This weekend, Bestival music and comedy festival sets up camp on the Lulworth Estate in Dorset, having packed up and left its original spot on the Isle of Wight.
As it’s so close by, we thought we’d get ourselves some day tickets. Unfortunately we discovered that you can’t just pop in and out. The only option is to commit yourself to the full four-day festival camping experience, rain or shine, and I don’t have the guts to do that with the little ones just yet.
But I liked the idea of taking them camping and I kept having romantic visions of us all snuggling up in our tent, gazing at the stars and toasting marshmallows on the campfire. So when I found a listing on Airbnb for a cosy bell tent on a farm on the Isle of Wight, we packed our bags, filled the car’s boot and headed down to the car ferry at Lymington.
Less than an hour later we’d arrived in Yarmouth and we drove up to Fort Victoria where we spent a few hours checking out the model railway and exploring the beach.
When we arrived at the farm, our friendly host, Jill, showed us around the big pink tee-pee and the six acre field we’d be calling home for the next couple of nights. We’ve generally tried to avoid buying our daughter too many pink things, but it’s fast becoming her favourite colour anyway, so the tent was a massive highlight of the trip. Even her baby sister seemed to be fascinated by the rosy glow inside.
The site also included a well-equipped shed with a table and chairs, and plenty of colourful bowls, plates and cutlery for us to use (our toddler quickly staked her claim to the pink ones).
The setting was beautiful but for us the main attraction was the farm itself. It’s a real working farm, and one that would give Old MacDonald a run for his money, with cows, pigs, horses, dogs, sheep, chickens, tractors…and a quad bike.
We spent a whole day exploring the farm and the woods nearby, feeding the sheep, cows, pigs and chickens, and collecting fresh eggs to fry on the barbecue for breakfast the next day. Our two-year-old sat on a tractor, had a ride on a pony and was even allowed a quick go on the quadbike.
When I was younger I loved horses and was always pestering my parents to get me a pony. Such was my obsession that, for a while, I even kept an imaginary one in my bedroom, groomed it carefully and took it into the garden for showjumping practice every day. After her very first pony ride I was keen to know whether our toddler would follow in my slightly weird footsteps.
“Which did you prefer,” I asked her at the end of the weekend. “The pony or the quad bike?” After a bit of thought, she replied: “The quad bike. Mummy and Daddy get me a pink one?”
As my parents used to tell me, we don’t have the space or the bank balance to get her one, but I do like the idea of her driving around on an imaginary pink one in our back garden, buffing it with an imaginary chamois leather and filling it up with imaginary petrol. At the very least, I’d love to take her and our baby back to the farm again so she can have another ride next year.