C A M P B E S T I V A L

An insight into festival life this summer, with a baby in tow ….

It’s been a week back from the fun fest…..

Some thought us mad taking our 11 month old son with us to a festival, others thought us brave, some gave us an impressed nod and others thought we were totally crazy but my husband and I had never been to a festival… so when your mate says let’s meet at Camp Bestival 2018, I’m working and can sort you some tickets…. and then someone else says they have craft work for you and want you to help out with am exclusive private breakfast gathering, We were hardly going to say no to the hottest family festival around!!!

The theme this year at Camp Bestival was “Set Sail” and I couldn’t wait to get involved! Dress up is something I love to do, stemming from my love of theatre and I couldn’t wait to plan my outfits! I thought I’d down well with my look but my goodness were there some fabulous sights! People really went to town and I figured as long as you have something to give a little nod to the theme you’ll blend right in! I was of course anticipating lots of glitter and sparkle but I’ve never seen so many face gems and sparkly make up. It was like a glitter confetti gun exploded and everyone was like “shoot me, shoot me!”

Obviously being a festival organised by the very talented Rob Da Bank, I was expecting some great music but the line up was truly fantastic. There was such an eclectic mix of new/ fab music reverberating with crystal clarity around the Lulworth Estate as well as the awesome headliners, Rick Astly, Clean Bandit and some genuine favourites; The Cuban Brothers who bizarrely I remember gigged at Goldsmiths’ Club Sandwich! We picnicked on Friday afternoon right by the main stage and were treated to artists Dodi and Rae Morris. Both beautiful singer song writers with stunning voices, not out of place on your Spotify playlists and for a while we revelled in the joys of listening to live music al fresco and it was bliss. There was so much to see and do with such a variety of genres and activities you could never get through all of it in a weekend. But that’s the beauty… you’ll always leave wanting more.

The food options were also amazing and at times it was hard to decide which stall to go to. There was everything from Pad Thai, organic burgers, fresh oysters, burritos, vegan establishments, sushi, and Ghanaian cuisine to name only a few. A serious feast fest known as the Feast Collective and perfect when you all fancy different things for lunch/dinner. We enjoyed the thumping tunes from DJ BBQ and his 21 hour smoked pulled pork but perhaps not the place to head towards if you are vegan.

Camp Bestival really was a feast for the senses and the most exciting, enthralling, magical, enchanting, dazzling, intoxicating weekend ever that tired us out (in a good way) and meant we all slept for 10+ hours after we made a swift escape before the storm hit and the rest of the festival was cancelled.

It was also the first time we have ever camped with a baby and we definitely learnt a few things this weekend when it comes to packing and being festival virgins! Can you ever really be prepared for camping in 40mph winds with an 11 month old?

Here are our top 10 tips for camping at a festival with a babe in arms:

1️⃣ 🎒PACK LIGHT – you most definitely won’t need everything you have packed and I know this because I packed for every possible eventuality. I can’t help it now I am a mama – it’s like I’m in competition with myself to be ready for anything. However when your pitch is 4 fields away from your car and your poor husband is doing shuttle runs with 5 times his body weight and he says to you “I’ve only bought the essentials some things I’ve left”, you nod (pray he has bought the pillows) and realise that you can survive with the bare minimum.

2️⃣ BUT BE PREPARED – still make sure you have your rain mac, sunnies, suncream and boots to hand because you just never know when the weather will change.

3️⃣ 🏡HOME COMFORTS – dummies, familiar foods, toys, books, blankets it’s amazing how little ones relate to things they recognise especially if you are sleeping in a tent for the first time. We took our travel cot with the hope Freddie would sleep easy.

4️⃣ 💰CASH – sometimes it’s just good to have some on you especially when to rent a trolley you might need a large deposit.

5️⃣ 👶🏼🍼 BABY GEAR – you need to keep Baby warm at night so don’t forget the warm sleeping bag. Sleep suits and vests are great to layer up and it’s worth packing an extra blanket. Ear defenders are also a must for little ears to protect them from the loud sounds of a music festival! Don’t forget the dummy and ready made milk and I packed pouch food to make it simple.

6️⃣ 📆 PLANNING vs SPONTANEITY – we didn’t plan to see a particular artist, or event this year as we just wanted to get a feel for what a festival is like so we wandered around taking in all the sights and sounds. Next time though we think we might read through the programme in more detail and make a mini plan of the things we’d like to see/ do/ visit etc. We were lucky enough to see some great stuff though just by wandering aimlessly around and that, I guess, is the beauty of a festival!

