Alex James presents Harvest 2011 Review

kids on E2011 AJPH Weather: A mixture of sunshine, showers, cloud and a LOT of wind!

Review by: Clairem (with 2 yr old)

Getting to the festival:

Easy to get in. SatNav co-ordinates worked. No queues at all. Well organised. Camping looked nice and spacious and there was a tent that kids could play in which is a fab idea. We did have camping tickets but wimped out as we thought the weather was going to turn.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Line up was good. Some kids stuff you had to pay for but my little boy was too young for that. We finally (after many festivals) got in to see Charlie and Lola‘s Best Bestest play and were not disappointed. We made cheesecake in Kiddy Cook which tasted good although my son told one of the chefs it was yuck, made some clay food, played at circus skills and loved The Orange Hat and the interactiveness and puppets. Although my son was too young by far I was really impressed by the Witchwood School of Rock. Some of those kids have real talent and I expect to see them at Reading or Download in the future being in their tent was great fun!

What would you change or do to  improve the event?

Sandpit for little kids and maybe some softplay as there were so many people with young children. Few more stalls to buy stuff (did I really say that).  Maybe build a scarecrow for the kids or some more harvesty activities. Turn the sound up on the chef’s stage – you couldn’t hear if you were at the back. Passed up opportunity to ask Alex James who often was wanfdering about for his autograph for my son who is also called Alex James because he might have thought me a bit weird and a bit of a fangirl – doh!

Site and Facilities:

Excellent festival vibe, flags to welcome you in to get the anticpation going, a few hand crafted statues, well lit, pathed with woodchip where it might have got boggy. Phone coverage OK, nicely lit up at night. Excellent number of toilets with loo roll and sanitizer so no queues. Not too big, but enough room for kids to run freely and play. Well laid out, tipis, yurts a big top and a few retro rides. Nice countryside retro feel. Changing areas for babies was good but if it rained may have benefited from being inside a more enclosed tent with lighting when it was dark. Free bubbles which my little man loved! Hay bales to sit on and kids to play in were fun. Very good overall.

Top Tips:

Check the weather and wrap up warm. Wahaca‘s and the stone baked pizza were really nice. Do try Alex’s ketchup flavoured cheese – even though it sounds rank it’s delicious!

Would you go again?

Yes

9/10

 

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Review by: Ceri (with 2 kids aged 2 and 5)

Getting to the festival:

Arrived on Friday tea time so no problems with traffic.  The Sat Nav finished on main road and there were a lack of signs and we were concerned we had missed the entrance.  We had a caravan so no carrying or hassle! Mainly campervans in our field and people were friendly and some had dogs which gave our children plenty of entertainment.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

We all enjoyed Mr Fox but sadly no sound system and it was some silly idea to put it next to a rock school and loud generator from the fair.  I couldn’t hear the music at all – really spoilt this show.  We couldn’t see Charlie & Lola as the queues were so long.  We limited the fair to one ride as £2 was enough!  Didn’t do face painting as they do this all the time.  The boys were very happy in the straw bales. Did plan to use the creche but having to pay for two children it wasn’t worth the outlay. Didn’t do any other workshops as they were too young and not particularly interested.

What would you change or do to  improve the event?

There was no proper Farmer’s Market and we had imagined that we were able to buy plenty of produce to cook/take back home.  Thought at least there would of been an artisan bread seller there.  Wrist bands for the children pre-printed with parents telephone numbers.

The event set us back around £600 so for this year it was our family holiday (we farm and contract so have limited to time off). It’s not a cheap event but then again nothing is, so allow for plenty of spending. Charging for programmes is a bit of a cheek since you have to get one to know whats happening and seeing that we had already paid close to £300 think they should be thrown in FOC. The merchandise was soooo expensive and the childrens t-shirt was rubbish – I would of bought two but they didnt have any detail on them at all.  Didnt see any stickers etc.

Would of liked to have talked to some of the chefs perhaps an option of 2 mins? The Farmhouse Kitchen was a bit predicable and nothing new you don’t see on TV and the top chefs were at the same time as the great bands and was drawn to the music as the chef talk was samey, but I missed Athlete and wished I had seen them instead. Still annoyed that top chefs are cooking with ingredients that us commoners cant get hold of nor afford! Richard Corrigan with his oyster recipe for instance! I want top tips!!!

Top Tips:

Take sweaters and thin coats.  Plenty of your own drink (and alcohol).  There was plenty of water available but it was so clorinated I couldn’t drink it. Picnic blankets.

If buying food there take a plate, knife & fork and get the children to share a meal as no child option with any and expensive. Same again no child size option with hot drinks either and children love milky coffee and hot chocolate. The food is very good and its not too pricey for the standard and cant see why people expect cheap food from specialist food producers (it is a food festival after all) – its not McDonalds! Mind you I did think the gourmet fish and chips was poor for using the word gourmet when the chips were frozen and not very tasty and at £4 poor value.

We went back to the caravan in the afternoon as the boys needed a sleep and rest – good for us to sit down and make a drink. Would recommend taking cereals (we did) for breakfast and perhaps opt for the odd picnic to keep spending down. As for night entertainment I had to leave around 9ish as wasnt fair on them plus by the time they settled it was 10ish so one of you are going to miss a band but I did have the window open so could here it.

