Happy Campers (mostly)

Booked last year and hotly anticipated by us all, our first festival/camping experience took place last weekend at Camp Bestival.

We learned many things:

  • Putting up a tent in gale force winds is quite tricky
  • We swear too much, judging by our 3 year old’s potty mouth
  • There are not enough waterproofs in the world
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    Camping: A chance to really get back to nature with just the basics.

Everyone says their kids love camping because they just adore the space and freedom to run around. Well, my kids really love watching telly. I try to engage them in other activities, but ultimately, all roads seem to lead back to CBeebies. So I wasn’t convinced. I thought they’d look at the expanse of green in front of them and go “WTF is this? What do we do with it? WHERE IS DUGGEE?”

But I was wrong. Thankfully.

We set up camp, in aforementioned gale force winds, with our good friends who have kids the same age as ours. In all, there were 5 children under 4. Should have been the height of stress, but they really did LOVE it. We were perched on the brow of a hill (more on that later) and the kids ran up the hill, rolled down the hill, pushed each other over on the hill…..the hill was truly a hit. God bless the hill.

We first realised we were less “perched on the brow of a hill” and more “actually on the hill” when we laid out our sleeping bags and everything, including us, slid down to one end of the tent. I was supposed to sleep at that end of the tent but I wouldn’t have stood a chance;. I’d have been crushed by morning. So we re-arranged things which meant that we’d all slide downwards instead of sideways. It was the best we could do. My daughter’s airbed got a puncture so she was sleeping on a half deflated mattress – I kept waking up to check she’d not been engulfed by it, feeling like a terrible parent on day 1.

Of course, the kids woke at 5.30am (our tent came with “black out technology allegedly. Screw you, Vango*). Little M is having some “attachment issues”, which means she likes to be sitting on either my head or lap at all times. So when I went to use the loo at 6am on Saturday, I could hear her screams of anguish at being abandoned across the entire field. Trust me, love, I’d rather have you sitting on my head than enter a portaloo, but what can you do? No amount of cajoling, or promises of Peppa Pig, could calm her down. I apologise to all our fellow campers.

On Friday night we were fairly certain our tent was going to take off. The wind battered the living daylights out of it and a quick survey of the campsite revealed bent tent poles, destroyed gazebos and whole tents blown over. Luckily we managed to stay firmly attached to the ground (apart from the sliding down while sleeping, of course).

Camp Bestival itself was incredibly impressive. We didn’t manage to squeeze everything in, even over three days. There was a huge amount to see and do, most of it included in the ticket price. The fairground rides were extra and, at £2.50 per person, did add up a bit. Still, we gritted our teeth and shelled out for the helter skelter, carousel and ferris wheel. All was fine and dandy. Until the rain. Oh god, the rain. It was relentless. We were kitted out in waterproofs and the kids didn’t seem to notice it. But us adults couldn’t help it.

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Sheltering in the Art Tent

By Saturday afternoon our sense of humour had worn thin. I’d consult my lanyard that came with the programme (and made me feel all official) and declare “Ooh! it’s ok. There’s a storytelling session on in The Big Tent! We’ll go there!” Unsurprisingly, 20,000 other people had THE EXACT SAME IDEA.

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Rocking out to Mr Maker on the main stage

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Theme was pop stars and rock stars. All covered by waterproofs in the end anyway.

The sun did come out on Sunday but the fields were a complete mud bath. I had to drag the Maclaren behind me through inches of mud (thanks to the lady who suggested that after watching me push with great effort and total futility). It was on Sunday that we realised we may have to watch what we say a tad more in front of the children. I thought we did already, but B trod on a piece of Lego and exclaimed “Ow! Shit!”.  I ignored it so as not to draw attention, but later on we headed to the portaloos so he could do his thing and I poked my head cautiously into one – “There’s no loo roll in that one” I said. “Oh. Fuck” he replied, casually. Bit of a lesson learned there. Need to up the “Oh! Gosh/Goodness!” quota.

Despite the rain, the wind and the sweary toddler, we already look back on the weekend with so much fondness. The offering at Camp Bestival is truly spectacular and there’s actual magic in the air. Plus, our kids didn’t demand screen time (they still demanded food 24/7 but hey, you can’t change everything) and FROLICKED in nature. What more could you ask for? (Apart, of course, for a bit of bloody sunshine).

*Not really, Vango. You withstood a near hurricane, so all is forgiven.

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