Monday, 21 August 2017

Wilderness as a Family-Friendly Festival

Ed and I met many years ago at a festival and ever since we have talked about going back to one with the children.  We were looking online at the best family friendly options and discovered Wilderness festival, set in Oxfordshire.  Looking on the website it seemed to be a really family friendly festival so we booked six tickets and hoped for the best.  Neither of us had been camping other than at festivals pre-children but we were excited to try something new with the kids.

Wilderness, family friendly festival, Tootsa macginty

Wilderness has its own family camping area which was fantastic.  Everyone was really respectful and kept the site clean and the evenings were quiet and calm which made settling our four much easier. It was a short walk from the campsite to the main arena and as soon as you entered, the children's area was in front of you.

family friendly festival, Wilderness festival

We spent large periods of our weekend at the children's area, the bigger boys loved the circus skills area where they could learn to walk the tightrope, balance on stilts, hula hoop and more.  There were dressed up staff helping them every step of the way and when the props were put away, it was only because a show was about to begin.  The shows were fantastic for children three and over I would say, they were funny, engaging and the audience was always participating.

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival

Next to the stage was a craft tent where the children could make playdough creations, design glitter art or create a festival skirt (Dylan made a ninja skirt) with strips of mesh and elastic.  The tent was manned and completely free and there was so many resources.  The kids area also had specialist shops selling animal tails, all manner of bubbles and bubble related equipment and a mini theatre.  We went to an 80s sing a long session at the theatre and the children sat at the front colouring in pictures of Dolly Parton and Prince.

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

All three boys loved the rides, especially the helter skelter in the children's area but of course you go to a festival to listen to music, and they loved this side of it too.  We watched lots of singers and bands and they really enjoyed it.  During the day there was space to dance around and in the evening the atmosphere was brilliant.  We found that lots of families congregated together around the main stage which made a little family area.

festival wagon, Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

We bought a wagon before we went and I would highly recommend them if you are taking children to a festival.  We bought ours from Amazon and it was strong enough to carry all four when they got tired in the evenings.  During the day they would take it in turns to nap in there and we filled it with blankets and coats.  It definitely took the stress out of the weekend as they could all rest as much as they needed.

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children, festival wagon

Our experience of festivals before Wilderness was very different to this weekend and until you have children I don't think you notice how much fun they can be through children's eyes.  I think we picked a great first festival for them all as there was so much to keep everyone entertained.  

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

A little more practical information

We managed to spend quite a bit of money whilst we were there as the food was quite expensive.  There was only one stall offering a kids size portion (a meatball and some pasta for £4) but there was a huge variety of food and the boys loved trying all the food.  As a general guide you would pay around £8 for a meal and £4 for a portion of chips.  Mr Whippy ice creams were £3-£4.  We took our own reusable water bottles and there were plenty of places we could fill these up for free, both on the campsite and in the arena.  You could also cook on the campsite (and many families did) so we will definitely think about investing in a little stove for next time.

We stuck mostly to the free activities like the circus skills and craft tent as well as the music, but there were plenty of workshops you could pay for (they weren't practical with four small ones).  The rides cost around £3 per go and a child under 3 needs an adult with them on the helter skelter (another £3). 

The toilets were kept clean and well stocked, but we struggled to find anywhere to change a baby despite the website claiming baby changing facilities were available. so mostly used our own mat in the tent and a blanket in the wagon.  

The music was on from around midday until 10pm and you could definitely hear the arena from the campsite (we were situated closer to the arena than the car park).  It was quite muted though and we had no problem getting the children to sleep, in fact I think they found the background noise quite comforting.  The family campsite had stalls selling coffee, breakfasts and snacks and a welfare area with a section for lost children.  The wristbands we were given as our entry ticket had space to write a parent's phone number on so that if one went missing, the parents could be found (somehow we didn't manage to lose any of ours!).

Despite the on and off rain all weekend, it really wasn't that muddy, but of course the children found the one muddy area and got completely stuck in (and just stuck).

