Night night, sleep tight - Camping sleep mats review

For a long time I have searched for the perfect comfy night's sleep when camping. As I'm in my 50s the simple thin foam mat favoured by my teen is just not enough for my older bones. So while a yoga mat may do for the young, for the more discerning sleeper something comfier is required. I have tried camp beds like these

but found them to actually feel quite hard and uncomfortable. Then I moved on to the old staple, the supermarket inflatable. For years that's what I have used. I soon learned that sharing a double with someone is a nightmare - the heavier person will bounce the lighter around at every movement! So if you use them, use singles. The plus points are that they are deep and comfy. The negatives are that they are bulky, need a pump to inflate, and once you get a slow leak, each night is a slow descent to the ground.

 After my trusty inflatable finally gave up, I searched around for other options. Lately at festivals I've been travelling light (I know!) and carrying all of my stuff, so a bed that was tiny, light, and didn't need a pump seem like a really good idea. But I also wanted comfy - could I have both?

I bought three beds (yes yes I know) to try out. Two that needed inflating but claimed to inflate on only 15 breaths, and a self inflating mat with a memory foam core.

So let us begin. I took all the beds camping for a long weekend.

First up, the glorious lime green inflatable with pillow attached. It is tiny and it is light. It inflated with only 15 breaths (plus another 15 for the pillow) after which you may feel light headed and need a lie down, which is handy as you now have a soft bed to lie on.

Night one. The bed is surprisingly comfy for one so thin (5cm deep). I am a very wriggly sleeper and the bed is pretty rustly so if noise might be an issue there is that to think about but on the whole I found it a nice sleep - even as I wriggled and sometimes slept on my side. It stayed pumped up all night.

Night two. Terrible error. I allowed myself to be swayed by instructions that said after the self inflating mattress had inflated (15 minutes) I should add a few more breaths to firm it up before sealing it. Due to the narrowness of the bed (53cm) and the slippery outer this meant when I wriggled I fell off the mattress! During the wee small hours I actually moved back onto the lime green mattress for some better sleep!

Night three. I let some air out of the purple memory foam self inflater. I still sometimes slipped off the mattress and woke up though. It was comfy, but I am a wriggler and it is just so slippery, and so narrow! I am going to see if wrapping a blanket around it might help.

The orange mattress is the same as the green one but minus the pillow. Still comfy, still quick and easy to inflate, just no pillow, so it's really up to preference which of those you like.

All three packed back into the bags they came with with very little fuss.

So for me the green with the pillow wins. But a more steady sleeper may prefer the purple memory foam. Fizz my border terrier thought they were all comfy but, though I have no photo evidence, given the choice, she chose the memory foam.

I bought mine from Ebay but they are available on Amazon and probably other places too. The Amazon links are affiliate links, I get some pennies if you buy via the links - it won't cost you any extra.

Lime Green Inflatable
  • Small, light, easy to pack. Great for festivals
  • 5cm deep honeycomb, 55cm wide
  • Fast and easy to inflate
  • Comfy, inbuilt pillow
  • Easy to deflate and repack
  • As above but no pillow.
  • 6cm deep honeycomb
  • Nice and long, comfy.
  • Small and light
  • Self inflates in 15 minutes
  • 10cm deep, 53cm wide
  • Very soft and comfy. Can be made firmer with extra air.
  • Large to pack and carry - not great for festivals.
  • Can be slippy and is narrow so wriggly sleepers might fall off!
If you want total comfort, no falling out of bed and space and weight are not issues for you, I would probably still buy something like this: Sturdy Retro Air Mattress
I've had one of these before and they are great - but heavy!

Cornbury Festival 2019 - a review

Cornbury Festival 2019

Fancy a new festival? Looking for a festival for grown ups that is still child friendly yet not full of teenagers? I think that the Cornbury festival might be just what you need. This year, once again the weather was amazing. Glorious sunshine always helps at a festival. (though mud and rain can make for some fun memories) This year DD and I pitched up in our usual spot on the corner near the comedy tent and the bar, just a 2 minute walk to the breakfast bus, complete with vegan fried breakfast sandwiches and cups of tea.

