Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Wilderness Festival 2012 (AKA Boden Fest)

We had many a discussion about which festival to go to this year.  We usually favour Green Man, but this year's line-up seemed uninspiring to say the least.  Someone recommended End of the Road and I was nearly sold on it as they had Tindersticks (there are two things in life that I never pass on: Sticky toffee pudding and seeing Tindersticks live).  Then we sort of fancied Deer Shed, but it coincided with a long planned girly reunion between some old friends and I, so that was out.  In the end, we won some tickets to Wilderness in Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, so that was that.

Rory was so over excited the day before we went that he spent the entire day speaking in the sort of squeaky voice that suggested that he might be able to communicate with bats.  He is a seasoned festival baby, with two under his belt already, and could not wait.

Alas, within 15 minutes of our arrival, he had fulfilled the childhood nightmare of running straight through a patch of stinging nettles wearing only a pair of shorts.  I didn't even bother with a doc leaf - everybody knows that's just a lie parents tell to small children to try to shut them up.  Instead, we went down to the enormous lake on the site that you could swim in, hoping that the cold water would soothe the stinging.  An excellent plan, thwarted by my son managing to find the only razor sharp stone in the entire lake within seconds of entering it and slicing his foot open.  Much of the rest of the first evening was spent in the medical tent with a medic tweezing pond slime out of his foot.  The rest of the first evening was spent listening to a three year old shouting "I DO NOT LIKE FESTIVALS AND I AM HAVING THE WORST TIME IN MY LIFE" repeatedly and with biting conviction.  To be fair to him, falling over in stinging nettles and cutting your foot open is never going to be up there with the good times in life.  At this point we did what any good parent would do: bought him a bitch load of sweets to shut him up and continued to watch bands and eat churros.

It did get better.  They had a fantastic kids area and loads for them to do all over the site - junk modelling, play dough, circus skills, drum playing workshops, books to read, things to climb on and jump off, mask making and entertainment from the Flying Seagulls, who were brilliant with children.  I usually find theatrical stuff at festivals very up its own backside, self indulgent and not at all funny, but we loved these guys and they've do some amazing work with disabled and disadvantaged children all over the world, so do have a look at their website.  Rich and I found lots of entertainment too courtesy of the vintage festival (which included a roller disco), the London Folk Guild tent, the amusing village fete area, a huge on site book shop and much much more.

More entertaining than any of the acts, however, was playing Comedy Child Name Bingo as Wilderness has to be the most Guardian reader filled middle class festival I have ever attended.  Richard achieved the highest accolade when he spotted an Otto.  I scored highly with twins called Phoenix and Ezra (indeterminate sex, both wearing matching Mini Boden tops) and there were Edens and Gideons galore.  It was, oddly enough, a visit to the playdough table that summed up this air of privilege better than anything else:

Me: "Wow, this looks great.  What are you all making?" (expected answer: "Cakes")
Boden clad child 1: "Well, I'm making olive stuffed with jalepenos - see - I'm just doing the little cross on the bottom of this one - and Eden has made pasta."
Eden (one presumes): "Yes, and I'm pretending the glitter is parmesan."

Ah well.  Stupidly named they might have been, but I must admit that all the children I came across were beautifully behaved and having a wonderful time.  Also, after spending a quality couple of days sniggering at the middle class-ness of it all, I realised that I was walking around with a Cath Kidston bag and a child who will do anything for pate and pine nuts and whose current expletive of choice is "gosh".  For shame.

All in all, we had a wonderfully warm weekend of silly family fun and really enjoyed ourselves.  There were plenty of pleasant children for Rory to jump about in hay bales with and everyone was friendly.  I doubt we'll go back next year as it wasn't music focussed enough for Rich and I, although it was good to see Spiritualized again for the first time in about 10 years, and we'd forgotten how good Wilco are and it was nice to be reminded, but we'll keep our eye out for next years line up and keep an open mind.

Anyway, I must dash now.  There's a focaccia in the oven and Rory wants to craft a scale model of a chimnea from sticklebricks.  Busy busy busy.

"But are they organic?"


  1. Probably the funniest review of the Wilderness Festival I've come across yet!

  2. But..........End of the World had Dirty Three, Mark Lanegan, and Grandadddy AS WELL AS Tindersticks!!! I'd have gone if it was nearer, cheaper, and didn't involve camping.

    1. I knoooooow! But we had free Wilderness tickets and one must think of the household budget.

  3. I've just won tickets to Wilderness this year too - I'm a hardened Glasto goer, with a few years at Leeds thrown in. I am not sure, that even I, will be ready for the civility of it all. I have however made bunting for the text in a hope of fitting in!