Showing posts with label Camping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camping. Show all posts

Camping with Children

Camping with kids. You all know that I take DD with me, and though she is now 17 we've been camping as a couple (of crazed fools?) since she was 7. But not only did we start when DD was already old enough to be useful (!) I also only had to cope with one child. Today's guest post is from Amy who blogs over at Eps and Amy who camped with two, and who started with a babe in arms! Here's her experience and advice.

Camping with children, the good, the bad and the ugly!

I have two children, now aged 5 and 8, and we first attempted camping when the eldest was just 9 months old. I bought a special camping travel cot and we get her used to taking naps in it a for a few weeks before we went. Unfortunately, once we got to the campsite trying to get her to go to sleep in daylight (tents are very see-through) and with a lot of noise going on around. In the end we gave up and had to take Bethany home.

Not one to give up, we tried again when Bethany was around 2 years old. That went much better! We had changed to a tent which had a blackout lined, it was "dark" but it was "dark enough" and although she struggled to settle initially we all had a reasonable nights sleep.

We have since taken Bethany camping every year and started taking Jack when he was about 2 years old as well. I love camping with the kids; the fresh air tires them out and they really enjoy running around.

Food has always been a bit of an issue with my children, they are fussy little monkeys. We now take a gas powered kitchen hob with us so we can make pasta and cook some vegetables, we also take little packets of cocktail sausages (apparently freshly cooked ones just are good enough).

Children's safety on the camp site can be a bit tricky, when they are small they can easily wander off and cars don't necessarily stick to roads around a campsite so can surprise children who aren't paying full attention. In order to get around this we position the cars and tents so they form a square around our site and used wind breakers to block off any more gaps. We also ensure we assign one child to each of us, it can be very easy to assume someone else is watching the toddler and for them to wander off.

I love camping with the kids, it is so lovely for them to be out in the wild a bit. But don't be afraid to cheat a little: take ready meals with you, put a potty in the tent for night time toilet visits (even once the kids are older), take iPads with you (great for entertaining the kids for an hour when they are tired) and don't worry if it doesn't work out for you the first time, give it a year and try again.
Camping with children can be hard work, but I think it's worth it! Take the kids back to nature, it's good for their health and good for their education.

You can also follow Amy on Facebook and Twitter

Charity Challenge, Walking Hadrian's Wall

A guest post and a cry for help from Phill at Corporate Dad.

The first day of the year, where many of you are hungover is probably the most inappropriate time to discuss getting out into the fresh air, picking out a tent and camping. Or maybe it's the best time, when you are all full of New Year's resolutions and energy.

Whatever the case, I need your help!

Having organised an 84 mile trek in May to raise money for charity and inspire my daughters to do something amazing, there’s at least one issue. I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to camping but I do know how to walk. One out of two isn’t bad, right?

Now I know for any kind of long trek there’s going to be a lot of weight to carry. I’m hoping that a minimum of 4 people are going to be taking part and then multiples of 4 after that. Seeing that we will have camping gear, eating things, clothing and food, we can then separate out into four equal bags.

We’re going to be starting May bank holiday and looking at the weather the average temperature for that time is at least in double digits. I hope that the weather will be on our side when it comes to the weather as we’ll need lightweight, versatile clothing and camping equipment.

So thank you to Naomi at Tents and Festivals for letting me put this out there:

“I’m a NOVICE please help!”

Being tent experts I’m hoping there’s some avid walkers and hardened campers here to offer up some advice and expert opinions on equipment, logistics, best things to eat and any preferred locations to camp along the Hadrian’s wall.

5-6 Days of walking, we anticipate 16 miles a day minimum and my understanding is that it’s a really pleasant walk from Newcastle to Bowness. Fairly downhill and of course, with a wall, fairly straight forward. That doesn’t mean it isn’t going to be difficult.

Here’s some of my major questions:

  • What type of tent do we need? Double shell or do we go light and individual?
  • Food and Cooking? Would you recommend cooking or go all dry ingredients and protein shakes?
  • Any ideal Camping Spots or just go rural?
  • How would you arrange the logistics of it all? Getting to Newcastle and then back from Bowness?

