I can’t believe it was so long ago that we went to Folk By the Oak 2013 at the beginning of the summer in July.
I’m a fan of family festivals as you know, but I’ve never been to a ‘folk’ festival, so I was intrigued to see what it would be like.
I needn’t have worried and I can tell you now that if you aren’t sure about going along to a big family festival, then this is definitely the chilled way to go!
Also, if you live in London it’s so easy to get to as well because you just walk straight out of the train station and up the road to Hatfield House – perfect.
Kids love the folk music as there is something in it that reminds us of our roots and gets us jiggling. Plus folk festival goers are intrinsically well behaved, so it’s the perfect option for a family.
The BIG TIP that I discovered was not to sit in the throng of things and expect the kids to stay with you, but instead sit off to one of the sides, where there are more kids and some space for them to run around. Check out my other tips here.
Plus I gave them both a budget, so that we had a look around at all the stuff and then they had to pick and choose. This way, it wasn’t all about them doing stuff all through the day, but they got to chill and listen to the music or play.
Hows about the music? There was some fun traditional folk music, which I really enjoyed. But much of it was more lovely voices singing – simple as. Then there was the guy with the electronic guitar, which Curly Headed Boy loved; definitely a new way of listening to ‘Strawberry Fair’!
Now that you are gutted that you didn’t go, I have some good news for you!
To finish off the summer you can go to Folk Stock on Sat Sept 21st at Aldenham Country Park. Doors open at 10.30 and it finishes at 11.30pm. Folkstock is slightly different in that it is not just folk, but also acoustic artists, and the amount of choice is going to be phenomenal.
Check out their wicked jingle (I KNOW how cool is it that they have a jingle!) .. <listen here>
Plus, there is a big bonus in that we will be launching Espiritu, our new Salon and Spa there – so you can come and get free hair consults, hair colours in your hair (using hair chalks), braids, reflexology or indian head massage. Come on over and we’ll give you a bit of a pamper and pep up!
My FAVOURITE artist of all time is coming woo hoo …
Check out his classic song ‘Jimmy’ which gets the audience dancing every time …
And if you are fascinated by why folk music has a enthralling magic to it, then check out this radio show by Tamsin Rosewell where she looks at some of the artists at Folkstock. She explains it much better than I can – there is just something very ‘ancient’ in the music that we can all enjoy, even if you are normally clubbing it on a saturday night or listening to Xfactor. Plus she has a lovely way about here; I’ve listened to this show several times while chilling out reading a book at the end of a hectic day.
In a summer holiday that has frankly been difficult as we’ve been working all through it, without the money for camps etc, Folk by the Oak was a lovely treat to start the summer with and Folkstock will be a great way to round it off. We didn’t manage to go to any bigger festivals this year, or go camping, so I’m really chuffed that we’ve found this slightly easier alternative. Hope to see loads of you in a couple of weeks at Folkstock!
Disclosure: I’m part owner of Espiritu, so clearly I’m going to pimp it out! I was given a family ticket to Folk by the Oak, but I would have gone anyway, and we have also got a family ticket for Folkstock, but again I would have gone anyway – don’t tell them that though!
Life’s still hard with the recession and we all need some fun and adventure in our lives, so for this month’s Lifestyle feature over on Radio Verulam with the lovely Danny smith on his Drivetime show, I talked about festivals and camping.
I first decided to got to a festival when Little Dimples was 18months (two years ago) and Curly Headed Boy was 5. I’d NEVER been to a festival and felt a bit mortified by it. I decided if we started now with the kids, they might TAKE ME when they go to Glastonbury in 15yrs time!
Since then I’ve actually become a fan of camping too. We started glamping, but due to the cost my practical side chose camping with a touch of glamp last year.
Listen here to me chatting with Danny here:
Music is good for the soul, it feeds our spirit and gives us a much needed lift. One thing you can be sure about is that the quality of the music will be MUCH better than anything you see on Xfactor.
It’s great for kids because they learn to sit and listen to music, and the festivals I go to they tend to get to chill, run around and dance. If you go to a family festival there will be all sorts of lovely things for the kids to do as well. CHB says that a 3day festival is like going on holiday for 10days!
If you are brave enough to go for several days and try camping it is even better. There is something about camping and it’s closeness to nature which is relaxing and healing at the same time. We tried a motorhome at the beginning of this year, but despite being more practical it just didn’t have the same benefits for me.
Tips and Concerns
I know it can be intimidating, so I’ve put together my top tips for you to get you inspired to go!
The biggest reason to go is if you haven’t done it before, then NOW is the time to try it. Be ADVENTUROUS. Make memories to look back on and say ‘I did that’!
1) Start Small and Local
The key is not to go to Glastonbury on your first year (although they do have a family area)! Go for small ones (5000 and under). Look for local one day festivals so that you don’t have to camp.
Plus we had loads of fun at Hoo Bookfest, so I really recommend that for next year.
Plan ahead so that you know what is on BUT also go with the flow as it can be too stressful to keep to a schedule.
Go with friends.
Explain to your kids about safety, and make sure that you have one of those wristbands with your mobile number on it. Or this weekend at Britmumslive I was given a Kattoo which looks brilliant (tattoo for your mobile no).
Bring Ear defenders for the kids and a picnic blanket to sit on.
