A weekend at Wood Festival, 2014

This way to 'Wood'!

This way to ‘Wood’!

Being as cycnical as the next Mumsnetter, I was prepared to enjoy Wood Festival, but I was in no way expecting to be ‘touched’ by it, yet that’s exactly wheat happened. Sitting on a bale of hay with my two year old, early morning Sunday sunshine streamed down whilst a flautist played uplifting yet slightly haunting pan-pipe music. We were surrounded by the sounds of other families talking and having fun and I was struck with a wonderful sensation of peace and happiness. In short my inner hippy leapt out and mugged me and made me feel, for a short while, like I was part of something bigger.

Families relaxing outside the cafeteria tent

Families relaxing outside the cafeteria tent


Admittedly the organisers got very (VERY) lucky with their weather and the 23 degree heat was pleasantly offset by the cool breeze and shady trees surrounding the site, but the lasting impression I had of the festival was of the family-friendly nature of it. For one of the days I was there alone with my toddler and trying to put together a review whilst keeping a ‘bolter’ safe is not an easy job. At least I knew that I could let him roam a little further than I would normally and if he did go AWOL then he had a ‘return to sender’ band round his ankle with my phone number on – that’s more security than I get on a day to day basis!  Surrounded by other families, as we were, you are assured of understanding adults and there were lots of activities and events planned specifically for the smaller people.

Toddler Terrorist goes rogue

Toddler Terrorist goes rogue


Playing 'drums' at the Bodhrun workshop

Playing ‘drums’ at the Bodhrun workshop

The workshops were a particular highlight – from bodhrun drumming to therapeutic hand-massage, intuitive birthing to junk flowers the topics were varied and interesting and, again, very family-friendly as proven when my aforementioned toddler terror waltzed into the bodhrun workshop, and demanded “I play a drum, Mummy” and was handed a drum and beater which he proceeded to bang with relish for a good ten minutes to be greeted with smiles by the other (all adult) participants and congratulated for his creativity by the workshop leader!

Bodhrun Workshop

Bodhrun Workshop








Hedgehog Clay/Pinecone Creature

Hedgehog Clay/Pinecone Creature




This is not to say that there weren’t plenty of child-centred activities, from clay crafting with woodland debris (please admire our phenomenal hedgehog thing) to story-telling, music, childrens’ yoga and the legendary Oxfordshire treasure that is Nick Cope, it was kiddy-heaven. There was even the unusual and heart-warming sight of children and adults taking part in things together like expressive dance and hula-hooping.

Storytelling in the Kids' Tent

Storytelling in the Kids’ Tent

All these wonderful, inclusive activities were supplemented by displays and stalls by various craftsmen and purveyors of knick-knacks (hand-turned furniture, coracle-making, flower garlands, hand-dyed yarn etc) and a fabulous main stage of live music where families sprawled across blankets and children danced with bubbles in front of the stage. The party atmosphere was tangible.


Enough of the fun-stuff, though. Let’s turn to the practicalities. Whilst there was some issue getting the press-pass sorted I was assured by more than one festival goer that they had found admission and admin to be quick and smoothly run – an essential when you have a lot of over-excited children involved. Security presence was discreet, but noticeable, which is actually a comfort at a large event I think and there was a dedicated first-aid tent with trained staff available if needed.


The Tea Rooms tent

The Tea Rooms tent

With a bar, wood-fired pizza place, tea ‘room’ and a cafeteria-style tent there was catering for most tastes, although mostly skewed towards a more vegetarian diet, though plenty of people brought their own food too. Be aware that Wood is an eco-friendly festival with solar-powered energy and composting toilets, but since camping is a back-to-basics event anyway this isn’t too much of a shock to the system.


Queue for the loo - outside the compostable toilets

Queue for the loo – outside the compostable toilets






Those running the workshops seemed as happy with the event as the attendees. I spoke to the woman running the junk flower workshop who is apparently a regular at Wood festival and she couldn’t say enough nice things about how the festival has managed to retain its small-time community feel, despite increasing in size year on year.  I think the biggest vote of confidence though, is how much the under-eighteens liked it.  And, great though my toddler terror found it, the older children were even more taken with it, I overheard one six(ish) year old asking their parents if they could live there always. I wholeheartedly concur. Please invite us back again next year, Wood!



Wood Festival 2014 - ambience shot

Wood Festival 2014 – ambience shot

Wood Festival 2014 - ambience shot

Wood Festival 2014 – ambience shot


Watch this space for further updates and photographs!


