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?

 

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!’.

 

 

A Blast From The Past To Get You Up Dancing: Penn Festival

I’m EXCITED.

You might have noticed that after my ‘why family festivals are fab‘ post and ‘what to wear to a family festival‘.

It’s quite likely I could become a bit of a festival bore!  Nah, you love me anyway don’t you?

(If you are actually loving it, make sure you keep an eye on the sidebar  of my blog or Facebook page over the weekend: I’m going to be posting loads of photos and hopefully a couple of funny videos!)

It’s potentially a bit daft getting excited about camping with two young kids in the rain and dealing with big melt downs when I really want to be listening to some music.  However, I’m going to chill, not worry about getting wet/cold (I have hot water bottles!), and hope that the music will heal all ills!  (Plus I have a big box of wine, which will work if nothing else does!).

So I thought I’d share with you some of the line up for this weekend’s Penn Festival (BTW Friday night is FREE – so come on down!).

I bet it’s going to bring back some memories and get you jigging this wet friday morning!

 

First off the fabulous ‘Soul to Soul’ (I could never work out how many were dancers and how many were actually singing in this video!)

 

SNAP! were apparently brilliant and I’m really looking forward to seeing them:

 

Hows about a bit of SKA from The Beat (Curly Headed Boy is going to love these guys)?

 

A classic is Rozalla’s ‘Everybody’s free’

 

Or a bit more chilled is ‘The real thing’

 

And not one could forget ‘Altered Images’

 

Check out Penn’s Facebook page to see some of the other bands who might be less well known, but sound fab.

 

Are you going too?  I’d love to hear from you if you are; say hi on twitter!

 

 

 

 

 

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!