The Nozstock Festival clock is ticking down

21 t0 23rd July sees the 19th Nozstock festival and we can’t wait. Not only does it herald the end of term, but we’re returning after a heart scare last year (I’m okay, don’t worry!), so it will be extra epic.

As well as the artists already announced, like the headlining Happy Mondays and Seasick Steve, new acts like The Sugarhill Gang, Hayseed Dixie, Levelz, Ferocious Dog, Goldie Lookin’ Chain, The Baghdaddies, Le Galaxie, Freestylers and Benny Page have been announced. If you wonder how epic some of those acts are, this is my last experience of Le Galaxie:


It’s funny but one of the things I really like about Nozstock (one of the many actually) is discovering new music. It’s not all about the big bands you’ll hear on the radio or get pointed to on Spotify, if it was I wouldn’t have discovered Le Galaxie, the Computers or the rather niche sub genre of Chap Hop. The boutique feel of the festival is such that just strolling around and discovering new music is great fun.

The Kids Wonderland area is looking good this year too:

Nozstock The Hidden Valley’s Little Wonderland Kid’s Area features a vibrant spectrum of children’s entertainment this summer. The festival embraces a whole family festival experience from beginning to end, and this is a friendly welcoming environment for both parents and little ones alike. All events and activities are free of charge in the Little Wonderland Kid’s Area across the whole weekend, as the festival always strongly believes families shouldn’t foot the bill for festival fun.

There’s even a bottle warming service! Nozstock’s Little Wonderland Kid’s Area this summer includes: Spare Room Arts; Glittery, gluey art boxes; Let’s Go Fly A Kite; Surreal Frames; Marvellous Masks; Wacky sunglasses; Fantastic flip flops; Festival Fashions; Bandhani Tie Dye T Shirts; That’s not a pot! Or is it?; See the world upside down; Freedom of expression table; The Theatre of Endless Possibilities!; Surreal Sculptural Headdresses; face painting; temporary tattoo workshop; Adults & Kiddie Yoga & Meditation; interactive story telling; and Chill Out Corner.

Sitting down and Taking Five with Ned this Father’s Day in support of FFA UKs Take Five campaign

Like kids, financial fraud never takes a day off, so when the little rascals are playing tricks to get their own way, FFA UK is encouraging men across the UK to be on high alert this Father’s Day, as the best fraudsters are known to most likely to take advantage when we have our guard down!
To emphasise how vulnerable men really are to being tricked, FFA UK commissioned bespoke research with One Poll to a sample of 1,000 children aged 6-12 years to show how easily Dads can be tricked by their children.
The top five ways our mini masters manipulate their dads are:                          
  1. Smiling sweetly (41%)
  2. Offering a hug (40%)
  3. Saying please and thank you (35%)
  4. Trying to make Dad laugh (20%)
  5. Saying they’ve done well at school (15%)
It seems in many cases kids aren’t acting alone, with 35% saying they team up with their Mum to trick their Dad. Favourite phrases to reel in Dad include, “Mum said I could” (43%) and “Mum always lets me” (33%) which shows that kids are already savvy enough to play the adults against each other to try and get what they want.
Despite it seeming that many men are a push over, when it comes to financial fraud many believe they are unlikely or highly unlikely to fall victim, despite national figures showing that 31% are caught out each year. Over two-third (67%) of men believe it will never happen to them as they are confident they know what they are doing when it comes to avoiding financial scammers.
FFA UK is asking the public to help protect themselves from financial fraud by remembering some simple advice:
  • Never disclose security details, such as your PIN or full banking password
  • Don’t assume an email, text or phone call is authentic
  • Don’t be rushed – a genuine organisation won’t mind waiting
  • Listen to your instincts – you know if something doesn’t feel right
  • Stay in control – don’t panic and make a decision you’ll regret
Or you could even take Ned’s approach…
For more information visit
Twitter: @TakeFive

Xbox One X launch- some thoughts from a parent

Every year there is a big Tech Expo in America called E3. Lots of companies announce cool stuff and this year Microsoft announced a new Xbox; the Xbox One X. This is the third iteration of the Xbox One, behind the original launch model and the Xbox One S, which was a smaller form factor, supported 4K BD playback and had a boost in performance. The Xbox One X is an entirely different kettle of fish though, it has a massive boost in performance and really heralds the start of 4K gaming on consoles.

4K, also known as UHD, is becoming more ubiquitous in television sets. It’s now possible to pick a good (branded) 50 inch 4K telly for around £500, and given a year of two, the older style of HD television will be harder to find in stores. It isn’t all about the resolution though.

If you don’t have a 4K telly, the Xbox One X has several tricks up it’s sleeve to keep you keen. Firstly it’s entirely backwards compatible with the Xbox One and Xbox One S games and peripherals. Remember when you used to upgrade to a new console and had to by all new controllers and add ons? No more. It can also use it’s extra power to make games smoother on a standard HD TV. This is done by upping the frame rate and fixing the resolution at 1080P, something that the PS4 Pro (Sony’s updated version of the PS4) does but given how much more powerful the Xbox One X is (50% more graphical power, 50% more memory), it will be much more of a noticeable step up. View Full Post

Parenting with the Blackberry Keyone

It is an unremarked upon truth of modern life that one of the most important tools in parenting children is actually a  smartphone. And I don’t just mean for those parenting fails of reading twitter when you’re supposed to be watching the class play or Facebooking during sports day, but the important stuff around organising after school activities, play dates, catching that cute photo moment or emailing the school to say a night of projectile vomiting means the eldest won’t be in today.

