Ah – Camp Bestival!
We came. We camped. We conquered!
Then, like a trick by a circus magician, in a puff of imaginary smoke – pouff – you were gone! But wow, what a 3 days you gave us!
We were virgins when we attended the festival in 2013 and, having popped our family festival cherry, I was excited for all that the 2014 experience had to offer. Trouble was, this year my OH was scheduled to be away and, since I didn’t relish the thought of putting up a tent with 2 kids in tow, I got online to consider my options.
There were LOTS of options – teepees, yurts, gypsy caravans – even American Airstream trailers if you’ve got a handy £2k lying around! (I haven’t!)
Then, like a vision, Hotel Bell Tent popped up. I’ve always wanted to try out a bell tent – we had an uber cool family camping next to us last year and I was secretly jealous of their zen, nomadic set up against our garish camp-shop normality – so this was sounding promising. A decked out bell tent waiting on arrival? Air mattresses already blown up? Pamper tent with hairdryers? Chill-out lounge with sockets? Bedding and towels provided if I wanted it? I approached them and miraculously since I’m always Mrs Last-To-The-Party they had space – I was IN!
Then, right at the last minute, Trey could come with us. Hotel Bell Tent were more than accommodating with the extra body coming along, and I was secretly thrilled I’d have a buddy! The tents were in the Boutique camping area which meant we also had the added joy of slightly nicer showers and toilets. It sounded like the stuff of dreams and, as soon as we’d “checked in” at their reception and been taken to our tent, that was it! Kaya instantly set about excitedly lighting the tea lights on the gorgeous holder, I perused our festival lanyard for fun to be had and and Camp Bestival 2014 had officially begun.
The thing about the festival? It’s HUGE! And it would be very easy as a parent to get that “OMG – there’s a party going on and we’re not at it” feeling, racing your kids from one section and experience to another. But this year, we decided to go with the flow and I loved our more chilled approach. You have to accept that there’s no way you can see everything (if you did, the official line is that it would take about 17 days!) and everything you do see is a complete bonus!
We loved the Circus theme and the kids adored trying out their skills, not to mention dressing up on the Saturday (thank goodness for a late night H & M Dash – they have zebras in the circus, right?!). Kaya and Akira walked tightropes and swung in trapeze’s and hula-d and the giant bubbles you could make with the wands from BubblesInc were a HUGE hit!
Musical hi-lights came courtesy of De La Soul, Sinead O Connor and Basement Jaxx and Horrible Histories and Mr Tumble’s moments on the Castle Stage were THE time to explore the Castle Field and Kids Garden, since everyone was watching Justin in action (just don’t try telling your kids it’s the same person!). It was like we had the Helter Skelter and Carousel to ourselves for a bit, before heading back in time to see Ben and Holly!
The Bollywood Bar is always one of my favourite hangouts (not because it serves cocktails – promise – kind of!) and this year it had some great circus workshops to keep the kids happy while I got a bit of light “refreshment”… of the liquid variety.
I loved the idea of The Den this year – don’t even THINK about going in if you’re not between the ages of 13 and 17, with Music Club run by the legendary camp Bestival Creator, Rob Da Banks. And The Guardian Literary Institute had some amazing sessions – where else can you get a bedtime story of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory read to you by Rob Da Bank or Jo Whiley? (who I love even more now for this)
Hi-light for my kids came in the shape of puppet shows – Mr Browns Pig and Punch and Judy. LOVE that the traditional things are doing it for them, even if I do know Mr Browns repertoire pretty well by now! To escape watching for a third time, I nipped next door and made myself a flower garland (having earlier been laughing inside at how middle aged women put garlands on their heads at festivals!)
Shortly after, I found myself in one of the compost loos and took THE most random, pouty #selfie EVER as I realised how ridiculous I was with my ENORMOUS garland (what was I thinking?!) and shades, pouring earth over my wee! But hey – when in Rome!
One of my favourite things about the festival is the diversity on offer. We watched some amazing Skate and BMX displays and Akira loved holding an owl! Both ends of the spectrum!
Having only taken basics for breakfast, most of our meals came from the brilliant Feast Collective tent which we found reasonably priced, eclectic and delicious! Around the site, there were some excellent, and quirky, food and drink options, with something for everyone’s taste and the kids loved trying new flavours.
My biggest mummy fail? POOR packing. And I mean P-O-O-R! I think our trip to Rhodes and the subsequent sunshine of the British summertime had lulled me into thinking we were off to the Lanzarote, not Lulworth. I hadn’t even brought waterproofs. I know, right?! Loser! Thank goodness the delicious Mummy Barrow was my neighbour 3 canvas doors down and she came to the rescue with Thorpe Park ponchos (I traded for a few Quavers!) and the on-site camping shop was well stocked with everything could-do-better mums like me could possibly need!
From last year I know that a trolley at a festival is key. For EVERYONE! There’s so much to see and a day with no trolley and the ENTIRE family looking longingly at all the pimped rides passing by, is enough to convince you how vital wheels are! Trolleys also give you the option to go out in the evening to catch some bands, with your kids in their pj’s, ready to fall asleep. I worked out that by the time we’d got our belongings to the tent and hired a trolley for the duration we’d be looking at around £50. So I found Ollie’s Trolleys and picked up this green metal baby for £83.95. I loved this one because it comes apart for transport if you need it to and we’ve now got it for use around the garden. The dropping sides means it doubles up as a moving sofa – perfect for the kids.
Went to get a few supplies before heading off…. first stop Halfords where I finally got this hamper I’ve been coveting FOR EVER! If there’s one thing I’ve learned about camping it’s that people put in the effort on the style front! So this was perfect – equipped with wine glasses, plates, cutlery and a built-in cool section. Perfect for tins of G & T and Pimms – apparently! I also got this genius washing up bowl and kettle from Outwell which flatten down – one of those “why didn’t I think of that inventions – I used the washing up bowl as a tray too!
And, having been to CB last year, I know that there’s lots of walking but also lots of sitting and chilling, so I got this fab picnic blanket from GLTC – a friend at school had one and I’ve been coveting it ever since sitting on it’s lovely padding! It’s gorgeous! It’s got a waterproof back and padded top and folds neatly, with handles for extra ease – perfect for family days out, picnics and festivals.
This is my favourite shot of Kaya from our weekend, and for me it sums up what I love most about Camp Bestival. The freedom for kids to be kids! Of all ages! This was our second year at Camp Bestival and we LOVED it. Tells you everything you need to know that I’ve been rocking my wristbands, long after we’ve left!