behind on your schedule.

Often the simplest things are the most effective, so don’t underestimate the power of a good night’s sleep. I am completely guilty of staying up until the early hours watching whole series of shows far too many times, but needless to say this does not put you in the right frame of mind to work. One of the biggest favours you can do your mind is to switch off electronics at least half an hour before you sleep; if you find you aren’t tired then try reading or listening to soothing music to help switch your brain off.

Other than that, just try not to stress too much, although I am well aware that that’s much easier said than done. Also try and put it into perspective- the grades you achieve now are unlikely to affect your life in the long run anywhere near as much as it may seem now. Do your best for yourself and be happy with that, as cheesy as that may sound. I know that I’m no expert, but this is something that I know is on a lot of people’s minds at the moment and I just want to wish everyone good luck in their exams- just try your best and it’ll all be okay in the end. Now I’ve just got to follow my own advice..