Just So Much Fun at Just So Festival

August 15th – August 17th

Dear mummy, phew! What a weekend we’ve just had! We travelled 3 hours up to Cheshire for the annual Just So Festival. It had been in our calendar for months, we’d scoured Pinterest for costume ideas for the Tribal Tournament and busy prepped all our camping gear (I’d even packed my own teddies!)

The journey up and camping.

On Friday morning we were finally on our epic adventure. The car was full to bust! Keeping me amused in the car was a challenge, even though I slept the majority of the way up, daddy had ‘In the night garden’ on standby just incase I got fractious. We were all conscious that we needed to get to the festival when the gates opened at 12pm to pitch a tent and secure our home away from home.

Camping at Just So Festival 2014Being first timers, we didn’t know where to pitch up or where to go. Natural instinct took over and mummy bundled me in my festival cart when we arrived with some bags and we took off on our trek to find a bit of flat grass. We walked for what seemed like ages, winding our way though the mass of already pitched tents. Even though we arrived at 1.30pm a lot of people had already secured their patches and more disappointingly secured others with bags and chairs. We asked several times if we could pitch up and sadly kept getting turned away with festival goers saying they were “reserved” for friends. Before we knew it we were very far from the car park, up a gradual slope and saw the end of the roped off little path. At last some space! Horror descended over our faces when we found out these patches too were “reserved” for friends that hadn’t turned up yet! 5 tent pitches! Eventually we talked the other camper round to let us pitch up as mummy had walked so far with me. When daddy turned up he was angry and couldn’t understand why people would reserve bits of grass with chairs and coats. Not a good start to the weekend my mummy thought.

It took us 2 hours to get sorted. However it wasn’t all doom and gloom, mummy had walked so far up the campsite that we realised we were only a stones throw from the entrance!! “Well done mummy” this is a perfect position I clap. Luckily for us we pitched up just before the rain started and after the quick shower, had a cuppa and a well deserved sandwich.

The next challenge was getting our festival wristbands, mummy queued for 20 mins for her wristband, she wished we had gone to get them as soon as we arrived. The sun was shining, but bored kids had trashed the ‘hello’ signs which dotted the pathway up to the entrance which was a shame. It was 4.30pm when we finally got into the festival on Friday. 2.5 hours after the festival had started! Our own fault for not leaving earlier, but also it seemed that everyone arrived at the same time to collect their wristbands. Top tip: lay your tent out on the grass, then get your wristbands before putting the tent up.

Friday evening at the Festival

We went around the festival site to get a lay of the land and it is stunning, so much attention to detail. Rode Hall is beautiful. The organisers have done a wonderful job with the decorations and the artwork. Just So Festival has 8 main areas. The Social & Footlights, Peek-a-boo, Head-over-Heels, The Imaginarium, Jitterbug, Spellbound Forest, Lazy Days and the High Seas. We started off at the Social, the main hub for eating and dancing, with the main stage within a walled field on a farm. It was called Footlights, with a bar opposite…the perfect remedy for my parents after a stressful afternoon.

We chilled out and listened to the folky, bluegrass acoustic band called ‘Kidnap Alice’ in the afternoon sunshine, black clouds threaten but nothing came of it.

Hanging around at Just So FestivalWe explored the magical Spellbound Forest and listened to some dusk campfire stories from the fabulous duo Patrick and Bridget. They were very funny! Later we headed back to the campsite for a BBQ and an early night for me.

While I was asleep Grandma and Grandpa looked after me while Mummy and Daddy took a trip down the spooky path towards The High Seas and saw the awesome Shadowplay. I slept without a problem all the way from 8pm til 7am not bad for a first timer camping eh? Mummy and Daddy on the other hand were woken by a screaming toddler in the middle of the night which is a standard hazard of camping so close to other young families. On the whole though we were all amazed how silence descended on the campsite at 11pm and all was still until babies woke at dawn.

Saturday at the Festival. The Lantern Parade Day.

We woke with glorious sunshine on Saturday, dew on the grass and our bellies full of excitement for what lay ahead. Mummy took me to Peek-a-Boo, a baby and toddler area of the festival, for my early morning walk as not to wake the other campers, and for me to have some brekkie. She wheeled me around in my festival cart, while I remained in my sleepsuit, wellies and dressing gown, she in her PJs and she had a leisurely coffee and I had a jam croissant. We joined in with the ‘Wake Up Sleepy Heads’, and giggled as parents joined their infants in a cross between dancing and aerobic stretching to shake our weary bodies to life, ready for the day. It was such fun being silly and my mummy remembers seeing all the adults prancing around under the big tree.

Within Peek-a-Boo there was also a baby changing tent, a baby bathing tent, a feeding tent, Clay Babies (which we sadly did not get the opportunity to join in with as it always seemed too popular) the Sheetfort, Sling library and Weleda tent which hosted other baby activities such as Cello Babies and Baby Yoga. Do you know what would have been good? A soft play tent. But alas, they didn’t have one….maybe for next year? (During the weekend we missed so much here, as it always seemed very busy).

Just So Festival DecorationsBefore we knew it 2 hours had past and it was 9am, ready for my cereal and for my Mummy to wake the rest of our camping party, Grandma and Grandpa and Daddy. Mummy and Daddy dashed off to the Social to practice the Tribal Stag Chant ready for Sunday’s Parade and loved it. Afterwards we all spent the whole day exploring the festival. From 10am to 6pm. Mummy and Daddy had gotten into their Stag costumes and really into the Just So spirit of things.

We played in the sand at the Pirate Ship in the High Seas (another fab area of the festival) joined in with some pirate fun and lazed away lunchtime in the sun. Watched the Dancing Games and people playing in the hay, unfortunately we missed the opportunity to take part, as it was a pre-register. We watched circus performers and blew bubbles on the Lazy Days lawn. Listened to some more live music and generally sat and watched the world go by. I wanted to walk everywhere, so there was no rushing around and by the time we got to places we missed a lot. We stumbled on bits of things and threw our routine and stress out of the window. We dressed up and danced around. The Family Traveller magazine sponsored the event and we had our family picture taken on one of the Imaginarium Stages.

Saturday night while I was in bed, Mummy headed out to watch the Lantern Parade while I rested my weary head. It was spectacular and hopefully when I’m older I will come back and be able to fully appreciate it. That night Grandma and Grandpa went into the woods (Ooooo I say!) to relax around the curious campfire and they listened to the fabulous brass band ‘Perhaps Contraption’.

Sunday at the Festival. The Tribal Tournament / Wild Rumpus Parade Day.

Just So Festival WeekendOn Sunday, after a heavy thunderstorm over night the day was ominous. Black clouds littered the sky and the mood was glum. New day trippers had entered the site and gave the festival a fresh feel today, lifting wet spirits with new costumes ready for the tribal parade later that night. We spotted some great characters, like Mr and Mrs Fish carrying huge fishes on their backs with babies in slings on their fronts. The talented Fox 5 family who were singing in the Jitterbug Tent, the beautiful mermaids and the little boy who kept high-fiving my Mummy and Daddy, chanting “Go Stags!”

We joined in with the fantastic Bollywood dancing at the Social, provided by the awesome Sohan, teaching us great Bollywood steps, my Mummy and Grandma were busting some Stag moves while I looked on.

Organisers and volunteers were handing out golden nuggets for the tribal leaderboards. (One of the many Just So Festival activities ongoing during the weekend was an animal tribe competition to collect these golden nuggets in a tube in order to win the prized Just So Festival trophy). We had lunch by Head-over-Heels and watched the festival goers try out new circus skills.

The weather was hot and sunny when we finally settled down on a picnic blanket at Footlights to watch the star attraction John Hegley. His funny poems and silly songs made me dance with glee, even though I couldn’t understand what he was saying and a lot of the jokes went above my (and other children’s heads) to the wicked delight of the parents and that added to the fun. We loved the actions to ‘Guillemot’ bird. Just before he finished the heavens opened and we retreated to the comfort of the social barn for a cuppa.

Afterwards we aimlessly wandered around the woods and the Mirror Maze taking in the last of the daylight hours. I was fascinated by the lamps hanging from the branches and the fairy lights twinkling in the dusk. It was truly magical and our favourite moments were in the Spellbound Forest, Mummy and Daddy watching in awe as wonder spread across my face.

Just So Festival PhotosWe found that the early hours in the morning and early hours in the evening were the quietest, we felt we had the whole festival to ourselves which is a testament to the intimate feel of this children’s festival. I had a blast and looking back at the photos that my Mummy and Daddy took, I have a smile in 99% of the them.

