This could catch on: the secret questival for the young at heart


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The Independent Online

There is a key moment in While We’re Young, the Ben Stiller/Naomi Watts comedy (in cinemas now), when Stiller’s character first notices that hip twentysomethings are fetishising books, VHS videotapes, vinyl records and typewriters. “It’s like everything we threw out,” he says, “except it looks good.”

Conversely, those same young people are the very folk who crave ball pools for adults and even, in Brooklyn, pay to attend an “adult pre-school”. But if all that sounds like your thing, you might like to know about a new festival this summer.

Wildfire Adventure Camp (see is the brainchild of Lee Denny, 27, and Julia Lowe, 30, who were inspired by watching British Pathé newsreels of scouting adventures from times gone by. “We’ve always gone to music festivals and one night, in the pub, we were talking about getting older and reminiscing about how awesome it was to be a child and have adventures and make your own fun,” they tell me.

“So we started talking about creating a place where people could go hiking and biking, learn skills such as raft building and combine it with the hedonistic side of festivals in the evening.” The world’s first “questival” was born.

The organisers will not reveal the festival’s location or musical line-up and insist on no mobile phones or cameras. In spite of this, 700 people have registered for 500 available places. Are the pair surprised? “Not really. There’s no better time to have a party than at the end of the day when you’ve done something energetic and inspiring.”

Out of this world

Aelita Andre’s work has sold out gallery shows in New York, London, Italy and Hong Kong and been featured in Forbes magazine and The Washington Post. The New York Times compared her to Jackson Pollack and her paintings sell for tens of thousands of pounds.

Last week, Andre – who was born in Melbourne – was interviewed by an Australian news channel and asked to describe her work. “I interpret my style as a magic abstract universe; it doesn’t sit in one tiny sphere, it goes out and explores the world,” she said. “I don’t have any plan before I put a drop on the canvas,” she continued, “and when I paint I just feel free and am inspired by animals, documentaries and the amazing things I see in nature and the cosmos.”

The usual artistic waffle? Possibly. Except it’s probably worth mentioning that Aelita Andre is eight years old.

Horses four courses

If your summer social calendar cannot find space for Royal Ascot this season, you can take solace from a competition run by the organisers that has as its prize a Michelin-star meal for two – courtesy of Michael Caines and Phil Howard – served on the back of a Victorian landau carriage as you travel along the South Bank in London this Thursday lunchtime.

Open to all and free to enter (see the Royal Ascot Facebook page or website), you have until 5pm. To borrow a joke from the competition’s organisers, that’s what you call dining “à la cart”.

A big screen adventure

Full credit to the National Trust for its attempt to engage young people with its “50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾” initiative. And, sure, no one could argue with a list that includes such harmless activities as “Roll down a really big hill”, “Play conkers” and “Fly a kite”.

There’s just one thing, though. While it is, of course, entirely admirable to try to “reconnect children with nature and the outdoors”, is it really essential that they should tick off each of their achievements on a “companion app”?

Can’t buy me love

ICYMI, a short time ago the Los Angeles Times published a piece that collated what US writers had to say about The Beatles when they first crossed the Atlantic in 1964. With Ringo doing the rounds to promote his latest LP last week and about to become the last Beatle to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, now seems as good a time as any to remind budding musicians not to take criticism too seriously.

“The Beatles are not merely awful; I would consider it sacrilegious to say anything less than that they are god awful.” William F Buckley Jr, Boston Globe.

“Not even their mothers would claim that they sing well.” Los Angeles Times.

“Visually they are a nightmare, tight, dandified Edwardian-Beatnik suits and great pudding bowls of hair. Musically, they are a near disaster.” Newsweek.

“Hoarsely incoherent.” The New York Times.

No rhyme or reason

Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:

As voters we are all free agents,

So we study all public engagements,

From the smooth to the rough,

But enough is enough,

Of the leaders’ domestic arrangements.