Feather Bowers at Just So

Go on try something new – a festival or camping?

Life’s still hard with the recession and we all need some fun and adventure in our lives, so for this month’s Lifestyle feature over on Radio Verulam with the lovely Danny smith on his Drivetime show, I talked about festivals and camping.

I first decided to got to a festival when Little Dimples was 18months (two years ago) and Curly Headed Boy was 5.  I’d NEVER been to a festival and felt a bit mortified by it.  I decided if we started now with the kids, they might TAKE ME when they go to Glastonbury in 15yrs time!

Since then I’ve actually become a fan of camping too.  We started glamping, but due to the cost my practical side chose camping with a touch of glamp last year.

Listen here to me chatting with Danny here:

 

Why Go?

Music is good for the soul, it feeds our spirit and gives us a much needed lift.  One thing you can be sure about is that the quality of the music will be MUCH better than anything you see on Xfactor.

It’s great for kids because they learn to sit and listen to music, and the festivals I go to they tend to get to chill, run around and dance.  If you go to a family festival there will be all sorts of lovely things for the kids to do as well.  CHB says that a 3day festival is like going on holiday for 10days!

If you are brave enough to go for several days and try camping it is even better.  There is something about camping and it’s closeness to nature which is relaxing and healing at the same time.  We tried a motorhome at the beginning of this year, but despite being more practical it just didn’t have the same benefits for me.

my son and me in a motorhome
Top bunk is always best

 

 

Tips and Concerns

I know it can be intimidating, so I’ve put together my top tips for you to get you inspired to go!

The biggest reason to go is if you haven’t done it before, then NOW is the time to try it.  Be ADVENTUROUS.  Make memories to look back on and say ‘I did that’!

 

1) Start Small and Local

The key is not to go to Glastonbury on your first year (although they do have a family area)!  Go for small ones (5000 and under).  Look for local one day festivals so that you don’t have to camp.

Local to me in hertfordshire are:

St Albans Folk Festival Sorry I didn’t manage to publish in time –  (22-23rd June) – terrible website btw guys!

Folk by the Oak – Hatfield House – Sunday 21st July – I’m really looking forward to this festival.  Check out this youtube of Kate Rusby:

Folk Stock – Aldenham country park – 21st September –

Here is a fab way of hearing all their artists on a sound cloud.

They have got my FAVE artist coming – JonPaul Palombo

Celtic Harmony do a Beltane (See my video review here) and Samhain Festival each year.

Plus we had loads of fun at Hoo Bookfest, so I really recommend that for next year.

 

2) Planning

Feather Bowers at Just So
You are never too old for a feather bower or hair garland!

Plan ahead so that you know what is on BUT also go with the flow as it can be too stressful to keep to a schedule.

Go with friends.

Explain to your kids about safety, and make sure that you have one of those wristbands with your mobile number on it.  Or this weekend at Britmumslive I was given a Kattoo which looks brilliant (tattoo for your mobile no).

Bring Ear defenders for the kids and a picnic blanket to sit on.

3) Family Festivals

It really helps your sense of safety if you go to a family festival.

Lollibop – This is a London festival with a big kids TV orientation.  I’ve never been, but I’ve heard that it is great.  It would probably be a bit too commercial for me.

Camp Bestival – This is in Dorset and looks to me to be incredibly well organised.  Again there is a bit of a Cbeebies theme going on.  It feels to me like they try to make sure that all the practicalities that a ‘middle class’ family would worry about are covered.

Just So – This is a magical, more artsy festival with a hugely magical vibe.  Here’s my mammoth review from 2012 (same location as this year, so you might like last year’s planning post too) and my review from 2011.

 

4) Weather and what to wear

An example of what I wore
Festival style from the back!

Remember this is all part of the adventure!  We went to the Penn Festival (eighties music) last year, which was more of a mudfest.  The kids LOVED it.  All you need to make sure is that they are covered from head to toe in water proofs.  We also had a small pop up tent, that we used near the stage.

Bring lots of layers so that you can take stuff on and off.

What to wear – Leggings or skinny jeans are the easiest, with a pretty dress or long top over them.  No heals, instead go for daps/wellies.  A flower garland is essential (BE BRAVE!).

Check out my what to wear to festivals post with lots of ideas for you and links to my Pinterest boards.

 

Money

I don’t like the ones with lots of things to spend money on like the Herts County Show, buy, or things that kids will want to do that cost a fortune; so we tend to avoid those ones.

What you can also do is give the kids a budget, so that they know they just have £x and that is all.

Food can be expensive, so make sure you take water, squash, snacks and fruit.  Check if breakfast is provided if you are camping otherwise brioche is fab.

 

Loos and Showers

Actually again because I go to small ones or family ones they aren’t too bad.  But always take LOO PAPER and anti-bacterial spray.

Some actually have great showers BUT you can get away with a day of showering with wet wipes (it’s not as bad as it sounds!).

 

Camping

How to make your tent look Glam
Camping with glamp

Take ear plugs (just incase you are near someone having too much fun or kids that wont sleep), a wooly hat, socks, and extra jumper for night time.

Bring something to put mudding shoes in, so that they don’t come in the tent.

If there are just a couple of you then you can get a festival kit ever so cheaply with everything that you need.  There is nothing wrong with going for ‘cheap’ shops like argos etc.

If you have a little more money to spend then check out the pop up tents (a bit tricky to put away) or the Vango blow up tent we have.

The best beds are the mats that puff up; air beds are actually cold.

Bunting is a MUST!

Here is my ultimate camping list (you don’t need it all!).

 

Finding

Festivals for all – great site for all types of festival

Festival Kidz – specifically for taking kids

Forestry Commission – I’m an ambassador for the FC and was gutted to realise too late that they do concerts.  How gorgeous to see someone like Olly Murs AND be in a forest.

 

At the end of the day

Go on, try it.  It’s fun.  It’s simple.  It’s pretty cheap in comparison to a package holiday.

And you’ll have something to tell your grandchildren that will give them the impression that you didn’t wash up all day long!

Have you started camping in the last few years?  What do you reckon?

Have I inspired you to try a festival this year?

 

Just So Festival

The Key To A Successful Family Festival

Just So FestivalI’m so excited, because I’m off to review Just So Festival this weekend (In Cheshire at Rhode Hall: doors open at 2pm on Friday and we get kicked out of the campsite on Mon at 11).

Last year was brilliant, but it was my first ever festival, so I had no idea what to expect.

Apparently I picked the best one, so I’m sticking with it!

I’m now a veteran as this is my 3rd ever family festival (there was the Mudfest at Pennfestival in between, and yes I am joking about the veteran bit!).

So I thought I’d tell you the key to a successful family festival:

Planning

AND

Going with the Flow

 

With no clue of what is on, and no plan of what to do you’ll keep arriving as things finish and miss what your kids would most love to do.

But you need to leave space for magic and adventure to find you as well, especially when we are talking Just So.

Be too organised, and the kids will be constantly on your case as to what is next.  They need to learn to chill and find the unexpected, but having a couple of plans up your sleeve will help to avoid the disaster of wandering aimlessly for a couple of days and not getting immersed in the festival.

So, I’ve been sitting down with Curly Headed Boy and I’ve come up with this plan (which I’ll mention at some point to the Hairy Northerner of course!).

This is just my plan, you might need a cuppa or a glass of wine and a couple of hours to make your own.  But I thought you might like some hints, especially if you are a first timer.

 

The Areas:

Here’s a quick summary of the different areas from what I can grasp from the online programme (expect changes, things to not be in the programme and surprises!):

Social: Food is looking good this year, I’m really impressed (basically everything I wanted last year is there this year!).  So I’m just planning on taking Tea, Friday night food, breakfast, juice, squash, snacks, fruit and maybe a spare meal for sunday just incase.  Just So is packed with things to do, so I don’t really want to have to go back to the tent and cook.  Other festivals don’t start until lunch time, so there is more time.

Jitterbug: Dancing and discos (I fancy the belly dancing and Curly Headed Boy wants to learn the Chitterbug or Jive)

Footlights: Some of the bands, but it looks like there is lots more music this year and I know one of my favourite bands is elsewhere.

Lazy Days: Don’t be fooled by the ‘lazy’, I reckon it’s going to be pretty energetic with the sports day and circus there.  I missed Capoeria last year, so really want to do it this year: (Friday 4-5pm Saturday & Sunday 10-11am & 4-5pm)

Nowhere Now: These look like fun things to pop in and experiment with, I remember Physics busters from last year and they were fab.

Peekaboo: Baby fun and some pampering from Weleda

40 winks: Looks like a fab chill out place with story telling and dens

Wild Things: Was popular with Curly Headed Boy last year and looks like there is even more fun to be had with bush crafting, den making and don’t underestimate making clay faces

All the worlds a stage: Don’t miss out on getting the kids to do their own imaginative face painting, lots for the more dramatic in the family here

Away with the fairies: a must, they’ve added loads to it this year, but be prepared for the queen to be popular to see (Friday 4-6pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am-12noon and 2pm-4pm)

Elsewhere: Looks like the fun eclectic stuff from Just So that you wander into and then slip away into a magical and slightly weird universe ;o)

High Seas: Pirate training was so brilliant last year and they’ve added loads more (Friday 4.30pm & 5.30pm or Saturday & Sunday 9am, 10am, 11am, 2pm & 4pm), I think that the fox pockets and stone balancing are appealing to me too, no idea why!

 

Tribes and Parades:

We are part of the fish tribe, which will I’m sure mean more on the festival, but we are definitely going to make the willow lanterns this year and get involved in the parades.  We missed out last year and only watched it and the kids were gutted.

 

Friday

Get all settled, let the kids play outside the tent, wander around getting our bearings (it’s changed location this year)

MUST DO: Jon Paul Palombo 6.30 on ‘all the worlds a stage’ (check out my a fab video of him here: gorgeous and brilliant!)

yoB: looks like they will really suit our friends (going on the music they enjoyed last year – OMG!): Fri 5.30-6.30

Saturday

Really fancy the fables and music with Fox pockets at the High seas Saturday 11.30am & 4.30pm

Robbie Boyd Band: Look like they could be brilliant Sat 7.30

The Lantern parade is Saturday at 9 – meet in Lazy Days from 8.30 for lantern lighting.

Sunday

Weekend Sun: Are a must, sounds really cool and funky Sun 4.30

Fiona Bevan: Sounds lovely, I think she could be the shining star of the show: Sunday 6.30

Eighties Disco – Yay!!!

The wild rumpus parade is at 7.30. Again, meet at Lazy Days.

Check out my tips on:

What to wear to a festival, and remember at Just So anything goes as long as it’s fun.  Sadly Wellies are going to be a must this year, but it’s looking pretty warm too, so don’t bring your winter clothes!

A brilliant festival/first timer tent, incase you need some ideas for next year.

Why family festivals are great if you still need some persuading or are worried.

