Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label advice. Show all posts

When it's sunny at a festival

Ice Cream is also good for keeping cool - according to DD
I mentioned weather before but I talked about rain, it's what festival goers often fear. At Camp Bestival for the last 5 years I've attended we have had glorious weather. I'm pretty sure Rob Da Bank organises that - he organises everything else!

So I shall be planning for the worst (ie taking wellies etc) but also expecting and planning for the best!

Take sunscreen. Take enough for the whole family, for lots of flesh on display, for the whole 4 or 5 days of the festival. You will be able to buy it at a festival shop (assuming they don't run out) but it will be expensive and the range will be limited.

Take some sort of cooling device. Take a tent style sunshade for example for babies, a fan, a water spray bottle, an umbrella or sun shade to carry, maybe sun hats (you can often include them as part of your fancy dress)

Dress accordingly, take some loose long sleeved stuff in case it really is baking, some fields have little natural shade. The kids field at Camp Bestival has lots of natural shade in the form of trees, and also a few tents. Check the maps on your own festival plan.

Don't forget the leafy cool of the Dingly Dell (at Camp Bestival) Home to Project Wild Thing this year. A great place to visit at the middle of the day.

The inside of tents can get hot. Carry water bottles (you can refill them at points around the festival) some squash manufacturers now make single servings of squash to add to water bottles, this can be a good idea to get kids to drink plenty.

Remember that however hot it gets in the daytime, once the sun goes down it gets chilly, take some jumpers or blankets either pop back to the tent at teatime, or carry them - the shmangles are good here, doubling as a picnic and lounging mat in the day.

Oh and did I say? Take Sunscreen....

Washing (or not washing) at a festival

To wash or not to wash.

I'm going to confess I'm a "grab a wet wipe, wipe and go" kind of girl.

Festivals are awesome fun. They are in a field. They last a few days. Wash before you leave home, wash again when you get home.

Barring getting covered in piss or vomit there is not really much cause to wash in my opinion. Queueing for the showers wastes time, is boring and costs money.

BUT for those delicate flowers among you, there are showers, you can queue and have a shower every day if you like.

Or you could fill a bucket with water and wash your hair at your tent (I did this at Glastonbury!) refreshing, free and quick.

Don't hog the tap though, do use a bucket, washing AT the tap is very rude! Think of others (ditto when you clean your teeth)

If you plan to wash/shower - remember to take towels!

Children will love getting grubby and not washing (most children) so just let them run free range. Enjoy being at the festival, it's not a place for perfect makeup and nails or hair tongs! It's a place to relax, hear music and drink cider.

Mobile Phones at a festival

Mobile Phones, everyone has one. Some people have more than one. Kids have them. They are music players, Tvs, cameras, recorders, game stations, maps,and sometimes they are festival apps.

But should you actually take one to a festival? Well If you want to use an app you'll have to take a smart phone! But on the whole I tend to opt for as cheap a phone as possible to take to a festival and keep the number of electrical bits and bobs I take, to a minimum.

Keeping a phone safe is relatively easy if you are sober a careful. Keep it with you, at night keep it in your sleeping bag, don't leave it in the tent, don't drop it down the loo, don't leave it laying on a picnic mat.

Battery life on a smart phone is poor and charging points at festivals are sparse, often crowded, you have to risk leaving your phone, and might have to get there early and queue for a spot. Why waste festival time that way.

I take a back up battery - bought from Amazon a while ago, it manages about 3 or 4 full charges for a regular phone. If I only tweet a little bit (!) I can use the phone for the whole festival.

Lots of festivals have poor mobile coverage too - Camp Bestival has boosted the signal in recent years but there are still blank areas in some of the fields.

Best to keep the phone switched off unless you need it (for lost kids! etc) and just save the battery.

Check Your Festival Website to see if that have a Festival App

An alternative to using apps and smartphones but still having the ability to stay in touch is of course to take a cheapy phone with a new preloaded SIM (no panic then if you lose it or drop it into the toilet)

For example the Samsung E1200 is available on Pay As You Go (PAYG) for just £5 (when you top up £10 credit) on Virgin. The 800 hours of standby battery life will probably last longer than you do and losing it won’t ruin your whole weekend. It’s the ideal festival phone!

