13 Years Ago

Ah the month of June! One of my most favourite times of the year… because that’s when my little baby girl first came into this world.

13 years ago and I couldn’t believe my luck!

I was absolutely convinced I was having another boy. I didn’t allow myself for one second to imagine that I’d be lucky enough to get a girl this time round! I even went so far as avoiding anything pink in the shops. In Mothercare I would steer clear of the baby girl section…. because then I would imagine having a girl, want a girl, and perhaps it would’ve made me disappointed when it wasn’t a girl!

Not that I didn’t want a boy. My son was the love of my life and I enjoyed every single moment with him. I wanted a boy when I had him… and was over the moon that I got what I wanted. I wouldn’t be that lucky and get what I wanted again would I? Having another little boy would’ve been wonderful too of course, but it’s only natural to want to experience the other gender.

We didn’t find out what we were having, we wanted it to be a surprise.

So that June, 13 years ago…. we were absolutely over the moon… and shocked, that we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl!

Wow! I really lucked out!

Having her come into this world and into our lives was the most perfect moment.

And she has been the most perfect daughter.

If someone would’ve asked me at any point before children to describe my perfect little girl in terms of looks and personality… I would’ve described her down to a tee!

She’s everything I ever dreamed of. Such a girly girl, which, after having a boy for six years before she came along, was just wonderful. I bought pink everything! Actually, I was so into the pink she had no choice BUT be girly!

On my side of the family she is the only girl out of TEN grand children!

She is surrounded by boys, as I was as a child. Lots of boy cousins and of course her three brothers! It has certainly taught her to hold her own and she’s not afraid of getting down and dirty playing boy games!  She also has the wickedest sense of humour!

Yet she remains delightfully feminine (most of the time!) and loves pretty things!

I absolutely love being with her.

I can’t believe she is now a teenager! The years have flown by.

Thirteen years have gone in the blink of an eye and now our girl is big… almost as tall as me!

I miss her littleness… the tiny girl she used to be.

I wonder what these teenage years will be like for her? So many changes ahead and life lessons to learn…. but I’m looking forward to experiencing all of that with her. We’re so close now. I hope we never lose the special bond we share.

She’s such a good girl with a big heart. She has so much love for everyone and is equally adored by everyone who knows her.

My precious girl xx

Pack Light for a Weekend Away with the Kids

If you’re planning on heading off on a weekend getaway with the kids, one thing you’ll want to do is ensure you’re packing light.

Now, this is definitely easier said than done! Any parent knows just how much extra stuff a trip with the kids usually requires. It’s surprising how much stuff kids actually need when they go anywhere; especially if they’re young children. However, there are ways to pack a little lighter and below you’ll discover just a few of them.

pack light kids travel

Make a list of what you need

One of the best ways to avoid overpacking, is to make a list of the things you actually need. While you may want to follow an ultimate family packing list, often you’ll find these can be pretty extensive!

So, instead focus on the basics. Consider the age of your children and what they’ll actually need. If you’re travelling with a baby or toddler, packing light is going to be a challenge. However, slightly older children aren’t going to need the same level of necessities, so you can afford to be a little ruthless when putting their list together. For example, do they really need an entire wardrobe of clothes? Cut out anything you feel you can get away with and you’ll be surprised just how much space this tip alone can save you.

Clever clothes packing

Following on from the last point, your children aren’t going to need as many clothes as you might think. You can also get clever with the clothes you do pack.

For example, why not combine clothing and entertainment and invest in trainers which convert to roller skates? You can pick up some pretty trendy Heely’s trainers from companies like Proline Skates.

Take the right luggage

Instead of carrying one or two large combined suitcases, it could work out easier if you were to take a few smaller suitcases. Having a small to medium suitcase for each of your children, doesn’t just free up space in the boot of the car, but it also helps them to feel a little more independent.

