Before I begin the account of my first festival experience, it might be a good time to explain why my 28-year-old, party-adoring, find-any-excuse-to-drink-before-midday self has taken so long to get pitched. You see, I thought they were all about the music. And, as my own taste for a tune began with my Dad getting stuck into the 'refreshments' at Christmas then bellowing out Barry Manilow's Mandy (and has been skating on the side of shameful ever since) whom is headlining what has never really felt particularly relevant.
Then festivals started getting fancy with their food: hosting the cream of the street food crop, carting in cutting-edge chefs to cook up elaborate suppers and generally upping the edible ante. Having spent the last few years cooing over culinary line-ups, this was the one. And the lucky weekender, which finally got me into a very large field? Camp Bestival.
CB is the family-friendly version of Bestival - taking place not in Isle of White like its sibling, but in the grounds of Lulworth Castle. Despite the kiddy tag (on the run up, when I was telling people about my weekend plans, there was a lot of 'but you don't have kids') much grown up fun is to be had.
Music obviously (my highlight: sun-bathing on Sunday morning, the sweet sounds of Indie newbie Indiana mollifying my hangover), a Bollywood tent which seemed to be buzzing in kaleidoscopic whirl of activity the entire time, a Guardian literary tent, freesports park, Rob Da Bank's lounge and countless other ways to while away the three days.
Most importantly, there's glorious food being flogged from quality vendors everywhere you turn - from the WI Tea Tent selling homespun cakes of light and bounce to Anna Mae getting her mac n cheese on from her vintage van. The best spot of all to scoff every kind of street food you can think of? The Feast Collective tent. It was here (and in one day) I managed to ingest the following: a cracking scrambled eggs on chewy slabs of sourdough from Milgi Lounge, a leg of chicken roasted sticky with tamarind from White Rabbit; a mighty pork belly sandwich from DJ BBQ and a wrap from Poco Morocco packed with tender wisps of lamb, crunchy pomegranate salad and chilli salsa.
All incredible but easily topped by an unforgettable three cheese toastie from The Cake Shop Bakery - which, according to the ITV show of the same name, is 'Britain's Best Bakery'. Take it from a girl has eaten so much melted cheese sandwiched between hot bread across London she should have arteries made from gouda, THIS IS THE SHIT. Salty, stringy, rich and buttery, with a sourdough that would laugh in the face of sogginess. So good, I was tempted to take my tent directly from Somerset to their shop in Woodbridge, Suffolk and offer my services as their live in test bunny.
For fear I would be goaded for lack of greed, I also managed to fit in a wine tasting and a supper club. The Knackered Mother's Wine Club, run by blogger and author Helen McGinn, was a hoot of an hour with a collection of women that looked less tired than me, lots of straight talking from Helen (apparently Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Prosecco is toootally fine for a party) and not one person pretending to spit out the wine (hurrah).
Next the Surplus Supper Club, where we feasted on pate with spiced chutney, smoked haddock fishcakes, spicy chickpea bites, pimento crostini, maple glazed pork and a pretty nectarine tart. The food made all the more impressive by the story behind it (run by charity FareShare South West, the idea is to use food that would otherwise be wasted, then cooked by volunteers).
In terms of breaking one's festival cherry, Camp Bestival is the perfect 'first' - the presence of kids and general silliness making it friendly and fun, its intimate (ish) size making it always abuzz but never overwhelming and its wacky approach to entertainment (Chaz n' Dave, David Lynch and beard competitions) helps keep attention spans on their toes. On top of that, for a food obsessive like me, there are endless options to keep the appetite fueled (many of whom have already signed up for next year and I'd bet more to come).
First love may be fickle (meaning I've already mentally signed myself up for the 2015 festival circuit) but CB will always have my heart...
For early bird tickets to Camp Bestival 2015 or for more information check out http://www.campbestival.net/