Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Wordless Wednesday

Single Mother Ahoy Wordless Wednesday

Review & Top Tips - Camp Bestival 2015

So, this year we did something that I've wanted to do for a few years, and that is to go to Camp Bestival.  I'm pretty sure everyone reading this will know what Camp Bestival is, but just for clarification it is a family friendly festival held at Lulworth Castle, Dorset.  I decided back in May to buy tickets, and for the last 3 months I have been busying myself buying everything (I thought) we needed in order to see us through a weekend camping.  I must admit, I am not really a typical camper..I like my home comforts, hate being cold, and the idea of a Portaloo fills me with dread, however I was willing to give it a shot for the sake of the overall experience.

We arrived on Friday lunchtime (NB see top tip number 1!), and really struggled to find a camping spot.  We had general admission tickets, which basically mean you turn up and find a pitch wherever you can, but because we were about 24 hours behind 99.9% of the rest of the people there we ended up pitching on a relatively steep slope - although there were a set of toilets, a water point and showers nearby.  Our pitch was about a 5 minute walk from the start of the festival site, halfway between there and the entrance, so even though there was noise at night it was nothing that we weren't able to sleep through.  

After we'd pitched we decided to take a walk up to the festival site, I was so excited to see what was going on, and I really wasn't disappointed! Right from the outset I loved everything about it, the colour, the people, the music and the smells, it was just incredible.  To be fair, the fact the sun was shining enhanced the experience from start to finish, everything and everyone seemed to be so warm and friendly.

 Lulworth Castle, as a venue, is absolutely stunning.  It was so breathtakingly beautiful you just felt really lucky to be there.

We bought a cart from Aldi (£49.99) before we went, mainly to help us bring the stuff from the car to the pitch, but it proved to be invaluable in the end for pulling the kids around when their little legs got tired.  There was a stand there where you could "Pimp Your Trolley" who very kindly fitted a sun canopy and a personalised number plate on Saturday - how cute is that, a lovely keepsake for us for years to come.  

 The Jam Jar Bar was amazing...a boutique bar that served delicious cocktails in plastic Jam Jars from an extremely beautiful vintage caravan.  My favourite cocktail was the Strawberry and Basil Martini.

We also spent alot of time outside the Travelling Barn on the Upper Kids Garden where the amazing country/swing music and sandpit was enough to keep us all entertained for a few hours at a time! Toucan Uke and Lil Miss Lonesome with Jules Bushell were particular favourites of mine.

 As for the more mainstream music there was plenty to float all boats, we particularly enjoyed Wretch 32 (he is one of Alfie's favourites anyway so he was beside himself to see him on Friday evening), Clean Bandit, Ella Eyre, Professor Green, Kaiser Chiefs and Ella Henderson.  We sat through the Underworld set on Sunday night because we wanted to watch the fireworks finale straight afterwards, but I really didn't enjoy it. For some reason the sound system didn't sound up to scratch and I just wasn't overly keen on the music, that is personal preference though.  One thing I was surprised at was that there was only one big screen, set up directly next to the stage, so if you were any further back than the middle of the field the chances of seeing anything at all were slim to none.  During really popular daytime acts it was really difficult for the kids to see the stage due to the amount of buggy's/carts/chairs that would be in the arena, Grace was a bit upset she couldn't see more of Mr Tumble.

There were a few program changes on Sunday, which I thought was a bit naughty, I know sometimes things happen but there were young girls literally crying because Ella Henderson was brought forward by a few hours but no announcements had been made and they had missed her.  I don't know how the organisers can get around that though, other than trying to avoid doing it altogether. 

My previous fears surrounding Portaloos were not completely put to rest, but they were nowhere near as bad as I imagined.  They were always clean (or as clean as one can be!) and never once was there no toilet roll - which is super impressive, and I take my hats off to the staff that were always patrolling them to restock.  I must admit though, the "pay per pee" toilets situated next to the Castle Stage did receive my custom on several occasions, even at £2 a go the thought of a flushing bog and handwash was too much to resist.  I would love to see another set of these facilities elsewhere...perhaps on the Upper Kids Garden.

Other things we loved during the weekend:

Prosecco whilst listening to Ska music at Caravanserai
Cat in the Hat Live
Alpaca Agility
The vast array of food outlets 
The National Trust #50things Meadow (especially the den building)
Lizzies Way (Woodland Creative Play Area in the Dingly Dell)
Folk Idol (the 5 year old singing Edelweiss gets my vote every time)
Energizer Headlight Pimping
The Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie
Blow Up Church Wedding
The trio of girl singers in the Indesit Launderette

 In a nutshell, we had the best weekend ever, there was SO much to see and do we could never have done it all even if we had rushed from one to the next to the next...we preferred just to wander and do whatever we came across that we fancied, and that suited us - at least we know next year (and the year after) there will be still lots for us to go back for.  I have read on a Facebook group that there were some issues surrounding security, and that is a real shame as I saw lots of security about all the time, even though they weren't actively checking wristbands around the site, but not having experienced any issues myself I can't really comment on that.  A tent popped up right next to us on Saturday but it was gone by Sunday lunchtime so I was wondering if it was a day ticket holder that decided to just pitch up, I don't know if that is allowed but I thought it was a bit cheeky if not!

So are my top tips if you're thinking of going to Camp Bestival in the future:

1.  Get there as early as possible for the best pitches!

We made the huge mistake of arriving on Friday lunchtime and ended up having to pitch on a hill.  Next year we will be there by lunchtime Thursday. Camping Plus pitches are available at an extra cost of £125 for a family of up to 6, on top of your standard tickets, but they mean you get a designated pitch in a separate area - a good idea if you can afford it.

