It seems an age ago that Adam (the husband) and I were frantically trying to remember our PayPal
password in order to pay for our Carfest North 2013 tickets, but as with life, the event was upon us before we knew it. Carfest is pretty much self-explanatory, cars + a festival, there’s a one for the North, which was at Oulton Park, Chester (which in my opinion can’t really be classed as North) and one for the South, Laverstoke Park Farm, Hampshire. The event was the brain child of Chris Evans and he promotes it through his Radio 2 morning programme. The event helps to raise money for Children in Need.
There were a few options for tickets and we opted for weekend camping - £115 for 15+, £30 for child, Under 6’s go free!
Our family consists of me, Nat, a teacher (36), Adam, (as previously mentioned, the husband) who is self-employed (37) and the terrors, Molly (4) and Erin (20 months). We’ve been camping a few times with Molly, and ventured to Solfest with her last year, but for Erin, this was a totally new experience.
The journey was fine, no dramas and we arrived at Oulton Park at 1100 on Friday 2 August. We saw instantly that this was a well organised event, the stewards were highly visible, knowledgeable and helpful, and the car parking was pain free. Lugging our tent, kids, food, sleeping gear, clothes,
camping chairs, wellies and soft toys to our camping site was a challenge. Cars were parked quite a distance away from the tent pitches, thankfully, we were aware of this as the Carfest website gave all of this information, we had also received several emails leading up to the event giving us information etc. Small wheelbarrows were available to hire, buggies were used as cart horses, trailers were towed by kids, we took our trusty Radio Flyer.
After we had established base camp, daddy did a few shuttle runs, and hey presto we were set up, my one advice for anyone wanting to take up camping, buy a really good airbed, it makes a massive difference.
Walking toward the race track entrance we saw again that this was a well organised event, the campsite was basically a field, but it had been thoughtfully supplied with water butts in case of fire, drinking water, and sufficient toilets, marked out pathways, plenty of stewards (they even had a prisoner of war style lookout point in the middle) , lights, showers, food stalls and even a campsite
Oulton Park is a race track, the festival is about cars, so, cars go around the track all day, access to the main site was either over a footbridge (tricky with kids and wheeled transport) or at designated crossing points at timetabled intervals throughout the day. We ended up having to use the footbridge which was interesting with the Radio Flyer!
Anyway, once in we were met with a fab
display of VW Camper Vans, then Renault 5’s, then DeLorean's (the car from Back to the Future), and it continued. I’m not necessarily a car geek, but I couldn’t fail to be impressed by some of the vehicles we saw. Chitty, Chitty, 100 Aston Martins, Ferraris... and so many more.
As well as cars there was a whole marque dedicated to Cakes vs. Pies... Paul Hollywood, who I’ve
been reliably informed is quite poplar these days, and Mary Berry were judging the competition
(cakes won). There was a fair, mini-tank rides, monster trucks, quad bike displays, dancing diggers,
The Flying Barrows (think Red Arrows but wheelbarrows), food stalls, Pudsey and Blush Bears, fun
tents for the kids, air displays, there was even a cashpoint ... then the music.
After all of the car stuff through the day, the music starts, Deacon Blue, Texas, Alfie Boe, The Feeling,
Jamie Cullum, The Lancashire Hot Pots (our favourites – I mean ‘Chippy Tea’ and ‘Shop mobility
Scooter’ how could we not be impressed), The Magic Numbers, Bjorn Again, Ocean Colour Scene,
Reef, I’ve probably missed some out, but you get then idea. Some of the acts I wouldn’t normally
listen to, but we did, and it was fantastic. The girls loved it, they danced and jived, made new friends
and it was a safe and relaxed environment, alcohol was consumed but not abused, people were
courteous and helpful , we felt safe.
Baby changing facilities were limited, but when you camp you expect to take the rough with the
smooth. Adam was the only one of us who tried the showers, he said they were ok! The girls and I
used good old wet wipes, it’s good to get dirty sometime.
The food was expensive, £20.50 for fish and chips for us all, but we had supplies at the tent. We did manage to spend £40 on two bits of fur for the girls which were tails, lesson most definitely learned ... ask how much before promising asomething to a child.
The weekend was over before it started, it went so well, the weather clearly helped, at times, dare I say, it was a little too hot, we will most definitely try to get tickets next year, it was expensive, but it was amazing, fun for all.
Things we learned:
- The Radio Flyer was brilliant for lugging things about, including sleeping kids, but it was heavy to pull.
- Our 4 man tent is ok, but a 6 man would be better!
- Crocs are brilliant for slipping on to get in and out of the tent.
- Chairs for Kids were great but could’ve done with a little table.
Now to empty the car and begin on the washing, ooo, better get the kids and me bathed too, there’s only so much wet wipes can clean!