Mummy’s highlight of the Just So Festival was watching me jig around to the music at Footlights and Daddy’s highlight was Tribal Chanting. My highlight was my eyes opening up to a whole new world of magic in the woods, performance and beauty. That sums up the Just So Festival. If you are looking for an arty, folky, funky family festival with a real sense of belonging then this is the festival for you.

As first timers we felt included in the Just So family. The Tribal Tournament was great fun, high fives from strangers, smiles and nods of approval for being silly, everyone was so friendly during the festival shenanigans (it’s just a shame the goodwill and magic didn’t extended to the campsites) no wristband salute we’d heard so much about and they needed more lights on pathways to add to the festival sparkle.

Our top tips for festival camping

1) Don’t pack too much! No, you don’t need those 24 batteries!!

2) Distraction for children when putting up and taking down tents with toys and music.

3) Snacks, when the food queues get too long and kids get fractious.

4) Familiar toys and books, to make your tent feel like home.

5) Wipes, wipes and more wipes, for when dewy grass gets on sticky hands.

6) Throw routine out of the window, don’t have a plan just go with the flow – it will be easier for everyone, trust us.

7) Be silly, be a big child, get messy and engage, leave your stress in the car park.

8) Let it all hang out, no one cares if you wear your PJs all day! (mummy is a prime example)

9) Get clothes and bags ready the night before for epic adventures in the morning.

10) …and breath! Take time to look at the sky.

Just So Festival SocialWe hope you like our little review on our first camping and festival experience at Just So Festival. We have only just scratched the surface of this great family festival and what was on offer. We would recommend it to any family, young or old! As a baby there were certain activities that I couldn’t do, so I can’t wait till I’m older to visit again. Be sure to visit the Wild Rumpus team and the Just So Festival website for next years shenanigans, their early bird tickets for 2015 get listed soon.

The question is will Mummy and Daddy let me go again? Will we head to Camp Bestival instead? Who knows….watch this space.

Bella xx


Skibz Bibs Review

Skibz Bibs 1Dear mummy, I must be teething as drool is dripping from my mouth! At 18 months old, I only have 10 teeth…2 front bottom, 4 top front and 4 molars piercing the skin, they must be biggy’s coming through as my mummy has never seen drool pour out of my mouth before like this!

We need something more absorbent than the supermarket towelling bibs daddy got for me, as they are not up to the job and mummy keeps changing my bib every couple of hours. At nursery I return with all my bibs soaking wet….Urgh!

We had heard from a friend that Skibz were good, so decided to bite the bullet and order some.

So what is ‘Skibz’?

Well, they are like no other bibs my mummy has seen! They are award winning, super absorbent bandana shaped bibs. They look more like a fashion accessory than a practice bib. But trust me, they are very practical. We ordered off their website and they have a good selection of colourful and patterned versions. We also saw them listed on Amazon and for sale at John Lewis. Skibz has been going since 2008 and founded by a mum called Helen when she couldn’t find anything on the market for her little children. They were dribblers like me you see. I like the fact that moisture is drawn away from my skin when I dribble, through to the second layer of the bib, this helps prevent rashes and blotches under my chin.

Skibz Bibs 2My mummy was very impressed when they came in a super shiny silver jiffy bag through the post and I was instantly attracted to the packaging. My mummy thinks I’m just like a little magpie looking for treasure. The packaging itself makes a really good sensory toy and I run my fingers over the bubble wrap envelope and reflect the sunlight off the silver.

We ordered the leopard print bib, the polka dot pink bib and the pink gingham bib. I even wore the leopard print one to Marwell Zoo, which was kinda cool when I saw the real leopards. Skibz currently have a sale on and I picked mine up for £5-£8! I tried them out and they were much better to collect dribble then any bib mummy had tried before. They were also very large and had easy poppers at the back. We had such lovely comments from family and friends when I wore my new Skibz out and about and they didn’t even look like conventional bibs. We’ve washed them since on a high temperature lots of times and they have still held their shape and look great.

A good buy and we love the funky patterns and quick delivery :) another fab British company.

We can’t wait for the Christmas versions!!

Bella xx

Family Fever

Molly’s Den, Winchester.