*Tickets were received by Mumsnet Oxfordshire for review at Wood Festival, 16th-18th May 2014. Wood Festival will be returning next year. For more information see http://woodfestival.tumblr.com/ *



Explore South Oxfordshire’s market towns along the River Thames

Here at Mumsnet Oxfordshire we’re not above shamelessly stealing someone else’s work, especially when it’s singing from the same hymn sheet as us, so here, in the world’s briefest post, is a link to http://www.southernoxfordshire.com so you too can get exploring – just let us know if you find anything exciting!

Following the Oxfordshire Thames


Things to do in Oxfordshire this weekend, 29th/30th March – Mother’s Day special

So, in case you were unaware, it’s Mother’s Day this coming Sunday and if you haven’t arranged something for your dear old mum you’re, well, no worse than most of us to be honest. Most of us are dear old mums ourselves and somehow this is just another thing on our list of things to do that we’re feeling guilty about, so if you’re looking for something nice to do with your Mum and your kids, then we’ve tried to winkle out a few options for you here. Enjoy!

So Natural Baby Festival, 29th March
10.30am-4pm, FREE, Oxford Town Hall
OK, so this is not strictly something for mums per se, but shopping is shopping, there’s free entry, and if you’re expecting then maybe you’ll enjoy this “host of independent businesses all focused on ethically-sourced, organic and handmade toys, products and clothing”. For those of you looking to entertain existing sprogs, there will be free workshops and children’s activities. Great for any prospective lentil-weaver mummies out there!


Drayton Nearly New Sale, 29th March
10am-12pm, £1, Drayton Village Hall
Whoops, we’ve let another shopping event slip through the net, but then this is the day before Mother’s Day, not the day itself, so if the ethically-sourced, organic shopping is a little rich for your pocket, then maybe a second-hand sale will be up your street. It’s their first one, so give them a shot!

‘Wash’, 30th March
11.30am, 2pm, 3.30pm, 6 months to 3 years, £8, £6 (concs)
What better way to spend Mother’s Day than doing something fun and fab with your small people?
In the show Monkey needs a wash. Anna doesn’t want to let him go but somehow he gets pulled in to the laundry – there’s only one thing for Anna to do – she must go and find him!
Discover a world of water, bubbles and spinning. With live music created from the paraphernalia of a washing world, Birdsnest create a gentle adventure, a game of hide and seek with rhythm and song to carry you and your little ones along the way.

Mother’s Day wine tasting & gift making at Cliveden, 30th March
Sun, 11am – 3pm, Childen £2, Mums FREE
Celebrate Mother’s Day by bringing your Mum to Cliveden for free. Treat her to a free wine tasting (while stocks last!) and why not make her a lovely gift too.

ImagePooh Stick World Championships, 30th March
11am-5.30pm, £12 for team of 4, £2 per individual player, Earth Trust
It’s Mother’s Day!!! So all mothers who are in fancy dress will be able to play in the individual championships for free!
We will also have a prize for the mum in the best fancy dress costume. And children will be able to write Pooh Bear poems or make paper flowers for their mums.


Things to do in Oxfordshire this weekend, 22nd/23rd March

We’re really getting into the swing of these little weekend updates now, but we do hope you check out the website yourself, too, as we only put a selection of things up and there is other stuff happening every day, plus a whole range of things to see and do that aren’t date-based, such as parks, pubs and playgrounds – some with helpful reviews from our users. If you come across something that you’ve experienced that is lacking a review then don’t be shy – tell us what you thought!

It is a fun-packed weekend though – hope you enjoy the variety of the offerings we have!

Oxfscience festivalordshire Science Festival
A variety of events across Abingdon
Head along to Abingdon to participate in one of the amazing events happening as part of the Oxfordshire Science Festival. From the grown up stuff like “Quantum Biology with Jim Al-Khalili” to fun childrens’ events like the magic-cum-science extravaganza of “Visualise” there is something for everyone, including (our favourite) a number of free events!

Lambing weekend at the earth trust

Lambing at the Earth Trust

Lambing Weekend at the Earth Trust, 22nd & 23rd March and 29th & 30th March
Hurrah! Spring must be here because it’s lambing season and all the wee frisky ones are getting ready to gambol before you.
Lauren and Dan of Little Wittenham Lamb invite you to visit their working farm and see the lambs being born. Craft activities and refreshments available. Wear your wellies!

