Eating Vegan (and not eating vegan) at a Festival

I've been to a few festivals over the summer, Cornbury, Camp Bestival and Boomtown Fair and have tried the delicious food on offer at each one. This year for an added bit of excitement DD has become vegan so the extra challenge to feed her has been fun. No longer can I just grab a burger or a pie and what have I been eating and how have the festivals fared?

At Cornbury, which is a smallish festival, there was a fairly good selection. We had to option of vegan curries, vegan pizzas, paellas, and other snacks, including falafels (the vegan staple!) and spicy vegan burgers, this last item being DDs favourite and she returned a few times for the same thing! Goodness Gracious Healthy Foods was at all the festivals we went to and scored a firm 5 stars as they even had vegan cake options!

At Cornbury we discovered some dairy free ice cream at the Shepherds ice cream stall.

Obviously we didn't only eat vegan..well I didn't - and there was plenty of delicious food for me to try too, I even chomped my way through half a roast chicken and potatoes on the Sunday.

At Camp Bestival, along with the usual selection of Goodness Gracious Healthy Food, wood fired pizza and Paella, we also had some amazing burgers at Biff's Jack Shack and were spoiled in the Feast Collective with some incredible vegan choices.

We discovered that Jimmy's Iced Coffee make a dairy free iced coffee too!

Once again, I was not deprived of meat... 

At Boomtown we travelled light and so took no food at all, relying instead on the trusty Goodness Gracious Healthy Food and the rest of the vegan gang. DD had paella for breakfast one morning...and why not - it's a festival after all. She also had a pizza (vegan cheese) and lots of chips and the occasional vegan burger. She had a spicy vegan Mexican wrap which was so spicy it nearly finished her off, I'm sad I missed the photo opportunity of her panting and begging for water. 

Up at the kids field we discovered that the pancake makers had a vegan option, reader you have never seen a happier teen! Time was too short to try all of the vegan options at Boomtown and we left with a tasty looking coconut curry and some fried plantain left untasted. Ah well, there's always next year.

If you have dietary restrictions for any reason, it seems that festivals really are catering well for everyone. Staff everywhere were really helpful and knowledgeable too,

although, when I bought this jumbo (meat) hotdog I was told it was 9 only looked like 6 inches to me! Maybe it depends which angle you see it from ;-)

Campervans and tents and festival storms

Last weekend I went to Camp Bestival. Unusually for me I didn't take a tent! I fulfilled a bit of a bucket list dream and hired a gorgeous and retro VW campervan called Molly. She is pink! DD and I had an exhilarating drive, (exhilarating is the polite way of saying terrifying) from Sussex to Dorset. Old campers have no power steering (obviously) and a top speed of about 60mph (downhill with a good wind.) They take a while to get used to after driving a Fiat Panda I can tell you!

So the first hour was punctuated by swearing, giggling and screams, but once we were out of the country lanes and filled with petrol and on our way it was fine, Molly and I quickly became firm friends. VW Campers are great little campers for just 2 of you and real solid little things, Molly had no trouble with driving across fields uphill, and once parked up she was a glorious little home for 4 days of the festival.

It turned out to be a good year to choose to take a camper van, because the wind started to increase on Saturday and some tents didn't make it through to the evening. By Sunday morning, many tents had ripped, collapsed, lost guy ropes and generally been destroyed. Molly had been rocking and shaking in the wind too, so while I'm pretty sure our canvas tents Wilfrid and Lord Lichfield would have stayed strong (they have both weathered pretty fierce storms over the years) it was still nice to be snug as a bug in a VW!
I wondered how the tents had been faring though, once a tent lover always a tent lover, and so I asked twitter for information on the state of play.
 A huge amount of random data flooded in and I have used it to create a totally abstract and unscientific chart or two to show which tents do best in a storm. I only asked about tents still standing, so I have no idea if equal numbers of the tents mentioned also broke! And I have no idea of the number of each tent we started with, Vango might have won purely because 90% of the tents on site were Vangos! But whatever, here are the charts for your perusal.

From twitter conversation several tents got a thumbs down, but in each case the marketing team on twitter were really quick to offer help, advice and refunds, so kudos for that - and it was a big old storm!

