Arriving after noon on Friday we put up a borrowed tent at our fire circle, like it's the most natural thing in the world for a small family from central-heated double-glazed semi-detached southern-softy suburbia. Somewhat wary of the others, our fears were soon dispelled, as, without exception, our tribal neighbours proved friendly, welcoming, fun, and interesting; and not in the slightest bit preachy, judgemental or pushy.
So, how did it go? Answering my questions...... Speaking for myself, I'm always too self-conscious and need to loosen up. And no one made me feel uncomfortable, even though some of the communal activities were outside my comfort zone (by about two miles). Belief systems? What do I believe in anyway? My "round of the seasons and the weather" paganism-light sat well with the celebrations of earth, air, fire and water (the four elements, not the seventies band).
The food looked promising on the web-page, from the on site vegetarian "Peace-Cake Cafe", in a marquee. And it delivered in spades; a range of fresh soups and salads for lunch, and tasty choices for the evening meal. Plus there were home made cakes and breads, and a late evening Pudding Club, which we might have tried?
How was the karma? Before the event this worried me. Would everyone be too smiley? Would I feel like I didn't belong in their ecstatic world? Would I be seen as the uptight citizen from planet normal? But all I experienced was the company of some very relaxed people who were fun to be around.
Frank loved it all - the communal life and the camping, and the kind friendly people who made him feel very welcome. We loved experiencing the weather - hearing the pattering of rain on the tent, and the whooshing of wind through the trees one stormy night. We found Frank's diabetes management difficult, as the food balance and timing was a bit out of our control. Jules suffered a little with the cold and damp, but she brightened up in the day time.
There were lots of activities, but most of the time we sat around chatting or relaxing. The camp had many acoustic musicians (and percussionists), and it was a great pleasure to hear them playing alone or in informal groups. We attended some morning circles; I remember sitting in a large tent with a bunch of people who were not too snidey and cynical to be able to enjoy James Blunt's sentimental ballad "You're beautiful", being played as people turned up to the morning gathering. One evening we watched an amusing premier performance of Twelfth Night, by a scratch troop of mainly very young people, who pulled off an amazing Toby Belch/ Andrew Aguecheek/ Malvolio treble act.
The overall verdict on the Gaia Tribe event? Great fun, and highly recommended. Time to socialise, and time for peace and quiet as we sat around our woodsmoky fire. And hanging with a bunch of people who are not cynical about positivity and dreams for an even better future. We would love to go again, though I've probably heard enough "oms" to last me through to next year. Back home, and there's going to be some changes round here, but first it's time for some real coffee, with full caffeine content......