Lisa Igo, a qualified teacher, gave up her safe job and lifestyle to explore an alternative way of life with her family. Here she shares the highs and lows of her festival-filled summer:
“Some people thought I was mad for giving up my professional job to do the festival circuit this summer. Especially as my husband, Kirk, was made redundant last winter. We knew it was on the cards, so we decided to grab the opportunity to live out one of our dreams.
Our idea was to hire out wheelbarrows, specially designed for festivals, to campers and families. The time during the festival would be for storytelling and craft, in a Bell Tent. A bit unconventional, but hey, you don’t see many other teachers with dreadlocks! Anyway, Flier Hire and Igo Eco Arts were developed. The festival uptake was great, so great in fact that I chose to leave my safe teaching job. I am now glad I did as it has been a roller coaster of a Summer!
Highlights: working for ourselves, seeing the country and meeting some really great people… As well as all the fun that goes on at a festival of course.
Challenges: adapting fast! Every festival has a different feel, so it is not one size fits all. Storytelling isn’t so good when you’ve been sited right next to the second stage. But we adapted and were able to craft and face paint instead.
We have 3 children, so they were taken out of school for a few weeks. Our eldest son (15) attends an Arts College and they saw the benefits! But unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with our 11 year old son’s school, but he thrived being outdoors. Our 3 year old, like his brothers, socialised and played and met artists, musicians and other families that were working at and visiting festivals.
People don’t often realise that a lot of learning goes on at a festival. It is at a slower pace, often outside and fun. Activities like learning to unicycle and to diabolo take a lot of determination, which in turn increases concentration. Learning can happen whilst listening to a pirate story or singalong… whilst making a pirate hat, we talked about sloops, schooners and longboats and the lives of real pirates like the Irish lady pirate, Grace O’Malley.
Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales”. So for a long time I have been selling Barefoot Books, initially to build my own library of books for our sons, and then used them in class.
[Editor’s note: Barefoot Books have also recently opened a creative studio in Oxford]
A family of 5 can find it challenging living in a small caravan, from one festival to another. It was easier when the sun is shining. Sadly, at Beacons Festival, we were completely rained out and it was then closed by the Council. Books and tents and a foot of water don’t mix, but my firefighter husband came to the rescue. He used a Harris fence to stretcher the boxes of books safely across the campsite lake to safety.
We were also lucky to meet up with Angel Gardens who run fab children’s areas at festivals. And next year we will be expanding! As well as the barrows, we will be running Kindred Cafe in the Angel Gardens children’s area. We offer breakfasts, snacks and drinks and have a creative area to entertain children. The thing we have found is food can often be expensive at festivals so we will be offering reasonably priced, good family food.
So before the next festival season is here, we will do our professional work, whilst planning for next summer’s festival fun.