Overall, packing light isn’t always easy when you’ve got kids. However, the above are just a few ways you can save a little space on your next weekend away. The key is to be ruthless with what you’re packing and to ensure you only take the bare essentials.

Choosing Toys Which Grow with your Kids

The sheer number of toys available these days can be a little overwhelming. Kids are literally spoilt for choice with something to suit all age ranges and preferences. However, the trouble is, so many toys that you buy for your kids end up either being thrown out in a year’s time or given away.

If you’re buying toys for young children, it can make a lot of sense to invest in toys that will grow with them. This provides much better value for money and gives your kids a gift they can enjoy for many years. The question is which toys can you buy that will grow with your child? Below you’ll discover some of the best toys available right now that will grow with your kids.

Educational Interactive Toys

One of the best types of toys that grow with your kids is educational interactive toys. These include things like the Leapfrog Leapstart. This early learning system is designed to grow with your child, increasing in difficulty as they age. It teaches them about animals, numbers and phonics. As they get older, you simply buy additional books to match their new abilities.

Scooters

Scooters are another great choice. They’re fun for all ages and can be used for many years. Even toddler scooters from SkateHut can be used for years. What’s great about this toy is the fact it is also super-fun. You could even invest in adult scooters and play along with your toddler as a great family activity.

Choosing Toys Which Grow with your Kids scooter skate hut

In today’s digital world, it’s good to give the kids active toys to play with. So, if you are investing in educational interactive toys, make sure you’re also buying something to keep their body active too.

Lego

Lego is one of the few toys which has stood the test of time. While it may not be suitable for very young children, depending upon the set, it’s something that’s going to be played with for many years to come.

The great thing about Lego is that it is fully-adaptable. There’s no end to the things you can create with them. As your child ages, they could even start to create more intricate objects such as a pinball machine!

As you can see, there’s a lot of toys you can buy which grow with your child. If you want to ensure you’re getting good value for money, choose any of the toys listed above.

Easy Rubbish Removal with Clearabee

With local Councils being extremely picky when it comes to emptying your bins…. you know…. not taking them if they are slightly overflowing or being fastidious about whether the recycling is in the correct one…. it can be an extremely frustrating and annoying experience just getting rid of your household waste!

rubbish removal clearabee

Annoying extra rubbish

What do you do if you have more waste one week? Where does it go if you can’t put it in the bin? Rubbish removal can be stressful, especially if you’ve had an occasion like a birthday… extra toy boxes for example from presents or a party meaning lots of people creating lots more rubbish! Maybe you’ve been having a clearout of one of the rooms…. changing furniture… or tidying up the garden… where do you end up putting everything you no longer want or need?

You probably decide upon leaving it all in one corner of the house, if you have space, or it ends up being left in the garden, leaving an unsightly mess until you ‘get around’ to removing it properly. Only this never happens, and it tends to sit there festering for months!

This is going on right here in my own house to be honest!

We have loads of broken outdoor toys and old paddling pools etc we need to get rid of. We even have one of those bike trailers that you pull kids around in just sitting in the garden right now. It’s all ripped and ruined but do you think we have removed it? No. Well short of physically taking it to a dump, which isn’t feasible as it’s too big to get in my car… where do I take it?

How to get rid of rubbish quickly and easily

I’ve recently been learning about a fantastic, nationwide rubbish removal company, Clearabee who are simply perfect for these types of jobs.

You can use them as and when, for a small job or for a mammoth clear out… such as furniture. They even do a same day clearance which is absolutely amazing!

rubbish removal clearabee

Man & Van

Their Man & Van service is the most popular, with every employee working directly for the company, no outsourcing, so you can rest assured he will have been rigorously vetted to provide a high quality, trustworthy service. Simply book online, choosing one of the many options for size of removals… and that’s it!

