After following the Sat Nav for 2 hours 20 minutes from Hampton Court, we got waved down by a man in a high-vis jacket. He told us to make a left turn through a hedge. Erm, really? Doubting the move, we then came over the brow of a hill – I saw it. A collection of tipis, a big top, bright lights and vibrant colours all strung together with hurricane lanterns and meters of bunting. We had arrived at Soul Circus.
Groups of individuals wearing loose fitting bright coloured clothing were making their way from the camping area to the front of house to collect their weekend wrist bands. We on the other hand had a job to do, setting up our base for two nights in high winds. With a mallet in one hand and a cold cider in the other, I set about directing hubby Warren with the tent erection.
And with Layla and Wilma in tow, we completed our mission 1.5 hours later. Camp was set up! We then we made our way to the main gate…
Day one fun
Greeted by the friendly check-in ladies, we grabbed a programme to see what was on that day. My daughter Penny spotted the aerial with hoops and immediately ran up towards them and wanted to have a go. What she didn’t realise was there was an aerial yoga class taking place and the instructor said a polite ‘no’. As you can imagine, this went down like a lead balloon and resulted in tears!
There was only one distraction from this meltdown; thanks goodness for face glitter. We managed to find the Shine Shack girls and asked them very nicely to get her and Wilma’s tiny cheeks covered in the sparkliest glitter they had. Pink sparkles, gold dust and five minutes later, we were sorted. They both looked super cute and happy with themselves – it was now time to party.
We had a good look round the tipis, checking out the yoga sessions. They were packed and everyone seemed to be achieving their Zen. Well, that’s what somebody told me! We visited the market area and checked out the local crafts stalls, stood to watch a HIIT class in the Equinox tent and walked around the beautiful lake past the sauna and hot tubs – taking in the stunning English countryside.
Then it was time to sit on the hay bales and watch the kids play in the kids tent, while enjoying another cold cider of course. One thing that sprung to mind was that as much as I was enjoying watching Penny hula hooping and climbing a gigantic deckchair, I suddenly had a thought that I needed to be with the girls so I could get stuck into the classes, like everyone else was!
A party atmosphere
As the night closed in, the atmosphere seemed to change pretty quickly from ‘yoga’ to ‘party’, and the crowds seemed to congregate to the main tent to watch BBC Radio 6 DJ Nemone on the ones and twos. At this point, Penny had got her second wind so she enjoyed having a dance with her Mum and Dad and before quickly finding another group of kids. It turned out the group were Nerone’s family! Kindly, they hey took her under their wing.
It was time to hit the sleeping bags as we had an early start the next day; an exclusive media event for the press and influencers that we had invited along to the festival.
The media enjoyed the ‘Rise and Shine’ yoga class in the busy Equinox tent while team Aspire stuffed goody bags and made sure the breakfast – yoghurt and Granola – was cold and the Pukka herbal tea was hot. We were joined by the wonderful Soul Circus founders, Ella and Roman Wroath, who welcomed the media and gave a brief history of how Soul Circus 2018 came to be. They all left feeling energised and ready for their yoga-packed days ahead.
We on the other hand opted for the Gong Space mediation tent and enjoyed an hour of relaxation. We hung out at the kids tent (again!) and Penny enjoyed her first junior yoga session, while we enjoyed a delicious lunch from the food tent. The rest of the day continued; multiple yoga, HIIT sessions and meditation classes, talks, demonstrations and live music went on until early evening.
The sun set and as it got darker, we settled down to watch the fire juggling show. Meanwhile the main tent behind us filled rapidly with revellers waiting for the main music act, DJ Yoda to perform. From here on in, it was more festival than circus as he played an amazing two-hour set – I don’t think one person missed this experience! We all danced well into the night, and cider and gin and tonics flowed.
Warren and I took it in turns to look after Penny while the other one pushed to the front of the crowds and joined in the dancing fun. We all made it back to bed safely in one piece, although I am not sure how we did this in the pitch black as we’d misplaced our only torch… I laid there listening to the after-party music, and it was the perfect time to reflect on the day and my first Soul Circus experience.
The next morning, we poked our head out the tent and felt the refreshing drizzle. Decision time: pack up before it gets worse or brave it out for another day? We packed up. As we left the site I felt so incredibly proud being involved in what really is something very special, but one thing I have realised is that I will be returning next year – this time with the girls, so I can get fully immersed in my own Zen!