Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Camp Bestival

This year I was lucky enough to win a family ticket to Camp Bestival.  It was a great fun competition where you had to complete various stages in a race to the finish line to the final prize of a family ticket.  I was lucky enough to complete all the stages and win the tickets, along with several other amazing prizes along the way.  The tickets were a superb win, having exhausted my festival budget earlier this  year with Glastonbury, Bestival and Camp Bestival were only a dream.

We arrived late on Thursday night, but luckily had friends (who had also won in the same competition) already pitched and waiting for us.  Trolley hire was a nightmare and the taxi service non-existent when we got there, so the first challenge was the slog to the pitch, but with perseverance and a knackering walk we made it just before 11pm and were pitched, air beds blown up and kids asleep before 2am.  This kind of bed time became the norm all weekend.

Friday, dawned bright and sunny and we had a morning exploring the site and marvelling at the amount of things to do for young kids....why didn't this exist when mine were this little. T is 18 now and M 13, so they were a bit old for the kiddie based activities but they loved just walking around soaking up the atmosphere. 


Then it was onto prize 1.

Front of stage tickets for two to watch Ash on the main stage.  Again, we were blessed here as another one of our group also won this prize, so we pooled prizes and myself and Lynn took the two teenage girls along.



  They were gobsmacked that they were allowed down the front to watch from the press pit.

 
Nothing was going to top this for the rest of the day, but the girls threw themselves into walking around, looking pretty, lazing at the tent and deciding which stall to eat from next with gusto.  While myself and Lynn looked forward to our evening treat. 
 
 
 
Yes, we were privileged enough to get tickets which allowed us to watch the Billy Bragg gig from the side of the stage.  I had one of the awful moments when I felt old, as I realised that I'd seen my first Billy Bragg gig 30 years ago!  The view from the side of stage was awe inspiring, with the crowd and the beautiful castle in the background as the sun set over Lulworth.
 
By this time, I had lost the boys (18, 18 and 23) to Bollywood, the bar and generally enjoying the festival on their own.  They didn't want to be with mum cramping their style, but such is the atmosphere of the festival that I didn't even worry heading off to sleep with them still out, something that I'd never dare to do at home.
 
Saturday arrived all too soon, with us up bright and early to meet up with Matt from Camp Bestival to claim yet another prize, in the form of a drink on CB.  This was gratefully received as the bar prices at the site weren't cheap and packing light had meant that alcohol was not on our packing list.  Armed with our vouchers myself and Lynn debated keeping hold of the blokes vouchers (they were too lazy to get up!) but were good and shared them out back at the tents.
 
Yet more wandering around marvelling at the sights and sounds, a visit to the Skylanders area for E&D, our 10  year olds and a mosey around the stalls led us to the Gabriel Aplin gig.  Again we had two tickets for front of stage here, so we sent in the girls.  They loved every minute of it and you could see that for them the festival was made.  Even joining the crowd myself, at a diminutive 5ft 2" I didn't feel crushed or over shadowed and could see the stage! 
 
Next up was a relax before I took myself off to see Mark Owen. Can you believe out of a group of 10 people I was the only one who wanted to see this gig.  Well it was their loss.


 
Then onto the Levellers which everyone headed off to.  We managed to get relatively near the front again and danced our socks off next to some really sprightly old age pensioners.
 
Sunday arrived even faster than Saturday had....and again after a leisurely morning we headed off to throw paper airplanes for a world record breaking attempt before a side of stage view of 1975 in the Big Top, (wow just wow!), a meeting with the band (wow and even more wow!) and a chilled evening of comedy with Alan Davies in preparation for Labrinth and the fireworks display.. 
 
The wonderful Matt from Camp Bestival was nice enough to swop one of our prizes, so the kids could all watch Labrinth from the front of the stage, so after rushing from the Big Top and the Alan Davies gig, we managed to get the kids to the front for the last surprise which was their seats for the last gig of the weekend.  This was followed by a wonderful spine tingling fire work display which was just the icing on the cake of a wonderful weekend.
 
I've read lots of reviews of this festival on other blogs, and seen the comments on facebook about the facilities but cannot believe these people were at the same festival.  The toilet facilities have been slammed everywhere I look, yet having attended hundreds of festivals and with Glastonbury still fresh in my mind these were heavenly.  I didn't even try the "posh loos" but the on site staff near our tent were constantly cleaning the loos, and not once did I open a door and run away.  The queues were always manageable and none of our group ever had a problem.  The showers were fantastic, of course, they are always going to be busy first thing in the morning but if you were prepared to pop over later then it was easy.
 
