On Route to Shambala

At ten o’clock Fat Sister and King Russell arrived at the castle, soon followed by Bunny’s brother Pete. He’s one of my two main support workers at Shambala, with Eoin, the other half of the team, meeting us on site.

We had a tense time packing the small car with four people’s-worth of stuff, two tents and one all-terrain wheelchair. Thankfully it all fitted, with just enough room for us as well. Fat Sister, Pete and I sat in the back and my wheelchair sat up front next to King Russell who was driving. We were really packed in so my new elbow-jabbing tic went down brilliantly with Fat Sister.

Fun as the journey was we were all very relieved when we got there. While we queuing to get in I had a call from Will Young, (not pop star Will Young, but our publicist for Backstage In Biscuit Land). Will had gone to the Total Theatre award ceremony in Edinburgh on our behalf. We knew we’d been nominated for an award and he was calling to say we’d won! This was amazing news and a brilliant start to the Festival weekend. It’s also a great recognition of the work put in to BIBL by so many people.

Shambala’s my favourite festival and it’s particularly special because it’s where I first met comedy song-writing genius Captain Hotknives. You can hear our first creative encounter outside his tent three years ago here. We’re performing together again this year, but to a much bigger audience.

Once on site we headed straight for the Accessible Camping Area (ACA). We were met and shown where to camp by some very familiar faces, including Bunny, Fran and Sophie who run the area. It’s for disabled people so there are accessible loos, charging points, and plenty of space. Loads of other people I know well are here too – in fact so many people I know are at Shambala that I’d struggled to find support workers who weren’t already going.

But Pete and Eoin were up for it. Neither of them have supported me before so I gave them a thorough, fireside induction into what to do if I have a ‘ticcing fit’. They were up to speed quickly and won’t ever be far away from other people who can help too.

We were soon all set up and ready to explore. I’d been a bit apprehensive about Shambala this year because I’d only just got back from Edinburgh and felt worn out, but after just a few hours I felt settled, happy and very pleased to be back.

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