We were thrilled when Truly Madly kids received an invitation to go and immerse ourselves in a festival just for families.

The Just So Festival was circled, in ink no less, on our calendar. It also happened to be the first time we would ever camp….



After a 31/2 hour journey crawling at 5 miles per hour on the M6, we eventually arrived at the Rode Hall Estate, a fabulously lush, green expanse of English countryside. I won’t lie, it was really hard work initially. We had to park the car in a field and carry our belongings to another field and to wherever we wanted to pitch our tent. Being on my own with two young kids meant many trips backwards and forwards to unload our gear. There were a few guys & girls with bikes that had  trailers on, but with hundreds of people vying for their attention, we couldn’t get a look in.

Within minutes of getting our tent set up I was suffering from a bad case of tent envy. Whereas we had to crawl on our hands and knees into our 4 man, 1 room tent, others were swanning around, upright if you can believe that, in their 5 room canvas mansions. It was really opening up a whole new world for me. Some folks even had blow up couches! How could I not know these things existed? The Just So festival is now in it’s 4th year and it was quite apparent who had been before, signified by fabulously decorated tents of bunting, flags and signage. A LOT of effort had clearly been put in and we were still only at the campsite. These festival veterans we’re ready to party and I was beginning to fear that I had vastly under prepared.


The weather was glorious on the day of our arrival and and we soon went off in search of the entrance to the festival. My children were so excited and from the oo’s and ah’s and ‘Mummy look!’ I heard I assumed it had met with their approval. From the get go I was overwhelmed with a feeling of safeness, if there is such a word. You would imagine that a festival, with hundreds of other people, would have you tether your children to your wrists and never let go. It was, in fact, exactly the opposite. I encouraged them to go and explore, the whole place was, after all, tailored made specifically for children.

The Just So Festival had taken over the grounds of the estate and had lovingly signposted each area, I dread to think how many miles of bunting had been sewn (do you have figures girls? I need to know!) The logistics of the whole event must have taken many months of hard work and planning to make this look so elegant, appealing and simple.

We spent a lot of time in the areas called The High Seas, Bucket & Spades and All Over The Place. The kids were enthralled with Mr Alexander’s Travelling Show and we watched the hilarious Mr & Mrs Trout more than once. I particularly loved this area due to a teepee dedicated solely to the art of Shiatsu massage, which I had booked for first thing on the Saturday morning. Sweet, sweet heaven, especially as I was kicked off the blow up mattress and had to sleep on the cold, hard ground for most of the night, thanks kids :/ – Virginie performed miracles, on my aching carcass that morning. If you live near Macclesfield I’d seriously suggest visiting her. http://www.silkhousetherapypractice.co.uk/shiatsu.html


Being a camping newbie, I had actually budgeted to buy food at the festival and not bring our own. I’m so glad we did because the food was AMAZING! Paella, Wood Fired Pizza, Mexican, Pulled Pork, Chinese, Pieminister Pies, Crepes, Chips, you name it we could probably get it. Nestled among all of the eateries was a barn, piled high with hay bales and tables, a true meeting place. We loved it. A fabulous atmosphere, so relaxed and right next door to the Footlights, a field set up with a sound stage, lights and constant entertainment. We brought our fold up chairs and camped down for the evening and listened to some great sounds. The rain tried very hard to ruin everyone’s day on the Saturday, but to see kids dancing in the rain was a sight to behold. There’s nothing that our Hunter Wellies and Barbour Jackets could not protect us from (seemingly both part of  the unofficial uniform of the festival). How lovely to witness whole families dressing up and taking part in the lantern parade. It would take a very hard heart not to get teary eyed whilst watching it. These are the moments that our children will remember and cherish.

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My children made giant fabric flowers to pin onto the side of a maze, they learnt how to become a pirate, they built sandcastles, the explored the Enchanted Forest, they took part in crazy Physics experiments, they helped build a solar system, they took part in a sports day, they made me enter the Mum’s race – I lost – they made lanterns, they saw me freak out when my battery died (Barnados tent to the rescue with a charging tent no less, for a donation), they played board games, they watched beautiful dancers, they listened to amazing story tellers, they slept soundly (thank god they did so they didn’t have to witness their mother peeing into a carrier bag lined with toilet paper so that I could avoid the trek to the loo in TORRENTIAL rain. Oh the Shame) the only thing that my 8 year old couldn’t do was throw a pot on the potters wheel, something she’d wanted to do for a long time. It was fair enough though that this area was called Clay babies with an upper age limit of 4 but at a festival for kids I would have thought they could all have had a go.


All in all this was an amazing place to bring the kids. I would honestly encourage you guys to book for next year. We will certainly be going and, knowing what we know, we can plan our trip accordingly. I think I may boutique it next year though – a separate area with your accommodation already set up for you, erm OK then 🙂


We couldn’t stay for the ‘Wild Rumpus’ on the Sunday evening and were gutted that I had to get back to work.

It is now time though to hold my hands up and say ‘YES!’ it was me that got the Jag stuck in the mud and had to be rescued and pulled out by the Land Rover.

“Damn city folk!” I hear you cry.




Check out the JUST SO FESTIVAL webpage and book your early bird tickets for next August, it’ll be here before you know it!


Think big and reach for the stars,

Vix x