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  • Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent at Hogsdown Farm Gloucestershire over bank holiday weekend

    Did we choose the right tent?

    Almost a year ago now, we bought our first proper tent. Before then, we’d made do with little pup tents – which are fine for the odd night away or a weekend in the summer, but not practical when camping as a family and for longer periods. We excitedly went along to the Caravan and Camping Show at the NEC and came home with our Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent.

    Kampa Paloma 5 Air Tent

    Finding the Paloma 5 Air tent felt like we’d stumbled upon the perfect tent for us. On paper, it ticked all the boxes we could have hoped for, and it was just on the cusp of our budget. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Parenting, Reviews
    / January 5, 2019
  • No need for a lawnmower with artificial grass

    Designing a Toddler-Friendly Garden

    This is a collaborative post.

    With our upcoming house move on the horizon, house renovations and decorating are very much on my mind at the moment. We’re moving into a relative’s house for about a year, so whilst the house isn’t ours, it’s the first time we’ve lived somewhere that we can make our own. Our main reason for relocating is to save money, so we don’t want to go mad, but I’m thinking it’s all good practice for when we hopefully buy our own home in the not too distant future.

    My main priority is the lounge, and I’ve spent all week scrubbing the walls and plastering them with emulsion but next on my list is the garden. Second to the lounge, it’s probably the area of the house that we spend the most time in with Pickle: come rain or shine, he just loves being outside. It’s got me thinking about what makes a good garden for a toddler, and although not all of these ideas are feasible for us right now, they’re good food for thought as we start thinking about searching for a house to buy.

    Flat and Spacious

    The main requirement any toddler has for outdoor space is… plenty of it! If you’ve got an energetic toddler like mine, they’ll love nothing more than running up and down, and round and round any garden space. Although Pickle really enjoys climbing up hills and racing back down them, or jumping off steps, a nice big flat area has bigger potential for stress-free play.

    That doesn’t mean sloped gardens can’t be fun… Some of my favourite memories from my childhood involve putting the tent groundsheet in the garden and using the slide to make a watery slide. Literally hours of fun! But in an ideal world, I think flat is best.

    Artificial Grass

    I wish we were the kind of family that drink coffee, read the newspapers and mow the lawns on Sundays – but we’re just not. Mowing the lawn is something that only gets done when it really needs it. With the grass so high and the weeds so numerous that it’s passable for a jungle, its not the most conducive environment to a football game or a quick play outside.

    If there’s one lesson I’ve learned through my life so far with a toddler, it’s that your garden needs to be playable in at a moment’s notice. Being ready for action at the drop of a hat means you have so much more flexibility, and helps avoid those horrible days cooped up indoors. So if, like us, you’re not best friends with your lawn mower, it’s definitely worth considering artificial grass.

    There is still an element of maintenance needed for artificial grass, but arguably it’s much less than a normal lawn, and will always look nice and fresh, and neat.

    Lots to Play With

    Providing Pickle with lots to play with in the garden hasn’t been much of a priority until now, as our old home was so close to the park that it was easier to wander down there than mow the aforementioned jungle lawn. But when I see how excited he gets when we visit our friends who have swings, slides, climbing frames and playhouses, it makes me realise how lovely those things would be to have at home.

    That said, if space and finances are limited, there are some small, cheap basics that should be in any toddler’s garden: something to throw, something to kick, something to push and something to climb. And anything that involves water play is always going to be a hit – Pickle’s face the first time he played with a water pistol is just a picture!

    For some great toy ideas, I’ve created a little shopping list of items I can personally recommend:

    Things to Grow

    For Father’s Day this year, we were sent some little pots and some seeds from Johnson’s Baby and it was just the push I needed to get over my fear of gardening and learn from scratch. Pickle and I figured it out together, using a small trowel to move compost, poking holes in the soil and sprinkling the seeds.

    Not only did he enjoy planting the seeds to begin with, but it was really sweet to see how excited he was to water our flowers each morning. Granted, he did over-water the little pots right from the off and they never actually grew… but the larger planters have done really well and I’m so proud of us both that we’ve successfully grown something from seed!

    As Pickle gets older, I’d love to widen our growing horizons and start growing our own fruit, vegetables and herbs. I think it’s so important for children to understand where their food comes from, and what better way than to see it from seed to plate?

    A Washing Line!

    This last item isn’t so much for the toddler’s playing benefit, but for their welfare. I’m not sure I need to convince anyone how essential a washing line is for any household with children.

