Family Movie Nights 🎥

​Who doesn’t love Disney movies!? I could watch them day after day…… 

Oh, hold on,  that’s exactly what i have been doing for the last nine years! 
Given my babies ages (11 months. 5, 7 and two 9 year olds) I have been on the ‘disney, cebebeies, baby TV and Mr bloody Tumble’ channel for nearly a decade. 
So,  people may judge me when they hear i have been embracing the twins impending teenage years by introducing them to some of MY favourite movies. 
Some have been a hit, some haven’t, some appropriate, some maybe not,  but I’ve had a blast sharing my old favs with them. 
Pauly Shore is a bit of an unknown name in the UK, but growing up,  his movies were amongst some of my favourites. 

California Man, Bio-dome, son in law and In the Army Now are great movies for my boys.  They think he is one of the funniest people alive (besides Mr Bean). 

 
Stand by Me was our Friday night movie recently.   

It was a really lovely evening as Mike and I were as excited to sit down and watch it as they were. 


They found it quite emotional (when Gordie’s brother dies and when they tell stories about their family lives) but the ‘leech scene’ and all the swearing made up for it! 

FYI,  a little trivia I found out while writing this blog, did you know,  Vern in Stand by Me has grown into Jerry O’connell, who has been in Scream 2, Mistresses, Billions and Jerry Maguire! Who’d have guessed that! 


I don’t worry about them watching movies that use profanity anymore.    They know what they are allowed to say and what they aren’t and I trust their manners….

Plus, they probably hear worse at home anyway! 
Beetlejuice is now on their favourite list aswell as mine, along with Goonies, National Lampoons Vacation, Big, The Great Outdoors,  Overboard, The Ernest Movies,  Gremlins, Jaws, Mannequin, Parenthood, Return to Oz…I could go on. 
One choice that was very controversial in our house, and, I won’t lie, was Mikes choice for a movie night.  

His all time favourite movie,  FOREST GUMP!!!!
Now,  this movie is PG rated which was his argument for letting Mikey and Harri watch it. 

However,  I don’t think he took into account the various scenarios this movie involves. 

I found it the most painful 6 hours of my life (that is how long the movie goes on for isn’t it?  No? It f#@king felt like it!) 
Cringing at every scene i knew would be followed by an awkward question 

‘ mum why is Forest making funny noises after his teacher visits his mum ‘

‘urgh why is jenny making him touch her boob!?’

‘ why is jenny running away from her dad?’

But, the boys absolutely loved it,  Harrison asks me daily to watch it again. 

The adult themes went over their head but the emotional rollercoaster really swept them away. 

They are memorised with the whole movie,  Forest, his relationships with family and friends,  his comic manner, his constant need to please,  protect and love. 

I feel,  in hindsight,  it was a great movie choice for them that taught them things I certainly couldnt.
And it opened the door for me to test some other movies such as Olympus has Fallen,  London has fallen,  San Andreas, Outbreak 😱, Salt, Planet of the Apes.

So in short, now. When we have ‘a family movie night ‘ I can be in the room with them mentally aswell as physically, watching with general interest rather than staring blankly at the TV because I’m watching Toy Story, Frozen or Horrid ba#@ard Henry for the 1000th time! 
Don’t worry George…… I’ll still sit through all the crap for you 😘

Camp Bestival 2016

My friend has been to every Camp Bestival since it started and every year she has tries to convince me to come with her. 
Now, here is the problem,  i don’t camp! My experience of tents is that they are damp and freezing when the weather is cold and like a sweat box when it’s warm.  They smell and don’t even get me started on putting the bloody tent up and taking it down! 

I have nothing but respect for anyone who can embrace camping,  especially with children! But it’s not for me. 

When you have five children in tow the aim of the game is to always plan ahead. Avoid anything that could cause Unnecessary stress!
Over the last year the kids have really started getting into music and what’s hot in the charts. 