Clearabee also do a Skip Bag (Beebag) which they send out to you to keep and fill up at your leisure. It’s like a traditional skip in that way, only you can keep it where you like, you’re not restricted to it being on a drive or on the road, which incurs extra costs! The bags come in different sizes too so no need to have a huge bag just sitting around forever waiting to be filled… like what usually happens with skips! Or worse, passers by end up putting their own rubbish into your skip!

rubbish removal clearabee

It’s not always big things that clog up the bins though. Sometimes we just have too much household waste. The normal every day stuff that would just be thrown in the wheelie bin that we can’t put in there because, well, they’re full and of course we know, the refuse collectors won’t collect it if it’s even slightly overflowing!

But… Clearabee will take care of this too! Simply order some of their bin bags and fill up as you would any other black bag and a Clearbee Man with a Van will pop by, at your convenience, and remove it for you. This straightforward rubbish removal service is also eco friendly, with 90% of the waste being recycled, even the vans used for this purpose are smaller and much more economical.

Clearabee also work for many businesses who need more rubbish removal than usual.. or even just a one off job of removing items due to a shop or office refit! Prices are significantly reduced too if you join their loyalty scheme, for the home or for business premises! Definitely worth thinking about if you use them regularly.

That’s better…

Sometimes, a friend or a relative might step in and say they will help with your rubbish removal which, although cheap, is not always conducive! Not knowing when this help will materialise can end up being rather stressful as it’s clogginmg up your home or outside space, but you don’t want to pester anyone who’s been good enough to offer. So realistically, in the long run, it’s best to just go with a great company like Clearabee and get rid of it straight away, then it’s not driving you mad every time you look at it and you can move forward, concentrating on the next job in hand.

Tidy house, tidy mind so they say!

Family Festival – Kidztown at Boomtown Fair!

Boomtown families

If you’re looking for some out of this world family festival fun this Summer, then look no further than Boomtown Fair!

Held on the Matterley Estate, Winchester, on the 9-12th August, if you’ve never considered this festival as a contender for your family, then think again!

My son went to Boomtown Fair last year (when he was 18) and he has raved (pardon the pun) about it ever since! Relaying stories and antics, showing me photo’s and video he’s taken… he gets excited and animated as he tries to get across and make me understand just how utterly amazing it is!

To say he absolutely loved it would be an understatement. Actually, he reckons it’s become his all time favourite place now… even surpassing festival holidays abroad… with sun, sand and sea! He has two holidays booked this year and he even said he’d sacrifice the holidays to go to Boomtown if he had to choose!

Is he mad?

So it got me thinking…. Boomtown MUST be pretty special right?!

The one thing he does say time and time again is that I couldn’t even begin to get my head around how big, crazy and mind blowing it is!

Well, this year….. I’m going to find out for myself! And I cannot contain my excitement!

boomtown

I am super proud to say I’m going to be working with Boomtown Fair this year to bring you everything ‘family’ about this cooler than cool festival!

Yes, that’s right… I did say FAMILY! I think most people who’ve at least heard of the festival would genuinely think it’s not a place for children, I know I did! If you thought it was more a haven for the under 25’s with hardcore partying and indulgence being the number 1 name of the game… you’d be right of course to assume there’s plenty of that going on… but Boomtown is so much more! It caters for everyone…. young, old and everything in between….. their family programme is huge and I want to tell you all about it!

But first, if you haven’t checked out the website then you must… it will give you an idea of the truly brilliant, bizarre and, as my son says, mind blowing world that is Boomtown! It’s difficult to get one’s head around it if I’m being totally honest. From the unbelievable to the downright bonkers, Boomtown really does seem unlike anything you would’ve experienced before!

boomtown

boomtown kids festival

boomtown festival summer 2018

boomtown

boomtown

Dubbed ‘The Machine that cannot be Stopped’ for Chapter 10, it’s 10th birthday, Boomtown has been described as a city of wonderment, theatre, escapism and community with breathtaking and intricate stages and streets just waiting to be discovered. It fuses a diverse line-up of underground and global music with boundary pushing immersive art, theatre and performance coming together as a living, breathing, fictitious city.

