Elderflower Fields:Our Best One Yet

If you are a follower of my blog it will come of no surprise that we are all huge festival fans. The freedom, the adventure and chance to all be together is such a huge appeal to us that it keeps us wanting each and every year.

Elderflower Fields was the festival that opened our ours eyes to the fun and has had us coming back year after year and this year was the best by far.

Sleeping under canvas at the end of May can be a bit risky but a few weeks ago the weather was most definitely on our side and for the first time ever we managed to get our tent pitched in the sun with very few arguments.

One of the biggest pulls of Elderflower Fields is its laid back vibe that hits you from the minute you arrive. We took some time out round out tent to meet our neighbours for the weekend and grab a bite to eat.

It wasn’t long before the kids got itchy feet and wanted to head down to the main festival. We were pleasantly surprised when we got there as the layout had been changed around slightly and there was a lot more open space for the kids to go crazy in.

The familiar main stage was there and crowds had already started to build up taking in the atmosphere and listening to the fantastic music.

We headed off to see what activities they had put on to keep the little ones busy and saw some familiar favourites along with some new additions.

Mine always love trying their hand at the circus skills workshop, pitting their withs on the climbing wall, putting their woodwork skills to the test with the woodland tribe and using their brains in the science tent.

After a pretty full day we headed back to the tent for a quick rest before heading down to the evening festivities. Pretty hungry by now we decided it was time to fill our bellies and Elderflower Fields never disappoints when it comes to food choices.

Every taste is catered for from sumptuous fish and chips to rich ice creams, spicy vegan curries to sticky sweet crepes and so much more.

Allergies can sometimes be a bit of an issue for us at events like this but Frankies multiple allergies are always catered for without a problem.

Throughouly warn out we made our way back to bed excited for what the next day was going to hold.

Sunday is actually my favourite day of the festival as we are well settled in, have got our bearings and things are more relaxed for us.We started the day with more activities. Disc golf was certainly one we enjoyed along with slacklining and the giant zipwire.

All the activities are included in the price of your festival tickets which makes it great value for money but be mindful that many of them are prebookable before arrival or need to be booked once there as they get full up extremely quickly and due to my lack of organisation we often miss out on the popular activities. Take a look ‘here’ at some of the other great things that are on offer.

Sunday is also the day that the Sussex Family Picnic is held. This is something I’ve not heard of any other festival doing and it is certainly something that makes Elderflower Fields stand out from the rest.

The aim is to get people together and share good, local sorced food making it the biggest collective picnic I’ve ever seen.

Again the price of this is covered in the price of your tickets and all you need to do is grab your picnic blankets, get yourself into groups of twelve and have lots of fun!

We always head off into the woods after this and check out the fantastic art displays that have been put on by local schools, play in the mud kitchen, a little bit of pond dipping and made some cool clay sculptures in the Outdoor School.

There is no way we could visit and not have our face paints done by the wonderful ladies at Nam Nams Facepaints, I’ve honestly not found better face painting skills anywhere!

The last bit off fun was yet to come with the Sunday evening entertainment which is always buzzing. The stage was alive and the main field fun of dancing and laughter, marshmallows were being toasted by the bonfire and the big hay fight was taking place which mine wait all weekend for.
however this year is was slightly tainted by Frankie – the little allergy boy having a reaction to the hay and being carted of the the St Johns Ambulance who were absolutely fantastic with him.

Our last night under canvas left me reflecting on yet another fabulous weekend at Elderflower Fields. New skills have been learnt, new friendships have been forged, our family has comes that little bit closer together and everlasting memories have been made. Thank you Elderflower Fields for OUR BEST ONE YET!

Pizza Making And Doughnut Decorating At The Num Noms Series 5 Launch

We kicked off our half term in a pretty spectacular way when we headed off to the Good Housekeeping Institute to celebrate the launch of the Num Noms Series 5.

For those of you that haven yet heard of Num Noms(where have you been) they are a range of collectibles that have been made to look and smell like food. They come in a whole range of different forms from lip glosses to nail polishes and so much more.

