My Mumcation

Psychologists have suggested that mothers should take holidays with friends, not family – and this includes leaving the children behind.
Experts are urging tired mothers to go on “mum-cations”, holidays without their offspring, to take a proper break.
With this in mind, me and three of my closest girlfriends booked a ‘mumcation’ to Vilamoura for a few days in October.

A few people asked me if the weather was going to be any good in Portugal that time if year, as if we were crazy not to follow the blazing sun.
These people had totally missed the point of a mumcation.
Of corse good weather would be preferable, but honestly, if i could go to the toilet on my own, sleep without someones foot digging in my boobs and sit down by a pool without worrying who is going to drown/get abducted or piss off fellow vacationers, I would be a happy girl.

This weekend was more than a girls weekend, It was therapy and It gave me a chance to really relax and unwind.
When you become a mum your life revolves around these little people (rightly so), but we all need to keep our individual identity and take time out for ourselves, it is a huge factor to how I cope as a mum.
Whether it is a night out with Mike, drinks with the girls or a shopping trip entirely on my own, it is my time out.
It is my chance to clear my head of football training, horse riding, boxing, school pick up, kids parties, laundry, dinner etc and focus on me.

The morning we left I felt a complete mixture of emotions. I have been away on my own before, but not abroad since our two youngest have been born.
Let me picture the morning I left for Portugal for you…..
‘George, Arthur, come here, give me a kiss, I am going to miss you so much’
*GEORGE EMPTIES BUCKET OF LEGO ON MY BEDROOM CARPET*
‘FFS George!!! This is why i need a break’
‘George I am sorry, come here and give me a kiss’
*ARTHUR POURS THE CONTENTS OF MY COLD COFFEE OVER MY BED*
……..’Rosie, how long are you going to be? I know the flight is in 8 hours but we dont want to risk missing it’


From the moment Rosie picked me up to when she dropped me back to my door four days later, I did not stop laughing!

We talked about everything, nothing was off the table.
We talked about our kids, our partners and our friends, we discussed designer vaginas, sex and how to make a Wood pigeon call with your tounge.
We did eachothers make up and hair and shared eachothers clothes.

We people watched and ate great food (without a high chair or childrens menu in sight!)

We shared secrets and drank, we drank lots!
We danced every night until the early hours and the one day the weather was bit ‘meh’ we found a great shopping mall and we shopped. I picked up a couple of treats for the kids snd a little something for me…. (do you like my new boots?)

I managed to read a whole book! From start to finish, in one weekend. If you don’t have kids, this may seem ridiculous, if you do you kids, well, you know.
Guess what else I did? And I haven’t done this since I was about 21….. I had an afternoon nap! A siesta if you will.
Not because I had just given birth or because I dozed off breast feeding a baby, but because I consciously chose to!
Another thing. I have never enjoyed a hangover so much.
Knowing you can eat, drink and sleep your way through it without having to make food for little ones, read stories and change nappies makes a hangover so much easier to bear.

I can only describe the weekend as Bad Moms meets The Hangover with a drizzle of bridesmaids.

It was bliss…utter bliss and I owe my girls so much for being the perfect friends.

Their laid back natures ment there were no tantrums, no arguments and by the time we were due to come home I felt so ready to see Mike and the kids and be ‘mum’ again.
I urge you to try it! Book something up! It doesnt have to expensive, it doesnt have to be abroad.

A weekend in Portugal cost us £250 each (plus spending money). Easyjet flights were £150 return from Gatwick to Faro and our apartment at The Dom Pedro Portobelo was right on the marina where all the bars and restaurants are.
It comfortably accomodated the four of us and cost £100 each for the four nights.

