Archive of ‘UK’ category

Festival Camping Tips – To Make It Feel Like A Holiday!

nozstock family festival

The Tent

You need somewhere to sleep right? but your tent options can be totally overwhelming so it’s important to think about what you really need for your festival camping trip. We needed our tent to be practical and affordable. Struggling to put a tent up and watch a toddler – No Way! Spending a small fortune on top of our family festival pass? No Thanks.

So we found this amazing number from Regatta.

cheap festival tent

This tent was spacious enough for 2 fully grown (and not so small adults) and a mini person (AKA 2-year-old toddler).

It’s ridiculously easy to assemble. You remove the elastic strapping and *POOF* as if by magic, the tent pops out and is ready to be pegged down. Perfect. There were no camping arguments, no need to occupy a toddler while the tent went up and we absolutely maximized our festivalling time because it was so easy.

 

Storage

Storage is KEY for any camping trip and even more important if you are trying to pack light (can that even happen with kids?) Well here’s what we did.

With a small but perfectly formed tent, we used a big plastic trunk to store the majority of our gear and two plastic trug buckets.

Inside our trunk I used a selection of waterproof ‘Dry bags’ to store each of our belongings, this made them easy to grab and use and I knew they would be kept dry.

camping storage

We used inexpensive trug buckets that we already had at home to store a selection of Fred’s toys and also some cold drinks and snacks.

*Tip* – We fed a guide rope from the tent through the handles of the trug before pegging them down and securing them to our home for the weekend.

Our little tent came with a few handy internal pockets that I was able to use to store a drink for Fred overnight and a few other essentials.

Just be as organised as you can, think about what you need, when you will need it and separate those packs up accordingly.

 

Be Prepared For All Weathers

In the UK you can expect to see all weathers in one festival weekend so it’s important to be prepared.

We always go for light layered clothing which makes it easy to move around and essentially some killer waterproof gear.

Regatta makes this easy. Their stylish gear and won’t break the bank. This lightweight coat is easy to store but will help if all that dancing brings on the rain.

cheap womens jacket

For kids, you can’t go wrong with a puddle suit. It will do well in the British rain but is light enough to be rolled up and shoved in your rucksack and the best part, you’ll be getting use out of it long after the festival ends.

cheap kids rain suit

Wellies are totally essential – and here’s a top tip, grab some gel or padded insoles and put a spring in your step all day. Likewise, wellie socks mean that even if the weather brightens up, you can still rock a dress or shorts but keep your feet dry and comfy!

wellies like joules

 

Entertainment

When you travel anywhere with kids you know you need a whole library of goods to keep those little critters entertained and festivalling is no different. You have a huge new space to explore with a million different options to entertain small humans BUT beware boredom and think ahead for entertainment. We packed a small size aquadoodle for Fred, this kept him entertained and within site when we just wanted to grab a coffee. He also adores small cars so we kept a stash in the tent pockets and in our day out rucksack.

 

 

Home Comforts

Hitting up a festival with the family doesn’t mean that you have to leave all your home comforts behind. We always take camping chairs. These are lightweight and portable but mean you can enjoy your morning coffee or late night post gig beer in comfort. Having a childs chair always keeps the little ones interested as well so it’s a great investment. Fred even uses his at home.

cheap camping chair

A door mat was a top tip from one of the readers on our Facebook page. This makes it easier to keep muck outside of your tent which really helps when you are short on space.

Snuggly layers for night time – you want to be warm, so fashion can kind of go out the window but I always camp with a onesie. I will shove it on to lounge around outside the tent and I can also grab it for sleep if the temperature dips too much for my liking.

My own ‘home’ pillow – I always camp with my own pillowcase. It makes it more familiar and comfortable and I do the same for Fred too.

And finally, add in your own special touches. I personally LOVE good coffee so I buy ‘coffee bags’ – It makes all the difference to me in the morning. I also stock pile travel size toiletries because it feels like a treat when you aren’t in your own home comforts to have some snazzy products to use.

We hope you find this little guide really helpful if you are considering a festival with kids. Remember, Kid’s are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. Just relax & enjoy the moment.