I looked into tickets to capitals jingle bell ball, party in the park,  Justin Bieber and more,  but tickets always seem to be a minimum of £100 each. 

When you want to take four kids it’s starts getting ridiculous!
So my thoughts turned to Camp bestival,  where the tickets for children are approx £150 but you have three days of various artists plus so much more.
Another friend had mentioned she was going but had hired a campervan….bingo!!!  

After the drama of trying to find a six berth campervan to rent for the first weekend of the summer holidays with two weeks notice we hit jackpot in Hayling Island.

At the cost of £650 for the weekend,  to take the kids away for four nights, we thought is was a bargain!
It is so much easier packing a campervan for a little holiday than a car.  Food i had brought went straight into the fridge,  I made the beds up and put the cases away in the wardrobe. 

The campsite opens on the Thursday,  there is not a huge amount happening that day but food stalls are open and the Slow Motion area (pampering section where you can have your hair done,  spa treatments,  yoga etc). 
We drove down Wednesday night and pulled up at a lay-by close to The festival ready to drive straight in on Thursday to get a prime spot and avoid heavy traffic.

 
Camp Bestival is set in the grounds of Lulworth Castle in Devon. It took about  two and a half hours from where we live in Warlingham.

It is an absolutely beautiful setting that’s adds to the magic of the festival. 
Knowing Thursday was more of an orienteering day to gauge where everything is, I decided it would be the perfect day to book a relaxing massage in the Slow Motion area.

Mike and I both had a shiatsu massage which really set us up for the weekend. 
I have never had a massage on the ground in a teepee before but don’t knock it till you try it,  it was fantastic!

The campervan was equipt with a toilet,  shower and a kitchen but unfortunately the field don’t provide electric so we couldn’t use our shower. 
However,  the ‘posh showers’ they provide are really nice and as long as you pick your time right (we showered late afternoon)  there were no ques.
I can’t go through everything that the festival has to offer,  mainly because I don’t feel like we did even half of it but I’m ready to go hardcore at this festival next year!! 
The main stage is where the big acts perform.  From about 3pm the music acts are continuous.  

Our favourites are Reggie and Bollie, Jamie Lawson, fat boy slim and Katy B.

Dick and Dom from Cbbc really for the crowd going and Mike and I were crying with laughter at some of their antics!
Unlike other festival,  the main stage area never felt rammed.

There was plenty of room to set up a picnic blanket, buggy and bags and have a dance without bumping into anyone. 
The Big Top tent is where we watched a beautiful West End Kids show featuring songs from all the Disney movies, We Will Rock You and to Mikeys delight, a bit of  Arianna Grande.
The children all took part in the Brit School Workshop where they learnt dance routines.
We spent a few hours in the art tent making all sorts of models with the outerspace theme that the festival was based on, Mikey, Charlie and Libby particularly enjoyed that. 

Harri spent his time outside the tent perfecting his spinning wheel tricks! 

The kids were mesmorized by the insect circus, loved the punch and judy puppet show and although we didn’t make it to the biggest bouncy castle,  we are saving that for next year. 
We all enjoyed watching the BMX and stunt shows but, again,  we missed a few opportunities that we are looking forward to catching next year such as the wall of death and the kids climbing wall/ gymnastics.
The atmosphere feels very relaxed and safe with regards to the kids. 

I lost a couple of the kids one evening (not on purpose i promise)  and kids welfare tent called me within 10 minutes to say they were safe and with them. 

All children are given wrist bands with parents numbers written on them.

One of the managers that I spoke to when I picked Mikey up proudly told me that in all the years Camp Bestival has been running they have never lost a child for more than 15 minutes!  That is quite an accomplishment given number of families that attend.

Now let’s talk about my favourite subject…..food!
The food choices are out off this world!  
With a family of seven it can work out expensive to feed them all day at the festival. 

I would suggest packing lots of food so that you can cook breakie and take snacks etc. 
But with all the best intentions to save money, when your faced with the choices there,  it’s hard to resist! 
Chicken katsu curries, fish and chips, Dj Bbq, French crepes, Indian, Burgers (not just any burgers,  those posh burgers made from any meat you want!) 