I asked some fellow mum blogger what their opinionon ‘Mumcations’ is, here is what they had to say:
Rebecca at www.beccablogsitout.com
I haven’t had one and I’m.not sure I could. I’d love to, in theory. I could definitely use a break. But I think I’d feel too guilty if I went away for more than a day without the twins. I think I’d miss them.
Jenna at www.thentherewerethree.uk
‘I’ve had some! I met an amazing bunch of ladies on a birth group on Facebook and we arrange a couple of weekend breaks a year. We’ve booked a farmhouse in north wales, various city stays and are going to see the Spice Girls next year. I definitely think they’re needed.’
Francessca at https://frompenniestopounds.com
‘I’ve been on hen do’s and also my honeymoon without my daughter. With the honeymoon we went to Mexico which you can’t just pop over for, but I said I would not go for longer than 10 days.
I missed her but she had a great time with her grandparents. I was never close to my grandparents so I’m happy for her to spend time with them.
I think it’s healthy for both you and the kids.
I always take my daughter away every year now though since splitting up with my ex-husband.’
Gail at www.yammymommy.co.uk
‘Still can’t do more than a night away from my 4 year old. I think we would both struggle after 24 hours!’
Victoria at www.travelvixta.com
‘I haven’t yet, but I think in a couple of years once my youngest is at school then I’d love to go on a yoga retreat by myself! They look like bliss and even now with a 6 year old and 3 year old I feel like I could really do with some time to myself and a break for a few days to a retreat!’

Leeds Castle

Rosie and I took the kids (all eight of them!) to Leeds Castle in Kent during half term.

It was our first proper visit (we went along one, cold evening four years ago to watch Frozen on the castle lawn).

I absolutely love a mooch around a Castle or historical house and I love taking in the beautiful grounds.
I always picture what It might have been like to live there during the various periods of history.
Who owns it now? How do they keep it looking so beautiful? How many bottles of wine could you store in that wine celler!? (And Leeds Castle definatly has the BEST wine celler!)

It was a stunning Autumn afternoon and we had such a fantastic day that words can not do it justice.  
I am going to let our photos explain……







Leeds Castle has lots to do for the children, not least climbing trees and finding secret dens.  
It was Halloween when we visited and they had lots of spooky activities to enjoy.  

There is a wonderful playground area, maze and lots of activities from archery to dressing up as a knight.
The children loved exploring the castle and filling in all the activity sheets they had been given.
They have been learning about British History at school so they loved reading about how Leeds Castle related to Henry V111 and the Second World War.
While they were reading about how King Henry VIII did a ‘changing rooms’ on the castle to impress and gift his wife Catherine of Aragon, I listened eagerly to the stewards who explained to me that in more recent years part of the castle was converted into a cinema and areas to entertain friends (jelous much!?). 

I have asked Mike to take me back for a romantic ‘date day’.  The strolls, the atmosphere and the stunning architecture would make a beautuful day out with a loved one (or first date?).
I have never seen such beautiful gardens and the wildlife is everywhere.  
I am looking forward to visiting again in December and enjoying the Christmas  festivities with Mike and the children.




Please share my post for anyone who might enjoy a beautiful day out at this Kent treasure.
For more information on Leeds Castle and its wonderful, seasonal treats, take a look at their website 
https://www.leeds-castle.com

Our Day Out at Thorpe Park

If you are at a loose end with the kids this summer and want something that will suit all ages, from babies to older teenagers (and you) try Thorpe Park.

Thorpe Park is a large theme park set between Chertsey and Staines-Upon-Thames, at juction 11 on the M25.
Despite being just a forty five minute drive from me I haven’t been there since I was a kid.  Mike was supposed to join me, but because of his work commitments I took the kids on my own.  
Two children under two, four over six and just one adult meant I wouldnt be able to make the most of the day.  So, I dropped George and Arthur to my Mum and Dad’s and headed off with Mikey (10), Harri (10), Charlie (8) and Libby (6).
When we arrived the kids checked the map and all the many rides and gave me a summary of the ones they definitely wanted to go on. 

My slight disapointment, being a huge rollercoaster fan, (bigger the better) was because I was on my own, I had to swerve some of the biggest and best rides in the park.

Mikey was also disappointed, as he seems to have inherited my need for thrills! 
Saw, Stealth, Colossus, Rush and Nemiesis Inferno were all no-gos for us this time round. 

So lets talk about the rides we did go on.
Like other theme parks, Thorpe Park is separated into different areas, each with its own theme.
We started our day at Amity, a section of the park based around the seaside town that the movie Jaws is based on.

The first ride we went on was Flying Fish, a family rollercoaster.
After dragging Mikey and Harri on some of Universal Studios scariest rides last year, they were both up for this ‘tamer’ ride.
Libby and Charlie however, were rollercoaster novices and both tried get out of it.  
Thinking they would enjoy it once they were on it, I managed to convince them with some gentle persuasion.

They loved it!
Mikey didnt feel it quite satisfied his adrenaline need, but enjoyed it nevertheless.

Whilst in Amity, we also went on the obligatory log flume Tidle Wave and the more gentle water ride, Storm Surge.

One of my most memorable rides with the kids was ‘Storm in a Teacup’.  Maybe because I remember this ride and the Tetley men from when I was the boys age.  
While the kids were spinning the cup, faster and faster, I was watching their faces, they were ecstatic, their laughing and screaming with excitement will stay with me forever.   It is what #makingmemories is all about.

From Amity, we headed to ‘The Jungle’.  
This is where we rode on Mr Monkeys Banana Ride (a tame thrill ride for younger children) and the Rhumba Rapids, riding through the jungle river on a raft.

Whilst in The Jungle I spied a ‘Ghost Train’ sign.
Ghost Trains are my favourite kind of ride so I dragged the kids kicking and screaming towards it.
They breathed a sigh of relief when it stated at the entrance that you had to be 13 or over.  I was gutted! 
It looked fantastic, promoted as Darren Brown’s Ghost Train, I am heading straight for that on my kid-free visit!

Harri’s ride of choice was Angry Birds 4D Experience.

It was very similar to the Shrek ride at Universal Studios.   I dont want to spoil it for anyone, but it is a great ride for all the family. 

At Old Town the kids jumped on The Rocky Express, which they all commented that George (2) would have loved.  

Then, the kids hurried Mikey and I passed Samuri and Saw whilst we sulked like teenagers.

We stopped for a well deserved Whoppa at Burger King, just because it was the closest Eatery.  However, there are plenty of places to eat at the park.  They have everything from a Bar and Grill to Fish and Chips, Mexican, Kebabs, Pulled Meat and BBQ, they even have Burger King and KFC.

If you want treats they offer Donuts, Ice Cream, Slushies and lots of yummies dotted around the park.
The Lost City was the home of Mikeys favourite ride of the day….Quantum.  Judging by Thorpe Park standards it was one of the smaller rides but given that Mikey hadnt managed to ride any of the monsters, this satisfied his thrill level for the day.

Charlie and Harri however, were not so keen! Mikey ran off begging to ride again, whilst the others threatened to report me to social services for making them go on such a scary ride (I bolted out of the queue with Libby at the last minute as I knew she would be petrified).
Zodiac was a great ride, I actually managed to ride that one with Mikey as the queue was less than five minutes.
We spent the last hour of our day at Thorpe Park at Amity Beach, A large, man-made beach with shallow pools and water features.  
The weather was beautiful and It was so reminiscent of the Lidos my mum used to take us to when we were kids (none of which are open any more).

I sat and watched the four kids mess about, splash each other and have a great time.
Depth Charge is next to the beach.  It is a multi slide where you sit on a raft and ride down the slide.  The kids would have gone on this again and again and again but time was running away.

Being the unorganized mum that I am, i hadnt packed swimsuits or towels so it is just lucky we made that the last stop of the day.
I say last stop, but as every parent knows, no trip to a theme park is complete without a visit to the park store!
Loaded with badges, sweets and souvenirs, we were ready to say goodbye to Thorpe Park.
All I needed to do was remember where I parked the car!!!

For more information on Thorpe Park, their prices and admissions, head over to their website.
https://www.thorpepark.com
If you have been or do plan a day in Thorpe Park I’d love to hear your feedback.
Love Kate
Xxxx
Linking up with #BloggerClubUK

Mudpie Fridays

CampBestival 2017

Well, what an experience this was!!

On paper, this weekend was my idea of absolute hell.
Six children (two babies), a tent, rain….lots of rain, mud….lots of mud and not a tiled roof in sight!

Somehow, amongst the damp and filth, we dug deep into our British souls and managed to have a fantastic weekend (great friends and the Gin also helped).

Due to my total lack of organisation we didnt manage to secure a motorhome this year.
Instead, we opted for CB Boutique camping with a company called PodPads.

It was a six man bell tent that included a groundsheet, carpet and six campbeds with sheets.

