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DADult Life | May 24, 2022

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Standon Calling 2018: When you have a toddler but it’s festival season

Standon Calling 2018 Family Festival

I can’t be alone in slowly losing the will to try and make plans with friends, surely? I swear, people without kids are flakier than a Greggs sausage roll. And yet I’m the one with the baby – aren’t I meant to be the one who bails on plans without warning?

Try as I might, it seems my festival days are well and truly falling behind me – at least, festivals as I used to know them. You know, the tacticals, getting separated from mates and waking up with the hangover from hell. Course, those parts I won’t miss.

But the day drinking in the sun to absolute bangers and everyone in good spirits? Who could ever tire of that? Thankfully, I discovered early on in fatherhood it’s possible to take babies to festivals, which is precisely what happened when Roma was just two months old as we hit Standon Calling.

With the summer many of us have waited a lifetime for only continuing to deliver the goods, it would have been nothing short of blasphemy to swerve Standon Calling this year, so we hit it on Saturday 28th July, the second of the three days it ran for. We planned to leave the house by 12.45pm so naturally we didn’t get out until about 45 minutes after that but the beauty of Standon is that it’s on our doorstep so we arrived by 2pm.

The first debate we had prior to going was pram or no pram? Last year I stashed Roma in her carrier where she somehow slept for the duration, so sacking the buggy off was a great shout. Of course, now she’s walking (albeit not in any direction we want her to) so what to do?

My first thought was to travel light and just alternate carrying her in our arms/let her run free, but Jenna suggested we take the pram this time. It was a wise move. Aside from plonking our forever-fidgeting child in there to keep her restrained in a more socially acceptable way than a straitjacket, we were able to use the basket underneath for storage rather than walking along laden down like a camel.

In a bid to make things more convenient for attendees, neither cash or card are accepted within the realm of the festival itself. So after getting through the security check, the first thing we did was hit a top-up station to load my Standon Calling wristband – all of which featured a tag to support contactless payments.

Although this year’s theme was futuristic, rather than the mythical tone from last year, as we strolled down the steep grassy (is grass even a thing now?) hill and through the woods to enter the main festival area I couldn’t help but feel I was entering Narnia. Albeit a Narnia bedecked in sci-fi-rich themes as numerous revellers rocked costumes of varying shades of silver with robotic accents.

Standon Calling 2018

The first thing I noticed compared to last year was that the layout had changed massively. Whether it was due to feedback from guests or internal discussions, the kids area stood out as it was much closer to the entrance. It was at the far side of the field last year, which wasn’t actually an issue, but the move makes a lot of sense now that it’s been done as it improves the accessibility for those like us with little ankle-biters eager to burn off some energy.

Given the noticeable layout reshuffle, we first combed the grounds to get an understanding of where everything was, walking past stages and tents as varied as the people dotted around them. At one point I could hear a bit of West Coast rap belting out of one tent mingled with 80s classics trickling in from somewhere else.

And that’s really what makes Standon so inviting, the miscellaneous vibes and eclectic range of guests in attendance. There was us, a young family, people who looked old enough to be our parents, and their parents, teenagers partying without their folks around for the first time, stag and hen parties, couples, groups of 20-somethings all out together because they can be – enjoy it while it lasts, guys, just you wait… – and children playing tag. All in all, there’s no need to feel out of place or uncomfortable even when pushing a pram past a group necking shots because everyone is doing their own thing and just soaking up the feel-good mood.

Having come to terms with the lay of the land, crucially where the bars were (it’s important to stay hydrated in the warm weather, right?), we made our way back to the kids area and let madam stretch her legs. Roma got out the pram too.

Standon Calling 2018 kids area

In awe of everything around her, she started running rings around other families whose children were clearly older or just not as nosey. Truth be told though, the marathons by Roma were a pleasure to watch as she staggered around the uneven grass like she’d had one too many cans of Orchard Pig. When she was done with her workout, there were various stations inside tents designed to keep kids entertained. One of the first we caught was a circus act involving juggling and hula-hooping, which kept us (and everyone else around) entertained, thanks to a mixture of childish and adult humour – both of which I’ve got a lot of time for.

We caught another show and, while I’m not entirely sure what was going on, it involved aliens. Clearly Roma was either really focused or confused as I was but it had the desired effect as she stayed perfectly still on my lap for a change without moving a muscle. The arts and crafts tents and playhouse (on a bus) would have been a bit too much for her to come to terms with and dominated by older kids, so that’s where the playtime tent, which was laced with an assortment of toys, came in handy.

And speaking of assortment, the food selection on offer at Standon was endless, just as it was the previous year – Thai, Indian, wraps, chicken, Italian, brownies and beyond. But for an easy life to prevent me queuing up twice because all the cash was on my wristband (didn’t think that through did I?) I followed the boss lady’s lead and we got a bog-standard burger each, which probably marked my fifth one of the week. The burgers along with a portion of chips to share set us back around £20 – thereby confirming a picnic will be prepared next year for all of us, rather than just Roma. Just look how happy she is with her packed lunch!

Standon Calling 2018 kids children babies

LOL – you guys paid how much for your food?


Although we spent most of the time in the kids area, that’s not to say there’s nothing else to do with babies and toddlers. We took a trip to the main stage when our dancing queen got some people-watching under her belt while having an in-buggy boogie. Then we found ourselves in a house tent, where Roma was granted freedom from her chariot on the proviso she took refuge on my shoulders. And if the music in the dome wasn’t enough to bring a smile to people’s faces then little lady helped them out as those passing us kept waving at her.

I feel like films and TV make parenthood seem like your life is over, when actually it’s just getting started if you ask me. I’ve always been the organiser, the fun-seeking event planner in the group who says “fancy doing XYZ?“ Problem is, as the years have gone by, it’s gotten increasingly difficult to execute anything – not for lack of trying –as people go about their own lives, so it feels like more of a chore than anything. But that fun-seeking organiser in me is still present and correct today as a father. One of many parts of being a dad to Roma that I adore is having someone to share adventures with at a moment’s notice, making memories to cherish for years to come as her eyes are opened to new experiences: even ones like this when she has no idea what’s happening, but soaks it all up. I didn’t go to my first festival until I was 25 and she’s already got two under her belt! And the best thing is she’s currently physically incapable of making excuses not to go and I’ve still got a good 17 years of her having to comply with being my partner in crime 😉🎉🎶 (Photo cred goes to my other less compliant PIC @jennashilstfit for catching this action shot of some baby-friendly two step 👶💃) #DADultLife #MondayMotivation #StandonCalling #StandonCalling2018 #ShoulderRides #DadDancing #FatherDaughterDance

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Despite a solid 25°C all day, the weather looked as though it was going to turn, much to my disinterest, but someone (I won’t say who, just know it wasn’t me or Roma) got a bit on edge about the prospect of rain, so we eventually shot off at about 7pm just as it started spitting.

Although the day had come to an end before acts like George Ezra had taken to the main stage, it really was one to remember. And next year, not that Jenna knows this yet, we’ll be camping – so there will be no need to worry about getting back home before night falls. Besides, just look at the difference in pictures from our first and latest time at Standon below – when year three rolls around, Roma will no doubt be able to carry me on her shoulders and tell us when it’s time for bed.

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