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Activity Ideas Parenthood Travel

Bucket List: Into the Wild Summer Festival

So, this was an item I had added to the bucket list and then immediately regretted! I didn’t know how on earth I was going to manage two under 5s by myself for a whole weekend of camping. I didn’t even have any camping gear, so it was a quick stop at Decathlon for the basics (honestly, BASICs). I got a 3 person pop-up tent, an inflatable mattress, 3 sleeping bags, a lamp to hang inside the tent, some (not) glow in the dark tent pegs and a couple of blankets.


The day arrived and I was really having some doubts about the feasibility of it all, I wasn’t bringing any food and just hoping there would be enough food options to cater to our tastes, I barely packed enough clothes and was wondering if it would be too late to change my mind, but we got there and in no time at all set up camp. Everybody was so friendly and helpful, the boys enjoyed taking turns to hammer the pegs into the ground and put out their sleeping bags before we explored what the festival had to offer.


There was a programme of workshops and various activities, I didn’t get the chance to do any of them as busy shepherding the boys, but they enjoyed a few fairground type rides that were free for the first day (swings and trampolines), there was a circus tent with dressing up, face painters (the face paint looked awesome with their coloured hair) and an arts and crafts tent where they made some wings. Plenty of music to enjoy throughout the day and communal fires to sit around. Most of the food was vegan, which again wasn’t an issue for us but the boys do snack a lot and it ended up being quite expensive by the end of the day feeding their grazing habits.


The main attraction for me was that it was a drink and drug free event, which meant there was something quite pleasant and relaxing about drinking chai, listening to Nick Mulvey and dancing/singing along with a sleeping B in the sling. There was no real need to feel cautious about walking back to our tent in the dark which made for a very safe and enjoyable environment for me and the children. Children were very much welcome to be children and W made hordes of friends that ran around in little feral packs, whooping and hollering with items of clothing missing and face paint streaked faces.


A typical day for us involved waking up rather early, mad dash to the toilets before getting ready for the day (minus shower as these were out of order!). We filled up our water bottles and then walked through the ‘village’ through to the main site for a bowl of porridge in the Into the Wild cafe tent. A short kids yoga session or dance meditation to start the day right followed be a short walk to see what activity the boys wanted to do, ranging from chalk carving at the tinker station to making mandalas or upcycling. A quick snack and they were free to roam the play equipment; there was a pirate ship, sand pit, parachute and climbing frame, building up an appetite for lunch.


The temperature really rose in the afternoon so we would out the blankets out and have a little nap or go to the cafe tent for the storytelling sessions. Another chance to play or draw before dinner and then a chance to chill out in the main tent listening to an aural delights that were on offer for that evening. Overall it was a very relaxed affair, the children had a blast and I would definitely consider going back again, perhaps a little more prepared!


I paid £80 for my adult ticket which included parking, camping pitch and all workshops, the boys were free as under 5 so I’m not entirely sure how much a child ticket would have cost but that information wouldn’t be hard to find. There were a few issues with water and the sawdust toilets were fine for me but took a bit of getting use to for the boys as their favourite part of going to the toilet is flushing it!


I found out afterwards that Tom Hardy had also been at the festival and I’d missed my chance for a photo!

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Parenthood Travel

Does going on holiday without my children make me a bad mother? 

You may have recently read the Daily Mail (I know, I know!) article about the families that bring their nanny on holiday with them so that they can have a stress-free holiday, the children have fun and everybody is happy. Not according to the readers, some of the comments that I saw were in the region of “family holidays are just that, if you don’t want to spend time with your children you don’t deserve to have them.” Well I’m sorry DM readers, but I’m about to tell you one better. I have just been on holiday, WITHOUT my children and it was brilliant!


Firstly, I don’t agree with this whole concept of a ‘bad mother’ it takes very little for a mum to be brandished as a bad/inadequate parent, take my London Underground post for example. Whereas it takes very little for a dad to be a ‘good/hands on dad’. Thankfully I don’t really on internet strangers to affirm my parenting, I know that I’m a good parent, I’m exactly who they need me to be and part of that is being myself. Parenting is a full time, full on job, once you become a parent you understand what it is to truly love somebody and to give up your life for them, but that doesn’t mean you literally have to give up your life for them. I know some parents that have never had a night away from their children, even if it’s just to pop down to their local with a friend for a round or two, I’m talking parents of children in the 5yo region by the way. I can understand parents of very young children feeling anxious, but I must confess I had my first ‘night out’ to an Ann Summers party when W was 7 weeks old, B was 8 months old and still BFing when I went away for my first child free weekend, that was nearly 2 years ago now and I haven’t looked back.


