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.
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.
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!
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.