    When the weather is dry, there is nothing I love more than the feeling of accomplishment when I peg a load of washing out to dry. We don’t have a tumble-dryer so it’s the quickest way I have of getting through the never-ending laundry pile and seeing the line full of Pickle’s cute little clothes makes me feel very adult for some reason.

    What’s in your Garden?

    So, what do you think? Have I covered all the essentials for putting together the perfect garden for a toddler? Am I missing anything? I’d love to hear what you have in your garden so I start to think about buying our first family home and knowing what I need to be looking for in the outdoor space available.

    Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post in collaboration with Grass Direct. All content, views and opinions remain my own, as as always, is 100% honest.

    Countryside, Lifestyle, Parenting
    / September 1, 2018
  • The view of the bay from the golf course at Trevornick

    Camping at Trevornick, Cornwall

    We love holidaying in the UK, and although it would be lovely to go abroad one day as a family, there’s something about exploring our own country which will never get old for me. Buying our tent earlier this year has already been such a worthwhile investment and top of our list this year was to start seeing more of the gorgeous Cornish coast. At the end of July, we packed up the car and set off for a super family-friendly site near Newquay in Cornwall called Trevornick, who put us up for a few nights so that we could test out their facilities. It was that good, that we didn’t want to leave. We extended our stay by a couple of extra nights, and would have stayed for longer if we could. We absolutely loved it.

    Journey & Arrival

    As much as I was excited to holiday in Cornwall, I was a little apprehensive about the journey to begin with. I had originally hoped we could find a campsite on the way down to stay for a couple of nights but after LPD (Little Pickle’s Dad) got booked for a hog roast on the Saturday, that was no longer feasible. It all turned out for the best though, as it actually made for the perfect opportunity to stop over in Exeter, visit LPD’s sister and wish her a happy birthday.

    Breaking the journey up meant we only had a two and a half hour journey on the Sunday, followed by an hour and half on Monday morning. We arrived at Trevornick feeling refreshed and raring to go: I’d definitely do the same whenever we next visit the South West coast (which I hope will be soon!). Upon driving onto the site, it was immediately welcoming and fresh looking with lots of gorgeous flowers and such friendly staff on reception. The best bit though? You follow a moped to your pitch! Which was a really nice touch and really helpful for a site of this size.


    Without a doubt, this is the largest campsite I’ve ever stayed at. There are over six different camping fields to choose from, with a range of pitch sizes, features and Trevornick also has a number of Eurotent pitches for those without tents or who would rather the ease of having a tent pre-erected for you. More time for you to enjoy a gin and tonic!

    The site boasts lots of features that make a stay super relaxing and easy. There’s a really well stocked onsite farm shop (we once visited it four times in one day!), and also a hire shop (very handy if you forget any of your camping essentials or fancy a go at body-boarding). There’s also a laundrette – which was music to my ears after we decided to extend our stay and needed to do an emergency load of washing, and the driers were really handy for popping our towels in before heading home. There’s nothing worse than the smell of damp towel for the entire journey home!


    Our Pitch

    I couldn’t have been more pleased with our pitch. We were on the Pond field, which has a series of almost terraced pitches overlooking the fishing ponds and the golf course. It was perfect for us as it meant there was only one direction in which Pickle could run – and he loved having the length of our terrace to run up and down, although, it did cause a few issues when balls and toys were accidentally thrown onto the terrace below.

    Our pitch had it’s own water supply and electricity supply, and even a TV connection and on-site movie channel if we’d have wanted to use it (perhaps a good option for families who are staying a bit longer and run into some rainy weather!).

    The Washing Facilities

    I didn’t want to look like some kind of weirdo by taking my camera into the shower and toilet block, so I’m afraid I don’t have any gleaming photos to share – but you’ll have to take my word for it that the toilet block was just the ticket. It was closed for an hour each day for cleaning (which wasn’t a problem as there were plenty of other toilet blocks to visit during that time – in fact, one of the others I visited had music playing in it! Which I thought was really cool). Perhaps wise that I didn’t go for a shower in that block, as I’m not sure my fellow campers would have appreciated the inevitable early morning sing song!


    There were so many aspects to Trevornick that made it a real hit for us as a family. I can honestly say we didn’t really want for anything during our stay there – everything was so close and well thought out. There was so much on offer that we didn’t even get to try out most of it, and I’m sure there’s probably things we still don’t even know about. But the things that we were grateful for in particular were: the park, the evening entertainment, and the swimming pool.