There was enough room in our tent for our travel cot, double buggy and festival trolly.  Although, with all the paraphernalia that comes with two children under two, it was a squash in there and not much room to move around.
If the weather had been better and we could have left our bits outside it would have been much roomier.

There is a fab ‘reception tent’ where they provided us with free tea and coffee facilities and you can charge your phone free of charge.

One of the best things about Boutique camping (beside avoiding divorce while trying to errect a 6 man tent) is having the car park at a reasonable distance from your tent and being a short walk from the actual festival.

Last year, at the campervan field, it felt like a Marine assult course getting us, the five kids and a buggy from the motorhome to the festival.
Thats not meant to discourage anyone, but for us, and the ages of our children, we prefered to be closer to everything.

Next year we will head for Boutique again.  I am going to start doing my research now into what we will stay in and ill post about that over the next couple of weeks.

I would be lying if i said the weather did not affect our weekend. 
Although we all enjoyed ourselves, we didnt get to make the most of what Camp Bestival has to offer.

We tried to do as much as we could when the rain stopped, but there is so much to to do, we missed out on alot.

Having a couple of art-mad youngsters in our crowd, we headed to The Art Tent first.
The kids had a great time making dreamcatchers out of old vinyl records and cds.

Once the main acts started we headed over to Castle Field.
We rumaged for a spot like crazed fans to watch Justin Flethcher AKA Mr Tumble and then pitched up for my personal Camp Bestival highlight of the weekend…..Dick and Dom.  You’ve never know true exhilaration until you have screamed ‘BOGIES’ in the rain, like your eight year old self.

One thing that did help keep my spirits up while my Hunters were getting abused was The Alchemy Bar by Schweppes.

A Gin and Tonic cocktail bar where Special ingridiants mixed with the G&T’s added something a bit special to my already favourite drink.

So with a couple of bevvies inside us, we soldiered on.

We danced (in the rain) to All Saints, Mark Ronson, Madness, Louisa Johnson and the other amazing acts that made up the 2017 line up. 

The kids raved with Bflf in the Bollywood tent and threw some shapes at Sara Cox DJ set.

Now lets talk about the food…..oh the food!
Ive mentioned in previous posts about how much I love the Camp Bestival grub.

On the first night we had an obligitory crepe…one of the kids favourite things! Not cheap at £5 each, especially when you have as many mouths to feed as we do, but its becoming a tradition we cant resist.

The paad thai noodles are a huge hit with my little lot.  I can guarentee they will put away a portion each, no problem!!
And obvs, anything that does get left, Mike and I are ready and waiting to swoop in like seagulls on Brighton Pier!

The corn is another essential whilst at CB! I can guarentee, my instagram is always cluttered over CB weekend with gorgeous kiddies sinking their teeth into a golden, buttered corn on the cob in The Lower Kids Garden. 

Then you have Mikes playground, The Feast Collective.
This is a tent/section of the festival dedicated to different cuisines and dishes from all over the place.  Whether you fancy fish and chips or a lamb curry, The Feast Collective will sell it.
Mainly with a street food vibe, This is where i know ill find Mike if we get split up.

We tried DJBBQ pulled pork burger, which was everything i had hoped for after salivating over his Instagram over the last few months.
We tried chips, cheese and gravy which i am convinced would make the best hangover food and was another winner with the kids .
The dish of the weekend for me had to be the Indonesian Coconut Curry and dumplings…..it was the BEST curry I have ever had!

Another great thing about Camp Bestival is that you can bring your own food and drink into the grounds. 
So, as tempting as it is to just keep browsing the stalls, trying a dish ever hour, bringing your own bits will save your pennies.

The rain finally eased off on Sunday afternoon so thats when we headed to The Dingly Dell.

This is an area in the woods with a childrens park, farm animals and outdoor activities like zip wires, childrens building sites and Lizzies Way.
Now, im not going to lie, I haven’t made it to Lizzies Way.
I have been told by my other blogging friends that this is a highlight of Camp Bestival.
All i needed to hear was, in the middle of the woods, she has a mud cafe and you can make potions!!…this is enough to make sure it is our first stop on the list for next year!

Over the next couple of weeks I will publish more posts on Camp Bestival. 
I will cover more about the accomodation options, what to see, saving money and travelling there etc.

