We left home far later than was ideal, despite our best intentions. Excitement levels were high- even the M25 couldn't dampen our spirits!
Most of our friends had already arrived and set-up by the time we made it to Mersea Island, so the children went and explored the Festival with their mates while we pitched the tents and had a glass of wine! We'd booked as a block of 6 families, and had other friends camping nearby, so there was plenty of help at hand. Sukie had her own little tent, which she shared with our dog.
We were disappointed to discover that the Groovy Movie tent and the fabulous Hattie Hatstar would be missing this year, due to the fact that HESFES clashed with Glastonbury weekend. This was a sad loss, but there were plenty of other highlights.
The pool was a big hit as ever, and the glorious weather ensured it got a lot of use.
Some festival-going children organised an impromptu dog show; walking the site and asking anyone with a dog if they’d like to enter. This was no amateur affair, there was a roped-off arena, various entry categories, judges and rosettes and dog treats for the victorious canines. A sizeable crowd assembled to cheer on the competitors, and there was great excitement amongst our little group when our friend's dog won the "Dog the Judges Would Most Like to Take Home" category.
As always, there were lots of workshops for those who wanted to participate. Willow, Dandy and I joined in with the Community Singing, learning different songs as a group, singing harmonies and rounds, and culminating in a performance onstage at the End of Week Show, during which I hid in the back row!
We did some mask-making, various types of weaving and pencil-making using hazel and charcoal. I attended an afternoon of the conference, meeting some of the EO trustees and talking about the future of the organisation. I spent the whole time I was in there waiting to be interrupted by a child needing my assistance, but somehow got away with three solid child-free hours. Miraculous!
We said a sad farewell to Dandy and Pickles mid-week, as work beckoned, and I thought that having three children AND a dog to watch over might be a bit much! Sukie was very upset to see her room-mate go, and moved into the family tent for the rest of the festival.
By the evenings Bobbie and Willow were utterly exhausted and desperate for bed so we didn't get to spend an awful lot of time at the marquees at night, which was a shame. Sukie retired to "The Party Tent" (a spare 3-man tent a friend had brought along for the kids to use at will) with her friends most evenings, as 11 year-olds seem to be able to keep going far later than would seem humanly possible.
Bobbie and Willow did make an exception for the Children's Disco one night, and wandered up to the marquee field with their friends to take a look.
The Children's Cabaret is an unmissable HESFES institution, and lots of our friends had signed-up to perform. It's always a fantastic chance to see the diverse talents of home educated kids, and never fails to move me to tears at some point! Singing, dancing, acting, music recitals, poi skills, gymnastics - what a talented bunch!
A week of sunshine, being with friends, eating too many sweets for some of us, and drinking too much wine for others! Meeting new people, trying new things. Many mosquitoes, much laughter.
Roll on HESFES 2009!
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