Never been to a Folk Festival? Nows the time to try it …

I can’t believe it was so long ago that we went to Folk By the Oak 2013 at the beginning of the summer in July.

Folk By Oak
Folk By Oak

I’m a fan of family festivals as you know, but I’ve never been to a ‘folk’ festival, so I was intrigued to see what it would be like.

I needn’t have worried and I can tell you now that if you aren’t sure about going along to a big family festival, then this is definitely the chilled way to go!

Also, if you live in London it’s so easy to get to as well because you just walk straight out of the train station and up the road to Hatfield House – perfect.

Kids love the folk music as there is something in it that reminds us of our roots and gets us jiggling.  Plus folk festival goers are intrinsically well behaved, so it’s the perfect option for a family.

The BIG TIP that I discovered was not to sit in the throng of things and expect the kids to stay with you, but instead sit off to one of the sides, where there are more kids and some space for them to run around.  Check out my other tips here.

Children Play At Festival
Children Play At Festival

Plus I gave them both a budget, so that we had a look around at all the stuff and then they had to pick and choose.  This way, it wasn’t all about them doing stuff all through the day, but they got to chill and listen to the music or play.

Hows about the music?  There was some fun traditional folk music, which I really enjoyed.  But much of it was more lovely voices singing – simple as.  Then there was the guy with the electronic guitar, which Curly Headed Boy loved; definitely a new way of listening to ‘Strawberry Fair’!

 

Now that you are gutted that you didn’t go, I have some good news for you!

To finish off the summer you can go to Folk Stock on Sat Sept 21st at Aldenham Country Park.  Doors open at 10.30 and it finishes at 11.30pm.  Folkstock is slightly different in that it is not just folk, but also acoustic artists, and the amount of choice is going to be phenomenal.

Check out their wicked jingle (I KNOW how cool is it that they have a jingle!) .. <listen here>

Plus, there is a big bonus in that we will be launching Espiritu, our new Salon and Spa there – so you can come and get free hair consults, hair colours in your hair (using hair chalks), braids, reflexology or indian head massage.  Come on over and we’ll give you a bit of a pamper and pep up!

My FAVOURITE artist of all time is coming woo hoo …

 

JonPaul Palombo
JonPaul Palombo’s greatest fans!

Check out his classic song ‘Jimmy’ which gets the audience dancing every time …

 

Check out some of the other folk/acoustic music here and you will see what a mixture it is going to be.

 

And if you are fascinated by why folk music has a enthralling magic to it, then check out this radio show by Tamsin Rosewell where she looks at some of the artists at Folkstock.  She explains it much better than I can – there is just something very ‘ancient’ in the music that we can all enjoy, even if you are normally clubbing it on a saturday night or listening to Xfactor.  Plus she has a lovely way about here; I’ve listened to this show several times while chilling out reading a book at the end of a hectic day.

 

In a summer holiday that has frankly been difficult as we’ve been working all through it, without the money for camps etc, Folk by the Oak was a lovely treat to start the summer with and Folkstock will be a great way to round it off.  We didn’t manage to go to any bigger festivals this year, or go camping, so I’m really chuffed that we’ve found this slightly easier alternative.  Hope to see loads of you in a couple of weeks at Folkstock!

 

Disclosure: I’m part owner of Espiritu, so clearly I’m going to pimp it out!  I was given a family ticket to Folk by the Oak, but I would have gone anyway, and we have also got a family ticket for Folkstock, but again I would have gone anyway – don’t tell them that though!

 

My Big Secret Project Is …….

I’m at last going to tell you what my ‘Big Secret Project’ is!

It might seem a bit random, but I’ll explain myself in my next vlog, as it’s a really interesting story of how things all add up together sometimes.

So drum roll please …….

(Oh yes and as you can see Little Dimples was REALLY helpful with the whole videoing process – not!).

 

 

Great books for mums

Hoo’s Kid’s Book Fest: Meet Jonathan Meres and WIN TICKETS!

Great books for mums
Books, books, books …

What’s a book festival I wondered when I saw that Luton Hoo has a book festival on Sunday 21st April.

“I’ve been to music festivals with the kids, maybe I should take the kids” I thought?

Then they invited me, wicked!!  So I’m going to be able to tell you about it, but I’m also really hoping to convince lots of local people to come along too.