Don’t worry about the Mud if it rains, we survived Mudfest and it was fun.

We are taking a radio flyer, and you can rent them from Trolley Tots and they are great with little ones (even the 6yo still uses it).

If you’re camping here’s my ultimate camping list!

UPDATE ON MY RETURN

Forgot to say take a picnic blanket as there probably wont be anywhere to sit (thank fully we always have one with us).

Plus extra wet wipes incase you don’t fancy queueing for showers (it’s only 3 days, you’ll survive I promise!)

Set your kids expectations as to how much they might be able to spend per day or the number or icecream vans; that will reduce the number of arguments when you get there and they see a few stalls full of lovely stuff.

 

Disclosure: Last year I went to the festival on my own steam, but this year I begged them to give me a family camping ticket and they very kindly agreed.  This doesn’t affect my opinion of the festival, I would have loved it anyway! 

 

Kids love muddy festivals

Don’t Go Thinking I’m More Adventurous Than You!

Kids love muddy festivalsI had a couple of lovely comments from Mums watching the funny stream of muddier and muddier instagram photos appearing during my visit to Penn Festival.  Many suggested how brave I was, or how well I was coping with mud up to the kids knees.

So I thought I’d set the record straight, because I don’t want you all reading my blog and thinking ‘Oooh isn’t she clever – I could never do that!’.

I am definitely NOT more adventurous than you!

Two years ago I’d never been camping and never been to a festival.  Not one tiny festival, even as a teenager or student.  How boring is that!

As part of my mid-life crisis I decided I was going to be more adventurous and do things I’d always wanted to do.  So I literally convinced myself that I was up for it by reminding myself regularly of how adventurous and magical my life was.

Last year, we went off for our first adventure to Just So in a Yurt (proper glamping to start me off slowly).  Finding it a huge success I decided that this year was going to be even more adventurous, and that I also wanted to try out holidays that were maybe simpler and cheaper so that I could review them for my blog.

Luckily for me it’s all been pretty easy.  The gorgeous Romany from FestivalKidz contacted me to review Penn Festival and hence I am now a ‘proper’ festivaller who has experienced a musical mud-fest extraordinaire, plus my first camping trip (check out the video of hubby putting up a tent in 3mins), and found that as long as I can make it look vaguely pretty I can handle anything.  (Especially with a shed load of lists!).

Hopefully I get so see what it’s like to go to a non-muddy festival in a tent later in the year as Just So have invited me back to review their new location and even more fabulous line up.  This time we are going for the full event and not leaving until the monday, so that we can soak up the whole magical environment; the organisers of Just So have the most incredible imagination when it comes to kids, so it’s bound to have LOADS of adventure in it.

In a few days I’m going to be able to let you know what it’s like to be in a mobile home holiday camp in Normandy care of the lovely people at Siblu.  I would always have wanted to try something like this, but I must admit I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to try something so different if they hadn’t contacted me.  So if you would also be nervous of ferries, and caravans in france, perfect, because I can let you know how it all pans out and you’ll know whether it would work for you too!

I’m really excited about seeing what Siblu is like because when we went for our first summer holiday last year I realised how ridiculously expensive it is if you want practical accommodation  for a young family (i.e. inter-connecting hotel rooms or studios).  We found a cheap holiday in Cyrpus in a studio apartment.  But one family I met had to pay for TWO studio apartments, just because they had 3 kids rather than two, literally doubling the price and therefore meaning they could only go for one week.  So although Siblu would be about the same price as that holiday (when you add in Ferries etc), it would be a totally different situation for people with more kids.  Plus if you don’t want to fly with your kids, it’s a perfect idea.

I’m not naturally adventurous.  I’m just 43, and decided that I’m done with thinking that all the adventure is for other people and not trying things out myself. I’m sure some won’t work out, but some will be great.

So when you see all the fab things I tell you about on my blog, rather than think ‘I’m not sure I could do that’, think instead ‘Well, if Lisa can do it, then so can I!’.

 

 

Family Festivals are fun to dress for

What To Wear To A Family Festival?

You’re packing the picnic basket, ear defenders for the kids and maybe even the tent if you are brave like us.

Perhaps you were inspired by my post on why family festivals are great?

But what’s worrying you is ‘OMG what am I going to wear to a family festival?

It’s not exactly glastonbury, and you probably don’t want to wear teeny shorts any more, but if you go in plain old boring stuff you might feel just as odd.

Here are my rules:

1) Colour is a must, but pick one that will mix and match for the whole weekend and NO white!

2) Flat shoes only! Wellies, Crocs, daps or pumps

3) Leggings or Skinny jeans (don’t get messy in the mud)

4) Lots of thin layers: vests, tunics, cardigans, coats, pashminas etc

5) Dress for summer and winter and wet weather: sun tan lotion, hats, water proofs and jumpers!

6) Pack wooly hats for the kids in the evenings to keep warm

7) Consider flower garlands, feather boa, wings, and face paint if you are feeling brave!

Last year I rocked the flower garland, feather boa, sparkly fit flops, gypsy shirt and short skirt + leggings combo, and my mate looked fab in cropped jeans, daps and a pretty skirt:

What I wore to a family festival

 

This year I’m planning on wearing this to the Penn Festival (Buckinghamshire) this weekend and probably again for the Just So Festival (Staffordshire) in august.

What to wear to festivals

The ‘luscious’ navy leggings, stripy top and pretty red flowy top are from Joe Browns.

The blue and red (I’m being brave this year) skinny jeans, with the two tunics are from Next.