Site and Facilities:

The farming ground ground was dry which helped considerably. The caravan was sited on an arable field which was rough but fine. Plenty of space and not crowded at all – should of put our awning up. Lots of toilets for campervans but no shower block so had to jump fence to join the massive camping queue which isn’t fun with a 2 yr old. The walk to the festival was good.  Highly recommend a good robust outdoor style pushchair (we had a very old Jane Powertrack which was perfect for the rough terrain).  The guys on the entrance were very polite and welcoming.  We did have to charge our phone which was adequate until we got home. The night lighting was brilliant – no need for torches. Loved the festooned lighting all along the walkways.

Did you feel safe?

My son of 2 did wander off in the dark but had been recovered in the welfare tent to our relief!  Felt very safe, plenty of mums had handbags/purses on pushchairs and I felt comfortable not having to watch our stuff every five minutes.  In general all the children seemed confident and pleasant and even though the straw bale maze was a mecca for madness our boys loved it and got involved with other children who were friendly and not too rough.  Did meet some very posh children too!!!

Because we couldn’t go to the front of the stage we still enjoyed the back of the main crowd in the evening.  Hubby managed to get to front of the stage on his own but he’s a big boy! The evenings were safe to walk back and fro on your own and I had no concerns at all.  The cavavan site was lovely and quiet and no screaming or shouting late at night (to my relief!) Finishing at 10.30 makes it a relaxing and calm break for all.

Would you go again?

Yes

9/10

 

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Review by: Amy (with 2 kids aged 7 and 9)

Festival Kidz stall at AJPHGetting to the festival:

Access to the site was easy and we didn’t have to queue. Staff were friendly but they didn’t seem to know very much when asked specific questions like: “Where’s the Hospitality Tent?” Answer: “I don’t know, probably in the Festival somewhere”. Great!

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

Music line up was good, lots of smaller good live bands. In terms of kids activities, the organisation for the Charlie and Lola stall didn’t work. My 7 year old queued up twice and didn’t get in either time.  The 3rd time there was another massive queue and so she dissolved into floods of tears, largely out of despair. Kids seemed to keep themselves busy otherwise on the Saturday, Sunday seemed much quieter with less going on for the kids so we left early.
This Festival was largely about food, so there was a lot of choice and something for everybody. We ate some very good dishes and in particular had some excellent coffee from Espresso Boy.

What would you change or do to  improve the event?

Informed staff!

Cheaper programmes. I know that Festivals charge for programmes, it is a way of making money, but when you have just paid over £150 for each adult ticket, programmes should be free and not £5 – even if they just gave you one per group.

Top Tips:

Take breakfast with you! There wasn’t much choice at breakfast time.

Site and Facilities:

Plenty of toilets. Site was well laid out. All of the food stalls were around the edge and the main stage was at the bottom of the hill. The big top was at the top of the hill and round that area was where the children’s activities were laid out.

Did you feel safe?

We felt very safe. The kids were able to roam freely and safely and there was no danger of them getting lost. It was not a Festival pitched towards teenagers, so there weren’t hoardes of drunk 17 year olds. More like hoardes of tipsy 40+ parents!

Any other comments?

What an incredibly white middle class Festival it was! Probably not for those that like the rough edge of Festival life, it was definately more geared for the Chipping Norton massive as opposed to the Shambala massive.

Would you go again?

Yes

7/10

 

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Review by: Cath (with 3 kids, ages 2, 3 and 4)

Getting to the festival:

Not far to carry stuff and no queuing which was good. Plenty of space near our tent.

Entertainment – Line up and Kids Activities:

The chefs were good to see and the music.

We enjoyed the Charlie and Lola and Fantastic Mr Fox performances although the wind prevented us from hearing much of the opera.

The Kiddy Cook workshop was really poor. My daughter was making cheesecake and only had the job of crushing biscuits. There wasn’t much guidance and several kids coming in at the end pushing in when we’d booked her on it in advance. The Bushtucker people were great though, she could really get her hands dirty and get stuck in making something that she could then eat.

What would you change or do to  improve the event?

Couldn’t buy a meal under £5.50. Would have liked a few tasters of something seeing as it was a food festival. Won’t be going again because of the cost of the food really. Massively overpriced! If there was even somewhere you could buy a burger to cook on a barbeque for less money that would be better.

Site and Facilities:

Toilets were good and shower facilities excellent with no real queuing needed.

Mobile phone coverage was poor. Although our phones said full signal we couldn’t often get through to each other so a lot of time was spent with one or other of us looking for another!

Did you feel safe?

Yes. This was great.

Any other comments?

Not very easy at all to listen to any of the chef talks or music with the kids running around. We spent a lot of the time in the kids bit which certainly wasn’t the best kid’s area I’ve been to at a festival. Not much for them to do and a great big Ferris Wheel and Helter Skelter that costs £2 a pop in the middle of it!

Would you go again?

No

4/10

 

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One thought on “Alex James presents Harvest 2011 Review

  1. Alex’s own Cheese Hub at The festival sold three varieties of cheese on toast for £2.50 which all the kids seemed to love especially as they could watch going through the grilling machine and coming down a shoot.
    They also gave out very generous cheese samples all day long.

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