Nozstock – An Interview With Founder Ella

festivals with kids

Amongst the melee of music, magic and mayhem at Nozstock this weekend, I managed to grab some time with Ella Nozworthy. Ella is the daughter of ‘Farmer Noz’, who lends his name to the festival. She has a two year old daughter and is expecting her second child later this year. We chatted about festivaling whilst pregnant and with kids and how Nozstock came about.

ella nozworthy

You’ve just organised a festival with hundreds of acts for crowds of thousands of people. And you’re pregnant! How do you feel?

Tired! Though I’ve timed it better this time, because last time I was pregnant I was eight and a half months by the time of the festival, so there was very much a contingency for what would happen if I went into labour whilst the headliner was on! I’m feeling a lot better this time round! Not quite so heavy and waddly round the festival site this time!

I’m obviously having to slow it down a little bit more, and a few of our support staff are having to take on a little more than normal this year. Actually, I’ve tried to use it to my advantage! You’re not expected to walk as much, and if any of the crew sees you carrying anything they take it straight off you. Last year, when I wasn’t pregnant, I was a bit like ‘no lift? Oh fine! I’ll walk to the top of the hill myself then shall I?’ The bands and the artists are also always more friendly when they see you waddling around backstage!

What advice would you give to pregnant mums-to-be who are planning to go to a festival?

Definitely do it – just make sure you’re comfortable! Make sure you’ve got somewhere comfy in the shade to just crash and relax when you need to. But there’s no reason why you should be able to enjoy it and have just as much fun as anyone else.

How has having your own children altered the way you approach running a festival?

It does change the way that you see festivals and Nozstock has changed since I’ve had my baby. It’s enabled me to scope it out from a different point of view. Before I was pregnant I was always keen that there should be loads going on here for kids, but you don’t necessarily think of the logistics. Before my daughter, when people would say ‘should I bring a buggy?’ I would always think, ‘I don’t see why not!’. Now I know from experience how hard it can be to push a pram on grass…or mud!

Nowadays, I’m much more like ‘no! That music must stop at a certain time because the children need to sleep!’ So hopefully, my own experiences of being a parent here are helping to make it easier for families that visit.

nozstock family festival

More and more parents are bringing their kids to festivals. Why do you think that is?

Festivals have generally become more inclusive. If you think of festivals 20 years ago, there was still very much that image of either hippies in a field or moshy music-lovers and that’s what it was all about – standing in a field and watching a band. Whereas now a festival isn’t entirely about the music, and it’s more about the experience. There’s always going to be great headliners, but you can go to a festival now, without even wanting to watch any of the bands, and still have a brilliant time because there is so much to do. I think this appeals to families. And I think families now are more willing to push the boat out, try new things and experience new things as a family. Festivals are catering for that now.

And what makes Nozstock unique?

For Nozstock, right from the start, it was very much a festival we wanted everyone to go to. I couldn’t run a festival I didn’t want to attend! Because as a family, the Nozworthy’s are all very different anyway, so to appeal to everyone it was always very eclectic and all-inclusive for that reason. At the first Nozstock, I was thirteen and Nan was in her 80s, but we both loved it! Maybe in different ways and for different reasons, but why shouldn’t you be able to bring your whole family to a festival and all have a really good time? Logistically, things have improved as the festival has evolved to make sure it’s as inclusive as possible. To this day, everyone at the festival still feels like they are part of our big family!

Nozstock – The Hidden Valley Festival (With Kids)

nozstock family festival

Mud, Sweat and (not so many) Beers. Here’s what happened when we took our toddler to her first music festival

nozstock festival

I like to think of myself as pretty ‘festival-savvy’; I know that dry shampoo and hand sanitiser can see me through just about any weekend in a tent, and I can navigate my way through a field of guy ropes in the dark with minimal face-plants.

However, I’m not remotely outdoorsy. My usual definition of ‘roughing it’ involves staying in a budget chain hotel with a low-tog duvet and only Freeview channels on the TV. When you throw a toddler into the whole festival camping mix, I really am completely out of my comfort zone.