Available from:

Eating 'out' at a festival

cream tea at camp bestival
As I said yesterday, you should take some snacks but you won't get a full festival experience eating back at the tent each day! Festivals need grub!

Take a while to look around and see all the food stalls there are. You won't be able to eat at each one! There are too many and Camp Bestival is too big. At a smaller festival you may have less choice.

Why not let the kids plan at least one of your meals? I tend to snack at breakfast (I may be lying...The Grill does rather fine bacon rolls) then have a light lunch (or a massive plate of pasta) and then a medium sized tea ( a huge pie and mash plate from PieMinister) sometimes I have afternoon tea at the WI tent (every day).

Cost varies, remember that small kids can share a portion to save money (though you may be surprised at how hungry the fresh air will make them!) Check out where the best bargains are to be had. I'm a fan of the Soup Library.

Just have a look at some of the great food Camp Bestival has on offer

Last year Dd and I ate at the Surplus Supper Club which was great fun (and yummy!)


paella at a festival

fresh coconuts at a festival

The grill cafe at camp bestival bacon and eggs

Festival Sleep (adults)

So you're at a festival and you've finally staggered back to you tent. You've taken your wellies off, crawled in, knocked over a can of something that you hope was stale beer. Your tent chum is snoring in the corner and your bed looks more deflated than you remember. The lamps that light the walkways in the camping field suddenly seem over bright and you appear to have pitched right under one. The tent next door is filled with crying children and there is a loud beat drifting across the field from the all night party tent.

Sound familiar? Sound scary (if you've never been to a festival)?

Well fear not! You can and will sleep!

Top tips for a good festival night's sleep.

Leave the tent relatively tidy when you go out. Yes you are keen to pee, yes you want a bacon sandwich and who cares where you flung yesterdays jeans and your warm sleeping bag? Well, you as it turns out, when you stagger back later tired out. So leave the tent - or at the very least the bed area - relatively tidy.

Check the bed is pumped up when you leave. (or ensure your camp bed is wobble-free) Chuck away any rubbish (use a bin bag in the tent - bin bags are really useful in a tent!)

Take a sleep mask, yes it's nerdy but the light can be annoying if you are near a lamp, AND the dawn will try and wake you at a summer festival.

Take ear plugs, there are lovely soft disposable ear plugs on sale at Chemists. Buy some, I used them at Glastonbury to save me from an extreme snorer in a nearby tent!

Do up your tent securely. Keep your valuables with you.

Keep warm. Wear suitable clothes/thermals or pyjamas in bed. Consider warm socks and a hat even in the summer.  Snuggle down. Sleep. Hopefully you've been dancing all day and will be suitably  tired. Don't set an alarm (unless there's something on early that you really can't bear to miss')


Festival Toilets


chemical toilet
If I talk about festival toilets now, maybe you'll have forgotten about them by the time the festival swings around. No I'm kidding they are not that bad.

Festival loos are something that all non-festival goers cite as reason they can't do festivals. And I'm sure some festival goers have horror stories too (I know I do) but with a little planning and some ability to be a bit more relaxed around poop than usual (more parents can cope with poop in my experience) the festival loo experience can be fine!

Camp Bestival has two types of loo (well actually it has three but the last I haven't experienced...more about them later)

The first is the old faithful, the portable chemical toilet. Most festival have them cleaned and emptied fairly regularly - don't camp too close to them or the 4am hose down and pump may wake you! They can get gruesome but it's down to the festival goers themselves being disgusting and drunk rather than the toilet itself! They will run out of toilet paper and of hand sanitiser. Take your own of both and wet wipes too - make a small bag for toilet trips containing the essentials.

