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/ *



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.


What’s on in Oxfordshire over the half-term?

Well, the February half-term is here and the weather is looking even more unhelpful than usual, so we’ve rounded up a few things to do in Oxfordshire with the kids. As ever, if you know of something happening that we’ve missed then please add it for free here:

If you need toImage keep the kids occupied all week, or for a full day – or even just want to make sure they’re properly exhausted so you get an evening to yourself – then the SuperCamp happening in Headington looks fabulous.
There are activities for every kind of interest from sports to crafts and up to eight different activities each day. It (almost) makes us wish we were young enough to take part, but not sure we could deal with the hormones all over again!

For more information:

Want sImageomething for the smaller people? Thame library is running a story time on Tues 18th Feb. It’s FREE (always a bonus in our book) and starts at 11am.  It’s also thoughtfully arranged for a market day, so if you fancy a wander round the rather lovely market town you can pick up some fresh baked goods, fruit and veg or even browse the clothing stalls and make a day of it.
For more information:
Bampton library is doing something similar on Friday 21st at 10.30am
For more information:

ImageWild Wednesday struck us as something a little different: fun, outdoor activities (whatever the weather!) for 4-11 year olds at only £2.
Always nice to get them out in the open air if possible.
For more information:

On a similar note, The Earth Trust is running a Forest School for pre-schoolers on the Friday.
For more information:

The Cornerstone in Didcot is making a week of it, with things to do most days from Tuesday onwards. Check out our half-term page for all the activities, but here are two of the highlights:
Printmaking – 20 Feb 10.30am – 4.30pm, ages: 7-12 years
“Be inspired by the winter weather and make incredible prints using exciting techniques including plastic etching and lino carving. Can you spot any of the same techniques in the Oxford Printmakers exhibition?” Whilst they’re occupied you could go shopping or watch a film at the cinema next door or even have a (very) long, relaxed lunch at the excellent Cafe in the Cornerstone itself.  Bliss. We heard rumours that taking out a family membership gets you 20% off everything so you might even be able to make a saving.
HipHop Dance Workshop – 21st Feb 10.30am – 4pm, ages 7-11 years
“A chance to learn some new techniques in an energetic and fun workshop. Learn how to do impressive moves and create a group dance to show at the end of the day.” Sounds like a great way to wear them out before the weekend starts!

For still more things to do over the Feb half-term please check out our listings: http://local.mumsnet.com/oxfordshire/half-term

For other activities, services, businesses and things to do, as well as our fab talk board where you can chat to other local parents, please visit us at http://local.mumsnet.com