31 August 2013

The National Trust for children {Blickling Hall}

As a child I have many memories of being dragged around stuffy stately homes by my parents, many of which belonged to the National Trust. I wouldn't say I hated going to these places, I always loved the outdoor spaces they provided, but the houses were never -  how can I put it? - welcoming for youngsters. Sometimes it felt like I dare not move for fear of knocking something over or I dare not make a sound for fear of being shushed at. Fortunately this has changed, a lot, as we now find ourselves as parents dragging our two around the same places! A favourite of mine has always been Blicking Hall, near Aylsham, in Norfolk.

Blickling Hall, Norfolk National Trust

I recently took the kiddies to Norfolk and we spent a lot of time on the beaches but I also took them to Blickling where we loved exploring the gardens, testing the sun dial, riding the statues, playing in the park, exploring the artefacts, sketching in the Long Gallery, giving dogs sticks, finding beautiful hydrangeas, walking through the orchard and playing with large garden games in the grounds. The children also completed two trails around the extensive house where National Trust volunteers were more than happy to help and chat with them - this is a definite change for the better since I went as a child.

26 August 2013

Death and 'What ifs?'

Just over two weeks ago it happened.

We were oblivious, busy enjoying the sunshine in the garden.

A whole day spent outside painting my shack with Edith. I cannot recall the last time I stayed in the garden for so long.

So why didn't we hear anything?

What if the husband hadn't fired up the noisy lawn mower in the morning?

What if we had looked across the garden more closely?

What if I wasn't enjoying myself so much and chatting and laughing with Edith?

What if we had noticed that the tinkering in the workshop had stopped?

What if we had questioned why the van was still there but there was no sign of him outside?

What if the dogs had barked and raised the alarm?

What if the last sound he heard was us enjoying ourselves?

What if that freezing cold blanket of air that wrapped around me at lunchtime made me question why?

What if we hadn't joked about ghosts and wondered more?

What if I actually went round to ask for that help I wanted to fix my shack?


Maybe, just maybe we would have found him earlier.

Maybe, just maybe we could have helped.

Instead we were helpless and I feel haunted.

And so, so sorry.


We said goodbye with his family and loved ones giving him the most beautiful send off. Selfishly I hoped that would be closure but still I cannot erase that afternoon, that moment of realisation, that face.

I went out after the funeral and got far too drunk in his past local, sat on a stool crafted by him, felt guilty for relaxing.

I jump at noises in the night, get anxious being at home, dread going outside in the garden.

We were so close but too far away to help.

I'm so sorry.

Death and 'What ifs?'

Sleep peacefully Rich.

x x x



24 August 2013

Norfolk Beach Life

Norfolk Beach Life - Melksham Mum

Last week I set off with the kiddies to Norfolk. The only adult. I braved the 5+ hour jaunt along the M4, round the M25 and up the long arduous A11 back to my home county.

It's a trip we don't make often enough - probably due to the 5+ hour plus jaunt along the..... You get the point.

It's always a worthwhile one though. Especially with the weather we had this last week. It was perfect for doing what I like to do best of all when returning to Norfolk...hitting the beaches!

We had sand in our sandwiches, sand in our hair - and ears - for days, flew our kite, met up with family who we don't see enough, ate fish and chips, dug holes, built sandcastles, made dams, created beach art, went swimming  - in the dunes*, went paddling in the sea, caught the sun and turned a lovely shade of brown - the children, caught the sun and went freckly - me, sat in giant deckchairs, walked the sea wall from Wells beach to the harbour, rode the train from Wells harbour back to the beach, ate rock, ate huge ice creams, discovered a 'new' beach at Winterton-on-sea, read most of a book whilst the children built a wall around the beach tent, watched a fishing boat chug back and forth, watched the tide fill the harbour scarily fast, let the wind blow away our worries and slept the best I had in a long time.

23 August 2013

Memories of Summer {Camp Bestival}

Yes, I know, Summer is still with us but still I don't know where the past month has gone. One minute I'm madly packing for Camp Bestival and planning camping and trips to Norfolk. The next, I'm sat at home thinking I must get some school shoes sorted. Soon.

