After an 'extreme' Winter, we deserve this Summer... a butterfly of excitement emerges in our tummies and we realise that festival season is upon us.
I am lucky enough to be asked to be guest blogger this year at our favourite small festival: Nozstock, based in Herefordshire countryside and this year celebrating its 20th anniversary.
Nozstock has organically evolved into a thing of beauty and started out in the same way as all of the best ones. As a small party for friends and family that grew and grew….
Why do we love it?
Firstly it is small which is great if you are a family. You don't have to lug all your kit for miles across the site to set up camp and once done, you can go from family field ‘chill out’ to ‘action central’ in less than ten minutes. Due to the size and the ethos of the place- it is also incredibly friendly.
There is a wide mixture of people who come- teenage ravers to old(er) hippies and families- all of whom will become friends after a few days of dancing and getting covered in mud and glitter together.
Staying true to it's roots, Nozstock has an obvious lack of corporate advertising and bubbles of creativity burst all around the site, from the signage and décor to the street theatre.
Watch out for the band waiting in the bushes to sing you a song about your subject of choice.
Remember to go to town with fancy dress: after all, having fun is a business not to be taken lightly and the more you put in, the more you get out of it.
The Kids area has a host of activities for families of all ages so there is always something to do in the daytime. This year, crafts and activity workshops are run by 'Spare Room Arts' so kids can make some special festival outfits, make kites, do a dance workshop or take part in storytelling. Alongside this, pop up poetry, British Sign Language lessons, circus skills and Yoga for all the family as well as a soft play and chill out area for when it all gets a bit much. But don't forget the music- this year the line up is as eclectic as ever.
I am looking forward to finally witnessing the whirling epic tunes of Goldfrapp, having a family skank to ska outfit The Selector and a good dance to Electric Swing Circus. Not to mention our family's favourite Chase & Status. We really do love a bit of Drum and Bass in our house so that's going to be our highlight for sure...
Which brings me to what I am MOST excited about: the things aren't on the programme.
At our last Noz, my eldest (who was 7) wanted to see the UV insects that were strung up in the trees in the Coppice at night. I wasn't averse to a bit of techno either so it was no hardship to take a walk there one evening.
At dusk it looked magical and as we wound our way through the small crowd we were gently ushered in to a place that was safest from anyone falling over him. After all, it was dark and he was short! Festival note: If people see a 'space' at head height they may try to push into it- another reason we always used to attach fairy lights to the buggy.
Once amongst the crowd, Archie cautiously watched others around him, how they moved was different to how he usually dances at home. He mimicked the others and smiles of encouragement reassured him as he felt himself drawn into the beat, keeping one eye on the luminous decor in wonder.
It felt cyclical, bringing my son to this mini rave, reconnecting with something I used to do before he came into the world. Archie felt that he was involved in some magical grown up world made up of warm smiles, UV insects and dancing to repetitive beats in the illicit Night Time.
Winding our way back again we stopped at the Garden Stage to hear a bit of Drum & Bass. Archie was a bit overwhelmed as people high-fived him: this small human was treated as a celebrity as he joined in gleefully with the collective stomp. Soon though, it was time to collapse into bed- satisfied that he had a WHOLE story of adventure to tell his little brother when he (eventually) woke up the next day.
Can we always do that Mummy, every time we come to Nozstock?
Course we can, love. It can be our 'thing.'
It's these unexpected treasures that make Nozstock so good: and it is full of surprises.
Like watching a man dressed as a rabbit, sing popular songs in the style of Chaz & Dave whilst rewarding participants with carrots. (Check out the 'Cabinet of Lost Secrets' for this beauty.)
Another thing to watch out for is 'Chicken Shit Bingo' where you pay for a number on a grid and if the chicken poos on your square you win FIFTY ENGLISH POUNDS. The atmosphere is electric- and it really is hysterical being amongst a group of people all cheering on a chicken to have a poo.
Finally, get involved in the paint fight and party at the sunken yard. You won't regret it. Unless you get covered in paint and forget to wash it off before the next morning of course.
We've seen a lot in our travels, but nothing beats stepping out of your everyday, throwing on your best festival clobber and dancing in a field with your family.
Nozstock we are SO ready for you. Maybe we’ll see you there