3) Family Festivals
It really helps your sense of safety if you go to a family festival.
Lollibop – This is a London festival with a big kids TV orientation. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard that it is great. It would probably be a bit too commercial for me.
Camp Bestival – This is in Dorset and looks to me to be incredibly well organised. Again there is a bit of a Cbeebies theme going on. It feels to me like they try to make sure that all the practicalities that a ‘middle class’ family would worry about are covered.
Remember this is all part of the adventure! We went to the Penn Festival (eighties music) last year, which was more of a mudfest. The kids LOVED it. All you need to make sure is that they are covered from head to toe in water proofs. We also had a small pop up tent, that we used near the stage.
Bring lots of layers so that you can take stuff on and off.
What to wear – Leggings or skinny jeans are the easiest, with a pretty dress or long top over them. No heals, instead go for daps/wellies. A flower garland is essential (BE BRAVE!).
They’ve all had a little more than ‘quick’ to share though, and I actually think that the information is really useful if you are thinking of going yourself, so I’ve decided to make the most MAHOOSIVE blog review post in the history of mankind.
If you’ve attended, I’d love to hear your opinions too!
By the way, they have an early bird option on at the moment for 2012 and once all the early tickets are sold it goes up to full price.
(All the photos are of my family or things that we did, not of my interviewees)
Sunday Day Ticket
I met the lovely Ruby on twitter and really wanted her perspective as she only came for a day, not only that she got the rainy day. So what did she think? …….
My husband and I decided to take the Kids to there first festival this year and Just so looked like the perfect choice, it’s not too far to travel, not too big and the activities were all aimed at children so it sounded great, we booked day tickets incase it wasn’t how we thought it would be or incase the kids didn’t like it as much as we thought.
My husband and I have been to many festivals before including Glastonbury, Download and Hellfest as well as small festivals in Middlesbrough and Bristol. However this was our first with the children. We have two Boys Leo is 32 months and Eli is 4months.
We thought there wouldn’t really be anything suitable for Eli but we were happily supprised by the baby massage classes by Weleda and Baby Yoga by baby bumpkins both of which were great classes and they didn’t pressure you into buying there products or signing up to there classes.
My favourite memory was the wild rumpus parade, although we were only there for a day it was a great way to round off the whole festival in a really magical style. The music tent was great as young children are often told they “can’t touch” expensive equipment, Leo was really excited about the music and has been loving playing with daddy’s guitars since we got back.
I think the free cloth nappy laundry system is a great idea and I hope there back next year as I’m sure that makes the logistics of camping with cloth nappies easier. We loved the baby change and feeding area and the toilets were great, so toilet training is fine (can’t imagine portaloo’s would go down well when toilet training!!)
The only bad things we found were the lack of seating areas (especially at lunch time when we had to walk all the way back to the car to sit down to eat) and we were also upset that we didn’t get to see the gruffalo, obviously it’s understandable that while the rain was out he couldn’t come out but after looking for him all day we asked the information desk when he was due out we were told “he’s on his way” so we stood and waited for 1hour in the same place as not to miss him but sadly he never turned up 🙁
Our favourite area was the lazy days as there was lots to do and also space for the kids to have a run around!! The music was great and done in a relaxed and informal way which suited the style of the festival perfectly, (the 12 year old boy on saxophone was amazing).
We took with us a couple of drinks and snacks for throughout the day and bought our meals so we didn’t have too much to carry, the food prices weren’t cheap but about what you would expect for a festival, and we made the most of the Pie Minister stall (we love it but don’t have one here in Manchester).
We decided to go to let the kids experience something out of there normal day to day routine and that’s exactly what we got. From the camp fire in the woods and the music stage to the wild rumpus parade, they loved it more than we could imagine, we will definitely be back next year (hopefully with a nice new bell tent).
I would definitely recommend it to anyone with young children and hope we have many more fun years ahead at Just So Festival.
Camping Family with 5 kids (and one teenager left at home)
I also met the lovely Ed on Twitter, but we failed to run into each other, despite the fact that he must have been pretty easy to recognise with his lovely big family (and number 7 on the way). He also happens to be a writer, so check out his blog here, where there will be a lots more pictures.
Hi, I’m Edd a thirty seven year old man with a large family and a slim wallet. I work as a Labourer for the most part but am trying to better myself through writing and living. I have a wonderful wife and six awesome children (from 15 to 2) , each of whom are as precious as the next, as well as a large extended family that lives pretty close to me (for the most part).
This was our first festival and though we do camp we normally the two girls hadn’t been camping before.
The festival was very busy and to keep toilets well stocked and clean throughout the whole weekend was a big ask but I think they did a good job. Having a main toilet area and then portaloos in strategic areas made sense and it only really got very grim in the main toilets come the final morning, which is understandable. I work on building sites and I can tell you the Just So Toilets were very well maintained in comparison. The Showers were a pleasant surprise. There was enough room to turn around in them, they were deep enough to allow kids to be in and showered in turn and overall I thought they were kept as clean as possible too. Obviously the wait was brutal first thing but if you left it and picked your moment it wasn’t more than a ten minute wait. That’s shorter than the time I have to wait at home to be honest.