7️⃣ 📝 ESSENTIAL ITEMS:

* Trolley – to cart everything including your child/ children (lots of families have them and decorate them too! Not sure how great they would be in mud though.

* Torch -you will need one. We took head torches as easy to carry and I like to be hands free but we also found our tent lantern really useful for those midnight nappy changes.

* Bin liners – for everything – keeps the tent organised, everything cleared away and when you leave you’ll feel good for having kept Britain tidy!

* Bucket – I hate to admit it but sometimes when you have to go you have got to go and the toilets are just too far away and when there are people all around……only a bucket and a bag will do!

* Toilet roll – for in the campsite but also during the day at the festival when the toilets have usually run out of toilet roll.

* Rucksack – to carry all essential items for the day without having to head back to the tent.

8️⃣ 🦄 FANCY DRESS – there is no hiding from it I’m afraid and anything goes, So my advice is embrace it and immersed yourself in the glitterati! Don’t forget a mirror so you can actually see where you are putting the gems and remember the face wipes if you like to sleep fresh – although part of the festi vibe is to rock that glitter for as long as possible! Each year there is a theme too so make sure you keep up to date and I like to do a few searches on the internet to get a little inspo!

9️⃣ 💧WATER – I’d suggest to take your own water bottle that you can fill up on site but also bring a couple of bottles of water to keep on the tent. You never know when you might have to wash or warm some milk. Plus remember to drink lots – festivals are very thirsty work as you do not want a dehydration head ache!

🔟 💤 NAP – key. We were not really there long enough but it would be my top tip. Give yourself and your little ones time to nap and recharge before heading back out into the craziness… we headed back to the tent for tea around 4/30ish to keep a little routine with babe but find what works for your family.

I hope this proves it can be done and gives you confidence. It was an adventure but one we won’t forget!

Going Wild

Going wild – a 30 day journey of discovery in the Dorset countryside with mama and baby

The month of June, when summer finally arrives and the countryside is a buzz with nature and the weather entices you outside on a daily basis so what better way than to spend your days outdoors appreciating the beauty of Mother Nature and really enjoying what she has to offer. Having spotted something online about the #30dayswild campaign hosted by The wildlife trusts across the UK, I thought it would be fun to challenge myself and see what I could find and do that involved nature and being outside. It’s hard sometimes to find the motivation to get about and do things especially when you’ve just landed on planet Motherhood but I can not express how therapeutic being outside with your baby is. Not only will you feel great your little one will be encapsulated by nature and experiencing his/her new world first hand with you!

30 days sounds like a long time but it went so quickly and it was amazing some of the things we got up to. Being accountable on social media has its plus points for sure. Mainly it was a chance to really stop and look around and to really see what nature there was right outside our front door, but during the month I realised how much it did for my wellbeing and no doubt little Freddie’s too. He’s always been a lover of the outdoors right from the start when we would go walking everyday and watch the changing of seasons but now, to be able to share in the delights of his surroundings is a real joy. As he is grows, he can now notice the movement of the butterflies cruising from bud to bud and hear the bees buzzing. He loves to watch the trees move in the wind and looks up to see the clouds. I’ve found myself wanting to learn more about what we’ve seen in the hope when he is old enough to ask me “mama, what’s that?” I’ll be able to respond confidently and be able to teach him about the wildlife around us. We’ll see though….

I hope my posts on Instagram might have inspired some of you mamas out there to step outside with your seedlings and share with them the beauty that is all around us, both in cities and in the countryside. I know I’ll be taking part again even if it’s just to nourish the soul. You can find more of my wildlife posts @MrsStrongman. Children remember their experiences, we all love to make memories and so this family is staying wild!

Wood fair fun!

An enchanting country fair exposing a creative and skillful country life.

Sunday 20th May, a beautiful day to be out and about in the countryside and attending my first wood fair up at the Living Classroom where we go to Bush Babies. It was put on by the Dorset Coppice Group who are working hard to promote their love of the woodland, share their skills and passions as well as their services. The Coppice group’s aims are:

  • to promote the coppice industry and its products to the public
  •  provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information between members
  •  form a bridge between coppice workers, landowners and other relevant agencies
  •  provide an educational resource for schools and other groups to encourage outdoor learning in The Living Classroom 

And they also provide courses throughout the year for anyone who is interested in learning a new skill, working with wood or who would like to know more about the preservation of craftsmanship.