    The playground is great for all kinds of ages – Pickle was quite happy clambering up the climbing frame, whooshing down the slide and having a go on the swing, but there was also monkey bars and more challenging equipment for older children. There’s also a dedicated ball games field the other side of the campsite which is perfect for older children who want a kick about, a game of rounders or a bit of cricket.

    If it weren’t for our camping neighbours, a gorgeous family from Coventry whose lovely children were such brilliant playmates for Pickle over the course of our stay, we probably wouldn’t have braved the evening entertainment – knowing from past experience that Pickle would much rather run riot than take part in the activities. We gave it two tries: the first was as I predicted! I spent most of the evening going up and down the stairs, back and forth from the dance floor to the amusements arcade next door. He became obsessed with the 2p machines – and he’s surprisingly good at them!

    The second time, it was a much greater success. Pickle had become firm friends with the little girl next door, and was no longer interested in escaping because he was glued to her side. They sat beautifully next to each other, arms wrapped around each others necks watching the comedy magician intently. It felt like a real treat to sit with a glass of wine and chat to our neighbours, getting to know them a bit better and not having to take it in turns to chase around the vicinity! Winner.

    We spent a glorious morning enjoying the outdoor pool. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I enjoyed an outdoor pool in the UK! Feeling very grateful for the sunny weather we’ve had this summer. At Trevornick, there are two heated outdoor pools, a big one and a smaller shallow baby pool, as well as a hot tub spa pool. I was really pleasantly surprised by the temperature of the water, and all three of us had fun in both the baby pool and the main pool – Pickle giggled with delight throughout!

    The changing facilities were really clean and there were plenty of sun loungers available if that’s your thing. The pool allows inflatables so we were even treated to seeing a huge unicorn in the pool! Amazing.

    Eating Out

    Part of the reason we enjoy camping is the option to self-cater. It saves us so much money by cooking our own food, which enables us to spend more money on treats and days out. However, I appreciate that that’s not everyone’s idea of a holiday so Trevornick caters for however much or little you want to cook, with a variety of price ranges too.

    Not only is there an onsite Cafe and Restaurant, Fodders, but there’s also a takeaway option if you’d prefer to eat outside your own tent. I thought it was brilliant that each night there seemed to be a different mobile food stand too. We bought ourselves a woodfire pizza which although it took a while (we were given a time to come back and collect it), it was a nice treat.

    We had a lovely evening trying out the Woody’s Restaurant, which overlooks the start of the golf course. It had a lovely welcoming, homely feel to it, made complete with some scrumptious home cooked food. I had a homemade beef lasagne and it was absolutely delicious – exactly how I would have made it myself at home, and LPD and I both loved the side salads that came with our food.

    It was a real bonus that Pickle was so well behaved – we honestly couldn’t believe it! There was a time not long ago that going out for a meal was a really stressful occasion filled with tantrums and muttered expletives under our breath, but he was so happy just chatting to us and playing with his Bing sticker book. Maybe this is paving the way for some more nice family meals out for us? If Woody’s was much closer, we’d definitely make it a regular haunt of ours. And good news for holiday makers with dogs, as they’re welcome in the restaurant.

    Holywell Fun Park

    I could write a whole blog post on it itself, and I intend to do just that, but I hope to give you flavour of it here too. We spent one of our days having so much fun in the Holywell Fun Park, which adjoins the campsite but you don’t have to be staying at Trevornick to visit it. At first, I wasn’t sure if it’d be particularly good for us as Pickle is just a tad too short for lots of the more ‘exciting’ rides, but he was more than happy going on the little choo-choo train and the ladybird ride. As was I!

    We were given a family pass for the day which meant we had unlimited use of the fun park which we really made the most of! We loved riding these little toddler rides, and we also had a go at panning for gold in the mining area, and had a good old bounce in the trampoline and jumping pillow section of the park. We must have spent a good hour in the maze which we really enjoyed (although, another family almost put us off trying it – it must not have been their cup of tea, but it was ours!).

    The best bit about our day passes and it being so close to the campsite was that when it was getting close to nap time, we headed back to the tent for a few hours so that Pickle could nap and we had some chill out time reading our books, before returning for some further afternoon fun!

    We finished off the visit with an ice cream from Daisy’s Ice Cream Parlour and sat watching one of the fun water boat rides, with the gorgeous views of the coast in the background.

    The Beach

    Although it’s not park of the campsite itself, you really can’t talk about Trevornick without mentioning the glorious beach on its doorstep. It’s only a ten minute walk away, accessible either by a hilly walk over the sand-dunes or a walk along the road (which has a path alongside it the whole way). There is a National Trust car park near the beach as an option for those who aren’t up to the walk – which was recommended to us by our neighbouring family to prevent the post-beach whining from tired children with tired legs who no longer are excited about carrying their buckets and spades.