The Planning was spot on from where I was sitting. There was space to roam, everything had enough distance to make it feel very big and yet you felt you were in a specific area when you entered a new ‘zone’. The details made the experience great from the decorative chairs hanging from tree branches too Fairy dresses floating in the woods. It was lovely. The food, toilets and stage set up was great and the breakfast and play barns meant there was always somewhere to take shelter. They even had ATM’s on site. Top class.
The Organisation itself was clean and crisp. The information tent would charge your phone for you (only for a short period, but enough to get you through on minimal settings), was staffed by lovely, friendly people and having the helpers all wearing top hats meant you could always see a person that could help if needed. Everyone had a wrist band and you were told to write your phone number down on the children’s wrist bands for ease of contact if they became lost. Very good.
As it stands I liked the food court area <best>, but outside of the grub I’d have to say the forest where the Fairy queen lived and the Pirate area by the lake <called High Seas> were my favourites. The lake was beautiful and I love forests so it stands to reason those were the places I’d love. The kids loved the ‘Where the Wild Things are’, ‘The Fairy woods’ and ‘Forty winks’ (all in the same wooded area, my favourite area too).
Honestly I wouldn’t really change any of it. It was charming. I suppose maybe providing more toilets would help to easy the obvious pressure on the festivals organisation? Something like that.
Sadly I missed the musical evening sets as I was guarding the sleeping minis that passed out around seven o clock on the nights we were there. Mama took the older kids to the camp fire singing and evening events. I listened to the music drift over the fields towards me from the party but never managed to get to hear it up close and the daytime activities swallowed me up with the kids. It sounded good from a distance though.
We decided that our journey was too long to bring a lot of food and we agreed to either leap into a supermarket when we had gotten all set up or just eat there and not worry about it. I ended up buying dinner, leaving the breakfast and lunch time stops to be filled with sandwiches or fruit. The food wasn’t any more expensive than I thought it would be, there was a good spread of choice from Mexican and Noodles too pizza, pasta and burgers. All in all I was impressed with the provision and the quality. Very good eating indeed. On a side note the breakfast barn was giving out free porridge and crumble bar things, very good idea indeed! I loved the festival but the residing memory will be one of the friendliness of the camping area. Everyone was relaxed, in family groups, seemed respectful of each other’s space and it was clear that they were all having a great time. This feel good factor that surrounded the campers flooded out into the activity fields and made it a magical weekend.
In closing though I’d say we loved it, would love to be back next year but won’t be as our seventh child with be born in January and so it’ll be too tough for us to attend. I do advise you go though if you like your days free, easy and relaxed. No hassle, no crossed words witnessed all weekend and none of the normal young bucks that perhaps don’t quite know when to stop before they take things too far.
A great family festival, a well delivered event and a beautiful crowd of people.
Couldn’t recommend it enough.
Camping Family with 1 kid (our mates camping 6ft away from us)
Now I must admit that by the end of Sunday I did think that my mates might be telling me that they had enjoyed it but despite loving me would never come back. One week on, this is what they said …
We are a family of three from St. Albans; comprising of a happy at home mum, a fun- loving working dad and a 6 year old adventurous little lady. Just So is the only festival we have been to – twice…. Berkofest is next!
My favourite memory is chilling out in the sunshine at the Panic Circus watching the little lady having fun and skilling up on stilts, unicycles and pedalling furiously!
My man’s favourite points were chatting to Michael Buckley (a writer), camping and exploring the woodland with the little lady and the novelty of drinking (adult) blue slushies and poking out his tongue!
The little lady, when asked replied, “all of it! But especially….” she mentioned: Making Masks in Wild things and the Wild Rumpus Parade, learning circus skills, the experiments with the Physics Busters, riding along with Compass, listening to the music in Footlights –“ I rather love Jon Paul Palombo Mummy – do you?!” and DeliKate and Crepe man were wolfed down!
Grrr to the number of times we rocked up to make something (lanterns, feathered headdresses, musical instruments) at the allotted time only to be confronted with “we’ve run out of materials”…….. faces fell in disappointment and it meant not joining in the fabulous lantern parade.
Also our little lady was very lucky to have a ride with Compass (the Jumblies from last year!) in their fantastical flying machines – however we had to tell about 25 families that we were the last family in the queue – a sign would have been good so we didn’t have to witness others disappointment. I would also have to add that only 16 families each session were lucky enough to embark on this wonderful adventure and that seemed too few. I would have liked to have seen more opportunities for greater numbers to partake in certain areas e.g. trapeze lessons were fully booked in an instant an hour before the event, again great for a chosen few rather than seeing smiles on a decent number of faces.
Music was awesome this year; however, I missed a fabulous band from last year called The Lovely Eggs…… bring back them back please!!!
I would also object to the pricing of a small yet delicious sausage in a hot dog roll by The Farmer’s Wife – £4.50!! Thankfully, the other eateries were much more realistically priced for brilliant quality food.
Some areas were sparsely populated with activities and stalls and more could have been added to draw more crowds – All the World’s a stage was extremely empty and this didn’t seem great for the stallholders there, however, was probably a bonus when we were having a nursery rhyme knees up with an audience of 4!
Loved Footlights, Nowhere Now was a huge hit too – The Fantastical Photobooth of Confusion and Wonderment from which we have a treasured keepsake of the festival and little lady enjoyed Levitation and experimenting with the Physics Busters.