For now, the purpose of my post is to say, despite the weather, Camp Bestival 2017 was brilliant weekend, making more unforgettable memories with the kids, which, afterall, is what its all about.

The tickets for 2018 have just been released and ticketline offer a paymentplan.

You can book your tickets and pay them off weekly which I have done for last two years and it works so well.

Boutique options are not available yet but if you secure your weekend tickets, they include standard camping pitches. 

If I have managed to convince any of you to go, please let me know and we can keep in touch over the next few months and maybe even hook up over a G&T  in the Magic Meadow next year 😉

If you have enjoyed this post, please share it on your social media.

Love Kate x 

Travel hack – Flying to Florida

As seasoned travellers to Florida I like to think i am experienced at organising a great holiday there.

Given that i am usually booking for eight or more people i am particularly good at making sure we stick to a reasonable budget. 

I have just booked our flights to Florida 2018 and I’ve got to share this little gem with you.

Usually, if you fly from the South East of England to Florida you would either fly from Gatwick or Heathrow to Orlando, or Heathrow to Miami.

Unless you have air miles or you are booking a package holiday, flights are really expensive. 

Especially, lf like us you have to work around school holidays, even worse when you are paying for eight people!

So, here is my secret…….Norwegian Airlines!

They now fly direct from London Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale.
Fort Lauderdale airport is about 30 minutes north of Miami and about a 2 1/2 hour drive to Orlando.

Fort Lauderdale itself is our favourite holiday destination.
The beaches are stunning, restaurants are amazing and there is always loads going on.

If however, you are heading to Orlando, the price of flights will make the drive worth while.

So….

Drum roll please…….

Return flights for the Easter holiday 2018 £450 per adult and £350 per child.
This is for the Economy Lowfare plus ticket which includes In flight meals, 20kg check in baggage allowance and seat reservation.

Gatwick is so much more convenient than Heathrow for those of us that are South of London.

Now let’s talk about the airline.  

Norwegian is classed as a ‘budget’ airline, But there really isn’t anything budget about them.

We travelled to Florida with them last year for my sister in laws wedding in Key West.

The check in service was excellent (but when flying with five children you tend to get treated like VIP….mainly to move you on as quickly as possible).

The Dreamliner plane is a new aircraft. It offers good legroom (lowfare plus) and hi-tech facilities.  

The touch screen media kit means you can order and pay for your duty free, food and drink using your tv and the cabin crew bring it straight to you. 

The kids and I were fascinated by the ‘magic’ windows that are made of smart glass and tint at the touch of a button!

The service on board was great and the cabin crew were very attentive and patient with the kids.  As all of us parents know, that can make a big difference to a nine hour flight.

If you are considering a holiday to Florida, check them out.  I’ll be sharing more posts on holidays in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale and Miami soon. 

www.norwegian.com/uk/

Let me know if you have any travel hacks when holidaying in Florida.

Love 

Kate

https://modernmum.net/2016/05/21/packing-and-travelling-with-a-large-family/

A weekend in Liverpool

Another one of my best friends turned 40 this week and we celebrated by whisking her away on a suprise weekend to Liverpool. 

Rosie is from Ireland, and when her lovely sister (who still lives over there)  contacted me about doing something special I couldn’t have been more up for it. 
I cant take any of the credit for this weekend.   
I was pregnant while it was being organised and while my intention was to take on the organisation with Jennifer,  I let the side down. 
Luckily, Jenny did an amazing job,  dispite my total lack of cobtribution! 
I told Rosie that I was taking her away for a couple of nights, just me and her. 
I picked her up in an Uber (my first Uber experience, and it was amazing).  The cab dropped us to East Croydon where we jumped on the train to London Euston via Victoria.

I loved every minute of that train journey.   Watching her face, totally clueless and out of control.  
Rosie is the ‘ mum’ of our group,  always looking after us and making sure we are OK.   It was really strange seeing her reaction, having to rely completly on me (I’m not sure she enjoyed that part of the weekend! 😂) 
At every stop I would grab my bag and tell her ‘this is it ‘, I would watch her get up, get to the door and then tell her I was joking! 
She wasn’t impressed but I found it hilarious!  
Once we were at Euston I suggested we grab some breakie at All Bar One…little did she know…. 
Rosie was greeted by three more of our girlfriends, sitting there, ready with coffees and cocktails… shouting suprise!!!

