Friday, 25 August 2017

England's Medieval Festival in East Sussex

Have you got plans sorted for the weekend?

It's a Bank Holiday in the UK (for those of you that live in foreign climes that equates to a day of rest for many of the people that usually have a 9-5 toil) and I am one of many that will be enjoying a long weekend. In the UK it is also tradition that Bank Holiday Mondays are wet.

However as we have seen from previous festival news, this year has been one of broken traditions, it even rained at Camp Bestival! (unheard of in it's previous 9 year history) so it's no surprise to see that the sun will be shining all weekend at Hersmonceaux this weekend.

If you live any where near Herstmonceaux (it's in East Sussex) and you are not planning a trip to England's Medieval festival for at least one day (camping is available and camp site opens at 2pm today!) then you are missing out!

 Tickets are available at the gate and the festival is open Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Last year I was glad I camped as there were so many fun things to do that invariably some clashed, as the program was repeated daily, I could be sure to fit everything into a busy schedule (and repeat the things I really loved!)

Do pop along, fancy dress is optional (but fun) and children of all ages can learn sword skills, jousting, bread making and a thousand other medieval skills!

You can even bring the dog.

 I hope to see you there for mead, singing, mud theatre (don't worry - it's mostly mess free!), and hog roasts..oh and shopping...

Friday, 18 August 2017

Guest Post from tent

Hi all, I expect you are wondering what a tent has to blog about. Well I have some exciting times you know - I travel to all sorts of exotic places (ok ok the Isle of Wight is the only time I have travelled 'overseas'  but still...) and I attend lots of festivals each year, I don't get a wristband but that's OK as I don't have any wrists.

To introduce myself, I am Wilfred. I am a canvas Cabanon tent, a Dutch pyramid style, slightly retro and very storm resistant. In 2015 I had the equivalent of a tent tattoo, and was painted with a fun Japanese design. I'm well used, well loved and unique.

This year I went to The Byline Festival and had a lovely time in a nice grassy field with well spaced tents. There were lots of new tents there who told me that their owners had never even taken them out of the bag before! I felt a true 'old hand' with my merry bunting and flags, my extra tarpaulin and my solar lights. The festival itself seemed very genteel. Lots of clever people talking about clever things and drinking posh drinks. There were very few children which I liked as it meant I didn't have to worry about bubbles and the damage bubble liquid and bubbles can do to the waterproofing on my canvas skin. There was no rain and it was a fun weekend. The travel in my own personal trolley was fun, up and down a steep hill, lovely views from the top and a slow trundle up it - but I didn't care, I can lay back in my bag and let other people worry about hills.

When we got home it seemed like a very long snooze in the garage, though at least I was dry and snug, until I was wanted again.

Next we set off for the fields of Dorset and Lulworth Castle. I have been here many times before and it is always sunny and lovely (despite the children and bubbles) The children always like my painted design and my flags and I often hear them talking about me.

But this year at Camp Bestival was rather odd. After the usual trip in my trolley up and down the steep hills, and having been set up in a nice spot by some little trees, something very strange happened; it started to rain.

Camp Bestival is always sunny! Those are the rules; so I was more than a little shocked when  not only did it shower a bit on the first evening, but it continued to shower and then...and rained! No more did small children stop to admire my pictures of Japan, no, now they scurried by in waterproof ponchos (like little tents all of their own). Everyone arrived back to me in the evening covered in mud! With muddy wellingtons and wet socks. Everything became messy with the mud and the damp clothes. I, of course, was waterproof as usual and even a storm and strong winds (which knocked down and broke some of the other nylon tents) didn't phase me. I stood strong and kept everyone safe for the whole festival.