To me it looks like an old fashioned bell tent is the best option if you can both afford it, and be bothered to lug it around (they are heavy). Pegging your tent correctly and keeping guy ropes taught is also high on the list for surviving a storm (use the correct tent pegs for the conditions). Smaller tents (heightwise) often cope better in a storm, the tents we saw collapsed tended to be large tunnel tents that had been 'side on' to the wind.

I'd love to have any comments below, did your tent survive the Camp Bestival storm of 2018? Let us know!

and if you fancy trying your luck at Camp Bestival in 2019 you can find out more here

Camp Bestival 2018 review of (probably) the best family festival on Earth

Hello! I am back from one of the best family festivals on earth, Camp Bestival,  and I'm not only saying that because they gifted me a ticket!
This year the festival was sadly cut short by horrendous storms and wind, but no one wants doom and gloom so here are the fun bits!

First off, we hired a camper van this year! So minimal tentsniffing for me, but the joy of a cute pink VW camper instead.(more of her soon)
pink vw campervan
Molly the Camper Van

Day one was Thursday. Hot and sunny we drove (slowly in the elderly camper) to the site. Parked high on the hill and gazed down over the festival. Thursday evening we spent lazing about because we assumed we had so much time...note to self, seize the moment! (rules for life and festivals) do not assume you have days and days left..)

Day two. The festival begins. There is much prowling and getting orientated, and this is because with Bestival being held on the same site one week later the layout had changed slightly. Initially (like many people I'm sure) I hated the changes.
"Why is the big top here?" 
"Where is the Pigs Big Ballroom?" 
"Why is there nothing much outside Bollywood?" 
"Why is the crazy wall of death stunt show down here?" 

but later I began to see that some of the changes had real benefits. The new Big Top had open sides and was now in a natural dip in the ground, meaning even people who were sitting outside (either to enjoy the sun or because the tent was full) could now see in to the stage really well. And moving the Wall of Death gave space on the hill for an entire ship! (DD was amazed..."how on earth do you get a whole ship into a field?")

The new live action retro arcade games looked hilarious although we didn't take a turn, and high wire skills? Wow, so many brave people that each day this activity was filled up very early!

There was much shopping and drinking and eating on day two too. The Feast Collective turned out to be just as delicious as had been promised with an excellent vegan selection for DD.

In the evening, Rick Astley, with the amazing Mary Berry on drums, no I have no idea either, but it really happened I was there.

DD had already been struck dumb with shock and awe at seeing her hero Mary Berry wandering about in the Magic Meadow.

After seeing Rick I dragged DD to the big top to see my favourite DJ Jaguar Skills, and that was so much fun, he also brought Jag Jr to the set which was rather adorable and just right for a kids festival.

Day three, which turned out to also be the last day was full of wind and hot sun, a desert theme would have been more in keeping than the sea theme we had! I dressed a bit like a pirate, but keeping a pirate hat on in that wind was impossible, so I mainly looked like a middle aged women with a plastic sword in her belt.

We didn't visit the kid's fields as much as in previous years as DD is now an adult! But the children all appeared to be having the most amazing fun that only a festival in sunshine which is designed almost exclusively for them can achieve. Sadly for the first year in a long time we missed the simply glorious Insect Circus.

Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer pleased his fans with some spiffing chap-hop despite his suffering with a summer cold, although some small boys in the front row were disappointed he didn't sing, Let's Talk about Kanye.

Clean Bandit were excellent on the castle stage at night.

After Clean Bandit we decided to investigate the Caravanserai, a mishmash of old caravans and fairground parts with bars and stages and it rapidly became my favourite part of Camp Bestival, I had planned to spend most of Sunday night there, but it was not to be.

The activity, the shows and the general atmosphere though were simply incredible, I loved it. Well done Rob da Bank and co for the amazing festival once again! So sad that we missed out of Sunday, I'm already counting down the days until next year...

The show goes on and Rob and the team are already making plans for Camp Bestival 2019, which takes place from Thursday 25th July to Sunday 28th July at Lulworth Castle.

