Back To The Fun At Elderflower Fields

You know when you leave a place and you are already planning your next trip back next year that it is place to remember.

This is exactly how we feel about Elderflower Fields and why we have just had our third and equally as fantastic trip there.

Our first taste of Elderflower Fields was as day visitors and it captured our hearts the moment we set foot in the field…so much so that last year we returned for the whole weekend and had our first ever experience of camping as a family.

This year was set to be just as good…if not even better than the last and we were all itching to get there and start the fun.

We were lucky enough to be trying out Pitch this year that is a fabulous company that sets up luxury bell tents for you that are beautifully kitted out and ready for you on your arrival. 

I have lots more to tell you about this, but as they say a picture paints a thousand words so I will leave you with this picture of the most incredible tent I have ever had the opportunity to stay in!

With setting up being completely pain free we doned the glitter and sparkles and made our way down to the main field to see what was going on this year.

The familiar main stage was alive with fantastic music and a sea of families relaxing and taking it all in.

For us one of the big pulls of this festival is the food and the children all made their way to grab an ice cream before they got going on the activities.

What I love most about Elderflower Fields is its relaxed atmosphere.

You can slowly wander without any pressure to get to planned activities all the time. There are of course a few things that have timed slots, but the majority you just turn up and have a go.

This year there was the addition of the Woodland Tribe that was a huge hit with the boys.

It saw Daddy uncharacteristically put his DIY hat on and hammer and saw with them all to help create a super cool den.

Another activity the children returned to plenty of times was the trapeze workshop.

The boys had no fear at being twisted and spun in the silks and it left Izzy with a real want to take it up as an activity once we got home.

Circus skills were up next and they tried their hands at everything on offer. I however wasn’t so skilful!

Grabbing a bite to eat was on the agenda before the evening fun.

Food is a huge part of this festival with something for everyone from meat lovers to vegans, savoury fans or those with a sweet tooth all tastes are catered for.

The potato stall has us coming back every year without fail and this year the Thai stall was my favourite with its beautifully flavoursome dishes, in fact I didn’t visit anywhere else all weekend.

As the sun came down we settled on the main field to listen to more bands and have a few cheeky cocktails before heading back to the comfort of our beautiful tent.

Fully refreshed from a great nights sleep we made our way down to the campfire to take part in the Campfire Cookout.
This is new to Elderflower Fields this year and something the children all really enjoyed taking part in.

Alongside cooking up some yummy chocolate waffles on the campfire the children got to take part in a drawing lesson that saw them making their very own comic strip.

My all time favourite face painter Nam Nam’s were back creating their masterpieces so we couldn’t pass up this chance.

I always feel so sad when I have to take their wonderful creations off.

Still pretty full from the waffles it was time for the So Sussex Family picnic.

Last year this was something I felt a little worried about as the theory behind it is to get together with twelve people, friends or strangers and select one leader to go and collect your picnic of delicious local products to enjoy together.

 

This year we met up with one of my husband school friends and some others they were camping with and thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous food and great company.

It was then time to get out of the sun and take a stroll through the Art Trail.


Some unbelievable sculptures had been created and there was something new and unique round every corner, including a lookout tower that the children played in happily trying to spot all sorts with their binoculars.

 

I simply can’t fit everything in that we got up to over the course of a few short days as there was just so much going on. 

For me this festival offers more than just music and dancing, although they are big parts of it to!

The activities offer the children new experiences they can take home and further if they wish to and gives them a real understanding of nature and the world around them through the fun of play.

This magical festival keeps us coming back time and time again and I would highly reccomend a visit to see the brilliance yourselves!


Country Kids

Learning To Cook With Jamie Oliver’s Hotpoint Teaching Kitchen

How many of you cook your evening meal from scratch every night?

I would hazard a guess that it won’t be many of you and as research from Jamie’s Ministry Of Food shows this sadly the case for many of us.

In fact a huge 1 in 5 adults rely on takeaways and convenience food due to a lack of knowledge in cooking skills and a whopping 1 in 10 have never cooked from scratch.

For me one of my favourite lessons at school was home economics and was actually the only A I got at GCSE.

It was an outlet away from the more academic subjects that I never thrived in and it certainly gave me a great knowledge of food preparation and nutrition that has always stayed with me.

Sadly in many schools this is not on the timetable at all now and 7 in 10 people feel the rise in takeaways and convience food has been greatly affected by this.

This makes for a vicious cycle of parents then not having the knowledge to pass down to their children creating a nation with little knowledge on food at all.

I was shocked to find that 1 in 5 can’t boil an egg, a quarter struggle to cook rice and a third of the people asked lack the skills to correctly cut an onion.

For these reasons Jamie’s Ministry Of Food has got together with Hotpoint to create a fantastic teaching kitchen that is setting up in the towns where obesity and diet related illnesses are at a high.

I was asked along to have a lesson at the truck earlier this week in Selhurst, South London.

I arrived in the car park of Crystal Palace Football Club which seemed like a pretty strange place to be learning to cook.

The truck was nothing liked I expected and was in fact a spectacularly kitted out set up with high tech appliances from Hopoint and plenty of natural light to make for a fantastic area to learn new skills.


Although I would say I’m a pretty confident cook my repertoire has become pretty limited due to cooking for a large family with limited time.

To be honest the majority of my meals are prepared from scratch but I’m a bit of a one pot fan and I was hoping this lesson would open my eyes to creating something new for the family.

Any nerves I had about starting the session were soon quashed when the super friendly chefs introduced themselves and started the afternoon.

Our mission was to prepare a beautiful dish of salmon teriyaki from scratch which is one of my favourite meals but something I’ve not tried to create mysel.

Each step was shown to us and then as we went through the process ourselves there was plenty of experts on hand to help out at any stage.


I learned some great tips on food wastage and an entirely new way to cook rice that I will be trying out at home!



Children as young as 7 can go along to take part and I think this would be the perfect way to introduce little ones to the exciting world of cooking and sparking off something that could turn into a real passion for them.

The truck is in Selhurst until 16th June and you can book your slot HERE for free.

It is then moving onto Bristol, Middlesborough, Sunderland and Liverpool.

There is then an exciting opportunity for one community to win the chance to have the truck come to your town.

All you need to do is post a picture on social media showing members of your local community such as a youth group or scout troop holding wooden spoons.

Simply let them know the name of your town and why they are deserving and is the hashtag #cookforchange.

I would love to know if you decide to visit the truck and if you do what you think!

Keeping Kids Hydrated With Fruit Shoot Hydro

Children are like sponges, they soak up everything around them and retain every bit of information they pick up.

So for me this is why it is super important to try and let them experience as many different things as possible at a young age so that they can find things they are passionate about and hopefully take that with them into their adult life.

Robinsons Fruit Shoot are currently running a campaign called #itsmything that is encouraging real kids to celebrate what they are passionate about and through this allow them to channel their creativity and individuality.

To support this fantastic campaign I took my super individual child Izzy along to Castle Climbing in Hackney where Fruit Shoot had put on a fantastic event allowing the children to take part in a 90 minute session of climbing to get them active and try something new.


Izzy is by far my most individual child who will always buck the trend if it is something she feels passionate about is truly a free spirit.

As she approaching those akward teen years it is important for me to keep that zest for life going and hope that peer pressure doesn’t steer her away from trying new experiences.

Izzy confidently set to the challenge of the climbing wall and was happy to have meet up with a friend that she has made through the wonderful world of blogging whilst I went outside to listen to a talk from the highly knowledgable dietitian Jo Travers.


Of course all this fun and exercise is fantastic for young bodies and minds but we need to be aware that it can take a toll on their growing bodies and one of the most important things we can do to keep their bodies and mind fit and active is to keep them hydrated.

For me this a no mean feat and aside from my youngest who guzzles litres of water a day, hydrating the others…especially Izzy is a constant challenge and something as bad as it is I often forget to do!

I took away so much from Jo’s session and it is now my mission to keep us all as a family more hydrated.

Here are a few of Jo’s top tips on keeping your kids hydrated:

The choice of drinks is always a constant battle in our house, especially with the older children who are easily lured towards the unhealthy fizzy drinks as let’s be honest water doesn’t have a great appeal when there are so many other drinks with more flavour readily available.

This is where the clever people from Fruit Shoot have come up with Fruit Shoot Hydro that has all the goodness of water with a hint of flavouring making it much more appealable to youngsters.

It is a naturally flavours spring water with no sugar of artificial colours and comes in a handy sized bottle with a resealable cap, making it perfect for kids on the go.

With my mind buzzing with all this new information I was going to take home and hopefully implement with my family and Izzy warn out and super hyped after her climbing adventure there was a chance to have a delicious lunch and of course sample some of the Fruit Shoot Hydro.

My water dodging daugher was extremely impressed with the flavour and even went back for a second bottle which is pretty much unheard of.

Full up and hydrated our afternoon was bought to an end and we set off home with a fantastic goodie bag full of great stuff to keep Izzy active and a voucher to try out Go Ape which be fantastic in her bid to keep the #itsmything challenge going for that bit longer!

*collaborated post

#TeenTalk With Gaby Logan And Boots

Those foreboding teenage years sadly have to come to us all.

I remember as clear as day that awkward moment when my mum thrust an Usbourne ‘Our Bodies’ book into my hand looking decidedly more embarrassed than me, and the day my dreaded period arrived seemed much more filled with the worry of telling my Mum than the actual mechanics of it all.

This all happened for me in the early 90’s and you would have thought that by now things would have moved on  and these subjects that parents once feared and avoided would now be much easier to broach.

Sadly 68% of parents still find it difficult to approach puberty topics with their teens, a quarter of parents asked in a poll avoid these subjects all together and 33% of parents wish they could talk openly with their teen.

The other week I was invited along to the Haymarket Hotel in London to have afternoon tea with a group of lovely bloggers that was headed up by Gaby Logan and teen expert Sarah Newton.

Armed with tea and cake we chatted about the #TeenTalk campaign that Boots are running for it’s second year to try and support parents as they navigate their teens through the tough years of puberty by providing parents with much needed advice and support to talk to their teens with informed confidence.

Gaby Logan is currently hitting this phase in her life with her preteen twins and this is how she has been handling this phase with her children. 

 “As a mother of twin teens, I understand the challenges of communicating with teens all too well! They suddenly go from wanting to tell parents everything, to one word answers. But as every parent knows, you desperately want to give your children all the guidance, help and support they need and being able to communicate effectively with your teens is crucial to this. What I love about the #TeenTalk campaign is that is helps to give parents the confidence to start and maintain a strong, open and honest conversation with their child through puberty and beyond”

For me broaching the subjects of changing bodies, personal hygiene and sexual relationships is something that I have never shied away from with my own children and I have always tried to answer  questions that arise at any age instead of leaving it to a big, built up ‘chat’ as they approach their teens.

As a mother of a daughter that I have already been through it all with and a 14 year old son I do also know that as with everything no child is the same and the way you broach these subjects can’t be the same for them all, but as the teen guru Sarah Newton said we need to keep the conversation going.

My own parents were very closed shop about it all and simply giving them a list of the things that should happen and leaving it at that probably isn’t the best way to go about it.

Let their inquisitive minds be filled with all the information that you think they need to confidently go into thier teens with the ability to make informed choices on what path they are going to take when one of these hurdles come along.

Be it a boys first shave or a girl feeling ready for her first bra are all huge steps in the eyes of a teen and they still really need that help and reassurance from thier parents that the decisions they are ultimately making are right.

From the 10th May -6th June Boots will be giving away a free #TeenTalk guide with every purchase of Venus, Always, and Tampax products.

These products are perfect for helping teens through this transitional period and they are even kind enough to be giving away a free gift for anyone with teen daughters.

It was an fabulous afternoon filled with relieving memories of our own teen years and experiences some of us had already had with out own children.

By listening to all these stories on thing that has stuck in my mind is that as long as you are well informed, open and honest then you can’t go far wrong.

The Art Of Brick:DC Super Heroes

Lego is a toy that from my experience all children love. It allows them to be creative, use their imagination and helps heaps with their fine motor skills.

For my youngest two mixing Lego with superheroes would be the perfect combination and that is exactly what has been done with The Art Of Brick:DC Super Heroes.

The extremely clever artist Sawaya has teamed up with DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. to recreate DC characters, vehicles and the environments they are found in out of over 2 million Lego bricks. 


We were all astounded with the intricacy of each and every sculpture that the boys found very hard to keep their hands off of. In fact only my youngest two could have a kerfuffle in the middle of the exhibition…coming close to taking out a huge container filled with carefully sorted bricks!


Sticky fingers are however allowed to wander at the end of the exhibition where there is the chance to create your own masterpieces, grab a snack or play on some Lego themed video games.

I’ve not spoiled the exhibition by including lots of pics in this post as it lovely to see them first hand.

Tickets are easily purchased online and there is the option to by on the door but I wouldn’t leave it to chance.

We were there for about an hour in total so the entry price is a little high in my opinion, but it really is a sight worth seeing.

Dinosaurs Invade London At Jurassic Kingdom

Who would have thought that tucked away in a suburban part of town there would be grand Georgian house with stunning grounds homing a whole host of dinosaurs!

Last week we went on the hunt for them and wasn’t disappointed.

After a more than a little fraught journey to from South London we made it to Osterley House in Isleworth, which a a stunning National Trust property with acres of beautiful land that is just perfect for hosting Jurassic Kingdom which is there from now until the 17th April.

It is accessible by public transport but a long walk from the train station for little legs or a short bus journey but the buses are only scheduled every 20 mins which was a long wait for my impatient children.

The car park however is huge and free to National Trust members of £7 all day.

Time slots are available to book easily on line for the event and I would suggest you allow yourself plenty of time as there is lots to see and do.

The Jurassic Park style entrance paved its way into the attraction itself which has you following a path through the grounds spotting dinosaurs as you go.


Some are static but the majority have moving limbs and sound effects which the children loved.

It is a far more interactive experience than I had imagined and there are dinosaurs that you can climb onto, a sand pit that lets the little ones try their hand at becoming an arciologist and digging out bones and an education tent where you can sit and watch a short show that explains a little more about dinosaurs.

As far as eating goes the places is perfect for picnicking as there are so many great places to pitch up. There is also a small selection of fast food stands where Izzy count resist the churros!

The children also has a great time making us of the National trust facilities which are always a winner by tree climbing, den building and swinging on the rope swings.

All in all it is the perfect day out for dino fans and even those that aren’t so keen could easy make us and enjoy everything else Jurrasic Kingdom has to offer.

*we were given tickets for the purpose of this review and they are all my own, honest opinions.

Country Kids

Swapbots:A New Generation Off Augmented Reality 

I have written several times about the perils of screen time and how it has had a detrimental effect on our family.

My teen has had several periods where he has been drawn in by the addictive world of gaming and it has really taken over his life.

This said though the world we live in today is driven by technology and for children to get on this is an integral part of their learning that can be hugely benificial if used in the correct way.

The people behind the fantastic new augmented reality toy-Swapbots have come up with the perfect solution to this.

Swapbots are collectable toys that through the use of augmented reality creative an amazing interactive video game that is based around a physical toy.

Swapbots are formed of a set of nine characters of which each character is made up by three interchanging blocks.

Each block has its own superpower and can be chopped and changed to make your own unique character.

This amazingly  amounts to a huge seven thousand and twenty nine character combinations that can be brought to life through the free Swapbots app that is easily downloadable on your device of choice.

All the player needs to do is select their  character combination, point their  device at the toy and watch it come to life in front of their eyes.

From here the Swapbots can be cared for, taken on exciting adventures or pitted at battle with each other.

Many of you may worry they this is just another pull into the lost world of screen time, but as I said in reality we live in a technology driven world and this is so much more than just your run of the mill gaming app.

It encourages thier problem solving skills, allows them to use thier imagination and allows interaction with the outside world whilst using elements from the digital world.

Take a look at it in action HERE 

*collaborated post