“It’s fine once you’re past the early stage isn’t it?” said the woman next to me. “When you’ve gone feral.” It sounds worse than it really is; we weren’t in a jungle, merely a music festival.
I’d been toying with the idea of taking E to a music festival for a while and finally bit the bullet to take her to Deershed in Yorkshire this past weekend. It’s just the right size to be able to transport things easily and have a good time while not intimidating a small person with the size and scale and chaos. E had been primed about camping for a while, trying out her new sleeping bag and sparkly face paints and so off we set on Friday morning leaving S behind. “No boys allowed!” She announced.
Deershed is geared towards families and is very welcoming for folk with small people of all ages. We arrived about an hour after the gates opened, drove straight in and picked up a trolley to move our stuff. Having been used to Glastonbury, this was a novelty – not only did I have a relatively small tent in comparison, but there was enough room to set it up and have loads of space surrounding it. The other important thing to note is that the toilets were clean, mostly fresh smelling and in most cases were well stocked with paper.
E was very relaxed but excited about the whole weekend and was absurdly pleased with the small things I’d remembered to bring, such as bunting for the tent and fairy lights for nighttime. She helped with pumping up the air mattresses and set everything out in our temporary home with great care.
We went and had a look around. There’s loads to do for all ages, as well as music and comedy for the adults (plus bars) there were workshops, a sports area, circus skills, film tent, fairgound and a big top. For littlies, there was a NCT feeding tent for support and rest, under five areas with soft play, sand pit and crafts, and welfare areas. They also have Mr Trolley there for trolley hire, which I decided to invest in. I hired E a wagon trolley with roof and padded sides, for her to ride in. I’d seen children sleep in them at other festivals and had a faint hope of E doing the same. Many families there brought their pwn trolley.
E was fascinated by the fairground rides though not enough to go on them, loved the bubble displays at the bubble stall, and was very excited by the green sea monster that sat in the pond. We called it Delia.
The workshops were a lovely variety of crafts and new things to try out. We went home with more homemade items than a Kirsty Allsopp TV programme, including a lovely willow woven heart and a minion made from a plastic bottle end. But E’s favourite workshop was the Aardman model making. We sat on the first one and made a Shaun the Sheep from plasticine which, while not perfect, does resemble the original enough to make us proud. (We returned to Aardmanfor a Gromit workshop on Sunday to find it sold out but they kindly gave E a ready made one made by the Aardman man himself to make up for the disappointment. I was very excited, and E told the lady she would introduce it to Shaun so they could be friends.)
The trolley was a great help, and easier to manoeuvre than you might think, and E made great friends with it. Ours was called Bradley, and by the end of the weekend he was covered in ribbon braids. The roof did a basic job of keeping her dry for Sunday’s rain, though there was leakage from drips.
How about the performances? We didn’t see an enormous amount, though heard several more while out and about. E enjoyed Sam Sam the Bubbleman, once she’d put her ear defenders on to avoid being scared to death by the compere making all the kids shout, and she really enjoyed anything that encouraged her to dance. The air guitar workshop followed by the Matthew Bourne ballet workshop onSunday were big hits. But her favourite was Richard Hawley on Saturday night. We’d gone back to the tent before the performance and got her changed into her pyjamas, leaving Bradley behind. We stopped off to hear a bedtime story, then picked up some hot chocolate, churros and choc dipping sauce, and consumed all on our blanket. Then RH started playing and E started to dance. She didn’t stop till he did, and then called goodbye to him all the way back to the tent. I imagine the novelty was a big factor in her enjoyment, but perhaps she’s inherited her mother’s love of guitars too.
E is keen to return, so I’ll keep an eye out for next year’s tickets. All in all a great success, and only a bit exhausting.
Deershed festival details can be found on their website.