The last in our Family Festival Diary, this time we’re following Gregory Stanton (@london_dad) and Alice Chetley (@avocadomagazine) on their trip to Camp Bestival with their daughter Etta. From puppet shows and playlists to naps (for Etta and mum and dad!) find out what they got up to at the space-themed weekend below in Alice’s diary….
It’s a bit of a dirty little secret of mine so try not to tell too many people but – Camp Bestival was my first ever festival! I don’t have stories of drinking too much and falling in the mud, of dancing with hundreds of thousands of people all night or of trying out the latest festival gadget (what on earth is a she-wee??).
When I became a pregnant at 23 it was one of the things that I was most worried about having missed out on, that and an all girls trip to Ibiza (the tacky end), but I needn’t have worried at all! There are so many festivals that are aimed at families now and, ok, we might not have got quite as wild as we would have done sans children (my baby bump inhibited slightly) but Camp Bestival was one of the best experiences I’ve had with my little family.
We got in very over packed car with a very sleepy toddler and a terrified (and somewhat pathetic) pooch at about 3pm thinking how brilliantly clever we were, we would drop the dog off with my mum and head on to Lulworth Castle with a fast-asleep toddler. We had a great play-list, lots of snacks; we were ready for our road-trip. Funny thing about toddlers – whatever you think they are going to do, they will always do the exact opposite, by the time we got to my mums we had a very angry toddler, no snacks left and the very idea of listening to our playlist made her scream bloody-murder.
The good news is that my mum managed to do that magic Granny thing and calm Etta down enough that she did sleep for the second leg of our trip, the bad news is that the trip took about 3 hours longer than we thought it would thanks to the M3.
We arrived exhausted, hot and very bothered at about 7pm threw our tent together in about 30minutes (or Greg did while I ran around after Etta) and went to find some dinner. The moment we clapped eyes on the main festival our rubbish journey faded to the background. We had arrived in an out-of-this-world adventure playground, we grabbed some Japanese-inspired festival food and went for a quick explore before deciding that we were exhausted and we should have an early night so that we could properly enjoy the day on Saturday.
After an interesting and dramatically angled night’s sleep (Greg had built the tent on a bit of a slope) we woke up at a lazy 7.30 and couldn’t wait to get dressed and out for a day of exploring. Our first stop was the Children’s zone, which featured the world’s biggest bouncy castle, a brilliant mini circus with a sensory play area, a soft-play zone and lots of yummy food options for Greg and I.
Suitably stuffed and played-out, we were on the green of the main stage ready for the Clangers and Mr Tumble with plenty of time, which got us a brilliant spot. Etta was absolutely amazed that the both the Clangers and Mr Tumble had come out of the TV for the festival and that’s when I realized; we have a serious festival follower on our hands (trying very hard not to freak out about her teenage years).
Greg was brilliant (he’s done this before) and had a backpack filled with everything from snacks to sunscreen ready to go. In my personal opinion, the lighter you can pack for the day, the better. Some people pushed giant carts around all day and, while the kids looked like they were having a great time, the parents looked exhausted.
We headed back to the tent for a nap (which Etta wasn’t having any of) and some of Greg’s homemade chili and headed straight back out for some more fun! Of course, sod’s law, as soon as she got in the buggy Etta was fast asleep so we decided to head to the bar and enjoy a little ‘grownup time’ before the big acts of the evening.
This next bit might sound a little bizarre but after sitting on the floor with a toddler and a 5 month baby bump for a couple of hours waiting for Fat Boy Slim, we decided that we were all uncomfortable, all tired and that we had all had a brilliant day so we went back to our tent, snuggled down and fell fast asleep.
Sunday morning Greg realized that there were entire parts of the festival that we hadn’t explored yet. We knew we had until about 1pm and headed out bright and early to explore the forest areas. We had so much fun in the enchanted forest, Etta put on a puppet show, made a ‘magical potion’ and had a great time playing with brightly coloured ribbon as we made our way through the forest and towards the crème de la crème of the weekend; a petting farm with baby chicks. Etta waited patiently and silently in line for her chance to hold a baby chick in her own hands, she was absolutely ecstatic and we headed back to the tent to pack up and get on the road having missed every big music act but all feeling completely fulfilled after a brilliant weekend of out-of-this-world fun.