    We couldn’t resist a visit on our first full day, and had fun building sandcastles, splashing in the sandy puddles and running away from the sea waves. The beach is fairly big, so there was plenty of space for us to set up camp with plenty of options – lots of families were sat along the river that runs from the top of the beach down to the sea, but we chose to prioritise a view of the sea!

    Our Final Thoughts

    Having a beach as beautiful as this just a stone’s throw away is part of what makes Trevornick a very special campsite. What I particularly loved about our stay was that we didn’t need to spend a fortune to have a brilliant time and memorable days out – everything was right there in front of us to enable our little family to spend fun, quality time together.

    As Pickle gets older, even more of the site’s features will become more accessible to us. It’d be brilliant to have a little family golf tournament (Trevornick has both an 18 hole par three golf course and an 18 hole pitch and put) and I wouldn’t mind a few hours of peace if Pickle and LPD fancied spending a morning in the fishing ponds together. Trevornick also has a Kids Club – with Forest School sessions and a Teddy Bear’s Picnic as part of the schedule – which would be perfect for us in a couple of years’ time.

    So many of the families we met at Trevornick have returned after spending previous years’ holidays there, and it’s so easy to see why. We’d definitely come back, and we’d hope to say hello again to the lovely people we met. It was magical to watch Pickle make friends during our short stay, and the delight on his face every morning when we woke up to realise his friends were still right there ready to play.

    I cannot recommend Trevornick enough, and I’d happily try my best to answer any further questions you have about our stay if you’re thinking of booking yourself. Whether you’re in a tent, a Eurotent, a touring caravan or staying in one of the site’s static vans, you’re in for a treat.

    Disclaimer: we were offered three nights accommodation in exchange for an honest review. We chose to extend our stay for a further two nights, which were paid for by ourselves. All content, opinions and views remain my own. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Lifestyle, Parenting, UK Travel
    / August 21, 2018
  • Cornbury Music Festival 2018

    A Weekend at Cornbury Festival 2018

    As we drove through winding roads and pretty little villages on our way to Cornbury Festival 2018, I felt increasingly more relaxed and chilled with every passing country pub and hanging basket. The sun was shining, our car was packed full with our camping gear and the toddler car seat was noticeably empty. We were off on our first baby-free trip away, and I couldn’t quite believe we were finally getting some time to ourselves.

    Ahead of our Cornbury Festival experience, we debated whether to go as a family or not. On the one hand, I’d read some wonderful reviews from fellow parenting bloggers that made me feel reassured that Cornbury caters very well for the family market, but I also knew how much LPD and I could do with a break away just as a couple. Unlike our time at Timber Festival, there were artists in particular at Cornbury that I would have been distraught to miss – and the one thing I’ve learned in my time as a parent is that you can’t guarantee being present for anything. I’d have cried hot bitter tears of resentment and anger if we’d have missed Marc Cohn’s set, and I didn’t want to risk it. With the offer of weekend babysitting from my parents, it didn’t take us long to make up our minds. We were doing it. We were turning back the clock and going to enjoy the weekend without needing to parent.


    I never set off for holidays at the time I hope. I have all the best intentions to be fully packed the night before and to set off at the crack of dawn, but in reality, I’m still scrabbling around trying to find clean and dry towels at 11am. This weekend was no exception, but as we headed off less than 2.5 hours after my original target – I’m taking that as a success. With a stop off at Aldi on the way to pick up some basic snacks and stock up the camping drinks supplies (absolutely gutted that they’d sold out of G&T tins… had to settle for Pimms instead), it was only a short hour long drive to the festival. Without having to placate and navigate Pickle, it didn’t take us long to set up camp and acquaint ourselves with the surroundings.

    As it quickly becoming the norm, I pitched our tent on my own. It speaks volumes about the ease of pitching our Kampa Paloma 5 Air that I can erect this beast by myself. God bless the air poles (although, I’m considering getting a battery operated pump as the hand pump is a bit hard work on the old back).

