Camping and Festivals With Kids: What You Need, What You Don’t And How to Enjoy it!

As you may know, our mad family have been asked to be Camp Bestival Bloggers this year. It means I’m starting to think about what we need for the time we’re away, what we’ve brought before and then didn’t need, and what to do so everyone has a grand old time. So, maybe its your first time camping or going to a festival, with or without kids, and you’re not sure what you need? Read on and find out my top tips:

CLOTHES- What to bring, what to ditch
As Elder has already started to remind me the minute I started looking at eBay for my Festival Wardrobe, less is more, especially where a festival is concerned.

I have made the error before of bringing a massive suitcase full of stuff, which for the main part just gets left to crumple.

For us Mums, I recommend a good pair of boots or wellies, plus some flat flip flops or ballet flats which are comfy and don’t take much room. The boots are handy if it rains, and also, on the loo run in the night so you don’t step on a bit of rubbish in the dark, or the grass is wet.
I also swear by a maxi dress, a t-shirt or vest, shorts (if you’re brave), OR one pair of jeans,and undies of course. Its definitely comfort that is all important.

For Dads, its a pair of trainers Elder swears by (just don’t make the mistake he did several years back of wearing canvas ones. Leather is best for all weathers). A pair of jeans, a pair of shorts and a couple of t-shirts, with a hoodie optional of course.

For kids, bring a onesie- they are great for watching night time concerts as they can be worn with wellies, and then when they get tired you just tuck them in to bed without the fuss of getting changed. For Mini and Littlest, I bring a mix of shorts, jeans and tops, as well as something warm to put over the top.

Its advisable to bring a light waterproof jacket too, it can be chilly in the morning, and if in the UK you can never rely on the weather being sunny.

Forget having too much stuff, pieces that can be mixed and matched over the weekend are great, don’t bother with fancy clothes that you’d rather not ruin with mud. And remember, most campsites now have washing facilities for as little as £2 a wash, so you can always give things a launder.

Before setting off with a tent you haven’t used since you trekked round Europe in your gap year in 1995, put it up and check for leaks, holes and broken zips. There’s nothing worse than turning up, setting up and realising your tent is ready for a bin, not a family of expectant campers.
Also, make sure you have all the pegs, poles and tags you need- or you could end up having to buy a tent at short notice for much more.
If you find any bits missing, you can always replace them cheaply on eBay.

Bring some colouring books for rainy days

If you are a new camper, don’t buy a tent on anything other than how easy it is to put up. If you have never had to grapple with cross poles, and zips, and Velcro, get a recommendation from previous buyers on line for ease of use. Also, don’t let price concern you- sometimes, the cheaper tents have less fiddly bits and are serviceable. Our tent has about four poles, but it also has a sleeping area and a living room too, and is big enough to fit us all in comfortably.

Do not do what we did the first time we went to Camp Bestival. We had no car then, so used a shopping trolley (minus the basket) for the tent and everything else went on the back of Littlest’s buggy. Thus, we had nothing to cook on.

Food at festivals is not cheap. You are stuck there for several days and they know it. So, bring something to cook on, even if its a number of disposable barbecues. You can easily buy a purse friendly little gas stove from eBay. We even have collapsible pots and pans, and we take a rucksack that doubles as a picnic set.
We bring selection boxes for the kids breakfast,  3 in 1 coffee tubes, lots of tins of hot dogs, meatballs, corned beef, and beans, as well as pasta and bacon too.

A torch is a must for night time tent finding missions, make sure you try the batteries before you leave.

You can bring an air bed, we only bring a double one which is big enough for the Brats, but remember to bring a pump if you do. Otherwise, sleeping bags are essential and you can bring a foam bed roll, which doesn’t take up much room but saves your back!

If you really can’t be parted from some form of 21st century civilisation, or you are bringing a camera, its worth checking whether the festival you are off to has any charging stations. Some more modern campsites now have free wifi, but it can be sporadic depending on how many other people are trying to log on.

We find an in car charger a must have for phones, these are generally available in Poundshops now and you can get one with several adaptors to suit different phones. Most festivals wont have electric hook up (whereas campsites do but will charge extra for your pitch), and you can’t park the car besides the tent, but in the case of Camp Bestival, the main music doesn’t kick off until midday. That means you may have time to fill beforehand if your kids still wake up at 7am like mine.
A quick hour back at your car wont hurt- take it in turns to do the honours of charging.