Lobsters and shellfish,  pasta, pizza, milkshaka made with any chocolate you want, I’ve cream,  Vietnamese, Jerk, Cakes, Mike had a Ox Cheek wrap that was out of this world. 
The list goes on,  honestly,  anything you could possible want,  they catered for. 
Mike was particularly enjoyed when he saw a few of the foodies he follows on Instagram there. 
On the recommendation of our veteran camp bestival guru Katie, we made a point of going into the kids field and getting them some corn…… That went down a treat with them all and is now going to be a regular snack in our house! 
As you can probably tell, we really had the time of our lives!  

Now I’m going to dissapoint you by telling you we left early. 

We packed up on Sunday afternoon,  missing a few acts, losing out on seeing some of the other treats the festival had to offer and most importantly, the complete highlight (so I have been told)

THE FIREWORKS 🎆 

Mikey had already missed a couple of rehearsals for the production be was in due to our weekend away and missing any more could have meant losing a place in the show. 

This is just another thing I will look forward to next year. 

We spent such a magical weekend together.   The children loved it and Mike and I both agreed it was better than taking them to Disney world! 

Needless to say we have already booked for next year and can’t wait! 
FYI,  Camp Bestival provide a payment plan for tickets so that you can spread the cost a bit. 
For us to go (2 adults, for children and a baby) for four nights,  including pitch and tickets was approx £750.

If you decided to give this a go next year here are a few tips:

-The campsites are up and down some pretty beastly hills.

We must about managed with the buggy but watching some of the campers drag trollies of tenting equipment back and forth from the car park (up another hill) made me want to pour them a vodka. 

If you can afford it, look into the glamping, backstage and boutique camping.  If you have young children it would be well worth it. 

-Take plenty of supplies (milk,  bread,  crisps,  baby wipes) 

I ran out of a few bits and popped to the very limited camping shop. 

I paid £2 for a tiny pack of baby wipes (the pack I usually get free in my baby show goody bag) 

You get my point! 

-Don’t rush to the front of the main arena, it’s calmer and easier for the kids to dance about towards the back and you still have great views of the stage.

-Don’t pre judge the acts!  we were so excited about Fat Boy Slim and Jess Glynne that We were not fussed on Mr Tumble,  Dick and Dom or Reggie and Bollie yet they were our highlight!

Hopefully I’ll see you there next year…. 

http://www.campbestival.net

An idea for the summer holidays – Reigate, Surrey

​Mikey has had rehursals for his summer show in Reigate over the last 5 weeks so I feel like I’m really getting to know the town well. 
I worked in Reigate years ago but never appreciated what it had to offer, but then  I did spend all my free time in the pubs!
We have spent a few lovely evenings at Priory Park, enjoying the warm summer nights while the kids play in the fabulous playground. 

Libby didn’t leave the zip wire, Charlie was king of the pirate ship and the twins were having a water fight (when they weren’t hunting for pokamons).

The park is so beautifully kept with perfectly manicured flowers, paths perfect for bike riding, a lake, tennis courts and skateboarding ramp. 

It’s has the feel of a Royal garden but without the hassle and bustle of London.
We have also given some of the restaurants a go….. It’s hardwork but there has been no time to cook! 😜
Charlies favourite place to eat is The Giggling Squid, a Thai restaurant with a modern feel.

The food is stunning and I recommend the Green Thai Curry, Thai Beef Salad and Pad Thai noodles.

Charlies favourites are the pork dumplings and the paid Thai are a guaranteed win for my lot. 

www.gigglingsquid.com

We have also taken the kids to Bills which has a fabulous little courtyard garden.

The menu has something for everyone from Seabass, Burgers, Grilled paprika chicken and Salads.

