IT STARTED with the Big Weekend.

When the Radio 1 event rolled into Glasgow thousands of us dug out our floral headbands and ill-advised hotpants to brave the May rain.

But it signalled the start of something even bigger - festival season.

I am fascinated by people's love of festivals. Not because I can't understand them - I'm a fan myself although nowadays the thought of camping puts the fear into me - but just how ingrained in our culture they have become.

People plan their whole summers round festivals, whether they are going to Barcelona for Sonar, Hideout in Croatia or Leeds for the worst toilets known to man.

Their lives are shaped by festivals. It's where I've met pals and where I've got to know best friends even better. Note: tent sharing teaches you too much about people.

Our love of festivals was brought home to me even more during our staff presentation this week when Aarti Joshi, head of communications at DF Concerts, came to talk to us. She told us about the fantastic experiences she gained at the music promotor - and even the time Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow made her breakfast. Being on the pauper side of life I have never bumped in to anyone famous although I have shared a toilet with tens of thousands.

This year my wee cousin - who's not so little anymore - is heading to T in the Park for the first time. It made me remember the time I popped my festival virginity in 2002.

Here are the best (or worst) bits of festival life:

1) You barely check your phone. This gives you freedom you've never felt since before 1995.

2) If you lose your friends that's it. They're gone forever, you just have to make new ones. It is tempting to acquire new friends by shouting: "T in the Paaaaark" loudly. Don't do this though, just say: "Hi".

3) You get no sleep at all and yet never feel tired. What is that about? If I have sleepless night in real life I can't function as a human.

4) It is the only time you'll ever wake up gasping for water, pick up a bottle for a swig and it turns out to be pure vodka. But this is only hilarious for your tent buddies and sets you up for the day.

5) The notorious toilet situation is just accepted. If you've ever been to T in the Park the mountains of poo, sick and pee peeking out over the top of the loo will never leave your mind.

Once it's over you feel a sense of achievement, like you've overcome something.

6) The first taste of overpriced proper food is heaven. When you haven't eaten in 12 hours or a day, and realise your cider hangover has already kicked in coming across a stovies stall is like finding the Holy Grail.

7) You miss the band you came to see because you've peaked too early. But you're Scottish. What did they expect?