The creativity behind the festival amazes me.

There’s a backstory too…

Started in 2009, fictional explorer Nickolas Boom discovered gold in the countryside and founded a small township and port that would in years to come be named after him and known to all the word as Boomtown, site of the now legendary Boomtown Fair. It was here in Chapter One of the tale that the circus first came to town, rumbling down the hillside at dusk one late summer’s evening came an enormous caravan train, at its head a swarthy moustachioed man sat a top an enormous elephant, The Gypsy King! The locals were afraid of this strange and awesome site until Boom himself went out to meet the strangers. This was the beginning of the Fair, as shortly there after the caravan train was unloaded and a veritable citadel of twinkling medways and rippling canvas unfurled to create a bizarre other world full of exotic creatures and beings, the likes of which had never been seen before! And so each year would they return with wonders and spectacles more bedazzling and beautiful than before and the annual gathering that is now known across the world as Boomtown Fair was born!

I’m totally fascinated!

Boomtown Fair is made up of 14 Districts sprawling across four areas: Hilltop, Downtown, Temple Valley and Whistlers Green. Each district is filled with fully immersive venues and beatnik characters. Within the districts there are over 25 ‘main’ Stages and an additional 80 Street Venues to discover in this city which is MASSIVE!

So where do kids fit into all this craziness you might ask?

Well actually, there’s a whole district dedicated to kids and families, with the main HQ being Kidztown!

boomtown kids kidztown families

This much loved area is bigger and better than ever before. With a whole host of musicians, performers, activities and workshops from all over the world, it’s a sure fire way of keeping entire family entertained for days on end!

There is so much on offer…. from treetop adventures in the Forest School to interactive play and face painting in the shops and venues of the fully interactive street. Kidztown takes all the family friendly elements of the rest of the festival and bundles it up into a bite-size portion with a serene and soulful soundtrack provided by their very own Sandcastle Stage, hosting family friendly shows as well as artists big and small from main acts to bands specifically for the littler ears.

Activities include hands-on, multi-sensory workshops and entertainment all weekend for children 0-5yrs and 6-12yrs. Kidztown has craft workshops, the Rusty Workshop, theatre, circus, storytelling, puppetry, music, comedy, sandpit, skate ramp, baby and toddler tents, yoga, massage, bouncy castle and its very own Boomtown street with interactive venues such as ‘Rat-a-Tattoo’, the ‘Piggy Bank’, ‘Pet Shop’ and the Post Office for all those snail-mail delivery needs!

Family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

Family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

Family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

Family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

Family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

Family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

Family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

You can stay in Kidztown and experience all that it has to offer, with neighbouring Whistlers Green District being a firm favourite with families too and these are like a festival within a festival! Or you can venture out into the depths of Boomtown Fair at your leisure to watch any of the hundreds of bands and artists playing or to get involved in some of the many activities…. Get creative and express yourself! Kidztown and Whistlers green hosts a whole heap of workshops, check out some of the offerings here.

According to my son, simply wandering around Boomtown is an adventure in itself, with so many curious and extraordinary places to find and people to see… this alone could keep you busy all day!

Family camping has a dedicated area all of it’s own too. Set in spacious meadows, it’s far enough away from all the madness for it to feel totally comfortable and safe, yet close enough that you can still feel that wacky vibe which Boomtown Fair has become so famous for! You can choose where to camp and there’s lots of space further away in family camping for, believe it or not, a peaceful stay!

boomtown fair

There’s even a free family shuttle ​that runs between family camping and a dedicated family car park and gate. This is brilliant as whenever we’ve been to a festival the lugging of equipment to camp is just the worst!

There are a few areas in the Boomtown city where children aren’t allowed after 7pm. This includes Downtown, although teens are allowed until 10pm. I like the fact that the organisers have this rule in place. It means we won’t be wandering off into the wrong place with youngsters as there are a number of adult themed entertainments in amongst the Boomtown madness at night! It’s peace of mind for those families with teenagers that may want to go off on their own, you know they won’t be right in the thick of it witnessing something they shouldn’t! On the other end of the spectrum, it’s good that young adults can party to their hearts content without worrying about kids being around!

