Valley Fest – Delilah’s first festival

Though it was only at the beginning of last month, Valley Fest now feels a long time ago. If you’re anything like us, though, you’re already daydreaming about festivals for next year. Maybe this will give you some inspo.

valley-fest-2016-3

valley-fest-2016-6

We opted to spend just a few hours at the festival on the Saturday as we didn’t want to overdo it with a newborn. It was pouring with rain and really put our waterproofs to the test! Luckily the babe I was sheltering with a broken umbrella was fast asleep for most of it.

We hung out for a bit in the green energy tipi where innovations were on display and they gave us some fascinating demonstrations on energy harvesting. I was particularly interested in the compostable tent, Comp A Tent, which biodegrades, offering a solution for those who abandon tents at festivals. We happened upon this tipi by accident because we weren’t given a map or any information, which we really could have done with but no matter, we muddled through.

valley-fest-2016

valley-fest-2016-4

Then we hit the big tipi to take in some folk music before grabbing crepes and boardgames and a trundle back to the car in the mud. It was wonderful being out in Chew Valley, overlooking the lake. It’s a great spot for a little festival like this and close enough to Bristol that we could have gone home for the night if we fancied. Actually, we opted to go stay with my in-laws who live in a village nearby. Another year, we’ll camp.

valley-fest-2016-8

We made it over earlier on day two and it wasn’t raining so we took in bands both in the tipi and at the main stage. Talitha loved getting her hair wrapped in what we’re calling a festival braid – I can’t remember if it’s actually called that! She still has it in now! Ophelia had her face fully painted for the first time and actually fell asleep while it was being done, sweet girl.

The rest of the time, we wandered around Valley Fest, taking in the sights. We were fortunate enough to bump into Eleanor and her daughter from The Bristol Parent and hang with them for a bit. Ophelia and Delilah were pretty worn out by the end but Talitha was completely in her element. I think she could easily have stayed for longer.

valley-fest-2016-5

valley-fest-2016-2

That makes me look forward to hitting a festival or two next year. We may even come back and do this one as it’s a bit smaller and less hectic but still with lots of good stuff going on.

We were given tickets for Valley Fest in exchange for coverage.


Hoo Haa! Festival and easing in to life with three

My mum left two days ago to go back to Trinidad and Tobago after a few weeks of staying with us. Between Laurence’s paternity leave and her stay, I’ve only had a handful of days on my own with three children. I’d probably done solo bedtime just three, maybe four times in those six weeks and I’d certainly fallen well out of the habit of taking Ophelia to the toilet!

It’s been a real blessing not least because Laurence has started a new job which is taking him away for one full night and two bedtimes/wakeups a week. In a way, it’s good that he was working in London a fair bit while I was pregnant because two nights with three kids feels much less daunting that five with two.

At any rate, I’m really grateful that my mum was here to help me ease into life with three children, not least because I doubt I would have managed so many days out with them on my own this summer. Or I would’ve taken them but been a sweaty, shouty, stressy mess.

One of those outings was to Hoo Haa! Festival at Colston Hall in Bristol. It’s an innovative music festival aimed at children and their grown ups. We enjoyed it so much last year, we couldn’t miss this one. Most of it was free with film screenings, community art projects and lots of musical acts in the foyer but there were also ticketed gigs throughout in the theatre spaces.

Wild Things2

My mum bought the older girls tickets to go see Wild Things the first day. They left Delilah and I behind and returned much delighted with their interactive musical journey, brandishing crowns they’d made as part of the show.

The second day, I’d bought tickets to go see the Vervain Folk Band with Lilliput Family Concerts since their cello concert was such a hit with my girls a few months ago. Talitha opted to continue at the church holiday club she’d been going to all week instead, which was nice in a way because we could give Ophelia more attention. My brother also joined us so it was actually the opposite of me being outnumbered by children!

The theatre was stripped of chairs and we all sat on the floor. Children were free to dance, which many did, and the players took time between songs to introduce their instruments. Afterwards, the kids could go up and try some of the instruments, which Ophelia did. The concert was as much for me as for her as I relished listening to traditional folk favourites.

The big excitement of the day was seeing CBeebies’ Andy Day (think Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures) perform. In fact, when he did his free “dino raps” in the foyer, Ophelia even abandoned her chips to go sit on my brother’s shoulders to see Andy. He found it amusing when I explained that the mop-haired guy on stage was a bit of a celebrity, amongst the five and unders, anyway.

Hoo Haa Festival - Andy Day

Afterwards, my mum and brother took Ophelia to meet him. She bought the girls his CD, which he signed and got a snap of her with Andy for Talitha’s sake. Talitha was thrilled to know Ophelia had met him (and Ophelia was pleased too though she looks like she’s wondering what on earth is going on). They’ve been playing his CD over and over ever since. Even Laurence and I have to admit it’s a welcome addition to the car repertoire.

We finished the day on a high by going to see Andy Day again in a musical take on We’re Going on a Bear Hunt which were sent tickets for in exchange for coverage. The performance came complete with full orchestra and someone dressed up as a bear. With actions, singing and a chance at the end for some children to form their own orchestra on stage, we all got to participate in that well-loved bedtime classic. In fact, we’re still singing the story whenever we read it now!

CH_Hoo-Ha_Digital-FeaturedIMG_ART(text)

Hoo Haa! has become a Bristol summer staple for our family. I really recommend checking it out next year if you’re around or keeping your eye open for other children’s gigs on at Colston Hall. We’ve yet to be disappointed.


Win a Trunki and a family pass to Bristol’s Wild Place Project

A few weeks ago, the girls and I enjoyed a day out with Trunki at the Wild Place Project, a Bristol family attraction that offers nature trails, adventure play and a chance to see animals in the outdoors and contributes to animal conservation around the globe.

Trunki and Bristol Wild Place-4

The focus of our visit was the Wild Place Project’s giraffe house appeal and Trunki’s contribution to it. The project is currently trying to raise money for a huge giraffe house in connection with protecting giraffe populations in Africa.

Trunki and Bristol Wild Place-3

For every sale of their Gerry the Giraffe pull along suitcase, Trunki will donate £5 to the Bristol Zoological Society to help support the conservation work their team are carrying out.

Trunki and Bristol Wild Place-2

Trunki is offering one Beautiful Tribe reader a Trunki of their choice* and a family pass to Bristol Wild Place. To enter, check out the Trunki range, leave a comment telling me which design you’d like to win and enter the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*This will depend on the design being in stock
Giveaway open to UK entrants only

Competitions at ThePrizeFinder


Wassail with kids

“Shall we go to this?” Laurence’s text read. Cue a photograph of the flyer for a local Wassail. He’d never heard the word before but I had. I used to list them for a little online ‘zine I worked for some years ago in the quirky town of Lewes, where amusing British traditions never die. I’d always thought they looked like great fun so I penciled it in.

Wrapped up in all the layers (I wax evangelical about my knitted wool socks and merino thermals I bought from Cambridge Baby. If you follow me on Instagram, you might have been subject to this), we grabbed some ribbons and headed to the community orchard where it was all going down.

Wassail with kids
Wassail with kids-2

There was singing and recorder playing a-plenty. So merry, in fact, that I considered for one mad moment that maybe I would be OK with teaching Talitha to play the recorder. Reality hit me on our way home so no such thing has been purchased. Visions of my four-and-a-half-year-old and 23-month-old fighting over a glorified whistle, indiscriminately tooting the day away still make me cringe.

Wassail with kids-6

Meanwhile, the children all got stuck in with decorating two of the apple trees that were being “blessed”. A Wassail is essentially a celebration in hope of a good harvest. It now remains an opportunity for communities to get together, get outdoors and connect with the seasons.

Wassail with kids-8

We took a break to grab some cake, mulled apple juice for the girls and I and mulled cider for Laurence. Then the morris dancing started. I have to admit, I love a bit of morris dancing. I get irrationally excited over it – the sight of it, rather, I actually can’t do it at all.

Wassail with kids-7
Wassail with kids-5

In fact, I went along to a friends morris dancing side’s practice to try it once and discovered that I was particularly inept. It looked so simple and like so much fun but alas, I wound up rather confused. I still have a real soft spot for watching it, though, and luckily the kids found it fascinating. Talitha was particularly interested in the accordion they were dancing along to.

Wassail with kids-4
Wassail with kids-3

A bit more ribbon tying, playing with a random child (I love how kids do this!) and we decided we better head off and make supper. The girls absolutely did not agree and in retrospect, we should have stayed a bit longer, maybe cosied over by the fire, struck up a conversation with a few more people and let them run around some more. Ah, retrospect. Next time.

Wassail with kids-9


A summer’s day in Bristol

Last week Friday, Laurence took the day off work to hang out with us since his brother was visiting us from Thailand. We set out with not a lot planned but ended up taking advantage of a lot of what Bristol has to offer. We started off with a trip to Hoo Haa! Festival at Colston Hall to see a crazy one-man musical and make a building to contribute to a cardboard city. It was our second day at the festival and I’ve blogged about the whole thing here.

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-2

White Stuff sent me this tunic and asked me to take it on a summer’s day out. It’s not something I’d normally wear but I’m converted. It’s so comfortable and while I thought I might need a belt with it (with a large-busted hourglass shape, this is usually the case) it was actually fine as is. It’s perfect for a casual day out.

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-3

Laurence had heard about this new Szechuan noodle place called Chilli Daddy which apparently people had been going on and on about. It’s near to the children’s hospital so we reckon that’s good news for the staff there! It was interesting walking along that stretch as it’s a part of Bristol I almost never visit.

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-4

In fact, I still struggle to believe that I’d never been down the Christmas Steps. It’s such a fascinating bit of the city with lots of quirky shops.

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-5

It’s only when we sat down to lunch that we realised we’d possibly made a bit of a faux pas taking my brother-in-law for noodles when he might have preferred something a bit more western on his visit home! Ah well, he pointed out that it wasn’t Thai food and he was admirably good about the whole thing.

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-6

On the way to lunch, we noticed that The Red Lodge Museum was open so we thought we’d check it out. It’s a grand building on Park Row, spanning four centuries of history. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. You could easily miss it. But inside it’s a fantastic display of perfectly preserved Elizabethan and Georgian artefacts.

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-7

There’s even a sweet little Tudor garden outside. It’s only a small space but there’s a lot to take in so I’ll certainly be taking the kids back. What better way to discover history?

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-8

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-10

I always think it’s fun on a day out to do a bit of a meal crawl and split up the courses between venues. For cake and coffee, we headed to Roll for the Soul, a vegetarian community cafe in the centre that the girls and I have wound up stopping at quite a lot recently. Laurence had never been so he gravitated instantly to all the cycling gear on sale. I love the food there and I think it has such a friendly vibe.

A summer's day in Bristol with White Stuff-11

Days like this one make me want to get to know our city better. Laurence’s family have lived in the Bristol area for a long time so he knows it relatively well. He also works in different parts of the city so gets more exposure than I do. We’ve lived here for five years which sometimes sounds like a lot but, in many ways, I still feel like a newcomer.

Thanks to White Stuff for working with me on this post. Check out the rest of their tunic and kaftan range.


Brilliantly weird fun at Hoo Haa! Festival

We’ve spent the past few days doing two pretty random things: finding non-musical objects to make music with and singing “Do a little poo in the forest” to each other. We’ll have to blame the gigs we’ve taken in at Hoo Haa! Festival at Colston Hall in Bristol last week.

The first I’ll explain in a minute but the second definitely requires music video explanation. Do show your kiddies this. They’ll love it – and so will you if you’re into toilet humour.

On Friday we had Laurence’s brother with us (he normally lives in Thailand) so we all headed down to Hoo Haa! to check out Kid Carpet and The Noisy Animals. It was a show described as “a punk rock musical following the adventures of gorilla, bear, hedgehog and badger as they make friends, cause mischief, contemplate the world and rock out at the grand dance contest.”

Hoo Haa Festival at Colston Hall-6

It was, in fact, one of the most gloriously weird things I’ve ever seen. I knew I was going to be blogging about it because Hoo Haa! had given us tickets but at one point I leaned in and whispered to Laurence, “This is insane! How the heck am I going to write about this?!” He shrugged and said it sort of reminded him of The Mighty Boosh.

Essentially it’s a man playing with some toy animals, singing some crazy songs and messing around with some audio visual tech. It’s brilliant and you could see that the kids (adults too but kids, especially) loved it. The fact that I’m merrily humming the song in the video above as I type this probably says it all.

Afterwards, the kids had some fun putting together a building for a cardboard city. There were some pretty inspiring builds. We’ll definitely give this another go at home.

Hoo Haa Festival at Colston Hall-4

The day before, we made it down with my parents and saw Paka Piki Music. British experimental folk artist Rachael Dadd played “instruments” that ranged from a banjo to a carrot to a toothbrush. Her bandmate Japanese artist ICHI wore what I think was probably an ant-head mask and played an equally eclectic range of objects. I loved that they included the steelpan in their lineup. Any opportunity for my kids to hear that instrument is exciting for me as a Caribbean migrant.

Both girls were absolutely spell bound during the performance. Talitha had lots of questions spilling out afterwards and she jumped at the chance to get play long, knocking chopsticks together. I would go see them again and again and again.

Hoo Haa Festival at Colston Hall

Talitha also got to play with some fruit and vegetables wired up to a computer, experimenting with them to make music.

There was so much more on, including a classical concert for babies and toddlers, a beatboxing workshop for all ages, a poetry battle for over 10s and a disco. I wish we’d been able to make it along to more but even the little we saw gave us all a taste of something different this summer.

This was Hoo Haa! Festival’s first year at Colston Hall and I hope it returns next year but even if not, we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled for other events there. In fact, my parents have bought tickets to take the girls to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea there later this week.


Making the most of our community farm

This Saturday we ended up having my parents and one of the girls’ friends with us so we decided to head over to Lawrence Weston Community Farm. It’s a space we visit frequently. Our visit there this weekend reminded me of why I love city farms in general and what’s so brilliant about this one in particular.

Lawrence Weston Community Farm-9-2

City farms and community gardens are community-managed projects run by volunteers for the benefit of local residents. They’re usually set up in socially deprived areas and there are often opportunities to get involved if you’re interested.

We started off by taking in a bit of the “secret garden” at the farm. There’s so much growing all about the farm and, whereas I would have bypassed it all before assuming the kids wouldn’t be that interested, now that I know a little more about gardening, we take a look and talk about what we see. I’m always surprised at how the way small details hold their attentions.

Lawrence Weston Community Farm-3-2

Lawrence Weston Community Farm-2-2

Lawrence Weston Community Farm-10

Then, of course, we had to say “hello” to all the animals. We saw sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks and guinea pigs. My two can literally wile the hours away going around and around the animal village. We sometimes come along to an under 7s group on a Wednesday to feed the animals, collect the eggs and follow the sheep up into the fields.

Talitha always takes the opportunity to remind me that the chicken coop I bought still needs chickens. I’m still trying to get my head around that. Actually, the farm holds courses from wooden spoon making to beekeeping, so I really need to book onto one of their chicken keeping sessions as I’ve been meaning to do for ages.

Lawrence Weston Community Farm-5-2

Lawrence Weston Community Farm-8-2

Lawrence Weston Community Farm-7-2

Then we took a walk into the lush woodland trail across the bridge. Lots of session for kids are held here and you can see the evidence in tree stump circles and willow dens. There are lots of places to climb and a few bug hotels dotted around.

We didn’t make it up to the orchard and the bit with the climbing frame and picnic area because we decided to try out the farm’s new cafe that’s only just opened. It’s just what Lawrence Weston Community Farm needed, really.

Then, on our way out, we bought eggs from the office. I used to buy all our meat and eggs (plus some veg) from here but without a car for the last few months we just stopped eating meat much at all and started buying eggs from chicken and duck keeping neighbours. Now that I have have a car again, I’m going to build buying from the community farm back into our routine.

This really is such a calming, free place for us to go as a family. People are often surprised when I mention there’s a community farm in Lawrence Weston because, if you know the area, it’s not something you expect to find there. But surely that means it’s exactly where it should be.

Are there any community farming or gardening projects near you? Are you involved in any? I’m always intrigued to hear what’s happening in different towns and cities.