Five Go into the Woods: Timber Festival Review 2019

#PressTrip
This weekend marks 3 weeks since we experienced the delights of Timber Festival and 3 weeks until we fully immerse ourselves in our next Wild Rumpus adventure at Just So. But before you start to hate me too much, I’ll crack on and tell you all about how we got on at Timber.

For those of you who read my preview (if you didn’t, catch up here) you’ll know that Timber Festival was our eagerly anticipated start to the Summer and this year’s festival season. We were looking for a chilled out vibe, with lots to keep the kids happy and generally we wanted to spend some quality time together continuing on from our holiday.

So how did it measure up?

Well if you’re expecting a run down of the acts and experiences I’d listed in my preview as our must sees, then you’re going to be slightly disappointed…why? Because when we got there, the site was so beautiful, calm and spread out that we kept getting distracted and stumbling across other things by accident. We were then completely absorbed and forgot all about what we were meant to have been doing.So basically we decided not to be ruled by the programme, and instead discover, explore and enjoy the festival on our own terms. Yes, we did miss a few things that we wanted to see but this way we found we took in things that we wouldn’t have necessarily chosen on paper. Plus, it gives us a few things to add to our Timber 2020 bucket list.

Practicalities for Parents.

Timber Festival takes place in Fearnedock near Ashby in the National Forest and runs over a three day weekend. The festival encourages families to immerse themselves into the heart of the forest while exploring their relationship with trees and nature.

The site is relatively well spaced out and there is a fair bit of walking involved for those with little legs but luckily we had a wagon, well I say lucky but I’m not entirely convinced that Ben considered himself lucky when he was pulling two sleepy children and our gear (we took chairs and a large picnic blanket) back up the hill when we left!

There were plenty of water points throughout the site so take a reusable water bottle with you and stay hydrated, especially if the sun is shining. There was also a cashpoint near to the entrance although some of the vendors took card payments.If you feel slightly nervous of taking a baby to a festival set in a forest then fear not, we were your happy little guinea pigs and took Eli (8 months) with us.

Imagine my glee when I discovered A BABY CHANGING TENT. This was a tepee style arrangement that was laid out with changing mats and also a selection of biodegradable nappies and wipes too should you find yourself running low. So no trekking back to the campsite each time to change a nappy, or trying to balance a baby on your knee while you do the honours! Not necessarily high up on everyone’s priorities when choosing a festival but it certainly made my day a whole lot easier. Mama’s you’re with me on this, right?

Our Foray into the Forest.

After trading in our tickets for wristbands we headed into the site intending to meander down to Field Notes to chill out for a bit and get our bearings before exploring. This however didn’t happen as Stanley spotted a familiar mini gypsy caravan in As The Crow Flies and we had no choice but follow a very excited 5 year old into the woodland clearing.

Ian Douglas Campfire Stories

In a totally non-stalkerish way [honestly] we tend to follow Ian Douglas around a bit, over the last few years we’ve caught up with him at ‘A Day at the Lake’ which was held at Rudyard Lake and annually at Etruria canals Festival. So it was a complete no brainer that we would listen to his stories at Timber as my boys (and me) absolutely love him.

Any campfire would be a pretty sad and lonely place without the incredible Ian Douglas, the storyteller to end all storytellers. Storytelling inspired by British folk tales and world myths.

So we settled in around the fire, and allowed ourselves to get taken into a magical world of adventure. Be warned: audience participation is not only actively encouraged it’s almost compulsory, and adds to the theatre. Stories need sound effects and we became waves crashing up against the rocks.

Hammer & Chisel

Could this have been any more perfect for my boys?

Wild play rules at our unique woodland playground. Under the supervision of our forest play experts, create your own world or add to ours using pallets, ladders and ropes and help us put together a myriad of walkways, dens and secret spaces. Pick up your tool of choice and get ready to build a Timberland.

Well, unsurprisingly they wholeheartedly threw themselves into this. I actually think Ben enjoyed it just as much as the boys did, there’s something about men and tools…they are instantly drawn to them.