Molly's den WinchesterDear mummy, we stumbled on a fab vintage sales room today and loved it so much we just had to blog about it! It was all by accident really, my mummy works in Winchester and saw it sign posted, so we decided to go and explore. We imagined it to be small, cramped and dusty like antique places usually are. How wrong we were! This place is massive! It’s situated off junction 9 of the M3, in Winchester at Moorside Road in an industrial estate (so fairly hidden and tucked away amongst all the business warehouses). We knew we were in the right place when we reached the end of the road and bunting and chalkboard signs greeted us. The car park was big and we drove up behind the warehouse, which was colourfully decorated with old doors and bits of old fairground signs. It looked very quirky, just our place my mummy thought.

To get to the entrance at the rear of the emporium we walked through a lovely urban garden with picnic tables and a BBQ set-up, they even had a small playground to keep the kids occupied. They could have done with a couple of smaller slides and rockers for babies and toddlers, but it kept me amused for a good half an hour while my mummy ducked inside to have a good look around. It was really an Aladdin’s Cave full of treasure. From antique porcelain to vintage clothes, ethnic textiles to beautiful wooden furniture, there was something for everyone. My mummy loved all the old-fashioned pictures and lamps. We went upstairs for some cream teas and sandwiches and sat in a beautiful tea room. Lots of space and fun quirky seating, the staff were VERY friendly and helpful offering me a toy to play with when I got fractious. They smiled and waved at me and came over to say hello, even though they were rushed off their feet. Really good customer service! The prices in the tea room were reasonable too. £1.50 for a cuppa! £2.50 for 2 home-made scones with fresh cream and jam. We will be back just for the tea room alone my mummy thinks.

Molly's den Winchester sale roomI’m fascinated by the colourful stairs and spend a great deal of time walking up and down them, which is tiring for Grandma! I make some friends and wave goodbye when we leave. So much lovely stuff to buy just make sure you take some money. Molly’s Den do accept cards which is good but dangerous for a magpie like my mummy!

One of the best vintage sale rooms we’ve been too, they could do with a soft play area for younger children in one of the storage containers they have dotted around, but other than that we couldn’t think of a better way to spend a morning browsing. They’ve only been open for a week, and more little pop-up stands are setting up, so hopefully there will be more activities for us little ones.

We will be back to Molly’s Den but Shhhhhhhh! we don’t want everyone finding out about this hidden gem in Hampshire! ;)

 Visit Molly’s Den here..

Bella xx



Quentin Blake Exhibition at Mottisfont.

Mottisfont lavenderDear mummy, last Friday we visited one of our favourite haunts Mottisfont. For those that don’t know Mottisfont Abbey, it is a National Trust country estate situated just outside Romsey in Hampshire. It’s sheltered in the valley of the River Test and includes a large manor house which hosts art exhibitions, a winter garden, a walled rose garden and a river walk.

We’ve been in every season and Mottisfont is most spectacular in June when the roses are at full bloom.

Even in the winter months the large gothic trees and immaculate winter gardens are fabulous at Mottisfont. Today we are visiting to see the Quentin Blake exhibition.

Back of mottisfontIt’s a bright and sunny day and we arrived at 10am so we could enjoy the whole day here. We usually head around the front of the house and set up base camp, but today we are seeking shade at the back of the house. Mummy and Grandma laid out the blanket and had a cup of tea while I went to explore the great open space with my football.

The lavender smelt wonderful and the gentle breeze wafted a fragrance so delicate that you could just close your eyes and go to sleep. It was a super hot day and the breeze was a welcomed relief. I stopped from playing every once and a while to sit in the shade and drink my juice and eat the leftover crumbs of mummy’s bakewell slice acquired from Mottisfont’s lovely tearoom.

Baseball capSilly mummy had forgotten my sun hat today, but luckily for us Mottisfont has a great gift shop which sells everything you could possibly need for your little adventurer. We picked up a rather cute, hot pink kids baseball cap, which just about fit me. I loved it and wore it all day! Back to front, to the side like a hip-hop artist. I looked so ‘street’ all day! ;)

We went on a walkabout with my new sun hat and met a lovely gardener trimming the edging of the lawn and some very nice maintenance men climbing up ladders tending to the roof of one of the out-buildings. It’s getting hotter now in this midday sun so we duck inside to see the exhibition.