What shoes and coats to wear to family festivals

 

The cropped jacket is gorgeous and is from Joe browns again.

The blue mac is from New Look (not sure if it is still available)

The blue cardigan, wellies, daps (I’ve actually got the non-ankle version) and bag are from Next.

The crocs (mine are pink) are from crocs obviously; I’ve always been a hater of crocs, but I have to admit these peep toes work (I was given them for winning a Brilliance in blogging award).

UPDATE: I’ve added a blue hoody with a zip and fleecy lining in a bigger size as I’m a bit worried about the weather!!!

 

Don’t like those?  There are loads more ideas for you on my Pinterest boards:

 

This is what the Little Dimples wore last year to Just So:

Family Festivals are fun to dress for

 

I was moaning that Next had let me down and there were no tutu’s this year when the Fairy Glass guys (the guys who I bought the pink wings from at Just So) offered to send her some new wings and tutu for this year (the blurring is her waving her matching wand – see it’s proper magic!):

 

Wear Fairy wings to festivals

 

Have you got any tips for what to wear?  I’d love to know?

Feel free to add links to your posts or Pinterest boards!

Or what about what NOT to wear?

 

p.s. I wasn’t given anything to mention these clothes in this post, but I have been given tickets to the festivals and the tutu and wings for Little Dimples

Family Festivals

Have you thought of going to a Family Festival this summer?

Family FestivalsI know many of you won’t be even considering the hundreds/thousands of pounds that it costs to go on holiday this summer.

You might also be struggling to take 7-14 days off work.

I’ve got a great alternative for you …

Hows about thinking about a Family Festival instead?

 

If you’ve never been to a festival before, it’s a great way to start.

If you went to festivals before having kids, why stop now?

 

A ‘Family Festival’ can mean lots of things, but basically it means that there will be music, but kids are expected and catered for.  Some are more ‘family’ than others.

I had the idea of going to a Family Festival last year because I’d never been to a festival before, so I thought maybe if we start now with the kids, they’ll invite us along with them to Glastonbury when they are teenagers!

We went in a yurt glamping, but this year we are going to try camping for the first time with a glamping twist (think bunting, and pretty colours!).  You can also just go for the day, or stay in a local B&B if you don’t fancy getting in touch with nature though.

To be fair to people who used to go to festivals when they were younger, it’s not going to be the same; getting drunk just isn’t practical when you have little ones to watch and lots of people around you.  The good news is that kids don’t mind mud and love tents, so as long as you are willing to compromise a bit, I reckon a family festival will be every bit as good as the ones that you used to go to.

We went to ‘Just So’ in Staffordshire in august and it was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G full of magic and imagination (here’s my review), with some great music in the evening.  Curly headed boy said that the 3 days felt like 10; so you see it is the perfect alternative to a holiday.  Apparently according to the stall holders who go to loads of festivals we were lucky to get the right one first time round, because it is definitely the best from a fun, safe and family perspective (i.e. it’s not about getting drunk or taking ‘other’ substances).  Luckily for me they’ve invited us back this year, but even if they hadn’t we would sooooo be going.    If you are a first timer and love magical things, then this is definitely the right festival for you, I’ve just checked their website and it’s looking even better this year.  We took a radio flyer, but this year you can rent them (brilliant idea), my favourite singer JonPaul Palombo is back in the acoustic tent, and it looks like it’s packed with the same sort of simple, slightly naive, and really funny things for the children to do.

This year we have also been invited to try out the Penn Festival in a couple of weeks, which is much nearer us in Buckinghamshire.  It’s much more of a music festival, with an eighties vibe, so perfect for me and the Northern one’s music tastes; I’m looking forward to Snap, Altered Images and The Beat most of all.  It sounds like it started out as a local thing and has expanded from there, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like.  It’ll be our first long weekend camping as well; lets hope this rainy weather isn’t all summer.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

If you can’t make it to Penn or Just So, never fear!  Check out these two sites for ideas on where to go:

Festival Kidz

Festivals for All.

 

Here are my 10 top tips for picking a Family Festival:

1) If you don’t want the extra cost of accommodation, choose somewhere nearby and pick one with entrance for just a day.

2) If you fancy staying over, there are always B&B’s or you can camp (tips on camping coming soon).

3) If you have a bit more money then go for a Yurt or a Bell tent already put up for you.

4) If your kids are young, find smaller family festivals, rather than the bigger obvious ones like Lollibop (London) or Camp Bestival (Dorset).

5) Check what is included, because the last thing you want to do is pay and then have to pay for the activities as well.

6) Check the reviews and avoid the ones where it is more about the stalls and selling of ‘stuff’.

7) Take snacks and water, because food will be expensive if you have to buy every meal.

8) Extend the trip by a couple of days and turn it into a weeks holiday to combine two things into one.

9) Safety is paramount – have some kind of sign/agreement to work out which adult is on watch at any one time, don’t just assume and make sure the kids have your mobile no on them.

10) Prams and pushchairs may not be viable.  Slings, backpacks and radio flyers work well.

 

I hope I’ve convinced you to try out a family festival this year and you have as much fun as we will.

I’m going to write a post with tips for what to wear to a festival, so don’t worry about that bit, plus some tips for first time campers like us.

I’d love your tips for festivals or links to places that you have been.  Feel free to add a blog post to your review if you’ve written one.

I’m just hoping that the weather improves; but I’m sure that we’ll get into the spirit of it all anyway!