I took a lot of photos so here are some more from our first family-friendly festival experience


Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children


Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children, Hatley raincoat

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children, Hatley raincoat

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children

Wilderness festival, family friendly festival, festival with children











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Sunday, 20 August 2017

What the Boys Wore // Deichmann Sandals

Last summer, Dylan refused to take off his socks.  He decided that sandals were the most uncomfortable things ever, and he would be wearing socks and trainers throughout the hot weather.  Living by a beach, this wasn't particularly practical but he made it work, and Archie mostly copied him.  This year I was determined to get them all in Sandals, so I spent £100 buying them all lovely blue ones (matching) but after the first wear all three declared their hatred and went back to their trainers.

Deichmann sandals, Deichmann boys shoes

Deichmann offered the boys the chance to pick some sandals from their summer range and I was hopeful that we may make it to our summer holiday with summer feet.  I helped them choose and we went for closed toes for Finn and Dylan and two straps for Archie. Due to some slight mis-packing, we ended up taking only their sandals away with us and thankfully, it went perfectly!

All three boys love their sandals and have been wearing them all summer.  Dylan has learned to ride a bike in his and we have been thankful that we went for the closed toe.  They fit very much like trainers but are more breathable and incredibly comfortable if they pass his seal of approval.



Finn has been running, jumping and climbing in his.  I prefer him in flexible soles and we have found this design works well for him.  The closed toe has protected his feet and he has been wearing these every day.  The only choices left in Archie's size when we visited the store were strapped sandals, but Archie is happiest in these as he seems to get hotter than his brothers.  He has ridden his balance bike, explored, climbed and played in them comfortably.


All three pairs together come in at just over £40 and they are perfect for my little explorers. The boys want to wear them (which is very important) and I feel like their feet are well protected.  Thank you to Deichmann for helping to get them out of their trainers this summer!

Deichmann kids shoes, closed toe sandals


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Friday, 18 August 2017

Two in School with Pep and Co

There are only three weeks until I have two school boys.  Archie will be joining his big brother at our local infant school and he can't wait.  He had outgrown the nursery by the time he left and he is excited for the new challenges, although I think once he remembers that it is everyday he may change his mind.  Archie has the same teacher that Dylan had in his first terms and I think she is going to be in for a shock.

Two school boys means two sets of uniform, two little blue book bags, two pairs of smart black shoes and two to get out the door on time five mornings a week.  School uniform can get really expensive and we are very impressed with these bits from Pep and Co which are ridiculously cheap.

pep and co school uniform, poundland uniform

It took me £3.20 each child AND a kinder egg to bribe them into their school uniform in the middle of the holidays and they then refused to take it off for the rest of the day.  The polo shirts start at £1, the trousers from £3 and the jumpers from £2.  Archie could buy his trousers and polo with the money I paid him and still have change!

poundland school uniform, pep and co clothing

pep and co school uniform, cheap school uniform

Of course no amount of money would actually persuade them to stay still or pull a nice smile for the camera, so I have funny thumbs up and some zombie poses. The trousers look a little long on both boys so definitely don't size up unless you are happy to turn them up as well. I am hoping the boys finish their growth spurt by early September so that these fit a little better. 

pep and co school uniform, uniform from poundland

The trousers have an adjustable waist which is good news for those with slim kids like Archie and the polo shirts have a really great fit.  Pep and Co have expanded their range and many items are 100% cotton as well as having  Teflon® and Always Smart® technology in the fabrics to make them easy care.  As I know all too well what a white polo shirt looks like after a 4 year old has eaten a school lunch in it, this is excellent news!


With the Pep and Co uniform you can definitely get More for Less which is going to make the sting of four after school clubs a bit easier (we have been letting Dylan pick two each term so Archie will get to do the same).  It is available in 289 Pep and Co stores including selected Poundland stores.  You can find your nearest store here







 This post is in collaboration with Pep and Co
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Thursday, 17 August 2017

Aveeno Baby

Last month we were invited up to London for a baby yoga session with AVEENO®. I have never tried baby yoga before (or even adult yoga to be honest) and I was curious as to how easy it would be with a newly mobile baby. As it happened, Cora slept through the whole session and I got to do the workout with a doll who not only stayed still, but was also considerably lighter than my actual baby.


