If you're travelling through North Devon or staying in the area, the Stag Inn is a great gastropub to stop at for dinner. It's just off the A361 and difficult to miss as it's painted egg yolk yellow with the traditional Devon thatch.
The owners have refurbished it to make it more stylish while keeping the roaring fire and ancient wooden bar and made a new dining area at the back.
The meat and veg comes from the organic farm of the owner's family and the menu is seasonal while offering all the favourites of sausage and mash, steak and chips and fish and chips.
Not the cheapest pub food but very tasty and a cut above in terms of style and atmosphere.
Stag Inn, Rackenford, Devon, EX16 8DT
I recommend taking a portable or throwaway barbeque with you to a festival. It is a great way to cook your own food outside your camp in the evening, you can choose what you eat, but - best of all - you have your own mini camp fire to sit around as it gets dark. You can have burgers or sausage in a bun at a fraction of the cost and the children love toasting marshmallows as dessert.
Any decent supermarket sells cheap portable BBQs during the Summer months. Pack a few firelighters and a box of matches.
Everyone knows wellies are essential, but your toes will be freezing come night time. You can never bring too many socks and finding a clean pair at the end of the weekend will feel better than you could imagine, honest!
Glastonbury festival or any festival.
Festivals abound these days, but most of them cost lots of mone. This one is free. Held in a beautiful field surrounded by the River Evenlode (great paddling for the kids), some great bands play in an idyllic and completely chilled out setting. This year it is held on Saturday 20 (12-10) - Sunday 21 June (12-8) 2009.
Two minutes from the Charlbury train station - which is north of Oxford on the Paddington-Oxford-Hereford line operated by Great Western. For more information: www.riversidefestival.charlbury.com/Home.html
Depending on the weather, arrive with a thermos of chilled liquid. Whenever boiling water is available, fill the thermos. Use for instant soups, noodles and other such nourishment. I can usually find some extra energy after a green tea (best made with off-boiling water anyway) and a cereal bar.
Make sure you can easily identify your wellington boots. As they are taken off before entering some tents, piles of near-identical green wellies accumulate. Last year many people were wandering around in ill-fitting footwear because someone else was wearing there wellies.
Glanusk park, Brecon Beacons. 21-23 August 2009.
Three days of merryment including the kids but beware of the loos! Take empty milk cartons/washing liquid containers for a private pee in the tent. Windbreaks are great to form a barrier for small children to stop them wandering off.
You have just about remembered where you camped after an hour of circling strangley similar tents to yours. You crawl inside and slump onto your damp sleeping bag only to hear the folk next door un-ironically playing Phil Collins, loudly. "Oh how will I make it through?" you cry.
The solution is simple; pop in a pair of BioEars silicon ear plugs, twang on a pair of those eyemasks you get given on flights (you can buy these and the BioEars from Boots) and drift off into a Collins-free sleep. The beauty of the BioEars is that they form a perfect seal inside your ear without having to be pushed into the canal like the foam ones and they make the festival fade away completely. The loudest thing you will hear all night will be the sound of your own breathing.
You wake, hot, uncomfortable and ready for a hard days headonism.
Boots is the answer.
You've already spent around £150 on the ticket, but you can expect to easily double that by the end of the festival. Here are some tips I have picked up from experience to help you save some money:
1) Before you go, go shopping with friends, buy biscuits, crisps etc, you won't want to eat big meals and food there is always extortionate (but good, so maybe try one!) And drink, check out good deals, but again, sharing is key!
2) To get there and back, check on the festival website for coach tickets that are often cheap to encourage less carbon emissions. Or if driving, make sure every seat in the car is filled and agree to split the petrol cost equally.
3) At most festivals, there is a refundable charge for cups. Late into the night, cups can be found all over the place, pick these up and claim the refund.
4) Be extra organised, always carry toilet paper, toothpaste with you then if someone is caught short, ask for a donation.
5) Use cash - take more than you will need, or set a limit and stick to it but don't take money out on a card machine as the charges are usually high.
6) Check, double and triple check you have everything you'll need so you don't have to buy anything when you get there.
7) Befriend the neighbours- again, sharing can help save a lot of money.
8) Keep your money safe - when drunk, dirty and tired, it is so easy to lose notes - (I kept a very small bag, big enough for phone, camera and money under my jumper and didn't take it off all weekend)
9) Wait until the end, all the merchandise looks so tempting on the first day, but don't rush in. Wait until the last morning when they are trying to shift stock so will have either reduced prices or are willing to knock off a couple of pounds.
10) Check the internet for a timetable or running order before you go - you will need to know when and where your favourite bands are playing, but will end up paying £8 for a programme when you arrive if not.
The key things to remember are share, plan ahead and keep money safe.
Hope this helps and have a fantastic, festival-filled summer!
A music festival that is totally eclectic and surprisingly kiddy friendly! One minute you can be dressing up in a dressing-up tent and doing a fashion show, then having a ride on a ferris wheel, then grooving to some funky beats on the main stage, then making wooden spoon puppets with your kids, then watching a wicker statue burn while drumming and chanting round it - and that's all in just one field!
If you have kids, I would recommend this festival. It's fun, vibrant, colourful and pure entertainment. My top tip is to get some of those mini hi-vis vests - in a dayglo neon colour like pink or orange, and write your mobile number on it. This is for your children to wear, so if they wonder off slightly, as they tend to, you can a) spot them and drag them back and b) if you don't see them, someone else will and they can call you to collect! Have Fun!
Eastnor Castle, Ledbury
Leave a cool box of food and drink treats in the boot of your car.
Suggested contents: bottle of rose wine/beer/cider, a selection of west country cheeses & biscuits, quince paste,
cherries, avocado, pittas, fresh fruit juice, chocolate digestives, other more toxic treats.
Why: On Sunday afternoon you can return some of your camping load to the car so you'll have one light and easy trip on leaving on the Monday. The treats are an incentive and a quick decadent foray out of a festival near the end makes you want to return and party harder than ever before.
Buy a cheap polyester shower curtain to sit on, it's waterproof, seats at least 3 people, rolls up small into a little poly sandwich bag and doubles as a makeshift poncho or kit cover when the rains come. Certainly made a lot of people jealous.
A few essentials to help festivals be more comfortable:
Take some tarpaulin to sit on in case its muddy and a blanket for warmth in chilly evenings or to act as a roll matt.
Mobile phones are useful for locating lost friends and also take an old handset for when the battery dies to avoid queueing for hours to charge it up.
Most festivals have good food stalls (Glasto' green fields have great healthy options) so don't bother with a stove. Nuts, fruit cereal bars and chocolate are good to keep you going though - and a three litre box of wine!
If you need a tent, its worth getting a three man for two people, as there's room for all your other stuff and get one with a porch to keep muddy boots away from your clean stuff but in a dry area for the next morning.
The obvious tip is toilet roll, baby wipes, bin bags and antiseptic hand gel.
Comfortable wellie boots (see the funky wellies website) and a good rain jacket for bad weather - shades and suncream just in case you get lucky with the British weather.
And don't take anything you value too much in case of loss, theft or weather damage - I lost a great pair of shoes to the Glasto flood of 05!
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