The reason being:

Children’s authors tend to be really funny and really cool, and they get the kids excited in ways that we as ‘boring parents’ can’t possibly do.

I know this because Bowmansgreen where Curly Headed Boy goes to school invited Timothy Knapman for World Book Day, he inspired CHB and SIGNED A BOOK for him and since then CHB has moved up from those skinny books you get at school to proper ‘take a few days to read‘ books.

Books are my escape, my rest, my rejuvenation, my sanity creator in a world of chaos.

Children need that escape.

 

But let me show you by introducing Jonathan Meres to you, the creator of ‘The World of Norm’.  He’s one of the authors who will be at Hoo Book Fest, along with a tent for Roald Dahl, Beast Quest and the Famous Five, plus an illustrators tent, and creative writing tent.

Read to the bottom because there is a COMPETITION where you could win tickets to the festival!!!

For more author intro’s checkout:

James Mayhew on Hertfordshire Mummy on Tues 26th March.

Guy Parker-Rees on Dorky Mum on Wed 27th March.

David Melling on Being a Mummy on Thurs 28th March.

 

****************

 

Hello.

Jonathan Meres
Jonathan Meres

My name is Jonathan Meres.  I write books and stuff and I can honestly say that I’m really looking forward to being part of this year’s Hoo’s Kids Book Festival. Bet you think I say that about every festival or event I’m invited to, don’t you? Go on, admit it.  You do, I know you do.  I’d probably think exactly the same thing myself if I was reading this.

Well you shouldn’t be so cynical.  OK, fair enough – so even if I wasn’t looking forward to it, I wouldn’t be so insensitive as to actually say so.  I’m not stupid.  I’d probably come out with some waffly non-specific guff about the festival’s growing reputation and the chance to meet some new readers and blah blah whatever.  But the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is that I’m genuinely looking forward to it.  And I’ll tell you why.

Firstly, I’ve never really been to Luton.  I’ve passed through it countless times – either on the train to and from London when I was growing up in The East Midlands – or nowadays when I fly down from Edinburgh.  Not to mention skimming past numerous times on the M1.  But passing through somewhere isn’t the same as actually going there.

When I left school and joined the merchant navy, I went to many different ports in many different countries all around the world.  The list of places I’ve set foot in is admittedly impressive.  Well, if you’re impressed by that kind of thing it is anyway.  The list of places I’ve actually been to, however – as in really visited and got to see – is considerably less impressive.  Technically I’ve been to Rio De Janeiro.  But I haven’t really seen Rio De Janeiro, other than the dockside.  I don’t intend to make the same mistake in Luton.  And yes, I know there isn’t a dockside in Luton, but that’s not the point.  The point is, I don’t want to look back on Luton in years to come with the same feeling of intense regret as I look back on Rio now.  And there’s a sentence I was never expecting to write.

The second reason I’m looking forward to coming to Hoo’s Walled Garden so much?  Well the clue’s in the name.  It’s a walled garden.  Not a fenced garden.  Not a railinged garden.  Not an open-plan garden.  An actual walled garden.  I love walled gardens.  No, really I do.  There’s something very special about them.  Something nostalgic and yes, something magical about them too.  Sun-dials glinting in the moonlight?  Clocks striking thirteen?  Edwardian children gallivanting about, being all…well, Edwardian basically?

Now at the time of writing I haven’t looked online to try and find any actual images.  I may be way off the mark.  Maybe it’s not that magical, or special at all.  Maybe it’s just a common or garden garden.  With a common or garden garden wall around it.  But somehow I doubt it.  So I’m going to spend the next month building it up and up in my head.  And right now, Hoo’s Walled Garden feels like the perfect location for a children’s book festival.  And frankly, if there isn’t a cantankerous old Scottish gardener waging an ultimately futile one-man war against the rabbits when I get there?  There’ll be trouble.

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Competition!

Win 1 family ticket (4 tickets minimum one adult) to Hoo Bookfest by adding a comment to say which event your children would love most.

The competition ends on Sunday 31st March at midnight.

You can enter again by tweeting, and following Hoobookfest and myself on twitter and Facebook.

UPDATE: Isabel Thomas you are the winner!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

 

 

Competition terms and conditions

We have 1 family ticket (4 tickets minimum one adult) to give away and the lucky winner will be chosen at random.  

This giveaway closes on Sunday March 31st at midnight and the winner will be notified by email.

