We have been away camping for a few days for the Just So Children's Festival in Staffordshire and I can heartily recommend it.
There were of course some negatives, to an extent to be expected since this is only the festival's second year. The main problem was that the site had a water problem and ran out early on day two. This left festival goers who care about personal hygiene high and dry. Fortunately my family aren't cursed with concern over cleanliness, well not during a festival anyway.
We did have vague good intentions and bought a new towel to take with us but it didn't come out of the bag. To be fair I suspect it wouldn't have done even if the showers had worked. We made do with baby wipes and hoped that the muck spreading on the next field could be used as an excuse should anyone question our own aroma. Plus it's a bit like garlic, if you all stink it no longer matters.
There was a very tense moment when the lantern making people ran out of latex glue (aaah memories of peeling copydex off your fingers) and Tilly started to cry. After being encouraged to try our best to finish our lantern anyway we set to the task with gusto. Never have you seen a more swift and determined set of family gluers. We managed it though (well just the bottom bit but enough to call it a lantern). Shame they didn't quite get the resources right though. Although I hold the six foot long shark lantern makers slightly responsible.
And the only other thing that irritated us was the cost. Not of the festival but of the food. On the first day I agreed to buy the girls fairy cakes and asked for three. He handed me the cakes then asked me for £9. I was so stunned that I actually opened my purse and paid him. Ten seconds later I realised what I had done. And I realised he hadn't had prices visible on the cakes. I mean I know the "if you have to ask you can't afford it" quote but didn't consider that could ever apply to a cupcake. Obviously I'm being sent a message from somewhere to go back on that stupid diet.
Other than that? I'd go so far as to say it was magical. I worried that I would look through the programme and struggle to find things for Phoebe but she could be included in almost everything Tilly wanted to do. And man did they do a lot of stuff. Dancing, puppet shows, sandcastles, donkey riding, board games, and tonnes of craft (dragonflies, clay models, moustaches, fairy postcards). There were brilliant performers including characters from Alice in Wonderland, jugglers, fairies, Elmer, the Gruffalo, the Jumblies, story tellers - the list goes on and on. Tilly especially liked being amazed by science experiments at the Physics tent.
Planning what to do each day did take some effort on my part. Then half way through Saturday Paul lost the programme which rendered me in a state of slight panic. Honestly I relinquished control of the programme for one minute and asked him to pick it up, then we never saw it again. I'm no good without a timetable at
these sorts of things. Next year I'll take my own laminator and hole punch and string the programme round my neck. Anyway I tried hard to manage without a programme, then decided now was not the time to change the habit of a lifetime so bought another one. Which I did not let Paul touch.
It was all pretty fantastic and imaginative but there were particular highlights. Being book obsessed in this house we loved seeing the authors and illustrators read and draw for the kids. Mini Grey was particularly brilliant and left the girls with lots of ideas and a little book each to complete at home.
The beautiful lantern parade on Saturday night was a perfect end to the first main day. Paul eventually recovered from the neck sleeper hold Phoebe inflicted on him (she was a bit too tired to walk) and they went straight to bed afterwards exhausted but happy.
The Toy Stories animation session run by B-Arts was a big hit too. The girls took their favourite toys in to be filmed with stop frame animation and Sleepy Bear took Barbie for a ride on a flying carpet (Phoebe's comfort blanket). Then we watched the film premiere before coming home on Sunday night. It was inspired and hilarious.
Finally we loved "Fly Away Katie" by Long Nose Theatre Company so much we bought the CD and I'm not yet sick of it despite having it on quite a few times today. Perfectly beautiful puppets, story and music.
But the best bit? The kids loved every minute of it all. So many new experiences and the opportunity to build sandcastles and hide behind trees. Genius.