The kids menu is very reasonable and the decor is great. 

https://bills-website.co.uk

Reigate also has Pizza Express, Cafe Rouge, Carluccios, Cotes and lots more lovely places to eat…. I’m working my way round! 
So if you find yourself at a loose end over the summer,  take a visit to Reigate,you won’t be disappointed. 

Imperial War Museum

​Thanks to the teachers strike (with you all the way!) 

I got an extra day of quality time with the twins. 


They are studying World War 2 this year and, as it is also my favourite period in history we decided to take a trip to the Imperial War Museum near Waterloo.

A nice day out without spending too much money (entry into the museum is free) 
I find it easier when I have George with me to drive up to London. 

It just means after a long day the kids can lay back and relax in the way home. 
The only problem I ever have with driving to town is the parking…… Not anymore! 

The last couple of trips I have used www.justpark.com

 

Before I leave I put into the website the destination postcode and it throws up the nearest car park.  You pre pay on the website and just turn up! 

On this trip I parked 10 minutes from the museum and it cost £11 all day! 
The museum was as fantastic now as I remember from when I was their age. 


We learnt about what it was like to live through WW2 through the eyes of a South London family. 

The boys found it really helped them to relate to the Allpress’,  comparing members of their family to ours (they also had a big family!) 
Looking at rationing, evacuation, the blitz  and all the propaganda, we took it all in and enjoyed every minute.


It gave the three of us an overwhelming feeling of pride and patriotism that our previous generations went through this for us. 
‘ we gave up our today’s for your tomorrow’s’  
Harrison wouldnt even have his picture taken with a swastika in the background. 
As for the haulacaust exhibition, I could hardly bare it. 

Explaining it to the boys and hearing some of the stories was truly horrific.   

It is the first time I feel like my children really felt grateful for what they have and their life.

The museum facilities are great to,  plenty of lifts to access the diffetent exhibitions, toilets, baby changing,  coffee shops etc. 
I was gutted we had a big breakfast before we got there. The restaurant food looked absolutely amazing, pizzas, seabass, salads, marinated chicken aswell as a huge range of pastries and cakes! 

I’ll save that for my next visit! 

Feeling sorry for myself 

​Day one of feeling like s#;t

Today has been a struggle.   I’m not ill very often but I seem to be paying for that now. 

My throat feels like razor blades, my nose is either running or completly blocked, my ears are aching and my head is thumping.   

Every body movement feels like hard work. 

As a mum you’re not allowed to be poorly,   let alone with five of the little cherubs! 

There is no point even moaning about my ailments to Mike because everytime I try to explain to him how I feel ,  he has it,  but worse!  
After I took the kids to school this morning I tried to get on with some housework but I got distracted…..

Friends turned up with cake! 

I spent all day moving from the sofa to the coffee machine and back again and catching up on the latest gossip. 
Once the kids had been picked up I thought I would try and pep myself up having a hot bath and face mask – it didn’t help. 

After my soak it was back to mum duties.  Mikey had his first rehearsal for a show he is in in the summer.
I could have had two hours of peace and quiet while I wait for him to finish,  but I agreed Libby could come. 

Instead I spent two hours running around Reigate trying to find baby wipes so that I  could wipe the sushi she dropped all over mikes car!  
I’m in now,  nurafen taken,  hemroid cream under my eyes (for the puffiness) and a bowl of cornflakes because I forgot to have dinner 🙊 
It’s not all bad,  did I mention im in bed, blogging and watching Snatch!? 

 

Day two if feeling like s?;t



Nope,  Definatly not feeling better today but it’s all good because I don’t have anything to do today!

……..oh no sorry, that’s someone else’s life!  Today I am helping at Libbys school trip! 
I honestly couldnt think of anything I would least like to do when I feel like this than spend a day with 30 reception children, but how could I let her down? 

(not a picture of me today!!!!) 

As it happens we had a really good day,  the kids were fantastic and I loved spending quality time with Libby and her friends. 

After school my day went like this :

4pm. Business meeting 

6pm drop off to tutor

6.30.(treat myself to a manicure!) 