We’ve been to Mottisfont many times before and I remember dancing downstairs at the Snow Queens Ball. I know my way around the house and head straight for the stairs as the Quentin Blake exhibition is upstairs in the gallery part of Mottisfont.

Quentin BlakeMy mummy’s been waiting for months to see this exhibition. As a child she loved all the Roald Dahl books and the illustrations that Quentin Blake provided for these books. He too was a great storyteller. Through his pictures he brought the books to life for my mother.

Sir Quentin Blake was born in 1938, and is most famously know for illustrating children’s books by the likes of Roald Dahl and Joan Aiken.

‘Chocolate Celebration’ an illustration in watercolour and ink (above) for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory hung on the wall signed by Quentin Blake going for £4,750. Wow mummy that’s a real bargain!

My mummy’s favourite books he illustrated were The BFG, The Witches and The Twits. We weren’t disappointed by the exhibition, beautiful illustrations were on show for all to see and my mummy loved the trip down memory lane.

Quentin Blake Best of BuggiesOur favourite pieces by Quentin Blake at the exhibition were the Doughnut Machine, showing characters Arabel and Mortimer eating doughnuts. Also the ‘Best of buggies’, an illustration with pen ink and watercolour designed for a greeting card in 2008. We liked this piece because it shows a super-duper buggy with all it’s contraptions.

Some other notable children’s illustrators at the exhibition were, Oliver Jeffers, born in Belfast in 1977. Our favourite drawings of his was ‘Henry kept eating books’ from the Incredible Book Eating Boy published in 2006.

We liked Micheal Foreman and his fabulous Alice in Wonderland and treasure Island inspired watercolours. There were so many talented illustrators at this exhibition it was a real feast for the eyes! Even though I was a little bit small to fully enjoy this, mummy will read Roald Dalh books to me and remind me when I’m older that we visited Quentin Blake’s exhibition.

It’s well worth a visit, so much to see and do at Mottisfont both inside and outside.

The Quentin Blake exhibition at Mottisfont is on till the 14th September 2014.

Bella x


Just So Festival – Go Team Stag!

Just So Festival Stags

It’s our first year at Just So Festival, we’ve received our weekend tickets, tested our tent and started to pack. A bit keen eh?

One of the main things we are looking forward to is the Tribal Tournament, a chance to join a Just So Festival tribe. By joining a tribe we will take part in the parade at the end of the festival and earn points for our chosen team to help them win the trophy.

We can earn points for our team by joining in the fun and games before and during the festival. It gives us the opportunity to dress up like our tribe animal and really emerge ourselves in the spirit of Just So Festival. I love dressing up and have full access to my mummy’s dressing up box.

Just so festivalThere are 6 tribes at this year’s festival. The very popular Foxes, Owls and Frogs, the Fish and Lions and then the not so popular Stags who came bottom last year. We wanted to put our efforts to help the Stags make the biggest comeback EVER! Well kinda of…not coming last would be an achievement. There are so many fab ideas and things to do to become a stag.

We scoured Pinterest to look at tribal headdresses, looked at festival masks, Red Indian head pieces and visited deer and stag local handouts at Windsor Great Park and Petworth House. We wanted to be at one with the stag, become a stag. Mummy even watched creepy ‘Hannibal’ on Sky TV to see how a stag was depicted as Hannibal Lecter’s persona. I didn’t watch that programme though, a bit too scary and gorey for my little eyes.

The feeling we get is Team Stag are the dark horses of the tribal tournament, slightly mysterious and proud creatures but also loners. Solitary souls who are lost. Hopefully during the tribal tournament we can make new friends and restore the team pride.

Making antlers 1We’ve made a start on our costumes by creating our headpieces. Each of us will have a different stag personality. Mummy is a Mexican Deer of the Peyote, Daddy is a Scottish Heritage Stag and I’m a Pixie Baby Fawn.

Here’s our progress so far… We’ve used a substance called Kobracast to make our antler head pieces. It’s a thermoplastic which moulds to any object to make a hard, light weight cast.

Ideal for wrapping around antlers and creating life-like multiples. Mummy carefully heats the Kobracast using a heat gun to make it pliable. We bought the antlers at the Highclere Country Show back in May from a walking stick maker/ taxidermist who collects them.