There are so many other areas to enjoy later at night so you needn’t feel as though you’re missing out!

If you can, I think going with other families would be amazing, because then you could take it in turns to babysit, allowing yourselves the chance to let your hair down and venture out late at night for some of that hardcore partying I mentioned earlier!

boomtown fair

With Boomtown now being in it’s tenth year, they have pretty much nailed the family festival side of things and they want this to be just as much fun for them as it is for everyone else!

Known for approaching the way of festivalling slightly differently, Boomtown sprinkles some of it’s eccentric magic into the fields of Kidztown and does not disappoint with the sheer scale and abundance of entertainment on offer bringing all generations together in a melting pot of mischievous mayhem!

I have to say I can’t wait to go to Kidztown at Boomtown Fair with my kids this Summer! I think we’re all in for a massive shock to the system…. in a good way though! We aren’t completely new to festivals… we’ve done Camp Bestival for the past couple of years which is all about families! But this one promises to be a whole other experience for us and we are beyond excited! The kids are going to love it!

Here’s the Line-Up Poster for Kidztown!

family festival kidztown at boomtown fair

More details available on the family and kids are on the website.

If you want to check out all the other Line-Up posters for the rest of the festival, they’re here!

There’s a FINAL CHANCE to join in Boomtown’s almighty tenth chapter celebrations with the last few tickets being released! There’s also the new Theatrical Immersive Camping Experience of BOOMTOWN SPRINGS.. For those who like a little extra comfort! As always, childrens’ tickets are completely free!

Standard Festival Tickets are £243.50

Boomtown Springs + Festival Entry tickets start from £480 (with 50/50 split payment options available)

If you’ve already got a festival entry ticket but are interested in upgrading to Boomtown Springs, get in touch with Ticket Sellers via springs@theticketsellers.co.uk and they’ll be able to help you out! Boomtown Springs access is £200 + £7.50 booking fee

Please note accommodation structures are an additional cost.

 

WHAT THE PRESS SAID 2017:

The Independent ​- Just bear in mind once you go to this festival, everything else will feel a bit tame
DJ Magazine ​- The incredible design conjures everything from medieval times to dystopian futures
Green Parent Magazine -​ The kids area Kidztown in Boomtown is brilliant! So creative and so much fun for kids of all ages!
Time Out Magazine -​ Eccentric and mind bending installations combine to create a city.
Netmums​ – Boomtown is a fantastic festival for kids. The Kidztown district offers circus skills, costume making and face painting. There’s also the Sandcastle Stage with family friendly shows and entertainment especially for the kids such as discos and reggae aerobics.
Metro ​- More virtual reality than festival, this story-driven experience manages to pull of top musical fare … but that’s just the beginning of your journey.
Notion Magazine ​- Boomtown isn’t just tents and stages clumsily plopped down in the countryside, but a spectacular sensory experience that pays homage to all art forms. It’s a sprawling pop-up metropolis comprised of cleverly repurposed shipping containers, boats, caravans… you name it and they’ve done something seriously cool with it.

Join the community on the Kidztown Facebook and Twitter pages.

family festival kidztownboomtown fair

Practical solutions to your negative body issues

Practical Solutions for a negative body image

Everyone has body issues. From teeth to hair, skin to weight, no one is immune when it comes to looking at ourselves over-critically. We are our own worst enemy, I know I am! However, before you let your negativity become overwhelming, it’s good to know that there are some practical solutions that you can try that might result in a brand new outlook for you. No matter what parts of your body are giving you unnecessary causes for concern, those issues can be tackled in ways that might surprise you, and they’re not as impossible to achieve as you might have suspected. If you’re struggling with negative issues, then here are two practical solutions to resolve them.

