Questions, questions. Whenever I enthuse about yet another upcoming outdoor event and some festival fun, friends who are not motorhome owners always ask, “But doesn’t the mud get everywhere? Aren’t the toilets smelly? And isn’t the food greasy and overpriced?”
No, no, and no, I reply. Not when I have my own home-on-wheels in which to change out of dirty clothes, prepare a meal, collapse at the end of the day into my own comfortable bed and use my own (clean!) facilities. Not to mention the ability to take along all of the creature comforts I could need – including the kitchen sink.
Besides, festivals aren’t just about watching the top music acts of the day perform at a huge venue in the middle of a sweaty, noisy town. Pandemic rules permitting, there are food festivals, sporting events, classical concerts, small local affairs that showcase new talent – the list is endless.
I have stored up so many happy memories over the years, and shared so much laughter, while camping at all sorts of outdoor events.
Take, for instance, the fun we had last autumn at a cider and music festival at Sheppy’s Cider Farm, near Taunton, Somerset. The farm owners turned the car park into an overnight campsite, set up a temporary stage amid the apple trees, and treated us to a fine array of local music.
Much of the event was relayed live on the local radio station (I have no idea what listeners must have made of our happy shouts and cheers), and naturally, a few glasses of cider were consumed!
Cooked breakfast, fresh coffee
The following morning, we treated ourselves to a cooked breakfast in the farm restaurant – the smell of cooking bacon and fresh coffee wafting into the motorhome as we woke was quite simply too tempting to resist.
My enduring memory of that particular event, however, is the short walk from the motorhome to the festival field, through an avenue of cider apple trees laden with ripe fruit, the warm early autumn air filled with the sweet scent of apples, as we carried a jug of cider which we knew had started life in these very orchards.
Other great memories of pre-lockdown events include Countryfile Live, at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire. We decided to make a weekend of it with our motorhome, this time combining the main event with a wander around the lovely English village of Woodstock, home to Blenheim Palace, the following day.
At the event, we were treated to displays involving horses and dogs, even some sheep-shearing and wood-carving, to name just some of the entertainments on offer. The presenters were on hand to share their knowledge and delight the visitors with competitions and lively banter.
We sampled a tipple at The Craven Arms, and treated ourselves to strawberries and cream in the sunshine.
All of this in the relaxed knowledge that an oasis of calm (and a well-cooked meal) awaited us in our home-on-wheels, at the end of a long, but very enjoyable, day.
For a different kind of entertainment, there was the jousting tournament at Knebworth. Yes, it was only an hour or so to drive from home and we could have managed it in a day, but how much more enjoyable it was to roll out the ‘van, find a nearby campsite, and know that we could happily indulge in a full day of entertainment, without a long, tiring journey home later.
And when the weather turned unexpectedly hotter, we strolled back to the ‘van for lunch in the shade, before returning, refreshed and refuelled, for a great afternoon of jollity in the company of the Black Knight and his soldiers.
Music and fun in the sun
One event I look forward to every summer is the Marvellous Tribute Festival, which takes place at Dinton Pastures Country Park, near Reading. Two-and-a-half days of music, dancing and fun in the sunshine (hopefully – this is England!), and a Spitfire flypast for good measure.
Arriving at the temporary campsites on Friday afternoon, we were soon settled in and perusing the entertainment timetable, before strolling to the marquee for the family-orientated welcome party. This is exclusively for weekend campers and makes us feel so special and spoilt – a great way to kick off proceedings.
Our Saturday mornings at Marvellous usually start with a leisurely breakfast, before we pack the cool bag with drinks and sun cream and wander to the main field to enjoy reminiscing over the sounds of T-Rextasy, Fleetwood Bac, Typically Tina, and other brilliant tribute acts. For us, the music is interspersed with visits to stalls selling everything from silly hats to telescopic telephone holders. We can never resist a wander around the fairground and ‘Big Kids Village’, maybe stopping to watch some giggling little kids having their faces painted, before aromas emanating from the food vans have our mouths watering, sending us back to the motorhome to cook up a barbecue of burgers and sausages (such food is compulsory at these festivals, you know!). It usually isn’t too long before we return to the main stage area for an evening of fun and dancing.
Sundays, along with more tribute acts, belongs to the Spitfire flypast – a definite highlight, as the strains of The Dam Busters March fill the air and the distinctive rumble of the Spitfire engine has all eyes turned skyward to catch the first glimpse of the iconic aircraft.
Later, as the sun sets over the lively festival field, the whole weekend is properly rounded off with a simply ‘marvellous’ firework display.
Not a muddy tent or dirty toilet all weekend, and whether the climate throws us sunshine or rain, we are ready for it, able to bring along all the gear needed to cope with any eventuality.
Walking, or perhaps dancing
So you see, it is possible to enjoy the delights of an outdoor event without the need to overspend on food or share facilities. All you need is a motorhome stocked with your favourite food and drink, and good shoes for strolling – or dancing! And if you’re not keen on dancing, there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Proms in the Park, anyone?
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It is perfectly possible to enjoy the delights of an outdoor event without the need to overspend or share facilities. All you need is your trusty motorhome