To continue our little summer series of the best kids and family festivals, we were delighted when Morwenna and Will Nicholl, close bonnie mob friends and the lovely tiddlers of theirs shared their experience at Wilderness Festival last week. In it's 5th year, Wilderness has drawn a particularly cultured and eclectic crowd of punters as well as diverse artists. This year saw from Bjork to Perfume Genius for example. Along with THE best food in our opinion in the form of a long table banquet by Raymond Blanc. Divine! But, enough from us, we weren't there, here is their take on it all.
Saturday 9th August, 6:23 Wilderness Festival.
The perfect moment. I was bare-chested in the sunshine, holding a warm cider, panting slightly and musing on the effects of torque and gravity. The trolley had clattered to the ground and was sliding along on its side. The three kids were still in mid-air.
I like to think that this was the height of the festival for the little ones - emotionally as well as physically. It was the moment where adrenaline, fear and speed culminated in one perfect moment of flight and wonder. For a moment they all hung there in the late afternoon sunset, Roisin Murphy crooning gently in the background, a gentle breeze coming from the West. But it was all over too quickly. Gravity reasserted itself harshly.
It was then , amidst the tears from the children, accusations from their mums (one of them wasn't even mine!), and a mixture of boos and cheers from the nearest 500 or so members of the crowd, that I realised that I had in fact misjudged the situation somewhat. High-speed downhill trolley circuits were apparently 'dangerous' and 'stupid'. Especially when you're drunk. The fact it was the children's idea, seemed not to really matter.
"We should never have brought those kids anyway" I snapped at my wife, then went away to hide.
I was wrong of course. Festivals with kids are awesome. Except perhaps when they wake at 5:45am and there’s nowhere in the tent to escape them. Over the four days at Wilderness we’d done pretty much all that the festival could throw at us: Gone mental to DJ Tofu, nodded enthusiastically to Nick Mulvey, swayed half-heartedly to Bjork. We’d made wooden daggers in the medieval carpentry tent; bought overpriced feathered headdresses; wigged out in the folk barn; explained streaking to the 5 year-old; raved in the valley; gone out extremely late; been woken up extremely early; explained mud-wrestling to the 5 year-old; swam in the freezing lake; spotted a coven of witches; explained psychedelic drugs to the 5 year old; mastered festival poos; eaten many varieties of ethno food; explained transvestites to the 5 year-old; finally located our daughter playing solo hide and seek in the woods; participated in a circus performance; treated an emergency wasp sting; flipped the kid's trolley.
In West Country they say ‘try everything once except incest and Morris dancing’. We’d even done Morris dancing.
Festivals are all about new experiences, pushing the boundaries, venturing into the unknown. It’s where you take your children to rip them out of their Gina Ford routines and show their little uncomprehending brains a wild unregulated hedonistic world outside of the babychino, play-date, Gymboree circuit. It's where you germinate that first seed of revolutionary spirit and a taste for chai tea and hedonism. But in a kind of safe way really, because in reality boutique festivals are pretty middle-class and aren't actually that wild. Even ones called Wilderness. We'll be back next year. And with a couple more ciders, I'm pretty sure I could nail that last high-speed turn...
Morwenna and Will, when not traipsing around festivals, live in Wimbledon, London. Morwenna is a Paediatric Doctor and Will a Director in the City.
And Wilderness Festival, these Woodland Prints of ours are just perfect for little ones there. See you next year!