We were introduced to these cute little characters a while ago now and all three of my youngest have been really taken with them.

As we arrived at the Good Housekeeping Institute the celebrations were already starting and the entrance was covered with pretty balloons and we were welcomed with lots of friendly faces and so much for busy fingers to do!

The kids got stuck in straight away and loved seeing the new additions to an already great range. The most popular addition for my lot is definitely the lip glosses and they spent ages creating their own flavour.

It wasn’t long before we took to our seats and the event kicked off with an introduction from Nickelodeon’s Nigel Clarke. The first part of the day was pizza making, as the ingredients were being past round a room full to the brim with children I was more than a little anxious about how this would go, but the children were thoroughly engaged and enjoyed every minute of making their very own creations.

While their pizzas were cooking away they got the chance to make up some fruit kebabs which was pretty similar to the way Num Noms can be stacked and arranged which makes them a great for keeping little fingers occupied.

It really was a day full of experiencing, making and tasting different foods in different ways and I think one of the highlights of the day was hopping on a push bike that had a smoothie maker attached and cycling away to make our very own fruit smoothies.

Izzy however was a little preoccupied by the fact that Chloe Medows and Chloe Chloe Lewis from ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ were there and took half the afternoon plucking up the courage to ask for a selfie with them!

The last activity of the day though probably brought a bigger smile to my face than it did to the kids – doughnut decorating.

The kids were presented with two huge ring doughnuts each that they were then given free reign to decorate as they wished. Covered with all kinds of sweets and fab Num Nom stickers they all looked incredible.

After such an immense day the children were knocked off their feet again by taking home a goodie bag full to the brim with Num Noms goodies that they couldn’t resist opening on the train which made for a pretty messy journey home!

I know that mine were ecstatic about the new Series 5 and if you have a lover of collectables like me then check them out ‘here‘.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty Two

This week was a busier week than usual and a lot of it involved being grateful for the people around me.

Learning Through Play – I’m a great believer in children gaining a lot through play. As an adult I am certainly someone who learns better through practical experiences rather than gazing at a screen or someone talking parrot fashion at me.

I think this is also true for children and I love to get out and about with my lot to explore and learn about the world.

A trip to the farm with Oscar lead to us talking all things animals, building and shape naming in the construction area and answering question upon question on the runnings of the farm itself.

Finding Good People – Sometimes in life you just come across people that amaze you with their kindness and thought for others. A while ago I met a lovely lady through a couple of projects that I was working on and her warmness shone through from the moment we met.

Before we went away on our annual trip to Elderflower Fields I was looking into getting some henna put up my arm and she kindly asked me into her home, gave up her time and wanted nothing in return. In a world that can seem so selfish at times its refreshing to know there are certainly still a few good eggs.

Our Little Bit Of Peace – As I mentioned earlier we have just been on our yearly trip to Elderflower Fields that I will be telling you all about next week.

Aside from being a fabulous festival one of our favourite parts about the whole weekend is the chance to spend time together and switch off from the outside world. Its certainly a big bump back to reality once the weekend is over.

Family Photography Workshop With Sharp Shots Photography Club

It was a few years ago when I first met the lovely Lillian Spibey from Sharp Shots Photography Club whist she was running Sharp Shots Photography Club workshop at Priory Farm in Surrey. Lilian in fact runs the UK’s largest kids and teens photography company and has taught over 2000 students aged between 7-15. The courses run after school and on site at numerous locations across the south East of England.

Izzy chose this course as her birthday gift as her passion for photography had just started to take hold and she enjoyed every single minute of it!

She came away with a firm vision of where she wanted her new found skills to take her and has been putting them into practice ever since.

Im sure that Izzy’s love of photography has been passed down by me as since I started my blog a little over three years ago now photography is the biggest and most loved part of it.

When I first started all I was armed with was my IPhone and no clue of how to take a photo at all. Over the years I have upgraded to my beloved Olympus Pen, followed countless photographers on Instagram and just gone with what I think would make a good picture.