The second sort is the 'compost' loo. They are a variant on the long drop! They have steps up to them and no water, under your seat is a 'pit' filled with sawdust. You take a cup of sawdust from the bin provided and chuck the sawdust down to cover your poop! They are less smelly than the portable chemical toilets (probably as they are very open and airy) they have no chemicals, but you do see a lot of poop. (Kids love this) They tend to stay cleaner. You may still need your own toilet paper and hand sanitiser.

festival toilets

The third and more mysterious option is the luxury loo - Camp Bestival has a secret land of luxury pooping that I have never experienced...

Festival Rain

Rain Rain go away

Today it's raining, so while I did talk about festival weather already I thought I'd do a few specific rain tips today.

Hopefully you have a waterproof tent or camper van. But just in case of leaks take a roll of black bin liners. Pop all your festival clothes into one, and each day pop your sleeping bag into one too, lay one over anything that won't fit in a bag ... now all your stuff is at least protected from drips, and even if you get wet you'll have a dry change of clothes and a dry sleeping bag.

Just because it's raining doesn't mean it will be cold. Summer festivals can be showery but spells of sun can dry you (and your wet clobber) out very quickly. Don't be disheartened at the first drop of rain.

If you have kids plan a few things that you might do if it rains, meet up with another family? Games in their tent? Or in the rain! Look for events happening inside big tents at the festival (though they will fill quickly if it pours)

Consider taking pack-a-macs (those festival ponchos made of bin bag material are a waste of money IMO, either cut arm holes in a bin bag or take a proper coat). We take Shmangles, a rather fab idea, a sort of cross between a picnic blanket and a cape, with a hood! They can be worn in the wet or the cold, or sat on in the sunshine! And they have a handy carry bag too.

Wear wellies. I tend to wear wellies most days at a festival anyway. They have become such a statement item of footwear. Dry feet are a luxury you can afford. Consider getting some super stylish wellies, so that you'll feel good about wearing them and not look like an out of work farmer.

Don't fear the rain. This too shall pass. It's a festival, have fun, you'll be home  in bed in 4 days and miss all me

Festival Sex

Let's talk about festival sex!!

Well if you are a parent with some excited toddlers sharing the tent I doubt there'll be much! Ha! (though you never know, good luck and all that)

But if you are travelling solo or with mates or are a teen liable to wander off to the woods of an evening...well it might crop up!

First things first. Let's ensure no one has sex they don't want to have! All be on the look out for 'enthusiastic consent' that means not just not hearing a no, or being too drunk to really care one way or the other, it means both of you are really really keen! (and trust me, that's the best kind!)

Take some condoms if you have even a glimmer of hope there will be sex. Especially if you plan that sex with someone you just met. Personally I like to get to know someone I'm going to have sex with, but it's a festival, there's love in the be prepared!

Remember that most festivals have a first aid or pharmacy tent. If your condom breaks or you forget to use one, check them out ASAP and they can help. They may have condoms too if you forgot to bring any and find a willing partner. Stifle those giggles, act like a grown up - go get some!

Thanks to Field Candy for the use of this rather fine tent image!

Your tent & getting lost at a festival

Today lets talk about tents. How to find them and how to make them unique. Also what to do when you get lost.

Festivals can be big, very very big and if you have kids that can be scary, for them and for you!

There will be a sea of tents at a festival

How will you find yours? Well here are some ideas.
  • If it's canvas you can paint it, like I did!
  • you can buy a long pole and a flag or spinner - but be aware that as lots of people do this you may need to fly a couple of things together to say unique!
  • You can add bunting, anything from plastic 99p Store bunting, via home made cloth scraps bunting to something posh from Cath Kidson or some lovely home made crocheted bunting. You can even make bunting out of knickers!
  • You can use ribbons on the guy ropes
But if you just can't consider the outlay or the horror of packing MORE stuff, why not pitch near a tent that is overly flamboyant! And when you walk to and from the tent don't forget to talk to the children about what you see. We heard a lot of parents comment on our tent at the last Camp Bestival, including a lot of "Oh we are nearly at our tent, remember it's just past/to the left/to the right of that painted tent".