Tops From Joe Browns For Mum To Wear at a 6yr Old Boy’s Party By PolkaDot Parties

How did that happen, Curly Headed Boy is now 6 years old? (Yes, it is a rhetorical question, I kind of get that time passes, I just never knew it could be so quick and never imagined what it would be like for him to keep getting older and older!).

Would you like an idea for a really unusual birthday party for your son/daughter?  Plus a fab top for you to wear and look great without being overdressed at the party? Great ….

Apparently the degree of stress that a parent feels on the day of a party, is proportionate to the amount of fun the child has, as Curly Headed Boy announced that ‘it was the best party ever in the whole wide world’ and that ‘can we do it again next year please Mummy?’!

We took a huge risk in organising a party that was going to be predominantly outside considering it’s November and last year it was snowing by now, so that was a big worry.  Plus of course it’s been a challenging week with the Big hairy northern hubby’s company thinking that just beforeChristmas is the ideal time to make someone redundant.  But the thing is that we met the lovely Lindsey from PolkaDot Parties when she did ‘Outlaw bootcamps’ at the Just So Festival last year and it was definitely Curly Headed Boy’s favourite part of the Festival.  I cheekily sent her a Facebook message asking if she fancied doing a party down here and hey presto it was so.  Luckily considering the week I had, Lindsay did all the party bags for us, and turned up really early to help.  Then she was off, teaching them how to hide and sneak, then forage for their food (hidden in little cardboard boxes in a tree), and back inside to learn a play about Robin hood to show the parents later.  They say that when it’s windy it makes kids and dogs go a bit crazy, and that definitely seemed to be true, so after a little while back inside we decided that practicing the play outside was better, so out they went again!  The final performance was fab, Curly Headed Boy (robin hood of course) got to marry Maid Marrion and the world was set to rights.

Another tip I have for you is to have cupcakes made (there is a local Mum who made gorgeous ones for us with bows and arrows, targets and robin hood hats on them), use them as ‘the cake’ by putting candles in them, and then hand them out with the party bags.  It saves a lot of time, and is great if like Curly Headed Boy your child thinks they like cake, but are in fact really fussy and don’t like it much.  Or a cheaper option is to buy a standard flat cake and get a picture made for you to go on top, I’m sure many supermarkets will do it for you.

In the meantime, it really wasn’t as stressful as it sounds, although organising parties when Little Dimples is around and escaping can be a little problematic.  The in-laws and sister-in-law had kindly come down for a visit and helped out loads; we had the boxes to assemble and jam/cheese sandwiches to make, plus carrots and grapes to cut and balloons to blow up, then banners to put up and late families to direct (I’m suspecting they might not be so keen next year!).

At least I was dressed in the perfect top for an Outlaw party, as it’s a little bohemian.  It can be a bit tricky to look like you made an effort, but not look over the top at things like a children’s party or coffee morning for school mums, and I think that this top from Joe Browns is the perfect option (big thank you to them for not thinking I was a cheeky blaggerwhen I asked for some clothes!).

The colours are lovely, and I felt really pretty in it.  It was my second wear, as I wanted to see how it washed, and the great news for a non-domestic goddess like me is definitely no ironing required!

Plus, it’s the perfect top for breast-feeding in as well as Little Dimples is what they call ‘an extended breast feeder’ and I’m really not keen on breast-feeding tops, which seem to me to be either too expensive or too drab.

Make sure you keep your eye on my blog next week as I’m going to be having a competition for this gorgeous Joe Browns coat worth £89.95.

(If you don’t know how blogs work, check out this page on how to not miss a thing).

 

Blogs

I’m a Blogger Blagger, fancy joining me?

So loads of people have been commenting about whether bloggers in general are blaggers, or whether it’s just the new ones, just mummy bloggers or just a small group or large group of them.

Then there was a particular incident where a ‘Real Mum’ (how self-righteous is that title) decided to have a go at a Mum who had missed a problem her daughter had.  Us bloggers tend to cover our embarrassment and shame with humour, and ‘Real Mum’ didn’t understand the psychology of it, so just decided to lay into the Mum.  Of course what this does is create a scenario where loads of people come to rescue the ‘victim’ and it all escalates.  Included in this conversation was an attack on the ‘new bloggers’, blah blah blah.

It’s a pretty typical Mummy Blogger rant about how some people are better than others etc etc.

Officially a blagger is basically a scrounger.  The feeling is that they ask for too much for free, and they are a pain wasting people’s time.  There is a sense that they are asking for too much and not giving in return and with no discernment.  There is that feeling that they are asking for something that they probably don’t deserve or haven’t earn’t.

So let me set a few things straight.

  1. We are ALL blaggers somewhere in our lives.  If you aren’t blagging on your blog, you are doing it somewhere else, it just might be somewhere more socially acceptable or subtle.
  2. It’s always wise to aim for a fair deal where anything is concerned, and in this case that the PR, company with a product, blogger and reader wins.  It’salways going to catch up with people if they don’t follow this rule, and you don’t have to do anything in order to make sure of it.
  3. It’s crazy in a recession to be self-righteous about earning money or being valued for your time as an entertainer/writer/blogger.  It’s not bad to get something in return as well as the enjoyment of writing.
  4. You don’t get much unless you ask.  Just because you aren’t tweeting, doesn’t mean you aren’t asking.  If you are on any kind of blogging list or using any kind of SEO you are basically putting yourself out there to be found.

So I’m going to confess.  I’M A BLAGGER.

I’m not of the old school, my blog was started in 2009.  So I’m also not of the new school of Mummy blogs.  I have some street cred blogging wise, but there are people who get thousands more hits a month than me.  But I’ve definitely blagged.  There are also times in my life where I didn’t blag.