We arrived early and wandered around the lovely stalls of handmade wooden crafts; from toadstools, bowls, walking sticks, coat hooks and even magic wands made from wood that had been constricted by wild honeysuckle. I certainly learnt a few tricks or two. There were birds of prey perched in the shade and a beautiful working horse demonstrating his use for coppicing. What a treat.

 

 

My highlight though was being front row watching a sparring competition and as a new member of the country community it felt like an initiation! I had no idea what a spar even was before I sat down. But that was all about to change ….

The thatchers taking part in the competition take 28 inch long straight hazel sticks, known as gads which have been cut from the coppice at Bonsley Wood, during the winter time when the sap is low. This allows them to be strong enough to use on the ridging (the top part of the roof to you and I). To make the spar each gad is riven in half by splitting the wood in-between any knots, split down the middle following the natural grain of the wood. They can be split multiple times (fours, sixes, eights) and usually the more times it can be split the more skilled the spar maker. The points at each end are then created using an exceptionally sharp spar hook.

They are then bundled up with a colour tie and can be sold by the thousands to working thatchers.

The thatcher uses spars by double twisting them to form a U shaped peg as Rod Miller described for me “like a hair pin with a smooth edging which will allow the water to roll of it on the roof.” They have to be skilfully twisted, not just bent in half in order to work effectively.

The competition was to see how many spars the thatchers could make in 15 minutes. It was tense. Blazing sunshine in the middle of the day was probably not the best environment for the thatchers but they stepped up to the challenge and stayed professional to the end, each perched on their stool or chair with hooks, thigh pads at the ready. Many different techniques were used to split the hazel, each competitor using their own long standing knowledge of how to work the hazel and their tools.

The winner was Rod Miller, founder of R.V Miller Ltd who very kindly shared his knowledge with me to enable me to write this post. He is Dorset thatcher and member of the National Society of Master Thatchers. His business celebrated 50 years in 2016 and it seemed to me what he doesn’t know about thatching, you don’t need to know!

It felt like such a privilege to be witnessing first-hand something I was so ignorant about. To learn from experts and locals who had travelled from all around to be apart of this local woodland fair was a joy and an absolute pleasure. It has certainly made me want to look more closely at thatched roof houses.

To be apart of something where skilled craftsmen are demonstrating and sharing their love for their livelihoods with the local people is fantastic. We need these trades to preserve our history so the more we know, the more we can hope to understand and try to make a difference. Weirdly, a part of me wants to make my own spar and I have kept one that Rod twisted for me as a momento! I’ve been inspired!

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wood fair 2018

 

 

Dean’s Court Café & Homestore

A country courtyard café hidden in the heart of Wimborne

I stumbled across this little treasure whilst taking a mini detour around the lovely market town of Wimborne after Freddie and I went to a Baby Sensory class.  It was a little sensory overload for the little man after a fretful night of teething and then being bombarded with sights and sounds loud enough to be heard in the surrounding villages, not to mention all the other babies! So whilst trying to settle my wee babe and wandering the winding streets, I saw a beautiful sign pointing me in the direction of Deans Court, a little path leading off the main road and couldn’t resist.

Deans Court itself is a very elegant and glorious historic house set within ancient gardens with a wealth of history and stature, but in an old converted garage is the gorgeous cafe, nestled within a beautiful courtyard (it is covered in large stone gravel so be prepared for a bumpy ride with the buggy) complete with a vintage home store in the adjacent 1930’s squash Court.  The shop sells a large selection of vintage and contemporary lifestyle products sourced from all over the world and is worth a peak before or after-lunch! Perfectly placed plants add the finishing touch to the setting for a picturesque alfresco dining experience this spring/summer. You could be fooled into thinking you were in the south of France with the nod to vintage home-ware in every corner both inside and out.

Each morning the Café receives fresh home-grown produce from Deans Court kitchen gardens and serves a selection of healthy, wholesome and delicious food. There is also a large selection of teas, coffees and fruit juices.

 

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Inside, there is a lovely atmosphere. The interior is an eclectic mix of old and new with a  country kitchen mixed with Parisien Chic style. Mis-matched chairs and tables fill the space, each table is adorned with beautiful flowers and fairy lights add to the enchanting charm. A true gem of a find. The ladies serving were delightful, wonderfully chatting and Freddie seemed to be charming them a treat!

deans court

 

There was no problem bringing in Freddie and the pram, there are no highchairs but that might be a consideration in the future and there was no problem providing hot water to help me warm up Freddie’s food. The best part was that the lovely ladies even complimented me on my yoga dungarees that I was wearing and even discussed the possibility of a new uniform! Who would have thought that my @satyayogawear might be considered work wear!

