Week 35: Sleeping Rough

This week I left the warmth of my four walls that I call a home, and swapped my double bed for a cardboard box for the night, as I attempted to sleep rough as a homeless person would.

My bed for the night
My bed for the night

I was originally given the idea from an old colleague of mine, James. At the time, I was really up for it, but speaking to my mother, she was concerned of my safety. Being the mummy’s boy I am, I didn’t want to frighten her. However, when told about The Seaview Project organising a big sleep out, I was all over the idea.

Homelessness is something that saddens me. I was once called on a night out a “run of the mill, middle class, white kid” by a nice gentleman. He probably wasn’t far off the mark. The truth is, I couldn’t even begin to imagine life without a home, warmth, friends, family and safety. I was hoping this sleep out with give me a tiny insight in the life of being homeless (In reality, it didn’t even touch the surface).

The sleep out took place in Hastings old town and would start at 10pm all the way through to 7.30am. I was fortunate enough to have 6 layers, gloves, a sleeping bag and an amazing hat, donated by my mate Jake… This is probably more than lots of homeless people would have.

Layered up!
Layered up!

The event was a brilliant event, a bit of live acoustic music before a bedtime story and taking on the cold for the evening. I took part in this event alone, but managed to make friends amongst the 70ish other people that took part. Anna, Katie and Laura were just along from me in our cardboard city, and made sure I didn’t feel alone for the night. We played the most random game of ‘Would you rather…’ up to about midnight… So random, I couldn’t give you a single example on here. (My mum reads these).

Bed time music
Bed time music

Once everything, settled down about midnight, I actually managed to get myself quite cosy and got a couple of hours sleep. However, once it got to about 2.30am… The temperature really dropped and the pins and needles kicked in. In fact, it was insufferably cold and uncomfortable all the way through to 7.30am. I didn’t get a wink of sleep through these hours. It’s well worth noting this was on a clear Septembers night without rain.

3am Selfie
3am Selfie

Whilst staring at the stars, I really did think just how hard this would be in reality. As I mentioned earlier, this event didn’t even touch the surface on what it would be like to homeless. Sleeping with 70 other people in a secure area couldn’t begin to represent what it’s like to be homeless. Just imagine not having a home to return too in the evening. Not knowing if you’re going to be safe at night. Not having a warm shower. Not even knowing where your next meal is coming from. Imagine people not even looking you in the eye because you’re homeless. It really got me thinking how lucky I am. I complain on a Monday morning because I have a working week ahead of me, I complain I can’t afford a holiday, I complain when there’s not enough milk in the fridge. I’m damn lucky and I this is a timely reminder of the fact. I’m told you’re only ever 4 things going wrong in your life away from becoming homeless and the in the UK there definitely is a problem. I don’t want this to become some self-righteous post about how we should treat homeless people, but I do feel more can be done and that begins with us as individuals.

Once I made it to the morning, I cleared up my cardboard home and got myself a bowl of porridge and walked to the beach. I did it and raised The Seaview Project £340 in the meantime. There was a real sense that everybody there that morning had achieved something and the event raising £21 000 for Seaview really confirmed this. I’ll read back on this post if I ever do need a reminder of how lucky I am, because for the few hours I was homeless, it was horrible.

If you wish to donate.. you still can HERE

Breakfast with a view
Breakfast with a view
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Week 34: Country Walk

You know what, I’m having an easier week this week. I don’t care what you’ve got to say, 33 weeks in this is getting real tough.

Here’s something I don’t do enough, go for walks. I’m not talking a walk to Tesco to get milk, I’m not talking walking to the car, I’m not talking walking to the fridge to get some more food to stuff my face with. I’m talking a good old fashioned walk in the country side.

Believe it or not, before this week, I hadn’t done this in a good 4 or 5 years. I’ve gotten comfortable in my work life style of driving to work, working, driving home, eating dinner, going to bed lifestyle and my weekend lifestyle of playing sport on a Saturday and being hungover on a Sunday, it’s something I never do.

Tilly
Tilly

Well having taken a bit of time off after Bestival, I took my dog, Tilly, for a walk in the countryside every other day. Bloody lovely. No more words needed.

Take time to relax your mind. The countryside is the perfect place to do so.

Week 33: Festivals

This week I delved into the world of music festivals by visiting the Isle of Wight for Bestival.

4 nights, camping, middle of September. Good fun, no doubt.

A common theme of the weekend is fitting things into small spaces. (No sexual innuendo there). Clothes, tent, chair, blow up bed, pillow, endless amount of toiletries, crates of alcohol, food and all my fancy dress outfits into one manageable amount proved tough. Especially with me being as vain as I am, and deciding to take my whole wardrobe. Then fitting this into a car with three other people is the next challenge. Then fitting this car onto a ferry at 6am on a Thursday morning, with 80 000 other festival goers wanting to go. Then fitting 80 000 festival goers onto the small island of the Isle of Wight. You see where I’m going with this?

The journey was pretty smooth, however, it was only once you arrive at Bestival and you have to take the treck will all your stuff on your back to your camping location that things get hard. My bag, 90L big, was just killing my back. I’m not made out for lugging things from one place to another, especially in wellies.

Bestival 1

Picking a pop up tent, was one of my finest ideas. Chuck it out the bag an it’s up. Honestly, I don’t know why everyone doesn’t have these things?

So camp is set up, camping chair in place, sun is kind of out, first beer is opened. All is needed is to dress up as a hippie, in line with the Summer of Love theme, and you’re in the Bestival fantasy land.

Camp
Camp

I have to say, I was quite disappointed of the lineup this year… With rumours of Muse pre-event never coming true, I was left with Chemical Brothers and Mark Ronson as the only acts I wanted to see. What it did mean though, was there was time to see things/try things I’ve never done before. Here’s a quick list of what I managed to fit in at this music festival.

– Touched a bird of prey
– Hugged a Llama
– Had an oil massage
– Sat in a ‘front room’ of 6 people listening to acts I’ve never heard of play.
– Explored an ambient forest
– Found a ‘Secret party’
– Played Mini Golf
– Saw three blokes get married in an inflatable church
– Bought endless amounts of terrible fancy dress

Activities
Activities

It must be said for the four days, I did not have a care in the world. The atmosphere is about as friendly as I have ever been part of. There was not even a hint of any animosity during the weekend, it was the summer of love after all.

Mainstage
Mainstage

Despite my complaints of the lineup also, I had a belter of a time to the acts I saw, ‘The Cuban Brothers’, not Chemical, was a hell of a laugh that stands out in my mind. The Jacksons making you boogie, what’s not to love about that. Singing a long to a man playing piano in a secret party in a forest, what’s not to love about that. More pyrotechnics and lights than you can imagine at The Port, what’s not to love about that. A sofa where a guy just plays acoustic music, what’s not to love about that.

IMG_9388

Okay, the toilets can be pretty rank at times; The rain on the final night was borderline unbearable; Not being able to stand up in my tent drove me mad. Showering with cold water in front of thousands of other campers was painful; Never having phone signal was irritating. But as I walked past the 8ft Love robot and world’s largest disco ball, to treck up the now muddy hill back to the car, I could only think how I didn’t want to return to normality. Maybe the hippie life is for me. (On edit: Having re-intergrated to the real world and office lifestyle, you’ll be pleased to know I haven’t grown my hair and taking the hippie lifestyle).