For cameras, take a few extra SD cards as they soon get filled. Just look after them when you remove them, perhaps put them in the glove box?

DON’T LEAVE TECH OR OTHER ITEMS ON SHOW. Yes, you’re at a campsite, its all friendly but sadly thieves can and will pinch anything if they have the chance. Just as you would when visiting your local shopping centre or parking outside your house, leave it on show, expect it to go. 

Overall, have a good time, make sure you bring plenty of spending money, try and see as many attractions as possible and join in with some of the crowd based circus acts and art.

If there is a theme (Camp Bestival’s theme is Circus), then you don’t have to join in, but believe me its fun! In 2010, we dressed as fairies and had a right laugh. Getting your costume sorted early will save your pounds, but, should you catch the costume bug late, there are plenty of stalls offering a plethora of items for all budgets.

THE ACTS: How to Catch Them Live
Do not make the mistake we made at our first Camp Bestival. We wanted to see Madness, the headline act. We had brought plenty of drinks for the kids. We had a buggy cover so Littlest could snooze. We were right at the front for the acts before. And then we decided to go and get something to eat and stretch our legs. 

Massive festival fail.

Headline acts are headline acts for a reason, and the crowds will appear out of nowhere. We ended up trying to get back into the crowd, and got so far before giving up. It meant I had a lovely walk back to the tent, whilst Elder- keen to see his boyhood heroes, dove back into the throng. Make sure to get there early, get a space, and stick to it. If one of you or the kids need the loo, don’t all go together. Remember landmarks so you can plot your way back too. 

Are you off camping or to a festival for the first time? Or are you seasoned camper? Spotted anything missing above? Then comment below!


Britmums Live: Wine, Women and What a Lot of Laughs

I want to start by just saying a massive, huge thanks to the wonder-women team that is Susanna, Jen and the rest of the Britmums Team. Wow ladies- I find it hard enough to keep up a blog and twitter feed, let alone sort out a 700 people plus brands and PRs mega conference.

For anyone who had any negatives last year- they smashed it this year. Its a sign of the respect they have for members and ticket buyers that they listened and brought us a conference which, and with knowledge stemming from every one that’s gone before from being there I can say this, will be monumentally hard to beat by anyone else.

It was kind of a “yeah, we know there are newbie blog events out there, but we own this shit people”, seriously, I know Susanna and Jen wouldn’t put it that way as they are far too polite but you could smell in the air the happiness and accomplishment (or they may have been the wine. Possibly).

So, to the event.

If I met you there, it was fun, and I hope to see you here on the blog and at events (feel free to comment, but remember as the divine Ms Cherry Menlove, Mel and Rachel said, comments are not everything).

If I was hopeless and walked past you like a tit- sorry! I do it every year, and every time after, I have people saying “oh I missed you, I did see you but you didn’t see me” and I feel terrible!

The conference timetable was pitched perfectly, there was stuff for newbies, there was stuff for intermediates even I, after 8 years of blogging actually learnt something- in fact, I learnt loads! When you’ve been around as long as I have, you kind of think you know everything. But social media changes rapidly and clearly, Britmums knows this as I am now full of ideas of how to ramp up my channels and make them better.

Kudos to Emma Freud from one of the funniest and most honest Keynote addresses I have ever heard. She was self depreciating, she admitted to not being a fan of the Daily Fail, and of being a bit naughty to snag her hubbie (who honoured us with his presence) and her long suffering friends to join in with Comic Relief daring endeavours. She was a riot and I would love to wake up to one of her speeches at least once a week as an affirmation that we womenfolk are bloody ace, even with crowns and dresses the Daily Fail don’t like.

The mixture of emotionally charged speakers versus good old fashioned belly laughs were spot on. If you weren’t there, you need to go Google “Good Enough Mums Club” right now. For anyone who has a vagina basically where a child has appeared from (sorry tmi), its the play you need in your life right now. Witty, funny, well written and seriously well observed comedy at its best, I was itching for them to carry on and do the whole play but alas we got the first scene and a bit of act two to whet our appetites. I need to see the rest sharpish.

Talking of whetting ones appetite. Lindemans. You lot hate me don’t you?

