The best and worst of Bestival

The good things about going to a music festival with kids:

– You dont have to organise babysitters

– They can help hold the food and drink

– They have full on entertainment all day and are kept so busy they pass out either on the picnic rug/ trailer contraption (that are everywhere at Camp Bestival) while you rock to good music

– Its a holiday that has something for everyone

– Good training for when they decide to go to festivals in their teens (coping with blocked loos, queues, astronomically expensive food, skills that will stand them in good stead for later life (making mud pies, blowing huge bubbles, practicing hand-stands, an appreciation of all types of music)

And now the bad……..

– walking, our kids dont do walking unless their is a promise of ice-cream at the other end

– not getting ideas for becoming a crusty later in life

– too much bass – we didnt have ear defenders (tricky to keep on baby boy and daughter sayscthey are ‘not cool’

– The cost of children’s meals…

– Having to put them to bed……. at some point

– But getting up early regardless

The biggest downside was putting up the tent and lugging the gear  from the car to the tent and back again without a trolley. My husband managed it but then went on about being ‘better than the marines’.

The queues on the road leaving the festival (then having someone drive into the back of us at a roundabout).

Then the insurance claim paperwork to deal with.

This blog is for Unicef. Onepound per day of missed blog to the charity. Support the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Girly heaven with the boys

“I was the only girl here today”, my daughter announced proudly as I picked her up from a day at an outdoor activities centre. She was on her own in the changing rooms and was worried that she would be left on her own if the boys changed quickly. Turned out it took her 10 minutes and she had to wait for the boys outside.

When we were out on the boat today we witnessed a regatta of teenage sailors. I admired the way one girl recovered from a capsize with such style that it looked as if she had planned it. As the boat went over she saw what was coming, clambered over the side as it rotated into the water, jumped onto the keel and hauled the boat back upright with ease. It was textbook. I wish I had filmed it and put it on YouTube. The sight of this appealed to me for so many reasons. First, it was a bank holiday and rather than being inside, bored and chomping on chocolate the teens were put in the fresh air and sun and occasionally getting dunked. Second they were using their brains and body simultaneously- not a regular occurrence with teenagers. But best of all it was seeing boys and girls competing on equal terms and when a girl gets herself onto trouble, she jolly we’ll gets herself put of it without any bother or interference.

Sailing is one of the few sports where men and women can compete on equal terms and when I see such sports in action it gives me a hint at what is possible of this equality was broadened out to society at large.

My daughter absolutely loved her day with the boys today because she was enjoying the day as their friend and equal. When she plays football she complains that the boys are reluctant o pass to her and she takes this on the chin. Today she got the bullseye in archery, made her raft flat and was the only person to reach the top on all the climbing wall levels. Then came home with one of the boys, who is also n her class, and played on the trampoline and then later on PS3’s ‘Need for Speed’. She was in ‘girly’ heaven.

I am blogging every day for UNICEF – see the campaign here.

Thanks for reading.

Responsible cruising with Royal Caribbean

My father is kindly offering us the holiday of a lifetime to experience a caribbean cruise and a disney holiday in 2014. As a family we are very excited about this prospect. When I looked at the stop offs during the cruise and saw the word Haiti, I immediately thought of Paul Merton’s documentary on the cruise he reported on with high fences separating the luxury of the beach from the poverty of the islanders. He ventured outside the fence to meet some of the locals who were actually benefiting from the tourism. Royal Carribbean have funded a school on the island and every time they stop at Haiti they drop off much needed supplies. My feelings about becoming one of the members of the cruise crowd to a developing country still coping with the tragedy of the earthquake 2 years ago is mixed. So, to help my conscience a little, there is the option of donating to the food fund at Haiti during the stay and I am also going to enquire about taking clothing out there to give to the locals. We might as well take something out with us as we are travelling there to help, in a very small way, the community there.

Overall I think travel companies need to do more for the communities they operate in. We are all sharing this world yet there is a terrible unfair distribution of food, wealth, medicine and opportunities.  If I find myself  as a tourist in a developing country, to enjoy the environment and ignore the poverty is criminal. Tourism agents and companies should give visitors channels to help the countries they are visiting by donations to aid programmes, initiatives or even helping for a few hours or a day. Why not?

Nearer the time I will report on what Royal Carribbean say about donations and taking clothing etc to the communities at ports on the itinerary. I am glad that the company use their visit as a chance to get much needed aid to a country and this initiative should be expanded to more cruise companies and other organisations around the world.

I am blogging every day for Unicef to help them protect vulnerable children and families around the world. If you enjoyed reading this blog, please donate £1 to my page on the Unicef website.

Thanks for reading.

Baby autism

Well we returned safe and sound from snowy Wiltshire. I have been offline since Thursday so that’s £5 in downtime fees to Unicef. We had a fabulous time in the winter wonderland of Longleat forest. I ate far too much on my birthday and the whole weekend for that matter. I also got wet and dry and then wet and dry far too much (owing to my daughter taking me down the outdoor rapids a few too many times). It is the most bizarre sensation being outside amongst the snow completely immersed in warm (ish) water. A warm body and a freezing cold head is strange.

