Archive of ‘Reviews’ category

Heinz Help a Busy Mother – No Added Sugar Hoops

heinz no sugar hoopz

Every mother feels their child is a wonderful, unique, precious Gem & they are, all of them. So let me tell you about mine.

At two Fred is…. Well, how can I say it? he’s strong willed. If Fred doesn’t want to do something, he won’t be doing it and as parents, we have resigned ourselves to that but we are busy. We are oh so busy. Aren’t you? So I’m going to be straight up with you, mealtimes can be stressful.

It’s fine for my partner. He’s a professional chef. He can grab 3 left overs from the fridge and make ANYTHING. I on the other hand, I’m a little bit more… well, I can make you anything you want on toast! So when Heinz recently sent Fred some of their no added sugar Hoops to try I knew I’d be working those cans into some mum/son meals.

You see Fred doesn’t like cereal. His Father has given him a hot, cooked breakfast since he could have solids and mornings with kids can be hectic so I’m not as good at watching the stove, watching the toddler and making sure we get ourselves out of the house on time but let me tell you, these Hoops made a hot breakfast a breeze.

heinz no added sugar hoopz

Fred munched down a portion of no added sugar Hoops with some toast and a bit of grated Caerphilly cheese and I managed to have a presentable face and outfit when I arrived at the office.

There is a great feeling that comes with giving your child a hearty breakfast. You feel like you’ve started the day on the right foot but these Hoops aren’t just restricted to your breakfast plates. A can of Hoops in the house makes a great staple for those nights when the cupboards are less than inspiring OR for those times when you’ve left it a little too late and you need to knock up a meal in minutes before your child turns into an extra from ‘Gremlins’. If this resonates with you, grab some Hoops!! You won’t regret it.

These Hoops have the same great tasting sauce that you remember but they use Stevia, a plant derived sweetener. Confession, I couldn’t tell the difference, these were just as I remembered from my childhood but as well as being out of the house on time, looking slightly human, I also had a little less guilt because I was giving him a better option!

So if you are after some cupboard staples that can get you out of a mealtime pinch morning, noon or night grab some Hoops from your local supermarket or grab a pack online. Find more information here.

** We were sent these products in order to provide an honest review but Fred would tell me if he hated them, he’s picky like that.

Festival Camping Tips – To Make It Feel Like A Holiday!

nozstock family festival

The Tent

You need somewhere to sleep right? but your tent options can be totally overwhelming so it’s important to think about what you really need for your festival camping trip. We needed our tent to be practical and affordable. Struggling to put a tent up and watch a toddler – No Way! Spending a small fortune on top of our family festival pass? No Thanks.

So we found this amazing number from Regatta.

cheap festival tent

This tent was spacious enough for 2 fully grown (and not so small adults) and a mini person (AKA 2-year-old toddler).

It’s ridiculously easy to assemble. You remove the elastic strapping and *POOF* as if by magic, the tent pops out and is ready to be pegged down. Perfect. There were no camping arguments, no need to occupy a toddler while the tent went up and we absolutely maximized our festivalling time because it was so easy.

 

Storage

Storage is KEY for any camping trip and even more important if you are trying to pack light (can that even happen with kids?) Well here’s what we did.

With a small but perfectly formed tent, we used a big plastic trunk to store the majority of our gear and two plastic trug buckets.

Inside our trunk I used a selection of waterproof ‘Dry bags’ to store each of our belongings, this made them easy to grab and use and I knew they would be kept dry.

camping storage

We used inexpensive trug buckets that we already had at home to store a selection of Fred’s toys and also some cold drinks and snacks.

*Tip* – We fed a guide rope from the tent through the handles of the trug before pegging them down and securing them to our home for the weekend.

Our little tent came with a few handy internal pockets that I was able to use to store a drink for Fred overnight and a few other essentials.

Just be as organised as you can, think about what you need, when you will need it and separate those packs up accordingly.

 

Be Prepared For All Weathers

In the UK you can expect to see all weathers in one festival weekend so it’s important to be prepared.

We always go for light layered clothing which makes it easy to move around and essentially some killer waterproof gear.

Regatta makes this easy. Their stylish gear and won’t break the bank. This lightweight coat is easy to store but will help if all that dancing brings on the rain.

cheap womens jacket

For kids, you can’t go wrong with a puddle suit. It will do well in the British rain but is light enough to be rolled up and shoved in your rucksack and the best part, you’ll be getting use out of it long after the festival ends.

cheap kids rain suit

Wellies are totally essential – and here’s a top tip, grab some gel or padded insoles and put a spring in your step all day. Likewise, wellie socks mean that even if the weather brightens up, you can still rock a dress or shorts but keep your feet dry and comfy!

wellies like joules

 

Entertainment

When you travel anywhere with kids you know you need a whole library of goods to keep those little critters entertained and festivalling is no different. You have a huge new space to explore with a million different options to entertain small humans BUT beware boredom and think ahead for entertainment. We packed a small size aquadoodle for Fred, this kept him entertained and within site when we just wanted to grab a coffee. He also adores small cars so we kept a stash in the tent pockets and in our day out rucksack.

 

 

Home Comforts

Hitting up a festival with the family doesn’t mean that you have to leave all your home comforts behind. We always take camping chairs. These are lightweight and portable but mean you can enjoy your morning coffee or late night post gig beer in comfort. Having a childs chair always keeps the little ones interested as well so it’s a great investment. Fred even uses his at home.

cheap camping chair

A door mat was a top tip from one of the readers on our Facebook page. This makes it easier to keep muck outside of your tent which really helps when you are short on space.

Snuggly layers for night time – you want to be warm, so fashion can kind of go out the window but I always camp with a onesie. I will shove it on to lounge around outside the tent and I can also grab it for sleep if the temperature dips too much for my liking.

My own ‘home’ pillow – I always camp with my own pillowcase. It makes it more familiar and comfortable and I do the same for Fred too.

And finally, add in your own special touches. I personally LOVE good coffee so I buy ‘coffee bags’ – It makes all the difference to me in the morning. I also stock pile travel size toiletries because it feels like a treat when you aren’t in your own home comforts to have some snazzy products to use.

We hope you find this little guide really helpful if you are considering a festival with kids. Remember, Kid’s are far more adaptable than we give them credit for. Just relax & enjoy the moment.

Nozstock – The Hidden Valley Festival (With Kids)

nozstock family festival

Mud, Sweat and (not so many) Beers. Here’s what happened when we took our toddler to her first music festival

nozstock festival

I like to think of myself as pretty ‘festival-savvy’; I know that dry shampoo and hand sanitiser can see me through just about any weekend in a tent, and I can navigate my way through a field of guy ropes in the dark with minimal face-plants.

However, I’m not remotely outdoorsy. My usual definition of ‘roughing it’ involves staying in a budget chain hotel with a low-tog duvet and only Freeview channels on the TV. When you throw a toddler into the whole festival camping mix, I really am completely out of my comfort zone.

But with its ‘family-friendly’, relaxed reputation and as it’s less than 90 minutes away from Cardiff, Nozstock in Herefordshire seemed as good a place as any to introduce our daughter Emily to the full festival experience.

Nozstock was founded by ‘Farmer Noz’ nineteen years ago. What started as a little garden party amongst friends and family has, over the years, grown into a weekend of music, comedy, cabaret, circus, crafts and film. With acts spread out over 11 stages, the festival now welcomes around 5,000 visitors each year and is considered one of the best ‘boutique festivals’ in the summer calendar.

As soon as we arrived I was relieved to see how small the whole set-up was. Anyone who has parked their car at Glastonbury or Leeds / Reading Festival will tell you that if you forget anything in the car when you’ve already made the arduous journey to your campsite – whether it’s a bottle of vodka or life-saving insulin – you’d rather do a handstand in the festival latrines than walk all the way back to get it.

festivals with kids

In the surrounding farmland of Nozstock, you can park your car and be at your tent within a couple of minutes. Handy if you’ve got crates and crates of beer. Or, like us, if you’ve got crates and crates of toddler crap.

My husband and I are not ‘seasoned campers’ and I definitely got the impression that for the majority of the families in the designated ‘family campsite’, this wasn’t their first rodeo. There were high-tech family camper vans, huge communal gazebos and outdoor furniture sets everywhere we looked. This was a lifestyle.

In contrast to this, Tom and I nearly divorced over which side of the tent was ‘the outside’. Our marriage was only just saved by two very obliging young Oxfam volunteers who managed to fit it all together just before the rain started to hit.

nozstock family festival

Despite this, everyone we camped with – and everyone we spoke to at the festival, come to think of it – was extremely warm and friendly. Some of these families had been coming here for years. For a lot of them, it wasn’t really about the music. Some of them were keen to see the headliners, but all in all, they came for the relaxed vibe and the inclusiveness that makes Nozstock a perfect camping option for families with young children.

Walking around the festival site and seeing people from all walks of life – from toddling babies to elderly couples – is testament to how inclusive this festival really is.

There was always something to see and do that catered for all ages and tastes. I heard such a diverse range of music; from free-form-jazz to indie-girl-rock and experimental electronica to folk-metal. There were secret passageways and tunnels to different stages, trippy sculptures and artwork augmented by quirky cabaret dancers and performers who would meander their way through the crowds all day long.

best family music festival

Emily enjoyed the Little Woodland Kids Area; a cordoned-off part of the field dedicated to the mini-festival-goer. They hosted workshops and craft-making, mini-yoga sessions and drum circles throughout the day, but most of the activities were a little too old for our toddler. Instead, she busied herself in the sandpit and played with the blocks and toys provided, as well as helping to make a huge fake bonfire out of pieces of orange fabric.

Despite the plentiful entertainment, Emily’s favourite activity of the weekend was tracking and following one of the chickens that was ambling about the festival site. She hasn’t stopped asking where the chicken is since we left!

music festival with a toddler

Nozstock feels like ‘old-school’ Glastonbury; quirky, hippie, trippy and friendly. Everyone there seemed to share a collective intention to suspend real life for the weekend so that they can have fun and enjoy themselves as much as possible.

The compact, intimate nature of the festival meant that walking from the tent to the main festival site, even with a toddler who insisted on trying to unzip every tent we passed on our way, took us less than 10 minutes. Great for tired legs. Not so great when you’re trying to sleep in a tent with a toddler whilst the rave rages on a couple of fields away.

Luckily, Emily was so exhausted from all the excitement and fresh air that she would pass out at 10pm and sleep solidly until the morning. But nothing is louder than a rave you can’t go to. After having a few beers outside the tent whilst the baby slept, we called it a night ourselves by midnight. It felt completely strange to listen to the festival whir around me whilst I, rather than downing a bottle of vodka and dancing til dawn, lay in my sleeping bag next to a snoring toddler. The times, they have changed.

The only thing worse than lack of sleep at a festival is the infliction known to many as ‘toilet dread’. I have seen some truly harrowing scenes in festival toilets that will forever be burned onto the back of my retinas. But I’m pleased to say that the loos at Nozstock didn’t bring on any ‘Vietnam-style’ festival toilet flashbacks for me. In fact, they were some of the cleanest festival toilets I have ever seen. For me, this alone is a good enough reason to make Nozstock my festival of choice for life!

nozstock the hidden valley festival

We packed up at the end of the weekend feeling totally wind-wept, shattered and filthy. Yet despite this, it was one of the best family weekends we have ever had. Would I do it every weekend? Absolutely not. But the whole experience was so rewarding. I learned that Emily is even more adaptable to different routines and ways of life than I have given her credit for.

And I learned that I could simultaneously rock out to a band whilst changing a pooey toddler nappy. Wins all-round!