Sunday, 17 June 2012

Family friendly festivals Part 2: Food and drink (non-alcoholic)

This is a tricky one, as most festivals have so much gorgeous food, you could eat at a different stall for every meal and never get through them all. My very favourites are Pieminister, which do the most beautiful pie and mash and the Goan fish curry stall-heaven! I also loved the W.I. tea and cake stall at Camp Bestival last year.

However, this can firstly end up very expensive and secondly, if the food is too exotic it's not always easy finding something that little ones will eat. The main things that were successful with the children last year (then aged 1 and 6) were

Pizza Express Margherita and doughballs
Baked potato with beans and cheese
Sandwiches and cake from the W.I. stall
Sausage in a roll from a post sausage company
My 6 year old also tried the noodles and the pie with mash, but was a big uncertain.

So not really an amazingly varied diet, but enough to survive on for a few days. Our strategy was to take them to a Little Chef for a big breakfast on the first day- this was a posh Heston one with birdsong in the loos, woohoo! This sorted out one cooked meal and then I also try and cook a meal and freeze it, which means it is ready for reheating the next day. Chilli is easy as it can be served with wraps, curry with naan bread, rattatouille with crusty bread. Basically you want to try and cook with one pot wherever possible.

Some years we have the campervan, which gives us more options for food storage, but we dont have electric hook up or gas, so the principle is the same if you are camping, which we will be doing this year.

In your coolbox, freeze as much as you can and this will act as an icepack for your fresh items and obviously lasts a bit longer until it needs to be thrown away. So take frozen bottles of water,milk, frozen bottles of cocktails, frozen sausages, bacon, bread etc etc.

For my youngest, I try and take a high protein breakfast cereal, such as plum porridge, which i think has quinoa in it. Top with fruit puree, which is available from the baby section.

Take plenty of fruit that is portable and not likely to get bashed in a bag if you are out for the day- apples, nectarines, sultanas etc. Leave the bananas at home! Also plenty of healthy energy releasing snacks, such as flapjacks, rice cakes, bread sticks, cereal bars, so the kids are not just eating sugary stuff all day. You can get long life cartons of smoothies, juice and I find the little bottles of strawberry milkshake are great, as they dont need to be kept in the fridge. It is very easy for the kids and adults to get dehydrated, as you are likely to be doing lots of walking/ chasing toddlers/ dancing/ sitting in the sun (ha ha- fat chance!), so I find that taking a couple of bottles of concentrated squash and refillable drinks bottles is useful. You can also buy fruit and veg juice (desperately trying to find a way to get some veggies into the kids) and a big box of cherry tomatoes is good to munch on.

Wraps are lightweight and long lasting, these are good with tuna and sweetcorn.

I know it's not very eco friendly, but I found that I could buy a whole stack of instant coffee/ hot chocolate vending machine cups from places like Home Bargains. If you take a flask of hot water with you, you can save a fortune and keep warm. Take marshmallows for the kids hot chocolate.

You can usually buy staples such as bread, eggs and milk at shops on site and fruit at the farmer's market. But dont forget staples such as butter, oil, tomato ketchup and pot noodles if you are really desperate! Quick cook pasta is also good and could be topped with tuna/ frozen grated cheese/ ratatouille etc.

If your children like them, soya desserts are good as they are high in protein and dont need to be kept in the fridge, same for soya milk which can be used on cereal. You can also buy fruit in jelly which is nice and individuals portions of pineapple in juice were also a hit.

Sunday morning....aaah.

Unexpectedly, my husband and daughter have gone for an exciting day to Alton Towers, leaving me and my little man wondering what to do with our day at 8.30am this morning.

As sad as it sounds, I was quite tempted to go to the Gardener's World Live exhibition, as I was really keen to see their Living Wall exhibit. Have you seen this on the telly, it looks awesome! I love the idea of a whole vertical wall full of cascading plants.

Here are some examples of living walls, in case you've not seen one before...