    For anyone interested, this is the camping gear we took with us for the weekend:

    • Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent (with the carpet, but not the footprint)
    • Double blow-up mattress
    • Foot pump for the mattress
    • Double sleeping bag
    • Our two Kampa XL high back chairs
    • Deluxe Kitchen Unit (link isn’t the exact one we purchased last year, but it’s ridiculously similar)
    • Single Campingaz Stove (used only to make tea, currently only £10 on Amazon)
    • Whistling Camping Kettle
    • 2 enamel mugs (used to drink tea)
    • Folding washing up bowl (which we didn’t use, except to store books in)
    • A massive thick scarf I bought from Asos years ago that I use as a rug
    • Our special camping blanket

    Settling into the Vibe

    I can’t speak from reams of festival experience, but one constant with each of the ones we’ve been to is that it takes a while to settle into the vibe of a festival. It takes a bit of time to acclimatise. I felt a little prickly at the start, constantly comparing the size, the atmosphere, the layout to the previous week’s festival before I quickly realised that was completely futile. All festivals are different. They cater to different audiences, and once we’d taken some time to have a look around and figure out the offering, we better knew how to make the most of our time.

    The Kids Area

    We automatically found ourselves in the Kids Area first. Partly this is because it was fairly close to the entrance from the campsite, but also because I really wanted to know what was on offer for future reference. Parents will be parents. The first thing we were greeted with was the sounds of a drumming workshop, and I grinned because I knew Pickle would have loved that.

    The whole Kids Area was riotously colourful, with a very clever kind of rag tent that offered a bit of shade for families too. The crafts tent was open for two long sessions every day, and I was so tempted to go in and do some for myself but feared I might look a bit weird without a child in tow. There was all sorts on offer though: from colouring to cross-stitch.

    The circus section was particularly popular, where all and sundry were invited to give various circus activities a go for themselves – I saw a lot of plate spinning and juggling attempts! There was also a face painting tent (with a range of designs available for just a donation to go towards buying more supplies) and a lovely display called What is Love? that kept being added to over the course of the weekend.

    My absolute favourite though was The Rig: a delightful set up of noise making implements that was keeping children and adults of all ages entertained. I know we could have quite happily left Pickle to play with the pots, pans, spoons and more all day long and he’d have had a whale of a time. We may have even had chance to sit down and enjoy a rest whilst he did so (or maybe that’s wishful thinking).

    The Music

    But what we were really there for, was the music. There weren’t many acts that we were desperate to see – but rather we were really happy to meander between the two main stages, the little Riverside stage and the Caffe Nero tent and listen to whatever ticked our fancy. I couldn’t quite believe how lucky we were when sat, with a milkshake each, under a parasol outside the Caffe Nero tent listening to Joe Slater play a cracking acoustic set. I could have sat there for hours. It was such a treat to be able to take in our surroundings without entertaining a two year old and panicking about upsetting anyone around us with the inevitable tantrums.

    The highlight of Saturday’s line up for us was, without a doubt, Amy Macdonald. Not only did she come across as very grounded, genuine and grateful, her music was just right for me on a Saturday night: upbeat, a bit rocky and with a storytelling core. Exactly my cup of tea, and I really enjoyed listening to the songs I knew, as well as the ones I didn’t. I’ve been listening to her albums a lot since we returned, and I’m so glad we’ll always have the memories of her set to look back on, and I’d love to catch her live again.

    Camping, Lifestyle, Reviews, UK Travel
    / July 22, 2018
  • The camping field at Timber Festival with the glamping pods in the background

    Timber Festival 2018: our first family festival

    I’ve found my new spiritual home. And it’s Timber Festival. Nestled in the National Forest on the edge of Derbyshire and Leicestershire, last weekend was it’s inaugural event and we felt very lucky to have experienced it. I kept saying all weekend: in years to come, we’ll be really proud to say we were at the very first Timber Festival. And I know it won’t be our last visit.

    The Ethos

    When I first read the email about Timber Festival, I knew straight away that it would be right up our street.

    An extraordinary new camping festival exploring the transformative impact of forests. Celebrating woodland culture in all its forms, join us for an intoxicating experience where music, art, philosophy and sustainability weave together into an unforgettable, exhilarating weekend.

    I’m always preaching about the restorative powers of spending time outside, and this ethos was so well championed throughout the festival. I was particularly impressed with Timber Festival’s commitment to sustainability, and it really made me rethink some of my own recycling and environmentally friendly habits. I was acutely aware of just how much plastic we’d brought with us – from the plastic wrapper around our apples to our disposable water bottles, and it’s really made me reaffirm and re-evaluate my approach. It was brilliant to see so many drinking water taps around the site, much needed and appreciated in the heat, the bars operated using reusable cups (we didn’t return ours as we wanted to keep them as souvenirs and reuse at home!) and there was a definite emphasis on the use of public transport.