This year I’ve been soaking up the sun in Ibiza, going out for amazing meals, meeting new people, have champagne at breakfast without it being frowned upon and drink sangria on the beach at midday, without having to run after two children who don’t understand the concept of lying on a beach or being unable to go out until 5am in the morning because I have to be back to relieve the babysitter. Now, in case you’re wondering child-free doesn’t mean that they are stuck at home twiddling their thumbs. They usually stay with a trusted relative that can manage W’s additional needs without feeling overwhelmed, I leave clear (strict) instructions which are usually ignored in favour of swimming every day, playing in the sun and getting spoilt rotten. We video call at every possible opportunity and I get sent updates with little photos and videos as requested, so that I can feel comfortable in the knowledge that they are happy, safe and secure.


For me as a single parent it’s a win win situation for all, the boys get a break from me and I get a break for them. We are in each other’s pockets 24/7, without another parent for them to bounce off or a partner to take the reins when I’m run down, this is our compromise. We all end up refreshed and happier for it, and I can’t see the harm in that.

Categories
Parenthood Travel

The Bucket List: Glamping at Cuckoo Down Farm, Devon

W will be starting school this year, I thought we could make the most of our time together before being beholden by term time for holidays and days out by writing out a bucket list of things he wants to do before starting school. The first item on our list was camping, in particular he wanted the experience of roasting marshmallows round a campfire. A quick Google search for glamping in Devon later, and I had booked us a last minute 4 night stay at Cuckoo Down Farm.

We arrived late afternoon to our gorgeous safari tent, Poppy. We were the only ones staying at the farm as it was term time but it meant that B and W were free to roam the glamping field without disturbing anybody. The card, wine and chocolate was a lovely welcoming touch. Our first night was definitely a learning curve as I discovered that I was inexperience in the art of wood burning stoves.

TOP TIP: Make sure you know how to use a wood burning stove or be prepared to ask for help, to avoid spending the first night snuggled together in PJs, jumpers, 3 pairs of socks and under plenty of blankets.

 We spent our first morning admiring the view from the barn; it held the fridges for each tent/yurt and shared freezers, showers (though we had our own hot shower and toilet at the back of our safari tent), washing machine and charging points for phones and lamps. I had finally got the wood burning stove working, which meant warm croissants for breakfast before exploring the 3 acres of woodland on the farm. W had brought his British Wildlife book on holiday with us in the hopes of finding some creepy crawlies, and B was convinced he had seen a flash of a rabbit in a blue coat (Peter Rabbit enthusiast!).

We had a lovely lunch at local pub, The Golden Lion Inn in Tipton St John. Everybody was incredibly friendly and helpful, the food was delicious and we were able to spend our afternoon walking along the nearby River Otter.

On Wednesday B and W had the opportunity to meet, brush and ride Ebony, the pony. We also met some newborn lambs, said hello to Honey, the goat and fed the chickens as well as collected some eggs for our dinner.

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I had packed a picnic lunch for us to take to Sidmouth, with plans to enjoy the Jurassic coastline and explore the pebbled beach pretending to be fossil hunters. However, it was so windy and unpleasant for us all, we resorted to seeking shelter in the car and returning to the farm to read books in front of the stove with warm milk and cookies. I also decided that tonight would be the night we had sausages around the campfire and toasted marshmallows much to their enjoyment!

Our last full day, I had considered the just under 2 hour drive to The Eden Project in Cornwall however after looking at the one the day prices and reading reviews online I settled on a linked site, The Lost Gardens of Heligan. We were graced with lovely sunny weather for what a magical day it turned out to be. Firm favourites were the Giant’s Head and Mud Maid sculptures within the 60acres of woodland. W also enjoyed crossing the Burmese Rope Bridge in the Jungle while I carried B across. It is recommended for over 5’s but I allowed W to cross anyway as it was a quiet term time day and he could take as much time as he needed to cross. We had lunch at one of the cafes where you could take your food outside and borrow one of the many picnic rugs available. We finished our day looking at the  calf, piglets, lambs and chicks in the barn, watching a lathe demonstration and exploring the gardens.

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Our last morning was spent enjoying warm croissants and porridge before the 4 hour drive home, we are all sad to go and it was an incredibly enjoyable experience for me, as I had had some reservations about taking them without another adult to help supervise/entertain. I would definitely consider glamping again in the future, but perhaps when they are old enough to help me with the wood burner!