We’ve also heard that it may be unwise for expectant mothers to go along as all the hormones wafting around can stimulate early labour in humans. Fact or fallacy? Not sure, but check it out if you’re concerned!

Explore the Oxford Canal Trail Saturday 22nd March
10am-4.30pm, £1, All ages.

Discover more about Oxford canal with this family gallery trail around the Explore Oxford galleries. Find out more about the canal and the people who lived on it.

Focus on print

Focus on print

Oxford Printmakers – Focus on Print, 22nd & 23rd March

10am-6pm Sat; 11am-4pm Sun, All ages
An exhibition of original prints by members of the Oxford Printmakers which illustrates how varied and different printmaking can be.

In their second show at Cornerstone, the East Oxford collective will present work by their skilled range of artists, demonstrating the variety of printmaking techniques including etching, screen print, linocut and woodcut. A special opportunity to explore the medium of print.

Zippo’s Circus, 20th – 25th March
From £7, Discount online

The brilliant Zippo’s Circus – “Britain’s Favourite!” – is back on tour for 2014. Clowns, a Strong man, acrobats and horses – what’s not to love?!

Oxfordshire – the murder county of England?

If you’ve read the [learn more] blurb on Mumsnet Oxfordshire’s homepage you might have noticed my assertion that Oxfordshire is, in fact, murder central of the UK.

You wouldn’t think it to look at us. Everywhere you go there’s chocolate box houses, cutesy market towns, even our ‘capital’ is known as the town of the dreaming spires, yet many of its most famous vistas have played their part as a backdrop to the most gruesome crimes.

No! Wait! Don’t call the police yet. I’m talking fictional crime here.  You might think London had it sewn up, or

Inspector Morse, Oxford

Inspector Morse, Oxford

maybe Glasgow with it’s grim urban outlook, but actually the rolling hills of the home counties seem to inspire authors and TV producers to think about gory ways to kill off their characters. From Morse to Midsomer we’re surrounded by easily recognisable landscapes.

Thanks as much to Inspector Morse as to its own inimitable beauty, Oxford itself is landmark after landmark; from the rotund, domed Bodelian to one of the many bridges with punts drifting gently underneath.  Perhaps we should dedicate a whole post on Mumsnet Oxford to the landmarks of Morse?

Midsomer Murders are a little less easily identifiable, portraying a generalised bucolic rural idyll of English countryside, only lightly marred by the horrific death rate.  If you know what you’re looking for, though, you can easily spot a few gems.  Head to the South of our lovely county, mostly, as Dorchester-on-Thames hosts a number of favoured filming locations, notably The George Inn – AKA ‘The Maid in Splendour’ in the episode of the same name.

Wallingford, just five minutes down the road, is the fictional town of ‘Causton’ and Henley-on-Thames, 15 minutes further on from Wallingford, appears in no fewer than nine episodes (and that route, incidentally, will take you through Nettlebed which appears in seven episodes).  If Midsomer Murders is just your cup of tea (and do check for arsenic first, if it is) then we’ve found this a wonderful website for identifying film locations: http://midsomermurders.org/locationsindex.htm – so plan yourself a scenic tour!

Agatha Christie's grave, Cholsey

Agatha Christie’s grave, Cholsey

And if those weren’t enough, perhaps a pilgrimage to the Murder Queen herself, Agatha Christie might be in order? I last visited her grave on a frosty January when I was trying to walk off my 40 weeks-pregnant belly.  It didn’t work, but was a lovely walk in the pretty town of Cholsey, just round the corner from above-mentioned Wallingford – and itself yet another Midsomer location!

Thank you for following me around this grim and grisly fictional tour of our county.  Perhaps we can do it again some time with a different theme – I quite fancy a fantasy fiction tour and with CS Lewis and Terry Pratchett connections it should yield some results.  TTFN

Camilla, Local Editor Mumsnet Oxford & Oxfordshire

Things to do in Oxfordshire this weekend, 15th and 16th March

Ah, one glimpse of sunshine and then it was taken away again, but at least it managed to time the nice weather for the weekend. We hope you made the most of it and went out and about in this beautiful county of ours – did you do something nice? Please add it to our listings if it’s not already there, then other Mumsnetters can enjoy it too!

Are you looking for something to do this coming weekend? Good news, our listings are looking pretty busy, so, as ever, we’ll offer you the pick of the bunch, but don’t forget to check out our “What’s On in Oxfordshire” pages over on our website. Or join in the discussion over at the talk boards where we have competitions to win tickets to three different events at the Oxfordshire Science Festival!