From Friday 3rd August at 10am to say thanks to all Camp Bestival-goers for being brilliant, there is a very special 72-hour pre-sale with adult weekend tickets available to buy for the amazing price of £150.

Camping Plus, Hospitality and Backstage Camping upgrades will also be available at pre-sale prices. To take advantage of our pre-sale prices, head to the Camp Bestival website and sign up to the mailing list to receive an access code.

Following the pre-sale, early bird tickets go on sale on Monday 6th August at 10am from, with adult weekend tickets priced at just £160 and available to buy with our monthly payment plan.
Camping Plus, Hospitality and Backstage Camping upgrades will be on sale at early bird prices, too.

All Camp Bestival ticketing information and lots more can be found at

Disclosure: as an Official Camp Bestival Blogger I was gifted a ticket to attend the festival

Cornbury Festival Review

What an amazing weekend. Helped of course by the most amazing summer weather that many of you will ever have experienced. After several weeks of blazing sun and high temperatures a part of me was afraid the weather would break just as the festival season kicked off, but no! The weather Gods smiled upon us and Cornbury went ahead with scorched grass and blue blue skies.

You'll have seen the line up in my previous posts, so I won't go on and on about how simply fabulous Alanis Morrissette was, or how Caro Emerald looked and sounded amazing and had the entire crowd dancing and swaying with her and her (rather handsome) band. I won't bang on about the fun set by Amy McDonald, or how incredible Jimmy Cliff was (even my teenager loved his reggae hits and danced along). I won't bore you with how Pixie Lott wowed the crowds or how gorgeous Marie Wilson looked , and how much fun we all had singing along to her 1983 hit Just What I always Wanted. (Goodness it was a joyous blast from the past)
Marie Wilson

I will tell you though that the site was beautiful, a bit hilly but you could avoid that if  you arrived early or didn't mind a bit of a squeeze between the tents. Car parking was well organised and close to the campsite. We used our trolley but there were wheelbarrow style trolleys to hire if you needed them.

The festival campsite

The campsite had the usual portable toilets and they were regularly checked and cleaned, I never stumbled into a grungy one. There were free showers too, and lots of toilets for the disabled, in fact the entire festival was really disabled-friendly. As you know I only have a minor disability, but for those that needed extra help there was a great accessible viewing platform for the main stage, the paths were all flat and grass mown short,and I saw several tweets about how good the facilities for the disabled were.

In the campsite there was a shop selling  essentials (such as ice! I can't tell you how fabulous it was to be able to buy ice for the cool box at a festival, cold gins in tins are a definite essential) and couple of food stalls for breakfast, hot drinks and late snacks, there was even a campsite bar!

The vegan choices at the festival food stalls was limited but what was available was delicious, my teen was thrilled to discover some vegan ice cream (sorbet).  I of course consumed all the food...all of it, amazing Goan fish curries were my favourite, but I also had pizza, and on Sunday a half of a chicken!!

The site managed to squeeze in a giant big wheel, and an entire fun fair, complete with dodgems and a haunted house and a helter skelter, a mini cinema, several stages, shops, and numerous bars.

And for anyone wanting water but not fancying the lukewarm tap water, there was fresh filtered and cooled water from Frank, a charity that will refill water bottles for a small weekend fee, the money going to help charities abroad and the refils helping save plastic here - a win win! (They are going to be at Camp Bestival too.) You can buy a water bottle from their range and they will fill that at any festival for free, or you can buy a weekend wristband and get your own bottle refilled (we chose that option as we already have a few bottles)

No festival is perfect, and I would probably advise a program redesign, as finding the clashes was tricky - a timeline would have been good for each stage. I would have liked more vegan food options too - although the Goodness Gracious team were really lovely and my teen was happy to eat their vegan burgers several times.

I did too much shopping, too much eating, too much drinking and too much sleeping, which seems to me to be exactly what a festival is for. I would recommend Cornbury for anyone who loves a well run slightly posh festival (not all that posh, they let me in) and especially for any disabled festival goers or wanna be festival goers. Cornbury is a great festival for families too.