    The Atmosphere

    I’ve been trying to boil it down to a simple sentence that explains what it is I loved so much about Timber. But I’m finding it hard to surmise the atmosphere cohesively, and in a way that doesn’t sound contradictory.

    You see… it was calm, but energetic. It was quiet, but riotously musical. It was magical yet grounded. The weekend filled me with a sense of wonder, whilst encouraging me to wander.  It was welcoming, friendly and encouraging. It was both gentle and full-on. It was just our cup of tea.

    We enjoyed trying our hand at woodwork (LPD made the most impressive rounders bat!), making a green man mask from oak leaves and watching nature inspired performances (particularly The Lost Words: Seek Find Speak during which Pickle incredibly said bluebell!). The mix of activities on offer really appealed to us and nothing felt out of place or incongruous. It all just pieced nicely together.

    The Campsite

    I was really pleased with the camping field. It was a little on a hill, so most tents were pitched on a slight angle, but there was plenty of room and we had no trouble finding somewhere big enough to fit our rather large Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent. The walk from the car park to the camping field was fairly hilly, and a bit of a struggle in the heat whilst trying to keep a spirited toddler in check but hiring a Rainbow Barrow for £5 definitely made it easier!

    The one thing that has prevented me from attending festivals in the past has been the thought of long queues for dodgy portaloos and the lack of showers, but the facilities at Timber Festival were plentiful, clean and well looked after. I only had to queue once for the toilet (and that’s because I chose to favour the posh cabin loos) and the showers were so good I had two on Sunday!

    The campsite was really family friendly – there wasn’t any rowdy behaviour and I didn’t hear any late night shenanigans. We could still hear some of the music wafting over from the forest which was quite nice (loud enough to be heard but not loud enough to prevent little ones getting to sleep!) and it helped us feel like we weren’t missing out too much by being back at the tent with Pickle.

    The Music

    The downsides of running around after a toddler all weekend meant we barely had chance just to sit and enjoy a whole music set, but we rather enjoyed listening to the music in an atmospheric way. That said, a band called Stables were playing whilst we sat and had an ice cream and both LPD and I really liked them: an alt-Folk duo from London. We caught them on the main Nightingale Stage and then managed to see them play again later the same day on the glorious Eyrie stage, a stage nestled in the forest Canopy with a lovely charming yet ethereal feel to it. I’ve been listening to them a lot on Spotify ever since!

    We also heard some really cool music sounding out around the trees from a quirky sounding band called Perhaps Contraption. A high-energy brass band with a difference! Quirky, almost cartoonish and definitely unique.

    Both bands will also be playing at Just So Festival.

    The Food

    Most of the food trucks and outlets were in the Field Notes section of the festival, and it’s where we spent a lot of our time – either sitting in the little pockets of shade around the edge of the field or grabbing a drink in the bar tent. Although it was a little bit set apart from the main festival, there was also the loveliest crepe food stand by the campsite too – Cosy Rosie’s. We bought a savoury pancake from there one evening for Pickle, but I wish we’d have had time to go back for a sweet one too.

    Very rarely for us, we consciously made the decision not to take our own meals with us for this festival. I’m usually a big advocate of bringing food from home and cooking for yourself whilst camping, but with the heat of the weather a threat to keeping any fresh food chilled and the thought of having to lug our rather heavy double camping stove and kitchen unit from the car, I decided treating ourselves to some of the food on offer was a wise move.

    And it really was. There was a brilliant array on offer, covering all sorts of dietary requirements and tastes. We went for flatbreads on Saturday night from The Allotment (I had a sweet potato fritter filling and LPD had steak, obviously). We also bought Pickle a Kids Meal with halloumi bites but he was in such a wild mood and ended up chucking all of his food and most of ours on the floor. Cheers, kid. What we managed to eat though was delicious, and we followed it up Sunday night with a cheeky non-Slimming World friendly burger.

    And we had more than our fair share of ice creams to help cool off in the heat!

    For Children

    Although Timber Festival is a family-friendly festival, there weren’t many events especially scheduled for really little ones – that’s more the remit of the Just So Festival, which is also run by Wild Rumpus. That didn’t really matter though, as Pickle was in his element just running around the open spaces (particularly up and down the big hill in front of the Nightingale Stage) and playing in the dirt and wood chips.

    We did get ourselves up and out early on Sunday morning to take part in a Bhangra Tots session – which was absolutely brilliant! Pickle loves to have a boogie at home so we thought he’d really enjoy taking part but he was a little bemused by it all, preferring to sit and eat an apple and watch us adults go for it instead. I can’t remember the name of the man who instructed us, but he was wonderful! The best way to start the day, for sure.