Speak to professionals

Although there is a vast amount of information available online, your first stop should always be with the experts. No matter what your concerns may be, you can be sure that there are professionals out there who can help to tackle and resolve your issues in affordable and non-stressful ways. If your teeth are your biggest concern, then it may be time to face your dentist fears and talk to your nearest cosmetic dentist. For those struggling with hair loss, talking to a hair loss specialist means actively looking for a solution to your body issues.

From weight issues to getting your pre-pregnancy body back, talking to experts can make you realise that not only are you not alone, but also that your problems can be solved much more easily than you might have expected.

Make a wish list

Once you’ve got some idea of how to tackle the big issues, it’s time to make yourself a wish list. Having a set of goals is a great way to see and plan how you’re going to tackle each issue. For instance, if you want to lose weight, then write down an achievable target weight and when you wish to achieve it by. Make a note of all the ways you can complete your goal: going to the gym, taking the advice of professional dieticians, or even hiring the services of a personal trainer. However, be sure not to get too caught up and to keep a mindful head on your shoulders. Half of the battle when it comes to body confidence is knowing your limits and realising that your issues are not unique.

Once you’ve started making those improvements to your appearance, you’ll be amazed by the confidence boost, and that may just spur you on to make even more changes. If you’ve tackled the big issues, then it might be time to give yourself even more of a boost, with a whole new wardrobe and a rebranding that will have your coworkers wondering what your secret is, and have you taking a lot more selfies!

Don’t let your negative attitude to your body concerns affect your life for long, because there are solutions, and you don’t ever have to tackle them alone. While we may all have insecurities, you need to make sure you don’t get too wrapped up in them.

Ferdinand at The Shard

This Easter holidays there’s a great event happening at The Shard in London.

Ferdinand, the kids movie, is due to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 16th April and to celebrate, Twentieth Century Fox have teamed up with The Shard to bring some fun for families these holidays!

We were invited to breakfast at The View from The Shard to have a look at what the event is offering! We were very excited indeed!

It was an early start…. we needed to be in London for 9am… but the kids didn’t mind! We braved the rush hour London tubes to arrive on time and as soon as we entered, evidence of Ferdinand was all around!

Ferdinand The shard

We’ve been lucky enough to visit The Shard before, a few years ago, so of course we know how un-bullieveable the panoramic views across London are, but sometimes kids need a bit more to keep them interested! This Ferdinand special event has created a fun activity sheet where one of the games is a treasure hunt to look for Ferdinand’s favourite flowers and to spot some of London’s most iconic landmarks!

the shard

the shard

the shard

the shard flower hunt

the shard the tower of london

There’s a ‘fiesta’ up on the open air top level of The Shard called The Sky Desk, where children can join in with dancing if they so wish… prizes can be won, as well as being entered into the main prize draw of winning a trip to the fiesta capital itself, Barcelona! There’s also fabulous face painting on hand too!

If that’s not enough, you can take a ride on the brand new virtual reality slide that goes 100mph down the outside of The Shard! Yikes! I have to mention I wasn’t brave enough to do this and the recommended age is 12+ but I saw lots of younger kids than that having a go!

the shard virtual reality slide

The Ferdinand flower display was a favourite of mine, it’s gorgeous… great for a photo opportunity! My children noticed that the model of Ferdinand was actually made out of feathers which fascinated them!

the shard flowers ferdinand

For the adults, there’s the champagne bar for you to enjoy in Western Europe’s highest building, plus there’s plenty of snacks on offer for everyone.

Your family experience ticket, to be purchased between 30th March and 15th April and costs only £64.95 if you book in advance or £79.95 on the day, allows you to stay as long as you like and includes all the fun activities I’ve mentioned!

There’s also a free goody bag for the kids to take home filled with ador-a-bull treats!

We had a wonderful morning… it really is such a spectacular attraction for everyone.

the shard

 

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