Blackberry sent me a Blackberry Keyone, their new Android smartphone with all the goodness of Blackberry, including a physical keyboard, to roadtest and I thought it would be an ideal experiment to see if it could replace my existing phone and better it in everything that I use it for. First impressions were good; the leather back was classy, the keyboard harked back to the days when I could type properly on my phone without the predictive text getting overly confused. It’s not the thinnest phone around, instead it bucks the obsession with thin in favour of a focus on usability and longevity which is unusual but nice to see.

With an Android Wear 2.0 smart watch, the Huawei W1, and a Xiaomi smartband bluetoothed to my phone, along with a pair of BT Creative wireless headphones, I’ve got plenty going on when it comes to notifications and battery drain, so seeing how the Blackberry Keyone holds up to it’s claim of all day+ battery life will be interesting. View Full Post

We all need to be inspired once in a while

Sophie was in poetry writing mode yesterday after studying Michael Rosen’s poem “Don’t” in class. Everyone had their own go at writing their own verse but my lovely daughter wanted to go one better and so when she got home, she wrote her whole version, asked me to video it and tweet it to Mr Rosen himself.

Well hats off to you Sophie, well done and here it is:


Creepy stuff in the loft


I wasn’t even aware this jigsaw belonged to “me” when we were sorting out some stuff in the loft the other day. Is it me or were the 1970’s just a bit crazy?

Somewhere, someone set up a load of highly flammable (and possibly homemade) soft toys in a pin the tail on the donkey scene, resplendent with party food and more than a little essence of childhood nightmare. View Full Post

Communication breakdown

Last week I managed to have one conversation than spanned two Twitter DM accounts, text message, AND Facebook messenger. It was confusing and exhausting and not my fault. Now I’m sitting at my desk at work, fielding passive aggressive emails from my 8 year old about her older brother who tricked her in to turning the PS4 off and then jumped on it himself when she left the room. I’m messaging him through the PSN (Playstation Network) chat facility, using my PS4 account via a web browser and telling him to turn it off. I can tell he hasn’t as it is still showing him as online and the tricksy little sod hasn’t worked out how to appear offline yet. I imagine at his end he keeps on getting irritating pop ups that are slightly spoiling his game.

Fingers crossed. View Full Post

Don’t go “banking” on a holiday

The bank holiday weekend saw us busier than I can remember us being over a three day period. It certainly wasn’t a holiday as we worked our way through a fairly major reorganisation of our garage conversion.

When we had the garage converted about 7(?) years ago, we had it made in to three rooms- a play room which lead to a utility room, on to the old extension on the back of the garage which was our library. This didn’t really work as the library, right at the end of the house, became a dumping ground for stuff that didn’t have a home, and the playroom, effectively a corridor, wasn’t the most conducive place for kids to play.

So with a bit of jigging around, we now have an end room that’s better as a play/games room, and our library in the “corridor”. Not that it being a corridor is an issue, because I happen to think it looks pretty good:

It’s amazing what five and a half IKEA Billy bookcases can do for a room. To be honest they were a bit of an indulgence as we had some in the old room but they were in a couple of instances about 14 years old and were getting a bit tatty. One or two of the shelves were excessively bowed from having triple stacked books on them, so I felt it was time to replace them. Fair thee well trusted Billys! It was interesting to see how the design has changed over the years. That is actually a lie, it’s not that interesting.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the kids wrecking everything- I took plenty of pictures before they trashed it all…

Diary of the Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

The original three Wimpy Kid movies are firm favourites in our house, so the news of a belated fourth (I won’t call it a reboot, it’s just a new film with a different cast; the original kids all probably have hipster beards now) movie was met with a mixture of glee and trepidation in our house.

Glee, because Wimpy Kid books and movies and fun, trepidation because we don’t like change, and a whole new cast is a lot to handle.

Fortunately from the moment we sat down in the cinema, looking at the movie poster up on the screen, we knew we were in safe hands. The Heffley’s car even had the license plate DWK 04- a nod to the fact there had been three previous Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies and this was the fourth. View Full Post

That’s one hell of a playlist

We drove in to London yesterday to attend a screening of the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie, The Long Haul (expect a review tomorrow or the day after). The car ride itself wasn’t particularly memorable other than the roads being more quiet than typical for a Sunday morning, but the radio provided some unexpected entertainment.

I have my car radio tuned in to Absolute Radio (Virgin Radio in old money) and they were playing their usual mixture of 90’s onward rock. This annoys my wife as I’m not down with it (her car is tuned to Radio 1) but I’m too old and too set in my ways to change.

Things took a turn for the surreal when we got to Staples Corner. I’ve always had a soft spot for Depeche Mode’s Violator album but not to the point I’ll inflict it on others, so image my surprise when Personal Jesus came on and the boy started singing along to it. By the second verse his sister had joined in. I’m struggling to think where they could have heard it before; they’ve probably heard the Johnny Cash version on his America IV album (they also love Hurt from that album too) but they nailed it pretty perfectly. View Full Post