Arriving at the festival site with bright sunshine and our anthem of the Summer blaring in the car, the weekend laid before us full of promise. There were no traffic queues on arrival, no wristband queues and with just two minutes walk to the campsite from the car park, we were winning.
We showed our allocated ‘family camping’ wristbands (for security) and gained access to the family camping field. We were greeted by a group of children playing football- others were hanging off the home-made wooden playground. A small queue of parents formed at the airstream coffee hut; this seemed like a perfectly acceptable home for the next three days.
Pitching up there was a bit of confusion as some people told us that there was no more space to camp. Ignoring them, we found a spot next to some friendly looking families and went to check with a steward.
Of course! Common sense prevailed and the friendly steward told me to ignore everyone and camp where we liked. We pitched up in time to avoid the storm and felt very sorry for the people arriving in torrential rain after a seven week drought…
We cooked up our sausages, made friends with our neighbours, dressed up in sequins and headed out to explore.
The sense that you get when you first step into the arena is one of a playground- a place to play for adults and children alike. We loved that a heavy metal band was playing on one stage, folk and Jungle on the others. Circus equipment was scattered on the floor in the market for anyone to play with, the ever popular Sweet Shop (our boys emptied their wallets here) and a ‘human jukebox’ was available for anyone to get involved with- which was hilarious, by the way.
We wound our way through the undulating site, searching the corners for new, hidden gems. We made our way past the stages towards the Coppice and the Elephants graveyard stopping (several times!) to climb the wooden lookout ‘Bowsers Tower’ which had been built to be burnt down for the grand finale on Sunday night.
The amount of nooks and crannies made it an endless place to explore. Some we loved, some not so much but there was always something else to find.
We finished off the first night dancing our socks off to Chase & Status- I made a new Best Friend Forever and can’t remember the last time I danced like that. It felt good for the soul.
You see, amongst all the activities, what made Nozstock so good was that by the end, we felt like we had got to know so many people who felt like friends. How is this possible?
Amongst a crowd of 5000 people Nozstock is small. This means that there is a sense of community and you see the same friendly faces over and over again.
The following day our only plan was to check out the kids area. This hive of activity offered respite from the relentless heat and offered countless opportunities for creativity… We made a clay pot, tie dyed a t-shirt and made friends with a clown. For our boys though, it was the hockey game that they loved; they are obsessed with balls so this was no surprise.
Soaking up the sunshine we spent some time at the Sunken Yard again, this time Finn, our youngest won a medal as the ‘Floss’ champion in a spontaneous Floss-off; our eldest embroiled in an endless game of volleyball (balls: see?!)
Refilling our water bottles was easy at various points around the site- but in search of shade, The Cabinet of Lost Secrets was another place of sanctuary.
We stumbled in to ‘Play it again Dan’s sea shanty sing-along which was a big hit. Later we discovered that the place had transformed into a ‘Sweeny Todd’ style bar with an Arabic Sage who stood sentry at the piano and challenged you to play the ‘right’ note.
A door slid open and you entered a secret mirrored passageway complete with disco lights, which opened out to a secret stage hosting a six piece funk band.
Bimbling about is our favourite festival activity- it’s amazing where your feet take you when you let them.
After the obligatory Chicken Shit Bingo, we stumbled on folk outfit Mad Dog Mcrea. I had never heard of them before, but jumping around in the late afternoon sunshine, covered in face paint and ice cream was a bolt of pure happiness. When they finished with ‘Bare Necessities’ it epitomised our festival experience- a sunny sea of smiling, dancing people who were completely in the moment.
Collapsing in an exhausted heap, we stocked up on sugar and dashed to the sunken yard. People were fire spinning around a huge hypnotic fire and it was a great way to chill out before a big dance to Grandmaster Flash.
On Sunday we woke up exhausted, covered in glitter and caked in dust- but we dug deep and took ourselves off to screen print our own souvenir t-shirts. Afterwards we found ourselves on a sofa in the cinema tent watching ‘Flash Gordon’ and cooling off with a snow cone before succumbing to the draw of the Sunken Yard again.
Soothing beats helped our tired limbs spring back to life and our other child won a much-coveted medal for Sumo wrestling. (between volleyball matches, obviously)
We refuelled on delicious Jerk Chicken, hot dogs and falafel and rounded off the day with Nozstock’s grand finale fire and firework show. We stopped off at Serial Killaz for a good old fashioned family dance to Drum and Bass before collapsing into bed.
Monday morning was harsh- waking up tired, with a trashed tent is never much fun but I could have cried with relief when I saw that cars were allowed to drive into the campsite.
We loaded up our dusty car, hugged our new friends goodbye and agreed to find each other again next year; same time, same place. After all, amongst the myriad of world-class activities, theatre and music, this year it really was the people that made it.
Thanks for having us, Nozstock and providing us with an array of dusty, sparkly, uplifting and life-affirming fun. See you next time.