Make sure your email is correct in the comment that you add, otherwise we will not be able to contact you to send tickets.

– Within 7 days of notification the winner(s) is required to email confirmation of acceptance of the prize to Mummy Whisperer, along with a postal address in the United Kingdom to which the prize can be sent.  If the winner doesn’t provide such confirmation their entry will be disqualified and an alternative winner will be chosen.

-The winner(s) consents to their name being displayed on this site

-The prize cannot be transferred and no cash alternative is available.

-The decision of Lisa Pearson will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.

 

Disclosure: I’ve been given a family ticket to the festival and this ticket for a competition for my readers.  But I was excited about it beforehand, so it hasn’t affected my opinion.

 

Card made by kids

Tips on getting the right gifts without spending a fortune!

I was asked to come up with top tips for people worried about what to by for friends and loved ones from Christmas and Birthdays by the lovely Danny Smith from Radio Verulam‘s drive time show (92.6FM).

It’s a tough job to come up with a present or gift that you can afford, and that they love getting.  But it’s not impossible!  My last post was about presents for children, this one is for the grown ups in your life.

If you prefer to hear Danny and I talking than read this post, check out the link at the bottom.

 

How to cut costs and still send great presents:

 

Benefits Cuts

1) The first rule is don’t go into debt for christmas, unless you are sure you can pay it off the next month.  No one is worth over spending for; in fact I can pretty much promise you that the present will go wrong if you spend too much.

2) If you are struggling financially, especially at Christmas, then cut all the budgets for presents in half.  You can often buy a great present for 50% of what you used to spend e.g. £30 vs £15.  It might take some extra effort, but it’s still possible.

3) If things are really bad have an honest chat with your friends and family; no friends who are worth anything will mind not getting an expensive present or not getting anything at all.  Just ask if you can skip this year, or do a secret santa with a price limit of £5 or £10, which means loads of thought.

4) Cut postage costs at christmas with a thoughtful email with photos and interesting info (not showing off stuff!) or send online cards.  (Some people also make a donation to charity)

5) Hand made presents are still appreciated: some people make lovely candles, cakes, tarts, or a scrap book with photos in it.

6) Do something for them instead e.g. some DIY or fixing something.

7) Don’t over spend on food; it’s not about making sure you become lardy bloaters.  I do my shopping online so that I can keep going back and double checking my 2 christmas food shops (one for big long lasting stuff, the other for perishables).

8) For parties or Christmas dinner ask people to bring something; it’s lovely to feel like you’ve contributed to a meal and helped out.  It’s easy to, as they could bring cheese and biscuits/pudding/starter/wine/chocolates etc.

9) Don’t get conned into spending lots of money on Christmas decorations; they really don’t have to match of have a theme.  Make some if you have none, and then buy them in the sales on Boxing Day for next year.  Remember the Pound shops will help you out with getting loads of buck for your money.  DONT GO TO THE GORGEOUS GARDEN CENTRE GROTTO unless you have your bank with you!

Important Information For Dads

Card made by kidsYes, you may have talked about not spending money on each other at Christmas or for birthdays, but always buy something.  You can get hand creams, pretty bracelets/rings, or a bunch of flowers for £5.

Remember EACH child buys a present for each parent.  So if you have more than 1 child, it is more than one present.
If the kids are young make sure that they MAKE CARDs for mum, covered in as much glitter, goo and stuff as possible to show how much they love her (you are looking for time and effort versus beauty here!).
(Don’t feel bad, the Big Hairy Northern One has fallen foul of all of these, so it happens to the best of them; learn from each others mistakes!).

How to buy presents that people like!

Just as in my previous post about presents for children, the rule of something they want, they need, to wear and to read is a good starting point.  Remember also something to watch or listen to.

The key is to buy something that people actually want, not what you think they want or like!

How?

Be a detective.

Listen to them.

Remember the lost art of conversation.

Detective Tips:

1) What do they have around the house

2) What do they spend their money on

3) What do they spend their time on

4) Who do they spend their time with

1) What do they have around the HOUSE:

Don’t add to a collection if already full!

Something that is going to use up like smelly things is great or a treat they can’t afford.  Check their cupboards for hints: which bottles are untouched (disliked) and which are nearly finished?

Don’t buy paper books if they use a kindle or don’t read!

Are they smart, minimalistic and modern, vintage, old fashioned or cutsey?