Cornbury Festival 2019

The general feel of the festival is one of middle class fun. Like a gorgeous English fete with music and a funfair and great food. We listened to the Beach Boys on a sunny afternoon, a wonderful moving set with the Kingdom Choir on the Sunday and Keane and The Specials played too. Much of our day was always spent wandering, cocktail in hand (in a reusable glass), people watching or shopping for jewellery or sequinned fancy costumes.

Cornbury Festival 2019

One day DD decided the funfair was the place to be, we went on the waltzer (and you know it's a real waltzer as the guys walk the ride, spinning the cars), upon getting off we spent a few nauseous minutes gathering ourselves, before DD went on an extreme ride I don't even want to think about.

Just after leaving the ride DD realised her brand new iPhone was missing, fallen from her pocket! Much searching and sobbing followed. But we needen't have worried. A kind person had handed the phone in to security and a lovely helpful security guy had accessed the phone, seen the "this phone is lost please call xxxxxxx" message and rang me less than an hour after it was lost. I do love a friendly honest festival crowd.

We also enjoyed the comedy afternoons and evenings, especially some Edinburgh fringe act previews and Lost Voice Guy from BGT.
Cornbury Festival 2019 tea tent
Tea Tent

Altogether a spiffing festival! Full of gin and laughter, lacking drugs and vomit. There is a kids area for the little ones and the whole site feels very friendly. Grab tickets for next year here - see you there?

I was gifted tickets for this festival but all views and words are my own.

Eco Packing for a festival

Every blogger that does festivals has blogged about what to take. I've done it myself because it's a thing that newbies, festival virgins, the uninitiated, always ask. But the more I think about the planet, the irony of banning plastic straws but taking wet wipes in your festival kit, the more I thought I needed to 'eco up' my game.

Now festival going is never going to be all holy. You'll have to buy stuff, and travel(I'm trying the coach to Boomtown this year!). But here are some ideas to make it a little more environmentally conscious, a little more eco friendly, a tiny bit better for the planet we not only profess to love, but actually live on.

You'll need a tent, try not to buy cheap to bin later. It's tempting, you might even kid yourself that 'the homeless' will use it or it will be recycled into clothes. In reality very few tents that are binned are reused, most end up in landfill. If you don't want to buy a tent to reuse year after year, consider borrowing a tent from a mate, hiring one from the festival, or buying a cardboard one you can recycle. And don't be scared to buy on eBay - my 3 favourite tents were all second hand from eBay!

Bottles for water (and anything else). Festival sites rarely allow glass onsite for obvious safety reasons and because many sites are farms when they are not full of us lot partying. But that doesn't mean you need to bring plastic...or buy plastic. Try bringing a metal bottle, there are lots available now with insulated walls, so you water keeps nice and cool in the sun. Buy cans of pop (and alcohol) as metal is almost endlessly recyclable. And there are now companies that have eco friendly water cartons too!

Wet wipes? I've been a slave to them for years, perfect for the morning freshen up and useful throughout the day. But really why? Why not pack a flannel cloth each and just use a bucket of water back at the tent. Cool and fresh you can still have  arub down, rinse your flannel and peg it up to dry, or carry it with you to moisten at a festival tap for a 'back of the neck' cool down after a sweaty dance off with Mr Motivator.

Food. Just try to use smaller packaging, tins are great, dried food is good but can be a pain to keep dry unless it's in plastic.

Ponchos. I do still pack a rain poncho or two. But it was starting to make me feel guilty - let's be honest, it often rains at a UK festival, we all grab a flimsy single use poncho, we all bin it after a day. So I was delighted to find these! Cornstarch biodegradable festival ponchos! No excuse now! Feel dry AND eco smug.

