Last Saturday, we headed to the Cheshire/Staffordshire border for the Just So Festival. Held at Rode Farm Estate, Just So is a weekend-long music/arts/literary festival aimed at families with young children.
Our excitement had been building for weeks, as we spied teasers on Just So’s Facebook Page and email updates, but nothing could have prepared us for the magical world we were about to enter. Before the festival, I had been impressed by the attention to detail paid by the organisers, coupled with the sheer imagination shown in the planning stages. I felt as if the organisers were genuinely committed to making sure everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves, rather than just turning a profit.
There was so much to see and do that it could easily have been overwhelming, so we decided to just wander around and get our bearings, starting with the baby-focused Peekaboo area. In this section, Lucas’s favourite was definitely the Shiny Tent – self explanatory! – where everything was spray-painted metallic silver, including a plastic slide and a flamingo garden ornament. Peekaboo also housed the Chester Sling Library stand (where we took refuge while it rained!) and some giant soft ‘building blocks’: just some of the whimsical ornaments dotted around the festival.
There were several more themed areas, including Lazy Days, High Seas, Buckets and Spades and The Social (food). Guy and I both loved the Spellbound Forest – a woodland Wonderland containing my favourite part of the festival, the book arch! There was den-building, lantern-making (and later a parade), a book swap, and improvised mini-amphitheatre. Away with the Fairies came a close second, with teeny-tiny fairy houses built into the trees.
Among all this were plays, installations and activities. We caught ‘Family Fortunes’, which was a fun audience-participation game; Toybox Theatre, with lifesize ‘windup’ dolls; Sports Day, complete with wheelbarrow race; and Rangoon Sons, a guitar-rock band from Liverpool. There was so much more I wanted to see, but with a tired toddler in tow, only so much is possible!
We were impressed by the food selection: wood-fired pizza, paella, burritos, pies, burgers, stir-fries and plenty of snacks and drinks. There was also lots of free baby/toddler food from Plum Organic, very handy as we had neglected to bring anything for Lucas. The loos were really clean – I’d been worried as I’m pretty Portaloo-phobic, but they were nothing like the facilities I recall from my time at Leeds Festival, thank goodness.
We left in the late afternoon, wishing we had been camping, and promising that next year, we will!
What we really loved
– Salted caramel and peanut butter ice cream from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium
– Vintage birdcages in the trees in the Spellbound Forest
– Seeing loads of other babywearers
– Giant bubbles made with string and canes
– Food vendors all offering children’s menus
What we loved less
– Trying to escape the car park – we’d been blocked in by another row of cars and had to navigate some very steep dips!
– Lunchtime burrito – uncooked rice and beans and chewy beef did not make for a good combination…