Fingers crossed that everything will go to plan, there’s a whole lot of training to be done and I can’t wait to get started in the New Year (when I’m finally over this cold). It’s for a great cause and there’s going to be a whole sense of achievement after not only for me and my group but hopefully for my kids.

This is an open trek so please do let me know if you’d like to join us in this adventure and if you can help out with any of the questions above please do comment, share to those that may be able to help as every little detail could be vital.

If you’d like to know more or join in come find more details here: Charity Challenge

Wishing Phill all the best for his trip - you can follow him on Twitter or on Facebook

Festival Camping Tips

It's been quiet here lately as it's winter and only the bravest of us are still out camping (well, the brave and those with heating in their tent or caravan) So I thought I'd ask a few people to share some of their camping tales and advice. First off is Karen from over at Excuse This Honesty blog. And she has some excellent festival top tips, I'm not ashamed to say that the last one taught me something, it's genius and I'll be trying it out in future when I camp in summer!

Karen's Festival Camping Tips

Having attended several festivals over the past 10 years, I can safely say none of them have been the same when it comes to camping. Some years have given us conditions which have been wonderful to set up camp in – others … well, not so good.

The first thing I learned is to take an extra bag of tent pegs. No matter what I do, there's always going to be a tent peg that miraculously gets eaten by the ground – especially if it's muddy. I'd recommend picking up a pack beforehand and having them packed away in your rucksack – it will be much cheaper than buying them at the festival. (and I'll add to Karen's advice by suggesting using biodegradable pegs if the festival land will be used later for grazing animals)

Secondly, long guy ropes are something that I use rarely, especially as space is quite often an issue in a festival environment. When it's dark outside and people are trying to make their way through a sea of tents, guy ropes are just going to become a trip hazard. If you're wanting to put them up, shorten them as much as you can while still being able to put them in the ground, and pin them as close to your tent as possible – having someone stumble over one and fall on top of your tent when you are trying to sleep isn't fun! (This is a reason I use my dome tent at crowded festival sites, as the canvas ones I own rely on their guy lines to keep them up!)

We always take a tent which is bigger than what we need. Why? At a festival, there can be some waiting around between bands that you want to see, and sometimes all you want to do is sit at your tent for a few hours and take some time out. In 2012, we attended Download festival and the thunderstorms were incredible. Two of our friends took a giant tent which could fit all 10 of us in at once, making it a great way to stay sociable and have some games on the go while the storm passed!

Lastly, take a foil sheet and some pegs with you to attach to the side of your tent. I've never done this before when camping, but at Glastonbury this year, we saw many people doing it – including those we were camping with. By attaching the foil sheet (which you should be able to get at any camping store as they're used as a safety blanket, too) with pegs to the outside of the tent that will be affected by the sun when it comes up; you'll reflect some of the sun away, making the temperature inside much more bearable in a morning. Believe me, waking up a hot mess at a festival feels 10 times worse than being at home! (This is the best top tip I've heard in ages, I'm definitely going to be doing this!)

Follow Karen on various social media : 


Big thanks to Karen for sharing, I'm looking forward to more camping tips and tales over the coming weeks. If you have a story to share - email me Tentsniffer

The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide when Camping

When you go camping how do you keep warm? We don't have electric hook up and we cook on a gas stove or a fire or a barbecue. But I'm so aware of the risk of fire and the silent, scentless killer that is carbon monoxide that I never bring them inside the tent. We rely on lots of layers, good sleeping bags, and maybe a hot water bottle, recently we have invested in the best heater of all - a puppy!

