Sometimes it snows in April.

I blame Prince. Sometimes it snows in April indeed. This year is one of those years. After the sudden death of Prince and the selfish realisation I'll never see him at a festival it was time to listen to lots of his music all over again. Snow...in April.

Now we all know Prince wasn't singing about camping. But it's what I think about a lot, and I have been thinking that it's about time to get the tents down out of the loft to check them for any damage (moths and mould are the enemy here - and while I use insecticide blocks in the loft and I putt the tents away dry, I'm always nervous). Even the Mr who doesn't camp has said it's time I checked them, which really means having a mini festival in the garden with all the tents erected for a few days (maybe I should have invited friends?)

And then today, 25th April, there is snow. It's crazy. Ah well, I've camped in cold and I've always wanted to camp in snow so I shall try not to be put off, though torrential rain may delay things. We shall see. So this weekend, weather permitting. There will be erections. I'll take photos..as the actress said to the bishop.

field of tents at a festival

Curious Arts Festival

This year I am off to the Curious Arts Festival again with DD. We went last year and found it an oasis of joy. This year we will be 'official' bloggers and so I need to make plans to review everything and not just snooze in the sun like a lazy warm dog.

Curious Arts is a festival unlike others I go to. There is camping but many people choose to come only for the day, or stay nearby, as it's in the New Forest there are plenty of places to stay, but I imagine you would need to get booking now to ensure your spot. I camp of course. If pitching your own tent is not your thing, or you don't have a tent, you can still camp onsite using the ready pitched glamping option of Bluebell tents. Or try Tangerine Fields for a ready made festival tent experience. You can even take your camper van at no extra charge!

Curious Arts seems more relaxed and has a more summer fete feel to it that a drunken music festival, but that is not a criticism! It's rather nice to know no one will piss on you tent in the night, and to have ice cream and deckchairs during the afternoon. It's an excellent festival for festival lovers and those that dislike festivals!

During the day there is lots to do, from wandering down to the lake, eating ice cream, or watching snail racing (I think lazy is a theme) to listening to author talks and interviews, comedy shows, movies in the film tent, or crafting. Last year we did spend a lot of time reading and snoozing and I am determined to discover more new authors this year. I'm very excited that Carol Ann Duffy will be there, along with so many others! See the full 'bookish' line up here. Musically there is a lot to look forward to as well of course, not least Billy Bragg. Check out all the acts here. I'm hoping to stumble across some new music to enjoy.

At every festival DD and I love the comedy. And Curious Arts crams in a lot. be sure to arrive early to get a seat - last year the tent was packed! With very good reason. It really is very funny. I'm looking forward to The Noise Next Door embarrassing someone else this year, rather than me! Though it did cause DD near pant wetting hilarity!

And for kids? Yep stuff for those small people too - DD is a bit old for the kids stuff now but it looked very popular.

If you fancy spending a day or a weekend there, you can grab tickets here

Ticket Prices:
Child 13 and under - all festival - FREE
14yrs and over (adult) - all festival - £120
Day or evening only tickets from £20

The festival site will be open for Weekend Ticket holders from 10am on Friday 22 July until noon on Monday 24 July 2015. 
Day tickets are valid from 10am until midnight.
Evening tickets are valid from 5.30pm until midnight.
Car Parking is free
 
 Disclosure : I have been given tickets to attend the festival free of charge but all words etc are my own

Festival Essentials

When you go to a festival there are some things that are just essential. Everyone's essential products are slightly different of course. Some people favour comfort over weight or cleanliness over food, but for many of us there are just some things that are must haves and even if they are not essential they are jolly useful.

When I started attending festivals in 2007 I had no idea what to expect. I hadn't been as a teen when you can get away with taking nothing except a tin of 'tobacco' and a fiver and trusting to the kindness of strangers, when you are a teen mud is fun to slide around in and wellies are for wimps, but in 2007 I was a grown up with a 6 year old in tow so I had to be slightly more sensible. I needed a tent for a start. I took a tent, beds, sleeping bags, a potty complete with disposable nappies (fabulously handy for a nighttime wee or when the toilets are just too vile to use - (you don't wear the nappy of course, you just use its super absorbent middle spread out in the potty to absorb the wee so you can bag it, and bin it later.) and some food, wellies and extra clothes, I think that was all. Oh and wet wipes.