Our yoga session was followed by a delicious oaty meal cooked by Alex from 26Grains. Cora devoured her beetroot and apple oats and we learned about the power of oats to make you feel good both inside and out. AVEENO® baby products are made with colloidal oatmeal and are gentle on their delicate skin whilst soothing, nourishing and protecting it.





A baby’s skin is unique, their skin barrier is thinner and loses moisture more quickly meaning it can be prone to irritation and dryness. Dr Shefali Rajpopat, an AVEENO® consultant dermatologist and she says “When it comes to baby skincare, it’s important to use ingredients that work to gently nourish and protect their skin. Oats are a key ingredient to look out for - providing gentle relief to dry and sensitive prone skin. Natural colloidal oatmeal creates a protective film that increases skin hydration, helps to maintain normal pH and protects the skin surface from external aggressors. The oatmeal granules even act as micro-sponges to absorb dirt and dead skin cells, to leave the skin feeling soft and healthy. Using a natural ingredient such as oat can help keep babies skin looking and feeling healthy.”



The AVEENO® baby range has become part of our daily routine from the Daily Care Hair and Body Wash in Cora’s bath to the Soothing Relief Emollient Cream we use on Archie’s dry skin. We are going to be incorporating more oats into Cora’s diet too, especially since she has decided she will not eat any bread products! The recipe from 26 Grains is below



In Collaboration with AVEENO®
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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

When does Toddlerhood start?

This week Cora has started walking.  It has been six weeks since she took those first unsteady steps between two adults she trusts, but only six days since she started really walking.  There were weeks of nervous steps between people or furniture but this week she has decided she is happier on foot and has barely crawled since she made the decision.  She still looks a little wobbly, still falls over a lot, especially on uneven surfaces and she still looks immensely proud of every step she takes.

With eleven little white teeth filling Cora's mouth, her smile looks much older than her brothers at the same age.  Her hair is just about long enough to make little pigtails and she loves playing peekaboo.  From the outside Cora looks very much like a toddler.

13 months old, baby or toddler, when do they become toddlers

When she curls up in my lap for milk, her eyelashes fluttering as she slowly falls into a land of dreams, her chubby little hands resting delicately on my top, her legs tucked up so that she is fully encased in my arms, her chest rising and falling next to mine, she seems so small still, a baby.

At 13 months Cora isn't talking yet but she is definitely understanding more and more.  She is trying to master a spoon and fork with varying success and she is getting pretty good at climbing.  Sleep is still a challenge and she is far from sleeping 'through the night'. She eats food on her terms and breastfeeds regularly.  It feels like she swaps between being a baby and a toddler several times a day and I think we are now in that transitional phase.

baby or toddler, toddler girl, 13 month old girl

Each of my babies have been so different at this same age, some definitely entering the world of toddlerhood, others were definitely still babies.  I think the baby / toddler divide is determined more by milestones than age, and I am sad that my last baby is leaving behind another stage, that I will never have a little baby of my own again.  I love this little toddler that she is becoming though, so determined, so funny, so inquisitive.  

Where do you think the divide between baby and toddler lies?


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Monday, 14 August 2017

Eurocamp for a larger family

Nowadays we have to consider a lot more when choosing where to go on holiday as having four children makes us a larger than average family.  Not everywhere caters for families of six and often accomodation can be a struggle.  Our recent holiday with Eurocamp was fantastic for our larger family and everything from the accomodation to the activities was easy.



We stayed in a three bedroom mobile home that can accomodate up to 8 people if you include the pull out sofa bed.  Ideally we don't want to be using that as we enjoy having some space once we have put the children to bed, so we used the three bedrooms, having one single bed and one cot in each of the children's rooms.  Our mobile home had an indoor and outdoor table, both with four chairs but we were provided with two fold out chairs so that we could eat at either (and a highchair too). 

