Monday, 3 July 2017

Family Festival Food Ideas

Having come back from one festival I'm feeling like I'm back in the swing of things and so I'm planning what food and drink to take to my next festival, which is Camp Bestival at the end of July.

We will eat out a lot I'm sure as there are loads of food stalls to choose from and I cannot be bothered to trek back to the tent most lunch times, nor cart around warm bananas and beer. But breakfast is a lazy time and wandering to the food stall and then queueing for ages while looking rubbish is not my idea of fun, so I shall be planning 4 breakfasts and probably 4 dinners, with a few additional snacks. I always over pack for food and I'm trying really hard not to this year. There are only 2 of us yet I seem to pack enough for 5 people for 10 meals and then I bring it all home again!

Luckily while buying some beer to take to Byline Festival I spotted a packet of potato and bacon brunch in Sainsbury's that is for 2 people and designed to be fried (no oil etc required). It's in a pouch not a tin and while it looked vile when first put in the frying pan it later amazed us by cooking to look exactly like the photo on the box AND more importantly, tasted delicious. So we have planned fried potato for breakfast every morning, I may also take eggs.

Also on my list of morning essentials is coffee. Not any of that instant  rubbish either, I may be unwashed and in a field, with a hangover and wearing a tutu but that is no reason to behave like an animal. So I will be brewing a fresh coffee for myself each morning (and also in the process saving £££s on festival coffee purchases) using the simple convenience of the Lyon's Coffee bag! Yes ladies and gentlecampers, no reason to lug your espresso machine up the hill or risk the mess of a (plastic) cafetiere, no! A simple coffee bag is your friend, at only £2.60 for 18 bags that's less that 15p a cup! and you can avoid the queue. Perfect. Available in three different strengths, plus a decaf option, there’s a coffee to suit everyone: No.4 Dark and Intense, No.3 Rich and Full Bodied, and No.2 Light and Smooth. (I'm rich and full bodied ...but enough about me...) 

For dinner we will be having Meatballs and rice ( for DD - she dislikes spicy food) and chilli and rice (for me - I love spicy food) at least once. Using pouches we found at Poundland (they are also available at other supermarkets, but then they are £1.69) The brand is 'Look What We Found' and they are really tasty. We use pouches of part cooked rice for speed and to save on gas. Good old Uncle Ben. 

I am also going to take some buns and some hot dogs (remind me not to forget mustard and ketchup or I'll be in trouble) another food that can be bought in a can or a pouch and will keep cool enough in a cool box for a couple of days (canned will keep at any temperature), easy to heat up, easy to eat.

Photo Credit : Nigel Smith (Twitter)
 Another good meal is a stir fry, whether with veg you brought along (carrots, cucumber, green beans, mange tout, baby sweetcorn etc all keep fairly well if kept cool for a few days) or a can of mixed stir fry, tuna fish, some sauce and some noodles.

And one must not forget the humble baked bean! Perfect simple camping food, great on toast, with sausages, or on its own. Chance to use my favourite cooking gadget the camp toaster! A simple design and far superior to others I've tried (especially the, frankly useless, 4 slice pyramid toaster) This little gem cooks toast faster that you can say, 'is it browned yet?', never take your eye off of the toast! and take care when turning not to burn your fingers!

Extra food options include the simple Pot Noodle, Cup soups (or cans of real soup) and tins of spam etc....

and for incidental snacks (and to throw at your offspring who have woken at silly o'clock demanding breakfast while you are still all sleepy and cosy) some breakfast bars, and some juice cartons too.

For booze, remember to check the festival booze limits, and decant any glass bottles into plastic ones. G&T in tins, is a popular choice, as are cans of lager and wine boxes.

Let me know what festival food you'll be taking.

Disclosure : I was send some Lyons Coffee bags to try. They are excellent ;-)

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Keeping your cash and valuables safe at a festival

It's a dilemma. Do you take a load of cash to a festival. Or a card and hope for cashpoint machines? Or both?

Taking cash will save you time queueing at the ATM. If there are ATMs then they will probably charge £1.50 or so a time, so you'll need to keep the visits to a minimum, that's beer money going to waste! If you take cash you will probably spend it.

If you take a card it's only one thing to keep safe. But if you lose it you've lost all hope of a fun beer filled festival...and possible petrol for the drive home. Assuming you don't lose it, you will have extensive funds and when you see that sequined jumper with the fur hood at the retro clothing stall for £150 you will be able to buy it.

I tend to favour taking both, I budget for what I can afford and take that in cash, but I also take a card in case of the aforementioned fur and sequin thingy.

Whatever you choose, how can you keep your cash, card (and car keys, phone etc) safe, not only from theft (sadly there often is theft at a large event) but from loss too?

Here are some top tips.