The cafe is open Monday to Saturday, 10am – 5pm (cafe closes at 4pm)

Enquiries & Booking: 01202 639249

More information can be found here on the website and Deans Court garden will be open for the National Garden Scheme with teas coffees and lunch available at the Café.

Monday, 21st May & 19th June | 11:00 – 17:00
Adults £4; Concessions £3
Well-behaved dogs on leads welcome

 

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Cracking Crafts for Kids

Keep the little ones Eggcited with some arty activities this Easter

Be an EGG-stra good EGG and keep your little chicks EGG-stremly busy with these CRACKING crafts:

  1. Cute finger stamping card making   –  this is a relatively stress free choice of activity as it only involves fingers, thumbs,  a stamp pad ( ideally pink and yellow) and card. Check out Sarah’s how to guide for something EGG-specially good!
  2. Pom Pom Easter egg pictures – are a great way to keep painting less messy and are super for little hands who are just mastering their fine motor skills. Once it is completed you can hang them up and make your own Easter bunting. All you need is : a paper plate, pompoms, clothes pegs and paper. I would also recommend an Easter egg template you can prep for your children too. The older ones might like to use cotton buds instead to make a more intricate design.
  3. Baking Mini Egg cookies  – Why wouldn’t you?! I am most definitely going to be trying these over the Easter period. Clare’s mini tots page has a very easy and perfect recipe.

mini-egg-cookies-1

4. Salt-dough ornaments– are a fantastic make that you can keep bringing out year after year to decorate your home. I personally like to have an Easter tree on display around this time of year and you can even bring them out at Christmas if your tree is looking a little bare!  Suitable for all ages so a win win! All instructions can be found here
Easter Salt Dough Eggs Easter Salt Dough Eggs

5. Washi Tape Easter Eggs  – MESS FREE! YIPPEE!  – Washi tape is THE best invention. A way to add colour to things with zero mess. You don’t even need scissors as the tape can be ripped with fingers! Get your little one to decorate to their hearts content and smile with glee knowing all is easy to clean up! All info can be found here

covering easter eggs with washi tape, colorful easter eggs, washi tape

I hope this gives you a little inspiration this Easter and I would love to see your makes so why not follow me and use the #onemamaskingdom on Instagram and share what you are up to!

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If you go down to the woods today….

You’ll find the most amazing mum, baby and toddler group called…

BUSH BABIES

bush babies

Before we even moved to Dorset I was trying to find out as much as I could about the area from our home in Kent. I googled, and trawled through Facebook hoping to find some mum and baby groups we could go to so I could make friends and get out the house with Freddie and explore our new home turf.  The first Facebook page I found was Bush Babies and I am so glad I did. Not only do we have fun twice a week in the woods (if we can get ourselves out and ready in time) but I have also made some lovely new friends! Yay!

Bush Babies is a truly brilliant mum, baby and toddler group set up by Rosie and her band of merry helpers. Nestled in the heart of the Dorset’s magical woodland, just outside the village of Durweston, (near Blandford) it takes place every week on Tuesday and Friday mornings, whatever the weather! The session runs from 9:30am – 12:00pm.

The founder, Rosie has a huge passion for outdoor learning, wildlife, plants and adventures and having just completed her Forest School Course, she is perfectly placed to play, explore and educate our Bush Babies in Mother Nature’s own playground.

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The morning begins at The Living Classroom, an area which has approximately 30 acres of mixed, broad-leaved woodland known as Bonsley Wood. At the classroom base there are toilets, water and power so this is where everyone gathers for a morning cuppa and chitchat around the fire. There is usually an activity for the kids to get stuck into to keep mayhem at bay;  today it was Mother’s Day card making and last time I visited the children were having fun with shaving foam on the table for a sensational sensory experience. I am usually a late arrival to the morning meet up so I have to say I usually miss this party… I’m getting a reputation! Then, coats are fetched, wellingtons put on over the top of waterproof all in one overalls, mothers gather their offspring; some plonked into rucksacks or baby carriers and some brave mothers bring their off road pushchairs. Then once everyone is decked out in their outdoor gear, the Bush Babies then take to the forest path for an adventure into the wildwood. It is good to know for those with little legs and the sleep deprived parents, that the walk is a perfect distance, so there are rarely any melt downs or ‘walk refusers.’ Plus, it is a  looped walk so you can’t get lost and you can easily find your way back to base!