7.30 pick up from tutor

PICK UP KEBAB FOR EVERYONE 

8.30 home 

8.45 pour a large wine and Blog! 
Right,  now I’m in bed with soup hoping tomorrow I feel better.

Note to anyone reading this who haven’t had children yet – if you are ill,  enjoy it,  once you have kids,  being ill isn’t an excuse to spend all day on the sofa watching box sets!…..  S#;T GETS REAL! 

Fighting for Eva, fighting DIPG

Friends of our family were given some news a couple of months ago that ripped their world apart.
Their five year old daughter, Eva has been diagnosed with DIPG, a rare form of  cancer.
Her brain tumour is inoperable given the lack of research the treatments are limited. 

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As a mum to a five year old girl myself my heart instantly broke for them all.  

I can not even begin to imagine how they begin to digest and deal with this but I have been following their story through their Facebook page and they are truly inspiring. 

Funding and awareness is what this condition desperately needs.  Please take time to read through this blog and share on all your social platforms,Twitter,  emails,  Facebook, Instagram.

Share it for a little girl, to help her and her family fight and find a cure for her and all the other children affected by DIPG.

This is a piece written by Eva’s daddy

‘What is DIPG like for the parents? All the stuff you might imagine, we are heartbroken, crushed, angry, scared, sometimes despondent, sometimes highly focused. All of these things mashed together fighting for dominance. With all these emotions, I feel I can only show one face to the world, the one where we are highly focused in fighting for Eva’s life.
Back in April Eva’s MRI scan revealed she had a tumour, but at that time we had no idea what exactly we were dealing with. A few dark days followed where Eva’s condition detreated to the point she could no longer swallow her food. She lay in bed and watched TV unable to do anything unaided. As a parent, I found this the most difficult stage so far. She was scanned on a Thursday and we couldn’t get transferred from the local hospital to Royal Marsden until the following Monday, because NHS essentially closes down on the weekend. Three long days later Eva was transferred to RMH she travelled with Mum in an ambulance and I drove down to meet our consultant and hear the prognosis.
In retrospect, I think I knew on some level the severity of the tumour. It had been written all over the doctor and nurses faces at Margate hospital. Everyone we dealt with was careful not to give us too much information, or hope.
The first time I heard the words Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) was in our consultant’s office at Royal Marsden on Monday 18th April 2016. It took a few days for it to properly sink in, but those words are essentially the worst words you could hope to hear in our position. DIPG is incurable. DIPG is inoperable. DIPG has a survival rate of 0 to 1%. Worse, of those 0 to 1% some cases may have been misdiagnosed. Why? Because DIPG is not routinely biopsied like every other type of tumour. Why? Because thirty odd years ago someone decided an MRI scan was enough to diagnose DIPG, and biopsy was an unnecessary risk. So while every other brain cancer has live samples stored in databanks across the world, and used for decades by researchers to study towards a cure, DIPG was forgotten.
That is until a few years ago when French researchers decided to start taking tissue samples from DIPG patents. This has consequently opened up exciting new opportunities for DIPG research. They have finally identified a genetic trend that follows in the majority of tumours, particularly in ‘typical’ cases of the average age group of DIPG patients.
That’s great, right? Not quite. DIPG is still far behind other cancer treatments, not only because of the lack of knowledge, but due primarily to the lack of funding.
DIPG is ultra-rare, but there are still thirty to forty children diagnosed each year in UK. Over three-hundred children in US. It makes me sad that the public get so aroused by stories about a kid that falls into a Gorilla pen, and God forbid, the zoo keepers shoot the Gorilla. Yes it is sensational, but if the public care so much about the death of a Gorilla, or the safety of Zoos in general, why aren’t they just as passionate about our children dying each year, consistently, from a disease that could potentially be cured?
What would happen if forty kids a year were killed by terrorism in UK? I suspect the public would be very aware, and I think the government would try very hard to stop it. DIPG is perhaps not as newsworthy, but the end result is the same. Rather than a quick explosion, DIPG children slowly lose control of their bodies. Their minds completely unaffected, still alive and bright, trapped inside a body that shuts down until they are paralysed inside themselves, until their brain can no longer control breathing. Then they die. And this happens again, and again, and again.