Plates and cups and .... If you must take disposables (and many do because who has time to wash up! Especially if you have a large family group) go for paper and card. (and wooden knives and forks)  And try to ensure they go into the correct bins for recycling. If you have space to bring them to the festival, you should have space to take them home. If you can't find the correct bin on site- pack up and take home.

Glitter. Glitter is just sparkly micro-plastic. So make sure you take a responsibly made biodegradable eco glitter. You may be able to have glitter applied at the festival, always check they are using eco glitter - the more people that ask, the more likely it will become the norm.

For other toiletry ideas avoiding plastic (did you know toothpaste tubes can't be recycled?) check out this blog post with links to sun screen in tins and shampoo bars.

Bags. Some festivals provide rubbish bags, some don't. Pack a roll of eco friendly bin bags, you can use them just the same as regular plastic bags (to protect your clothes in the rain for example) but feel happier knowing your biodegradable plates are in a biodegradable bag for the bin.

 Fashion. Slow fashion is a new buzz for  some, reusing items you bought years ago, keeping a set of 'funky' clothes just for festivals, buying second hand, pre-loved clothes from charity and thrift shops, and of course at the festival itself. Try to keep the 'new' clothes that you just must have, to a minimum, and like the tent, plan to reuse them.

There is nothing wrong with plastic, if it's got a proper long term function. It's light and can be really useful as buckets, wellies, air beds, umbrellas, and coats. But if there is the option to use something more eco friendly, go for it! And if you buy plastic, keep using it.

The very last thing on my eco list is not a packing item at all...unless you count packing up to go home. Don't leave your trash. Don't throw your beer cup on the ground (not even if it is biodegradable), don't leave your discarded balloons and nitrous oxide canisters laying about, don't leave your tent (even if it broke) . Clear up, bag it, bin it.

I dream of a day the festival site looks as clean at the end of the festival as it did at the start.

This post contains Affiliate links, if you make a purchase it won't cost you any extra, but I will get a tiny percentage of the sale.

Festival Weather - hoping for the best but planning for the worst

Anyone that goes to a festival in the UK knows to take wellies. Wellingtons have become a staple item in the wardrobe of the festival fan because whether it rains or not there will be damp bits. Often these damp bits will be near the showers, or the water points, or the toilets...we shall not dwell here.

Wellies have come a long way from the days where green was fancy and black was normal. Now there are glitter wellies, fancy patterned wellies, wellies that look like shoes or regular books, wellies that have jewels and probably even bells.

But wellies are not the only prep you need for a UK festival. The very first festival I ever attended was Eastern Haze in Suffolk. IT rained. It rained for days. The field become a swamp. The lorries to empty the toilets became stuck in the mud, the toilets over flowed, the car park was a lake. Oh and my tent pole broke.

As you can imagine, surviving this was the best fun ever and I was then hooked on festivals for ever! As was my then seven year old daughter.

And it made me realise that you need to be prepared. Be prepared for everything, and also have an attitude that 'it's only a few days, this too shall pass' and of course think of it as an adventure and a great place to make memories.

So on to the planning, and the packing and the top tips around weather.

Do not pitch on the very top of a hill with all that lovely wind all around. Do not pitch under a tree where branches could fall on you. Do not pitch in a gully or valley at the bottom of a steep slope. You are looking for a reasonable amount of shelter from the wind while not putting yourself in the way of the water drainage should it rain.

So you are pitched. But what have you packed to wear? Well all your fabulous festival clothing of course but also let's prepare for the worst the UK might throw at us. Those of you that survived last year's Camp Bestival will have experienced pretty bad weather. And those of you that joined me at Boomtowm will know about rain. This year's Download has already fared similarly.

