Burning Nest is a yearly celebration of art, music, and alternative culture, held in the UK. It’s a free-spirited celebration, its more-famous sibling being Burning Man, held in Black Rock, Nevada. The Cornwall celebration this year was significantly smaller, hosting around 500 people in the glorious grounds of a stately home (I wonder if they knew what they were letting themselves in for).
Six of us attended as a group, some who had been before and a few of us (including me) attending a Burn for the first time. We decided to host a bar (free, as Burns are based on a gifting economy), called Intergalactic Häus of Mojo, and on the Monday we loaded our vans up and made the trip down to the site. I deliberated on which camera to bring, if any, but decided on the Olympus XA and two rolls of Fuji Superia 400, as it’s tiny, indestructible, and the film is saturated and pretty fast – I was confident it could handle most situations. I was luckily right – the camera and film combo managed to record useful shots in almost total darkness, as well as sunlight – although some of the sunlight shots are a bit bleached out.
We set up our tents, our bar, and over the next week welcomed hoards of people into Häus Mojo. New friends were made, a voyage on the (slightly scummy) lake was launched on Dustin the Unicorn, and many all-nighters were pulled. The weather was stunning, sunny all week except for one exceptional thunderstorm on Friday night, when I cowered in my tent while strobes of lightning flashed outside, and the thunder felt like it was rumbling through the floor under us.
There were plenty of other theme camps, with names like Psychedeliphant and Wrong Camp, to name just a couple. Everyone we met was friendly, welcoming and cheerful – no wonder, in the gorgeous surroundings. Shared dinners, beers and even a Pimms afternoon, masterminded by another camp but hosted in the bar on a scorching afternoon, all proved really popular (cucumber sandwiches!). Sitting around our fire in the evening was a relaxing way to wind down the day and kickstart the night, with one or two of us taking shifts on the bar while others went out to explore.
On Sunday night, as is tradition with all Burns, a huge effigy was built and set alight. It was a time for reflection, wrapping up the week and thinking about what comes next. A quiet, solemn occasion, we watched the bonfire go up with all our fellow Nestlings before heading back to camp for one last party.
I had a fantastic time, and will definitely be back next year, with more volunteers to help run the bar, and more ideas for events. Now the bug bites, and bruises from stumbling about in the dark have faded a bit, I miss waking up to the sound of the stream, the noisy sheep, and greeting our regulars as they wander through. The photos I have from the event bring back such a warm fuzzy feeling – if you’d like to see a few more, they’re on my Flickr here.
Until next year, Nestlings! x