Win tickets to Jim Al-Khalili talking about Quantum Biology

Win tickets to ‘Quantum Biology – a talk with Jim Al-Khalili’

Win a ticket to 'Visualise'

Win Family ticket to ‘Visualise’ – where magic & phsyical theatre meet science

Win tickets to 'Converscience - an evening of science & wit'

Win tickets to ‘Converscience – an evening of science & wit’

Oxfordshire Science Festival, 7th –  23rd March 2014

A massive variety of events happening across the coming weeks, many of them are free and we have tickets to give away for three of the most popular ticketed events. Why not pop along and check some of them out? An inventive and exciting look at science for all ages. Get your hands and minds busy exploring, questioning and discussing during the celebration of science. With over 100 events to choose from OSF 2014 offers something for everyone – young or old, expert or novice, fan or phobic!

Young & strange - magic, comedy, illusion

Young & strange – magic, comedy, illusion

Young and Strange – Magic, Comedy & Illusion, 15th March, 7pm
Didcot Cornerstone, 8 years – adult
Young and Strange are illusionists who are also great stage show performers. The act is shot through with comedy, making it all round entertainment. The tricks are also very clever, featuring very good sleight of hand and an incredible surprise ending!

They have appeared on ITV1’s prime time magic show Penn and Teller’s ‘Fool Us’, and ITV1’s ‘This Morning’ (see the video clip on our web site). So if you fancy a great night out with the family, ooh-ing and aaah-ing at tricks and surprises that you’d see on prime-time TV then look no further.

Oxfordshire gallery trails app launch

Oxfordshire gallery trails app launch

Museum Trails Oxfordshire App Launch, 15th March, 10.30am – 3.30pm
Oxfordshire Wide, all ages
Join us for the launch of our gallery trail app, unlocking a whole new perspective on Oxford’s past. Journey through Explore Oxford and listen to sounds, view pictures and answer questions to solve our anagram!

Also families can come along and make character masks of some of Oxford’s most iconic people and learn more about them in the museum.Come along with your phones and tablets (iPhone compatible only during launch, Android available at later date. Check back to our website for further details) and enjoy a fun day out Exploring Oxford in a whole new way.

FREE in Explore Oxford & the Heritage Learning Centre.

Burford Mumsnet Meet up

Burford Mumsnet Meet up

Mumsnet Oxfordshire meet-up, Burford
10 am, Burford Garden Centre
Perhas you fancy some intelligent conversation and light banter? Our Burford Local Ambassador has arranged a coffee morning at the Burford Garden Centre, which we are reliably informed has a good cafe and play area for small people, plus lots of twigs and pebbly shit for the discerning Mumsnetter!



Things to do in Oxfordshire this weekend

The weather is warming up and it’s that time again – the weekly round-up of what’s on for families in Oxfordshire this weekend. There’s things to do both inside and out, with the outside activities beginning to look rather more appealing now the sky has stopped leaking so much!

Baby & Childrens’ Market, Wantage
Saturday 8th March 2pm to 4pm
Join us on Saturday 8th March 2014 for a great afternoon of shopping & fun! Lots of pre-loved, new and handmade stalls, children’s activities, plenty of free parking. Baby & Children’s Market UK provide a great opportunity for parents to buy & sell excellent quality pre-loved & new goods from birth to eight years all under one roof!

ImageMosaic Taster at the Cornerstone in Didcot
Saturday 8th March,10.30am-1.30pm, One off workshop
Learn mosaic skills and try out different creative techniques in this taster workshop, finishing with a coaster or pot stand to take home. All materials are included.

Explore the Oxford Canal Trail
Saturday 8th March, 10am-4.30pm, £1, All ages.
Discover more about Oxford canal with this family gallery trail around the Explore Oxford galleries. Find out more about the canal and the people who lived on it.

If you want to get out and about then we have a section just for playgrounds, though we could use a few more entries – do you have a playground near you? Whether it’s good or bad, please add it to the site and leave a review so others can benefit from your experience!

ImageOr perhaps you fancy a lunch out at a decent pub? The Lamb Inn, Burford, has a five star review from one of our users for their Sunday lunch with sticky toffee pudding (um, yum!) and it’s right next door to the Wychwood Wild Garden – a beautiful walk we can personally vouch for, as our Editor has taken a ramble through it quite recently!