Woodside Festival

A few weeks ago I took the children for a special treat. They had no idea where we were going or what we were doing and so in the car they were incredibly excited. They began asking lots of questions and trying to second guess where our adventure would be today. It took just over an hour and we arrived near Derby at a country park. 

I had a feeling I had been here before but could not work out why. I later googled and discovered it was the site of the theme park American Adventure, I now knew why it felt so familiar. It also felt quite sad in a way seeing what the site had become, a change from how I remember it. Yet it also was amazing to see how nature had taken back the theme park from years ago.

Derbyshire Wildlife trust were our hosts for the Woodside festival. A day filled with live music and nature inspired activities. As we began our walk from the car park to the entrance we could hear the live music getting louder and louder and the girls, in particular, began to get excited. Little Man was already in his element as he loves rocks and stones and of course there are plenty of those outdoors. 

The festival was split into two fields, one had the catering, music and a few craft stalls and the other field had the nature reserve. The nature reserve side was beautiful. A walk through a tunnel of plants before emerging into a field with long grass and high sided ponds. Butterflies and bees flying all around and the surrounding trees made a perfect haven for wildlife. The only downside was the chaos from the humans. No one really knowing where to go for what activity or what to do. Some people queuing randomly, others just joining in at their own discretion and ignoring the fact that numbers had been reached and some saying that their names were on the sign up sheet. It was a little bit of a free for all, but we weren't going to let that spoil our fun. 

We decided to have a try at pond dipping and the girls caught some fascinating creatures. In fact they were so excited by their discoveries that they even got interviewed by the local radio station.

We left the picturesque yet chaotic field to return to the much more organised and structured field. Towards the very back of the field was a small wooden hut which caught the girls attention. We headed over to take a closer look. 

We found a space to sit, unfortunately not in a nest but still very close to one and waited to see what was about to happen. 

Out of the wooden hut came HandMade Theatre company and their show flying the Nest.

We have been lucky enough to watch shows by HandMade theatre in the past, but always indoors. This would be a totally new experience.

In some ways I actually think the show worked better outdoors and in the festival environment. The audience were engaged and engrossed with the performance. There seemed to be much more freedom for the performers to move through the crowd and as a result there was a lot more fluidity between audience and the show. 

I have noticed in HandMade performances there is a large amount of audience participation. Yet always in such a compelling way that you want to join in. The children always seem to love helping with the show and they feel a part of the story line. 

I must give the performers credit as they really do make the story very engaging and will adapt to what the audience are doing too, which I can imagine is quite tricky. It is a real testament to their skill set.

Before we knew it the performance was going into the final stages. The show was almost over and the time had flown past, the girls had thoroughly enjoyed the performance.

People seemed to stay around a while after the performance too, chatting away and enjoy the outdoors. It was really lovely to see and to see the performers out talking to the audience as well. 

We stayed around for a while before heading to the catering stands for some dinner, pizza was calling us, and we sat on the grass and listened to the live bands as we ate out dinner.

My daughter, who has not really shown any interest in guitars before, was drawn to one of the craft stands filled with handmade guitars. They were all made out of recycled materials such as cereal boxes. She sat down and was handed a guitar. I think her face says it all. Looks like guitar lessons in the future.

After a thoroughly enjoyable day at the festival we decided to make one last trip over the the wildlife side for a special treat. The girls first had to collect some wood, followed by learning how to create sparks for a fire.

After practising for a while they then got to light a fire. There can only be one thing to do on an open fire at the festival. Toast marshmallows! 

Whilst Little Man might still be confused by this, he thinks they are ice creams, the girls thought it was the perfect end to a fantastic day out together. I could not agree me!

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