puppy sleeping

puppy in a tent

puppy sleeping

But two in five campers and caravanners have admitted taking enormous risks with their lives by 
bringing outdoor gas appliances inside as a result of the unpredictable British weather.
Millions are ignoring basic gas safety laws by bringing lit barbecues inside tents, because of the rain 
and in order to stay warm.
A survey of 1,000 campers and caravanners by CORGI HomePlan revealed a shocking lack of 
understanding of the risks involved when using gas cookers, barbecues and heaters - that can all 
emit deadly carbon monoxide, even when flames are out, nearly two thirds of people did not know that CO continues to be produced after a flame has been extinguished.
One in five of those surveyed said that when it rains, they will bring a barbeque into 
their tent or tent porch. This is despite the recent near-fatal incident over the August Bank Holiday, 
which saw a family of five hospitalised in Cornwall after barbecuing in a tent during a downpour.
A further one in five campers keep warm at night by using a smouldering barbecue, 
kerosene heater, patio heater, lit barbecue or gas stove.

And while I wouldn't bring any of these things inside I do think I might fall into the group of people who were confused as to what ‘well ventilated’ is. Nearly half believed it to be a tent with an open door. The reality is fumes can blow from lit and extinguished appliances into - rather than out of - confined spaces, allowing carbon monoxide to accumulate to toxic levels. A reason to ensure barbecues are far from the tent! (Luckily my fear of fire means I keep them far away and also douse them completely with water before I leave them)

“By packing a simple CO detector in your luggage and setting it up in your tent, it leaves you free to 
enjoy a worry-free break.”Mark Leslie, CEO of CORGI HomePlan
For a checklist of how to keep your family safe on a camping and caravanning holiday, visit: Corgi Home Plan and consider adding a CO detector to your camping essentials.

Thanks to Corgi Home plan for the info - I have not been compensated in any way for this post.

Looking back over the camping and festival summer

Early autumn and yet already I feel the gloom of the colder weather affecting me. Partly due to the weather and partly due to the lack of annual leave left to me I have packed up the tents until next year and that always makes me sad.

I had a fabulous summer though, with awesome festivals. I went to the Curious Arts Festival to grab some culture in a field, Camp Bestival (as always - and I enjoyed it all over again), Wilderness, where I gazed once again on glorious countryside filled with glitter, music and nudity, and even a Medieval festival at a castle!

I was not alone in having a great summer in the outdoors and so to help us all cope with the darker mornings, the rain, and the cooler nights here are some other great camping and festival posts to read. ..

Samantha at NorthEastFamilyFun was letting her kids have a taste of freedom at the Corbridge Festival

"I'm a bit of a free range parent and I'm keen to give Harry some extra independence this summer. He is going into Year 5 in September and when I remember how much I did at his age it was a lot more than he does now. The festival wasn't too busy through the daytime so Steve and I found a spot next to a noticeable landmark and let H&H have some freedom to explore with the instructions to check in regularly. The festival is in one field and has a big fence around it, plus they had our phone number on their wristband so I was confident they wouldn't get lost." Read More

While Meg was experiencing what it's like to be a new mum at a music festival when she went to the Secret Garden Party without her baby!

"My festival experience has changed slightly since having a child as I’m sure you are all aware, as a parent your priorities change. But what’s funny is that it’s carried over into everything that you do….including going to a festival even when the baby is left at home with the grandparents! So here is what it’s like going to a festival as a new mum……" Read More

Not everyone was at a festival though, there was plenty of glamping and yurting (can yurt be a verb?!) to be had too.

Naomi at Life by Naomi was thrilled to stay in a yurt with family and friends.

"We cooked all out meals on site – it made sense with so many children around. We had a barbecue one evening and a chilli on the other, which I had made in advance. The electric cookers were really efficient, and all the yurts were really well equipped with cooking equipment and utensils. Washing up was easy too – and there was so much hot water! (That was a glamping bonus for me.)
We had an absolutely brilliant time from start to finish. Yes, it rained. But, we’re British, so we just got on with it. The kids had an absolute blast, and were completely exhausted from running around outside all day" Read More

Erin at Yorkshire Tots was glamping in Yorkshire.

"Our home for two nights was Jolly Day’s signature Woodland Tent.  Spacious and charming, it had everything we needed for a very comfortable stay.  Outside our tent was a large veranda and right off our front steps we had our own BBQ and picnic table." Read More

And Kate loved her stay in a yurt so much she now wants to live in one!

