Sunday, 5 August 2012

Camp bestival- a belated review

Camp Bestival finished last Monday, but we decided to make a holiday of our time down in Dorset, so we only returned yesterday.

Last year, I had a pretty mixed time at Camp Bestival to be honest. I had been looking forward to it so much, but a lack of sleep due to a baby/ stressed out 6 year old and too much expectations caused it to feel like a bit of a let down.

So this year, I hadnt really thought about it much at all. The line up wasnt particularly up my street, as the headliners were acts that I was either not particularly interested in (Hot Chip, Earth Wind and Fire) or I had already seen them this year (Happy Mondays). And in hindsight, I am really pleased about that, as it freed us up to move away from the main stage and explore some of the more quirky aspects of the festival.

We had come down to Lulworth Castle in convoy with 2 other families. Between us we had 5 children, ranging in ages from 1-7. We had stayed in a travelodge overnight, had a lovely breakfast in one of those fancy Little Chefs designed by Heston Blumenthal (birdsong in the loo, anyone?) and had a one hour drive to the festival, which meant that we were one of the first families to get in. We pitched our 3 vans side by side and had enough room to pitch my event shelter, which gave the little ones some much needed respite from the sun. Now there's one problem I didnt expect us to have this year.

After a couple of hours, we went down to the main festival area, where the girls bought animal tails, blew bubbles, ate ice creams and did some singing, dancing and instrument playing in the Rob da Bank music tent. We also had the chance to see the Wall of Death, which is a terrifying fairground attraction where 3 people drive motorbikes and a buggy around the walls of the arena, like a giant and very noisy salad spinner. I was watching from the top with a couple of the girls and I was genuinely terrified... Then it was back to the vans for an early night, via a festaxi- this is a golf buggy, driven by a hippy at fast speed, up and down some rather steep hills! We had a rather long wait for our taxi ride as there were only four taxis for the whole festival, so we were given a free ride which was very lovely of the organisers. I~ think we could do with some more of those next year, Rob da Bank!

On the Friday, we mooched around and spent a lot of time sitting on old sofas outside the bandstand, sipping  
cocktails. I had premixed and frozen some weak mojitos, and then bought a shot of rum and ice from the bar so I could have a proper cold drink. My daughter was able to get up on the bandstand and sing backing vocals to "Valerie". I was so proud of my little rock star! Amazingly, she got up, sang her socks off and took it in her stride.

We had a really good laugh dancing to "Mr B the gentleman rhymer", he is like a posh rapper! As I was a child of the 90s, I particularly enjoyed his rave covers on the banjo, including "Move any mountain" and "Ebeneezer Goode". He also covered Blur, Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and loads of my other favourite bands, so we were very happy.

I wont bore you with all the music we watched, but another one of my favourite bands was Bellowhead. They are fantastic live and perfect in the sunshine. I went and right danced right at the front to this one, it was a very funny experience being in a folk moshpit.

On Friday night, we decided to watch the Olympic Opening ceremony in the Big Top. I am so glad we did, it was an absolutely amazing experience. There must have been a couple of thousand children and parents crammed into the big top, and counting down to the start of the show was a moment I will never ever forget.

On Saturday, we took part in the fancy dress parade, mooched around a lot in the afternoon, danced in the silent disco with the kids, watched some theatre in an old Routemaster bus and had a late night boogie to DJ Yoda and the Transsiberian Marching Band. They played such happy, upliftting, soulful music. My late night dancing was fueled by a brandy hot chocolate from the Hurly Burly bar. I dont drink much alcohol these days and this blew my socks off!

I also really enjoyed some of the sponsored tents, which I hadnt expected to as I am not really a fan of corporate sponsorship at festivals. I had a great time in the Persil Mosh and Wash tent, watching children take part in the rock karaoke. The kids had a chance to get up on stage with professional backing singers, a drummer and a guitarist. What an opportunity! And also, persil were offering a free laundry service. If my clothes werent miles away in the campervan, I would have grabbed them like a shot. The Ecover tent did a really good dance workshop for the children too.

Other highlights for me included taking the children underneath the castle to listen to "Yellow Submarine" by the Beatles on an amazing Linn stereo system, getting some peace and quiet in the Dingly Dell play area and watching DJ Derek with my toddler on Sunday afternoon. If you havent heard of him, he is a 70-something year old pensioner from Bristol, who plays the most lovely 60s reggae from the Caribbean. I spent 2 hours in heaven, listening to some wonderful tunes and blowing bubbles for my son to chase.

So all in all, we had an amazing time. The sun shone, the kids were happy and it didn't feel as stressful as last year.

Would I go again? I'm not sure at the moment. The entertainment for children and adults is amazing, but we've been 3 times now and it feels as though it may be time to try something a bit quieter and smaller. Camp Bestival is great fun, but not very relaxing! We are trying a different festival at the end of the summer which has a more folky vibe, so I'm looking forward to that. The kids really do love it though. It's like Christmas in Summertime.

After the festival had ended, we were all pretty shattered, but luckily for us, we had the chance to go on a very special little holiday holiday afterwards, which I will tell you about in my next post...


  1. I was wondering when you were back! It sounds amazing, and I think you have the right approach to it this year. Just not worrying so much about it means you relax a bit more. Last year I was in a grump before we even left the house because we were so disorganized as a group and chaos ensued. We lost one child before we'd even left the carpark! This year, I'm more organized but I'm also more relaxed as we are going as a smaller group and I think that'll suit us better.

    I saw Bellowhead last year at Greenman and they were fantastic, I just wish they had been on longer! Well done to your daughter for singing too - that's brilliant.

    And we're also thinking about a smaller festival next year. Somewhere a bit closer to home too. As much as I love Greenman, it's a heck of a drive and the kids drive you mad in the car.

    Nice to have you back! x

  2. Aww thanks jen. It's lovely of you to leave me a comment. I think you might be the only person who reads this blog, I need to work on that during the Autumn I think.

    I have always fancied Greenman, the line up sounds great and I love that part of Wales. Have you heard of the Deershed festival in Harrogate? It's a) small, b) cheap, c) great music and d) child centred in a creative way. If it hadnt been on the week before CB I would have tried it this year.

    We are going to End of the Road later in the Summer. The music is much more folky and I think it's a fair bit smaller than CB. It's in Dorset though, so a fair old drive for you x

  3. Deershed is exactly where we were planning to go to next year! Great lineup there. The guy who runs it does a really interesting blog too. Think there is a link on their site.

    And your blog is good. I always really enjoy reading your posts. If you want any help technically give us a shout. Best advice - keep posting! x

  4. How funny, maybe we can have a blog meet next year!

    Thanks for the encouragement and support x

  5. I looked for your van too but there was so many in the field! I was trying to spot your event shelter as well but every other person had one - impossible!

    Great write-up, I'm not sure I'll go next year, as I feel it will be much the same but I am planning on going to either Deershed or the Just So festival instead.