    It was also a shame that Pickle wasn’t really the right age for the Hammer and Chisel play area too – which I LOVED the idea of. Children were encouraged to build their own playground, hammering with real nails and mallets to make seesaws, bridges and floors. Allowing children to be so hands on, creative and responsible is really beneficial, and I loved walking past and seeing the play area change and grow over the course of the weekend. Give Pickle a few years, and he’ll be having a whale of a time in there. Although, I might need to rein in any helicopter parent tendencies I have!

    Our Favourite Bits

    If I could have spent all day and night around the campfire listening to Ian Douglas tell stories, I would have done. What an enthralling, engaging and witty storyteller he is. I’m not surprised that his timeslots around the campfire were always well attended. Sadly, Pickle is still a bit too young to sit and listen but we sat when we could at the back whilst he occupied himself with sticks and twigs and playing with handfuls of dirt.

    We also heard the tail end of a fun story told by Mike Payton, and I loved hearing the audience’s suggestions on which household item they’d kills frogs with. I’d have said spatula.

    I also loved the Bewonderment Machine. A little cycle-powered woodland inspired merry-go-round for two to six year olds, helping to inspire love and kindness for animals and wildlife. Pickle and I sat together, hitching a ride on a family of badgers, and he loved pretending to feed them with the bark and giving them a little stroke and tickle behind their ears before the ride began.

    The board games tent was right up our street too! We spotted some of our favourites in there: Catan and Ticket to Ride but we used Pickle’s naptime as the perfect chance to try a new game: Patchwork. Apparently, it’s been rating as the most challenging two player board game on the market and (once you get past the slightly twee subject of trying to make the biggest patchwork quilt with lots of buttons), I can see why. It’s quite a cleverly disguised strategy game that I’d definitely play again.

    By far, Pickle’s favourite attraction was the Museum of the Moon. A huge seven metre in diameter installation of the Moon rigged in the trees and held in place with guy ropes. Moon is one of the few words Pickle can say, so he was so excited to see it and pointed with delight every time we went to visit. I couldn’t decide what it was he liked more – the moon itself, or the feeling of getting lots of attention whilst he stood underneath and everyone gathered around. He particularly enjoyed copying whatever poses other people did whilst stood in front or underneath the Moon, which did make me giggle.

    What We Learned

    It was definitely a learning curve going to our first festival. I don’t think it would be that much of a shock to the system if you were visiting without children, but as we all know, going anywhere with little people requires a lot more additional planning and preparation. Here’s what we’re glad we’ve now learned for next time:

    • Don’t take anything more than you absolutely need – you’ll resent carrying anything from the car to the tent that you don’t end up using.
    • Wild Rumpus, the company behind Timber Festival, also run the very successful Just So Festival which has even more activities and fun for little ones. I hadn’t heard of this festival before, but we heard so many other families recommend it that it’s now firmly planted on my ‘must-visit’ list, whether that’s a sneaky last minute booking for this year, or waiting until next year. I think Pickle is going to love it!
    • We want a festival trolley. One that we can wheel Pickle round in, and snuggle him into for naptimes and in the evenings. I’ve been googling reviews and different types ever since we returned. I’ve convinced myself that we need one. And that it’ll be a very worthwhile investment.
    • Triple check your camping pitch before you leave. Somehow, we managed to lose LPD’s phone between packing up the tent and arriving back at home. I’m fairly sure it’s lying forlorn in the camping field.

    Would We Go Again?

    Absolutely. In fact, I can’t wait. I’ve already signed up to the Timber Festival eNews to make sure we’re the first to hear about next year’s dates and ticket booking, and I’d definitely recommend doing the same to anyone who is contemplating their first festival experience to do the same. It was a perfect, gentle introduction to festival-going, and a wonderfully safe environment for families. You can find out more information over on the Timber Festival website.

    Disclaimer: we were invited to attend Timber Festival for the purposes of reviewing it. All content, opinions and views remain my own and are, as always, 100% honest.

    Don’t Just Take My Word For It

    If you’d like to read more Timber Festival, here’s a list of some of the other reviews I’ve seen:

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Culture, Days Out, Lifestyle, Reviews, UK Travel
    / July 12, 2018
  • The strawberry plants at Clive's Fruit Farm are raised off the ground - a toddler's paradise to run underneath them!