"the unadulterated joy of just rocking up and not having to deal with that. Also the yurt has proper beds. And a wood burning stove. And a hob. And a bottle opener and all sorts of useful, good and pretty things that frankly won’t fit in the back of my car any more because of the level of ‘stuff’ that leaving the house with the kids seems to demand. It was bliss." Read More

Hope you enjoyed the foray back into warm summer nights. I have some more 'back to nature camping trips to suggest you read next time. Until then, keep in touch via Twitter and Facebook.

Let me know how you cope with camping withdrawal...or do you snow camp? I'd LOVE to hear about that (it's on my bucket list)

A review of a great easy pitch tent the Trespass Qiktent

At the end of every festival I attend I enjoy watching people who, on day one, smugly erected an instant 'pop up' tent, and now on day 5 are struggling to get it back into its bag!

I have seen swearing, family rows, anger, broken tents, ripped bags, tents crammed into cars still semi erect, even tents just dumped in fury and left at the festival.

I envy these people on day one, but always remember on day 5 why I don't have a pop up tent.

If only there was a tent that was quick to put up, but just as quick to put down.

Well it turns out there is!

Trespass sent me a 2 man Qiktent to review and as soon as it arrived DD and I excitedly erected it in the living room! It was super fast, and then, equally super fast, we packed it away again! Good gracious, we were sold on the whole idea. And so we decided to take it with us to the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire. Initially we planned just to pitch it and maybe use it for storage as it's small, but in the end DD was so taken with it she decided to make it her home for four days.

I rarely make videos but I couldn't believe how fast and simple the Qiktent was to erect and pack down, and knew you wouldn't believe it either unless you could witness it - so here is the evidence, and a chat with DD about why she loved it.

The tent is super fast to erect, it's also fast and easy to pack away, it's light, it is cute. It  has a porch area for muddy shoes or your rucksack. As a two man tent it has space for two to sleep but no extra space (except the porch area) so you would need to be good mates to share. But for a single camper it is the perfect tent, enough space to sleep and store your kit. Also great as a second (or third!) small tent for your teens to have a private sleeping area.

Like any nylon tent it can get condensation on the inside in the morning if it's cold out, and it heats quickly in the sun, but it has easy open windows at either end with fly screens, and a fly screen over the sleeping area door, so it's quick to cool down and air the tent.

The sleeping area is a sealed unit with attached groundsheet so no danger of creepy crawlies in the tent, and of course, the inner and outer skins are all attached to the frame for that super speedy erection. The outer is waterproof to 3000hh which is pretty impressive, and will cope with all the UK weather can throw at it.

It's not a particularly cheap tent at £74.99 but I would say that is worth paying for the simplicity and ease of use of the tent, you won't worry about using it even for a brief stay. A great festival tent, or a tent for a couple of nights, it would be excellent if you are hiking or biking and staying in a different spot each night, arriving late and tired it would be just the tent you need to take all the strain out of pitching.

The Qiktent is no longer available but similar style tents can be found on Amazon

Disclosure - I was sent the tent in exchange for an honest review.

Let me know what you think over on my  Facebook page , or tweet me at Tentsniffer on Twitter.

Curious Arts Festival 2016

So I expect you are all wondering, did I manage to see all of the things I hoped to at the Curious Arts Festival?

curious arts festival programme

Well, no. But I experienced all I needed. We arrived on the Friday and the cricket match was in full swing already, sadly it's a short walk form the camp site and the main festival site, and after pitching the tent in the scorching sunshine all I fancied was a snooze and an ice cold beer! Couple with the fact we had the small puppy with us (and she was panting in the shade) we decided to miss the cricket in favour of total non exertion.

Festival Checklist and some Festivals you may have missed


I'm well into my festival season, I hope you've been to at least one, or are about to! I'm looking forward to reviewing all of the ones I attend but until then, here's a list to keep you busy - maybe you'll find a festival to attend? Or to pencil in for next year.