Really great! Adored JonPaul Palombo again but sad that his set was so short, the Robbie Boyd Band and Common Tongues also provided a fabulous energy to bop along to. However……. bring back The Lovely Eggs –( my friend thinks I’m insane for liking this band but now we and many others we chatted to went and downloaded everything they’d ever recorded off Amazon after last year’s Just So performance.)
We cooked tea the first night and brekkie both mornings and then bought lunch and dinner from the following:
Rode Hall Farmer’s Market – snacks of stuffed vine leaves and spinach parcels yummy!
The Farmer’s Wife – delicious yet expensive sausage for the little lady
Deli Kate – yummy paninis and milkshakes. Such a hit, brilliant stuff!!
Pieminster – yummy Heidi pie – however in line with the Festival’s common theme of running out of stuff – it had to be eaten solely with a knife as cutlery was in short supply – the lovely pie people did take a £1 off for the inconvenience though!
Tasty Thai Cuisine – definitely my favourite… well priced and scrummy!!
Ginger’s Comfort Emporium – the little lady loved the vanilla ice cream
Crepes – A yummy nutella and banana one hit the spot, however was eaten with fingers as…. Wait for it…. There was NO cutlery!!! Before you think I’m strange for not asking other stalls for a fork or knife… I did however some were not into sharing due to a meagre supply or didn’t have any themselves!!
Loos – great until the final day when the organisers scrimped on a final pump out and sent the portaloos into a complete state. Cue Jackass style wretching from the little lady and a request for a peg for the nose and a blindfold! The showers were a huge hit with my man – who loves a good shower!
Upon arrival unloading on the drop off zone noted on the programme was fab but then…… we were told we could not use this for packing up….. Cue human conveyor belt of numerous bags, tents, blow up mattresses being passed from the field, over a fence, over the road, over a fence into the car park. One word to yea organisers – KERFUFFLE and please please stick to one rule for all otherwise it gets people like me crazy. After a Just So bod telling me I wasn’t allowed to move my car to the drop off zone on the road sides due to the fragility of Snowdrops some others were waved through and when I asked why – the reason given was they have kids?! Mmmmmm wonder how much adult blue slurpy they had consumed the night before!!!
Just a suggestion please could you make things to do pre-bookable online so then you’ll have a rough idea of how many want to take part in activities and I certainly wouldn’t object to spending a bit to guarantee a slot or to help increase providers to ensure more happy faces.
So I sound pretty mixed about Just So but as the rain ceases, the smell from the portaloos dissipates, the sweat dries from the kerfuffle of packing up and you stand there smiling in a field, muddy, clutching a paper mache mask and some Physics Buster bubbles you know you’re going to return to do it all again next year. The organisers are incredible, admittedly not at conventional organising but at imaginative organising and it offers families a fabulous opportunity to do something brilliantly different.
<We went> because we loved it so much last year and the people we went with obviously!
Yes <we would recommend it> – but not to all, you have to be a kid yourself too to really get the most of it and we’re like Peter Pan in our house!
Yes- because Just So tickets seem to come with Rose tinted glasses so that all of the bits that could be improved and make you sway about going back next year seem to add to its charm!
My Review is: 8/10
I love Just So, I love the ethos behind it and the magic it creates.
I liked the new location, although I think it might need a little rejigging next year with maybe a few bigger props for the bigger location (but don’t change High Seas which was wonderful with the most amazing atmosphere!). It did seem to me that there were a LOT more people as well, but it handled the rain on the sunday well and didn’t get too muddy.
Music was brilliant, especially JonPaul Palombo; my only complaint being that his set should have been longer, but at least I got a hug! Louis Barabbas was one of those bands that works brilliantly for kids because he was totally crazy.
This year the kids really got into the music side of it; Mum and Dad having a drink, kids running around and dancing, and then dragging one or other parent up to look silly. I LOVE this bit and love that it is so safe.
The other reviews show how well it covers many age ranges from baby upwards, which I think is very clever, and also different types of people from extremely different backgrounds. I’m going to add the tip to bring a picnic blanket with you, so that you have somewhere to sit, as there will never be 4000 seats to my top tips for family festivals post, as well as many packs of wet wipes for showers.
I really enjoyed the camping side of it and it has proved to me that it totally works for me as a relaxed type of holiday, but OMG the toilets on the last day were outrageous and don’t empty the ones by the tents at midnight! I also embraced the wet wipe version of a shower as I couldn’t be bothered to queue, however the hairy northern enjoyed them.
I wouldn’t be giving an honest review or helpful feedback if I didn’t say that:
It does NOT work to have activities going on for just a small handful of kids when you have thousands coming. Those activities need to be either bigger with more helpers, or back to back or both.
It does NOT work to have craft opportunities for excited kids wanting to make things for the parades in the evenings and then to run out of materials, I think Just So are going to have to give the craft people material budgets.
In fact lots of the craft activities and unusual oddities should basically run all day I think, which I do understand will increase the prices as this means paying them rather than just giving tickets. The problem is that you drag the family all the way to one location, find it’s all booked up, so walk off to the next to be too late for that one and so on. It was a struggle at times with dissappointed kids.
So the slightly suburban middle class computer nerd side of me struggled with some of the organisation of it, and hated having to disappoint the kids at times. Plus it made it a bit more stressful for us parents.