    PYO Strawberries at Clive’s Fruit Farm, Worcestershire

    I’ve always loved the idea of fruit picking, but always seem to miss when the fruit picking farms are open – or maybe I just haven’t been playing close enough attention. This year, I was determined not to miss it and so on a rare Saturday when we had no plans, I packed us a picnic and we set the sat nav to Upton on Severn, Worcestershire for a visit to Clive’s Fruit Farm.

    Where is Clive’s Fruit Farm?

    The farm itself is just outside of Upton on Severn, very close to the Malvern Hills. Most of the route is the same way we’d travel to Ross-on-Wye and there’s something about that whole area that I just find simply beautiful. It was a little further away than we first thought, but it gave Pickle a chance to have a good snooze, and once we got off the M5, the views either side of the car were gorgeous. It’s the stomping ground of my fellow Johnson’s Baby Ambassador Danielle who blogs at Someone’s Mum – how lucky is she to live there?

    [Google_Maps_WD id=4 map=3]

    When we arrived, we found a spot to park (the car park doesn’t seem to be the biggest, considering how busy I can imagine it must get at peak times) but I did see a sign for additional parking. Pickle was still a little sleepy, so he cuddled up to me and we carried him over to the main fruit picking field.

    Strawberries, Raspberries and Cherries

    We picked up a couple of punnets, and went in search of the day’s best strawberries although there were also raspberries and cherries available for picking too. The first few poly tunnels were filled with raspberries, so we kept venturing down until we hit the strawberry tunnels. There were signs to point you in the direction of where the best crop was, but with a toddler running riot through the rows, it was difficult to keep track of where we were, and we often found ourselves in the zones that were taped off for future fruit picking days. Whoops.

    Whilst the raspberry plants grew right from the floor, the strawberry plants were kept higher off the ground – which allows for much easier picking for adults, but makes it a bit trickier for toddlers. Pickle did still manage to pick some himself, but I think we’d have been better off trying a farm with the plants on the ground at this age.

    It was a scorcher of a day when we visited, so I was worried the poly tunnels might make the heat excruciating but it didn’t seem to make the temperature rise which was good, and would make for good shelter if you visited on a day without clear skies. We had to walk through a few rows with little in the way of strawberries to pick until we came across more – I was a little worried we’d arrived too late in the day and would be disappointed, but it just took some time to find the right section!


    You are allowed to sample the fruit as you go along (it’s a good job – I mean, try stopping a toddler… Pickle just wanted to eat them as soon as he’d picked them!), but at long as you don’t go mad. It is a business after all, and the price you pay is worth the experience and a punnet of the sweetest, tastiest fruit I’ve ever eaten.

    Little Pickle’s Dad whizzed round, filling up his punnet in no time at all, but Pickle and I took our time. In the heat of the midday sun and probably feeling very ready for lunch, he asked to be picked up for a cuddle and then snuggled in. I knew then it was time to head out over to a shady spot for our picnic. With one a half punnets of strawberries, we made our way up to the weighing station, paid for our fruit and found a spot by the park.

    What else is there at Clive’s Fruit Farm?

    After our picnic, and once we’d had our fill of our delicious strawberries, we let Pickle have a little go on the park – although, he was perhaps a little young for it. Clive’s Fruit Farm has a cute little playground with a slide (too hot to slide down this weekend, but that didn’t stop Pickle climbing the stairs to the top), a climbing wall and bigger climbing frame. There were a couple of little rocking horse seats and a proper tractor to sit on which was very popular. Just as we were about to leave, we spotted a little animal feeding section, and had a quick gander!

    The Farm Shop

    We couldn’t resist buying a two pint bottle of ‘Wobble Juice’ cider from the onsite farm shop (mainly because you could help yourself by filling a milk carton with cider from a huge great big barrel. It goes without saying that once I’d turned the tap off, LPD couldn’t resist having a fiddle of it and ending up wasting a good half pint into the bucket below. Typical.

    I’d definitely go strawberry picking again, and although Clive’s Fruit Farm was quite a journey for us (about a 50 minute drive), the surrounding area is so lovely that it makes for a gorgeous trip out. We finished off our afternoon by popping into nearby National Trust park Croome, which was only 10 minutes down the road. Another time, I’d quite like to try a fruit farm where the strawberry plants are on the ground, but I’m guessing Pickle will be just that bit taller next year anyway.

    Visit their website to find out more about Clive’s Fruit Farm, or let me know where else you’d recommend for parents wanting to go fruit picking in the West Midlands. If you’re planning to visit, be sure to check their website, Facebook page or ring the PYO hotline (01684 592664) to make sure they have crop to pick before you go.

    Aged 2+, Countryside, Days Out, Parenting
    / July 2, 2018