Apparently they are planning to break up the walls once the show is over and donate them to local schools. I did email to put a word in for our school, as improving the school grounds is our project this year, but alas they had already been allocated. I'm hoping that next year they might remember us though...that would be so cool to have a load of amazing garden designers descend onto our little inner city primary school!

In the end, I decided to go for the slightly calmer option of taking my son to the park to feed the ducks and the baby goslings, a 1 mile game of chase the scuttlebug, head to the park to re-enact Fireman Sam about 20 times, using the slippery pole ,and then finished up at Granny's for tea and biscuits. Perfect!

If you have a little one under the age of 3, I totally recommend Scuttlebugs. They have been far and away my son's favourite toy. He uses it in the house, on the drive, in the park, when camping...he would sleep with it in his cot if I allowed him. I got mine second hand for a tenner, but I think you can buy them at Argos, Tesco, amazon etc.

I did take some sweet photos of my little boy today, but am still unsure about whether to include the children in the blog, partly because they are too little to understand, but also because of my job.

In other news, I am very excited to have bought a Habitat radius table, bench and chairs from ebay for a bargain price. I have wanted one of these sets ever since I moved into this house, but just couldnt afford it- even on ebay they have been going for silly money. Anyway, this one lived in a hairdressers and has had a few knocks and bruises. I dont mind that though, the kids will probably cover it in felt tips/ tomato sauce/ PVA glue/ glitter etc. I am hoping I can sand the top of it and then wondering if I should revarnish the whole thing? I am also going to need to dye the seat covers or upholster them, but I quite like the idea of that anyway.

The only problem is, as soon as I have bought the table, I started looking at some Ercol chairs to go with it. And co-ordinating ercol easy chairs for the lounge area. And some new artwork etc. I have to stop spending, I just cant afford it! I suppose that as I have waited for 5 years for the table, I cant wait a bit longer for the chairs. Ah well.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A tale of soggy bunting and other adventures.

Well, we are back from our camping trip to the Cotswolds. Epic fail. I had hoped to take loads of lovely pictures of my campervan decorated in jubilee bunting, but alas, it rained so much I didn't even get my DSLR out of its' protective bag.

We arrived on Saturday- bit of rain, not too bad.
Sunday- cloudy, bit more rain, still surviving. The kids entertained themselves with lots of bike riding, giggling and saying rude words on the walking talkies. Oh and my toddler did about 1000 circuits of the campsite on his scuttlebug, with me in hot pursuit.
Monday- we had a brief bit of respite and went to the famous South Cerney duck race down the river, where we sponsored a couple of yellow ducks to race against about 1500 others. It was good fun, but sadly we didn't win, think we were up against some pro ducks!

(photo courtesy of Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard)

Tuesday- torrential rain and a pathetic attempt at a jubilee BBQ
Wednesday- torrential rain, sense of humour starting to wear thin.
Thursday- torrential rain and gales forecast for the weekend! Very grumpy and feeling unwell...
Thursday night- hasty retreat down the M5, back to our warm beds, central heating and cups of tea. Phew.

Then on Friday night, my daughter started being sick everywhere (11 times as she told anyone who would listen),
on Saturday, my son started being sick too and on Sunday, I attempted to attack the enormous washing pile, whilst my husband mowed the lawns and attempted to dry out the tent.

And that was our half term and I feel exhausted!

Hope yours was a bit better than mine :)

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Happy and Glorious!


Say hello, wave goodbye the sunshine that is. Wasn't it glorious while it lasted?

We were very lucky last weekend as we had booked a Sun holiday in Somerset. It was really, really lovely and we spent lots of time lazing on sunloungers, eating ice creams and having nice waiters bring us cold beer. Heaven!

I'm currently sitting in my pyjamas, trying to find the energy to pack the campervan for our week away. The weather isnt exactly inspiring me to get going! I would much rather be here...someone remind me why I am spending good money to leave my centrally heated home to lie in a metal box for a week ha ha?

Have a wonderful weekend everyone :)