How can I say that everyone has blagged?  Be open minded for a minute and look back over your life.  Did you ever blag clothes, food, money or stuff from your parents?  Did you ever blag to get a job?  Did you ever blag to keep a job?  Have you ever asked your kids to do something, go somewhere or get ready for bed/dinner/bathtime without really offering something in return?  Have you ever pretended that you were in complete control of the situation with your kids, but weren’t really?  Have you ever asked your husband to buy you something that was probably too expensive, but you ‘really needed those shoes/handbag’.  Did you ever cover up a haircut?  In the case of anonymous bloggers, isn’t there a sense of them pretending to be someone?  In fact don’t all of us do that a bit, as most of us have rules about what we don’t blog about.  Have you ever pestered someone to get something done, at work or at home?  Rather than think that you have never done it, just look for where you did.

Here are some examples from me:

I failed at blagging when it comes to money, rent free living, car etc from my parents, whereas my brothers got all that stuff.  But I did come out of it more independent and financially stable, so it worked for me long term.

I totally blagged my first job, it was a recession, I’d just graduated and I phoned up a company for a consultancy job I didn’t have the experience for.  Someone told me a week ago that they heard me as a 20yr old saying ‘You’ve got to interview me, because otherwise you’ll miss out on a really hard worker’; what a cheek!  I feel that my 13 yrs in IT was a blag.  I might have become a ‘global technical specialist’, but it was actually because I did work hard, and not because I was a techie at heart.

As a blogger I blagged the most amazing competition prize from The Wagon company, and in return I got nearly 600 reads of my post, The Wagon company got more hits, more learning about social media and some great contacts, and one of the 126 people who applied for it got £180 worth of Red Radio Flyer.  I count it as a blag as I hadn’t done a competition before, and suggested it to the company after they approached me to use a picture of my daughter in our wagon.  Plus I was really lucky that I had a relationship with some family festivals who were happy to let me mention it on their walls, so I got lots of mentions.

I don’t do many reviews, normally it’s of stuff I’ve bought already.  Mainly because I do them on a whim and can’t be bothered for a few pounds.  So I’m not just a blagger, but I’m an expensive disorganised blagger.  I can’t really be self-righteous about the fact that I don’t accept many of the offers I get, or that I don’t take free stuff from events, because I’m just a choosey blagger, that’s all.  Plus, if I was more organised, I’m sure that I could review products that I need and it would work out for everyone.  It’s a bit like the fact that there are people who earn a living from competitions, and one of the reasons is that loads of us don’t enter competitions because we don’t think we will win.  They don’t win all of them, but they enter so many that it works out to be viable.

I have just blagged an £89 gorgeous coat for my readers (watch this space, because it’s going to be in a competition in a couple of weeks).  To be honest the lovely ‘Best British Bloggers‘ offered to connect me, after I cheekily tweeted that I loved Joe Brown’s stuff, and had lost weight and couldn’t afford to buy a new coat, so did anyone know how to contact them.  This is still true, however in the rules of wiseness that I mentioned above I’ve now suggested to them that we might all gain more fairly if I do a competition (sob sob, shiver shiver).  So they agreed, and have kindly thrown in a consolation prize of a top for me to review.  It’s totally a blag according to the rules of the game, because I tweeted the company name and was there anyone who could get me a free coat.  No I haven’t done many such tweets, part from a blog post about how much I love IKEA, which didn’t work.  However, it was really cheeky considering the price of the coat, and although it will work with one of the themes of my blog, there are people out there with more hits that might work better for the company.

My blagging is going really well because of the MADs win.  Someone with three times my readership asked me to write a guest post about being a successful blogger, and I agreed.  I decided that if that’s the way people wanted to see it I wasn’t going to argue with them, even though it was really only down to a very beautiful glass ornament.  In reality I blagged the glass ornament by asking my readers to vote for me, several times, and maybe a few more times, and did a silly video.  Because of the blag that got me a MADS win, I’ve won a Netbook, which I’m seriously considering giving away as a competition prize to my readers because of the wiseness rule I mentioned above and because I’m about to ask for something else from my readers.  You see; another blag.

Stop worrying about other people blagging, it’s a waste of energy.  It’s a phase, people will grow out of it.  Things will change.  New ways of blagging/PR requesting/making relationships with companies will come and go.  Yes, it puts us into disrepute, but the media will always find a new way to have a go at Mums or bloggers anyway.  There will aways be blaggers.  We will all blag free stuff somewhere in our lives.  Blagging will continue.  It has it’s uses.  When misused it backfires.

What’s most important is that we are all MUMMY bloggers (i.e. Mums who blog, please don’t get all het up about the fact that you happen to be a Mum and a blogger and that I’m not distinguishing between them).  So we are all MUMS.  What this world needs is stronger MUMS.  It needs MUMS who stand together despite their differences and say that we are a force to be reckoned with.  Mums are where everything starts.  It’s where the family starts and that’s where society grows from.  We are REALLY important.

Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t have much clout out there in society.  They don’t value us much, we don’t get the pick of the resources from the governments, and the media totally enjoys taking a hit at us.  So what do we do.  Do we give other Mums the benefit of the doubt, imagining that we might do the same if we were standing in their shoes?  No, we slag each other off.  No I don’t imagine that we can stop being judgemental, just maybe that we could stop being judgmental of Mums.

