Five years ago, a group of my mates decided they’d like to organise a get together. One of them owned a farm so that was chosen as the venue. They decided a bonfire would be a good idea , so it turned into a get together with a bonfire. They also had connections with a couple of people who were part of a band, so it spiralled into a get together with live music too, a bonfire and then a barbeque. Tents were the accommodation of choice and the dress code was decided on as ‘informal with mud.’ Another friend of mine is a goth, and coined the phrase ‘Evilstock.’ This mini-festival reached its 5th anniversary this weekend, and we went along to see old friends, make new friends, get muddy and generally have a laugh.
I have to say that on the saturday morning, OH and I were not having a laugh getting everything organised. Camping with kids is just ridiculously hard to organise! They raid the bags when you’re not looking, in particular the food bags for starters. Anyway, after much yelling, ranting, list losing, bag snatching, crying, screaming (and that was just me) we crammed ourselves in the car and set off. The journey wasn’t so bad, no throwing up, random weeing or crying which was a relief. D did insist on singing the same line of one song over and over again though, which is irritating beyond belief and S very helpfully shouted at D every time she looked like she was falling asleep at first – which was doubly annoying as we needed them to sleep in the car so that they’d be able to stay up late.
Finally we arrived, set up camp in a haphazard fashion, and got on with catching up with old friends. It may be a cliche, but with some friends it really doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you last saw them, it still feels like you can just pick up where you left off. With the odd exception of course: Me to random bloke I know, but never know what to say to: ‘Hi, I’m carrying lots of stuff aren’t I’ (whilst lugging huge duvet, and various bags). Random bloke who knows me but never knows what to say to me ‘ Yes, you are’. (we both look embarrassed, awkward pause while we desperately think of some other inane comment to make and then I just give up and stagger off dragging duvet in mud). Anyway, thankfully those kind of situations were at a minimum.
The BBQ started, the music began belting out, beers were cracked open and the kids ran in ever decreasing circles chasing a couple of dogs around. It was relaxed and friendly, and actually warm which is amazing. Even as the sun went down it stayed at a reasonable temperature and…..it didn’t rain! The skies were clear as a bell, and I even saw a shooting star. I sat outside my tent with S on my knee pointing at the stars and babbled on at him about shooting stars, stupidly thinking he might understand a little with his toddler brain – until he put his hands together like a makeshift gun and made ‘Peow-peow’ noises at the heavens. He was shooting stars. As a rule I emphatically refuse to encourage any ‘gun’ related games, I think S thought I’d had a change of heart.
Our coca-cola fuelled (not S!) kids ambled around looking wide eyed at the festivities, ocassionally wandering into the barn, and either sticking their fingers in their ears or attempting to dance a bit. I need to point out here that I do not allow either of my kids to have coca-cola, it’s just that at do’s such as these, it helps to keep them awake – and anyway, I have virtually no say in the matter, OH takes this matter into his own hands, and it doesn’t seem to harm D or her cousins – apart from they get a bit faster, a lot louder and stay up far longer than usual. This means we get to stay up later. (I feel like such a bad parent confessing to this….)
It got to about 11pm and we decided to launch the Skylanterns I’d bought my OH as a birthday present. It was really still, hardly any wind at all and the conditions seemed ideal. I dragged the huge, flat packed cardboard box down the fields and we set about assembling them and lighting them – which was surprisingly easy, although I think that if there had been even a whisper of wind we’d have set light to the tissue paper lanterns themselves. It was quite difficult to light the wick, hold them while they inflated, and keep the flame away from the outer bit. I suspect it’s just a knack though, we’d certainly got it sussed by the third one.
Firstly, they are beautiful things! They are fantastic to take photographs of, I noticed that as the wick took hold and the skylantern began to tug towards the sky, the onlookers stood below were lit up in a puddle of coloured light. Just have a look at these photograph – and I’m rubbish at taking pictures!
We stood watching the skylanterns float up towards the heavens, chatting about how high they’d go, and if they’d get so high they’d run out of oxygen or if they’d drift on for miles. I have no idea what the answer is to that question, but we watched them drift away with the wind until they were far beyond our line of sight. Call me a red wine soaked fool, but I thought they were gorgeous, and inwardly wished to be right up there with the lanterns in the clear night sky sparkling with stars, looking down on the world. I bet it was a stunning view from way up there.
The kids kaffled (not sure if that’s a Lancashire term, basically it means fell-over-tired), and we tucked them into bed. My sister kindly volunteered to sleep in the same tent as the rabble, and so OH and I got to stay up a bit later. I felt very guilty but apparently they fell asleep fairly quickly after being plied with a midnight snack consisting of a packet of Skips and a Babybel each. OH did the majority of the shopping before we set off in the car, so this is why we had a fair amount of odd food – for example, chocolate mousse yoghurt things were on the breakfast menu, accompanied by chocolate animal biscuits and submarine bread rolls. Well, I suppose one weekend of eating an odd diet isn’t going to do them any harm. (At this point I begin to wonder if coca-cola, chocolate animal biscuits and babybels are actually a potentially toxic combination). The kids are still alive so this is reassuring at least.
I need to mention an especially amazing live act that featured there, ‘The Voice Collective.’ They are an acapella group and they are what I would describe as truly spell-binding, almost literally. The rowdy bunch of revellers all stopped and listened to them sing their versions of ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’ and in particular the old favourite ‘All You Need is Love,’ which I am not ashamed to say, nearly made me cry. One of my best friends sings with them, and sang lead vocal on ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’ and I have never been so proud to know someone in my life – I had to resist nudging nearby people and saying ‘You know her over there, I know her too, she’s my mate’ and looking smug. That’s what I love about Evilstock, they had an acapella group, followed by some heavy metal, grungy group who sang (or should I say growled) Metallica style music – the styles of music are so random, and all wholeheartedly embraced by everyone there. No music snobbery at all.
So I enjoyed good company, good food, good music, too much good wine and eventually pottered off to bed – swaying just a little. Here, I also need to point out that between us, OH and I were still bombproof when it came to parenting and we were far from incapable (just in case someone thinks we’re irresponsible alcys). Overnight the heavens opened and we were woken several times by something that sounded like a high pressure hosepipe being applied to the side of the tent and when we finally got up everything was soaked outside. Luckily the tent did us proud and we were dry at least. There are very few things that are more miserable than packing a tent up in the rain though, so we were well on the case early on and headed home at the earliest opportunity – after saying our goodbyes and eating our wierd breakfasts. The photo of S shows how very much he appreciated the chocolate mousse and I’ve also included a photograph of the rainbow that ended the weekend in a particularly scenic fashion. Roll on next year!