Camp Bestival 2017

It’s been a while, but I feel duty bound to report on our annual trip to Camp Bestival, which this year was brought to you by 40mph winds and lashings and lashings of pissing rain. That’s right. The weather could only have been worse if it had literally snowed knives, so pretty different to the previous four years I’ve been getting drunk in the grounds of Lulworth Castle. But a change is as good as a rest. This is how it all went down, in case you were thinking of risking a festival with your children in tow any time soon.

Things started off well enough. This year we have a newer, bigger camper van which to husband’s dismay can actually fit the entire family in, so he didn’t get to palm off the overexcited, arguing children into a separate car for the 200 mile drive it takes us to get there like normal. Thanks to the wonder which is google maps and a free-handed non-driver who can actually operate it whilst moving, we took the world’s most scenic traffic-avoiding detour through some tiny B-roads in Dorset, and before we knew it were queuing to get into the campervan field a mere 3.5 hours later. Result.

camp bestival
Damn right it deserves that exclamation mark.

The theme for this year’s fancy dress was Popstars and Rockstars, so obviously I took this opportunity to knock up some giant conical boobs and go as Blond Ambition era Madonna because nothing says “howling British downpour attire” better than a strappy pink leotard and microphone made out of a drinking straw.

Madonna costume camp bestival
Homemade guns.

We’d also misjudged quite how much the orange hair colour spray we covered our son in to turn him into a TINY ED SHEERAN would run all over his tiny face in the torrential rain, meaning that for about ten seconds in our tent at the start of the day he looked bloody awesome, but at all times following this and for the rest of the weekend and his entire life probably he just looked like a melting oompa loompa. It’s still not all come out, and we’ve been back for days now. This is probably just the colour he’s going to be now. I do accept this.

 

Husband decided to go as Freddie Mercury. It’s fair to say that he doesn’t really share a physique with the late great snake-hipped rock hero, however if you imagine what Freddie perhaps might have looked like had he recovered, had more pies than was strictly necessary and discovered a love of lager and sitting down – well, you get this don’t you:

Freddie Mercury costume camp bestival
Freddie Mercury: The ‘bit like Elvis in his later years’ years.

What my husband lacks in athletic build, he more than makes up for with his creative engineering skills. We’ve always taken a child-trolley with us to the festival. When the children were little this started off as being somewhere we could keep them safe, put them down for a nap, keep them comfortable with ear defenders on, out of the sun etc. etc. In recent years, it has morphed into more of a ‘somewhere to keep all the booze’, complete with re-engineered mobility scooter electric power, because whilst he is very very creative, he is also very, very lazy and Camp Bestival is as hilly as a bastard and those children aren’t getting any lighter.

marshall amp festival trolley camp bestival
The Marshall Amp. Rated to at least 25 stone (as tested by Freddie Mercury and friends)

I’m not lying when I say that this year’s incarnation of the trolley has a higher spec than my actual car*. It has gained a lid, rather than a fabric canopy – handy to stand the kids on as they are a bit too heavy for shoulder rides to see the headline acts now; an electric coolbox which was so horrifically efficient that most of the cans of Pimms I drank (thousands) were much too cold to even hold (first world problems), a phone charger socket, cup holder, and after the first day of gentle drizzle, it even acquired brackets on the side to accommodate a FULL SIZE PATIO UMBRELLA. It was branded to look like a Marshall Amp, and was so convincing that security stopped us on the way into one of the arenas to tell us ‘you can’t play that thing in here’. In answer, we opened the lid to demonstrate a grinning, prostrate, violently ginger-all-over tiny Ed Sheeran, and were let on our merry way. On the final night, Lee actually discovered that if he stretched himself prostrate over the top of it, he could still reach to operate the steering controls, the effect being that he could propel himself home to the campsite up the hill with the children inside on what was effectively a motorised, Marshall-branded, electric coffin-mobile. Utterly ridiculous. But that’s what festivals are for, right?

*For reference, my car has dodgy electrics and cannot be locked or opened with the key, which I have to be honest is less than convenient really. I’ve just about got used to leaving it open, but one time Lee forgot, and left it parked down the road locked using the manual locking buttons on the doors. On my return, I stood for a good few minutes staring at it, clicking the key in futile panic wondering how on earth I was going to get in when, like an answer from heaven all of a sudden all four windows spontaneously and slowly wound themselves down in unison. Cue a swift look left, right, then slow, comedy bewildered reach in through the wide open driver’s window to open the door from the inside. I’m pretty sure that my neighbours in that road still think they witnessed me nicking it.

 

But back to Camp Bestival, obviously this year was a pretty different beast to previous years because of the unholy British “summertime” downpours. If you do decide to go to a festival (with or without children) you do really have to make sure you take every single item of clothing and at least three pairs of shoes for each person, because you can never be sure that the worst won’t happen.

