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….
Pack kids’ clothes (and your own) into clear plastic zip-up storage bags – this makes it super-easy to see the clothes so you can grab them without having to scrabble around the bottom of a bag.
Pack nice underwear. You’re going to have to hang it out to dry in full view of all your camping neighbours.
Patterned clothes show up less dirt. And opt for darker colours too.
Invest in decent sleeping mats. Go and try them out in a camping shop to make sure you get one that you find comfortable.
You can’t have too many pegs. Ditto those clips for keeping food sachets etc closed, and sandwich bags
Packsingle sheets for hot nights so you have an alternative to your sleeping bags.
Bring somehard ground pegs, so you can still pitch your tent on a hard, dusty site, or one with ground full of rocks.
Inspect your pitch thoroughly before laying out your tent and try to locate and remove any large stones or rocks. Otherwise they’re bound to end up right in the middle of your bedroom and you’ll stub your toe on them a million times a day.
A dustpan and brush is supremely useful for ridding your tent of dust, grass, sand etc. A doormat also helps.
Although it took up a lot of space in the car, the camping toilet (essentially an oversized potty) we took with us was invaluable, even if I did have to agree to empty it every single day of our trip because it was me that insisted on bringing it.
Don’t rely on satnav, or you may find yourself completely lost in the middle of nowhere. Read any instructions about finding your next site in advance.
When you arrive at new site have a picnic blanket and activity easily accessible so you can get it out and set the kids up straight away.
Never try to put up a tent hungry. This is a mistake we made too many times.
Appoint a tent leader for putting up the tent. Or let just one person do it. Too many chiefs and all that.
Organise your camp kitchen. We used a large storage box with a built-in divider for our tins, spices etc. When we stood the box on its end, the divider became a shelf so the box could be used as a mini shelving unit.
Those plastic flexi garden trugs are great for organising stuff when you unpack (we used one for shoes, one for games and one for the washing up), and they stack into each other and can be squeezed into a footwell when you’re on the move.
Use a bungy cord stretched between tent poles as a mini washing line for tea towels etc.
Be militant about keeping the bedroom doors zipped up if you want to avoid insect bites.
Buy icecube bags and ask to put them in the freezer at your campsite. Some owners will let you, some won’t, but the possibility of a cold G&T makes it well worth asking the question.
Don’t rely on wifi, even if your chosen campsites say they have it. Most of our campsites had wifi, but to use it you had to sit outside the reception office – I personally had places I’d rather be!
Go go gadgets. For backing up our photos etc, we used a Verbatim Mediashare (wireless portable streaming device) to transfer files from the SD card to an external hard drive (using an app on your phone or tablet).
If you’re not going to be using powered pitches, we used a Kit universal portable power bank/emergency charger from which we could charge anything with a USB cable.
Remember that in many countries Sunday closing is still prevalent. Ditto bank holidays. So make sure to stock up on provisions in advance (or live on pasta for two days in our case).
Hang a shopper full of fruit and veg in a nearby tree. This keeps it cooler and keeps the ants out.