I’m not suggesting we stop disagreeing either.  It’s just that there is disagreeing, and there is trying to make sure the other person knows you are right.  There is discussion and there is bullying.  There is open and interesting exchanging of views and there is ridiculous mud throwing.  There is politeness and there is the use of inflammatory words that will piss people off and upset them.  There will always be mistakes in communication.  The key is to own up when we piss people off and not keep trying to defend out ‘rightness’ in making it look like we were criticising someone.  It’s about being secure in the knowledge that we are all different and that is OK.

My final blag is that I’ve written a book.  Some people think this is amazing to have been able to write a book.  To be honest it feels like another blag to me as it is a Kindle book, and I love to write, infact I’ve got another 10 books sitting in my head.  But I know that my intentions are true, even if it is a blag.  This blag could help a pile of Mums who are overwhelmed to get less stressed and enjoy being a Mum more.  It could bring back the sparkle to their lives.  So it’s a blag worth doing.  Oh and it’s a blag that will be out next week, and following that on other ebook readers, and then paper back.  Oh and it’s a blag that will only cost 99p, so it’s a no brainer as far as far as I reckon it.

So I’m all sorts of things that make people cringe.  I’m a Mummy.  I’m a Mummy Blogger.  I’m a Blagger.  I’m judgemental, but I’m trying my hardest to stand in the shoes of other Mums and give them the benefit of the doubt.  I make mistakes, but try to own up to them and not get defensive.

You are also all of those things, but are you aware of it?  Or are you spending too much time in your neighbours business?  Or are you interested in making a change, using your blaggness for good?

I’ve got a plan for 2012.  It’s a HUGE blag.  It’s to do with getting Mums together, and showing how powerful and important we are.  It’s going to encourage Mums to proudly stand together in their differences (not against Dads, or none Mums, just together).  I need some fellow blaggers …. let me know if you can blag enough to make a big enough difference.  I need blaggers with influence, blaggers with something inspiring to say, and blaggers with connections.  I’d like to connect to other blaggers also interested in the same issue too.  I don’t want to reinvent the wheel, more combine a pile of wheels into a juggernaut for change.  I’m not going to explain how/why/what yet, it’s a secret for a little longer, but if you are interested let me know and we can start the ideas growing.

 

Amazing Competition: For a Radio Flyer!

I am soooo excited!  My first every competition is going to be for the most amazing prize, a Radio Flyer from The Wagon Company.

What is a Radio Flyer you might ask, and why would I want one?

Well initially I just thought that it looked like a nice red trailer that my kids might like to play with, but which was maybe a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘must have’.  However, since buying one, it’s definitely one of those ‘must haves’ that I know my kids will have happy memories of until they are old and grey.

We saw it mentioned a few times on a forum about going to family festivals.  Hubby got on the case immediately and started investigating types of tyres, and lots of technical stuff that I totally zoned out from (like you do!).  He decided we definitely needed the bigger, and better option, and I was a little cynical, but kind of went along with him.  However, how right was he!

If you ever go for long walks, or have kids who like to collect stuff when out walking, or have old dogs who need a rest, then you need one of these.  If you are going camping or to a festival, or have more than 1 child to transport without pushchairs, then you so need one of these!  Or if you don’t have any excuse, apart from the fact that it looks fun, then you totally need one!

It’s first job was to transport all our stuff from the car to our Yurt at the Just So Festival (read my post about it, if you have ever wondered about going to a family festival, I really recommend it).  Without it life would have been tough, even though there were the wheelbarrows provided.  Next year we are going to try and camp in one of the Glades at Just So, which is a much further walk, so we will definitely need it.

Then it was the carry all the ‘stuff’ we were carting around with us, when the kids wanted to run around.

Then it was a general carry both of the children when they are tired (Curly Headed Boy was 5.5yrs and Little Dimples was 1.5yrs at the time).  I was amazed at how sturdy it was, as we went up and down hills, over bumps and all sorts and it didn’t tip over at all.

 

Then it was the sleepy place for Little Dimples on the friday, Saturday and Sunday lunch time.  Fabulous, just look at her!  I was so worried about fitting stuff in the car, but with all the camping equipment I really didn’t want to bring the pushchair as well, so it was a bit of a risk, but she slept brilliantly in the wagon.

It’s the ‘Big brother looks after little sister’ option too, as he loves to wheel her around in it.  Bizarrely, Little Sister is incredibly strong, so it is also the ‘Little Sister gets to push Big Brother around’ game.

So, it’s ended up being one of the best buys we ever made; and you can now WIN one!

Next year we are totally planning on going back to the Just So Festival, plus a pile more.  If you think you might like to try some out too, then check out these sites for more info.  I think that it’s a really fun way to spend the summer, maybe even better than a traditional holiday:

Conditions of the competition

  • Because I think this is such a fabulous prize, this competition is going to be open for 2 weeks until midnight on Oct 4th.
  • To enter, just put a comment below with your email address (which will be hidden), so that I can contact you
  • I will use a random generator to work out which person has won
  • You don’t have to like my facebook page, but you might want to, just to make sure you don’t miss out on any other competitions or blog posts
  • You don’t have to like the Wagon company’s facebook page, but its a good idea, just incase you don’t win this time and you get a chance to win another competition
  • Sorry, you do need to be in the UK
  • I will contact the winner, and post a blog post with your name, and need your address to send the wagon to

 

Just So Festival

Video Wed: My First Festival, What a Corker: Just So!

Just So FestivalWow, what a magic thing twitter is!  One day a few months ago I said I wanted to go to a family festival and asked for advice, having never been to any (I know that’s a bit tragic).  Go to Just So they said; so we did!