I’ve done my fair share of judging people who “went home” because their tent broke over the years, thinking that they were probably just idiots who didn’t know how to pitch it properly, but this year we very clearly must fall into that category, because, despite surviving near divorce putting the bastard thing up, after a first night of howling gale, first full day and night of biblical rain, second day of more of the same (*WHY, GOD, WHY??!*) we returned to our tent on the Saturday night to find the weight of the water on its sagging roof had snapped not one, but two of our tent poles. That’s right. Snapped. Two poles.

This is the kind of thing which could cause marital tension at the best of times, but after a full day on the Pimms, towing two soaked-through children through miles of muddy slurry, I can report that this was not our finest hour. One entire half of the awning was collapsed in on itself, with everything on that side soaking in a large pool of rainwater. One whispered row later, we managed to brace up the broken poles using Freddie Mercury’s microphone stand, gaffer tape and a hundred cable ties, further confirming my philosophy that if your problem cannot be solved by cable ties or gaffer tape then you simply have not tried hard enough at fancy dress props.

All in all though, and despite the weather we still managed to have a bloody brilliant time. Being prepared for the wet definitely helped, but it’s probably fair to say that with the rain this year it seemed like we actually did even more child-centred activities than in previous years, as when the sun is shining the temptation is just to sit around on the grass drinking it all in. And literally, drinking it all in, instead of having quality, wholesame family-type fun.

The undercover areas this year did get very busy, but if you were prepared to brave a few minutes of rain, you could always find somewhere with room to squeeze in for something to do. We enjoyed a happy hour watching the kids colouring in in the CBeebies tent, we silent-discoed in the Lego Friends area, we built and fired rockets in the Kidifornia yurt, we spent our annual salary on 5 seconds of fun at the coconut shy stall – all the usual festival stuff which is still brilliant whatever the weather really. There’s nothing quite as hilarious as watching a load of strangers literally raving in a muddy field next to a disco ball the size of your house too for comedy kicks.

I still maintain it’s the happiest place on earth for a few short days of the year, and really, really recommend that you try it with your family at least once. What’s the worst that can happen?!

Freddie Mercury Madonna fancy dress costumes camp bestival
Freddie and Madonna.
lady gaga george michael costume camp bestival
Lady Gaga and George Michael
giant disco ball camp bestival
Aint no disco like a disco in a muddy field disco
camp bestival glowsticks
Don’t worry Rosita, I have GLOUWSTEEECKS!
Dingly dell light installation camp bestival
The dingly dell after dark. Pure magic.

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lovebot giant robot camp bestival
Lovebot
camp bestival giant disco ball
My next album cover
camp bestival in the rain
Braving the rain. Several pints in.
caravanserei camp bestival
The wonderful Caravanserei area. So, so magical.

 

OVER AND OUT.


If you fancy comparing the apocalyptic 2017 Camp Bestival with previous years, check out my other write ups about it here from 2016’s Space theme, and here from when we went WILD in 2015.

If you’re just thinking of going camping with kids, don’t do it without reading my EXTREMELY HELPFUL TIPS here

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If you desperately want to pay me to write stuff for you, because let’s face it, who wouldn’t, I also write features, copy and content for all manner of brands, publications and campaigns through my day job at Lemon and Lime creative and brand strategy agency. Talk to my agent.

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. babbitman says:

    You guys have the most awesome fun. Mrs Babbit and I last went camping in 1988 (glorious first day, mainly spent travelling down to Devon, then pissed it down and we went home 4 soggy days later, my wife apparently sworn off camping for ever). Now that our kids are 18 & 21 and we don’t have to drag them on holiday with us, we had considered hiring a motor home and driving down to Switzerland next summer and perhaps having a few weekends away trying one out over the rest of August. Then we found out how expensive the bastards are. So we appear to have bought a tent instead. I’m still not sure how this happened.
    Anyway, my main take away from your splendid piece (other than ‘what an awesome job yer hubby did with the cart’) is: cable ties & gaffer tape. More items for the camping checklist, along with a big cool box and a host of luxuries that we’re beginning to realise won’t fit in our car.
    We’re going to test the tent in our back garden this weekend like 12 year olds on a sleepover 😀

    Like

  2. Ian says:

    When we saw your electric cart on the first day, it clicked why Lee was riding around on a mobility scooter a few weeks ago – ingenious, will remember for next time.
    We embraced the ‘muddness’ that was Camp Bestival 2017 (can now say we’ve done it in the rain!) and like you, had loads of fun…beats Northamptonshire in the sun!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lindsay says:

      Ha ha was so funny to see you within minutes of getting there!

      Like

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