On the last day of Camp Bestival, due to the mud, and the slippery grass, my owners decided to make an extra trip with the trolley so that they could load it less. That meant I was left until last. I stood proud, perfect in my uniqueness, watching the rest of the field slowly emptying of tents and patiently waiting for my owners to return and pack me up, snug in my bag for the next festival. Imagine my surprise when a total stranger appeared and started to pull out my pegs! He roughly undid all of my guy ropes until I fell down and then he grabbed my poles and bundled me up, shoving me into my bag with no care, but much speed!

Where were my owners who had so lovingly painted me only 2 years ago? Just as he set off, dragging me behind him, I heard a familiar and very welcome shout! "Oi! Mate! That's OUR TENT!" I was saved, and just in the nick of time. He mumbled something about thinking I had been abandoned (as if!) and handed me back to my owners. Phew! I was nearly tentknapped!

And so I returned home again, dry (it stopped raining the day we went home of course!) but badly packed (and not a little shaken). I was carefully checked and repacked at home, just in time for my next outing to Wilderness Festival.

Wilderness Festival is lovely. We stay in the family camping field and the children love me, and as before they often tell me how pretty I am. There are lots of bell tents there and even lotus tents so we canvas chaps can feel part of a nice family. This year I noticed lots of a new sort of tent too, large and with inflatable 'poles', what next I wonder!

At Wilderness there was less rain but a thunder and lightning storm! Which was super fun, I did not even wobble. The trip to and from the car on my trolley was short and over flat ground. Space was pretty tight in the camp site but everyone was very friendly. Unlike Camp Bestival, Wilderness saved some rain for the last day, so I had to return home all soggy and be pitched up in the garden to dry myself out. Now I'm back in the garage again, waiting for England's Medieval Festival. I have only been there once before but they have so many old and canvas tents there I really enjoy it - we can exchange stories and moan about bubble mix together!

Thanks for reading, maybe you could read this to your tent? And let me know what he/she has been up to this year. I hope everytent is keeping well and no one has broken a pole

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Camp Bestival 2017 Review


Where to begin.

Camp Bestival. A fabulous festival of fun and frolics for young people, kids and the young at heart. It is always full of laughs, and some surprises.

The regular fun things include the awesome Insect Circus, the worlds largest bouncy castle (only a regular since last year), Mr Tumble, Dick 'n' Dom, kids garden fun, crazy bikes, sticker crafts, retro 80s bands, the Blue Coats, the inflatable church, the WI tea tent, the Feast Collective, and the jam jar cocktail bar.

This year surprises included...rain.

It never rains at Camp Bestival. No seriously it doesn't. DD and I have been going since 2009 and it really never rains. It is sunny, hot, you need sunscreen. This year, Camp Bestival's 10th Anniversary, the rain we had never had...all came at once. And so, suddenly, Camp Bestival resembled Glastonbury.

For families that were not used to camping, or had small kids I imagine this was horrible. Muddy tents and wet clothes are no fun; but for DD and I, hardened festival goers and owners of a rather fine and storm/rain proof canvas tent, it was at least bearable.

We bought some cheap plastic ponchos, donned our wellies and ventured forth regardless. Camp Bestival managed the mud fairly well, with extra 'road' panels on paths that were well walked (though a bit of extra hay/straw would have been welcome) and on the whole it was gateways and small areas that become swampy, the main site stayed pretty walkable and the camp site itself was fine.

Highlights for me this year included Right Said Fred on the main stage, and a surprise 'lock in' due to the storm, with the Scummy mummies and copious amounts of gin.

Camp Bestival might be a family and children's festival but there is still plenty of 'mother's ruin' to be had. Due to queues I sadly missed the Jam Jar cocktail bar this year, that and the sad lack of a bloody Mary on the drinks list. But I managed to consume a fair bit of lager and Jack Daniels (not in the same glass)

We didn't see the Insect Circus because... yes you guessed was too wet. And there were other things I missed too - no clay modelling this year, and the rain did slightly dampen my fancy dress on Saturday. But the musical acts were all great. I stumbled upon Los Pacaminos, and they were great fun. The comedy tent was small but perfect this year, not in the kid's field and full of genuinely funny people.
World's Biggest, and saddest, Bouncy Castle

DD's highlights were Louisa Johnson, and Anne Marie, both in the big top and so out of the rain, though not the mud as it was a well-travelled area.