Landmarks and tent decoration sorted, be sure to have a plan if you get separated. You may advise children to stay where they are! Or to ask a member of staff (most festivals have clearly defined staff and security) or to meet at a certain spot like the big wheel or the tent! Have a plan but hope not to use it. At Camp Bestival little kids have wristbands with parents mobile numbers written on, you could make your own before you go - but be aware that the signal may be poor in a field so still have a back up plan.

Good Luck and happy decorating!

Choosing which festival is right for you

It's time to decide what sort of festival you'd like to go to? Are you going alone? with friends? with children/ If you are taking children how old are they? Do you like music? comedy? food?

As usual I'm setting more questions than answers! But so many festivals! And so many great acts too, from Sir Tom Jones to Mr Tumble, from Chas and Dave to Burt Bacharach, from Metallica to Dolly Parton! So have a hunt around, see what your mates are going to, think about the music you like, some festivals concentrate on one style of music while others have a more varied musical menu.

And some, like Camp Bestival, have all sorts of other things to do too, with themed shows and entertainment for the children.
Helter Skelter at Camp Bestival

cardboard crafts at camp bestival

wall of death at camp bestival

open air piano at camp bestival

For young children especially I would recommend Camp Bestival as a top festival to go to. It's got so much to do, it's friendly, set in a lovely area and for the last 5 years that I've attended the sun has shone every day of the festival.

Barry the Tent's Erection

I realise that I have blogged about how to put up my Cabanon Pyramide IV tent (known to his friends as Wilfred) but I haven't really given as much time to Barry (my Bari3) although Barry did get the thrill of being painted (by me and DD! See that story here) and he stars in many festival blog posts and pictures. He is a little trickier to erect as he has an internal horizontal pole and I'm never sure if I should erect the inner first...I bough Barry on ebay and he has no instructions!

So here are pictures of today's garden erection as a test before festival season kicks off.

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 First, Barry has his own canvas holdall

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 Inside the outer is wrapped in the inner so that the groundsheet is on the outside, the poles are around the bundle, in the bag. All is tipped out onto the grass.

tent poles on the grass
 The poles are numbered, they are sorted and slotted together, except for the long horizontal pole, I tend to add that and then connect it up. It seems easier if you are putting the tent up on your own

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 The inner is arranged on the pitch, check the open end is where you want the front of the tent to be! Lay the outer over the top.

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 Peg down the corners of the outer, ensure it's roughly in a rectangular shape.

tent pegs and mallet on the grass
 Check you have spare rubber bands, they perish and need replacing regularly. Check your tent pegs, this style of tent needs lots.

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 Add the centre pole carefully threading the point on the top through the eyelets on the inner and outer tent skins.

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 Do the same for the back pole, carefully attach the horizontal pole between them, suspending the inner skin from it in the middle.

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 Peg all the rubber bands tight around the base (make sure the tent doorway is zipped shut at this stage or you may not be able to fasten it later!. Add the two front poles and secure them with guy ropes (I seem to have lost one! I shall buy a replacement)

erecting a Bari 3 tent
 Peg out the inner tent. And check everything is upright

erecting a Bari 3 tent
Check it's all tight and secure, job done, drink beer.

Festival tent. Sorted.

Edited to add - sadly I have now sold Barry to make room for new tents, I still miss him.

Choosing a tent

Various tents at a festival
It's a minefield... figuratively obviously, no one with any sense pitches up on an actual minefield.

There are so many styles of tent, so many sizes, so many prices, to choose the right one for you? Because there are so many types of people too! Those that like natural materials and minimalist camping, those who like space and an Electric Hook Up (EHU) for their TV.

I cannot show you every tent, not can I tell you which is right for you but I can tell you (from bitter experience) some of the questions you should ask, and give you some of my answers.