My list of 5 'Must Sees' at Camp Bestival this year

Every year I plan lots of things to see at Camp Bestival and we usually manage about 50%. Mainly because the festival is large, we are easily distracted and extremely lazy.

So I'm making a list this year of just 5 things that I absolutely MUST see.

Put to the Test - Liquiproof waterproofer

I am a camper so I'm very familiar with water, getting soaked, ruined trainers, soggy jeans, etc etc you get the picture. After all I live in the UK, home of damp summers and wetter springs, saturated autumns and drowning winters.

liquiproof waterproofer and some canvas shoes

When I was asked if I fancied reviewing Liquiproof I was keen to try something new, I've used water proofers in the past of course, famously I had to respray the tent and used rather a lot of Fabsil. The trouble with most water proofers is that they smell really bad so you have to use them in well ventilated areas and they stink the place out as they dry. Not so with Liquiproof! I was suspicious when told this but also intrigued, how could something water based be water proof? My tiny brain couldn't cope
"The solution works by bonding SiO2 particles to the individual fibres of the fabric, creating permanent bonded layers which forms an invisible barrier that keeps water and oil from ruining the shoe surface.
The cutting edge formula is effective for everyday situations allowing even suede shoes and jackets to maintain permanently stain free from the rain and spillages. The cost effective formula enables a permanent  protector for all shoes and clothing without affecting the look, feel or breathability of the fabric."
So I gave it a go. I tried it on my favourite new material summer shoes, the instructions are pretty easy, Start with clean items, spray until the surface is damp, work the liquid in with a brush (I use a toothbrush, a clean one, not Dear Husband's) and then wait 10 minutes and spray them again. Then wait 24 hours before testing them in the sink...the testing them in the sink is optional but it's so much fun!! (I cannot wait to do my denim jacket!)
So my review is - Liquiproof is amazing, easy to use, no smell and it works! I haven't tried washing a product treated yet but apparently it lasts several washes, I'l let you know after I've treated the jacket. I am very impressed. (and now I'll be able to wear my favourite summer shoes even in a British summer!)

You can see the product impressing the Dragons on Dragon's Den here.

You can find out more about it here and buy Liquiproof at a selection of U.K Stockists, Office, Selfridges, Offspring, Urban Outfitters, Birkenstock, The Natural Shoe Store or grab some on Amazon

Prices start at £10

I was sent a bottle of Liquiproof for the purposes of this review but the review above is my own!

Liquiproof says :
"Everyday, the clothing, furniture and footwear that we buy is exposed to the risk of dirt and damage, and the greatest hazard is from the accidental spills that often occur when we eat and drink.
The classic example that springs to mind is the nightmare of red wine spilling onto a spotless cream carpet. But imagine if the wine was unable to soak in and remained in beads on the surface, ready to be cleaned up without leaving a stain…. that’s the result of Liquiproof Fabric Protection.
By protecting your apparel and furnishings with Liquiproof, you can enjoy the carefree lifestyle of knowing that your belongings will be shielded from damage, stay cleaner and look smarter for longer."

Camp Bestival Planning

As you know I find half the fun of a festival in the planning and the preparation. Don't get me wrong, the festival is the best bit, but all the sorting of camping stuff, thinking about fancy dress (in 2012 I dressed as a horse!) , deciding on food and things to take for 'emergencies' - I love all that too.

So today I'm rounding up some advice from other Camp Bestival bloggers, both old hands and newer ones, in case I have forgotten any thing, and to spy on their plans. Hopefully it will help you plan for festivals too.

Rain and Camp Bestival (never in the same place at the same time)

Today it is raining. But at Camp Bestival it doesn't rain. I know as I've been there every year since 2010 and we have only once had a tiny shower. Camp Bestival is the place to take children to experience real life, out door life, a holiday camp in a field, with a castle, with magical things...