Verdict: BEST family festival ever, what a brilliant one to start with!  (Please don’t sell it to someone else, because you guys definitely have the magic touch and creative imaginations which add a touch of magic to the festival).

Curly Headed Boy’s Verdict (5 3/4yrs): BEST HOLIDAY EVER, felt like 11 days!

Best way to approach it: With no plan, just mooch around and find the right thing at the right time.  It didn’t work well to have a plan or try to stick to a timetable.  Partially because it would mean trying to get across a large area quickly and partially because many of the events didn’t really stick to time plans.

Accommodation: We glamped in style with a Yurt from Fred.  I can totally recommend this, as arriving at the festival and being able to dump all our stuff and head off to investigate straight away was fab.  Plus, having straight sides has the added advantage of the big hairy northern one of being able to stand up (unlike a bell tent).  Also, he was a thoroughly lovely, with an eccentric, intellectual, ‘hmmm not sure I can be bothered to make money out of this’ sort of guy, who apparently chose to rent his yurts to people more because of their enthusiasm, than to make a living from it.  My pink whistling kettle was fabulous of course.

Take with you: We bought a radio flyer (big one), which was fabulous for carrying stuff to the tent, for carrying 2 tired kids, and for Little Dimples to sleep in (I hate to admit it, but the big northern one was right about this purchase!).  I recommend wellies, fit flops, leggings + short skirt (can cool off it it gets hot), hoody fleece and a pashmina/scarf.  Add in a feather bower, flower garland for your hair, and maybe a pair of wings from the fairy glass stall, and you are ready to festival!

Stars of the show: Ironically, the simplest things were the best stars of the festival.

  • Clay faces: These guys came to our rescue when the fairy queen let us down, you can see us making them in the photo for this blog.  They had officially finished, but spent extra time to make a face with Curly headed boy.  Please have more of their sessions next year!
  • Outlaw bootcamp: This girl had an amazing ability with the kids.  Curly Headed boy knows all about sneaking now!
  • Parkour: My god can this guy jump high.  I love the philosophy of free running, check out the video below to see what they do. (Kindle readers, look up Free Running Concrete Circus on youtube).
  • Physics Busters: Simple, but effective.  Curly Headed Boy went back to their stall several times because he loves ‘experiments’.
  • Jumblies: we ran into the green faced, blue handed jumblies and ended up following them into wonderland.  Bizarre and brilliant, they were a good example of the surprises at this festival.  Plus they managed everything with technical problems.
  • Steven Cole Author of Astrosaurs was another surprise find, and absolutely hysterical.  A high point was when Curly Headed Boy asked him if he would like to get shot by his new bow and arrow.  Obviously, we now own lots of his books.
  • The Tall Trees area: Was my favourite, a hidden magical area with an old painted piano, dib dab & sparkle (do your own face painting), and bed time stories (which stopped 2hrs early, which was a shame).
  • Stalls: unique, interesting and genuinely nice people.

Zilch Marks Goes to: Fairy queen.  There was really no need to queue for her, the kids just wanted to wave at her.  She didn’t look that magical and her assistant didn’t look magical at all (there were much more enthusiastic festival goers).  She also shut early (2hrs) on the saturday.

Music

  • Les Peches – loved these guys and had a truly peaceful, magical moment listening to them with the family.  (You guys need a better youtube page, then I could have put a song up for you: I loved waikiki beach).
  • Jon Paul Palombo – I was a huge fan already because he’d said hello on twitter.  But now I’m totally convinced he will make it to be really famous, because of the way he managed with no power on the saturday, which shows true class.  Obviously, I had to go and see the band again on sunday, just to check out what they sounded like again (nothing to do with the big hairy one thinking I thought they were cute looking).
  • The Lovely Eggs – I didn’t get these guys, but 5yrs olds totally did.  Apparently they were ‘rocking’.  Hmmm, I have yet to be convinced, have a listen below and I think you will see why they appealed to the 5yr olds.  For me they were a hell of a shock after the lovely acoustic stuff I’d been listening to before, especially when she started out by kicking her guitar!
  • 70’s disco – class!
  • 80’s disco – didn’t start on time on the sunday, so we missed it :o(

Check out JonPaul Palombo’s debut single – Jimmy – after the audience participation bit, it is now permanently wedged in my brain.

The Lovely Eggs – tell me if you get them?

What didn’t work: I think the organisers have an amazing imagination, the place looked like a magic wood, with the most incredibly little touches.  But I don’t think they are so good at the practicalities or managing an event of this size.  I’m sure they’ll get it more right next year.

  • Showers would have been good, and more of them!
  • Food: Too expensive, which I didn’t expect after the forum posts suggesting it would be cheap, so I hadn’t brought any.  Plus it wasn’t really as child friendly/simple as I would have liked.  Some pasta, jacket potatoes, and more fruit would have been great.  Plus many didn’t open in time for breakfast and disappeared early on sunday.  A plain old fashioned bacon bap van like you get at outside shopping malls would have been great!  Thank god for Dorset Cereals (free boxes), Bear snacks (first time Curly Headed Boy has liked dried fruit), and the organic food box people (selling apples).
  • More of the simple/popular stuff: There were some great events which could have run all day.  Like the clay faces, and outlaw bootcamp.

Luckily the stuff that needed improving really didn’t bother us, as we were looking for an adventure and a touch of magic, and we certainly got that.  So if you haven’t been to a festival, then I really recommend you try out Just So as your first one.  If you have been to them, but want something really family oriented, then this is definitely for you.  In fact I reckon everyone would love it.  See you there next year!

(This is not a sponsored post)