Rosie was in tears, totally overwhelmed,  but it was amazing seeing her register just how much she is loved by us all. 
FYI All Bar One do some seriously yummy breakfasts! 

Over breakfast we gave her some clues to guess where we were taking her:
 
The biggest boy band ever were from there…… She had no idea 
There are lots of Irish people there…. Nope
It had an ‘e’ in it… Huh? 
Brookside was based there…. LIVERPOOL!!

We jumped on the train, opened a bottle of prosecco and had one of the best girls chats I’ve ever had. 
During that two hours we talked about everything from relationships, bladder control,  sex and laughed from start to finish. 

The poor fella sitting next to us was pre warned when he sat down that he was in for a special journey and if he embarrases easily he should probably think twice about sitting there.

I did offer him a drink to calm his nerves! 

When we got to Liverpool we headed straight to the hotel. 

#squadgoals
The Shankley Hotel was a great base for a girls weekend.  It is right in the middle of town.  A 5 minutes walk to the station and even less to the shops,  restaurants and bars.
The hotel is lovely,  decor is fabulous with glamour being at its heart and the rooms are great. 
The main room had six double beds in it and a kitchen area. 
I’m even thinking about going back with the kids as there are not many hotel rooms that can comfortably fit all of us in.

When we entered the room it was beautifully decorated (by the Irish girls who were hiding in the toilet).  They had left out champagne,  chocolates and strawberries. 

When Rosie walked into the room two of her sisters and her best friend from Ireland ran out of the bathroom! 
This triggered another flow of tears and a few ‘c u next Tuesdays’ muttered at us.
She was blown away,  she hasn’t made it home to see her family this year and I know she was missing them terribly.  
For them to fly over and organise this weekend was a perfect present. 

The package we booked worked out at £230 each for eight of us (that includes splitting Rosies costs between us).
That included the hotel, a cocktail making class, dinner on the Saturday night,  a choice of either make up or hair to be done and Afternoon Tea.
The train from Euston to Liverpool Line Street was £85 return.

On the Friday, after we had finished the introductions (this was the first time in 20 years that rosies London friends meet her Irish girls) we headed off for out cocktail making classat The Art House.

It was like going back to Playa de las Americas when I was 17,  downing dirty ouzo shots!

It was a real giggle though and the girl that took the class was lovely.  Also, nothing breaks the ice like slut dropping and making cocktails. 

From there we headed to Concert Square and enjoyed a few more drinks and  Shisha.

The next morning the sun was at full force and with the temperature soaring we were determined to enjoy brunch and an espresso martini by the water. 

We took a cab (£2.30!) to Albert Dock and had some coffee and cocktails at Panam.

We discovered during the weekend that Londons shopping experience had serious competition.   

Liverpool has all the shops you could possibly wish for,  all within an easy walk between eachother.
I would love to go back again just for a shopping weekend! 
While in John Lewis Katie had a Charlotte Tilbury make over which resulted in some yummy purchases.


We headed back to the hotel for about 5 to have our hair and make up done, ready for the night ahead. 

I opted to have my hair done.   I love doing my own make up and am very particular about how I have it.  Also, I am low maintainence with my hair so if someone else can glam it up then it is a no brainer!
Given the scorching weather we headed up to have a drink on the roof top bar before dinner (all at The Shankley Hotel).  Watching the half cut girls dancing in the sun kicked the night off perfectly!

Our first night was fun but fairly quiet given we were all mums, and away from the kids for the weekend. It was also quite ‘studenty’ at concert square. I’m not knocking that but we like a bit of sophistication in our older age (early night anyway) so we really wanted to find the area you could go to and have a cocktail made with proper spirits and not sugar and tequila!  😂 

I asked around during the day and it turned out our hotel was on the road  where all the best bars are! 

After our dinner at the hotel we headed to  The Alchemist Cocktail Bar on Brunswick Street.

The cocktails were out of this world and  the atmosphere was great but it was a bit of an arse-ache waiting around at the bar to order our next round.   That could be out fault for sinking each cocktail so quickly. 

We had cocktails there that bubbled, steamed and even ones that come with syringes of shots!

If you like Cocktails I would definatly recommend this bar. 

The night carried on in a bar down the road where we partied till the early hours.