After waiting, and waiting and a bit more waiting I gave up and left them to it and happily headed back to the campfire for another story this time to be enjoyed without a child wriggling around on my knee – bliss!

Professor Pumpernickel’s Mind-bending Science Show.

Eventually the boys downed tools and joined me at the campfire just in time for Professor Pumpernickel’s science show. I know what you’re thinking..sounds a bit boring right, this is a festival not a classroom! Well if you’re expecting a tweed wearing professor with half moon glasses you’re going to be in for quite a shock when I introduce you to Professor Pumpernickel.

Professor Pumpernickel travels the country with his laboratory of lunacy. His mission:- to enthuse all ages and abilities about science in hope of seeding some of our future inventors, explorers, life savers and superheroes.

If you like fire, explosions, loads of mess and mind-bending magic, you’ll love Pumpernickel. We certainly did. From his crazy blue hair, to his mad scientist accent there was nothing at all boring about Prof Pumpy.

James was enthralled and took it upon himself to move seats to get closer to the action so he could try to catch the bright orange smoke rings that the Prof shot out of his homemade ‘cannon’. Stanley found the whole show hilarious, giggling his way through.We weren’t out of the woods yet, quite literally! Our next adventure was just around the corner.

TwistingSpace Giant Marble Run

Seeing is believing with this one, the giant marble run was suspended between the trees and was skillfully made from culled rhododendron. It was a beautiful thing to behold, an work of art in itself.

It was also a lot of fun too as the boys raced their marbles down the twisting tracks.

Aside from the main run, there was also a section with pieces that you could build yourself. Coming from a household full of wooden Brio train track, my boys loved creating their own mini marble run and we spent quite a bit of time here.Naturally, we did do a fair bit of hanging around watching the boys play but there was such a relaxed feel and the setting was stunning. It was lovely to just stand and breathe in the forest.

Next stop was the bar (hooray!!) and compared to other events the prices were reasonable and we hardly had to queue as there were bars situated in every general ‘area’ of the site. Once you’ve paid for your (reusable plastic) glass, it’s yours to keep which makes for a nice keepsake of the festival too.Finally, we made our way down the hill into Field notes and set up ‘base’ we sat and enjoyed the sun soaking up the atmosphere. The boys ran around the field and played on the hay bales with some other children. I just love how children make friends so easily.

One of the other boys told Stanley about a giant game of Guess Who, and as he and James came running over to tell us all about it we knew that our time relaxing was about to come to an abrupt halt! So, wagons roll we were off to Halcyon Days!

Beginner’s Luck

This was actually a huge amount of fun, we laughed A LOT!

Dreamt up and brought to life by the Wild Rumpus artistic team, expect to become a human meeple in a giant game of Ludo, crush your opponent in our enormous, ridiculous game of Guess Who and wrestle our gigantic Tiddlywinks into submission!

Watching two Dad’s bellow questions from either end of the Guess Who board…it was huge, they really did have to shout, bless them!..to be greeted with a huge chorus of YES or NO from all the kids who then charged around knocking the characters down was just hilarious and a bit bonkers!

It was fab, and everybody was in such high spirits too, they didn’t even mind too much when James got carried away and started randomly knocking the characters down between turns. It was fun and it was inclusive of all age groups. What a brilliant idea!

We also managed to catch Sweep of Swallows as they passed through. These giant yet graceful swallow puppets toured the site throughout the day.

Next was a much needed comfort break. Now, we all know festival toilets are the stuff of nightmares legend so this wasn’t something I was particularly looking forward to. Timber is a eco friendly festival so the toilets weren’t your standard portaloo’s. Outside each block was a container of straw with a handy sign that read ‘one scoop per poop’. I’m pleased to report that we are no longer compost toilet virgins…and it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting! Phew!

Back over to Field Notes and we were set to experience my absolute highlight of the Festival…

Otto & The Mutapa Calling

Wow, these certainly made us get our groove on! Even now as I’m typing this 3 weeks later, I’m smiling at the memory.