However, the tree hugging side of me suggests that next year we just avoid anything organised, mill around and catch the spontaneous things that encourage the children’s imagination like the Panic Circus (so much better than the circus at Penn Festival), MopTop and Knickers (fabulous from Mother Hen) and the stone balancing. The music was great and I was REALLY happy with the fact that the kids learnt to just mess around and dance to crazy music.
I know that regular festival goers would say that we were lucky to have loos that worked for the majority of the time and that all the problems that worried me are pretty standard. But Just So is now getting so popular that it is going to get people coming who need structure and organisation even more than me and there are other festivals that from their reviews I can see focus more on making the parents life easier, but are probably too main stream and commercial for me. This is the challenge for Just So for 2013 after the challenge of moving location this year, and as they pulled that off, I’m sure they will pull this off too.
Will I be going back? I really hope they invite us back, (a) because we love it and (b) because I’d love to give them a 10/10 next year.
Curly Headed Boy said he definitely wants to go back because there was so much to do, and his favourite bit was the music. I will finish on a video of Little Dimples dancing to Louis Barabbas!
I’d love more comments from people who’ve been to other festivals or fellow Just So-ers?
Disclosure: I received a family camping ticket for Just So, but all the opinions expressed are my own or those of my interviewees. The picture of Little Dimples as a fairy has a green tutu and wand sent to us by Fairy Glass, the wings were the ones we bought there last year, but we also have a gorgeous pair of wings to match the tutu; just couldn’t get her to wear the matching set all in one go!
Apparently I picked the best one, so I’m sticking with it!
I’m now a veteran as this is my 3rd ever family festival (there was the Mudfest at Pennfestival in between, and yes I am joking about the veteran bit!).
So I thought I’d tell you the key to a successful family festival:
Going with the Flow
With no clue of what is on, and no plan of what to do you’ll keep arriving as things finish and miss what your kids would most love to do.
But you need to leave space for magic and adventure to find you as well, especially when we are talking Just So.
Be too organised, and the kids will be constantly on your case as to what is next. They need to learn to chill and find the unexpected, but having a couple of plans up your sleeve will help to avoid the disaster of wandering aimlessly for a couple of days and not getting immersed in the festival.
So, I’ve been sitting down with Curly Headed Boy and I’ve come up with this plan (which I’ll mention at some point to the Hairy Northerner of course!).
This is just my plan, you might need a cuppa or a glass of wine and a couple of hours to make your own. But I thought you might like some hints, especially if you are a first timer.
Here’s a quick summary of the different areas from what I can grasp from the online programme (expect changes, things to not be in the programme and surprises!):
Social: Food is looking good this year, I’m really impressed (basically everything I wanted last year is there this year!). So I’m just planning on taking Tea, Friday night food, breakfast, juice, squash, snacks, fruit and maybe a spare meal for sunday just incase. Just So is packed with things to do, so I don’t really want to have to go back to the tent and cook. Other festivals don’t start until lunch time, so there is more time.
Jitterbug: Dancing and discos (I fancy the belly dancing and Curly Headed Boy wants to learn the Chitterbug or Jive)
Footlights: Some of the bands, but it looks like there is lots more music this year and I know one of my favourite bands is elsewhere.
Lazy Days: Don’t be fooled by the ‘lazy’, I reckon it’s going to be pretty energetic with the sports day and circus there. I missed Capoeria last year, so really want to do it this year: (Friday 4-5pm Saturday & Sunday 10-11am & 4-5pm)
Nowhere Now: These look like fun things to pop in and experiment with, I remember Physics busters from last year and they were fab.
Peekaboo: Baby fun and some pampering from Weleda
40 winks: Looks like a fab chill out place with story telling and dens
Wild Things: Was popular with Curly Headed Boy last year and looks like there is even more fun to be had with bush crafting, den making and don’t underestimate making clay faces
All the worlds a stage: Don’t miss out on getting the kids to do their own imaginative face painting, lots for the more dramatic in the family here
Away with the fairies: a must, they’ve added loads to it this year, but be prepared for the queen to be popular to see (Friday 4-6pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-12noon and 2pm-4pm)
Elsewhere: Looks like the fun eclectic stuff from Just So that you wander into and then slip away into a magical and slightly weird universe ;o)
High Seas: Pirate training was so brilliant last year and they’ve added loads more (Friday 4.30pm & 5.30pm or Saturday & Sunday 9am, 10am, 11am, 2pm & 4pm), I think that the fox pockets and stone balancing are appealing to me too, no idea why!
Tribes and Parades:
We are part of the fish tribe, which will I’m sure mean more on the festival, but we are definitely going to make the willow lanterns this year and get involved in the parades. We missed out last year and only watched it and the kids were gutted.
Get all settled, let the kids play outside the tent, wander around getting our bearings (it’s changed location this year)
MUST DO: Jon Paul Palombo 6.30 on ‘all the worlds a stage’ (check out my a fab video of him here: gorgeous and brilliant!)
yoB: looks like they will really suit our friends (going on the music they enjoyed last year – OMG!): Fri 5.30-6.30
Really fancy the fables and music with Fox pockets at the High seas Saturday 11.30am & 4.30pm
Robbie Boyd Band: Look like they could be brilliant Sat 7.30
The Lantern parade is Saturday at 9 – meet in Lazy Days from 8.30 for lantern lighting.