I really feel that from the start of my blogging journey my photography has improved but I had got to the point when some professional intervention was needed as there were things I just couldn’t get the knack of no matter how hard I tried.

So when I was approached by Lilian to come along to a workshop she was putting on for bloggers and their children I was over the moon.

We headed off early to meet everyone in London where Lilian greeted us with her calm and welcoming manner which put us all at ease and eager to get some tips from the experts.

Sharp Shots Photography Club aims to provide you with life long photography skills teaching you how to use your digital camera along with composition skills to allow you to take the best photo you can.

We all sat around in a large group where I was very happy to see the lovely Emily from Family Four Fun who had also come along. Each person introduced themselves and told us what they were hoping to gain from the day which was lovely as their were such a wide variety of aims with a lot of them involving the need to know the basics which is where we started.

I know for me this was of upmost importance as I have to admit since getting my camera over two years ago I have been pretty scared to use anything other than auto and I was really eager to move away from this. Izzy was just excited to explore her surrounding and get snap happy around the park.

Lilian started with the theory side of things and we got the chance to see how other photographers put different techniques to use in their style of photography and the mechanics behind how the camera actually works which was extremelly interesting. Her background and passion for what she does makes her the perfect teacher and things that I have found daunting before were made so much simpler through her explanations.

We learnt to master the basics such as shutter speed, how to focus, depth of field and how to get the most out of your pictures by putting yourself in different positions to get that perfect angle.

For me it was all about getting something different from my photography. I feel I always opt for a close up as this is what I feel most comfortable with and it was great to be able to try out different shutter speeds to gain some fantastic images with the passing traffic and pretty ribbons.

Cameras are amazing pieces of equipment that can give you such a different perspective on the same scene and I am so pleased that I have now been armed with the knowledge to try different things out.

I think though what I gained most from this workshop is how differently children take to new things. I was certainly very tentative about changing my style and was apprehensive about taking a step away from what I am used to; where as Izzy embraced it all with our any apprehension and gained some wonderful images because of just that.

Below I have left a section of her favourite shoots from the day, ones that I am extremely proud of.

Going over my own photos I’ve been pretty critical, but have learnt from the kids to be more gun hoe with my approach and will certainly be trying out my new found knowledge a lot more in the future. Here are a few of my favs from the day.

We both came away from the day with our heads bursting with new ideas and even more passion for photography! Izzy can’t wait to sign up to another course this summer and I am hoping on getting on another one too!

Exploring Stories With Pizza Express And Puffin Books

If a poll was taken with my family on which was their favourite restaurant I know that Pizza Express would win hands down!

The children love the delicious food that is served quickly to quash those all to familiar ‘I’m starving’ moans and as a parent I love the family friendly vibe that you get in each and every restaurant. The hustle and bustle means I don’t feel I need to be continually asking the kids to be quiet and with the great activities that are always on offer there is actually not much chance for fidgety bums and fingers to get restless.

It was in fact an exciting new activity pack and competition that Puffin Books have created for Pizza Express that saw us making our way to one of their Brighton branches last week.

We were taken to our seats by our super friendly waiter that handed the children their activities packs and they got started on them straight away. The Story Explorers Adventure Journal was full to the brim with activities and games inspired by different books and it really got the children’s creative juices flowing.

After trying to create their own Grey Huffley from their favourite series РDiary Of A Wimpy Kid they feasted on a starter of dough balls and vegetable crudit̩s while I indulged in some delicately battered calamari that I had to keep Izzy away from!

Actually if you are a fans of Diary Of The Wimpy Kid too then there is a brilliant competition you can enter where you can design your own book cover and submit it online for your chance to win a family portrait down for you by Jeff Kinney, the author of Diary Of A Wimpy Kid himself.

As we waited on our mains we were treated to a visit from caricaturist Sean Savage who created a fantastic portrait of us all. The kids absolutely loved it and found the size of my teeth hilarious!