Despite my hoping to use less plastic I do think packing those disposable plastic ponchos is a good idea. They are clear so everyone will still be able to admire your festival outfits, they are tiny when packed so you can bung a few into your bag and it won't matter if you don't need them, and they are cheap. At the festival sellers will charge anything from £2 to £5 each but you can usually buy them in Poundland (£1 for 2) or get them online much cheaper. (Amazon affiliate link to a pack of 20 for under £5)

If you have seen a forecast and know it really is going to rain, and a lot, then take a real raincoat. But if you take the sort of coat that really needs to dry out (as opposed to a plastic mac) then you will be setting yourself up for a damp tent interior, so unless you have plenty of hanging space you'll be best off with something like this one.

Obviously you have wellies. But don't forget socks. Not just one pair a day - take a couple, there is nothing so good as dry feet for keeping you warm and helping keep you healthy and happy. Take some nice bed socks too.

Take a jumper or two in case it gets really chilly, it will be cooler at night anyway and if it's windy and rains then you'll appreciate the warmth. A onesie is good too - but beware of getting wet soggy onesie legs if it rains a lot.

Having dry clothes to wear each day will make you feel better. Jeans are the worst when wet, so you might want to avoid those, funnily enough wearing shorts in the rain if the rest of you is warm is not too bad, or of course some glittery gold leggings.

When you go out and about during the day, leave your clothes in a black plastic bag. Keep your sleeping bag in a bin bag too. This way if the tent leaks (ours did at Boomtown) you won't come back to damp clothes.

If there is not much wind an umbrella might be useful, but rather like festival trolleys you need to take care. The clear tulip shaped ones (like this one) are a good choice.
Take a woolly hat, or a fun fur hat, or any hat really, but a soft one will be good to sleep in should the night be cold.

So there are the top tips:
Take : wellies, plastic ponchos, bin bags, an umbrella, a hat, lots of socks, a onesie, a jumper, a coat and a waterproof picnic blanket (so you can sit on the muddy grass during the day - at least until it becomes a deep swamp)
Pitch : away from trees, in a not too open location, avoid the very bottom of steep hills.

Don't worry about staying mud-free, you can shower when you get home. And have the best fun ever. What have I forgotten? Please let me know!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Life and death in a tent

Life and death? Bit dramatic, we are only going camping. 

Every year there are one or two stories in the news about people that die, actually die, in their tents often while asleep. But what is killing them I hear you ask? The invisible killer is carbon monoxide.

If you cook in your tent, if you use a heater in your tent, if you use a barbecue near to your tent, you are at risk. Carbon monoxide is a weird gas that can drift about, and being heavier than air can gather in an invisible layer in a tent and suffocate you as you doze. You can't see it or smell it and worryingly the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache and drowsiness, the very things that might tempt you to lay down inside the tent!

But don't worry. All you need to stay safe is to ensure you either don't cook or heat the tent and stay far from barbecues (including other peoples!) or have a CO alarm in the tent.

A CO alarm will detect dangerous raised levels of carbon monoxide and alert you to air out the tent. And I have the perfect portable alarm (RRP £24.99) to give away. The FireAngel CO-9X Carbon Monoxide Alarm is a small and portable alarm, which is perfect for travelling. The alarm has a 7-year battery life and features clear LED indicators for power, fault or alarm status. And when you are not camping, you can use the alarm at home.

Project Shout is a national campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. The vision is for everyone to be talking about the effects of carbon monoxide.

 Project Shout want people to be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and the importance of regular maintenance on all fuel-burning appliances such as gas cookers, gas grills and boilers, in addition to encouraging people to get their chimneys swept annually and to buy carbon monoxide alarms. Find out more about Project Shout and buy CO alarms here 

To be in with a chance to win the alarm just enter via the Rafflecopter thingy below. UK only. Giveaway ends June 15th 2019

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Camping, the cheap hobby with the option to spend!