The difference with partying in your 30’s is rather than passing out in bed with a full face of make up and glass of wine next to your bed, we got back,  made a coffee, took our make up off, and at 3am we were putting Philip Kingsley hair masks on! 

We kicked our last day off with a perfect post party breakfast at Barley and Beans.  I don’t know if it’s because we were so hungry but it was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had! 
I went for their granola bowl and bacon and eggs.  The other girls had full English and eggs beniddict.  As you can see from the picture, we had an amazing pile of Nutella pancakes for dessert 🍰 


After a some more shopping we went back to the hotel for Afternoon Tea and a de briefing of the weekend before we said our goodbyes and headed to the station for our train back home. 

I had a great weekend! 
After having Arthur I really needed a bit of child free time to myself. I’m home, refreshed and ready to tackle (literally) the kids. 
I met lovely new friends, caught up with old friends,  partied, relaxed,  shopped and laughed.   
I laughed so much and realised how lucky I am to have such wonderful girlfriends who I love with all my heart 😘




Saint Nick popped in for a cuppa!

​Deck the halls!  
We have had a really special,  festive weekend full of friends,  wine,  mince pies, sausage rolls, tinsel, The Pogues and Santa Claus! 
Back in November I looked into which Santa to take the kids to visit.  
I looked into local garden centres, National trust venues and shopping centres.   
I know most of them are great experiences but when you have 5 children they are also really expensive. 
It got me thinking,  how much would it cost to bring the big guy to us!?

I hit Google and found a company called Hiresanta.  
They sent me a few videos of different Santa auditions and the relevant price for each Santa.

Obviously, the best,  most realistic was the most expensive….. And typically the one I set my heart on. 
The price tag for our Santa came at a wopping £300, but,  considering I was going to spend £100 for 2 minutes with a half decent Santa at the local garden centre, I thought I’d give it a go.

He didn’t disappoint!
The children were absolutely blown away (and so were the adults). 

Turns out our Santa was a professional actor with credits such as Eastenders, The Bill, Frost, Londons Burning and Casualty just to name a few.
He spent two hours talking to the children,  listening to each of their presie lists and told them a lovely Christmas story. 

We are definatly going to book again for next year. 
Some of the older kids were suspicious but he was pretty convincing and left even the most defiant believers wondering….. Could he be!? 
So I can confirm we are now officially in the Christmas spirit! 
If you can get a few friends together and split the cost it is a great experience and a chance to make special memories that last forever. 
It’s also a great excuse for the parents to get together with a few bottles of wine and let a jolly man in a suit entertain the children for a couple of hours. 
Only one problem, Santa left his belt on my bed!…. Try explaining that one too the kids 😆🙊🎅

HO HO HO!!!! 🎅
http://www.hiresanta.co.uk

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

Rumbled! 

​So this weekend something happened that will change my sex life for the next 20 years. 

After telling the kids to ‘shhhhhhh’ for the 58th time in the six berth camper we had hired for the weekend, finally silence fell.
…..until Harrison asked loudly, in a disgusted tone:
‘urgh, are you two having  S….E……X!? Because of you are having  S…..E……X. You need to stop.  It’s just gross, with your kids here,  close those curtains,  this is grossing me out!’
😱😰😳😩😫😭
What the fu#k!? Firstly we actually were not having sex, any grunting noises had come as a result of me clambering up the shit#ing ladder to get into the coffin style bed above the drivers seats.
Secondly, the space from our bed to the ceiling was about half a foot, i could barely turn over let alone anything else!! 
Thirdly…..I was too tired 😜  
So the next morning I questioned harri on what is S….E…..X? 
His answer….
‘its when a man and lady are naked in bed, kissing and making noises’

Day three he wake up and he asks:
‘ who was rocking the caravan last night?’
I had to think on my feet.
‘oh,  i thought you were asleep (true!)  there were some naughty boys outside pushing our caravan.  Did you hear dad go out and shout at them?’
‘no, but thank God for that,  I thought it was you two having S….E….X.  i hope those boys don’t come back tonight! ‘
No fear of that son…they have well and truley got the message😒

So we are now looking for locks to put on our bedroom door and I’m trying to work out how to approach the proper birds and bee’s talk with them …..wish me luck!