With our special memento safely tucked away we ate a delicious selection of pizza and pasta that didn’t fail to disappoint.

Aside from being so family friendly another highlight of Pizza Express for us is the way they cater for Frankie and his multiple allergies. The kids menu can be adapted perfectly which always makes him feel inclusive rather than having to have something completely different which can happen in so many other restaurants.

We had a quick break between courses where it was Izzy’s job to make up the chatter boxes that came in the activity packs. These are always a hit with us and they played for ages asking each other questions to unveil the final answer.

A meal out isn’t complete without desert and at Pizza Express you really are spoilt for choice. The children dived into ice cream sundaes and brownies whilst I went for the mini biscoff cheesecake dolcetti which I told myself was a lighter option!

Full to the brim and bursting with ideas on stories they were going to create and illustrate when they got home really meant that Pizza Express has been a feast for our minds as well as our bellies and we highly reccomend a trip there soon so you don’t miss out on all the fun!

*Collaborated post

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty One

It has been a pretty quiet week which has made it perfect for my ‘Celebrating The Small Things’ series.

My Little Personal Shopper – Over the years clothes shopping on the High Street has become somewhat of a distant memory for me.

With the rise and ease in internet shopping and the number of children I had increasing the lure of shoppers by centres became less and less and now nearly all of my clothing purchases are done online.

The other day I had to get some last minute bits before our camping trip which ended up being a thoroughly enjoyable trip with Oscar.

We chatted over a babychino, stocked up on goodies for our trip and my most memorable moment was Oscar picking out outfits for me and giving his expert opinion on what looks good and what not so!

Daisy Chains – Sometimes the simple things in life pass us by and one thing that I hadn’t done for such a long time was to make a daisy chain. It’s such a simple task and the kids absolutely loved it.

How We Eat – The other day was actually a pretty big one as we had Mumset come into our home to film the way we eat as a family.

This was a pretty nerve wrecking experience as my kids can be pretty unpredictable at times and goodness knows what little gems they could have come out with!

Although the day was a huge thing for all of us I came away from the day extremely thankful of the fact I get to share dinner time with all my crazy loons!

Win A Family Ticket To This Summer’s Wild Child Festival

For the past three years we have been huge fans of family festivals and I am so excited to be adding another one to our list this year as I become an ambassador for the Wild Child Festival in the leafy grounds of the Dulwich Estate in South London.

This brand new festival is going to be focusing on children’s entertainment and workshops for children aged 0-11 and runs over a three day period from Friday 17th August to Sunday 19th August 2018 and has been kept to only 500 families per day which makes for an intimate and less stressful experience…as lets face it children and queues never mix well!

For me festivals offer time together as a family away from the distractions of day to day life, time away from screens to really connect with each other, try new skills and experience new firsts.

The brain child behind this festival is Hayley Byfield who as a Mum and art producer who has worked on events at several large festivals over the past 20 years is the perfect person to create a festival that will be enjoyable for both the children as well as the adults.

I know all to well that festivals with little ones can be a daunting prospect so having the option to go along for the day to enjoy the festival vibes without the pressure of the camping element is a great way to go.

With over 11 art inspired zones there really is something to cater for all tastes. The Giggly Grove is set to be a giggle a minute with comedy acts aimed at children. The Magic Hollow is the place to go for all those aspiring magicians. The Wordy Wood will allows the children to slip away into a literary world. The Little Top is the place to perform all those circus skills. The Bop Along Ballroom is the perfect place to get those dancing shoes ready and practice those groovy moves. For any coding fans The Imagination Lab is the place to be. If funk, soul and jazz are more your thing then you need to make your way to the Harmony Hideout. For those of you with little ones the Babes In The Burrow with be a lovely little hideaway from the hustle and bustle of it all. I know a hit with us is going to be the Crafy Den where the children can take part in all kinds of crafts from festival crowns and dream catcher to water pistol painting and wacky weaving. Finally is the Play House where the kids can explore a dinosaur world, play games in the unicorn meadow an so much more!

