I have been wanting to go to a festival for years now, we watch Glastonbury, V festival longingly every year on TV but never do anything about it. The fear of the unknown and camping has maybe put me off but I wrote my #40thingsb440 list and included festival and camping as things I wanted to do. A few weeks ago I was very excited to be contacted and was asked to go to Standon Calling festival and to experience it as a family so here is this years Standon Calling review.
We jumped at the chance. I showed the boys the pictures of camping, under the sea theme and swimming pool and they were in. Hubby not so keen as he is not a fan of camping and not a fan of the unknown which I will explain more about later.
Packing for 2 days Camping/Festival Life
So off we trotted last Friday with a car packed to the bursting point of stuff for camping and festival life. Lovely Mrs Mummypenny readers (thank you Gem, Sarah, Natalie x2, Shelly, Laura, Andy) offered lots of advice on tips and tricks and what to take, which enabled me to write this post last week of our packing list. We were very well prepared.
The BEST Bits
The atmosphere. Standon Calling in a smallish festival around 30 minutes drive from home in Hertfordshire, near Ware. Despite the small festival point, the headline acts were Jess Glynne, Suede, and Kelis! Everyone was super friendly, chilled, chatty, smiley. It felt really safe. It almost felt like an alternative universe where there was none of the nastiness of the world today. From the security staff to the catering staff to the acts to the PR guys, everyone was lovely.
This was hubby’s favourite bit and he got to try a lot of different food. There was vegan, pizza, smoothies, burgers, ice-cream vans, waffles, cake shop, coffee shops, Kelis Pop Up ‘Le Bun’. You name it they had it. Even a pop up sit down restaurant. A great selection of food to keep all members of the family happy. For dinner, on Saturday there were 3 of us eating. I had ribeye in brioche from Le Bun, Dylan had a beautiful burger and Josh had bacon, egg muffin bap. From 3 different places and everyone was happy.
I loved the bands and you got to be really close to the stage. On Friday night we were front row for Suede. At one point Brett Anderson climbed into the crowd and stood like 50 cm away from Dylan and I and sang. It was a surreal experience that we both really enjoyed. I really liked Everything Everything on Saturday, and the Hives put on a great show before Suede on the Friday night, although they were a bit shouty. Jess Glynne sounded amazing but at 10:15 start time on Saturday the boys couldn’t keep their eyes open and were shivering so we had to retreat to the tent…slightly gutted about that.
The festival is held on the grounds of the Lordship of Standon and part of the festival is in his garden and pool. It was very safe with limits on the number of people in the pool and 2 lifeguards at all times. The boys all loved the pool, really loved it. The queues were annoying, but hey you could sit and chill in the queue whilst the boys ran around playing football/making friends.
The fancy dress.
I wasn’t quite prepared for this. I had brought suitable festival wear. Summer hippy style dresses etc but that was it. So I got glittered up with Go Get Glitter. If you see them at a festival ( I know they will be at Reading) do pop along and get glittered up. And there were face-painting/hairdos galore. My hairdressers Farley’s from Hitchin were there coincidentally and did the most amazing mermaid style up do for me, thank you, Michelle. Everywhere you looked people looked so cool from pirates to mermaids to jellyfish to sea monsters. You name it, it was there. The boys and I had fun playing spot Nemo.
The boys loved it. The adventure, the sleeping arrangements. All the free stuff we got from Aldi from sleeping bags (£19.99) to the hammock (£29.99) to blow up sofa (£19.99) to rucksacks to lights. Thank you so much, Aldi. We can confirm all items sent were extremely useful, brilliant value and easy to set up. The hammock provided much campsite jealousy. And a place for me to have an afternoon nap on Saturday and a place to sleep on the sat night. We borrowed a cool blow up tent from friends Gerry & Tracy. No poles, just inflatable bits.
Entertainment for children.
There was an amazing children’s area where there were circus skills, walking the plank, street dance, face-painting. The boys spent hours there. All 3 loved it. There were a big wheel and big merry-go-round ride.
The well-being area. Had I had a bit more child-free time I would have made full use of this with yoga, massage, reiki, and meditation. Next year I will deffo check it out.
Apart from a brief downpour in the middle of the Friday night (which did leak into the tent), it was a beautiful weekend with sun and warmth. There was no mud, flipflops were fine:-)
The Bad Bits
Life is all about balance and of course not everything was going to be perfect..so here are the bits that we didn’t like.
I’ve read lots of stuff about camping, so was prepared for it to be a challenge. But hubby did not enjoy the camping bit. From the carrying of stuff from car to pitch (which wasn’t even that far as we had special press parking tickets). The putting up of the tent, apparently the tent pegs were not strong enough. And the sleeping arrangements, hubby did not set up the hammock or yoga mats so ended up sleeping on the floor with just sleeping bag. With a hammer through fear of someone coming and attacking us all. The only way hubby would return is if we did glamping/or he just drove back home. Which he did do on Saturday.
The Cost of Stuff at the Festival
We spent around £250 from Friday afternoon to Sunday lunchtime. Everything you bought was expensive. The food was maybe £8 per burger. Coffee was £3. Icecreams were £3. Water was £2. A pint of beer was £5. Fairground rides were £3 a go. We didn’t budget, we just spent as we wanted and therefore spent a lot. We had however received the tickets free of charge (full weekend camping tickets for 2 adults and 2 children would have been £300, an infant was only £5) and the camping stuff was gifted by Aldi (cost of around £150). So we actually had a great weekend for £250, we would have spent more at Haven. They had a great cashless wristband thing which reduced queues, but also made you think less about the cost of things and therefore spend more.
The Queues for the Pool.
Luckily we got to the pool as soon as it opened Saturday and Sunday mornings and only had to wait 1 hour to get in. But if you joined at 10 am on a Sunday morning you would have been waiting for 2-3 hours to get into the pool for your 30-minute slot. Not great, but it was very popular. And no one was annoyed about the queues, just chilled out and relaxed!
Okay, so I was expecting these to be bad. And they weren’t as bad as they could have been. They were proper toilets with loo roll. But they were smelly and by the afternoon and def evening, they were not nice. Dirty/stinky. The cleaning staff did a great job at getting them cleaned up in the mornings, not a nice job.
We could have been better-prepared food wise. We did take a good supply of Aldi snacks, sausage rolls, crisps, chocolate, fruit, water, beer, cider. But not enough of the right stuff, as the temptation of the food stalls was far more. Lots of people had camping stoves and were boiling up water for tea and cooking bacon. We had none of that. And probably spent £60 on breakfast food! I went on a sugar rampage on Saturday and ate a huge slice of chocolate cake. This was a huge mistake after eating clean for 5 weeks. The sugar hangover on Sunday was the worst ever and actually lasted 48 hours. Not great when we were flying to Spain very early on Monday morning. 48 hours of migraine painkillers were the only solution. And I have learned that having a huge slice of chocolate cake is so not worth it.
We loved it a lot more than the bad bits. Particularly me and the 2 eldest boys Dylan and Josh. We will absolutely be back, but maybe glamping;-)
A huge thank you to Full-Fat media, Molly, Tom and co for the tickets. And thank you to Clarion and Aldi for the camping gear which we couldn’t have done without. If you want to get tickets for next year..join the waiting list for more information. I have added my email address.
Please do share your camping/festival experiences, what was your favourite bit and the least favourite bit?