But for now I'm looking back.

Back to the moments that are building my memories of Summer 2013.

Camp Bestival clearly dominates the memories for all of us; the music, the food, the creativity, the relaxation, meeting old friends and making new ones, watching Edith's confidence blossom and so much more.

I tried to be creative and wrap up our memories in my own Camp Bestival video montage highlights but this one from the wagamama lounge is a bit more professional and captures loads of what Camp Bestival is about!

So, tell me, what are your memories of Summer 2013?

Enjoy, and watch out for Hoshi the bunny!

x x x

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post but the words are my own.

17 August 2013

The Big Feastival 2013 {preview}

Following our successful jaunt down to Lulworth for Camp Bestival earlier this month we have wanted to see some more family festivals in action. Therefore, at the end of August, we are heading over to Alex James' farm in The Cotswolds for his annual collaboration with Jamie Oliver....The Big Feastival. Checking out the website it looks like a great family festival with the added bonus of a heavy emphasis on food!

The setting looks rather impressive with camping open from Friday 30th August to Monday 2nd September but if you're not a camper - or like us, have work commitments disrupting the weekend - then day tickets are available.

We are going to be heading over for the Saturday and will be entertained by the likes of Dodgy, Rizzle Kicks and Basement Jaxx but will miss the Sunday music from Mark Owen, KT Tunstall and The Feeling. The full line-up is here.

Live music at The Big Feastival

Food wise it looks like we are in for a real selection of treats - clearly my diet has slipped this summer and I'll be putting it on hold for this anyway! Festival goers will be invited down 'Street Food Alley' where they will find *takes a deep breath* four of Jamie Oliver's restaurants, Bhangra burgers, meatballs and more from The Bowler, Mexican Street Food from Margo and Rita, healthy stuff from Rainbo, food with an ethical conscience from Shack Food Co, Taiwanese buns from Yum Bun, Adam Henson's Pie and Ale, seafood from Café Mor, children's focus with Coco Dining, Higgidy Pies, exotic meats from Outback Burger, Paellaria and Pizza Pilgrims!
How am I going to sample all of that in one day?!

Food at The Big Feastival

As with any decent family festival the children have not been forgotten and my two will have the Little Dudes Den to keep them busy with face painting, story telling, dancing and vintage funfair. The Workshop looks like it will appeal to me and Edith as it promises an opportunity to get seriously creative and a little bit messy and Bar Stars is somewhere for the grown ups to sample a variety of tipples - our designated driver is yet to be decided. Watch this space!

So, we have something to look forward to in order to wrap up our amazing Summer of 2013.

Here's the boys enjoying themselves last year...

If any of that has tickled your taste buds and you want more information check out the Feastival Info page here.

x x x
Disclaimer: I am receiving a family day pass in return for a preview and review of The Big Feastival 2013. As always my comments and opinions will be my own and will be open and honest.

16 August 2013

Camping at Greenacres {aka space to clear your head}

At the beginning of the summer the children created a Summer Bucket List upon which was the wish to go camping at the amazing Greenacres Campsite near Pilton in Somerset. I say amazing because Greenacres takes it back to basics and above all gives the children that all important space; space to run, space to play, space to be free. I'm going to add to that - it gives the adults that all important space; space to run, space to play, space to be free and space to clear the head....
Greenacres Campsite - space!

This trip gave me the added confidence that we did it alone, just me and the kiddies. We demonstrated excellent teamwork at putting up the tent...

9 August 2013

Camp Bestival 2013 {video}

Camp Bestival 2013 Video Montage
Last week we were out having the best 5 days away in a tent and enjoying the outdoor life. No TV, no iPads, no distractions - even my phone was off.
I've written loads about it but sometimes you don't want to scroll through pictures or read too many words so just for you here's my Camp Bestival 2013 in video form.