How long will you use the tent for at a stretch? A festival tent for a single person or a (friendly) couple can be very small indeed. No need for standing room or a space to eat, you just need a waterproof, relatively private space to sleep in. Grab a cheap festival tent for under £20 and you are sorted. A longer holiday or a holiday away form a festival and you will need a bit more space to stretch. If you are spending much time in a tent and don't need to actually carry it with you (tents for hikers is a whole other ball game) you need to be able to stand and ideally have some space outside of the sleeping area. Very Important if it rains and you are stuck inside all day reading.

And light! My first tent (which was free so no complaints) had no windows. Great in the evening, or on a sunny day, but during the day if it rained and all the flaps had to be fastened it was miserable. So I'd suggest a window (or two).

How large is your family? How many separate bedrooms do you need? and remember a bedroom that sleeps 2 will only just fit 2 beds into it, so if siblings are sharing it could be a tight squeeze. There are tents with pods that can add on as your family grows, or maybe you'd like your teen to have his own smaller tent. Keep in  mind that some camp sites charge per person, some per tent and some by a 'pitch' which can vary in size. The Camping and Caravanning Club have recently brought in a new larger pitch size to accommodate the newer larger tents and they charge extra accordingly. Check your 'foot print' so that your 'cheap' hobby doesn't turn into an expensive one.

nylon dome tent sleeps three 3
'Nigel' my nylon dome tent, sleeps 3
What material should you choose? My first tent was nylon. They are light and waterproof. But they can be chilly as they are very thin, or very hot when the sun beats down on them! My canvas (100% cotton) tent is better for temperature control. Cotton needs to weather in to become waterproof, the strands absorb water and swell to close the gaps, don't touch the canvas on the inside or you will wick the water in! (maybe not the best if you have an inquisitive toddler). Canvas smells best.

What shape tent should you look for? Dome tents with flexible poles are fairly common as are tunnel tents. As the poles are bendy they will flex in the wind, I've seen poorly guy roped tents blowing almost flat in a storm! Though of course they spring back, could be weird in a nighttime gale though.

Cabanon pyramide IV pyramid 4 tent
'Wilfred' my canvas Cabanon Pyramide IV, sleeps 4
In contrast my pyramid style (Dutch style) tent stands up to a real hurricane with out moving, once when we camped a tree blew down near the tent, while we staying strong! There are no guy ropes at all on the pyramid style and I rather favour it's sleek good looks.

So, look for height, can you stand and sit in a chair in the tent?
Materials - canvas is very strong, good for hot or cold but heavy, nylon is light but doesn't 'breathe' so you can get condensation  in the cold, it won't last as long as canvas and can be hard to repair. Nylon is cheaper. There are polycotton mixes available.

Look at style, 
  • Tunnel - gives you lots of inside space. I have little knowledge of how they perform in 'the field' though.
  • Dome, easy to put up, lots of height in the centre, check where the living area is vs the sleeping area! No one needs to stand up in bed, Tie your guy ropes tightly.
  • Pyramid - heavier poles, often canvas, heavy and can be very expensive. Last well, are very easy to erect.
  • Tepee - I know nothing, they look nice, I suspect they would be like the pyramid, though standing room awkward as pole in centre.
  • Bell tent. Terribly lovely. Very expensive and heavy.
bari 3 tent hand painted
'Barry' my cotton Bari3 tent, sleeps 3
Look at space. Do you want a bedroom each? Space for 'living'? and extra room for storage or the kids to play in?
Windows, where and how many. Also how easy is feeding an EHU in if you need one.
Inner tent. Some tents are single skin, except for a few drunken nights at a festival, or for those camping in warmer climes I wouldn't recommend them. I prefer a sewn in ground sheet as it gives some protection from spiders.
Erection (finally you can snigger) some tents erect outside first with the inner hung inside afterwards (my preference as you can quickly pitch in the rain and then sort out the inner in the dry) other tents have an erectable inner and then the other skin is pulled on over the top. It's personal preference but something to consider.

I won't go into extras like carpets...that's for another post.
Are you armed with questions? Full of ideas, go buy a tent!! And feel free to ask extra questions or add your own advice below. Thanks

Camping Gift Ideas

It's coming up to Christmas. It's cold out and most tent campers have packed the canvas away until spring. (not all of you though I bet! and I STILL have 'camping in deep snow' on my bucket list..) So finding things to blog about is not always easy. Then I realised that gifts for the next season would be a good theme. This is not a sponsored post. And it's based on things I own and love and things I don't own but really deeply desire for camping.