We literally can’t wait to get along and experience this for ourselves and if you fancy coming along to join in the fun then take a look HERE to book your tickets or I am very pleased to say I have a competition running to win a family ticket that you can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway Terms and Conditions

1. Giveaway is open to entrants worldwide. 2. No purchase necessary. 3. Ages 18 and over only.

4. Prize is a family ticket to Wild Child Festival in Dulwich.

5. A family ticket refers to 2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children.

6. Tickets are for any day of the festival that the winners wish to attend. 7. Winner will be notified within 7 days of the random draw.

8. We will make all reasonable attempts to contact the winner; if after 3 attempts the winner still hasn’t claimed their prize, the promoter reserves the right to redraw.

9. Winner will need to confirm their festival attendance date with the promoter, within 72 hours of claiming their win.**

10. No last minute changes for number of guests or attendance date, unless authorised by the promoter. 11. No cash alternative, exchange, refund or resale.

12. Promoter reserves the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value should circumstances make this necessary.

*collaborated post

Everlasting Memories With Little Tikes

The whole ethos behind my blog is creating memories with my family and documenting them all to look back over in years to come so nothing is ever forgotten.

However our minds are wonderful things that can store and recall so many precious memories and this is where I really want the children to keep those all important moments and first in their lives.

I’m sure that we all remember the first time we tentatively learnt to ride a bike, the first time we nervously got behind the wheel of a car and the first time we gained the confidence to swim.

A few weeks ago Little Tikes invited us along to Silverstone Race Circuit where I was set to experience a first along with my youngest two – a helicopter ride.

It really was a ‘pinch me’ moment and something I don’t know whether we would have had the chance to experience if it wasn’t for my work and I am extremely grateful for that.

We arrived at the vast Silverstone Race Circuit and we had to pick the boys jaws up from the floor as they gazed out at the super cars and motorbikes racing around the track.

Their eyes then lit up even more when they walked into a room full of Little Tikes toys that kept them happy whilst they awaited their adventure.

The Little Tikes Wheels And Fylerz Range was perfect for my little thrill seekers as the remote controls are designed for little fingers to get to grips with and drive and fly to their hearts content.

With all the hype of their impending helicopter flight they headed straight for the My First Flyer which comes as a red air ambulance and a blue police helicopter. Using the one touch controls the helicopter can take to the air with it’s spinning propeller and wings and the boys played for ages seeing who could get it the highest and the furthest.

From here they moved onto the Tyre Twister Lights which is an amazing remote control police car with lights and sirens that can run around inside or outside the huge tyre.

I think a real favourite of the day though were the Remote Control Bumper Cars. Anything that involves crashing is a hit with my boys…including my husband, so with the aim of the game to get your competitor to fly out of their car this was a very popular.

After a lot of play and a spot of lunch it was time to go for a tour of the Silverstone Circuit. It was amazing to be allowed behind the scenes of this magnificent racetrack that was first used over 70 years ago!

We got to see the Race Control Centre which really is the hub for everything going on around the circuit, we visited the commentators box which was amazing to think off the amount of amazing races that have been witnessed from that very place, we got to go down into the pits which was an amazing experience for me and finally we took to the podium with the classic Little Tikes Cosy Coupe which is always a winner in our eyes!

As if the day hadn’t been full enough we were now going to have an experience like no other and one I was so happy to be able to share with the boys. We were driven to the helipad where we were given our briefing and kitted out with ear defenders in preparation for our flight.

Frankie who is certainly ‘all mouth and no trousers’ had a little wobble but I hurried him along before the nerves really set in! All buckled in the helicopter started up and their was absolute silence from the boys, which if you know them is a rarity! The helicopter started to ascended and we were able to enjoy the stunning views of the circuit and surrounding areas. We spent the flight spotting cars and areas that we had explored whist on the ground and the look on their little faces will be something to treasure for a lifetime.

