Last weekend I attended Camp Bestival for the second time. You can read my write-up from my last trip HERE and HERE (apologies for messy format, it was pre-move to WordPress). I was excited to attend the festival again as on the whole we had a good time and this time the children were two years older and more willing to stay up late. I’ve just read my 2012 posts and pretty much my positives and negatives are the same as they were then. I’m going to split this into two posts as I feel it might get a bit lengthy!
So we packed up the van and arrived at the campsite in good time just after Thursday lunchtime which meant we had a really good pick of the pitches. The campervan field is quite a long trek from the festival but I believe this is due to it being the flattest one they can offer. It’s no big deal, other than the hills of DOOM. I can’t express how much I hate those hills. I’m pretty glad I don’t camp in a tent as lugging my stuff up and down those hills would get right on my nerves. I can tell you, when we left, I was nearly whooping at not having to go up and down those again. The camping field itself though, no complaints.
My biggest gripe about the campsite was the toilets. I know. Always a festival gripe, but they were bad last time and they were grim this time. I know I am at a festival blah blah and should expect the toilets to be bad and honestly I do but I do question why FESTIVAL has to equal crappy toilets. There’s no need for it whatsoever. Mr M has been to Le Mans with a lot more (drunk) people (generally men) and he said the toilets there were great. Just because it’s a festival you should accept smelly loos and inadequate facilities? When you’ve spent hundreds of pound? I don’t buy it.
The main problem was there seemed to less toilets in the campervan field than there was last time (I remember an extra bank of them being delivered halfway through last time) and I think even if the organisers had doubled them, it wouldn’t have been enough. By Thursday tea-time toilet tissue had run out (though this was replenished many times over the weekend) and the hand gel had disappeared by Friday morning (and was NEVER replenished). It’s not the end of the world, I alway took my own loo roll and gel but it was a pain in the bum with children as we all went in separately. Then there were the queues in the morning were quite frankly ridiculous. I’ve never seen anything like it. They were equally as bad for the showers. I took a picture to demonstrate the queues, it was worse than this at times and believe me – this picture was taken an hour and a half after the queue first formed, you can’t even see the toilets! I was glad I had a bucket to pee in that’s all I am saying.
It’s not the be all and and all but the toilet situation really did put a bit of a downer on the weekend. They weren’t much better in other fields or the festivals. Other people have been singing the praises of the compost loos and it’s true, they don’t smell as bad but the times I used them, there was never any loo roll and again, no facilities for cleaning your hands. The crunch is that were simply not enough toilets provided for the number of people. I’ve read comments on Facebook and Twitter which suggest I am not alone in this thought. Come on Camp Bestival, you can do better.
The festival itself was well organised as you would expect and the site was kept clean at all times. As I happened to mention in my 2012 review, the stewards/security staff (from Showsec, not the Oxfam volunteers) were their normally spectacularly unhelpful and rude selves. They definitely have an “it’s not my job” attitude and if I were the organiser I’d be sacking them off and getting another company altogether. Never seen such a miserable bunch. Not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination but not really fitting with the chilled, family vibe of the festival itself.
We loved many many things about Camp Bestival and one of our favourite events was the medieval jousting which was absolutely brilliant fun and superbly entertaining. We watched this twice over the weekend as my son loved it so much and he didn’t mind that the format was exactly the same every time. He loved cheering on and there was some good crowd interaction from all the people involved.
A favourite from last time, we were all pleased to see The Flying Seagulls back again, these guys are definitely my children’s favourite act by far. The Flying Seagulls work in association with charities, schools and care centres in countries such as Romania and Cambodia, as well as in the UK itself, visiting places like orphanages, poor rural communities, schools and hospitals to do arts, music and craft workshops. They also do music lessons, dancing and circus shows and they are very good at what they do. My children could sit for hours watching them and it’s great to know about all the good work they are doing.
Samsam Bubbleman from BubbleInc was AWESOME at creating fantastic HUGE bubbles by his wondrous stand of all things bubbles. He must have had the patience of a saint too as there were some rather annoying children popping his large bubble efforts constantly. BubbleInc was definitely somewhere I left most of my money… I had my eye on one of the fab bubble machines but at £100 Mr M put his foot down! Probably for the best.
The Dingly Dell is a favourite wandering spot and I was pleased to see there seemed to be a whole lot more going on in there this year. It seemed to be buzzing and busy and we enjoyed visiting the National Trust and the Butterfly Conservation stand. We even managed to see some teeny tiny baby peacocks sitting in one of the fields. There’s a children’s play park in here which was perfect for the children to run around and let off a bit of steam.
The Freesports Park ramp was a huge draw for us on our last visit and this time was no different. There were lots of have-a-go sessions available for children to join in but my two prefer to observe and we sat there for quite a while watching these brave young boys performing their tricks. Pretty impressive I have to say. I always enjoy the music they play here too so it’s a nice place to sit and relax for a while.
Something my son had been looking forward to was visiting the Skylanders stand and getting a first look at the new Trap Team game which is not released until October. It was a busy and popular area but he managed to get a few goes on the Wii and is very much looking forward it coming out in a few months after playing on it for just a few minutes.
Other things we saw and did included face painting – it cost £3.50 to have a child’s face to be painted (they did adults too for slightly more money) and the designs that you could choose from were beautiful. We sat and watched the Insect Circus after hearing rave reviews but I’m afraid I didn’t really get it myself and the children got bored quite quickly.
If you asked my children what the highlight of the weekend was for them, I’m pretty sure they would say that it was holding a Little Owl. Even I was totally won over by it. It was so small and cute and amazingly soft to stroke. The people that ran the stand were just lovely and so patient with the children. It was a totally lovely experience.
to be continued (and I promise the second part isn’t so moany….. )
Disclosure: I was provided with press passes for my family to attend Camp Bestival which included a donation of £40 made by myself to the The Bestival Foundation. All words, views and images used in the post are my own.