My good deed for the festival was to lend our trolley to a tent-neighbour when the festitaxi was cancelled due to the weather and the Mr Trolley hire was cancelled too, which enabled them to get their stuff back to their car and thus escape on Sunday. And as no good deed ever goes unpunished this meant we missed a birthday party in the dingly dell for the 5 year old son of Kirsty and Clara (My Two Mums) . And then on the last day, during pack up, we very nearly had our tent stolen....

But on the whole Camp Bestival, though wet, was joyful and fun as always. But a wet festival is not for the faint hearted!

Were you there? and was it your first festival? I'd love to know how you coped!

If you haven't been put off (honestly we've had all the rain for the next ten years) you can grab early bird tickets on a payment plan here.

Disclosure : DD and I received our tickets as part of the Official Camp Bestival Blogger team. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Family Festival Food Ideas

Having come back from one festival I'm feeling like I'm back in the swing of things and so I'm planning what food and drink to take to my next festival, which is Camp Bestival at the end of July.

We will eat out a lot I'm sure as there are loads of food stalls to choose from and I cannot be bothered to trek back to the tent most lunch times, nor cart around warm bananas and beer. But breakfast is a lazy time and wandering to the food stall and then queueing for ages while looking rubbish is not my idea of fun, so I shall be planning 4 breakfasts and probably 4 dinners, with a few additional snacks. I always over pack for food and I'm trying really hard not to this year. There are only 2 of us yet I seem to pack enough for 5 people for 10 meals and then I bring it all home again!

Luckily while buying some beer to take to Byline Festival I spotted a packet of potato and bacon brunch in Sainsbury's that is for 2 people and designed to be fried (no oil etc required). It's in a pouch not a tin and while it looked vile when first put in the frying pan it later amazed us by cooking to look exactly like the photo on the box AND more importantly, tasted delicious. So we have planned fried potato for breakfast every morning, I may also take eggs.

Also on my list of morning essentials is coffee. Not any of that instant  rubbish either, I may be unwashed and in a field, with a hangover and wearing a tutu but that is no reason to behave like an animal. So I will be brewing a fresh coffee for myself each morning (and also in the process saving £££s on festival coffee purchases) using the simple convenience of the Lyon's Coffee bag! Yes ladies and gentlecampers, no reason to lug your espresso machine up the hill or risk the mess of a (plastic) cafetiere, no! A simple coffee bag is your friend, at only £2.60 for 18 bags that's less that 15p a cup! and you can avoid the queue. Perfect. Available in three different strengths, plus a decaf option, there’s a coffee to suit everyone: No.4 Dark and Intense, No.3 Rich and Full Bodied, and No.2 Light and Smooth. (I'm rich and full bodied ...but enough about me...) 

For dinner we will be having Meatballs and rice ( for DD - she dislikes spicy food) and chilli and rice (for me - I love spicy food) at least once. Using pouches we found at Poundland (they are also available at other supermarkets, but then they are £1.69) The brand is 'Look What We Found' and they are really tasty. We use pouches of part cooked rice for speed and to save on gas. Good old Uncle Ben. 

I am also going to take some buns and some hot dogs (remind me not to forget mustard and ketchup or I'll be in trouble) another food that can be bought in a can or a pouch and will keep cool enough in a cool box for a couple of days (canned will keep at any temperature), easy to heat up, easy to eat.

Photo Credit : Nigel Smith (Twitter)
 Another good meal is a stir fry, whether with veg you brought along (carrots, cucumber, green beans, mange tout, baby sweetcorn etc all keep fairly well if kept cool for a few days) or a can of mixed stir fry, tuna fish, some sauce and some noodles.

