Kids love WOOD and happy kids mean happy parents.
The intimate site feels incredibly safe and our gang of children aged between 7 and 12 were entirely free range for the weekend, returning to us only for food, or a few pounds to spend on gang uniform of hair braids and temporary tattoos. Or to tell us about how they had all been stuck in an incredibly tall tree and couldn’t get down and it was really scary and they were off to do it again! They loved the freedom, the paths through the woods, the woodland play park and we loved the fact that they were able to be an independent little gang. One of many independent little gangs roaming the site all weekend, it was like Lord of the Flies gone good.
On Saturday afternoon watching the bands on the main stage a group of children wearing capes and masks broke cover from the woods, carrying wooden swords and sticks they charged in front of the stage and into the trees on the other side. The performers carried on as if this was all perfectly normal. Many of their outfits came from one of the excellent workshops where children disappeared into a tepee and emerged en masse in shiny capes and masks, mini crusaders ready to go out and do (mostly) good.
Another workshop crafting musical instruments out of junk saw our children disappearing into a tent followed by a man with a large bag of saws and reappearing an hour later with homemade ukuleles and all their fingers.
When they and we needed feeding there was excellent organic, locally sourced food from Oxford restaurant Vaults and Garden Cafe, wood fired pizzas and a fabulous hog roast on Saturday evening. We had bought all our cooking equipment but only used it for breakfast as the quality of food on offer was so good. Breakfasts looked great too but my other half insists it isn’t camping unless you’ve cooked breakfast yourself so we weren’t allowed to try it.
Wood has a way of lowering your inhibitions. You arrive tense from work on Friday night and by Saturday lunchtime you find yourself belly dancing, hula hooping and playing the spoons round the communal campfire. You might even be tempted to break out some old skool hiphop moves in the café if the music is right and the mood takes you. Oh… just us then?!… Festivals like Wood can help kids develop independence and resilience and I can assure you that nothing will build resilience better than watching Mum and Dad do the running man in a busy café at teatime!!
The setting is beautiful and the campsite quirkily equipped with composting toilets, taps operated by foot pump and an outdoor shower powered by a wood burning stove. All of which were well maintained by the friendly site staff who refilled stocks of wood, eco soaps and the all-important sawdust for scattering over your deposit in the toilets.
The musicians seem to love Wood as much as the audience and many of them hung around for the whole weekend listening to other performers and enjoying the atmosphere. This gave plenty of opportunities for my starstruck husband to stand around nonchalantly with an artist in the background whilst making me take photos of him and his new friend, resulting in some lovely shots for the album but also the strong possibility of a restraining order (sorry Danny!)
Driving out of Braziers Park on Sunday afternoon we felt we were leaving something special behind.
The atmosphere stays with you, as does the music. Not just from the excellent performers, of which our highlights were; Danny and the Champs, the Wood Brothers and the fantastically fun ukulele band. But it’s the music all around you that sticks the most. The laughter from the spoon playing workshop, the close harmony group put together in an hour, and the makeshift samba band storming the café.
I’d love to say we drove away with our daughter smiling contentedly in the back, but of course she unleashed the wrath that only a child with a couple of late nights under her belt can. Yet even that couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces.
Real life should be more like WOOD.
Wood Festival 2013 was reviewed by Emma Warren, a primary school teacher and mum of one.
WOOD Festival 2013 was held on 17-19 May in the grounds of Braziers Park in Ipsden, Oxfordshire. Powered entirely by green energy and limited to just 800 capacity, it’s a very safe and intimate friendly affair. For more information about WOOD and its workshops and line up, see our WOOD Festival Factsheet or visit the festival’s own website on www.woodfestival.com