Back on terraferma it was time to make our way home with a some amazing memories of an amazing day. The boys were also lucky enough to take home a My First Flight helicopter as a memento of the day. I hope that every time they lift that control it will bring back thoughts of their own helicopter trip and they can relive that very moment time and time again.

What The Ladybird Heard At Rose Theatre Kingston:Review

We all have a favourite books from our childhood; one that brings back memories and even into our adult life can evoke feelings from times and places around that very story.

The beauty of finding your favourite book in this day and age is the fact that many of the classics are adapted for the big screen or stage, allowing you to enjoy the story in a completely different way.

A favourite in our house at the moment, especially with Frankie is What The Ladybird Heard by Julia Donaldson. Frankie first came across this fantastic book whilst covering it at school and was lucky enough to play a part in the school assembly that we all loved watching.

You can imagine his excitement when I told him we would be going to see the show on stage at the Rose Theatre in Kingston.

The Rose Theatre is a new discovery for us and we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived to the super friendly staff in a lovely bright and spacious reception that lead onto a cafe full of scrummy treats and a small play area that was perfect to keep restless fingers busy.

After a quick look around we made our way to our seats inside the theatre. It had a really laid back feel to it and the children were invited to grab a cushion and take a seat right in front of the stage or settle in their seats if they wanted. Actually as sad as this may seem the seats were a pretty big highlight for me as they were the usual retractable kind but came in a double seat which saved the continual chair banging throughout the show!

The colourful set had the whole audience of little people gazing at the stage with anticipation of the start. It wasn’t long before the lights dimmed and the charters took to the stage. The tale of the two cheeky robbers who were out to steal the farmers prized cow started to unfold and with the use of extremely clear props…my favourite was the goose made from a watering can, catchy tunes and bundles of audience participation the children were keeped engaged for the whole 55 mins which is no mean feat when there is such a young audience.

During the show the children were encouraged to join in with animal noises, sing and mimic the actions to songs and try to spot the elusive ladybird which seemed a favourite with them all. There was also plenty of slapstick style comedy thrown in which is always a hit with my lot!

The characters were warm and friendly and really drew the children in and made a great connection with them. Frankie took a real liking to the naughty robbers whilst Oscar was pretty taken with the jolly farmer.

At the end of the show we were lucky enough to be able to take to the stage for a chat with the characters and the children got to try their hand at using some of the amazing props.

Frankie was over the moon the meet his favourite character ‘Lanky Len’ and Izzy was in her element to get five minutes on stage as this is her absolute dream.

We had a fantastic afternoon and highly recommend this show as a half term treat for all the family.

Celebrating The Small Things:Week Twenty

This week has been as manic as usual and we’ve all been rushing here there and everywhere but we have had had plenty of small things to celebrate.

When Children Never Cease To Amaze – My eldest son has always been the quiet one, the one that is the hardest to work out and the one that I wish I could shove a fire cracker up his backside most of the time.
It has been the same conversation for the past few years with his teaches – “he is an extremely talented boy who needs to apply himself”. I find this so frustrating as it is so hard to get him engaged and believe me I’ve tried. So when he walked through the door the other day and announced he was putting himself forward for head boy I nearly dropped to the floor. Im really hoping something has finally clicked and he’s going to make the most of his last few years of school.

My Regained Fitness Is Paying Off – Even at my fittest running has never been something I have enjoyed. I find it boring and after suffering with terrible shin splints over the years I pretty much always avoid any kind of distance running.
This weekend I challenged this by taking part in a 5km obstacle run with Izzy and some good friends.
Although running is not my thing my competitive edge took over and I found myself running ahead and trying to complete the course in a good time, I did feel a little bad for leaving Izzy behind!
I completed the course, faced my terrible fear of heights and thoroughly enjoyed every minute.

Sushi In The Sun – After a trip to the shops with Oscar the other day I was quietly laughing to myself about his choice of sushi for lunch.
At the mere age of four it would have been a cheese sandwich and packet of crisps for me and I actually relish the fact that my children have a love of such a wide variety of different foods.