During our first meeting, our consultant explained in black and white what it meant to have DIPG. He was very careful not to offer us hope. Radiotherapy is the standard treatment. It’s palliative, and gives maybe an extra three months. In our case, it transformed Eva from a shell of her old self, back into the girl we remembered. We are a few weeks on from radiotherapy now, and still a week away from her second MRI scan and we have our daughter back.
Our consultant explained that most cases will relapse a few months after radiotherapy. So what now? Well, most people like to reassure me that “miracles do happen,” or ”focus on the survival rate.” Fantastic advice, which I respond to in the following way. You take off on a flight, sitting to your right is your wife, to your left your three children eagerly anticipating their holiday. The aeroplane reaches cruising altitude at 30,000 feet and you hear an urgent beep from the tannoy. The captain’s voice washes over the cabin, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m afraid we have a technical problem. The engines have failed and there’s a 99% to 100% chance we will crash into the Atlantic ocean. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
I’d like to ask the “miracles do happen” people, and the “focus of the survival rate” people, if in the above situation they would sit back and watch a film content they were in that 0% to 1% bracket, or would they ponder their impending doom?
Yes, miracles do happen, I’m sure, but people need to understand that in this kind of situation you need to mentally prepare yourself for the terrible, unthinkable, heart-breaking, yet most likely outcome. Even if it makes for an awkward conversation, as a parent I simply don’t have the luxury of wishful thinking.
In addition to our RMH appointments, my wife and I reached out for a second opinion. Not because we don’t have faith in our consultant, but because we have no medical training and therefore need to hear multiple expert opinions and compare against each other. And whether we want to believe it or not, medical research is still a business, and business is inevitably surrounded by ego, politics, and IP protection / publication races.
So where does this leave us? We are left with few options. As DIPG parents it is up to us to research available options. To fight to get our child into the right treatment or trial. It’s up to us to raise funds to pay for these treatments, or to use to fund research that might just be the breakthrough Eva needs.
As DIPG parents, we are in the unique position that our consultants can’t direct us to a “proven” treatment. We are left to navigate the minefield of social media and sift through the opinions (often dressed up as facts) of untrained parents and advocates of certain treatments. The hard fact is that no treatment or trail is currently offering proven benefits over any other.
Some treatments are better promoted than others for sure, some fall completely under the radar. What way do we turn?
After considerable debate, we decided to ask for a referral for CED treatment in Bristol. This was due to the fact it’s only a couple of hours drive from us, and there is anecdotal evidence that some children are responding well to treatment. After the mandatory losing of the referral (something that’s happened on every single referral we’ve had since GP diagnosis – chasing referrals is part and parcel of the job), we finally heard back from Bristol and they are over capacity. Unfortunately, this brings us back to my earlier point. DIPG is massively underfunded, so even if your child is incredibly unlucky and has this ultra-rare children’s disease, the chances are you will not get her into your treatment/trial of choice.
Fucked up, right?
Welcome to our world.’

Please spread the word,  sign the petition and donate whatever you can.

Cancer isn’t picky, it chooses at random,  do this for Eva and for all the children that DIPG is attacking, and all the children it might pick next.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131556

https://gofundme.com/eva-sangels

https://m.facebook.com/groups/105266339893351?tsid=0.27571345839086847&source=typeahead

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*Since this was written little Eva passed away just before Easter.   

Instead of celebrating her sixth birthday with cake and a party, Evas parents were visiting her grave.

Since writing this I have discovered how many children are cursed by this awful disease.

17th May is #DIPG go gold and grey… Please wear gold and grey to help raise awareness of this awful cancer that is stealing our children. 

REMEMBERING EVA, RIP ANGEL


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