A working weekend with chickens and Googlemaps


Last weekend we headed to a festival I work on. Usually we go the last weekend of the festival, but it tends to coincide with only son’s birthday and only son hates festivals almost as much as he hates New Look and charity shops. Familiarity breeds contempt and all that.

So I decided to go for the first weekend and take only daughters one and three who actually enjoy festivals. As daughter one has just finished exams and school, I thought we would celebrate so I booked a yurt. I have never stayed in a yurt before, but I figured daughter one would enjoy it. Two days before I emailed the owners of the farm to tell them when we would be arriving. An email came back – there had been a problem with Pitchup and the yurt had been triple booked. Oh dear.

We googled Travelodges in the area. The nearest one with space was an hour and a half’s drive away from the festival. The farm owners rang to say they had a shepherd’s hut which slept two [in a double bed]. They could pitch a tent outside for the third person. I volunteered to sleep in the tent as long as I didn’t have to put it up. So far so good.

Halfway to the festival they rang again to say the people who had been due to stay in the yurt that night had forgotten about their booking so hadn’t turned up. We could have the yurt. Success. We arrived late having taken a wrong turning down a narrow, be-hedged lane and with no phone signal to access Googlemaps – and the yurt was waiting for us. It was beautiful, but it had no wifi. If you have ever travelled with teenagers you will know that wifi is crucial. The description had said wifi was available, but it appeared not in the actual yurt, but in an office nearby, which was closed.

Daughter three was a bit worried about the lack of a lock on the door so opted to sleep with me. The setting was amazing. Hills and fields and flowers and ponds everywhere and a few farm animals. We played cards and chatted and went to sleep. I was woken at 4am by the cockerels. Still, it was a lot more picturesque than a Travelodge.

The next morning we were told me had been bumped up to the farm house as the third booking was having the yurt. The farm owners were moving out. The farm owners asked if the kids would like to put the chickens and ducks to bed. It just involved opening the chicken coop door and they would troop in, they said. At the time, I had my doubts, but the girls were enthusiastic. Daughter one is a vegan and at one with all animals.

We headed off to the festival in the mist and damp. After a day packed with activity – very interesting sessions on digital fakery, frugal innovation and the future of MRI scanning plus a wonderful conversation with Afua Hirsch which moved both girls to tears because it so clearly articulated much of their own experience – we headed back to the farm.
Daughter three had stomach cramps and had been a bit on edge all day. Everyone was tired. After a slight detour down a farm track courtesy of Googlemaps, resulting in us getting stuck in mud and a worrying smell of smouldering tyres, we arrived back at the farm. The girls went to get the chickens to bed. They came back half an hour later. “They didn’t want to go in,” they said. The next hour was spent herding chickens and ducks. I have a renewed respect for ducks. Although they headed for the hills, I did my best sheepdog impression and managed to get them into the shed pretty quickly.
Two of the chickens were determined to stay out, though, and every time we tried to open the shed to get them in the ones who were inside tried to make a run for it. The people in the yurt were sitting admiring the scenery and no doubt overheard our frustrations. It took a pincer movement by all three of us to get the remaining chickens out from behind the coop and into the shed. “Chickens are stupid,” pronounced daughter one in a blanket generalisation kind of way.
We went inside to be greeted by two ravenous cats and only three sachets of cat food. The house was lovely, big beds and a tv plus wifi and an Aga. We retired to bed late. At 4am the black cat was miaowing loudly, clearly starving. I gave it some tuna I found in the fridge. At 6am it was still hungry. I decided to feed it daughter three’s leftover mince in desperation.
We headed back to the festival later in the morning in pouring rain and got totally soaked. Several hours later after sessions on peacekeeping, psychology and economics and standing next to Rupert Everett and Akala we drove the five hours home to the entire 2017 and 2018 Eurovision song contest compilations. I felt I had lived an entire life in a weekend. Everyone has signed up for next year already.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.

Comments [1]

  • marianne says:

    Having followed these Whitsun festivals for yours for years now, I can rule with confidence that this years seems the best you have had. Keep ditching the hangers-on and travel only with the core troops for evermore!

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises