Tuesday 28 August 2012

Extreme camping on a hilltop in Wales

A wet camping trip
At 3.30am this morning, Tom and I lay wide awake on top of a very stormy hill overlooking the sea. Dolly and Betty slept on, oblivious to the driving rain and gale force winds whipping our tent around like a sail.

There was a tense discussion between Tom and I about what would happen if the tent got struck by lightning. I pointed out that we were exposed on top of a hill in a pointy bell tent with a metal pole in the middle.

We decided to de-camp as quickly as we could, there and then. I gently shook Betty awake and told her she had to get up.  "It's the middle of the night, and I am only five, let me sleep," she mumbled. I knew that Dolly would be furious at being woken up, so I gave that job to Tom.

Once both girls were safely inside the car and happily eating crisps, Tom and I, both in pyjamas, head torches and serious expressions, embarked on our dangerous and extreme mission of dismantling the tent.

In this high state of emergency, I had to let go of my obsession of categorising everything and packing it all away neatly in its rightful home.  Sweating cheese and sausages were thrown into the wash bag, and unwashed cutlery and pans were shoved into Dolly's suitcase.

The normally straightforward job of folding up the tent became quite an ordeal as the wind got underneath it and threatened to blow the whole thing into the sky. Tom was in full action hero mode, and managed to hold it in place long enough to be able to gather it up, and cram it, soaking wet into the boot of the car.

Having successfully piled everything into the car in an impressive 20 minutes flat, we headed for home.  I sat uneasy in my seat, updating my Facebook friends of our ordeal, and not quite coping with the fact that things were not packed in an orderly fashion.  In the back of the car, Betty and Dolly had fallen asleep.  And it was all Tom could do to stop himself from saying 'I told you so', having strongly suggested that we de-camp a day earlier, after hearing severe weather warnings.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Duckie lives on... (just)

Betty serenading Duckie
As some of you may remember, Duckie is the soft toy that Betty has had since she was born.

And at five years old (almost six) she is STILL besotted with her duck.

Duckie, at one point, did go into semi-retirement, where he was put to sleep in a lovely little cradle in her bedroom.   He was left there untouched, and although a little sad, we all breathed a massive sigh of relief.

But just a few days later, Betty buckled, and Duckie sprang back onto the scene with a vengeance.

She has now transformed her wardrobe into 'his bedroom'.  And although she doesn't seem to mind her own bedroom becoming an absolute tip, if you dare move anything out of place in Duckie's bedroom she goes crazy - and he has a heck a lot of accessories, pictures, toys, and food in there.

But poor Duckie is threadbare, smelly, grey, and his worn wings and legs have all fallen off at least once.  I have been renamed 'the vet' by Betty because I have to keep fixing him.  And I am no great seamstress, so you can imagine the state he is in.

I have no doubt Betty would cut off her own arm for Duckie.  In fact she would probably happily cut off my arm (and Tom's and Dolly's for that matter)  if it meant Duckie being happy.

I fear the day when Duckie disintegrates into nothing...

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Wilderness Festival 2012: a superb weekend!

Here we come!
We have just got back from yet another truly fabulous weekend at the Wilderness Festival, which is held in the stunning grounds of Cornbury Estate in Oxfordshire.

We arrived on Friday afternoon, in sweltering heat, and having unloaded all our stuff, made several trips to and from the car, pitched up, and decorated the tent, we were all very hot and sweaty and irritable.

But what better way to cool down than a delightful swim in the lake on the grounds of the festival?  And not only that but the lake had a most incredible waterfall: cold, bracing, refreshing and JUST what we all needed.  It was Betty who coaxed (pushed) me under, and I am so glad she did.  I can't imagine that this lake has ever been so busy!  It was such fun, and felt just like something from a film (and there were not any leeches or snakes under the water, despite Dolly's claims that there were).

And from then on, the weekend continued to be great.

Betty throwing a pot
There was an incredible amount of fabulous activities for kids, and THEY WERE ALL FREE!: pot-throwing, tutu and fairy wing making, tile painting, story telling, circus acts, plays, dancing, bubble-making to name but a few.

In fact, we were so worn out from partaking in all the kids' activities during the day, that by the time the evening came, we were completely done-in, and so didn't actually get to see that much music. There were many adult things we didn't get to do/see, in particular the Secret Cinema and Spiritualised.

But for Tom and me (and maybe we are getting old),  just meandering around the site, and marveling at the huge and diverse array of shows, food stalls, people, yoga positions, structures, bunting, music, crafts, and outfits, was more than enough.

My dancing Dolly
There was such a great vibe throughout the festival.  The staff were helpful and smily, and all festival-goers were unbelievably friendly and they all seemed to like kids.  Betty and Dolly made many new (adult) friends on the eve of the Masked Ball - while Tom and I shovelled (very posh) lamb kebab down our necks.

And the absolute icing on the cake - they had powerful, warm showers on site, and without queues.  I have never managed a shower at a festival before - what a treat to do all these wonderful things, and be clean while doing them.

Having spent three days in such a fabulous atmosphere, I came home feeling really inspired, and creative, and chilled out.

Thank you so much for inviting us to what was the 'best weekend ever' to quote my five year old.  The sun beamed ALL weekend, I got to use my new bell tent (bunting and fairy lights galore) and we all had an absolute ball.

To find out more about this festival visit: www.wildernessfestival.com

Tuesday 14 August 2012

The computer generation: toddler versus granny

Photo: Parentdish
I often watch on in amazement at Dolly (aged 3) confidently swiping her way round my smart phone, like she's been doing it for years.  I swear she knows more about my phone than I do.

But what perhaps amazes me even more, is my own mum (aged 66).

About a year ago she bought herself an iPad, having always been terrified of anything that remotely resembles a computer.

And just 12 months on, she is now a dab hand at browsing the web - you name a website, she's been on it.  She is up-to-date with all the latest apps, and is a bit of a superstar on Draw Something.

She also has an email account (that she actually uses), she uses Facebook and Instagram, and follows about 50,000 blogs, including mine.  Hello mum!

Friday 10 August 2012

Adele is left with stranger's child in coffee shop

I was a little shocked when I read a recent report that, in Caffe Nero, a nanny had asked singer Adele to look after her charge, while she went to the loo.

There are several reasons why I believe that this was wrong of the nanny, and I am not at all surprised that the boy's parents were unhappy about their celebrity encounter.  You can read more about it here...

Tuesday 7 August 2012

Olympics 2012: through the eyes of a five-year-old

Betty's Olympic foot

Betty came into our bed at around 5am this morning because she had had a bad dream about a talking sofa.

The next thing I knew I was woken up by the Olympics blarring out of the tv at 7am, and Betty glued to the screen.  'Please watch it with me Mummy, it's really really exciting.'

This was Betty's commentary, during a hurdles race, some pole vaulting, and the handing out of medals for the men's 100 Metre:

  • Have Olympians got babies in their tummies?
  • Why has she got sticking out lines on her tummy?
  • Are her muscles sticking into her?
  • Is she the best?
  • This lady isn't very good, she keeps knocking the stick over
  • Is she the best?
  • What's the matter with that lady? Why is she crying?
  • Why do they make that silly noise?
  • Has it been raining?
  • Those jumps are very high
  • Why have they been given flowers?
  • Is gold for the fastest?
  • Is he singing loud, or is he not actually singing the anthem?
  • Why do we need bronzed?
  • Are men better than ladies?
  • Why are they hitting their tummies?
  • Why has he got his sunglasses on?
  • Why is he screaming?
  • When is it my birthday?  Is it on a school day?
  • How many sleeps is it til my birthday?
  • When I am going to get another wobbly tooth?
  • I like the bendy stick one
  • Why has she  got such a long stick?
  • That lady really was not very good
  • People keep knocking the sticks down
  • Why does that man always say  'champion, champion, champion, champion...' ?
  • Is that water they are running in cold?
  • Why is he ringing the bell?
  • Is she from Holland?
  • I think that is the Holland flag
  • I wish I was the Olympic champion
  • I really want to win 50 gold medals
  • I would be so happy
  • I would like to win medals on all of them, even cycling

I am ashamed to say that up until this point I have avoided anything to do with the Olympics, but Betty's incredible enthusiasm has finally rubbed off on me.  And I thoroughly enjoyed my Olympic, if slightly exhausting, start to the day...