Fiona Bevan: Sounds lovely, I think she could be the shining star of the show: Sunday 6.30
Eighties Disco – Yay!!!
The wild rumpus parade is at 7.30. Again, meet at Lazy Days.
Check out my tips on:
What to wear to a festival, and remember at Just So anything goes as long as it’s fun. Sadly Wellies are going to be a must this year, but it’s looking pretty warm too, so don’t bring your winter clothes!
Forgot to say take a picnic blanket as there probably wont be anywhere to sit (thank fully we always have one with us).
Plus extra wet wipes incase you don’t fancy queueing for showers (it’s only 3 days, you’ll survive I promise!)
Set your kids expectations as to how much they might be able to spend per day or the number or icecream vans; that will reduce the number of arguments when you get there and they see a few stalls full of lovely stuff.
Disclosure: Last year I went to the festival on my own steam, but this year I begged them to give me a family camping ticket and they very kindly agreed. This doesn’t affect my opinion of the festival, I would have loved it anyway!
Ok I admit it, the Big hairy northern one was right!
It might not happen often, but his tendency to want to spend the spangdoolies was correct this time.
A few weeks ago he had a big panic about our tent and said he wanted to go back and look at the Vango Airbeam; basically a tent that blows up in 5 minutes.
Although it was to be our first time camping, I was pretty sure that it was going to be something that I would want to do again, so I agreed on the proviso that he got a smallish one and off he happily went to buy one.
It was such a good plan. We had picked the worst weekend ever to try our first attempt at camping at our first attempt at a music festival, so there was no panic on getting the tent up in the rain as it literally does go up in 5 mins! Plus we made a fast exit on the sunday due to the potential for getting ‘mudded’ in and the packing up took long enough; if we had added another 1.5hrs on top of that it would have been a nightmare.
Here is the video of him putting it up for only the second time; pretty cool heh!
This tent has two sleeping compartments, but we took down the separator as it was easier to just all sleep together. There was plenty of room for the beds and our bags with clothes in them.
I would say that for a family of 4 it’s an OK size, unless you have loads of stuff like tables and chairs that have to fit in as well due to it raining outside. So we are investing in a porch, ground sheet and also carpet for the section next to the bed rooms. But if you are travelling a little lighter than we were it would be perfect for a short camping trip or a festival.
It also handled the rain and mud with no problem and no leaks.
The reason I hadn’t been keen initially is because I wanted somewhere to sit outside or feel like you were sitting outside and because it angles outwards it doesn’t give that feeling. However we found that with two extra poles we could put the front door up and make a little place to sit under, which would be great in normal or slightly damp evenings (not when pissing down though!).
The only other problem is because of this angling outwards for all the doors (front and side), you have to quickly shut them if it rains, as obviously otherwise the floor gets wet.
One downside for me is that it’s also a disgusting colour; why oh why do tent makers think that we want to have a yukky green tent? Adding bunting and some fairy lights did help though!
It’s quite expensive, you can definitely get a cheaper tent. But it’s the same price as we would have spent on one yurt, and with this tent we are going to two festivals, and I’m definitely planning on going full on camping in it as well. (It was the Kinetic 500 which could sleep 5 (£600), but they do have bigger and smaller versions).
Have you had any tent nightmares you’d like to share or got a fab tent you would like to let everyone know about?
Disclosure: No one paid me or gave me anything for this review (but I’m always open to offers ;o)
I realise now that I’ve often looked on wistfully at images of Glastonbury wondering why I’d never been to a music festival and experienced the whole ‘vibe’ of camping, wellies and getting covered in mud.
Well I need wist no more! I’m now officially a ‘proper’ music festival camper having just got back from Penn Festival 2012; a mudfest with a wonderful vibe and great music.
I have therefore proved to everyone that I’m totally capable of camping, as long as I can make it all look pretty with a bit of glamp style and that mud doesn’t phase me at all.
It all looked like it was going to go badly wrong when I got a text from the lovely Romany at Festivalkidz to tell me to not set off yet. Problem was I was already half-way there! The local cricket club weren’t willing to help out with their hard-standing parking (boo), and people were already getting stuck in the mud. However they decided to go ahead, and I think it was the right decision. They showed a load of determination and in return the vibe of those of us who made it and braved the difficulties in getting there had a great spirit.
I know it might sound a bit mean, but I think that considering the Isle of Wight festival a few weeks beforehand, there could have been a more concrete contingency plan in place. That way it would have gone into action more easily. For instance they would have known on the friday that only campers and artists/stalls were going to be let on and had the press about the buses/coaches picking up day ticketers sorted straight away. There would have been more wood/straw/grasscrete to get those of us in and out, and more clarity on when the farmer was or was not going to be there. However, realistically this was only their second year, so it’s just a little bit of inexperience and I really hope that they didn’t lose too much money and get to put it on again to resounding sunshine next year.
On the VERY big upside the music was INCREDIBLE. All the bands were good and in tune (unlike on the TV), even the terrified girl band I saw first of all in a tent. Standing out particularly were Vanquish who I don’t doubt we’ll see in the Pop scene very soon. I didn’t get to see all the bands that I really wanted to because with two little kids it was a bit tricky to traipse from the tent to the main stage each time an act finished. So instead we waited at the main stage and were rewarded by amazing performances from Rozalla and Snap! I was a fan, but not a big fan of their music in the eighties; I was more of a modern romantic kind of girl. But live they were incredible! You could see how great they were by the effect on the kids, because they may have never heard them before but both of them were up and dancing.