A Top Ten Gift Ideas for the Camper

  1. A Storm Kettle. I have a Kelly kettle, though other brands are available. Boil water in moments using sticks and other fuel found around. It seems like an expensive item but it will last for ever (barring bear attack, being trampled by herds of wildebeest, meteor strike etc) and saves money by enabling you to cook without buying fuel. It also makes cooking fun, slightly dangerous, and entertaining. Feel like a proper mountain man, and have a great excuse to send the kids off to collect small sticks and pine cones (instant peace). I have just noticed a hobb attachement is to be made available in 2014 - *adds to wish list* A flashy new addition to the storm kettle idea is the (much more expensive and geeky) Biolite Stove, cook and charge electrical devices at the same time - perfect preparation for the Zombie apocalypse.
  2.  A Penknife. I bought a fantastic basic one. I also attached it to a lanyard as I was forever putting it down and losing it. Every camper needs a good penknife. Bottle opener, cheese slicer, cork puller, pointy thing for doing stuff...a penknife is an essential.
  3. Duct tape. Duck Tape is a fine brand. Lots of fun colours. Duct tape is perfect when camping for so many things. repairing tents, repairing poles, temporary holding for things, making dens. Perfect multipurpost fixing stuff! No camper should be without a roll or two, or three.
  4. A Shmangle. A brilliant wearable waterproof blanket. Genius. You can use it to sit on in the day, shelter under in rain, wear to keep warm in the evening, put it under a sleeping bag for more warmth at night. For festivals there is no better item, you could, at a pinch, survive with a shmangle in place of a tent! I have a red one, DD has a blue one.
  5. A loo.  A basic portable toilet. Great for an emergency.  An ideal gift for the long distance traveller too - never be caught short again, and yet not need to carry a bulky toilet around! If the simplicity of a bag is too basic for you - how about a bucket syle?
  6. Solar powered Torch. Yes it sounds like a joke. But why not use your day to charge up your night? Nothing worse than running out of light to read by or rationing torch light because you are far from the shops. Now you can be fully charged each evening. And not have to carry a sack of batteries around with you.
  7. A Camping toaster. I've tried bigger and supposedly superior types but this little beauty is still my favourite. Toasts a slice at a time a side at a time, fast though! Great for breakfast or camping snacks. Works over most camp stoves, probably over the stormkettle too as long as you are not burnign anything too strong smelling (I might not use it over burning cow dung)
  8. Small flexi trug. Multipurpose. Good for storage, washing up, hairwashing, carrying firewood, carting things from the shops...anything really, strong, waterproof (leave one outside full of water as a fire precaution) Would make a nice gift filled with othe small camping bits like food, shampoos, socks etc. Buy them from horse supplies shops, super markets, garden stores or online.
  9. Pre Mixed drinks in a can. Not really a camping thing, more a festival thing but a nice gift anyway. Not the cheapest way to buy a drink but no glass to transport so less weight and no risk of breakages. Ditto bags of wine. Oh and on that note - why not combine a wine box with an actual bag to carry the wine in - a sneaky festival essential! Or a spill proof wine class? Finally a sippy cup for grownups.
  10. Life Straw. For the really wild camper (or one who is too lazy to carry water very far) try a straw that purifies water as you drink. Never be caught out thirsty on a long hot walk again, now every stream and pond and puddle is a veritable drink of pure clean water.
So there you go. Some fun, some weird, mostly useful ideas for gifts for the camper in your life, or add them to your own wishlist - and point your loved ones here if they are stuck for ideas.

Have a Happy Christmas preparing for your next camping trip.

Night night, sleep tight - Camping sleep mats review

For a long time I have searched for the perfect comfy night's sleep when camping. As I'm in my 50s the simple thin foam mat favo...