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During the woodland wander the children are set mini tasks to fill their buckets with discovered woodland treasures, depending on the season, such as leaves,  flowers, moss twigs, bugs etc. The children stop to explore, watch, see and hear all the nature around them and are encouraged to keep their eyes open for new discoveries. They build dens, hunt for bugs and plants and bird-watch, socialising and roaming with freedom in a safe woodland environment with the supervision of multiple adults.

Then it’s back to HQ for a rest. Rosie and Co. provide a drink and snacks for the little ones (you can bring your own if you prefer) and another hot beverage for the adults with the occasional cake and biscuits as standard. The session then comes to a close with either a story or a cacophony of nursery rhymes and songs are sung in a circle whilst playing a range of musical instruments sat on tree stumps. It really is glorious!

Depending on who turns up each session activities are tailored to suit all ages. Everyone is welcome 3 weeks – 3 years and there is even Bush Buddies which happens during the school holidays for the older children too.

Honestly, being a new mama to the area has been made so much easier by these ladies and with no commitment needed it is great to know you’ll meet lots of new and interesting people each time you visit.

 

3 reasons why I love Bush Babies

  1. You can turn up as and when you please  – meaning you don’t have to sign a termly contract and pay upfront
  2. The people are amazing and instantly make you feel welcome and apart of something great.
  3. As a new mama, I have found being outdoors in the fresh air totally invaluable and a great source of therapy in the first few months of motherhood. A walk and a talk is the best medicine.

Hope to see you up at the woods soon  – you never know the bears might be having a picnic too!

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Taming the Beast – Part 2

It was lovely to receive such positive feedback from yesterday’s post so I thought I would keep the ideas coming. As a Primary School Teacher I am always having to conjure up new ideas and so I have devised another list of 10 more ideas to do with the little people during these snow days indoors! Children love to be with their parents and so doing things together when you can, will keep them engaged for a little longer. Obviously this is not always possible but if they are getting a little restless just by doing something together may improve their mood…

  1. Try to make Origami – this site has tons of great ideas. maybe make paper airplanes and have a flying contest…(look out for the plane noses – no one wants pointy paper in their eye!)
  2. Have a ‘Living room workout’  – Get dressed into your sports kits, put one of your exercise videos on and get the kids working out with you too. Personally I would rather opt for the yoga and doing it as a family will at least guarantee time on your mat!
  3. Have a Mary Poppins style cleaning session –  Crank up the radio and have a dance party whilst cleaning the house! It’s a win win situation  – clean house and tired kids! Woop woop!
  4. Design your own Ice Kingdom – children love to use their imaginations so give them some pens and a large piece paper and watch their minds spring into life. Talk to them about what they know about cold places, what might they have in their Ice world and then let them loose with the pens. When they are done get them to explain their new world and talk about it – just listen.
  5. Colouring  – mindfulness for both you and them! A little quiet moment…. if you don’t have any colouring books to hand you can easily print off some things to colour in or even draw your own. Crayola have some here 
  6. Warm up from the inside and make your very own hot chocolate stirrers  
  7. Pom Pom indoor snowball fight – If you are crafty and happen to have a pom pom maker in the cupboard and some white wool (although you could use other colours) make some pom poms  – put them in a bowl/bucket and take it turns to throw them at one another – for the older ones you can add in a point scheme depending on where you hit the other person on the body. I think I’d have a no face policy and obviously clear the mantelpiece/sideboard/table etc. but I’ll leave that to your discretion!
  8. Feed the birds – if like me you worry about the birds during this type of weather then why not help the little birdies out and make them a cake?  This is a great guide from the RSPB and kid friendly 
  9. Make a fairy door to make sure those fairies can keep warm too – everyone knows fairies are not big fans of the cold so why not entice them inside with a beautiful hand crafted door…This lady keeps in simple and hopefully you will have what you need to hand. We do not need to leave the house in this weathe!
  10. Build a lego city – Get out all the LEGO, mini people, trains, cars and other play sets and make a massive indoor carpet city. They will LOVE it!

Have fun and I would love to hear what has worked for you and what you have been up to during these past days.

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