Do they love pictures and have a space?  Do they love photos?  Are they running out of space, hows about an electronic photo frame?

2) What do they spend their MONEY on:

People generally spend their money on what they like the most.  With a Mum you might need to think back to before kids though, and then add a dash of common sense about the fact that some of those things she would still love a chance to do and some are now inappropriate!

Also ignore the fact that a Mum tends to spend more money on herself than her kids and check out what she gives her friends as presents.

What does she need to spend her money on; clothes, PJ’s, scarves, hats, bags, filofaxes (oops sorry that’s me!), boxes (me again!)?  What has she forgotten to buy for herself?

(Top Tip: give teenagers vouchers, that way they can buy stuff in the sales and get more for their money)

3) What do they spend their TIME doing:

We again tend to spend our timing doing what is most important to us.  Even the boring chores will be different for each person as to how much of a priority they take.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because they do all the cooking, that they want something for the kitchen though!  When I asked on twitter, Mummy Barrow told us a great story of how her – mother in law was given a food processor, which got dumped straight back in her husbands lap with a few choice words.  Ironically the Big Hairy Northern one is a lover of gadgets, so potentially that wouldn’t have failed for him!

Something clever is a subscription to a magazine as it keeps on giving all year long, or a special posh tea.
I’m part geek and part tree hugger.  Pretty much anything that sparkles, or is related to faeries or looks astonishingly like an iPad mini works for me.  But be careful.  When I say I’m a tree hugger, I’m more your natural cycle type, not into the peace for all the world stuff, so this is where the art of conversation comes in to find out more about the person.  Oh and I might be a bit trekky, but the model of the star ship enterprise really didn’t work for me (so sorry Big Hairy Northern one, but I had to share!).
What do they love, but hardly ever treat themselves too?  Things they used to do a lot before having kids?  Maybe a massage, spa day, day out with the girls?
What do they like reading, watching, where do they like going?

4) WHO do they spend their time with:

The ones that they really enjoy spending their time with, not the supermarket assistants!  Who would they like to spend more time with?  Maybe a trip for the family to a show?  Maybe a national trust membership for the family?  Perhaps organise a surprise visit from their best mate?

What do they think about the latest fads, or shops?  Are they a Cath Kidston type of woman, or an Apple Mac type of man?

 

 And men remember this all important rule: THIS IS NOT LIKE A MAP,

ask …. unlike when you need directions!

Happy Christmas/Birthday shopping guys!
I’d love to hear your stories of best and worst presents here, or your stories of how these tips helped!
p.s. Don’t forget wrapping paper and sellotape!
http://youtu.be/x8D751UEpBY

I need five minutes of your time for an itsy bitsy vote!

Inspire Finalist

Guess What?!!!!!!!

I’ve been jumping up and down for the last couple of weeks because I’ve reached the finals in TWO, yes that’s the TWO main parent blogging competitions this year.

Thank you to everyone who nominated me!

The first is the ‘BiBs’ or Brilliance in Blogging run by Britmums.  I’m up for the ‘Inspire’ category, and thankfully just have to sit back with all my fingers and toes crossed for the next few weeks until the BritMums Live blogging conference.

 

Mum and Dad Blog Awards 2012

But I need your help with the second!  This is for the MADs ‘Mums and Dads Blogging Awards‘ run by the Tots100 and hosted by Parentdish.

I’m defending my title as Small Business Blog and really need your votes as I’m up against some great blogs.

 

Click here to vote for me!

 

Winning last year really helped my blog take off, so winning again would be a huge bonus.  The more things like this that happen, the more I ‘get out there’ and can help Mums who aren’t enjoying their lives right now.

Plus I’ve realised that I kind of feel like last year was a fluke, but if I won this year it would be a massive confidence booster!

 

Whilst you are at it, some of you might not know many blogs, so can I give you a little hint of 3 other great blogs, and friends of mine for St Albans also up for a vote?  I wouldn’t suggest them if I didn’t think that they are great!

 

All Baby Advice – Mirka has just had a new baby and so is up for best baby blog.  I love her blog because it talks about raising bi-lingual kids

Actually Mummy – the lovely Helen writes a fab blog from the perspective of her eight year old daughter and is up for the school days blog.

Dorky Mum – Ruth is a new blogger who is unusual in that she talks about politics and is up for the best new blog

Thank you from all of us!