Check out the video and if you are still not filled with the desire to join me there this year...well, I'll just have to lure you with cocktails and comedy and much more

England's Medieval Festival

Close your eyes wait, don't, you need to read this ...OK just imagine (really clearly in your head but while still reading) a distant past, the thud of horses' hooves, the smell of hog roasting over an open fire (feel free to imagine an apple baking if you are vegetarian) the sound of cheering, of metal on metal, shouts, music played on a mandolin, singing and the squeal of excited children, the slosh of ale into a tankard.....

medieval festival england jousting

Now see the sunshine, the green grass, tents with the canvas door flaps cracking in the summer breeze like whips, flags fluttering, horses standing resplendant in red and white livery, shining armour glinting so you have to blink, and when you open your eyes again, a princess in flowing gown and pearls is laughing and dancing by you...

medieval festival england

and now stop imagining!! You can experinece it all! You can travel back in time for a weekend and live relaxed, your day managed only by the height of the sun in the sky and your desire for your next cider. Your children (and you and even your dog) can learn archery (ok the dog can't do all the stuff but you get the idea) , watch falconry, battle reenactments, jousting, listen to music, dance, eat, relax, at a truly medieval festival.

child in stocks medieval festival england
Not sure the childcare is particularly safe!

And you can WIN TICKETS!!

Yes you read that correctly - I have a set of Weekend Camping Tickets  (2 Adults/2 Child or 3 Adults) worth £250 including up to 4 nights camping from 26th August and entry to every day of the festival for a lucky person (and friends/family) and all you need to do is enter via the RaffleCopter thingy below. (UK only - ends 2nd July 2016 full T&Cs in the giveaway box)

If you win you can add even more excitement to the day with extra events - more info here - including things like VIP seating for the jousting and banqueting!

Englands Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle

August 27th – 29th 2016 Herstmonceux Castle, Sussex
Family day tickets from £46
Family weekend tickets from £230
‘What an incredible experience. We felt like we really had gone back in time!’

Step back in time and immerse your family in the spectacular magic of the past.
England’s Medieval Festival is the most authentic, oneofakind event in the UK with a very special blend of history and fun for the whole family.
From the moment you arrive you are surrounded by the sights, smells and excitement of medieval times.
Realistic historical battles, jousting, performers, horses, archery, music, traditional crafts, eating, drinking, shopping and daytoday life of the past. Herstmonceux Castle is a fairy tale setting for a totally different family weekend. Wizards, jesters, knights, dragons and princesses await the kids.
Guests can enjoy medieval glamping, standard camping in the castle grounds, or even a real bed in the onsite B&B. Or just come for the day.
With so much to see and do, it’s easy to see why so many guests return year after year, and now bring their own children to share the magic.
Grandparents, babies and even the pet dog are welcome!


Highlights of the Weekend include
Jousting – twice daily shows
Musical entertainment – traditional, folk and everything in between
Daily grand parades, and an evening torch lit procession
Minstrels, Magicians and 'The Mud Show' Jesters,
Jugglers and Bird of Prey
Kids’ Kingdom: drum, sword and jester schools, archery, medieval bushcraft, stage shows, pony rides, medieval skittles and crafts, campfire storytelling and stargazing.
Workshops: chain mailing, iron work, wood weaving, calligraphy, brass rubbing, candle making, stone carving Hundreds of traditional craftsmen and traders
Outdoor evening Cinema,
Fire Shows and a wooden Ferris Wheel
Huge range of craft ales, ciders & mead at the Buxom Wench & Jester Taverns
Excellent traditional food savour hogs roasting over open coals
Medieval Banquet in the castle
Stunning surroundings in the beautiful castle gardens and grounds.

Disclosure : I'm as excited as you are! I've never been before and was offered free tickets this year to check out this fabulous sounding festival and all it has to offer, grab your suit of armour, mount your white charger, I'll see you there!

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. 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 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!

Festival Planning - How very Curious

The sun has been shining for 10 minutes so I'm instantly planning for festivals I'm off to this year. Starting with The Curious Arts Festival in the lovely New Forest. Running from Friday 22nd July until Sunday 24th in the grounds of Pylewell Park, I cannot stress strongly enough how lovely this festival is. It's not a full blown music and drugs affair, more a gentle meander though fields to some melodic relief as you sip a G and T.

