When we found out that we had won the competition to be the ‘Jurassic Coast Family’, surprised was an understatement! Despite many friends and family encouraging us to enter the competition we didn’t expect to win.
Excitement soon turned to trepidation when I realised that my Wingman and better half Alex, was not able to get back from work in Azerbaijan to join us at Camp Bestival at the beautiful Lulworth Castle. Our two young Sons are adventurous, inquisitive and very energetic to say the least, so Camp Bestival would surely be a challenge, right?
I called on the support of my Brother-in-Law and Niece from Yorkshire to accompany us to this County we know and love so much. Having previously done some Lake District camping, he bravely opted to battle for a space in the main camping fields. He managed to blag a great spot next to a lovely family from the Welsh Valleys. We however, decided to take some of the pressure off going solo and opted to stay at Hotel Bell tent.
I won’t lie, but on arriving, the stress levels were through the roof! Traffic, queues, parking, unloading the car – all whilst trying to keep two mini nuclear reactors in tow, can be tough on your own. However, the lovely lady at the trolley rental tent was a lifesaver and I was soon loaded up and ready to head to our accommodation.
Thirty seconds in, the arguments over who would push the trolley down the hill began. As I watched in envy at the steady stream of perfectly behaved children marching by with their parents, I was in the midst of World War Three! Fifteen minutes later, red-faced, stressed, and probably ready to leave – we arrived at Hotel Bell tent. Calmness resumed and the pamper experience really started to kick in.
Two welcoming reception staff at the ‘reception tent’ greeted us, but this was only the start. A Pamper tent, mobile phone charging tent, lounge tent and posh wash showers and toilets all followed. This was definitely the way to do it I thought. I felt the stress of the last few hours, just melting away.
Within the hour, we were up and out exploring. Seeing the giant astronaut stand proudly over its abode, and David Bowie’s classic ‘Space Oddity’ ringing in my ears, we were fully submerged in this space themed event.
The weather was well and truly on our side. Everywhere you look at Camp Bestival there is a vast array of visual and musical enticement. The boys ran excitedly from one zone to another. So much to do and such little time I thought. Reading through the programme, it became abundantly clear that we needed a plan. We bagged a great spot in the Bollywood area, and whilst the kids played, I got stuck in with the highlighter.
Over the weekend, we filled our days with a wonderful array of visual, musical and in the case of my own boys – hands on experiences. From the endless shows at The Big Top, Arsenal soccer school and craft making tents, to the science workshops, with hourly experiments, that would keep even the most prolific iPad user mesmerized.
The boys (and I) did have a few favourites of the weekend. Firstly, the Dingly Dell, which was a mini explorers dream. Where children can literally run free in the woods exploring everything from the Alien C.S.I zones, to making willow planets and den building with the wonderful National Trust team.
The Jurassic Tent was of course up there with one of the best. It was filled with a vast array of fossils and practical activities, which had the children queuing up to do. However, the best moment of the visit was finding out that one of our recent fossil finds from Charmouth beach, was in fact part of a tree. Excited was an understatement!
As for some Adult time, I loved the Literacy tent. Listening and discussing topics with such inspirational explorers such Monty Halls and Andy Torbot, was a real treat, whilst my Niece braved the epic queue to meet her literacy idol, Holly Smale.
If you come to Camp Bestival, be prepared to walk. A lot. My trusty Fitbit, clocked an average of twelve miles a day. The boys probably more! But, it was SO worth it. We will, without doubt, be back again. Next time armed with even greater knowledge to make the experience even better – if that it even possible.