I’m not quite sure how it happened but last November I woke up one morning to discover I had booked myself onto the Love Trails festival, which turned out to mean I would be camping alone, for a long weekend in the middle of nowhere in Wales. Eeek! I hadn’t even been drinking! I just couldn’t sleep and had got up to make a cup of tea and seen the advert on my Instagram feed.
Love Trails, for those who’ve never heard of it before, is a trail running festival, with hundreds of guided runs to choose from every day, as well as yoga, meditation, live music, motivational talks and learning sessions. It was my dream holiday. I was really excited about all these activities but was this wise? Could I go on my own to this festival? I was filled with fear and anxiety.
Fearing a TSW flare!
Initially I really regretted the decision and considered not going, as many of you will know I’m going through some health difficulties at the moment and the thought filled me with dread. Not least the fact that I’m currently six months into topical steroid withdrawal and could have a skin flare. I did indeed have a bad skin flare which began on the drive down. It wasn’t easy to manage in a tent but I had taken a large bowl with me so I was able to wash and try to remove most of the skin flakes in private near my tent. Mostly though I just brazened it out. Nobody mentioned my flaky face and I almost forgot about because I had so much fun and was completely distracted by all the fun activities I’d booked to attend.
Fear of anaphylaxis…
I have also been working through my fear about death from anaphylaxis – what was I thinking? I wouldn’t even know anyone else… and what if I ate the wrong thing, alone, in the middle of nowhere at a festival? I pushed this thought to the back of my mind, thought positive thoughts and planned the hell out of this holiday.
Well initially, I ignored the whole situation and…. you guessed it. It didn’t go away. 😉
But as the time drew closer I began to realise that this kind of holiday would allow me to maintain a lot of control. I had time to carefully plan the holiday and had been lent a tent… Karma! So after practising to put this up in my back garden and getting all the requisite camping gear together I was coming to terms with this idea. I had no more excuses left. I was going.
Contact all the food vendors
I was able to get hold of a list of the food vendors and contacted them ahead of time. Most were not suitable, either due to potential cross contamination or the inclusion of one of the allergens I have to avoid. e.g. There were beef burger and lamb burger stands but the burgers all contained wheat. There were lots of gluten free suppliers but these all contained dairy. There were some vegan providers but these all contained nuts or nut warnings. So basically I prepared myself for the worst, I knew that I needed to take my own picnic and supplies and hope that the one vegan curry stand that looked OK passed the Ruth allergy checks when I spoke to them
Thank you to Atta Street Food for the coconut, vegan curry which I enjoyed on two evenings. It was nut, dairy, wheat and soya free and I really enjoyed having this, with plain rice. They were really helpful and happy to run through the ingredients with me.
Go prepared… with lots of food
Here’s what I took. All food that can be stored at room temperature or rather, tent temperature!
- Fruit – I took lots of apples, blueberries, dried fruit
- Crisps, oat cakes, flapjacks and other sweet and savoury snacks
- Non-meat items such as vegetable bites, falafels, vegetables like carrots, courgettes etc. that can easily be cut up and won’t be unsafe or give you food poisoning when kept out of a fridge. The Gosh Cauliflower balls were the best thing I bought and I wish I’d taken more. I’ve not found them since this holiday and in mourning!
- Tuna in pouches or tinned food that you can eat from cold and don’t need to heat. Also, hard boiled eggs. You could take tins of anything but make sure you have a tin opener!
- Better still, take a stove and you can heat up food! I didn’t do this, going instead for quick and easy throw together food. I can’t afford to invest in more camping gear at the moment and wanted to make sure I enjoyed the experience alone before doing this.
- Pre-cooked rice, quinoa and lentil pouches that can be eaten cold
- Small x250ml plant milk cartons. I’ve seen these for Soya milk and KoKo coconut milk and are available in some large supermarkets and health food shops. One carton is enough for my morning coffee, breakfast milk and a swig to finish it off, so you don’t have milk going off in your tent during the day.
- Plastic bowls for breakfast, plates for lunch and tea, cups for drink and cutlery.
- Also take lots of sandwich bags, plastic knives and forks and plastic boxes to keep the food stored in. This also meant I could make up a lunch box to take with me, so I didn’t have to traipse back to my tent all the time.
- Washing up liquid, tea towel and bowl to wash up with.
- Speak to the event organisers too. Love Trails were very helpful, putting me in touch with all the vendors.
- Also take wet wipes… because the showers shut at 8pm and you booked the sunset trail run leaving at 9pm… urgh!
Check your medical supplies
Also make sure your medical suppliers are all in-date and you have plenty as you may not be within easy reach of a pharmacy at an event like this. You don’t want to be faced with a difficult trip to find a chemists in the middle of your hols.
Search for local suppliers
If you’re camping and can easily go shopping, check out the local health food shops, farm shops, local villages etc. Google the area and look for bloggers who’ve been before. Search for cafes, restaurants and pubs that might be able to cater for you.
I also posted on my social media channels that I was going to this festival and managed to meet up with a fellow TSW warrior Carly which was a such pleasure, to spend an evening in lovely company watching the sun set over the Gower peninsula. We may have had a little bit of a TSW moan… but we moved on to life, universe and everything! The area was just stunning. If you want to see more pictures head over to my instagram channel at instagram.com/whatallergy
Would I go again? Yes, yes, yes, yes! I learnt so much about myself; my resilience, my strength and my courage. I threw myself into all the activities, survived a skin flare and loved every minute of it. I also learnt so much from all the amazing talks, motivational speakers and nutritional and navigational learning sessions. For some of the time I did keep myself to myself, especially whilst nursing my flares. But generally I finished activities around 6 or 7, showered, headed over for some live music and was absolutely shattered by 10pm. I made some lovely friends while i was there. The couple in the tent next to mine made me coffee every morning and everyone was super friendly.
My only regret was missing the Run to Pub and Run to Swim trail runs and also missing the Allergy Show. Unfortunately this event will clash with the London Allergy show every year so I now have a very difficult decision to make.
Because I absolutely LOVE the Allergy Show and Love Trails!
What shall I do? I’m obviously now booking for Liverpool and Glasgow. But what about London?