This was not our first time at Standon Calling, in fact is was our fourth! So would it still hold a special place in our hearts?
Standon Calling?… It’s just a feeling!
Having been asked to arrive Thursday evening, we couldn’t quite believe it took us so long to get onto the festival site! The entrance we had been asked to use was one we had not used before and the signage for entry was nowhere near adequate. So after several treks back and fourth along the A10 we decided to abandon our instructions and use the entrance we had used on our previous visits. We were then directed to park up in the new campervan area. At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like our new position as previously we’d been camped a lot nearer to the festival site. But on further reflection we realised it wasn’t that far and knowing how tightly we’d been packed into the campervan area in 2011 & 2012, the organisers had obviously taken on board our previous feedback and we soon realised that we were camped in the best place after all.
The festival was opening its doors midday Friday and as we had family and friends arriving we were happy to wait for them at the campervan field. The site was now buzzing with all the arrivals and for the first few hours after opening the queues for entry were looking long but fast moving. By now we were familiar with the security at the campervan field (a special mention must go to Michael and Stuart who were fab) and our guests were able to join us for drinks before the last members of our party arrived and we headed into the festival. My daughter Emily and her friend Beth who we had taken along with us were a little disappointed as they were excited about getting straight down to the swimming pool and although the lifeguards were present it seemed that there was going to be a delay in getting it open on Friday which meant they had to wait around until 3 o’clock!
First up for us Friday were Lazy Habits & Miss Baby Sol and a very nice way to start. Miss Baby Sol‘s vocals were delightful, her smile lit up the main stage and boy can she shake that booty! Next up Shields and by now we were really getting in the mood, we were right back where we wanted to be – at Standon Calling.
Now for the life of me I can’t imagine why, but we had two extremely excited teenagers with us and they were about to be treated to a memory that I know will last them a lifetime. Next up… Bastille! We stayed plotted a way back but I was happy to let Emily and Beth go down the front, and I am so glad I did. Whilst us oldies (I’m sure that is how we are referred to!) enjoyed the now familiar sounds of Bastille and did a bit of Dad and Mum dancing (how embarrassing!) Emily and Beth were having the time of their lives. When they had finished we were greeted by the biggest smiles I have ever seen and tales of how Bastille Dan had been so close he had touched their hands and how awesome it had been and how they would never ever forget it. We were all up for a party now and who better than Digitalism to carry on the party mood?
Day two, and for anyone who hasn’t been to Standon Calling before, Saturday is very much dressing up day. Many festivals try to encourage fancy dress but I haven’t yet come across one where so many of the guests get completely involved and this year’s theme was Running Away From the Circus. Knowing that we had an extremely busy summer and that in the weeks leading up to Standon Calling we would busy at Latitude Festival & WOMAD I was very fortunate to have been offered help by the very talented and magical Dean Allen Jones of Nothing Up Our Sleeves – not only a fantastic magician and illusionist but also a Wizard with a sewing machine.
Costumes and make up done (I don’t think anyone will be hiring me for my face painting skills!) and it was time to soak up some more of the lovely Standon Calling vibes. Looking around the site it was plain to see, that just as in previous years the crowds had really immersed themselves in the spirit that is Standon Calling and the array of costumes were truly impressive. Including this lovely family of Circus Bears: Daddy, Mummy and adorable Baby Bear.
After wandering around the site meeting other festival goers and families, happily soaking up the atmosphere it was time for another kind of soaking as the rain decided to put in a brief appearance! Running for cover or in my case stood in the middle of a field huddled together with four others under one umbrella (I don’t do running!) fortunately it didn’t last long, and thankfully the sun was back out in time for me to skip down the front to catch The Skints. After catching them at Standon Calling 2012 and then again at Sunrise Festival 2013, down the front is where I knew I wanted to be and Mother Nature was playing ball. Sunshine and the mellow reggae sounds of The Skints equalled one very happy me. The Correspondents next, followed by King Charles who must be one of the busiest guys in the music business at the moment, even so he still managed to end his set by inviting what seemed to be half of the main stage audience up on stage with him a sight that no doubt wouldn’t happen at many other festivals and just another reason to love the relaxed friendly vibe that Standon Calling seems to bring out in everyone.
Time for a change of scenery now so we headed over to The Lordship Stage and a highlight for me Danny & The Champions Of The World. With a bit of Folk, Rock and Soul thrown into the mix I was dancing away at the front with an enormous sense of happiness filling every ounce of me. That seemed to be a good note to end my Saturday night on and so it was off to bed for us, although if there was ever a festival that could fulfill your every musical need late into the night it is Standon Calling and for many I would imagine their night was only just beginning.
Sunday and once again the sun was shining, even though there had been some rain overnight which we had slept through, after the last two fun filled days nothing was going to wake us! Another trip to the pool for Emily, Beth, and this time Boo who was also joined by Daddy. Soaking up the rays and splashing around I watched them having so much fun it was a joy to see.
Leaving them to enjoy themselves I thought it about time to check out what was happening over at The Kids Area. Emily, and her friends Beth and Ruben, had already spent a considerable amount of time crafting and enjoying the activities provided at both The Little Den and over at Hopper House. Observing the children enjoying the arts and crafts at Hullabaloo and other activities it was plain to see that there was certainly enough fun to be had. After speaking to lots of parents this was confirmed. When I asked how they were finding Standon Calling with their children? – They were loving it, but when I asked what it was they loved, on more than one occasion it was just a feeling. I knew what they meant when they tried to explain, but it’s hard to put into words, something I know I have been asked to do but unless you were there…! – Well here goes….. the crowd, a vibe, a feeling, just something that makes Standon Calling special and I’m so glad it’s not just me that struggles to know how to put it into words.
Meeting the family back at the pool after their swim we headed back to meet friends at The main stage and were lucky enough to be treated to the beautiful sounds of Lips Choir, an all-woman pop choir from London whose harmonies could charm the birds from the trees, a perfect musical start to our Sunday.
Mary Epworth was next, and once again we were treated to sounds that were perfect for a Sunday afternoon, our final day of music at Standon Calling was shaping up nicely. Time to crank it up now and London Afrobeat Collective were certainly going to do that. An explosion of instruments creating beats that were going to get this Sunday party started, I didn’t want it to end.
It was time to refuel and I had been a little surprised that for some reason there seemed to be far less in the way of food options this year. By Sunday evening quite a few of those who were there seemed to be running low and a couple had even shut up shop! Standon Calling had also introduced a cashless payment system which seemed to be getting mixed reviews. Although most people I spoke to welcomed the introduction, there were a few reservations and it would be great to know what you thought of the idea?
Thank you Standon Calling, and in answering my own earlier question – YES, you still hold a special place in our hearts and already we can’t wait for 2014.
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