If you would like to scroll through some lovely pictures of Camp Bestival 2013 then click here or if you'd like to have a jolly good read about it click here!
I'm linking up to the awesome Country Kids, just click the pic...
x x x
Disclaimer: I received a family ticket in return for a review of this year's festival. As always I will give a fair and honest opinion.

6 August 2013

Camp Bestival 2013 Review

Camp Bestival 2013 Review - Melksham Mum

Having attended the lovely Camp Bestival for the last four years, beginning in 2010 when the kiddies were four and two, our festival experiences and expectations have evolved and every time we discover new things - and maybe forget to do others. Each year we have gone our situation has been different; in 2010 it was us as a young family with another young family, 2011 saw the same two families plus friends without children, 2012 it was just me, the kiddies and my niece and 2013 we were back to the same set up as 2010 - although I set up and de-camped without the husband as he attended from Friday evening to Sunday lunchtime.

Once again we set off on the Thursday and arrived on site around 1 p.m. having had no problems with traffic flow on arrival. As the children were that bit older we decided to camp closer to the action so loaded up the trusted Phil & Teds and took our first of just two loads - I packed better this year! - through Yellow Camping, down the major hill and set ourselves up on flat ground in the Purple Camping area. About two minutes walk away were the standard campsite toilets with showers nearby plus a breakfast bar and coffee stand. Just a quick note on the toilets - they were regularly emptied but always make sure you have toilet roll and hand sanitiser as these weren't always replaced quickly enough. Just to say, this year saw the first pay to use flushable toilets with hand washing facilities positioned near the castle on the main festival site. The cost? £2 a go or a re-entry wristband for £20 - certainly puts the emphasis on 'spend a penny'. I'm still torn over this. Fair enough if you seriously cannot face portaloos but it is a festival and be warned, there were queues for these loos too!

The first area of the festival site was open on the Thursday evening allowing you to begin to get a feel of the place and get your bearings. Every year the site is laid out in a similar way with The Kids' Garden, Castle Field, Magic Meadow, Dingly Dell, Freesports Park and Soul Park but within these areas there are extra additions and changes in tents and activities to keep you on your toes. So there is plenty going on to keep everyone happy. One thing we have got better at each year is striking the balance of activities to suit everyone so I ensured the kiddies had highlighted the things they wanted to see and do and ditto for myself and the husband. We planned to do things together, with our friends and also without the children. The husband had time on his own watching the mountain bikes at the Freesports Park, I had a night out with my friend - as well as a well planned bar meet up with fellow bloggers - the children got their craft and play fix and we all got to see the music and acts we wanted to. All in all a well executed plan! Obviously, things will get forgotten and you can't fit everything in. This year we never got round to going into the wonderful Dingly Dell which is a beautiful place full of activities and drama - a night time walk through is particularly mystical - but we all left on the Monday morning feeling satisfied!

Art Town Camp Bestival 2013

5 August 2013

Camp Bestival 2013 {in pictures}

Camp Bestival 2013 {in pictures} - Melksham Mum

Well, we're back from our fourth excursion to the grounds of Lulworth Castle in Dorset and our time at Camp Bestival 2013 has added to the great memories we are collecting from there. Year on year our experiences have changed as the kiddies grow older. This year though I think we got the balance just right!

I took the kiddies on Thursday travelling in convoy with friends and hubs joined us on Friday evening, and left Sunday lunchtime - something about work and business commitments, I say convenient timing! But it worked! The kiddies' teamwork skills shone through in the pitching and de-camping of the tent and the long trek from the car to our camping base laden down with backpacks and blankets - they did me proud!

Another thing I love about Camp Bestival is its ability to bring out the confidence in Edith. She is, like me, shy but this year she chased down a fairy for a hug, stared out a half naked Australian male fairy and joined me and my friend front row for our musical highlight of Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip. She did me proud. And as for Alban, he had a ball meeting up with his bestie for wrestling matches on the Castle Field - don't ask!

Anyhow, for now here are my photo memories of just some of our best bits from Camp Bestival 2013...

Camp Bestival 2013 - Melksham Mum
© 76 sunflowers

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services - Click here for information.

Blogger Template Created by pipdig