We returned to a very very cold house (it read 6 degrees in my son’s room) and were delighted to find that the heating wasn’t working and the woodburner made the room warmer but not warm enough. How did people cope before heating was invented? They had baths in front of the fire and wore lots of woollen clothes and ate lots of porridge. My Dad is currently on a cruise in the Caribbean (well at least I think he is, his plane was due to take off on the day it snowed and he isn’t home). I keep imagining how warm it is there…….

I  must get to the reason for today’s title. My sister-in-law suspects that her son (my four month old nephew) is autistic. Why? Because his eyes don’t appear to be tracking her finger, he sticks his tongue out a lot and doesn’t smile at her or seem to respond to her. He is three weeks premature so can be forgiven for being a bit behind developmentally, but, autistic? Given the nature of autism, I was under the impression that it can only really be diagnosed from toddler age. Does anyone else have experience of autism? I would love to hear views and experiences for the benefit of my little nephew. With any luck it is just a case that he needs glasses. And as for the tongue, well, I know lots of babies who do that so don’t find that particularly strange. Some babies also take a while to smile too……

I am blogging every day for Unicef’s campaign to help vulnerable children world-wide. If you found this blog interesting please donate £1 to the campaign by visiting my page on the Unicef site.

Thanks for reading.

Movies that deserve trilogies etc

Im feeling christmassy. Log fires, yummy food has put me in the hibernating mood and this is made all the more cosier with a lot of TV viewing – from box sets to movies. OK its a bit couch potato but when you have been rushing around all year like a blue arsed fly why not vegetate on the sofa for a few days (well fat chance with kids arond but once they have gone to bed….maybe?)

So we are disppearing to Wales, Snowdonia to be exact, for a dose of snowy hikes, good pub grub and cosy cottage living. I want to go armed with some good films and TV programmes to watch and it got me thinking about films that are a) good (regardless of genre) and b) deserve to have a part 2, 3, 4 etc. Okay some don’t. I think the Fast and Furious series is a bit like marmite – you either love it or hate it. I love it because I am a petrol head. It won’t win any oscars but that’s not what it’s about. The only thing that slightly annoyed me about F&F 5 was the attempt to copy Ocean’s 11 and 12 when all the previous characters across the series suddenly became ‘experts’ in their field and all convened to perform a heist – Han (who overcame death for the new plot line) performed the Brad Pitt role by constantly eating throughout the film (if you watch the Ocean’s films Brad is eating a lot – think it makes him appear nonchalant).

Anyway, here are some of the films I think haven’t been exhausted in terms of the number of sequels:

– Back to the Future 4 (why not?) has anyone noticed that we are getting closer to 2015 but a million miles away from flying cars, see through ties, self-drying clothes and scheduled weather?  Not to mention hoverboards…..still waiting for those to be invented

– Ronin 2 – never tire of this film

– Miami Vice 2 – would have to have all the original cast though to be the same if not better

– Top Gun 2 (apparently it was on the cards until the director took his own life)

– Kick Ass 2 (I think this is in the making)

– Bridget Jones 3 (also in the pipeline)

– Human Traffic 2

– Trainspotting 2

– Easy Rider 2

– The Incredibles 2 – this is long overdue

I have run out of thinking juice but I’m sure many more could be added to this list. Not sure what’s on the horizon for 2013…….oh yeah…..another Fast & Furious film.

This blog is for Unicef. If you can help with my fundraising please visit Unicef online.

Thanks for reading.

Is there such a thing as a cheap family holiday?

I’ve yet to find it. Around this time of year people start to think about escaping the shitty weather. For families on a budget, like us, that won’t happen until the summer, when prices go through the roof as soon as the kids break up from school.

Travelling abroad is a no no because of the cost of flying. So, that rules out plane journeys and please don’t be one of those annoying people that say “oh but its cheap with Easyjet”. I am still trying to find the ‘cheap flight’ with easyjet  – every date that I search for comes back with £££££. So, the only option is by boat, train or car. This year we spent over £500 just crossing the channel via ferry so won’t make that mistake again – we will try Eurostar. We would like something slightly more luxurious than a tent. Motorhomes are out because they are too expensive and require a lot of maintenance and fuel costs are through the roof. Dare we consider caravans?

But we can’t bring ourselves to spend good money on a ‘swift’ or a ‘challenger’ when they look so goddamn fuddy duddy. When looking at pictures its so difficult to  differentiate between a caravan made in the 90s and one 2 years ago – nothing has changed. The lay-out is the same using the same naff fabric for the curtains and the upholstery. We scoured the market and every brand we looked at left us completely uninspired. I am sure there are more young families like us who fancy having a go at caravanning but would like something with a bit more street cred. The shiny american streamliners look good but they weigh tonnes and cost thousands. There is definitely a market for a young person’s caravan – the person who fills this gap in the market will do well. Its a bit like when Apple started selling PCs in alternative colours to grey. White appliance manufacturers created a new range of colours for ‘white goods’. The same needs to happen for caravans – I’m thinking exterior colours other than white (black/navy/red) and interiors that are a bit more funky….you’d make a killing. Sod it I think I will do it myself – but where shall I get the funds to start me off? Dragon’s den here I come….

I am blogging every day for Unicef. Please help the campaign by donating via my site on Unicef. I am aiming to raise £1 a day from fellow bloggers round the world – in the meantime I will keep blogging regardless.