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ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FESTIVAL VOLUNTEERING //

If one of your resolutions this year is to do more for charity, then this could be your route to succeeding.

For over five years I've been a part of the Oxfam Festival Stewards team (alongside lots of friends who I've met whilst volunteering!) and every year it gets better and better. It's their 25th anniversary this year, so what better time to answer some questions and tell you a bit more about my experience.

An enamel cup celebrating five years of charity volunteering

I wrote a post in 2015 about volunteering so feel free to have a read of that one too.

Below are some answers to some of the most common questions I hear when I tell people about my volunteer experience: hopefully covering everything from money, to holidays, to not missing your fave bands.

Two stewards at ticket gates whilst volunteering at Glastonbury

Do I have to pay?

Yes - but you only pay a deposit (usually the ticket equivalent) when you register for your first festival, then you get this back up to six weeks after you get home from your last shift.

Even better news is, you only pay this single deposit and you can register for one or ALL of the festivals - if you're lucky enough to have an entire Summer to spend dancing in fields.


Do I have to work when my favourite band are playing?

Not necessarily. In all the times I've been, I've had some fantastic shifts that allowed me to go to most or all of the artist performances I wanted to see.

You're even allowed to swap shifts with other Oxfammers, if it clashes with that one band you absolutely CANNOT stand to miss. Usually you'll find someone who is happy to switch, or maybe if you pick up an extra night shift you'll be able to get your favourite music day to yourself.

In total (in most festival experiences) you will complete three shifts over the course of the time you are there and the rest of the time you are free to party to your heart's content.


How can I get a free Glastonbury (2019) ticket?

That's not quite how it works but here it is simply for you:

Register for more information here: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/stewarding

When the applications are about to open (normally February) you will receive an email letting you know in plenty of time. It's usually a weekday morning so make sure you're available, or someone can do this on your behalf. You'll fill in the rest of your details - like whether you're available for early shifts or not - and bank information on the application day and pay a deposit (usually the cost of the ticket for that year.)

You won't actually get a physical ticket - but once you pay and receive confirmation, boom, your place at the festival is secured! All that is left to do is turn up when expected, attend all of your shifts and have the time of your life.

NOTE:
Obviously Glastonbury is a hugely popular festival to volunteer at, so you need to be speedy about it. 

However there IS a way you can get priority access to volunteer at Glastonbury 2019. If you volunteer at TWO festivals with Oxfam this year, you'll automatically get chance for an early application to Glasto - which in my experience, always bags you a place.

What do I get out of it?

A free festival, a week of laughs, plenty of new friends and the feeling you've done something for a great cause. That pretty much sums it up!

In addition, volunteering is perfect for students (over 18) because:

A) most festivals are during the Summer holidays, so you won't have to take time off college/universityand B) it's actually amazing customer service experience that will help you get a job in the future.

No matter what career you're looking to get into, volunteering for a charity is always a positive talking point in an interview and will help you bag that dream role.

I don't want to go on my own. Will other people be going solo?


If none of your friends want to join you (it's worth asking!) and it's something you really want to do, just do it.

I guarantee there will be other people who are volunteering solo, or there will be groups of people more than happy to welcome you into their camp. Some may even become a friend for life. From personal experience, I know people who have attended on their own that had a fantastic week meeting new people and they go away with new Facebook pals, plenty of photographs and lots of great memories.

If you're on your own, you can also take a peek at the Facebook group to see if there are any other lone rangers you can befriend before you go. There's also a handy car share forum which is a great way to actually get to the site, and also make a friend to enter the festival with.


Which festivals do I get to go to?



Last year, the team covered a multitude of festivals including: Bearded Theory, Download, Glastonbury, 2000Trees, NASS, Latitude, Nozstock, WOMAD, Camp Bestival, Trailwalker, Boardmasters, Boomtown Fair, Beautiful Days, Shambala, Reading, Leeds and Bestival.

Every year these are pretty consistent, so if you've had your eye on one of these then maybe this year get a place with Oxfam and go for free! Register here and you'll be able to find out the specific festivals they will be attending in 2018 and the dates you'll be required to attend for each.

If this isn't enough to sway you - watch this video for some other opinions on why it's a great idea.*Gold star if you can spot me*


I am super proud to be a festival volunteer and hope to see some more friendly faces in the crowds this Summer!

If you have any more questions about my own experiences that haven't been covered, feel free to leave me a comment or tweet and I'll get back to you with something I hope will be useful.

leanne

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PLACES TO EAT & DRINK IN SÖLL, AUSTRIA //

Restaurant and building in the centre of Soll village

At the beginning of the year I ventured on my first skiing holiday EVER and absolutely fell in love with the views, atmosphere and activities of Söll. Here are some of my favourite places we visited for lunch, dinner and of course, plenty of après ski.

Schulhaus

Modern, quirky interior and an impressive amount of food on offer. They offer some mouth-watering desserts which we didn't get to sample (this time!) but they looked incredible, as well as some impressive cocktails.

It's certainly not your classic Austrian menu, so if that's what you're looking for I'd go to the surrounding pub or hotel restaurants instead. The thai red curry (veggie option) was incredible and just the perfect amount of heat, great if you prefer your dishes a little more mild. It's definitely worth a visit at least one night during your stay.

Definitely our favourite visit of the holiday, and the old school decor they have is certainly unique.