I recently wrote about my number one camping essential over on The Mediocre Dad, and that made me think. If I had some spare money and wanted to treat myself, what would I add to my camping arsenal? Which extra bits and pieces would I buy? So I had a little hunt about the internet, and asked a few companies what they thought I really 'needed' to add to my kit. Here are some of the things I found, and some things I was sent to test out!
First up, a bit of comfort. I usually either have no pillow, or an inflatable one. Inflatable pillows are small and light and can be easily packed, but they are not always the most comfortable. I'm getting on a bit so was very happy to try out a new camping pillow. The Hippy Chick memory foam pillow packs easily into its own travel bag (it really does roll up small and go back into the bag easily!), is covered in soft Tencel, and is gorgeously supportive. The Hippychick Waterproof Memory Foam Travel Pillow is the perfect pillow for campers. Measuring 44cm x 25cm when out of the case and 30.5cm x 19cm when packed away, it fits easily into a rucksack or camping kit. The Tencel pillow cover is a naturally hygienic fibre made from 100% biodegradable wood pulp cellulose which acts as an excellent anti-allergy barrier and is 100% waterproof (safe from your drool and and late night beer spills). The memory foam filling is extremely ergonomic and adapts to the contours of your neck, head and back allowing you to sit or lie in complete comfort. When you're ready to put the pillow away, simply roll it up and tuck away in the handy travel bag. It will always bounce back to its original shape when taken back out. Buy your own Hippy Chick Pillow and find out more at:

Next I wondered about things that I had needed in the past but had foolishly not packed. Travelling light last year to Boomtown, disaster struck when a drunk guy fell onto our tent in the night in a rainstorm and ripped the nylon. We managed to fashion some repairs the next morning using black bin liners but I think a decent tent repair kit would have been far superior. And I feel even sillier when I realised the pack from Storm is smaller and lighter that a black bin bag! Small enough to fit into a pocket but strong enough to repair my tent in an emergency sounds like the perfect thing to pack next time. Storm’s Tear-Aid Patch Pack is ideal for both on-site immediate repairs and for more permanent repairs when you get home. The Tear-Aid Patch Pack makes clear and flexible air tight and water tight repairs easy. All you need to do it clean and dry the area, cut patch, peel and stick! As well as tents, the patch is suitable for clothing, inner tubes, wellies, kites, outdoor gear and more. For more information about the STORM range visit:

I was also sent a wee pot of Sudocrem. Something I haven't really used since my daughter was a baby 18 years ago. I was intrigued by the idea of its extra uses (above and beyond nappy rash prevention). Now available in a tiny flat pot (22g) small enough to fit into pocket or handbag, and marketed as My Little Sudocrem, its a versatile skin care cream that helps to soothe dry skin & calm redness.  Its clinically-proven formulation soothes & protects delicate skin, forming a barrier which protects against irritants, allowing the skin to maintain its natural and healthy condition. It is perfect for campers and festival goers and can be used by all ages, great to apply to grazes, burns, bites and stings (perfect for clumsy campers and tipsy festival goers who can't see a guy rope in the night). I do like Sudocrem but it's packed in plastic, and since I have taken a vow to not buy toiletries in plastic any more, it won't be on my shopping list until maybe they manage a formulation that can be stored in a tin. Find out more and check the ingredients at:

One thing that is a real must now at festivals is a water bottle. Gone are the days we can just buy plastic bottles and bin them, the eco aware traveller now knows that to be sustainable we need to be reusing things much more. I have a lovely metal water bottle that keeps water cold all day even in the heat of a festival. For those that don't want to carry a bottle all day you can look for a cute bottle carrier like this jute one or a recycled plastic one like the ones from Care4Basket. Many festivals this year are going plastic-free so now is a good time to think about which sort of bottle is best for you, I like the metal as it stays cold, is very robust and looks good too.