And one must not forget the humble baked bean! Perfect simple camping food, great on toast, with sausages, or on its own. Chance to use my favourite cooking gadget the camp toaster! A simple design and far superior to others I've tried (especially the, frankly useless, 4 slice pyramid toaster) This little gem cooks toast faster that you can say, 'is it browned yet?', never take your eye off of the toast! and take care when turning not to burn your fingers!

Extra food options include the simple Pot Noodle, Cup soups (or cans of real soup) and tins of spam etc....

and for incidental snacks (and to throw at your offspring who have woken at silly o'clock demanding breakfast while you are still all sleepy and cosy) some breakfast bars, and some juice cartons too.

For booze, remember to check the festival booze limits, and decant any glass bottles into plastic ones. G&T in tins, is a popular choice, as are cans of lager and wine boxes.

Let me know what festival food you'll be taking.

Disclosure : I was send some Lyons Coffee bags to try. They are excellent ;-)

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Keeping your cash and valuables safe at a festival

It's a dilemma. Do you take a load of cash to a festival. Or a card and hope for cashpoint machines? Or both?

Taking cash will save you time queueing at the ATM. If there are ATMs then they will probably charge £1.50 or so a time, so you'll need to keep the visits to a minimum, that's beer money going to waste! If you take cash you will probably spend it.

If you take a card it's only one thing to keep safe. But if you lose it you've lost all hope of a fun beer filled festival...and possible petrol for the drive home. Assuming you don't lose it, you will have extensive funds and when you see that sequined jumper with the fur hood at the retro clothing stall for £150 you will be able to buy it.

I tend to favour taking both, I budget for what I can afford and take that in cash, but I also take a card in case of the aforementioned fur and sequin thingy.

Whatever you choose, how can you keep your cash, card (and car keys, phone etc) safe, not only from theft (sadly there often is theft at a large event) but from loss too?

Here are some top tips.

  • Spread out the cash. However much you decide to take, £30, £300, £3000 don't put all of your cash eggs in one basket. Spread the money equally around. If you travel in a group be sure you each carry some of the cash, and that each person spreads what they carry.
  • Places to carry the cash (which you have split into equal bundles) include, the front deep pocket of your jeans, your handbag - some in a purse, some in a zipped pocket, a bum bag, your bra (this is easier for ladies, but makes paying for cocktails more fun), your pants (you can sew a small material pouch and safety pin it inside trousers or skirts), any zipped pocket in your clothing.
  • When in the tent ensure your valuables are kept with you in the sleeping area, anyone could sneak into a porch area and take a bag in the night. Pushing everything down the bottom of your sleeping bag is safest.
  • Don't leave bags with valuables in them laying about. If you phone is in the picnic basket, take it out and take it with you when you nip to the loo or ensure an adult is left in charge.
  • Take care in the loos that you don't drop anything! Hang bags etc on the hook on the back of the door and don't leave your phone (or car keys!)  in your jeans or you may hear an ominous 'splop' when you pull them down!
  • Some festivals have lockers for valuables and you can hire these by the day. I've never used them and am not sure if they advertise you have valuables or keep them safe - I guess that they are not insured but many have security staff to keep an eye on them.
  • You can hide money, cards and car keys in your tent but it's risky. Don't bother to use a tent padlock, that just tells people valuable things are inside, and most tents can be easily cut with a penknife (I know it's horrible to think people would stoop so low - but they do!) If you hide things try to pick places no one would look - not in a sleeping bag! - and that would take a bit of searching for, thieves are unlikely to want to hang around for long, as before don't put all the cash in one place. (but on the whole I'd advise that you don't leave valuables in the tent)
  • Look out for the campers around you. Get to know the people camping near you and ask any 'stranger' who looks like they may be entering nearby tents who they are.

Have fun and stay safe - have I missed anything? How do you keep valuables safe at a festival?