Whisky Muehle

This became the drinking gem of the week, where a lot of the Crystal (the ski company we booked with) rep activities were held and the final stop on our mid-holiday pub crawl. It has live music on both floors and opens till the early morning - perfect for drinking right into your next day on the slopes*

There's a pool table, board games - we smashed a few rounds of Connect 4 and Jenga, obvz - and plenty of seating. All the staff in here are wonderful and despite the odd bar brawl outside (unsurprisingly, normally the British and Irish) it's a great pub location and you can even grab some quick grub.

*I don't advise you actually do it. Don't drink and ski, people.

Auf de Muehle


Instead of the staircase into the Whisky Muehle (as mentioned above) you can take the lift straight up to the third floor and enter their sister restaurant. Far from the informal pub setting, this restaurant is a fantastic steakhouse with an extensive menu.

Even for vegetarians, there are plenty of options to sample and the service was great. We were lucky enough to get a table on the night we visited, however the kitchen does shut at 10pm so don't leave it too late (as we did the day before!)


Note: the Asian Wok Vegetables dish is a winner.

Salvenstadl

Arguably, the best of all the après bars in the area. This bar has lots of seating, great staff and an interesting shot wheel if you feel like getting adventurous. We got to sample a 'ski crash' shot of the wheel's choice and surprisingly, it didn't put us off drinking.

This place even offers bacon/egg rolls on a morning before you head up the mountain (before 10.30am) or steak and onion baps post-skiing to kick off your après session.

It's also great for a few games of Hammerschlagen (hitting a nail into a tree trunk with the wrong side of a hammer - as you can imagine, all the drunken fun) and meeting new people. Definitely one to visit if you're looking for a great night out.

Red Horse/The Dubliner

A classic end-of-the-night outing. The Red Horse is home to karaoke, dirt cheap jäger shots and a lot of 80's disco tunes. Next door however is the much more relaxed Irish pub, The Dubliner. With a much more indie choice of music and plentiful seating, this area is open till 6am.

Whether you're after a night of games and naked middle-aged men (don't ask) or a more chilled out affair, you'll get the best of both worlds here.

Dorf Stub'n

We were recommended this restaurant by our lovely B&B hostess Maria on the first night, so we headed over for a meal after a very long day of travelling. Although I feel we didn't fully appreciate it because we were falling asleep at the table, the food was certainly great and the restaurant itself is gorgeous.

Here you'll get a classic Austrian menu (with plenty of American/British options, too) and a lovely atmosphere. It sits in centre of Soll and is surrounded by plenty of bars, so it's a fab location and walking distance from your hotel/chalet if you're staying in the village.


SkiWelt Wilder Kaiser, an umbrella bar on the mountain


We had some incredible food and too many some great beers overall in our stay in Soll. Hopefully there are some suggestions for you if you head to Austria's Sollandl Valley for the ski season!


leanne

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JANUARY BOOK-IT LIST // 2018

I've done a terrible job of meeting my yearly Goodreads challenge since 2014 so this year is the year. I have a list of 25 books I want to complete before the end of 2018 and here are the three novels I am aiming to finish in January.

Follow my Goodreads journey and let me know what your reading goals are for the New Year.

The Game of Thrones book set on a bookshelf

Little Fires Everywhere

Will Hill

This is a book I heard a lot about towards the end of 2017 so I'm currently reading it on my kindle. It's a slow starter but the plot seems interesting enough, revolving around an individual character and her experience before and after a dramatic fire in her home.

The Color Purple

Alice Walker

There are a few classics on my list to read including this well known novel-turned-movie. I haven't seen or read this before so it's eagerly anticipated. In my annual list of books I want to read there are an awful lot of fantastic female writers, whose work I'm very excited to delve into, including this.

A Clash of Kings

George R. R. Martin

I read A Game of Thrones (featured in Books of the Year 2017) last year and loved it so much that I finally got around to watching the TV series. I'm already fast approaching the end of the box set so far but I'd love the read the entire series before Season 8 next year.

Yes, I already know what will happen as I've watched the episodes but this isn't the first time I'll say it - there's so much more to characters in books, than on screen.


Best of luck with any reading related challenges you've set yourself this year!


leanne

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JANUARY RESOLUTIONS // 2018

Happy New Year!

I hope you had a fantastic 2017 and are looking forward to a sparkly new chapter this year.

Instead of hugely ambitious 2018 goals, this year I'll be blogging about monthly goals to make things a bit less difficult for myself. Although I do have long term goals in mind, breaking them down into smaller chunks means it's much easier to track progress.


Try something new

I'm going skiing in exactly 5 days and I could not be more excited (and a tad nervous!) for a holiday. I've had a few lessons so I'm confident I won't necessarily throw myself off a mountain accidentally - if I do, please include a link to my blog in any emotional goodbye messages on social media - however I am certainly not experienced enough to avoid a few tumbles. Austria, I'm coming for ya!

Save money

Aside from big spends like my skiing trip, I'm aiming to be more frugal when it comes to everyday shopping. I certainly don't need any clothes, beauty products or materialistic bits having been super spoilt at Christmas. David and I have a joint resolution to save more money of our weekly food shops and eating out, so hopefully this will be an effective resolution all round.

Stick to a bullet journal

I've used a bujo on and off over the past 6 months but have periods of time where I completely disregard it, or forget to follow it. I've set up a new spread for the month of January and hopefully I can stick to it to encourage me to keep up gym, studying and blogging by being a little more organised!


What are your resolutions for the New Year?

leanne

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