And don't just take my word for it - I bumped into a blogging chum there and she reviewed the festival too - on her Blog here MadMumof7  It was Afra's first festival and she loved it!

Disclosure : I attended Cornbury as the festival's guest in order to facilitate this review.

Let's talk about Gin

Festivals are the perfect time to relax and have a drink. Any camping is really, the joy of having nowhere to go, the relaxing sound of babbling brooks or bird song or the wind in the trees..or music drifting across the site...

At Camp Bestival Josie has previously treated us to a very 'Highgate mums' style cocktail garden with cute caravan bar, which just immediately makes you feel like a yummy mummy as you sip on something that probably contains at least one of your 'five a day' (I am a huge fan of a spicy Bloody Mary with celery)

This year we are leaping onto the gin lovers bandwagon as Rob and Josie have a Gin festival planned! A festival within a festival.

An unmissable destination for any adult with an adventurous palate and a must for the dedicated gin enthusiast at Camp Bestival, take some time out from traditional festival pursuits to sip a delicious gin & tonic or try a delectable cocktail made from your choice of one of more than 50 gins.
Featuring an appealing collection of flavour profiles, from citrus and herbaceous to fruity and floral, you can enjoy delicious homegrown botanicals, global favourites and a handsome selection of handcrafted gins. And ensuring the whole affair is as educational as it is appetising, there will also be a series of gin masterclasses from the finest purveyors of the UK’s favourite spirit.
In addition to collecting together an admirable host of the world’s finest gins, Rob & Josie have made their first foray into craft distilling, creating their own special gin with esteemed Bristolian micro-distillery Psychopomp. The botanicals used to distil the gin were inspired by their travels, with a crack of black pepper from Jaipur in India, the fragrance of Italian Amalfi lemons and Ibizan herbs among others.
The grand unveiling of R&J’s Gin will be at Camp Bestival, giving you yet another reason to succumb to the charms of one of the world’s finest tipples.
 As usual this will be in the kid's garden so you can chill while watching your little ones have fun.

I can't wait!! I love to try new drinks and new flavours.

You can join us on our merry cruise (this year the festival has a nautical theme)

Book online via Ticketline only. TICKET ADVANCE PRICES 
Adult Weekend Ticket - £197.50*
Student Weekend Ticket - £185*
Age 13 to 17 Weekend Ticket - £125*
Age 10 to 12 Weekend Ticket - £98.75*
Age 5 to 9 Weekend Ticket - £45*
Age 4 & Under Weekend Ticket - £15*
Babes in Arms (1 & Under) - FREE (but ticket required)*

*All weekend tickets include camping from Thursday
*Please refer to the Camp Bestival Ticket Terms & Conditions
Camping Plus, Boutique, Backstage and Hospitality tickets are available.
Car Parking - £20 in advance
Campervan Ticket (Field A) - £90 - please read Campervan T&Cs here before booking
Caravan / Trailer Tent Ticket (Field A) - £100 - please read Caravan / Trailer Tent T&Cs herebefore booking
Festival Programme Pack - £10 (reserve your festival programme pack to collect on site at the festival)

I am attending Camp Bestival as a member of the 'crew' in exchange for sahring some of this exciting info with you all - I am a big fan of Camp Bestival and haven't missed one since 2010!

Coping with weekend after weekend of festivals

People have asked me how I cope with so many festivals in such a short space of time each summer. Is it amazing advanced planning? Spending loads of money or a wild and carefree attitude to life?

I'd say it's a mix of all of those. Most summers I do four or more festivals and as summer is fairly limited in the UK, in practice this means I usually have little or no time between the festivals. Every year there are festivals I can't go to because of clashes...choices must be made. This year the top picks are Camp Bestival, Cornbury, Boomtown Fair, and England's Medieval festival. (I also squeezed in a one day festival and ComicCon)

I have managed to get a week between some of the festivals I'm going to this year, so I can get the washing done! But what planning do I do?

