Another milestone in our journey – TimberFest Festival

I have been wanting to write about TimberFest for a while. Not to review it as such, although I do it a bit, but because going to a festival is really hard for us and part of our grief journey. This post is harder to write because it is Camp Bestival this weekend, and in fact one of my friends just texted to tell me she was there right now. The text was that little nudge to press publish on this post.

Since Leo’s passing, there are places we cannot go to again, or cannot see ourselves going back to, as there are way too memories. Leo’s life was very short, of course. But, at the time, in the post natal depression state I was in, I had been on a quest to show that I could do it all with a baby and a 2 yo – and that I still have a life, and was still me. And we ended up flying to Paris for a weekend, went to my parents for Christmas when he was 4 weeks old (yes we got him his British passport very quickly), as well as driving to Camp Bestival for a weekend. I do not really go to festivals, Marc does, but I was in a zone to do it all whether it was me or not. In a way I am glad I was in that phase because he experienced a lot in a very short period of time. And still it was 10 months, so I can only imagine how painful it is for couples who lost their partners, or for Mums and Dads who have lost older children.

Anyway there is no way I am going back to Camp Bestival. The only picture of Leo used in the newspapers following the inquest is him at Camp Bestival. So it is totally out of the question. Paris stays out the question for the time being with the family, I went on my own for work – a totally different mindset. But I know I am going to have to get over it at some point. I feel the kids need to know a bit more about the capital of France, rather than just see it on TV.

And for a long time, festivals were out of the question, even though as I breastfed Louise much longer than the boys it would have been much easier to go when she was a baby. I felt I was going to tempt fate, and recreate a pattern with the inevitable conclusion and she would leave me too. I can see how crazy it sounds, but this is how I think sometimes. This year, through writing this blog, creating a more natural lifestyle at home, I decided that we could maybe consider go to a festival. The set up would be very different. We would only go for one day, stay in an airbnb – not a tent, and go nowhere near Devon. I think I heard of TimberFest through theCreative Countryside instagram.And I booked our tickets then and there.

TimberFest is a very low key festival, nowhere near as successful as Camp Bestival. It is very new. Which means, that, yes, it is more affordable for a family of 4. The way they present it, the words they use, totally ticked all my boxes ..

Gather round all nature lovers, day dreamers, big thinkers. Step into an incredible weekend festival of debate, celebration and reflection in the National Forest. Timber invites you to stand up and be counted as we rethink our relationship with trees and forests.

Join new thinkers as they challenge us to re-examine our relationship with the world. Gather with artists, musicians and writers, as they respond and react to the forest in bold and exhilarating ways. Activists and makers will invite you to join them in a joyous celebration of nature. The rebels and the unexpected from the worlds of music, art, performance and wellbeing will play, provoke and inspire as we change the world.

So come on in, unplug, walk into the trees and fall under Timber’s spell. Recharge under the leaves. It’s good for the soul. 

I was hoping to have a lot of activities for the kids around the trees, like a forest school would have. Making my kids sit down and enjoy their surrounding, as well as a lot of space for them to burn off that endless energy they have. I was hoping for a sense of community to come through and maybe kids playing together, a bit less anonymous than another festival. I would say that by not staying the night we did not make the most of that. Equally it rained a lot, I would have been well annoyed to have had my tent flooded. And there were, but as usual, it was more for Luc’s age rather than Louise. Sometimes the age gap between the kids, which I never chose (even though I am told it is so great – NOT MY CHOICE people), is challenging to ensure everyone gets something from the experience.

We enjoyed it, once the rain stopped. There was not a lot of shelter when it rained, and I think it was a major issue, and I got really down – why was I doing this to myself, what am I trying to prove and to whom? The outdoor space is incredible, and the kids kept running down the hill (all part of the big plan to get them knackered if we can). It is quite widespread across a few fields, and felt a bit empty to be honest – which is great when it comes to queuing for food, and for activities. Some events I was personally looking forward to – like cooking with wild food – were cancelled. And it felt we were there only for the kids. Louise, and even Luc, is a bit young to attend talks about the environment, and at some point we had to take in turn to look after the children. I feel that if we are going to educate the next generation, we need to make it accessible to them. To be fair Luc is in the eco group at his school and much more aware of the impact of plastic, and the importance of recycling, that I have ever been until now. There is still a long way to go to lead talks with them in mind. There was a wonderful little theatre called Talking Birds in the Oakmobile, that in 10 minutes got my kids really excited about nature and the cycle of nature. totally my thing of course. My kids sat down, listened, and got really into it. The ukulele lesson was a great hit, and so was the biggest handmade wooden marble run I have ever seen.

But the most memorable thing about TimberFest is the attention of using recycled material thorughout, no plastic was on site. We were given juice bottles at our airbnb and took them, just in case the kids needed a treat. I actually felt bad and embarrassed to take them out when treat time arrived. Really. This is really exciting of course. Running a whole festival without the use of plastic is an amazing prospect for our future – it showed me that it could be done. They did it, at a relatively affordable price. Do I feel I passed a milestone in my grief journey. To be honest, no. Yes I went to a festival, but TimberFest was so different from Camp Bestival that I feel like like I have not really pushed myself. Equally this was the right festival for us to go to considering our own sustainable journey. But I am not sure I am more ready to go back to Paris now, or to the lavender fields in Hitchin (another place where I took many pictures of Leo). The kids are also older, Louise can talk, walk, run, be super annoying when she wants to, and Luc is a proper little boy now, and the time of the challenges of having a 2yo and a baby has passed, and new challenges have come with it. If trying to get to the next milestone does push me to explore new ventures, places and lifestyle choices, I will take that for the time being. 

All my pictures were taken with my analogue camera (Canon 1000F). It shows. I used Portra 400 for the colours ones, and got some out-of-date Ilford 100 black and white off Ebay to try to be fancy and see the effect. This is my first time shooting black and white. Which is very different from changing a raw file on Lightroom. It is an interesting, and very mindful exercise. And if you have out-of-date films, and do not want to use them, please send them my way!  


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