  • Spread out the cash. However much you decide to take, £30, £300, £3000 don't put all of your cash eggs in one basket. Spread the money equally around. If you travel in a group be sure you each carry some of the cash, and that each person spreads what they carry.
  • Places to carry the cash (which you have split into equal bundles) include, the front deep pocket of your jeans, your handbag - some in a purse, some in a zipped pocket, a bum bag, your bra (this is easier for ladies, but makes paying for cocktails more fun), your pants (you can sew a small material pouch and safety pin it inside trousers or skirts), any zipped pocket in your clothing.
  • When in the tent ensure your valuables are kept with you in the sleeping area, anyone could sneak into a porch area and take a bag in the night. Pushing everything down the bottom of your sleeping bag is safest.
  • Don't leave bags with valuables in them laying about. If you phone is in the picnic basket, take it out and take it with you when you nip to the loo or ensure an adult is left in charge.
  • Take care in the loos that you don't drop anything! Hang bags etc on the hook on the back of the door and don't leave your phone (or car keys!)  in your jeans or you may hear an ominous 'splop' when you pull them down!
  • Some festivals have lockers for valuables and you can hire these by the day. I've never used them and am not sure if they advertise you have valuables or keep them safe - I guess that they are not insured but many have security staff to keep an eye on them.
  • You can hide money, cards and car keys in your tent but it's risky. Don't bother to use a tent padlock, that just tells people valuable things are inside, and most tents can be easily cut with a penknife (I know it's horrible to think people would stoop so low - but they do!) If you hide things try to pick places no one would look - not in a sleeping bag! - and that would take a bit of searching for, thieves are unlikely to want to hang around for long, as before don't put all the cash in one place. (but on the whole I'd advise that you don't leave valuables in the tent)
  • Look out for the campers around you. Get to know the people camping near you and ask any 'stranger' who looks like they may be entering nearby tents who they are.

Have fun and stay safe - have I missed anything? How do you keep valuables safe at a festival?

Monday, 26 June 2017

Laugh and the world laughs with you

Well well, poor old Ed Sheeran took a lot of abuse over on social media last night. Actually he didn't because he wasn't on social media, he was busy headlining Glastonbury, but he came back to it this morning, and he even felt the need to wade in to confirm that his set was live, there was not backing track, it was all about the loop pedal.

And that made me remember a comedian that DD and I loved at Camp Bestival in 2015. Rob Deering is a comedian that used the loop pedal to the max! Explaining it to us, the innocent audience, and then using it, and his guitar to keep us in metaphorical stitches for half an hour or so. So when I thought loop pedal, I though COFFEEEE!

I can't wait to see what the comedy lineup will bring this year. As with music at festivals, where there are big names and well known bands, comedy too has plenty of 'must see' and 'famous' comedians, but often it's the ones I haven't heard of that make me laugh the most, maybe as the sets are so fresh and new (at least to me) maybe they truly are secret comedy gold, but whatever, I can't wait to hear some hilarious favourites along with finding some new rib tickling chuckles this year at Camp Bestival.

Camp Bestival comedy curator, Get Comedy’s Brett Vincent says:
 “I love booking the comedy for Camp Bestival, each year just gets better and better. From our headliner Reginald D. Hunter who’s been on nearly every major TV show in the UK and the States pushing his laid back social commentary and acute observations of the British psyche, to Gary Delaney who’s possibly one of the best joke writers in the country (and has awards to prove it) this year is no exception! “
At Camp Bestival were always proud to find you the stars of the future and this year we have a plethora of amazing talent from all over the world. Australian Ray Badran is one to catch if you like the surreal ramblings of Ross Noble.
Jenny Bede who is already an internet star with over 50million views on social networks is one not to miss.
Nico Yearwood from Barbados, Chris Betts from Canada, Yuriko Kotani from Japan, and Jake Lambert (Maidenhead) are definitely ones to watch, as well as Andy Field and Tom Ward, all of whom you will be seeing a lot more of on TV in the coming years. “
Add in the true professionals Phil Nichol, Kerry Godliman & Pat Monahan and you’re in for a real treat this festival. Laugh hard and laugh long! - Nanu Nanu!" 

Performing in the dedicated comedy tent in the Magic Meadow, there will be tales of media-storm madness from fast-rising Aussie comedy star Ray Badran who has been making a huge name for himself down under. Plus, enjoy gut-busting good times with acclaimed actor, award winning comedian, producer, presenter, writer and musician Phil Nichol. And of course even more hoopla and hilarity from Yuriko Kotani, Jenny Bede, Andy Field, Tom Lucy, Nico Yearwood, Patrick Monahan, Chris Betts, Jake Lambert, Tom Ward and Prince Abdi.

And, don’t forget, just for the kids Camp Bestival have new hit show Kidocracy, an interactive theatre show for children aged 6+. Featuring Keith Farnan (Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow) giving children an island to rule and asking them to elect leaders, write anthems, and come up with rules, it’s a definite must-see. Everyone might just learn something!