First I plan what I (and my daughter)  are going to wear. I tend to take a fair bit of 'fancy dress', underwear, a pair of jeans, some T shirts and a jumper, fleece and waterproof coat. Wellies and a pair of trainers. The fancy dress might include a onesie so I'll probably wear that in bed, if not then leggings and a T shirt will keep me decent if I need to leave the tent in the night for any reason (to fix a tent peg on a windy night, or to straighten a guy line after a drunken loo seeker falls over it for example). I tend to take a different set of clothes to each festival - that means I don't have to worry about washing and drying it all in the brief time I'm home between them, I do however, have the added bonus of having Mr TS who is not only fully licenced to do the washing but he doesn't do festivals!

  • Plan clothes, separate piles for each festival.

Food. I buy some food in advance, and also plan to buy some food there. Breakfasts and coffee are big costs at a festival for little real gain, so I take coffee bags and cereal bar type snacks. Also bananas. This year will be a challenge as DD has recently become vegan, so I'll have to take that into consideration when buying, sadly she will no longer be able to share my favourite breakfast, the potato and bacon fry up in a pouch! I might take some tinned new potatoes to slice and fry in oil instead.

Tinned meals, chilli, hotdogs, new potatoes, baked beans. spaghetti hoops, all day breakfast etc. Snacks and breakfast foods, protein bars, cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit, bananas, individually wrapped croissants and cakes. Instant type meals are good too, cup-a-soups, instant noodles, and instant potato. Drinks, NO GLASS, cans of ready mixed alcohol, beer, bags of wine, cartons of juice for children and hangover cures. (No need to bring water as there are lots of water points at all festivals - and this year Camp Bestival is cutting down on single use plastics by having ice cold cans of water for sale on site) Plan some money for food. kids might share but look at spending £6 - £8 per adult per meal. Make at home and take the first nights meal with you - you can freeze it and use it as a way to keep your cooler cool.

  • Food - buy in advance.

Prepacked boxes. I keep all my camping stuff packed away in 2 large Really Useful Boxes. One box has all the camping essentials and the other has the fun festival extras! So in the essentials box I have things like cooking stuff, pots and pans, matches, cutlery, penknife, tooth brushes and toothpaste, medicines (hay fever medicines and paracetamol and plasters), sun cream, and in the fun box I have bunting, flowers, fly spray (yeah not really fun but also not essential) masks, game stuff, books, pens. I also keep all the washing and washing up things in a flexi trug ready to pop into the car. Having the boxes ready to go at the start of the festival season means they don't need any unpacking or repacking between festivals. So I just need to grab clothes, tent, chairs, wellies and the boxes and we are good to go.
  • Plan - pack basic bits and pieces for camping/festivals in advance. keep them in a practical easy to transport container.
Dog's are not allowed at most festivals - although England's Medieval Festival welcomes them
Have more than one tent. OK This bit isn't essential but if it rains it's nice to be able to leave the wet tent at home and take a new dry one. If you don't have that option then just take the wet tent to erect at the next festival as long as it's less than a week away. Over a week and a packed tent will start to get mouldy , so unwrap and spread it out to dry at home if you have the time.
  • Own multiple tents (not really essential)

Buy all the tickets you can online, if there are various options get them in advance. Pay for your parking, get your theatre tickets, pay for any extras you can because you'll find otherwise you might miss them due to over booking or run out of money!
  • More planning!
Take things for the kids to prevent the whining and begging for you to buy them things. Now we are all thinking of the environment more, I'm no longer sure that glo-sticks are a sensible buy, they are fun and the kids will love them, but they are essentially a single use plastic full of chemicals and glass. I'm fairly sure they can't be recycled. Maybe look for some funky colour changing torches or wands instead, they will last for a few festivals so you might even save money! For little kids the 'squeezy' torches are a great idea, they won't run out of battery! Take some face paints, and some bright and sparkly Eco (biodegradable) glitter, great for everyone to get into the festival spirit (save on the queues and save money!) Circus toys and flower crowns/silly hats are also popular.

  • Take extras
When I get back from a festival I have ensured I packed the dirty clothes last, so I unload them and then if the next festival is less that 5 days away, I don't even unpack the car! Kiss Mr TS, pat the dog, shower off the mud, throw the clothes into the washing machine, pop to the supermarket, pack the new clothes and off we go again...

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...