Making antlers 2Deer and Stags shed their antlers from March through to May and these were acquired through a natural shed. So no deer was harmed in the making.

Once the casts were made and set mummy carefully peeled the Kobracast from the antlers using a stanley knife. We used brown and black acrylic to paint mummy and daddy’s and gold to paint my little horns.

Mummy affixed the faux antlers to wide hair bands with Kobracast and glue.

We have yet to embellish them so watch this space. We can’t wait until The Just So Festival in T-minus 2 weeks! They still have some tickets left but be quick before they all go!

Pop back to check out our costumes and see how we got on at the festival :)

eek! Bella x

Follow Baby Isabella’s board Just So Festival #TeamStag on Pinterest

Making antlers 3


Hi Gear Voyager Elite 6 Tent Review

So something much larger on the #TriedTested review page this week from us. Over the weekend we decided to give our new tent a dry run ahead of the Just So Festival in a couple of weeks. Daddy wanted to see how quick it was to put up and take down.

Daddy putting up the Voyager TentIt was the first time we had taken it out of the packaging and had just purchased it in the Go Outdoors sale after a recommendation by a friend. Hi Gear seemed to be a good trusted brand and their prices were reasonable. We got it for half price in the sale!

We wanted to buy a tent that could sleep up to six so we could go on large family holidays to the New Forest and attend festivals without having to worry about orgainising accommodation.

This six man tent seemed like a perfect solution. Daddy has a Go Outdoors card which also provided extra discount as well. Both mummy and daddy love camping and as children they used to go camping all the time with Duke of Edinburgh trips, scouts, girl guides and brownies.

Playing peek-a-booThey wanted to introduce me to camping at a young age and get me climatised to the great outdoors. This tent is massive compared to the one and two men tents they are used to. In fact both mummy and daddy agree it’s like a palace! With standing room head hight in the foyer area! My mummy is amazed by the sheer weight and size of it. You couldn’t go hiking with it she thinks!

While mummy is keeping me entertained daddy lays out the tent, poles and instruction in a green belt behind the house. He’s conscious that he doesn’t want to get told off by neighbours or people using the park and equally afraid that someone might think he’s a traveller and try to move him on.

Tent upIt takes him 40 minutes to put it up for the first time, That includes putting all the little compartments up and the add ons. He does the majority of it himself only calling on my mummy once to hold up the tent from the inside while he secures the poles into position. It has a cross pole design giving it extra strength in windy conditions.

While my mummy is inside the tent she sees it grow to life in front of her eyes…it expands and gets bigger, taller and wider. She remarks that there is something quite satisfying seeing a structure form. The ground sheet is sewn in, meaning I don’t get any creepy crawlies in my bedroom :) it has a front door and side door perfect for when you need to duck out to the loo in the middle of the night and don’t want to wake the whole campsite. (I don’t have that problem, maybe adults should wear nappies when they camp!!)

I run around the corner with Grandma and my mummy peeks her head out of the tent. I have never seen anything like this before, it’s like a mini house outdoors. Excited, I run over to explore. We spend a good hour playing and exploring the tent together. It’s 2.3 meters high, 5.5 meters long and 4.2 meters wide in a lovely emerald green.

Inside the tentWe all go down for a cheeky 5 winks in the foyer area on the nice carpeted ground sheet. It’s a beautiful, large tent with lots of cubby holes to stash things and a large foyer area. The separated pods are good as well, as I have my own bedroom which is more than large enough to put a travel cot in. Very impressed.

It’s very relaxing in here and the gentle breeze on this hot day makes it feel like we are in holiday, not in a park in Basingstoke. We get some strange looks though and every time a dog walker strolls past daddy remarks (very loudly) “Isn’t this great – test driving our new tent for our trip next week?” which makes my mummy giggle. You don’t seriously think that someone would report us to the council do you daddy?!?

Playing in the tentAll in all a lovely way to spend an afternoon. It takes daddy 30 minutes to take down and pack away the tent which requires help to fold. But proof in the pudding will be when he has to do it under pressure at the Just So Festival, especially when I’ll be causing havoc!

Stay posted to see how we get on. To find out more about this tent visit Go Outdoors. Go Outdoors also provide a price matching service, so if you find it cheaper they will beat it :)

Happy camping folks!

Bella xx

Family Fever