Rather than a rush of sex starved groupies to the back of the tents for a grab at a pop star you'll be more likely to see people wandering unhurredly over to the ice cream van, glass of bubbly in hand, hoping to chat to their favourite author who is lounging in the sun on a deckchair.
Books hanging from a tree by ribbon curious arts festival
 For this is a polite festival, a festival of art and culture. With deckchairs strategically placed around the grounds of a gorgeous stately home and snail races on the lawn. A festival where you can share a fried haloumi snack with an author and his dog chat about poetry, read, snooze...
dog sleeping on the grass festival
But this is not to say it is a posh festival, or a boring festival (after all, they let me in!) it is full of comedy, both in the tents and about the grounds. There is madness and mahem a-plenty, also fancy dress (or a slightly refined air it's true, grab a ballgown chaps and join us!) lots of alcohol, and of course music and dancing.
festival tent bunting music dancing
It's a lovely relaxed festival where you can decide to take in as much or as little culture as you please (the same goes for ice cream). Camping is included in the ticket price and last year there was loads of room, on flat, unhilly terrain, close to the car park. Children under 13 can attend free with a paying adult so it's a perfect place to bring the family. You can even bring dogs as long as they remain well behaved and on leads. With activities, art, book readings, author talks, camping, fields, walks, snail races (they were a real thing!) music, comedy, drinks and food there is no real reason NOT to come to this super festival. I'll be starting my festival season with it and I can't wait. The line up is unfolding here and you can buy tickets here

Ticket Prices:
  • Friday Day Ticket (includes evening) – £40
  • Saturday or Sunday Day Ticket (includes evening) – £45
  • Evening only Ticket – £20
  • Full weekend ticket – £120 (only £95 until 31st March - quick, save money, buy early!)
  • Family Ticket – £300
  • Children under 13 – Free
Disclosure - I've been invited to attend the festival as a guest, but I have not been paid to write this post, and it's all my own work.

Hi Di Hi Campers, have you got your wellies on?

Yes it's 2016 and no I haven't blogged since Hector was a pup, but here we are. It is STILL raining in the UK and if I wasn't comforted by rainbows I might have begun to build an ark. It is looking increasingly likely that by the time my daughter is a grown up she will be having boating holidays (like in water world) rather than camping ones!

All this water made me think of Wellingtons. Those rather fabulous boots named for a Duke and now cheerfully keeping the camper, farmer, and dog walker's feet dry.
wellington boots wellies
I seem to have got though a fair number of wellies in my time, I think festival life takes it out of them. Sun seems to make then brittle and then they crack and let in the very thing they are designed to save us from, the camper's nemesis, mud.

As a festival girl I like a fancy welly, no plain black ones for me, or a smart functional green, no I like a bit of flair.
festival wellies

The first wellies I bought for festivals were black with tattoo prints on. There are still lots of cool tattoo wellies about but mine cracked after a year and were replaced with a skull themed pair. They too lasted only a year and I was getting pretty fed up with the lack of quality. Next I tried a cheap pair of black 'lace up' wellies and added some fancy ribbon, and an extra pair of wellies that were printed to look like converse trainers! They both managed two years before succumbing to the same old cracking issues as all the others.
wellies in mud
DD sports some black wellies with glitter in that we bought from a local garden centre and they have lasted ages! Through numerous festivals, camping trips, even visits to the beach.
wellies on the beach

Last year I bought some Peter Storm wellies at the end of the season for a bargain £9.99 and I'm hoping they last at least the rest of this year's festival season. My new wellies are super hero themed. Perfect.
If these give up the ghost I'm very tempted by these cowboy style wellingtons...over at Funky Leisure.

But I'm still not going camping yet. Is it still raining?

Starwars festival fancy dress

A Star Wars tribute from my now teen, though I guess she was much younger when we took this pic!

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