I was so monumentally hung over on Saturday that for some reason at the ungodly hour of 5am I Instagrammed a very different “I woke up like this”. I looked like I had been run over repeatedly. I felt like death warmed up and then cooled down again. If I scared anyone with my appearance, then blame Lindemans frankly. I know I cannot drink wine, but if you stuff a glass or bottle under my nose and call it a freebie, I am going to dive in. I took me until yesterday to feel human again- I swear I could have auditioned for In The Flesh I looked so like the undead.

All in all, a wonderful event full of info, friends, drinks, giggles and lovely new contacts that I didn’t want to go home from. I am so on it trying to get a sponsor already for next year.

See you there guys x

BritMums Live Is Tomorrow- Yippee!

Calm down dears its Britmums Live tomorrow.

I am looking forward to seeing most of you there, and hopefully some of you will even pop along for the pre-meet up. 

The Annual Meet Up has gotten so big now we’ve had to move across the road to All Bar One, right opposite its previous place ofStarbucks, at the end of Chiswell Street. We will be there from around 12.30, so pop in and say hi (and for the teetotal amongst you, its OK they serve coffee and tea, we’re not going to get you drunk by force. Unless you ask us to).

Here’s how you get from Moorgate tube to the event and to the Brewery (*if you click it it gets bigger):

Here is what All Bar One looks like:

Its on City Road, or Frinsbury Pavement as its also called. Its opposite Starbucks and Natwest bank, and there are traffic crossings right outside. There, even I can find that, and I currently need a sat nav to find my way home from the local shops. 

For those asking, mine’s a Gin and Tonic. Hic.

To the event itself, I am so excited. I don’t get to be Claire again very often, I am her indoors who gets a shrug unless proffering food or beer, and Mum (or MUMMMMMYYYYY! Eddie is annoying me!), so going to Britmums is an excuse to have adult conversations with people who don’t glaze over when I chat about Blogging.

I have my business cards ready (designed by Mini- that’s how easy Moo Cards are to make), I have my bag packed and my clothes picked (no dresses this year, unless I can attach myself to the Coca Cola lot and procure a free posh lunch), and my hair dyed to not scare you all with my grey.

Come find me, I am not scary and don’t rant in public about anything other than the Tories or UKIP (best not to mention them actually), I will be wearing dark jeans, a black sequin top and a funky kimono jacket thing which is a total Chinese rip off of Zara (shhhh).

Have fun, take a deep breath, and enjoy it. You will get so much from this weekend whether you’ve been before or not.

See you there guys x

Is It Just Me: Or Is New Technology a Gigantic Bloody Faff?

I am off to Britmums Live on Friday. Yay! Yippee! (and thanks Harper Collins, my amazingly nice and lovely sponsors- go sign up on the badge guys!)

We, and by we I mean myself and my little group of girls, are broke. In different degrees, of course, but we have a lack of funds between us for one reason or another. So, I thought, lets load up my iPod and bring my mini dock and possibly have a little drink in the hotel after Fridays awards.

Which meant I had to redo my whole iPod as the Evil Genius boy decided to bugger it, again. In fact, what happened was he decided to disable wireless on the laptop just before the kick off of the England game on Saturday, when we could only stream it as the scaffolding was still up and it had knobbled the Signal to the Sky. Hence, Elder tried, between 10pm and 3.30pm Sunday to make it work again, reloading the whole of Windows, Toshiba and anything else. After all, a laptop is not great if you need to connect it to the broadband without wireless.

It turned out to be a switch on the front. Which I found in five minutes after he had gone for a break to the shop.

I spent 2 hours earlier with the external hard drive on, copy and pasting songs to my Music folder and to iTunes. 

I had to download some tunes as there was new stuff I wanted on there too.

I then had to wipe the iPod- what is with that? Having to wipe the bloody thing every time you need to sync it? If there’s a way to do this without wiping it I’d love to know it.

I’ve done it before though, so I thought it’d be very easy and happily all my tunes would be on my iPod all shiny and new.

Nope, they wouldn’t.

I got an error message. And only Blurred Lines was on the whole 4gb of iPod.

Now, I like Blurred Lines. Its a song before anyone gets all feminist and moans about it being anti women and wrong. I am aware of hysteria about it, and that Robin Thicke is a bit sleazy. But to me, its a song.

I do not, however, want to listen to it and nothing else.

I swore at the cursed iPod. That didn’t work. I threatened it that I would stamp on it. That didn’t work either.

Which got me thinking- modern tech is a pain in the bloody arse actually.

