If you follow our Instagram or Facebook feeds you’ll know that we were at Camp Bestival last weekend. This year marked our seventh visit (we missed last year for a wedding) and Camp B’s 10th anniversary. We arrived, set up our frankly amazing little bell tent community (we were lucky enough to be camping backstage with two families of friends because we were making the promo film again) while the children made and popped enormous bubbles, then chilled out for a while.
I love Thursday, when the site is quieter – we wandered in the evening sun, went to the launch of Kidfornia Adventure Camp (a new play area/bar inspired by California, complete with campfire, beach, hammocks, secret tunnels, Airstream trailer and climbing wall, which the children loved), then walked to the Magic Meadow to check out LoveBot and Slow Motion (the well being area that, once again, I didn’t manage to indulge in), before a go on the swingboats – check out Kitty’s face for an indication of how much she enjoyed them! There was a lot more in terms of activities up there this year – vintage fairground rides, plus the Hampshire cricket and Chelsea football academies shared an area with a cool crazy golf course, the World’s Biggest Disco Ball and Caravanserai in its new location.
On Friday morning we started filming, so went to watch Henry VIII arriving at Tudors on Tour – he was disguised as a dragon, so it was pretty impressive, then trying some Tudor baking and costumes. The area was really well organised with super enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. Next, we headed for Dingly Dell, my favourite area of the festival, where the children got gloriously messy in Lizzie’s Way‘s brilliant mud kitchen and cafe, then rinsed off in the Potions area, before wielding hammers to help construct the Woodland Tribe climbing frame.
This was a fantastic addition to the festival – they come to Brighton for the Fringe every year, but we’ve never managed to book a slot, so Alfie and Kitty were really chuffed they could get involved. Our friend, Boris, who makes the films, actually climbed up to get some shots, so it must have been fairly sturdy – there were plenty of helpers around giving nails an additional whack to make sure they were in.
The little ones also had a go on the Big Tree Climbing Company‘s zip wire, which was scarily high, but didn’t bother them in the least. We returned to base camp for tea and to change into onesies and waterproofs, then braved the drizzle to dance along to All Saints and Mark Ronson on the Castle Stage.
The weather really set in overnight, so Saturday morning was wet and windy. The weather has been glorious every year, so, to be fair, we were overdue a bit of rain. And rain it did. Luckily, we went prepared for every meteorological eventuality (yup, waterproofs and suncream), so it didn’t phase us, even when others were packing up to go home, we stuck it out and were rewarded with a fabulous Sunday and being able to pack up a bone dry tent on Monday morning. Anyway, enough about the weather. It’s basically irrelevant at Camp B as there is so much to do.
We spent a good couple of hours undercover making everything (CD dreamcatchers, badges, Access All Areas passes) in Art Town, experimenting in the Science Tent and singing along to Disney musicals (thanks, West End Kids) and watching a couple of brilliant theatre shows (Kitty loved Elmer the Elephant and Dogs Don’t Do Ballet, while Alfie enjoyed Julian Clary and David Roberts talking about their book series The Bolds) in The Greatest Tent on Earth!. We slathered on the glitter – thanks to Dust & Dance and Glitter Eyes – covered the sparkles with cagouls and carried on. We watched Sara Cox compere the Beard & Moustache and Pimp My Trolley competitions, then got involved with the fancy dress parade (Alfie was Bowie, Kitty Madonna), before a pizza lunch, the brilliant School of Rock the Musical on the Castle Stage and spending sprees in Firetoys, Tell Tails and Fairy Love.
We decamped to the gazebo for a few board games and lots of prosecco after that, then ventured out again and caught a bit of the Bootleg Beatles (our friends saw the House Gospel Choir in the Big Top and loved them), before I escaped to the Literary Institute with my mama friends for The Secret Mummies Wine Club, a hilarious and informative wine tasting hosted by The Scummy Mummies, Helen McGinn (of The Knackered Mother’s Wine Club) and TV presenter Cherry Healey. Loads of wine (the £7.49 Lidl fizz was the winner for me), lots of laughs (‘The Wine of My Life’ finale and *that* lift) and sooooo dry and warm in the tent – just marvellous. Caught the end of Madness (fab festival band as always), went to see my friend’s band Brasstermind in a ‘brass off’ in Caravanserai, then collapsed into bed.
Ah, Sunday. What can I say? You really pulled it out of the bag. The sun came out (admittedly there were a couple of teeny showers) and we were able to march through the mud to Spinney Hollow, where Alfie and pals riveted and painted brilliant shields, and Kitty and her friend Flo created beautiful hedgerow headdresses that I have to admit to feeling jealous of. Kitty was wearing her Mutha Hood Strong Girls Club t-shirt, which was much commented on, as was my Rosa Bloom sequin cape and the Sparklechild glittery stars adorning our Outwell Maya Transporter trolley.
This was an absolutely godsend – made short work of carting stuff through the mud and Kitty slept in it every evening with her Muffy ear defenders on. The children had been desperate to go on the World’s Biggest Bouncy Castle all weekend, but high winds had forced it to close a couple of times, so Sunday was our last chance. By the looks on their faces, the wait was entirely worth it and it was declared ‘the World’s Best Bouncy Castle’ by Kitty. We spent a lovely couple of hours camped out in front of the Oberon’s Observatory stage (which replaced the bandstand) listening to some superb bands (Thrill Collins’ mash-ups were a highlight) and Folk Idol, then it was time for Brian Wilson performing Pet Sounds on the Castle Stage in the evening sun. Perfect.
We armed ourselves with neon face paints and hair gel, finger lights and glow sticks and got ready for the finale – Leftfield doing Leftism in its entirety followed by the spectacle of Son et Lumiere fireworks accompanied by projections onto the castle. Just amazing. The backstage bar, Lucky Cat, was a lot of fun on Sunday night as well, so we popped in there for a while before the cosy beds in our bell tent beckoned.
The food was as good as ever – we loved Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen‘s amazing dishes and Milgi‘s wraps as always, I had a delicious seafood laska from Seadog and Happy Maki‘s vegan sushi burritos were a huge hit with the whole party. It’s not a festival unless you have an ice cream or lolly every day (even in the rain) and Polar Pops‘ fruit and veg-packed lollies felt more virtuous than most. Firestation Coffee provided the necessary caffeine hit, while stalwarts The Jam Jar Bar and The WI Tea Tent didn’t disappoint. The toilets and showers seemed better than previous years – I love that there are separate kids’ compost loos so they don’t have to queue (Kitty quite often announces ‘I need a wee now!’ so queuing doesn’t really work in those situations) – and all the staff I dealt with were a joy – got to love a policewoman in a mermaid tail and my friend had an infected finger and was really impressed with the treatment she received in the hospital tent.
I know some people got stuck getting their cars off site, but that was before the festival had ended. At the end, there was extra tracking put own and lots of tractors available for towing. Considering the conditions, I think the site itself fared pretty well – the mud was minimal compared to your average Glastonbury. In summary, still our favourite weekend of the year – looking forward to our eight Camp Bestival in 2018.
Pre-sale tickets for Camp Bestival 2018 are available from today. Look out for the promo film early next year.
All photographs © Lucy Davies and Harry Mole