Ticket Info:

Camp Bestival 2017 Weekend Tickets are on sale now via: Ticketline / 0844 888 4410

Adult Weekend Ticket -  £197.50*
Student Weekend Ticket - £185* / Age 13 to 17 Weekend Ticket - £125*
Age 10 to 12 Weekend Ticket - £98.75* / Age 5 to 9 Weekend Ticket - £45*
Age 4 & Under Weekend Ticket - £15*
Babes in Arms (1 & Under) - FREE (but ticket required)*

*All tickets include camping from Thursday / Please refer to the Camp Bestival Ticket Terms & Conditions below

Car Parking - £20 in advance / Campervan Ticket (Field A) - £95
Caravan / Trailer Tent Ticket (Field A) - £105
 Please read T&Cs here before booking
 Keep checking and our Facebook and Twitter for all the latest info.
Disclosure : As an official Camp Bestival Blogger I will be attending the festival as Camp Bestival's guest, but everything I say about it on the blog is 100% true :-)  I've been attending the festival for the last 9 years so I know what's what.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

How a new camping table has changed my (camping) life

I was sent a table by Millets recently. They asked me to share with you what I thought of it and to see if it could make camping a real home from home.

Now as you will know if you are a regular reader, I am a 'bare minimum' sort of camper. No electric, not fussed about flushing toilets and shower blocks, happiest in a wood or a field just me, my tent, some beer and a book (and DD of course, my regular camping companion) so how would a table work for me?

Well I picked the rather super looking Eurohike Basecamp table with storage under it, and to say it changed our camping lives is not an understatement. One of the reasons Mr Tentsniffer doesn't camp with us (along side having a bad back, and preferring an evening in front of the TV to one trekking across a field to the loo,) is that he hates mess and when DD and I camp, we are messy.

I'm messy anyway, chucking things down and leaving them where they land, and in the tent that soon becomes a royal pain in the bum!
"where is the hairbrush?"
"have you seen the matches?"
"wasn't the kettle here somewhere?"
"are there any apples left?" cue staring at vast pile of 'stuff'...

So could a table save us? Amazingly yes it could! The Eurohike Basecamp table is 7kg in weight and has a handy carry handle for transporting it when it's folded up - and it folds up so neatly! It opens up into a spacious table and the legs extend to give it height. Underneath are two large storage 'cupboards' with solid flat bases, perfect as a larder for our new 'kitchen diner'. At either end of the table are pockets for anything you fancy, cutlery, magazines, hairbrushes, matches...'stuff'...

The table fitted perfectly in our Cabanon Pyramide IV tent and the best bit was that our storage boxes slid in beautifully underneath it. Sadly these boxes are old and cracked, but I searched around and found some 50L boxes on Amazon that are just the right size to slip under the table, so we have all our regular bits and bobs safely under the table, extra cupboards and a table top too! We managed to keep everything so neat and tidy on our jaunt to the Byline festival that I think even Mr Tentsniffer would have been proud. Just take a look.

Disclosure I was sent this table (and a fabulous box of goodies - see the unboxing video here) by Millets to review but all the thoughts about the table are my own!

Monday, 5 June 2017

Review of the first ever Byline Festival

As you will recall I was invited to the Byline festival as a guest, with the lovely DD, to review the festival and tell you all about it! So you'll be wondering if it lived up to the hype - or was it fake news!

Byline Festival was described on its own website as A RIOT OF FREE SPEECH
PROTEST AGAINST FAKE NEWS AND ALTERNATIVE FACTS something that rather worried the chaps at the local BBC radio station it seems.
But they needn't have worried, far from fields of violent rioting hooligans, the fields were in fact full of a diverse band of intelligent people, keen to learn how to spot truth from fiction, how to survive in a world so rich in information that it can be hard to spot the important bits, how to be their own journalists but also how to find journalists to trust...and why even today in a world of 'instant news' via social media, journalists and their skills are vital. I really enjoyed the satirical comedy by Hardeep Singh Kohli, and of course the bad press awards presented by John Cleese  (who understandably got a fit of the giggles trying to talk about the famed Werewolf of Hull!). But I was also delighted to listen to a talk 'No Platform' about lesser known stories and the stories behind and around the headlines.

I failed miserably to attend the few talks and workshops related to blogging (what am I like!) I do hope there will be more next year. But I did manage some great debates.

As the festival was brand new there were of course a few things that could be improved, better signage from the car park for instance, printed maps handed out along with programs when we arrived, rather than relying on an app or us finding the Info tent (and enough programs that they didn't run out!) but I can't fault the posh loos (flushing!) the free showers and the great bars, with frozen cocktails no less! The lineup and choice of debates was varied and everyone was extremely helpful and friendly. The food catering was good, though I wish the food consessions had been told they should stay open until the festival officially closed at 3pm on Sunday. We managed to try burgers, crepes and pizzas as well as ice cream and booze during the weekend, and having a bread and baked goods stall was an excellent idea.

I loved the fact that there was a real mix of genders, ethnicity, nationality and even political leaning at the festival. Loads to learn and an excellent atmosphere. While the festival is family friendly and certainly happy for you to bring the kids there is not much structured stuff for them to do (though playing in the woods seemed popular) so you might be wisest to leave the kids with friends or relatives and taking a weekend away for an adult only break.

The festival is running again in 2018 and currently super early bird tickets are a simply barmy £30 (they will be £120 at full price - still great value.) I highly recommend it to any journalists, serious bloggers, writers and anyone with an interest in politics, life and the truth.

Disclosure : I was sent complementary tickets for this event for the purpose of this review - the words are all my own.