I can see why people start booking tickets for next year's festival the day after the event has finished. Wow - Elderflower Fields - you did it again! This is our third year visiting (and my third volunteering as a photographer) and probably our best year so far.
It is hard to put into words how amazing this festival is - I will try my best to paint a picture for you. You see, it is more the atmosphere - I feel like I've been transported to a place full of happiness - okay, enough of the hippy stuff - here is what we got up to.
This beautiful festival takes place every May bank holiday weekend at Pippingford Park in East Sussex.
It looks like we had the same idea as a lot of other families this year - the site opens from 12 noon on the Friday. We had two children on an INSET day and one still at school - so headed down for 11am. People were already parking up and queuing to get in. We hired a trolley and joined the queue. By the time the gates opened we were swiftly through and had collected our wrist bands and picnic tickets.
The entrance gate had moved slightly further down the hill this year which was a great move but, believe me you still need stamina for this walk. If you are in the general camping areas no doubt you will probably have two trolley loads of gear. Going downhill isn't so bad but the walk back up is gruelling, especially in the sun.
We tag teamed it this time, Lee put the tent up whilst I went back to the car to collect more things, by the time I was back he was leaving to pick our eldest up from school. Tiring as the arrival was - we were in and set up and ready to explore.
We camped up by the Nightjars area - literally a few metres from the toilets and showers, which were brilliant, there were compost loos (a bit of a novelty, weirdly my son needed the toilet a lot, think he just enjoyed being able to wander over on his own) and their flushing toilet blocks were nice and clean too. The showers were lovely and hot, long queues in the mornings but if you sneak back early afternoon you could jump straight in.
Friday night was fairly chilled out, we listened to some great music, enjoyed some ice lollies and climbed on the old double decker bus before cooking burgers back at camp.
The weather forecast had been so changeable - we were promised some rain and thunder storms so had come prepared. I have to say though it was beautiful - lovely sunshine all weekend with one shower on Saturday evening plus an amazing show of sheet lightning.
Activities for the kids are just amazing as ever. They loved the zip line and the Woodland Tribe in the Urban Woods. Fin had a go at skateboarding on the ramps.
The girl's made it to the top of the climbing wall.
We had a round of disc golf - as a family we really enjoy this and there were some huge kites being flown in the background.
We also had a go at archery.
The smell of all the different foods as you walk through the Lazy Glades and Leapfrog Lawns is too tempting, the stalls were just fabulous - some really eclectic styles this year.
We joined in with the Campfire Cook Out and Crazy Comic Club. There were 3 different cook outs throughout the day but we chose to join the Soulvaki and Pitta cooking. There were huge fire bowls to cook on - firstly you roll your own dough to make the pitta and then you pick up a skewer with halloumi and vegetables and cook it over the flames, it was delicious. The kids sat and made some pop-up style menus with the Crazy Comic Club.
There were some fab bands on stage on Saturday - we took our camping chairs and sat on Dragonfly Hill. There was a small shower but it didn't seem to put anybody off enjoying themselves.
One thing I love about Elderflower Fields is the location - the meadows and woodland are beautiful and the So Sussex team do a fabulous job of making it even more aesthetically pleasing by decorating everywhere with quirky curios - there was even a huge dragon's head in the trees.
The art trail is great, it's in the woods and there are so many things to keep the children entertained- they sawed wood, drilled holes, printed using ferns and made some clay models.
There was a fairy school and further on Into the Trees there were demonstrations, talks, kayaking and pond dipping.
Sunday we had promised that the kids could have their face's painted - Nam Nam's are there every year and the team do a fabulous job.
The giant bubbles on Dragonfly Hill are always popular we spent ages chasing them around.
This is also the afternoon that the huge So Sussex family picnic takes place. I can't believe it goes so smoothly as in theory it shouldn't. So, we are a group of 5, to join the picnic you need to be in a group of 12 to exchange your tickets for a picnic bag. We struggled on our first year, being new to it all so we made sure we found a group - and what a lovely bunch they were.
The queue for the picnic was huge but it moved quickly and we sat and enjoyed bread, pesto, olives, pate and a yummy chocolate cake - plus the weather was scorching!
Again that evening we headed back to listen to some bands and I treated everyone to pie and mash, which was delicious from Humble Pie. I loved their stall, there was a piano and an old fashioned till.
Every evening we toasted marshmallows and sat and chatted and listened to music from out tent. All of our new neighbours were a lovely like-minded bunch of people. I loved seeing everyone wander past in their costumes, some amazing efforts for the robots and animals theme.
I have barely scratched the surface - there was far more happening including yoga, arts workshops, foraging walks the list goes on and on.
We were sad to pack away on Monday morning - this time we waited for a golf buggy ride - the trailer pulled our heavy load up the hill for us - well needed in the morning sunshine.
Thanks again for the memories - just wish it went on for longer........
Au revoir Pippingford Park see you at Into the Trees!