What was wrong with a walkman and copious tapes? I cannot record off the radio onto an iPod. I cannot give it a new battery without requiring a professional who will charge me more than the thing is worth after a year. I cannot funk it up with stickers from Smash Hits magazine.

I have so much shit with tech, I almost delete my whole entire blog at least twice a year, just by trying to tweak it or download it to back it up.

And swearing at it makes no odds either. If you threw a Sony walkman, it survived. If I throw my phone, it would smash and die, as would my blasted iPod.

I finally managed to put 257 songs on it. It means I will not do it again until forced to. It took me a year to bother this time. 

With tapes, you knew were you were. There were no flac files to convert to mp3, just Simon Mayo to intertwine with a Take That album track. The only problem was the battery. And you knew when that was on its last legs as everyone singing sounded mildly pissed.

Bring back the tape and burn your iPod.

You’ll feel so much better if you do.

Britmums: My Kitchen Story with Fairy Platinum

Those of you who know me or follow me via Instagram will know that I have a massive problem with kitchen stuff. I simply cannot resist anything and everything to do with my kitchen and buying plates and measuring jugs and anything else I can get my mitts on. 
So much so that, even though Mini had gotten bored of receiving Dora Cooks magazine twice a month, I carried on the subscription to collect the brightly coloured bits of kitchen loveliness that came with it.

I am a born again Kitchen lover. I never could cook until about 5 years ago, when Littlest’s allergies first became a problem. Now I love nothing more than spending hours cooking, baking and generally searching out more and more stuff to pretty the place up.

Recently, I hit a snag though.

When we moved, having three bedrooms and a garden on a nice street that we could afford were key. So, by way of getting these things, the kitchen is now much smaller than my mammoth one. But it doesn’t leak, and the window actually shuts and opens normally without having to be taped shut at all times. Plus points if ever there were some.

However, I had to say goodbye to my beloved big range cooker. The new house had a small cooker, which is fine and dandy, and came with a fridge freezer and a microwave too. It did not come with space for my Combi Oven, or my juicer. Or have any actual kitchen draws. So, instead, Elder has semi lost what was going to be his Man Shed, where he was going to set up a studio of sorts and a beer fridge, as it has shelves where the over spill of my kitchen addiction has gone.

I love to call my kitchen now, “small but perfectly formed”. It has nice white cupboards, some funky chrome shelves, and is very modern compared to the one old. Its much easier to keep clean. My knick knacks and things do look much better in it.

Some of my favourite kitchen bits are:

My Mincer: I got this from The Shop. It actually works really well, but in my old kitchen I used to have to use an offcut of skirting board to attach it to as the worktop was too thick. That meant Elder had to mince whilst I held it for dear life, hence we’ve only used it once so far.  It works bloody well though, its great for leftovers of a Sunday Roast.

My Keep Calm Clock: I got this from Facebook, I have a Keep Calm picture of some sort in most rooms of the house, including the kids rooms. Elder hates the Keep Calm thing, he says its chavvy but I love it. As affirmations go its an easy one to remember.

My Coffee picture: This was bought from the same place as the clock, I think I got it all for about a fiver. Its made to look like an old Shop Sign. I love coffee, it keeps me going on a daily basis. Elder isn’t a fan of coffee shops but I love a good latte.

I love retro too, so I also wont stick any of these in the shed, including my Space Invaders magnetic noteboard, my biscuit tin that looks like a vintage radio, my cocktail mixer that mixes itself (so James Bond in theory but actually pretty crap) and my big bread bin. I also have my sign that says “bake” that Mini picked out from a boot fair for me. 

Nothing has cost me very much, through my being a thrifty bugger, but it works and its me and its eclectic.

I have written this post for Britmums as part of their Kitchen Tales linky with Fairy Platinum dishwasher tabs. Now, I don’t have a dishwasher but my lovely sis in law does, who deserved me giving her something in return for her being very kind when we moved by offering to sort out our deposit should we need it (we didn’t, but cheers anyway Sis!). She thinks they’re rather smashing compared to her usual brand and do exactly as promised, which is good as she’s never got a minute to wash up herself being a full time Mum and working full time too. Anything that gets her five minutes peace is a god send.

I love my little new kitchen, its my sanctuary from the daily grind. What do you love in your house?

*“This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum

Prom Related Issues

Mini is in Year 2- I know right? It seems five minutes ago that I was writing about her first day of school, and now, at the end of this term, she leaves to go to Juniors.