In the years since then I've attended a minimum of 3 festivals a year and caught up with what we need and what is a nice extra. I always over pack - not helped by the fact we bought a trolley to cart stuff around.

So what are my festival essentials? (I'm not listing the tent and the beds, you already know you need those)


  • Wet Wipes. They clean everything from face to fingers to feet and everything in between. Also great for spills, removing face paint, and wiping the worst grunge off of dishes before washing them.
  • Ear plugs. I am not bothered by the sounds of a festival, I love the distant sound of musioc at 1am and the laughter of children at 6am but the sounds of the fat drunk guy snoring in the next tent FOR 2 HOURS (Glastonbury) or the screaming baby THAT JUST WON'T SLEEP (Camp Bestival) or the loud sex talk from a group of high teenagers (Eastern Haze) those things I can do without - so I take soft foam ear plugs. Heaven
  • Eye mask. My tent lets the light through the canvas, this wakes me too early in the summer so for a good nights full sleep I wear and eye mask. (being this sensory deprived I also sleep across the doorway when DD is with me, and keep all valuables deep in my sleeping bag!
  • Bin Bags. Useful for all camping, at a festival they are great to sit on if the ground is wet, and can double as a coat if you make arm and head holes! Perfect for the kids. And of course they are good for keeping things tidy in the tent, Dirty clothes, rubbish, muddy wellies.
  • Wellies. Get a trendy pair, wear them whatever the weather. Be prepared.
  • Layers. You can't be too warm (well you can but you can always take stuff off) nothing causes grumpiness faster than being cold. Layers, lots, take a woolly hat too


There are lots of nice but non essential things too of course, but those are my essentials. What are yours? Pop over to Twitter or FaceBook and let me know

Thanks to twitter users Alessandra, Ben and V for input :-)

And check these other important considerations over at The Parenting Game!


Etiquette at Festivals - an update to my rant

Some time ago I ranted a tad about behaviour at festivals.

It is not difficult to have fun at a festival and ensure that everyone else has fun too. Sadly it's easy to ruin someone's day too.

I have a couple of extra things to rant about after last years festival experiences.

  • Trolleys. The first time I attended a festival no one (no really, no one) had a trolley, not the sort with 4 wheels that you use to transport all your stuff and later, your kids, anyway. As festivals became popular and more and more families attended trolley hire became a thing and then people moved onto buying their own (quickly realising that if you attend a few festivals the purchase pays for itself in the saving of hiring fees) I bought a trolley too after Camp Bestival and it's long walks from the car park via umpteen hills. But using a trolley in a crowded area is an art and you need to be polite, you do not have the right of way based on how many small people are in the trolley or how many fairy lights it sports. People have the right of way. Your lumbering metal monster of a trolley is a convenience to you (as mine is to me) but it's a pain in the arse to everyone else. Take care, give way, watch where you are going and if you have to wait at the back of a long queue and a huge crowd, after say, the fireworks, then wait! Taking a trolley is really useful, but it comes with great responsibility. Don't be the twat with the trolley.

  • Bubbles. Did you know that detergent (the main ingredient of bubble mixture) damages tents? Not just damages them a bit, damages them a lot and usually makes them irreparable. The detergent changes the waterproofing of the tent effectively making the water just pour through instead of sliding off of the tent. Canvas is particularly badly affected, and canvas tents are becoming every more popular in the form of expensive bell tents and tipis. The odd bubble bursting on the tent probably won't hurt, but a giant drippy bubble from a giant bubble want might and the drip that spray from the giant bubble wand as you wave it about definitely will. My tent has suffered damage this year and I'm not sure if it will ever be waterproof in the areas splashed again. Especially sad as we'd just finished painting it for festivals. So bubbles, let's play with them far away from tents shall we?

  • Chairs and blankets. We all like to use them, but be considerate - chairs need to be at the back of a crowd or low down, or they stop everyone seeing what's going on (do not get me started on pop up sunshelters) blankets are great to sit on, but if, like us there are only 2 of you do you really need 6 square meters? Let's all be thoughtful, snuggle up, and help everyone see what's going on and have a nice time. And if someone steps on your blanket as they squeeze through the crowd, let's give them a break eh? It's a tight squeeze!