Talking of festivals, you know that sluggish "what was I drinking last night?" feeling you get as you wake in a hot tent warmed by the suns early rays (or a cold one with the pitter patter of rain drops) and you are thinking that getting a coffee is the only answer and yet, the coffee stand is so far away. Well it seems that Zingershots might just have got your back on this one. With their intense and refreshing taste Zinger shots are a great, healthy way to start your day. (They really do wake you up!) Zingershots are a perfect caffeine alternative! Packed full of natural ingredients and free from preservatives or artificial colours Zinger shots come in four lively flavours that will give your day a ZING whichever one you choose!

The ginger shot is made simply with real pressed ginger, organic apple juice and water. Beautifully spicy ginger fused with organic apple, our original ginger shot makes a delicious wake up drink for early starts or mid-afternoon pick-me-ups. The turmeric shot is made from pressed turmeric. Packed with an abundance of health benefits, turmeric (which was first used a dye) has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years.  The Turmeric Zinger is the perfect way to build curcumin into your diet, without staining your hands (and your clothes) yellow! Zinger add a little black pepper to the recipe (to aid absorption of curcumin), with a dash of lemon and chilli flavouring to give the unique golden drink a little extra zing. If ever you needed a wake up drink, this little lime bomb might just be the answer. This isn't just lime juice – it's lime juice and chilli. It's a wake up drink with a difference! Sharp lime at the front, hot chilli flavouring at the back. The only downside is that once again it's a product in plastic. But maybe you could reuse the bottles for sneaky shots of something else later... Find out more about Zingershots and where you can buy them at:

 I was sent some items free of charge and this post also contains Amazon affiliate links.

Camp Bestival Fancy Dress Ideas

It's about time I got my festival fancy dress underway. Because I attend a few festivals each year I try to ensure I wear a costume that will be suitable for a few of them (I'm not made of money!) but I also like to get a new costume each year, and I like to lure my daughter into dressing up too.

Getting kids to dress up is easier when they are small. At 10 she was happy to dress up and join in the fun and even into the early teens she was OK with it. But at 19 she's a bit reluctant, no longer young enough not to care, but not yet old enough not to either!

DD and me at Camp Bestival for the Circus Themed Fancy Dress

The theme this year at Camp Bestival is Heroes and Super Heroes and this gives wide scope for how it is interpreted. Who are your heroes? Will you be dressing as them? I predict some famous scientists, astronauts, explorers, doctors and ecologists among the costumes, as well as the more obvious choices of superheroes, such as Spider-man, Superman, Captain America and Wonder Woman.

I have been looking at both simple costumes and more elaborate ones. I am quite taken with the idea of matching T shirts. I found these on Ebay

But I also like the idea of the sorts of suits that look as if you are being carried by someone else. They always look funny and make me smile, and it is nice to have a giggle at a festival.

Maybe fans of Steve Irwin would opt for this

But there are superhero options too. I have been tempted to get a new Morphsuit (we all know how I love them) , one thing I am sure about is that I won't be going for the 'sexy' super hero look. Not only and I too old - I'm too annoyed by the sexing up of girls' fancy dress.

So there will be discussions with the teen later and then a splurge over the internet and you'll need to follow me on twitter or get tickets to Camp Bestival to see us in all our heroic glory!

You can grab tickets at Camp Bestival/Tickets 

Adult Weekend Ticket - £187.50*
Student Weekend Ticket - £180*
Age 13 to 17 Weekend Ticket - £119*
Age 10 to 12 Weekend Ticket - £93.75*
Age 5 to 9 Weekend Ticket - £33*
Age 4 & Under Weekend Ticket - £11*
Babes In Arms (1 & Under) - FREE (but ticket required)*
*All weekend tickets include access to the general campsites from Thursday to Monday
*Please refer to the Camp Bestival Ticket Terms & Conditions

I'm going to be at Camp Bestival as their guest. But I'm not being paid to promote Camp Bestival - I do that because I love it

#AdGifted #CampBestival2019

Night night, sleep tight - Camping sleep mats review

For a long time I have searched for the perfect comfy night's sleep when camping. As I'm in my 50s the simple thin foam mat favo...