But with its ‘family-friendly’, relaxed reputation and as it’s less than 90 minutes away from Cardiff, Nozstock in Herefordshire seemed as good a place as any to introduce our daughter Emily to the full festival experience.

Nozstock was founded by ‘Farmer Noz’ nineteen years ago. What started as a little garden party amongst friends and family has, over the years, grown into a weekend of music, comedy, cabaret, circus, crafts and film. With acts spread out over 11 stages, the festival now welcomes around 5,000 visitors each year and is considered one of the best ‘boutique festivals’ in the summer calendar.

As soon as we arrived I was relieved to see how small the whole set-up was. Anyone who has parked their car at Glastonbury or Leeds / Reading Festival will tell you that if you forget anything in the car when you’ve already made the arduous journey to your campsite – whether it’s a bottle of vodka or life-saving insulin – you’d rather do a handstand in the festival latrines than walk all the way back to get it.

festivals with kids

In the surrounding farmland of Nozstock, you can park your car and be at your tent within a couple of minutes. Handy if you’ve got crates and crates of beer. Or, like us, if you’ve got crates and crates of toddler crap.

My husband and I are not ‘seasoned campers’ and I definitely got the impression that for the majority of the families in the designated ‘family campsite’, this wasn’t their first rodeo. There were high-tech family camper vans, huge communal gazebos and outdoor furniture sets everywhere we looked. This was a lifestyle.

In contrast to this, Tom and I nearly divorced over which side of the tent was ‘the outside’. Our marriage was only just saved by two very obliging young Oxfam volunteers who managed to fit it all together just before the rain started to hit.

nozstock family festival

Despite this, everyone we camped with – and everyone we spoke to at the festival, come to think of it – was extremely warm and friendly. Some of these families had been coming here for years. For a lot of them, it wasn’t really about the music. Some of them were keen to see the headliners, but all in all, they came for the relaxed vibe and the inclusiveness that makes Nozstock a perfect camping option for families with young children.

Walking around the festival site and seeing people from all walks of life – from toddling babies to elderly couples – is testament to how inclusive this festival really is.

There was always something to see and do that catered for all ages and tastes. I heard such a diverse range of music; from free-form-jazz to indie-girl-rock and experimental electronica to folk-metal. There were secret passageways and tunnels to different stages, trippy sculptures and artwork augmented by quirky cabaret dancers and performers who would meander their way through the crowds all day long.

best family music festival

Emily enjoyed the Little Woodland Kids Area; a cordoned-off part of the field dedicated to the mini-festival-goer. They hosted workshops and craft-making, mini-yoga sessions and drum circles throughout the day, but most of the activities were a little too old for our toddler. Instead, she busied herself in the sandpit and played with the blocks and toys provided, as well as helping to make a huge fake bonfire out of pieces of orange fabric.

Despite the plentiful entertainment, Emily’s favourite activity of the weekend was tracking and following one of the chickens that was ambling about the festival site. She hasn’t stopped asking where the chicken is since we left!

music festival with a toddler

Nozstock feels like ‘old-school’ Glastonbury; quirky, hippie, trippy and friendly. Everyone there seemed to share a collective intention to suspend real life for the weekend so that they can have fun and enjoy themselves as much as possible.

The compact, intimate nature of the festival meant that walking from the tent to the main festival site, even with a toddler who insisted on trying to unzip every tent we passed on our way, took us less than 10 minutes. Great for tired legs. Not so great when you’re trying to sleep in a tent with a toddler whilst the rave rages on a couple of fields away.

Luckily, Emily was so exhausted from all the excitement and fresh air that she would pass out at 10pm and sleep solidly until the morning. But nothing is louder than a rave you can’t go to. After having a few beers outside the tent whilst the baby slept, we called it a night ourselves by midnight. It felt completely strange to listen to the festival whir around me whilst I, rather than downing a bottle of vodka and dancing til dawn, lay in my sleeping bag next to a snoring toddler. The times, they have changed.