Wild Excitement

I'm starting the weekend pretty excited as I've been selected as one of the official Camp Bestival bloggers for 2016 (look over there on the right, I have a shiny new badge) and so I'm already planning and plotting...mostly I'm thinking about food!

Camp Bestival say :
Food has always been one of the shining stars in our firmament of fest-holiday frolics, so the Camp Bestival team are delighted to announce that there will be food adventures aplenty in Outer Space, with all manner of succulent delights lined-up for this year’s Feast Collective. 
Supporting some of the best streetfood producers around, each and every one of the gastronauts joining us at Lulworth Castle this July is pushing culinary boundaries. We’ve also asked them to consider their STEPS (Sustainability, Traceability, the Environment and Provenance), all making for what we think is the ultimate taste-fest, and the yummiest food you’re likely to encounter at a festival. 
Heading up our Feast Collective Ambassadors is the one and only DJBBQ, who’s as hot with a hunk of meat and a grill as he is on a pair of Technics. Commenting on his return to The Feast Collective DJBBQ AKA Christian Stevenson said: “Please don't tell the other festivals but Camp Bestival is our favourite. It's the perfect combination of fun people, exceptional location, phenomenal food, great music, and good times. I've been hosting the Feast Collective for the past couple years and it is the most carefully curated food tent on the planet. We love to throw a party and the Feast Collective is the best party at Camp Bestival. Rob da Bank himself told me that we are always one of the best sound systems at his festival. 
This year’s Feast Collective Ambassadors will also include Steven Lamb who has been the lynchpin of the River Cottage operation for more than a decade, and specialises in curing and smoking meats; Children’s Food Ambassador, and former BBC Cook of the Year, Jo Ingleby, who will be offering Children's Feast Collective Tasting Sessions; Luke Thomas, the UK’s youngest head chef, who was just 18-years-old when he took charge of his restaurant in Cookham and our Healthy Food Ambassador, Tess Ward, a Le Cordon Blue trained chef and rising star in the foodie world whose book, The Naked Diet, has put her at the forefront of making healthy food a mainstream concern. 
The line-up for this year’s multitude of Feast Collective food marvels, speciality chefs and streetfood gurus will include Seadog, the winners of the ‘Best of the Best’ prize at the 2015 British Street Food Awards, plus we will have contemporary twists on traditional Ghanaian cooking from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, noodle burger fusionists Pimp My Ramen, and real Southeast Asian street dishes and food to inspire happier living from Makatcha. Commenting on joining the Feast Collective line-up Makatcha’s Maria Knowles said: “Told by many customers that the "Feast Collective Tent has the best food!", Makatcha is so proud to be part of that. We will be bringing the EXOTIC taste of Indonesia's Rendang and special peanut sauce. The Feast Collective dream team are a real pleasure to work with too! Win Win!! for customers and traders.” 
Even more super-tasty treats are in store with 100% gluten-free, unrefined sugar and vegan treats from The Chocolate Bear Kitchen, Mauritian, Jamaican and Sicilian flavours from Coco Labelle, modern African fare including an amazing brunch menu from Lemlem Kitchen, delicious, vegan, gluten-free soup that will change your life from The Rattling Pan and high rollin’ Vietnamese streetfood from Pho Sho
Spreading the shrimpster message far and wide, Shrimpy will be on hand at this year’s Feast Collective alongside the ultimate fried chicken sandwich courtesy of Butchies, succulent meaty meat combined with fresh, vibrant and inspiring salads from The Cauldron, beautiful, delicious and nutritionally balanced juices, smoothies and kombucha from S’Juice Me, 100% natural ice lollies with no added sugar, handmade in the UK from real fruit and vegetables by Polar Pops and speciality coffee served up by Noble Espresso’s top baristas. 
Full of ambrosial adventure and flavoursome inspiration, make sure you try out the wondrous spread of deliciously decadent treats at this year’s interstellar Feast Collective!  