Well, actually she (and Littlest) will both be leaving anyway, and if they were already at school in Earley they would stay put and then this whole post wouldn’t be here. But we’ll let that slide as, until September for Mini at least who finally got a school place, they are stuck in Maidenhead for school.

At their, soon to be ex, school, they have a Leavers Disco come prom thing.

Now, as you know if you read regularly, Mini likes an excuse to go all out and dress up. She has known about the disco since December. And, as a result, she has plans. Dress plans, and hair plans, and having her nails done plans. Don’t even ask her about shoes. Of course the “who is going to pay for this plan” is firmly in my lap. Or, by the time I’ve finished, in Elders.

The problem is that, she gets so into it that my “never did girl things as a kid as I liked cars and bikes and was too tall and gawky and not blonde” side comes out and I tend to join in and get slightly caught up in the excitement too. 

Hence, when we have gone to Slough the odd time, and walked past a shop whose window is full of big dresses with sparkles, and sparkly shoes, and tiaras, we have both ohhed and ahhed and made mental notes of what we think she should wear. 

I did chat with Elder about a big dress, and perhaps a limo (shared with some other parents). He did that look he does where he raises his eyebrow, looks sceptical and then simply says no. And no doubt wonders if it is him who is the ex-traveller and if I’m not secretly ex of traveller stock too.

I will admit, I loved some of the little girl dresses some of the kids on there wore, the kind of white frothy communion dress. I was in love with how happy and excited the kids were on that show to be wearing a big, fancy dress. They looked like they were living out their ultimate princess fantasy. I fail to see what is wrong with that if its for one event once.

As long as this is for one night only, and not taken to the extreme of spoiling a kid every day with horses, toys and stupid designer labels (apart from those craftily bought from eBay), then I am all for it.

As, of course, is Mini.

I am happy to be able to do her hair and nails myself. After the purple hair chalks at the disco, curling her hair with my Angel Curl wand and dabbing a bit of pink nail polish will be tame in comparison. 

She has already spotted that primark have some nice glittery shoes which, granted will probably fall apart after two wears but cost about a fiver.

The Limo isn’t happening down to the move as it would cost loads too much to pick her up first from Earley and then everyone else from Maidenhead. Which is a shame but we can always put some ribbon on the Mini (if Elder doesn’t do the look again and the no).

Its just the dress t go and I’m tempted to call up my old mate eBay for one, as I’m sure these types of dress are worn once for a party or do and then sold on.

What do you think?

Would you allow your daughter to instigate Princess mode? Or send them in jeans?

Comments below guys 🙂

Rik Mayall: Legend in Our Living Rooms

It was with sadness yesterday that I read reports that Rik Mayall had died. It popped up on Elder’s Facebook timeline as the story broke, and as with most internet rumour, I had hoped it was yet another false death report like so many are (what is that about? Surely you have to be all kinds of warped to think that’s an acceptable use of your time?)

Sadly it was true, and my generation lost another comedy legend.

Obviously, I was but a tiny tot when Rik was first on our screens in The Young Ones and Comic Strip. I was old enough for Bottom though, and Guest House Paradiso. I found them both stupidly, hilariously funny. 

Pure comedy that didn’t try too hard like so much does now. I like belly laughs, and prat falls and rude words, and Rik (and of course he was aided and abetted by Ade Edmondson) gave us those in spades.

One of the first films Elder and I watched together on a dodgy VHS video player in his first shared house was Drop Dead Fred. Rik had the ability to make a funny face and make you laugh. He just had one of those extremely expressive faces, whoever he was playing. Not many can face the camera and do one thing with their mouths and reduce an  audience to hysterics.

You can certainly see the impression he has made on some of the top comedians we have now- from Miranda Hart and her pieces to camera, to Jack Whitehall and his oafish toff in both Fresh Meat and Bad Education.

I recall the day my Dad brought back the series of the Young Ones on video from our local library, and we set about a happy Sunday pausing and rewinding to see the hidden pop up of a animals. He used to joke about my room being so untidy that my socks would walk down of their own accord. A direct use of Young One’s imagery which, until I saw it on screen I had no idea he had stolen it.

It is a sad fact of ageing that people we have grown up with, those who are instantly recognisable and who stir up memories, are lost.

Thank you for the laughs Rik. We lost a true comedy great of the modern age yesterday. RIP.