I don’t want to tell you about the weekend we just had. I don’t want to share the awesomeness that was our Feast in the Woods experience. I really don’t want to tell you how my children connected with nature, how strangers became friends and how we spent the weekend resting in the beauty of the outdoors. I don’t want to tell you anything about it at all – at least not till I’ve bought my tickets for next year.
A few months ago I was searching for events to populate my UK Festivals Pinterest board when I came across a festival called Feast in the Woods.
Well – I love feasting and I love woods. I had to check it out. I swapped a few emails with the organiser, Rebecca Cork of Honeywoods Camping and the rest, as they say, is history.
We arrived on the campsite on Saturday afternoon, just as the rain stopped. I was feeling apprehensive and not really in the mood for cold, wet, and mud. But we went on, as the sun peaked out, and set up our tent. I didn’t know anyone and I was worried we’d spend the weekend standing outside looking in on other people’s friendships, conversations and fun. Having an amazingly outgoing child is a great excuse for meeting people.
We hadn’t even set our tent up yet, and I could hear peals of laughter coming from Ameli as she had found a few friends, and a giant parachute.
She ran back excitedly to tell me about the wardrobe she’d walked through to find a tent with facepaint and a young girl had painted her face into a tulip- the first of four face paint masks for the day. She ran off, taking her sister with her.
They ran back to tell me they’d found a hammock. And again to tell me about the swings hanging from forest trees. And about the bunting decorating the outskirts of the field. And about the huge marquee with straw bales and the barn full of apple juice (cider, my dears!).
There was so much to run back and tell me about.
No sooner was the tent up than the heavens opened and with rumbling thunder, declared our weekend begun. We went to the giant marquee to escape the downpour and spent some time on a sticker book but before long the skies were clear and the sun shone down on us again.
The first night of Feast in the Woods we had a shared communal dinner cooked by Indiana Joe Baba, a veritable feast of flavours and a shared, communal dining experience. What a fabulous way to break down walls of unfamiliarity, by sharing a meal together! We also had a short talk by Guyrope Gourmet on the history of food riots in England. Didn’t know that was a thing? Well, it was. And quite an interesting history too!
The girls were tired, as were we, so we went to bed early to wake to a beautiful sun shining Sunday and breakfast courtesy of Guyrope Gourmet. The day started for us with sausages on the communal fire, followed by chatting – just sitting, talking to people, while our children darted in and out of the woods, never sitting still, barefoot, feral, but in the best way.
For a festival with few ‘kids activities’ to speak of, the children were never bored, never not active. It was absolutely amazing.
There’s nothing like a bit of coffee on a Sunday morning, and ours set the pace with a demonstration and coffee tasting with Arabicca and Robusta beans from below and above the 1000m mark. (This means something in coffee language. Something about the number of insects. Promise!)
For the afternoon we took a meander down to the lake. We almost didn’t, because why mess with fabulous? Well, because fabulous can be outdone by perfection. A lake, pond dipping and a field of daisies? Sign me up, please.
I sat by the lake watching the children play, listening to people talking, laughing and lying in the sea of flowers and just felt so wholly at peace – I forgot for a while that we were in England, and that yesterday we were in jumpers and tights.
People brought their meat to cook on the BBQ, someone brought out fireside deserts available for anyone to try and to share – such a beautiful community spirit. A perfect day.The evening saw us leaving the children to run till they were tired, or it was dark, whichever came first. It was our last night in the woods and we wanted them to just enjoy themselves. I was hoping for some star gazing with the girlies, but by then it was overcast again, so they went to bed, and I sat by the fire – now a bonfire – and just chatted and listened and enjoyed soaking in the earthen aromas of the firewood, transported to open fire campsites of my own childhood. My memories danced like the flames in front of me. Happy memories, like I hope and believe we’re creating for our own girls.
Monday morning the campsite was abuzz with activity as people were packing up early, hoping to miss the rains that were clearly coming. A lot of children and a lot of gear and a decent track from our patch of forest to the car meant earlier was better, and after we’d swapped numbers and details with fellow campers, we made our way home.
The girls slept in the car. I made for the first hot coffee, and we had a bath before anything else when we got home, but Ameli’s been asking repeatedly when we could go back to Feast in the Woods. Yes, it was a festival, and yes, we arrived not knowing anyone, but looking back on it, we were all kindred spirits with a love of nature and of food and of community, rising to the challenge of stepping outside of our comfort zones.
It was like a weekend of camping with friends we were just waiting to meet. I can’t wait for next year.
Want a bigger family festival? Have a look the Big Feastival in the Cotswolds, reviewed by Birds and Lilies