Pseudo Sports Day


I’m already seeing people getting cross on Twitter. Twitter to be fair is good for that, it’s very easy to vent in front of a keyboard, something that the hot weather at the moment can only exacerbate, but in this instance the cross-getting is focused and in my opinion justified.

It’s getting towards the end of term so many schools are making use of what little field space hasn’t either been built on, turned into a car park or sold off for housing to have their sports day. All around the country kids are running aimlessly around, picking up bean bags, and generally doing stuff until someone blows a whistle and they move on to something else, with no conclusion or result to their activities. Our kids are a modern day Sisyphus but instead of pushing a rock up a hill and watching it roll back down, they’re running in circles to no purpose.

Nobody wins because it’s all designed so nobody loses.

It’s odd, when all our kids were at playgroup, they had sports days or Easter Bonnet competitions where some kids won a prize for doing better than other kids. Nobody died- no life was ruined forever but learning that valuable lesson that you can’t win all the time. I’ve written this post before, 4 years ago when the Boy started Nursery to be precise but nothing has changed.

Shame isn’t it?

Featured post: Travelling with children

We have three children and over the past eight years we have been on planes trains and automobiles with all of them. Some trips, like our trip to Lake Garda, have been more fraught than others- we got stuck in the airport for 3 hours and the boy filled himself up on sweets that lead to him being violently and repeatedly sick at cruising altitude, demanding that they stop the plane so he could get off. Still, it was an experience, and we are now much wiser as a result of it (top tip: the bottom CAN fall out of sick bags if there’s too much in them).

P1030091[1]The majority of the time we go anywhere, we go by car, so it’s always good to have a few pointers on car travel with kids. I think the biggest tip I have for car travel would be to carry a potty round in the car. Our eldest is eight but if you get stuck in a traffic jam and the urge for the loo comes over you, it doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or 80- you need to go. And yes, in lieu of a potty for the grown ups we have a bog in a bag. A huge cool bag of drinks, snacks and more snacks also accompanies us for longer trips, but don’t forget to put it in the back rather than the boot, otherwise you won’t be able to get to it very quickly. For the most part we manage to avoid gadgets in the car but it’s always handy to have a USB lighter adapter so you can pump Spotify through the car stereo when Kiddy Boppers vol.3 drives you up the wall without having to worry about your battery life.

My final car related tip is more dependent on your kids. Normally we arrange the seats so the smallest car seat is in the middle so it doesn’t obscure the rear visibility but it’s always good before you set off to see which of your brood currently can’t stand the sight of another of your offspring, and rearrange the seating so they’re not next to each other. This will save potential aggravation and might just make the whole trip less stress filled.

When it comes to other modes of transport, if you’re taking the train, a family railcard is essential. Ours paid for itself in about two trips as we got it during a special offer but if I take one of the kids with me on a day out in London, it’s cheaper with the child than without. Which doesn’t really make sense but there you go. If you’re venturing onto the Tube, it’s worth planning in advance and looking at the internet to see which stations are buggy friendly or you may have to struggle to get a pushchair up the stairs. Sometimes going an extra stop and walking a little bit when you get out can actually be much easier. Generally the Northern Line is very deep whilst the Circle, for example, runs a lot closer to the surface and in some instances isn’t even underground (an interesting piece of trivia is that only 45% of the Tube is actually underground).

Goodyear-Blimp[1]Of course if you’re off abroad the chances are you’ll take either a train or drive to the airport, so you can always factor in some of my tips for flying. The hardest thing at airports is the wait, and managing the wait without filling the kids up with sugar. Get them a book or a comic that they can’t look at on the journey and build their expectation of it for the airport departure lounge, that way it should keep them occupied for a least a little bit of the wait.

From our experiences of flying with kids, especially from Heathrow or Gatwick, it can sometimes be more beneficial to stay overnight in a nearby hotel, such as the Park Stay n Go. Even when you live as close to major airports as we do, getting there with your luggage can be a major hassle, especially if you have to check in hours before a flight. Sleeping overnight in the vicinity of the airport can make a real difference. Mind you, we got to have a flight on the Goodyear Blimp a few years ago, which was a real experience and one you’d be unlikely to find at any airport, so my final tip would definitely be to take any opportunities that come your way with open arms!



Disclosure: This is a featured post.

Must resist accumulation of tat


Yesterday we were up in central London in the afternoon for a Netflix event. The sausage rolls were brilliant but no trip in to London is now complete without a trip to Forbidden Planet, the big sci fi and fantasy store on Shaftsbury Avenue.

When I started going to Forbidden Planet as a nipper, it was just along from CentrePoint and mostly filled with bagged individual issues of old comics. Now it’s niche geeky toys, books, DVD and Blu Ray, and bound glossy omnibus comics (15 quid a pop usually).

There is a ritualised way we browse the store now (the boy is big on routine and ritual). It involves a clockwise tour of the upper floor, looking at the toys and tat, followed by a mooch around the comics and DVDs downstairs.

Secret Santa (possibly)

Secret Santa (possibly)

The Star Wars expresso cups pictured above were cool, and I spotted the works secret Santa gift too but in the end it wasn’t even the price that made me resist, it was the idea of accumulating more stuff. We have so little space to put everything we have as it is; we’re a family of hoarders and we all have it bad. I asked the boy yesterday what we could get rid of that he doesn’t play with any more and he looked me straight in the eye and said “Absolutely nothing” and it’s that approach that sees our wallowing in a sea of crapulance.

I suggested the other day that rather than looking at what to get rid of, we should look at what we wanted to keep. Who knows? It might just work.

Nozstock The Hidden Valley announces arts programming, kids entertainment and food and drink fayre

Ned enjoying himself at Nozstock 2014

Ned enjoying himself at Nozstock 2014

It’s now less than a month until we decamp to Herefordshire for our third visit to the Nozstock Festival. If you wondering what Nozstock is, it’s a boutique music festival set in the rolling hills of Herefordshire, if you want to know more about what I think about it, you can have a look here. Suffice to say, I like Nozstock (and I’ve done a lot of festivals in my time). Anyway, Nozstock has announced a lot of it’s non music stuff, which you can read about below:

The truly idyllic odyssey in the rolling Herefordshire Hills, Nozstock The Hidden Valley, has just revealed its vibrantly diverse arts programming, kids’ entertainment (for big kids too!) and its taste-bud tantalising food and drink fayre.

This includes enthralling theatre, jaw-dropping circus, side-splitting poetry, mesmerizing puppetry, moments of pure magic, cabaret, dance, pyrotechnics, acrobatics, outlandish opera, Star Wars homages (Nozstock’s fancy dress theme is The Nozstockers’ Guide To The Galaxy) and lots of interactive, experiential and experimental fun and games for everyone of all ages, from the surreal to the sublime and everything in-between.

Reaching its 17th year this July, Nozstock has got its biggest lineup yet; live acts at Nozstock include Wu-Tang Clan, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, Fuse ODG, Neville Staple Band, Beardyman, Hollie Cook, Molotov Jukebox, Will and The People, By The Rivers, The Mouse Outfit ft. Dr Syntax & Sparkz; DJs on the bill are DJ Hype, Hospitality featuring London Elektricity, Etherwood, Danny Byrd, Metrik, Krakota, Dynamite MC., Ed Rush and Optical, Dillinja, Congo Natty and many more, plus comedy led by Seann Walsh.