When it came to the swimming pools, there was no information about ratios and the staff had no issue with us having the four in with us.  In our local pools we are not allowed to take them all in unless they are all in floatation devices and they remain in them, but in the Eurocamp pools they could splash about as much as they liked.  



Being a larger family means the children already have playmates, and there was so much for them to do together.  I loved watching them bond in different ways and in different environments, the big two racing on their bikes, the little two sitting out on the decking each morning playing with the toys they had brought with them. 

The restaurant easily accomodated us, the hire centre had plenty of bikes with child seats or trailers and we found the holiday parc perfect for families like ours.





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Friday, 11 August 2017

Our Week in France with Eurocamp

We picked the La Croix du Vieux Pont Eurocamp parc for our recent holiday for many reasons; the closeness to Calais and therefore a short drive, the fact that the parc was really family friendly, the free learn to ride sessions they offered and the good reviews I had read online. We left the morning after Dylan broke up from school armed with a boot full of clothes and scooters and the footwells packed with trunkis full of toys.

It was an easy journey and it took us less than 6 hours door to door.  When we arrived the sun was shining and the thermometer read 28 degrees.  The boys have always loved staying in mobile homes and this was no different, with the added bonus that as soon as we stepped outside our little space we were right on the lake and there were ducks swimming around looking for leftovers.  We got changed into our swimwear and headed straight to the man made beach.

With the absence of a coastline this close to Paris, the parc created its own beach and it is perfect for building sandcastles, splashing about and swimming in.  The children were desperate to move after three hours in the car and our holiday couldn't have started better.

Unfortunately the weather took a dive after the first day and it rained on and off for the rest of our stay.  It certainly didn't stop us having fun though and we found so much to do in spite of the weather (I have written about some of our favourite activities here).  Our days seemed both relaxed and full at the same time with no pressure, no time we had to be anywhere yet lots to do.  It felt great to not look at the time  all day, eating when we were hungry and moving on to a new activity when we felt like a change.

The swimming pool was a big hit with us all, and having four so close we are not able to take them all easily at home.  There were no rules on ratios though and the children's pool was well designed so we felt confident having all four in the water there.  The boys had the option to go to the free kids club every day and they did a few sessions, Dylan really enjoying it.  Whilst it states from 4 years old, I think it was more suited to a child who was already at school.

One of my favourite things about the holiday was watching the bond between the children develop.  Dylan and Archie have been seperated for 5 days a week but suddenly they were together 24/7 and I saw them both change as they reconnected and encouraged each other.  Archie pushes Dylan physically to keep up and Dylan's play has evolved through school and I have seen Archie follow his lead and mature even more.

Finn and Cora have always been close, but this week gave them time to play with their big brothers too and Finn is desperate to be one of them with Cora not far behind.  They three boys played together so well (most of the time, they fought too of course) and I loved watching them experience these things together.

Our days started with fresh croissants from the on-site bakery and ended with either a Berny burger take away or a meal in the amazing restaurant.  We stayed on site other than an afternoon wander down to the nearest town one day and we had ice cream at any opportunity.

I took too many pictures, I always do,  but I have so many memories captured and I love every one of them. 







baths out on the decking are an important part of holidays and Eurocamp offer highchairs, cots, baby baths, potties and bed rails for hire.




The boys asked to go for a dip on our way home from dinner one night and I couldn't think of a good reason why they shouldn't. They loved splashing about as the sun went down.






Cora started to get her confidence with walking with lots of encouragement from her brothers.









This photo is only metres from our mobile home, they all spent ages just sitting and watching the lake and the wildlife.



You would not believe how fascinating a drain can be when you are two and a quarter.


My child who has never ridden a bike before was riding down the road with no stabilisers after only a couple of lessons.  He still has some learning to do, but he was so proud of himself and we couldn't have been more proud of him.



Our week in France was courtesy of Eurocamp but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.







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