They also had some lovely stalls, with no duplicates which was great. The only thing that I’m not keen on is lots of activities for kids that are what I call ‘easy’ and ‘insubstantial’ fun, that cost money; so we spent a lot of time being nagged for another ride on the bumper cars, or fair ground ride etc etc. There was a big top with circus performers, but it didn’t quite work for our 6yo because when he went it was all older kids, and he felt left out; you know what a 6yo’s attention span can be like. But we spent a lot of time chilling out in front of Festival Kidz tent, while I swapped philosophy with the other stall holders, so thank you to Romany for that quiet space.
The food was fab. The big hairy northern one and I had a curry from Malik’s, which was just gorgeous. Sadly the kids wanted Pizza which took 40mins, and the noodle people hadn’t made it; understandable that they couldn’t get a full range of food in due to the mud. We took a little pop up tent just in case which was brilliant, and meant that when it rained heavily the kids could go in it, they ate their pizza in it, and I breastfed Little Dimples in there.
It felt as though there was a slight confusion about the festival. Was it a ‘family festival’? Or was it for party goers, as there was a Wedding reception and hen party, plus big groups of young people? It said in the pamphlet that the aim was to enable kids and adults to enjoy themselves. But it didn’t quite get the balance right for me.
Maybe that’s because I have a young family, but the camp site didn’t work. There was meant to be a ‘family’ side and a noisier side. But it wasn’t marked and it wasn’t policed by the stewards. On the friday night I went to complain to the circle of tents behind us who had put an awning in between them, but they just thought I was being grumpy and wanting to stop their ‘fun’. You’d have thought that families with older kids would remember what it’s like to have younger kids, but NO. So I didn’t sleep at all on friday night, which was horrible, especially as the showers didn’t start until too late at mid-day. On saturday night I went to ask for help from the stewards, but their response was that the noise had calmed down by 4am the night before. EXCUSE ME but I have kids who wake up at 5am, you plonker! Luckily the family of tents had clearly partied themselves out the night before and ironically the group of young guys from ‘Phantom Light‘ I talked to were really sympathetic; so I did get some sleep in the end.
On sunday morning we eventually made the terribly sad decision to go home. The farmer was there with his tractor and we couldn’t be sure he would be back. If I’d been sure he would be back on monday morning I would have waited and seen The Beat and Altered Images. Instead we came home and started the mammoth job of de-muddifying everything.
So my verdict is:
Out of 10 – 7/10
Would I go again – Totally
Music – Amazing quality of all bands, incredible energy of headliners!
Mud – not a problem, the kids loved it
Camping – Wasn’t clearly signposted and very noisy. Top tip: camp right over by a far edge/fence if you go to one this year without different areas. The good thing is that it was close to the festival site, and parking, so if they are in the same place next year, it’s very convenient.
Poshwash showers – I would have loved to try, but they started up too late on the saturday, and we left on the sunday.
Food – dinner was great (pizza and indian), I didn’t go for the £5 breakfast as it seemed a bit steep, but then saw a £3 option
Social Media – they used Facebook and twitter to keep us up to date, I think this could be done even more and is a great idea
Stuff for kids – pretty good, probably just limited by the mud. However the mud was an activity in itself!
Contingency planning & Logistics – I’m sure this will be improved next year with more experience.
Determination – I would definitely give them 10/10 for determination for keeping the festival going, well done guys!
Disclosure: I got a family camping ticket in return for reviewing the festival. Thank you very much to Penn Festival for inviting me, I really hope you invite me back next year so that I can give you 10/10!
It’s quite likely I could become a bit of a festival bore! Nah, you love me anyway don’t you?
(If you are actually loving it, make sure you keep an eye on the sidebar of my blog or Facebook page over the weekend: I’m going to be posting loads of photos and hopefully a couple of funny videos!)
It’s potentially a bit daft getting excited about camping with two young kids in the rain and dealing with big melt downs when I really want to be listening to some music. However, I’m going to chill, not worry about getting wet/cold (I have hot water bottles!), and hope that the music will heal all ills! (Plus I have a big box of wine, which will work if nothing else does!).
So I thought I’d share with you some of the line up for this weekend’s Penn Festival (BTW Friday night is FREE – so come on down!).
I bet it’s going to bring back some memories and get you jigging this wet friday morning!
First off the fabulous ‘Soul to Soul’ (I could never work out how many were dancers and how many were actually singing in this video!)
SNAP! were apparently brilliant and I’m really looking forward to seeing them:
Hows about a bit of SKA from The Beat (Curly Headed Boy is going to love these guys)?
A classic is Rozalla’s ‘Everybody’s free’
Or a bit more chilled is ‘The real thing’
And not one could forget ‘Altered Images’
Check out Penn’s Facebook page to see some of the other bands who might be less well known, but sound fab.
Are you going too? I’d love to hear from you if you are; say hi on twitter!
