A 40 year old & a 4 year old take on Glastonbury!
Earlier this year I was pondering how to celebrate my 40th birthday in a suitably exciting way. I figured a trip to The World Cup in Brazil was the perfect prize, but after deciding I didn’t want to fly long haul without Ryland I changed my plans. Having celebrated my 18th, 21st and 30th birthdays at Glastonbury I now focused my attention on bagging a pair of ‘money can’t buy’ tickets to the world’s greatest festival!
One of my top tips for being a successful comper is to be social and share your hobby. Create a prize wish list (on a blog, competition forum or Pinterest) and if there’s a prize you really want, let your Facebook friends know so they can keep an eye out. My friend Laura did just that when she spotted a Glastonbury competition on the Tuborg Facebook page – it closed the very next day. The task? To create your dream Glasto using their app. I entered at the last minute, with an 80s theme:
My three dream headliners: Beastie Boys, The Smiths, Duran Duran
Entertainment: ‘Stars in their Eyes’ stage where you can perform as your 80s idol; Sinclair Disco playing the best music from Manic Miner & Jet Set Willy; Big screen showing Ghostbusters & Caddyshack
My added extras: Rubik’s Cubes provided for free in the toilet queue; photographers patrolling the site with Polaroid cameras; Joe Bananas blanket stall supplying free neon leg warmers with every purchase
The following morning I received a call from Tuborg to say I’d won two Glastonbury tickets; I actually cried, I was so excited. I owe Laura big time!
We’ve already survived 3 festivals with Ryland (Summer Sundae, Latitude and Camp Bestival). But Glastonbury is an entirely different beast. Even with 12 previous Glastos under my belt I still felt a bit nervous about how a 4 year old would get on in the inevitable mudbath. We arrived on site at Thursday lunchtime and a friend had scouted out a spot for us in the Cockmill Meadow family camping field. We hammered in the last tent peg just as the rain started… whew! And from that moment on, we had the most AMAZING time.
Here are my top tips for Glastonbury with a 4 year old:
- Get your child a wristband with your phone number on. Ry has a Vital ID camoflage band – you can also get them on site at the Kidz Field. If you have a phone battery that barely lasts a day, get a SIM for a crap old handset and use that as your emergency contact phone. Point out the stewards in bright jackets and tell your child to go to them if they’re lost.
- Get a quality, large tent. Separate zipped bedrooms are a bonus, particularly as your kids get older. We have a lovely Outwell Explorer Family tent with big windows and pitched it at the top of the hill so we could watch the storms over the site from the dry! Pitch your tent in a family camping area (so much quieter at night) and near a tall flag (we were between Bob Marley and England!), so you can find your way back in the dark.
- Take a trolley/wagon/bike trailer/three wheeler buggy. Essential to get your stuff from the car to the campsite, and you can sit your child(ren) in there with blankets at night. We took a basic Radio Flyer but many parents take epic wooden wagons with waterproof covers big enough to squeeze three kids in! Even with its skinny wheels, the Radio Flyer handled the mud and rough ground brilliantly. Be warned though – one night I tucked my red wine bag under Ry’s feet and it had fallen out after our bumpy journey back to the tent. I like to think someone made the most of it!
- Have a daily family siesta at your tent (ideally during heavy rain). It gives you all lots of energy for the evening fun, and it’s great to be out with the kids at sunset which is truly magical at Glasto.
- Make the most of the Kidz Field. It opens from 9am – 7pm and it’s brilliant – indoor theatre, helter skelter, pink fairytale castle, pirate ship, circus, crafts, outdoor climbing wall, crazy ping pong, sandpit, bouncy slides and tons more. There are even miniature composting toilets for the kids – great if you’re paranoid about them tumbling down into the ‘Long Drop’ loos!
- Take a bubble wand and bottle of mix to keep it topped up. Bubbles help your child make friends (leaving you to enjoy the music!), and you’ll laugh at adults getting excited by them too.
- Pack ‘camping pants’ and a Potette. What we referred to as ‘camping pants’ are actually Dry Nites pants for kids, we took a pair for each night just in case. The Potette is also useful for grown ups who need a wee in the night. Enough said.
- Fancy dress. Your kids can get away with being annoying for a bit longer if they look cute and/or cool – and they’re also easier to keep track of. While watching De La Soul a little boy gave Ry his spare water pistol so they could shoot everyone coming into the bar. It was a good hour of free entertainment, even the grumpiest old men cracked a smile at Spiderman. I would have gone in fancy dress myself if I could decide which outfit to take!
- Don’t be too arsed about seeing bands. We really wanted to see Blondie and De La Soul (both of which Ry loved) but apart from that we didn’t plan anything, so it was a bonus when we made it to see Manic Street Preachers and the Pixies. Ry sat on our shoulders, and wore ear defenders for the loudest offenders (yes, Metallica – that means you!)
- Take a folding chair to sling over your shoulder. It’s super useful in mud. And it holds your pint in the cup holder!
- Take a rucksack. Handbags and totes are hopeless – you need a bag that stays put when you go to the toilet! Fill it with suncream, raincoats, snacks, water, sunglasses, toilet roll, wet wipes, plasters, anti-bacterial gel and a map. And birthday cake, candles and matches if required…
- Be daft. At Glastonbury everyone is a little bit mad, so why not join in? We danced to Black Lace, did the pinchy pinchy kiss kiss lobster dance with Lekiddo, and generally behaved like big kids.
- Take lots of spare clothes, and plastic bags to line wet wellies with. You never know when your child might end up face down in the mud!
- Take turns doing grown up stuff. We stuck together during the day because it was fun, but after 11pm when Ry was asleep we took turns exploring the late night weirdness. I hadn’t been to Glasto for 7 years so I wanted to check out Shangri-La, the Unfairground, Glasto Latino, Block 9 and all the new areas of the site. It was incredible! I think my favourite random moment was walking through a door into a life painting class, where a topless lady on a sofa posed and a naked man played ‘I’m sexy and I know it’ on an acoustic guitar. After investigating the Unfairground I eventually settled in at the Acid Lounge where I boogied to the Stooges, Strokes and Talking Heads until the early hours, oddly surrounded by scantily clad pole dancers!
And there you have it – Glastonbury Festival as a 40 year old with a 4 year old. It was awesome and you can be assured I’ll be trying to win some tickets for 2015 – perhaps I’ll see you there?