While this year we’ve not been to any summer fetes yet, we’ve been to a few bigger events and festivals. I’d noticed there was the River Festival on in Stratford-upon-Avon and knew we’d have to go and try it out. Stratford gets busy anytime the sun goes out so we headed there as soon as possible after swimming.
I wasn’t sure what time the festival would get going so I’d promised N he could play in the park. Last time visiting the park, it was only him and another boy, this time it was much busier. But not at the paddling pool surprisingly.
This time we’d brought along some swimwear for N so he could paddle. It was a lovely morning that turned into a beautiful day, so it was the perfect time to go in before the place was packed out. N wasn’t sure at first. He’d been looking forward to it, but when it came to it, he wasn’t sure he wanted to get in.
An ice cream bribe came to the rescue!
Turns out that N’s a bit of a Twister fan. That always seems to be his ice lolly of choice, even ahead of a 99 which I would prefer…but then maybe he’s realised he gets more ice cream with his choice!
Eventually N ventured into the paddling pool after another little girl and her mum were encouraging him (typical that it took girls to get him in the pool – the older boy who offered to share his ball didn’t manage to persuade him). It’s a great little pool, with seating round for parents to sit nearby.
Just wading from one end of the pool to the other was enough to entertain N. It was such a lovely day sitting by the pool, walking round as requested by him. It was almost like being on holiday.
N thought it was really exciting to be able to drink his bottle in the pool…naughty and not allowed, but I wasn’t wading in to catch him!
After drying off and getting changed, it was time for a quick play on the equipment. I think N struggles at this park to know what to go on. There’s just too much choice, and it’s like he’s looking out for the equipment where there’s not lots of children to contend with. I love to see how much more capable he is, and there’s not many climbing frames that he’ll not have a go at climbing up now.
Of course, we couldn’t leave before a stint in the sandpit. He found himself a tool to play with, and started digging himself a trail which the water from the water play station was gradually finding its way down.
Before long, I was being asked whether it was lunch yet, so I knew it was time to head to the River Festival. It was being held on the recreation ground just along from the park and alongside the river (it’s not call the River Festival for nothing). At first I was a bit disappointed because walking from the park all we saw was lots of charity stalls. N was happy enough though.
His first discovery was British Waterways who were building walls, and anyone could have a go themselves. N spent a while watching them, although once the children has finished their go he still didn’t want to try it himself.
Next he spotted a version of hook a duck. This was at a stand all about waste with the ducks indicating a loss of rubber ducks and toys left at sea from a container ship. Every duck had a country label so indicate a country where toys were found. N had a couple of attempts, on both occasions his duck had been to Indonesia.
Then it was time to find some food stalls. Once we headed into the main area the people and sound hit us. It was packed out. There was music and other performances in the bandstand, with a big arena surrounded by food stalls that was packed out with people sitting on blankets, the hired deckchairs or their own chairs and tables that they’d set up.
The boats on the river were adorned with bunting in celebration, although there wasn’t much different on the river compared with normal. Maybe a few more boats taking people out but most of the event was happening beside the river.
N was really excited to spot this amphibious vehicle and was straight on for a ride. He wanted to know how they drove it into the water, but then when I asked the man to explain it to him, he went to escape from him and didn’t want to hear the answer. Let’s hope he gets over that by the time he starts school. No point asking questions if you don’t want someone who knows to give you the answer.
Then it was time to find some food that we’d both eat. I was impressed with the little gin van. Great idea and really cute decor. I really fancied a Pimms but try to carry a drink and order and carry 2 lots of food was never going to work out.
There were all types of food being sold, barbecued meats, caribbean, asian, spanish, french and more. We decided on something simple and easy to eat outside, so opted for toasties from Jabberwocky cafe’s stand. Their toasties were so delicious, definitely the best I’d tasted.
We’d managed to time heading down to the benches just as someone was leaving, so we had a spot to sit and relax while eating. I loved that this guy was just chilling out, playing his guitar while the other guy had to row. N was more excited by the radio controlled RNLI boat that was being driven all over the river alongside the real boats.
As we made our way along the final row of stalls, N made a beeline for the Italian stand of pastries. Well, I could hardly refuse him and I had to buy myself something as well, so we had our sweet treat after lunch. I would have loved a taster of everything, but that wasn’t going to happen, especially with the prices they were.
Because we’d not come in the main entrance (I never seem to manage this at any events we go to), we didn’t have a programme for the weekend. I’d not realised what was on at the band stand. As we ambled amongst the crowds, back towards the car, we spotted another music tent. This was for the Aspire programme which aims to give teens performance opportunities. They were only setting up the tent, but N sat himself down ready to watch and listen.
We only hung around to hear the first performance, a girl called Charley. She sang a Jake Bugg sone – I didn’t know the song at all and it wasn’t the best choice, but she did have a lovely voice. N was very impressed anyway. He wanted to stay and listen to more, but we didn’t have time unfortunately. It’s great that young people get the chance to perform at events to get performance experience.
N wanted to go back and watch the brick laying again, but I managed to drag him back the other way. It was too hot to be walking round and it was too crowded to find somewhere to sit in the shade. As we walked back across the recreation ground we walked amongst families having picnics, some having set up gazebos and more all around the field. Others were playing sports together. It was such a lovely sign of summer weather, with families and friends getting together. Next year I shall try and get a couple of friends to come along too and make more of an event off it for the day.
N seemed to have a lovely day, although he still wanted to get back in plenty of time for him to go out with his dad and do some work on the farm.
Have you been to any festivals this year? Do any of your local parks have splash zones for paddling in?