After the completely incredible Just So Festival being a firm fixture in our family calendar for the last five years, we were absolutely gutted when we realised we weren’t going to be able to make it there this year (unless we sacrifice our summer adventure to France in the camper van, and I was tempted, believe me).
Maybe it was fate because right at that moment, the fantastically talented event team behind Just So, Wild Rumpus, announced a brand new festival for 2018 called Timber, that promises to have the same small, community feel and creative approach.
‘Timber is an extraordinary new festival where music, art, philosophy and sustainability will weave together into an exhilarating weekend in the heart of the National Forest, one of Britain’s boldest environmental projects.
‘Created by the National Forest Company and Wild Rumpus, experience the transformative impact of forests with artists, musicians, scientists and thinkers. Explore what woodlands can mean to us and how we can re-imagine our relationship with our environment. Play and create in an arboreal wonderland, where the tonic of wildness rules supreme.’
We are lucky enough to be surrounded by forest where we live, and we have spent endless hours exploring this amazing woodland, so Timber immediately caught my attention and appealed to my imagination.
At nearly nine, the twins still get totally caught up in the magic at Just So, but they are also able to engage with topics and activities geared to an older age range. Timber really ticks the box for this, with programming that will appeal to each one of us.
I’m afraid I’m pretty clueless when it comes to the latest bands and new music. But I do love listening to BBC 6 Music everyday, so when we heard them raving about the line-up at Timber, we knew we’d be in for some great acts.
Headliners include Jane Weaver, This Is The Kit and Hope & Social. There will also be acoustic sets from singer songwriter Ewan McLennan, electro-pop from Alice Jemima and Afro Soul from Aadae. I’ve already created a Spotify playlist of all the acts, which I’m listening to right now while I write this post to get me fully in the festival mood. And it’s a good mood, I’m telling you.
This is the section that I’m most excited about. Top of the list is Luke Jerram’s Museum of the Moon – a seven metre sculpture of the moon, featuring NASA imagery of the lunar surface. I know this will be one the twins are going to be mesmerised by, and won’t ever forget.
Jony Easterby’s Tree and Wood premieres at Timber and will take place at dusk (the perfect time for a magical experience). An interactive performance, it will include installations, movement, song and music from a team of international artists, musicians, performers and foresters.
The outdoor theatre offering at Just So is always a big hit with all of us, so I can’t wait to see the premiere of Seek, Find, Speak: A Conjuring Told in Gold. This forest theatre trail – an adaptation of the absolutely beautiful The Lost Words by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris – is both self-guided and led by a troupe of Goldfinch performers, and will bring the nature-inspired spells in the book to life. I can’t wait to be caught up and swept along by this experience.
We’ll also spend the weekend gasping at acrobatics in the trees, getting lost in The Coppice Maze, playing in Hammer & Chisel, a woodland playground made up of pallets, tyres, ladders, ropes, dens, secret spaces, and taking part in activities such as tree climbing, slack-lining, leaf art and mask making.
I listen to Stuart Maconie daily on BBC 6 Music, and am a long-time fan, so I can’t wait to hear him deliver a bound-to-be stellar keynote address on rambling (he’s president of the Ramblers), and the great pull of the natural world. I predict a fan-girl moment.
There’s a whole host of other talks, walks and panels with writers, broadcasters, artists, poets, scientists, philosophers and educators on what woodlands and trees mean to us.
Relaxation and Wellbeing
I will be swapping the queue for the porta-showers for a visit to the eco-spa Bathing Under the Sky, where I’m going to recharge my batteries with a soak in an outdoor wood-fired hot tub and a steaming hot shower.
Every year at Just So I try to make it along to one of the yoga sessions. This year maybe I’ll keep it simple and aim to read a book in one of the Tensile tree tents suspended up high between the branches instead. Although there is yoga, tai chi and capoeira on offer too, so I’ll be spoilt for choice.
There’ll be a generous food and drink offering, from farmers’ market stalls to food trucks. I know that Ben will be making a beeline for one of the foraging workshops, and to see chefs creating menus from hedgerows and woodlands.
Being part of something new always comes with its own special buzz, and so I feel so lucky to be going along to Timber. I’m not generally good with change, but being captivated by the concept, and then digging down into Timber’s programme, I’m beyond excited about trying something different, and pushing ourselves out of our Just So comfort zone.
I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll be disappointed – it sounds exactly like the magical, immersive, chilled-out experience that I’ve learned to love. Two months to go… bring it on!
Like the sound of Timber? There are still tickets available, so get your tickets booked now, and come and join us in the forest.