Last year, the Just So Festival completely seduced me with its magic and originality. We all loved every second (eternal thanks to Kat for introducing me to this special festival), and it was an absolute given that we would want to experience it all again this year. Having been left with such a sense of wonder and happiness last year, there was a small part of me that was terrified that it wouldn’t live up to those memories, but as soon as we walked through the gates last Friday, the festival began to work its magic, and I was just as captivated as before. In fact, I think it felt even more wonderful this year because the twins, now a year older (nearly 5), were so completely engaged and enthralled and seeing it through their eyes was amazing.
Just So is spellbinding on so many levels – every aspect of the festival looks absolutely beautiful, the performances are always full of creativity, and the sense of community and togetherness is just so strong. It sets your imagination alight and leaves you tingling with excitement and inspiration.
I’m going to follow up with another post with a rundown of our favourite things we did at Just So Festival 2014, but for now I wanted to set the mood of the festival with a few of my favourite shots from the weekend…
Panicking about your tribal costumes for the Tribal Tournament at this year’s Just So Festival? Here are some super-easy costume ideas for all the tribes – fish, foxes, frogs, lions, owls and stags. Pick your tribe (Go Foxes! Go Owls!), and get creative. If you haven’t got time for a full costume, a set of face paints should sort you out…
It’s just four weeks until the twins turn five, and on that very day they’ll also head off for their first day at school. These are the sort of weeks that have wings. Wings that mean they soar past you with a whoosh that’s fun and exhilarating, but that leaves you dazed and short of breath.
Our days are packed and we seem to be ticking off milestones before I have time to take them in and savour them. This week alone has seen Fonz swim his first width (thanks to a week’s crash swimming course) and shoot off on his bike without stabilisers, while Ez sounds out words and can’t get enough of writing. All this is sandwiched into a hectic routine of meeting up with friends and playing out.
I’m sure I say it every year, but this has been our best year yet. This age quite simply rocks. They are just the best company, both for us as parents but also for each other. Sure they bicker, but they also offer each other the most fantastic companionship; seeing their bond deepen is an absolute privilege. They offer each other reassurance when they’re scared or anxious without even realising it. You can watch them edge physically closer to each other, and then maybe join hands or put an arm round each other. It’s completely unconscious. I can’t imagine that feeling of someone always having been there, and the total belief that they will always be there. I can’t help it, it brings a lump to my throat, and tears to my eyes every time I’m lucky enough to witness it.
These last weeks before I hand them over to school, before I have to share them, to relinquish so much of the time we spend together, seem so precious, and yet the pace of life means they’re slipping past in a blur. I have no doubt that this is a good thing. Our days are full of fun, and so I don’t have time to dwell on the sadness about our pre-school time coming to an end. When the emotion does take over, I scoop one or both of them up and make them promise to let me call them my babies forever (obviously they are hugely indignant at the suggestion they are babies), but they know me well enough to indulge me, and roll their eyes at each other at the daftness of their mum.
What can I say? My babies are growing up, and it’s exciting and heart-breaking in equal measure.
Just So is a very easy festival to navigate. It was our first ever festival when we attended last year, and we got into the swing of things very quickly. The site isn’t too large so it’s easy enough to get around, and the camping field is right next to the site so again, you can get to all the events nice and easily.
Just So has a brilliant list of what to bring on their website, but here are a few of my own pointers for newcomers:
FANCY DRESS: This is entirely optional so don’t stress about it! You choose your tribe, and then dress up to try to earn points in the Tribal Tournament. Last year there were kids dressed as pirates for the High Seas, cowboys and cowgirls for the Wild West (this area has been replaced with the Imaginarium this year where I reckon circus-themed fancy dress is the order of the day), and as fairies to meet the Fairy Queen. You can join in as little or as much as you like – for kids and adults anything goes. I definitely recommend packing some facepaints for easy dress-up when the kids demand it (and I used them too last year).
FOOD: There are good catering options onsite (burritos and pizza stick in my memory as being really great), but if you have fussy eaters, then make sure you bring your own food supplies. We combined buying food out with cooking back at the tent, and will be doing the same this year.
TOILETS AND SHOWERS: There are plenty of portaloos located close to the camping field, and at other places on the festival site. The queues for the showers varied according to the time of day. Obviously they were longest in the mornings, but I managed to shower in the afternoon without any wait at all. Bring a hat and then you don’t have to worry about what your hair looks like anyway!
PHONE CHARGING: You can leave your phones to charge in the Information tent – I believe that last year it was £1 per charge if my memory serves me correctly. Otherwise I’d definitely recommend bringing a universal portable power bank/emergency charger (we use a Kit model) which will mean you can still charge up.
GETTING AROUND: Last year we brought a trolley with us, and we’ll be doing that again, although we’re hoping we won’t need to use it so much now the twins are older. The site isn’t huge, but all the walking is tiring for little legs – you’d be fine with a pushchair, or you can hire wagons for the weekend. The lantern parade through the Spellbound Forest is one of my festival highlights, but it’s in the evening so a pushchair is a good idea for smaller kids.
OUT AND ABOUT: Carry a picnic blanket about with you so you can settle on the grass to watch any shows or enjoy a drink and snack. Appoint a meeting place nearby whenever you stop that you and the kids can go to if you get separated. We found it helpful to have a bit of a plan of what we were going to do when, so have a good look through the festival programme before heading out. You do also have to book places for some of the activities, so be aware of this and plan around your slot.
I’M SO EXCITED! If you spot us about at the festival do come and say hi. I’ll be the one with the stupid grin plastered to my face for the whole weekend.
Each year, the wonderful Just So Festival finishes with the Tribal Tournament, where the winning tribe (owls, foxes, stags, fish, frogs or lions) is announced amidst a final fantastic knees up. At last year’s festival we were all part of 2013′s winning tribe, the Owls!
But this year, changes are afoot and some of us might have jumped ship….