The only thing worse than lack of sleep at a festival is the infliction known to many as ‘toilet dread’. I have seen some truly harrowing scenes in festival toilets that will forever be burned onto the back of my retinas. But I’m pleased to say that the loos at Nozstock didn’t bring on any ‘Vietnam-style’ festival toilet flashbacks for me. In fact, they were some of the cleanest festival toilets I have ever seen. For me, this alone is a good enough reason to make Nozstock my festival of choice for life!

nozstock the hidden valley festival

We packed up at the end of the weekend feeling totally wind-wept, shattered and filthy. Yet despite this, it was one of the best family weekends we have ever had. Would I do it every weekend? Absolutely not. But the whole experience was so rewarding. I learned that Emily is even more adaptable to different routines and ways of life than I have given her credit for.

And I learned that I could simultaneously rock out to a band whilst changing a pooey toddler nappy. Wins all-round!

The Week That Was – Sickness

this welsh mother
We were away from home this week. The chef whisked both myself and the little human up to Lincolnshire to visit his Mother. I love it but I don’t always love the drive from Wales, Particularly with a toddler who doesn’t enjoy being contained. However, we headed off on Easter Sunday and the drive passed without too much panic & hysteria (Thank You Netflix and the new download function)

joie carseat forward facing
We spent Easter Monday at the seaside in traditional British fashion. Our friends were visiting a nearby town so the two families merged for the day. We ate chips by the seaside in the bracing cold wind, played on the sand, in the arcades and caught the sand train home. Fred ate too many sugary treats but everyone was happy. Including the parents, because Grandma offered to babysit and we all headed out to a local Italian for an early dinner. There we were, four sleep deprived adults desperately sharing a bottle of Italian white wine while shoving bruschetta into our mouths faster than the speed of light. All was fine when we returned home.

best uk beaches with kids
On Tuesday, we pottered. A wander around Skegness while Fred slept. He never sleeps. When we returned to Grandmas house I relished the 5 minutes to myself while someone else took his coat off, found him a snack and 75 toys to play with – you know the deal.
“Can somebody help me?” came a terrified scream from the lounge. I ran down the bungalows corridor to be greeted by the small one screaming and Grandma, well, Grandma didn’t know what to do first, grab the child or clean the bright yellow sick from her beautiful woolen carpet.
The next few day’s passed in a blur. I announced that Fred was on water for the foreseeable, the horror on the other side of the families faces – they love to eat. I think they thought I’d starve him by not allowing him to eat copious easter bunny and quaver combos for a whole day. My suspicions were confirmed when after dinner that night the chef was also sick. A bug had hit.


There isn’t a lot you can do for a sick toddler other than holding them, so hold him I did. This resulted in every item of clothing I had packed getting hit by toddler vom. Even that new embroidered top I’d harped on about. I got myself dressed, I felt pretty good and boom. Covered.
We stayed an extra day up North. Thankfully I didn’t succumb to the bug. I’m not sure whether the body actually realises that you can’t succumb. As if it somehow knows you are needed to care for others so it will give you a break but it did just that. I managed to get them both in a cramped car and navigate the 5.5hour drive home on Thursday. The only casualty was the catering van. Our business has got very busy and we desperately need another unit for year 2. We found her and were supposed to detour via Derbyshire on our way home (no prizes for guessing that Derbyshire is NOT on the way back).
Everything gets’s put on hold when the sickness hits. You can’t ask people for help, you need containment and as a result, everything that we usually do went to the wall. Nothing was written, I had to manage the catering business alone, I even did ALL the cooking.
Day’s were split between juggling work and consoling the littlest member of the family. Nights were long, calpol filled and sticky. This is why parents need to wear superhero capes at all times. I don’t need to leave the house to work and I still barely survived the week. How working parents or lone parents do it I’ll never know. I guess you just step up to the plate. You suck it up and move forward.

 

I hope the sickness is now behind us. I’ve cleaned everything within an inch of its life and prayed to all gods who will listen. As I type this the late evening sun is streaming through the window and I just have a feeling that next week will be good, It’s like an internal sigh of relief but you never know eh. Until then I’ll keep my fingers crossed and enjoy the extra mummy cuddles.