And don’t forget tickets are flying for our Outer Space adventures so make sure you grab yours while you can and keep on checking our website, Facebook and Twitter for all the latest sub space communications. 
Camp Bestival Festival Ticket Info: Camp Bestival 2016 Weekend Tickets are on sale now via: Ticketline / 0844 888 4410 
Camp Bestival 2016 Weekend Ticket Prices: 
Adult Weekend Ticket - £197.50 
Student Weekend Ticket - £185
Age 13 to 17 Weekend Ticket - £118
Age 10 to 12 Weekend Ticket - £93
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 or Friday. 

Disclosure : I freaking love this festival and I'm thrilled to have been offered tickets for free this year in exchange for telling you all how fabulous it is. 

Picnic Essentials - Outdoor Food on Friday

Ooh tis friday, and a chance question on twitter has me thinking about picnics! Someone asked about your favourite thing for a picnic, the one item that makes it perfect. I don't think I can narrow it down to one so I'm going with :

Cheese Straws

Cheese and pastry in one delicious hit. They travel well (assuming you don't crush them, but warm sun doesn't harm them) they are not messy to eat, and kids like them.

Scotch eggs

I like the mini ones with the egg scrambled in the middle. Simple to pop into your mouth and another great item for kids. Not so great in the sun, but in a cool box they will last until lunch with out going nasty.

Olives

I know some kids don't like them, but some do and I love them. DD has grown to love them and they are great with any other savoury food. Great for a snack and go nicely with wine

Crisps

Golden Wonder for preference and probably salt and vinegar (which I love with an egg sandwich). Though Marmite flavour are also rather yummy.

Wine

Any wine. Keep it cool in a cool bag or tie the bottle into a cloth bag and dangle it in the nearest stream to keep it cool. You can even cool it using water over a tea towel draped over the bottle in the shade

So there are my picnic essentials. What are yours? Let me know on Twitter or Facebook or write a post and link up!.


Grab a badge(copy the text in the grey box below and pop in at the end of your blog post or in a sidebar) , link up, visit some of the links. Have fun. See you next week.

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Eating outdoors for the first time this year - Outdoor Food on Friday

Eating outside doesn't have to be a grand afair. During the winter I have let the Outdoor Food on Friday linky lapse, no one except the very stupid or the very brave wants to sit out and eat in the rain, and I am neither. Now that the sun is shining again though, and the clocks have sprung forward giving us light longer into the evenings it seemed only fitting to bring back the feature. I'm hoping to get more of you to link up some useful recipes that we can all use when camping or just out enjoying the weather.

One of the first things I tend to consume outdoors each year is a cup of tea or coffee. It doesn't seem like a big deal but the reasons for it are usually based on effort. Let me explain...I'll wait while you make tea...ready? OK .. at the start of spring my Dear Husband and I look upon the garden with some despair and have to venture out to do some post winter tidying. This year it involved some rotten tree stump removal, some apple tree branches sawn off, a mow of the lawn, moving the trampoline and clearing of the odd dead plant. This took the best part of an afternoon and afterwards the Darling Daughter made us both a cup of tea, perfect to sit back on the newly cleared bench and sip tea in the spring sunshine while listening to the birdsong.
Copyright:chris_elwell / 123RF Stock Photo
But tea is not the only nice hot drink for outdoors, and I'm a huge fan of real coffee. Real coffee can be tricky to make if you travel light in a tent so I like to pack coffee bags, much like tea bags they steep in the cup, no mess and perfect real coffee is lovely on a misty morning outside the tent.

One thing that I haven't been doing is taking a flask when we go out on country walks. I used to but we broke a couple which meant we gave up for a while. I have tried an all metal flask but I never really felt it worked as well as the glass one. I'm thinking of getting another flask and having another go at a hot drink while out on a walk, especially after the first spring walk we went on this year, while sunny, was a bit nippy!

So this week's Outdoor Food on Friday is a nice hot beverage, tea or coffee, fresh from the kelly kettle if camping or from a flask if out walking (and here's a thing, I don't add milk to tea or coffee in a flask - I think it affects the taste, I'd like to know what you think on that and what you do)
Copyright:inspirestock / 123RF Stock Photo
So have you been eating or drinking outside yet this year? Have you blogged about it? Please link up below. Any blog post featuring eating or drinking outside is welcome, from beer in a pub gaden, to ice cream at the beach, but recipes that travel well or are easy to cook outside are most welcome.

Grab a badge, link up, visit some of the links. Have fun. See you next week.

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