Innocent Unplugged - A Weekend Off the Grid

5 June 2016

When I was planning how to spend my annual leave this year, one thing I really wanted to do was to get to more festivals. We had such an amazing time at sound city last year, and they're just a great way to get away from the real world for a bit, so when I heard about Innocent Unplugged I knew straight away that it would be the perfect place to get my summer started. An 'off the grid' festival, Innocent Unplugged asks that people stay off their phones while in the festival site - no instagramming, tweeting, texting, whatsapping - nothing.

As a blogger and a marketer, I find it super difficult to unplug. I know I'm not the only one here, I've seen a lot of people talking about it and it is a bit of a millenial, 'first world problem' but I never ever leave my phone at home and check it constantly. With most of my friends and family living far away, my phone lets me stay in touch with them wherever I am, which is pretty great. We can share photos, thoughts, questions, and maintain our relationships even at a distance. But I'm also very guilty of wasting hours scrolling through my twitter feed, even when I am with people, so I was excited (and a bit scared) to try a weekend without it.

We headed down to Sevenoaks first thing Saturday morning to spend as much time at Unplugged as possible, and the drive down was weird. It might not have been so bad if I had been driving, but as a passenger I felt a constant urge to check my phone.

When we finally arrived at the festival though, I knew we'd made a good decision. At the edge of the campsite we were offered some smoothies to start the weekend (including a try of their new one which I can't remember the name of but it was amazing and full of veggies) and then ushered into the woods to start our adventure. The walk through the woods tot he festival site was full of cute signs introducing us to the festival, reminding us to turn off our phones if we had them and inviting us to 'please walk on the grass'.

The entrance to the festival itself was a path fulled with huge hedges of the most beautiful flowers. The smell was incredible. As we explored the site, finding the campfire, outdoor yoga sessions and yurts full of activities, I felt overwhelmed at how perfect it all was. The site was a complete dream, the most instagrammable place I've ever seen and even though I took hundreds of photos on film (I even took some of the food for you all because old habits die hard), I wasn't worried about checking in on how many 'likes' they were getting and was able to just soak in the beauty of the place and really enjoy it.

I was determined to throw myself into every activity, no matter how silly and to never be bored. We started off in the 'analogue sanctuary' where people were painting banners and signs, by decorating 'intention hearts' with our intentions for the festival. I'd normally scoff at things like this, but just sitting and colouring was so relaxing, and I didn't feel the usual worry about getting it perfect since no-one would really see it so I was able to just concentrate on having a good time instead. I was finally starting to like having no phone.

It sounds really cliche but not being glued to a screen let us be a bit more 'present' and open to opportunities when they came. We were relaxing by the camp fire, a time when I know normally most of our group would be checking in on social media feeds but instead we overheard the start of a guided foraging walk and were able to go and join in.

On Sunday morning we accidentally ended up in a session of drama and 'improv' games. Improv is something that usually fills me with dread but it's actually something I'll remember the most from the festival because despite being terrible at it, I gave it a go and made up some incredibly silly scenarios with a total stranger and we had a really good laugh.

My favourite part of the whole weekend though was the 'innocent inspires' yurt (as a sidenote, yurt is my new favourite word), where we listened to a variety of inspirational talks and performances on everything from food waste, happiness, poetry slams, and even a talk from one of Innocents oldest team members.

I had such a lovely time, and I was really enjoying embracing life in the woods with no phone but I will be honest, Monday morning I was definitely ready to check the internet. Part of me wanted my life to be really transformed after such an inspiring few days but we made a few stops on the journey home and not having my phone with me to google the nearest service stations, parking prices, check my bank was a bit of a pain. So on balance, I'm not ready to give up all the conveniences of my phone just yet but I am trying to make a conscious effort to waste a little less time scrolling through twitter.

Disclaimer: This post isn't sponsored, I just really liked the event, but if anyone from Innocent wants to get in touch I'm all ears ;)

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