Otto & The Mutapa Calling were full of energy and we just couldn’t help but dance along. They put on a great show with fab music and showed everyone how to get their bodies moving and shaking along.

James just loved this group and as some of the musicians turned dancers were dancing side to side in front of the stage James tried to copy them. It was so cute, he loves dancing and was very much enjoying himself.

We weren’t the only ones dancing though Otto & The Mutapa Calling in their brightly coloured shirts and headbands seemed to get the whole of Field Notes up onto their feet!

For the next couple of hours we just relaxed in the last of the sunshine, the boys played bubbles with their new friends and we enjoyed an ice-cream from one of the many vendors situated in The Common.

We also had fun rolling down the big hill from the Hollow Way lookout, yes I had a go too but thankfully there’s no photos of that!

Simon Watt’s Frogs & Friends

Frogs might be brilliant but, sadly, they are dying out. In a comedic lecture Simon Watt explores why frogs are better than people!

I found myself alone (Ben and the boys had gone for a stroll) as I gave Eli his bedtime bottle and cuddled him to sleep, sitting listening to Simon’s performance. It was both educational and funny, and I found myself chuckling along with the rest of the audience. It was something completely different and I was glad I got to experience it even if it was slightly unintentionally.

Once the gang came back we headed over to The Canopy via the Eyrie Stage. Esya was performing and we stopped to listen for a while. The stage is in such a beautiful setting that it really is something special. The lighting makes it almost look magical, Stanley described it as an elf house.

Once in The Canopy we settled in and awaited our final performance for the day. We knew it would be popular and got there a little while before it was due to start to grab a good spot.

The Baron in the Trees, Lost in Translation Circus

The Baron in the Trees is a playful, romantic fable set in the 18th century. In this surreal tale the 12 year old son of the Baron climbs a tree in protest at being forced to eat snails, vowing that his feet will never touch the ground again!

To be honest all that was lost on us, ironic given the name of the circus performing the show! HOWEVER, we thoroughly enjoyed the performance regardless. Stanley was completely spell bound watching the amazing acrobatics taking place in the tree tops above him.

We also witnessed high flying stunts, a human tower balancing act and plenty of juggling. There was also a tree top trapeze swing which Stanley said was amazing. After giving the circus a huge round of applause, the sky had started to darken so we decided to call it a day (reluctantly).

On route out of the site we were once again (too easily) distracted by giant bubble blowing in Halcyon Days and stopped to watch a while.

Our Final Say

As a final farewell we climbed up to Hollow Way Lookout for a second time to watch the sun set on what had been a truly memorable day.

Timber is such a treat, a completely chilled out festival suitable for everyone. It’s family friendly but also offers something for those wanting to learn about nature and conservation, enjoy some awesome live music, or simply relax and while away the weekend in a beautiful setting.I personally felt there was a real sense of community among the Timber parents, children made new friends, items of clothing and snacks were shared and at one point we had a little boy climb into our buggy for a nap while Eli was enjoying rolling around on our picnic blanket. I was also asked a couple of times whether I would like a drink fetching because I was trapped under a sleeping baby! Our only regret is that we just attended for one day, but I think you’ll agree we crammed a lot in. We have already put the date in the diary for next year, and we want to do the full weekend next time.

Book Your Tickets for Timber 2020

Tickets for Timber Festival 2020 are now on sale at timberfestival.org.uk. The award-winning festival (Best Festival in the UK 2018) returns to the beautiful 70 acre woodland of Fearnedock in the National Forest from 3-5 July 2020. A limited number of Early Bird tickets are now available to buy online, with a 25% discount on all tickets for residents of the National Forest.

Disclosure: We were invited to attend Timber Festival by Wild Rumpus as part of their press team. Our tickets were gifted in return for blog coverage, a review of the event and promotion across my social media channels.

All images are my own unless otherwise credited.

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Confessions of a New Mummy