This is what the Little Dimples wore last year to Just So:
I was moaning that Next had let me down and there were no tutu’s this year when the Fairy Glass guys (the guys who I bought the pink wings from at Just So) offered to send her some new wings and tutu for this year (the blurring is her waving her matching wand – see it’s proper magic!):
Have you got any tips for what to wear? I’d love to know?
Feel free to add links to your posts or Pinterest boards!
Or what about what NOT to wear?
p.s. I wasn’t given anything to mention these clothes in this post, but I have been given tickets to the festivals and the tutu and wings for Little Dimples
I know many of you won’t be even considering the hundreds/thousands of pounds that it costs to go on holiday this summer.
You might also be struggling to take 7-14 days off work.
I’ve got a great alternative for you …
Hows about thinking about a Family Festival instead?
If you’ve never been to a festival before, it’s a great way to start.
If you went to festivals before having kids, why stop now?
A ‘Family Festival’ can mean lots of things, but basically it means that there will be music, but kids are expected and catered for. Some are more ‘family’ than others.
I had the idea of going to a Family Festival last year because I’d never been to a festival before, so I thought maybe if we start now with the kids, they’ll invite us along with them to Glastonbury when they are teenagers!
We went in a yurt glamping, but this year we are going to try camping for the first time with a glamping twist (think bunting, and pretty colours!). You can also just go for the day, or stay in a local B&B if you don’t fancy getting in touch with nature though.
To be fair to people who used to go to festivals when they were younger, it’s not going to be the same; getting drunk just isn’t practical when you have little ones to watch and lots of people around you. The good news is that kids don’t mind mud and love tents, so as long as you are willing to compromise a bit, I reckon a family festival will be every bit as good as the ones that you used to go to.
We went to ‘Just So’ in Staffordshire in august and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G full of magic and imagination (here’s my review), with some great music in the evening. Curly headed boy said that the 3 days felt like 10; so you see it is the perfect alternative to a holiday. Apparently according to the stall holders who go to loads of festivals we were lucky to get the right one first time round, because it is definitely the best from a fun, safe and family perspective (i.e. it’s not about getting drunk or taking ‘other’ substances). Luckily for me they’ve invited us back this year, but even if they hadn’t we would sooooo be going. If you are a first timer and love magical things, then this is definitely the right festival for you, I’ve just checked their website and it’s looking even better this year. We took a radio flyer, but this year you can rent them (brilliant idea), my favourite singer JonPaul Palombo is back in the acoustic tent, and it looks like it’s packed with the same sort of simple, slightly naive, and really funny things for the children to do.
This year we have also been invited to try out the Penn Festival in a couple of weeks, which is much nearer us in Buckinghamshire. It’s much more of a music festival, with an eighties vibe, so perfect for me and the Northern one’s music tastes; I’m looking forward to Snap, Altered Images and The Beat most of all. It sounds like it started out as a local thing and has expanded from there, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like. It’ll be our first long weekend camping as well; lets hope this rainy weather isn’t all summer. I’ll let you know how it goes!
If you can’t make it to Penn or Just So, never fear! Check out these two sites for ideas on where to go:
What is a Radio Flyer you might ask, and why would I want one?
Well initially I just thought that it looked like a nice red trailer that my kids might like to play with, but which was maybe a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’. However, since buying one, it’s definitely one of those ‘must haves’ that I know my kids will have happy memories of until they are old and grey.
We saw it mentioned a few times on a forum about going to family festivals. Hubby got on the case immediately and started investigating types of tyres, and lots of technical stuff that I totally zoned out from (like you do!). He decided we definitely needed the bigger, and better option, and I was a little cynical, but kind of went along with him. However, how right was he!
If you ever go for long walks, or have kids who like to collect stuff when out walking, or have old dogs who need a rest, then you need one of these. If you are going camping or to a festival, or have more than 1 child to transport without pushchairs, then you so need one of these! Or if you don’t have any excuse, apart from the fact that it looks fun, then you totally need one!
It’s first job was to transport all our stuff from the car to our Yurt at the Just So Festival (read my post about it, if you have ever wondered about going to a family festival, I really recommend it). Without it life would have been tough, even though there were the wheelbarrows provided. Next year we are going to try and camp in one of the Glades at Just So, which is a much further walk, so we will definitely need it.
Then it was the carry all the ‘stuff’ we were carting around with us, when the kids wanted to run around.
Then it was a general carry both of the children when they are tired (Curly Headed Boy was 5.5yrs and Little Dimples was 1.5yrs at the time). I was amazed at how sturdy it was, as we went up and down hills, over bumps and all sorts and it didn’t tip over at all.
Then it was the sleepy place for Little Dimples on the friday, Saturday and Sunday lunch time. Fabulous, just look at her! I was so worried about fitting stuff in the car, but with all the camping equipment I really didn’t want to bring the pushchair as well, so it was a bit of a risk, but she slept brilliantly in the wagon.
It’s the ‘Big brother looks after little sister’ option too, as he loves to wheel her around in it. Bizarrely, Little Sister is incredibly strong, so it is also the ‘Little Sister gets to push Big Brother around’ game.
So, it’s ended up being one of the best buys we ever made; and you can now WIN one!
Next year we are totally planning on going back to the Just So Festival, plus a pile more. If you think you might like to try some out too, then check out these sites for more info. I think that it’s a really fun way to spend the summer, maybe even better than a traditional holiday: