Top Five Reasons To Visit Elderflower Fields

Elderflower Fields was the festival that broke our family festival and camping virginity! Our happy place that is probably one of the only times of the year in which we can really switch off from the world.

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We are getting set to visit for the third time this year and couldn’t be more excited. There is still time for you to join in the fun, so take a look at my top five reasons for visiting if a family festival is something you have been considering this year.

Peace And Quiet – Of course a festival is lively, music filled and full of the hustle and bustle of the crowds; but it is equally a place you can sneak off into the woods for a secluded walk, plot up in the middle of a field and watch the fun from afar and of course the peace and quiet of sleeping under the stars.

Family Time – With the fast pace lives we all lead in this day and age getting away for the weekend with little internet connection and phone connection allows you to spend real quality time together without ant distractions.

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Food – If you are a foodie then this is definity the right festival for you. The amount of top quality, locally sourced vendors at the festival is unbelievable. Each and every one serving the most sumptuous food using top quality, ingredients made with love by the passionate owners.
Another bonus for us is the fact that Frankie’s multiple allergies are always catered for without any problems.

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Learning New Skills – Aside from a few all the activities at Elderflower Fields are included in the price making it fantastic value for money and allows the children to take part in a things they wouldn’t ordinarily do.
Over the past few years mine have learned a whole host of circus skills, trapeze tricks, kayaking and so much more.

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Building Independence – The festival isn’t as big as some and at no time have I felt worried about the safety of the children which is great for allowing them to build their confidence by independently moving to and from different activities and getting stuck into tasks on their own.

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I really could go on and on with reasons to visit Elderflower Fields, but really the best way to see exactly what I’m talking about is to visit yourself. There is still time to grab tickets ‘here’ so don’t miss out.

Around The World In 18 Raves:Camp Bestival Warm Up Tour With Big Fish Little Fish

As I am writing this the sun is shining through the window and I have to say I’m getting a little bit excited for the spring and summer to finally arrive.

The warmer weather for me is the que for me to start dusting off the sequins (well actually mine don’t really get put away)in preparation for festival season.

Last year we got into the spirit of things by attending the Big Fish Little Fish event at Dreamland in Margate and we are looking forward to returning again to get into the festival mood!

Big fish Little Fish put on amazing events that allow little ones to get their groove on along with their parents. Think glitter, sparkle, bubbles, lights and great music all wrapped up into a fantastic few hours that the whole family will love.

This year the tour will be travelling to 18 cities and will be based around Camp Bestivals theme this year which is celebrating all things nautical.

There will be a nautical themed craft area, baby chill out zone, a dance floor filled with bubbles, balloons and glitter and a very special parachute dance.

There will also be a chance for the whole family to have some fun in the photo booth whist trying to win a family ticket to Camp Bestival.

If this sounds up your street then take a look HERE at the differnt locations the tour will be visiting and get those tickets booked!

Opening My Eyes To Organic Living With Arla Foods

How long does it take you to get your weekly shop?

If you are anything like me my list varies very little from week to week and it’s just a grab and go, to get in and out as quickly as possible with items such as bread, eggs and milk being staples that I probably haven’t changed in years.

I’m sure that many of you are with me on this, and it wasn’t until I visited Cockhaise Farm in Sussex last week, really shifted my thoughts on the way I shop and opened my eyes up to organic, free range products.

Arriving to this beautiful farm and sitting sipping coffee on the patio could have transported you into a scene from the ‘Darling Buds Of May’ which always seemed like such an idyllic way to bring up a family although in reality I know that a farmers life is a tough one and I was here to learn exactly what goes into our everyday milk that most of us doesn’t give a second thought when buying.

Dan talked us thorough how he came to become an organic dairy farmer and his passion for his product and his herd was clear to see from the very first moment.
Dan’s dairy farm is very much a family business and the love for their animals really made it feel as if they were part of the family too.

This farm follows the ruling of organic farming by making the welfare of the animals and the environment a top priority, not using any artificial additives, preservatives or GM ingredients and fewer pesticides.

Instead the cows are allowed to graze freely as much as possible in fields full of chemical free, clover rich fields.

We got the chance to see how happy they were by going to visit the fields that honed the most adorable calves…I’m not sure what they made of a group of bloggers armed with cameras and phones galore!

From the young and happy calves we made our way to see a field full of pregnant cows and got to experience first-hand the first few fumbling steps of a calf that has literally just been born.

I was chatting to Dan’s father at the time who is also a retired organic dairy farmer who said that the birth of a calf is always special no matter how many time you experience it.

From here we made our way into the milking sheds that weren’t operational at the time but it was still amazing to see.

We had now been shown the milking process from the very beginning and it was now time to see how the beautiful product could be used and we were treated to a cookery demonstration from Ben a local chef who’s passion for organic products was just as great as Dan’s.

The demonstration was all set up in a barn with a fabulous hay barrel backdrop where Matt worked his magic on showing us how to create a Sussex smokey scotch egg that had an alternative filling of mashed potato and smoked haddock rather than the usual sausage meat, and a delectable vanilla creme brûlée that I could have sampled more than one of!

If you like the sound of these delicious recipes I have left them below for you to try yourself at home.

From the vibrancy of the colours of the egg yolks to the rich creaminess of the milk it is without a doubt there are not only benefits to the way organic food is produced but it also comes through in the product itself tenfold.

Vanilla Creme Brûlée

• 200ml Double Cream
• 100ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 4 egg yolks
• 50g sugar
• 1 vanilla pod

  1. Preheat the water bath to 80C or if using the oven 140C/120 Fan.
  2. Warm the milk, cream, vanilla and sugar together in a small saucepan to 60C.
  3. In a large bowl wish together the egg yolks and sugar until thoroughly combined.
  4. Slowly whisk the warm cream and milk into the egg mixture.
  5. Pour into individual shallow jars and screw on the lids very tightly.
  6. Place the jars in the water bath to cook for 60 mins then remove from the water with tongs and cool on ice.
  7. Alternatively place in oven for 20-22 mins until just set.
  8. Once set sprinkle the surface with sugar and brûlée with a blowtorch.Allow the sugar to set for 5 mins before serving.

Sussex Smokey Scotch Eggs

• 4 medium organic eggs
• 1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus oil for deep frying
• Salt and pepper for seasoning
• 1 pint Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
• 250g natural smoked haddock
• 1 bay leaf
• 200g potatoes for mashing
• 1 bunch of finely chopped dill
• 119g High Weald smoked cheddar chopped or grated
• 1 banana shallot
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1/2 leek
• 1 stick of celery
• 1/2 carrot
• 3oz butter
• 3oz plain flour
• 330g flour
• 1 organic medium egg
• 200ml Arla Organic Free Range Milk
• 300g or packet of breadcrumbs

1.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

2.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

3.Remove haddock and save both for later

4. Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

5.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

6.Boil seasoned water and then add the eggs, turn down to a simmer for 5 mins for a soft boiled egg, chill in cold water and put aside.

7.Add the smoked haddock, nutmeg and bay leaf to the milk and place in a water bath for 25 mins at 45C – if not using a water bath place the ingredients in a saucepan and dinner for 5 mins.

8. Remove haddock and save both later.

9.Peel and chop 200g of potato and boil for 15-20 mins, once cooked gently mash.

10.Meanwhile finely dice shallots, garlic, leek, celery and carrot. Sauté in oil for 10-15 mins, season to taste.

11.Peel the boiled eggs and dust in seasoned flour.

12.When the casing mixture is cool delete the into 4 portions and wrap around wash egg enclosing it completely. Chill for at least one hour to ensure it keeps its shape.

13.In the meantime prepare your station to breadcrumb the eggs.

14.You will need three shallow trays, one for the seasoned flour, one for the beaten egg and one for the breadcrumbs.

15.Firstly take the encased eggs one. Y one and put into the seasoned flour, making sure it is well coated.

16.Shake off any access flour and pass the food into the beaten egg, again making sure it is well coated.

17.Shake off any access and finally pass the food into the breadcrumbs again making sure it’s well coated.

18.Tap the food firmly to ensure the breadcrumbs are well attached and remove the crumbs into a clean plate or tray.

19.Now deep fry the completed eggs at 160C until golden brown.

*collaborated post

A Trip To The Majestic Penshurst Place

We had a trip to Groomsbridge Place the other day and on the journey there we drove past the eye catchingly beautiful Penshurst Place in Tonbridge.  I took a mental note and added it to our list of holiday activities. With half term upon us my holiday buddy and I gather our massive brood of children and set off to explore Penshurst Place.  It took us under an hour to get there and it was very well signposted.  Both the children and I were taken back by the splendid sight as we pulled into the grounds to nab our parking place under the shade of the trees.    We were greeted at reception by welcoming and knowledgeable staff that took our very reasonable entrance fee and passed the children the woodland trail map for us to complete. Once outside the children made a beeline for the splendid adventure playground where we plotted up with our picnic for a good while.  There was loads of open space to picnic and run around, a small sandpit, swings, slides, lots to climb and balance on and a added bonus of some hungry chickens to feed.    Once lunch was devoured we made our way into the woodland to complete our trail sheet.  The children loved answering questions on their surroundings whist climbing trees, hiding in the undergrowth and looking for wildlife.  We were lucky enough to see a couple of Canadian geese with their newly hatched babies that were super cute!          The next port of call was the craft barn where we created some fabulous paper swords, princess veils, shields, masks and hats.  This was all done in the perfect setting of the beautiful courtyard so the children could then come out and commence their battles.  There was also a toy museum just across from the craft shed, but ours were far to busy playing with their creations so we moved straight onto the magnificent gardens.        I have been to many stately homes in my time but these gardens topped any I have seen before.  We had a quick ice-cream stop whilst taking in the views and the children happily ran in and out of the ornamental hedges playing catch and hide and seek for well over an hour.          The gardens were separated by walls and walkways and there was a different surprise around every corner. One of the children’s favourites was the wild gardens where they could run in and out of the long grass.  It reminded me of the story ‘Were Going On A Bear Hunt’. I was in my element with photo opportunities although one nearly ended badly when my over exited number four tried to push his friend right into the pond!!  Luckliy he managed to save himself and number four was very sheepish for a good while afterwards.  Well for the next ten minutes which if you know him is a long time for him!    We didn’t attempt to go inside the house as we had nine children between two of us and I think that would have been tempting fate.  My Mum would love it here so I think I will save the house for a quieter visit with her one day. This was a really lovely day out with plenty to entertain the kids and lots of beautiful grounds and history for the adults to take in.  There is a maize maze that will be ready for the summer so we will be making a return visit in the summer holidays to give that a try.     

Our First Family Festival

  

For years I have dreamed about taking the kids to a festival.  Sleeping under the stars, kids running freely, great music and beautiful food.  Then panic always sets in and I think more along the lines of rain, mud everywhere and wet miserable children getting lost in massive crowds!!

When we won tickets to this years Elderflower Fields festival I was over the moon that we would get to experience the festival scene for a day, without the commitment of having to camp.

As usual I was more exited than the kids and went out to get flowery hair bands and hair chalk to get us into the spirit of it all .  We packed a massive picnic and set off on or short drive to Ashdown Forest in East Sussex exited at what we were going to experience ahead of us.

The journey was traffic free and very well signposted.  We were greated by super friendly volunteers that told us exactly where we need to go and what to do.

We had a bumpy walk across the fields to collect our wristbands and map then made out way down to the main fields where all the magic was taking place.

 

If the walk was to much for you there was plenty of complementary shuttles to take you to and from the carpark and campsites.

As usual my brood were starving as soon as we got there so we pitched up and had a bite to eat before going off to explore.

   
     

We had pre booked the older children onto the art and sports camp.  the camps lasted an hour, were staffed with really friendly and I had no worries about leaving them to get creative and try out new things.  Whilst they were busy we took the younger two to the under 5’s zone where they could help to paint a playhouse, create models from things you would find in the woodland and get dirty in the muddy water play.

   
     

This was number fours favourite area of the day and he could if happily stayed there for hours. 

There was so much on offer there for the children that we simply couldn’t fit it all in!!  They helped to build mud huts, swung in huge hammocks in the trees, swung through the woodland park, tried their hand at disc golf which we all loved, shot down the zip wire, listened to the fantastic story telling and magic show, the list just goes on and on.

   
           

  

  

 

What I loved most was how relaxed everything was.  There were no huge crowds so I was quite happy for the kids to wonder and I could keep them in sight.  The beautiful setting meant that as well as doing the set activities we could just take ourselves of to explore the stunning Ashdown Forset and all it has to offer.

   
         

Later into the afternoon number three and four got their faces painted by some very talented ladies and I took this opportunity to head over to the cocktail area where they had some great props hanging from the trees that were a great photo point, whilst having a sneeky boogie to the cool music from the DJ stand.  Much to the embarrassment of my older children!! 

               

We spent our final few hours taking in the fantastic music that was being performed by some extremely talented bands and grabbing a bite to eat which proved hard as there was so much choice on offer.  Mine opted for a freshly prepared burger from Big Eats which was delicious; but there were so many other options to choose from.  Curry, Thai, pizza, veggie options and lots of sweet treats to name a few.  All were super helpful when it came to number four and his allergies.

   
           

I really couldn’t do this event justice in this post.  It was everything I wanted from a festival and more.  Number four even asked if we could camp on the grass when it was home time as he didn’t want to leave.

We will be making a return next year, and this time to have our first camping experience.  The great outdoors, talented musicians, delicious food and drink, well run activities and the chance for children to really be children are all my favourites rolled into one.

Thank you Elderflower Fields for creating this fabulous  experience to store in our memory banks for many years to come.