Food at these things is always going to be expensive, but we found some stalls that were very reasonable, The Soup Library and Tea & Toast as always delivered.  The Schuh welly exchange was fantastic and these proved to be life savers when the heavens opened as we packed up on Monday.
 
Fest-taxi were the only true disappointment.  On Thursday they had shut by 9pm and others told me that actually by 8.30pm you struggled to get one, which considering a lot of people don't get there until after work and the car park was rammed with arrivals at that time, made no sense.  On Monday getting hold of one was impossible.  We watched in dismay as one poor disabled lad was turned away and told that even if he waited they wouldn't be able to help him.  On site security were fantastic at this point as they carried his belongings to his car for him, but the taxi could easily have made just that one journey.
 
At no point did I feel anything other than safe, my children were safe and my belongings were safe.  Phone charging was hit and miss, so it was a good job my children were safe as I wasn't so worried that I couldn't reach them.  The phone charging point was £5 for half hour and three times we actually walked away with phones that hadn't charged at all, so I do wonder if it was working properly.
 
Camp Bestival is marketed at families and certainly lives up to that perfectedly.  That said, our group although a family were older, teens and young adults and oldies and we all came away happy and looking forward to next year.  Actually that's a lie, we all came away longing to go to Bestival but I need the comping fairy to reward me with some tickets before that one comes off.
 
Huge thanks go especially to  Matthew Sanger and all the team at Camp Bestival, they worked their socks off to produce a truly magical weekend.


 

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Holiday memories.

I grew up in a family that didn't travel abroad on holiday, the rise of the package holiday came after I left home, so holidays for us were far more the pack up the car and tent and travel for what seemed like hours in the car;  my brother, sister and me, all squished in the back, with sleeping bags under our bums and a suitcase under my feet.

I remember moaning all the way there, my children definitely inherited "are we nearly there yet?". I remember, I spy and the number plate game, from my own horrific holiday car journeys. I remember car sickness vividly and the smell of Brut 33 as dad frantically tried to remove the smell from the car when one of us didn't warn him in time. 

My memories of actual holidays mingle into one, but some things never changed.  Cheese sandwiches and warm lemonade as we stopped in a layby on the side of the road on the interminable journey down to Cornwall or Devon.  Dad and mum always fighting whilst erecting the tent over which pole went where and just how best to put the tent up.  Rain and bad weather seemed to dog our holidays, yet no matter how windy it was, I could never ever get the kite to fly.  I don't even remember why I bothered with it, but each year, I insisted that we buy yet another kite, which would end up in a bin at the end of the week, battered and broken from endless dives to earth.

I used to love collecting shells, spending hours picking them up from the seashore and each year, I insisted on bringing them home.  It's only now looking back that I think, why?  The smell in the car from the shells and seaweed always made me feel even more sick on the return leg and I had to hold the bucket filled to the brim on my lap all the way home.  Then within days the lustre had gone from the shells and mum would throw them away.

I look back with nostalgia on my holidays, hours spent looking through rockpools, playing crazy golf and eating ice creams, (normally in the rain) and think how little has changed.

Surprisingly not alot.  My early holidays shaped me into an avid staycationer and it's what I still do with my kids now.  I love holidays in the UK.  We live in such a beautiful country if we take the time to look around and visit it.

The campsites or holiday villages are much nicer; no longer the old huge frame tent that took half a day to erect or dodgy chalets. The sleeping bags are warmer and the term "glamping" figures high on our list.  We now camp on pitches with electric and have a fridge or stay in plush chalets, with showers and decent beds and facilities, but some things still remain true to my early holiday memories with my family.  We still love the amusement arcades, the penny falls still take coppers, fish and chips still taste best out of newspaper on the beach and nothing quite beats the feel of jumping the waves in the coldest of cold seas imaginable.

I look back with nothing but good memories and hope that my children will feel the same when they are older.  I can't find any photos of those times,  but I do have the shots from my son's first family holiday, he's threatened to kill me if I put them up on my blog... so I'm not going to win this competition, I'm going to die......(The things I do for my readers risking life and limb)







“Competition sponsored by Butlins Holiday Parks, helping your family make memories.”