2. Go for a shower at 6.45am or 2pm.

The showers open at 7am, by 5 to there was a queue of about 100 people.  Either get there about 6.45 and be at the front, or go at 2pm when it's completely dead.  The showers have actually got really good pressure, lovely hot water and are in individual cubicles with wash basins and mirrors.  They are free of charge.

3. Take cash with you

Things are expensive, and unless you are a star super scrimper, you will spend a lot.  Try and take your cash with you (and keep it on you if possible, I had a very cute Bumbag from New Look)...this is for a few reasons: It's easier to budget if you can see what you've got/what you've spent, and there is only one block of cash machines which were jam packed ALL the time and also charged £3.49 for the privilege of using them. An average main meal (curry and rice/fish and chips/burger etc) will cost you between £7-£10, a pint is £4.80, glass of wine £5.50, cocktails £7.50.  We tended to eat breakfast at the tent and then eat out for the rest of the day.

4. Have lunch at the WI Tent

The WI tent served tea, coffee, cakes, sandwiches etc at "normal" prices.  Go there.

5. Get the kids signed up to any workshops they fancy early

Many of the kids workshops fill up really quickly, if there's anything they really want to do make sure you get signed up as soon as possible.

6. Buy a fold-up trolley before you go

I was intending on ordering a trolley from Mr Trolley before we got to CB, but I left it too late and none were available (they have a collection point right outside the entrance to the festival from the car park).  They charged £65 for the weekend hire and £100 cash deposit, but as none were available I ended up buying a fold-up trolley from Aldi for £49.99 and it was awesome! It was able to carry up to 150kg so I knew it'd be more than adequate for not only transporting our stuff from the car but carting the kids round too...with the added bonus it'll probably do us for another couple of years at least. 

7. Buy your tickets as soon as you possibly can, you wont regret it.

Early Bird tickets are available at Ticketline from this Friday (7th August)

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Happy Mothers Day

I just wanted to wish all you lovely Mums out there a very happy Mothers Day.  Every day of the year (hopefully not today though because you should be being waited on hand and foot) we wade through piles of washing, battle the school runs, wipe tears, tend grazes, love our children unconditionally and fight many battles that will probably remain unseen to the rest of the enjoy the relative peace of today, put your feet up and raise a toast to yourself and just how blimmin' awesome you are!

This is also my entry into Mummy's Little Monkey/Pilot Pens My #PILOTMUM competition. Above is a picture of me and my dog drawn by Grace...I totally rock that pink hair ��

Taffy Mail American Candy Box Subscription Service Video Review

This weekend Grace, Chloe and I filmed a video review of this months Taffy Mail American Candy Box.

Taffy Mail is a subscription service that sends a box stuffed full of US treats straight to your door every month.  Chloe absolutely loves anything American so I thought this was a great idea when I came across it online.  In the UK anything that is imported from the US is generally expensive so I personally thought this box was good value at £14.99 for 11 items, only 2 or 3 of which we had ever seen over here before.

For more information on the Taffy Mail service see their website at

Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween Fun!

I absolutely love this time of year, or I have done since I've had kids anyway.  There's such a sense of fun about Halloween and I love how excited the kids get about it, and of course Halloween means we're really close to Christmas (which I also love).  I've gone all out with the decorations this year and have decorated the whole of the front of the house, hopefully the trick or treaters will actually turn up!  

The kids were desperate to do their own pumpkins this year, I have usually done them in the past, so they each chose their own and yesterday afternoon they set about carving them out.  All four of them did their own freestyle designs using a whiteboard pen, they found that easier than using a paper template. I must say I wasn't too impressed with the carving kits I bought them from Sainsburys though, the carving tools buckled almost immediately - maybe I need to look into stronger alternatives next year. 

So here's the finished products, as you can see they're all very proud! 

What Halloween fun have you got planned for this year? 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Day That Changed My Life Forever

Thursday 26th June 2014 was one of the best days, but also one of the worst days, of my life. It was the day that I made a whole family's dreams come true by giving birth to their beautiful little boy, Julian Noa. I was ever so fortunate to have been trusted to be his keeper and carer for 9 months until he was ready to come out and meet his Mummy and Daddy and when he arrived he was everything I hoped he would be, perfect in every way and he continues to thrive to this day.  Being a surrogate was an amazing experience and I will carry it with me for the rest of my life. If you want to read more about my journey you can do so here.

That day was also the day I found out I suffer from a condition called Pulmonary Hypertension, a potentially life-limiting and scary heart and lung condition that I had never even heard of before, let alone knew I had myself. It basically is a problem with the pressure in the valves of the lungs and heart, and cannot be cured unless a lung transplant is carried out although it can be managed in most cases with therapy and medications. Right now my PH is mild, I am able to walk, talk, climb stairs, work, look after my kids, walk my dog and do everything else I want to do but there are thousands of people out there who's PH is so severe they cant do any of those things. People who's lives will actually end due to the condition. I am a lucky one. The Drs don't know for sure if I have always had PH, although they suspect I developed it after Grace was born as a side effect of a medication I was taking.  

The even more scary thing about finding out about my having PH (at 39 weeks pregnant) is that pregnancy is not recommended AT ALL for women with the condition..this is an extract from the PHA (Pulmonary Hypertension Association) website:

"Becoming pregnant when you have pulmonary hypertension (PH) is dangerous. The life of both mum and baby are put at great risk. The risk of pregnancy-related death in women with PH is between 25% and 50%. This risk is related to the changes that take place during pregnancy such as increased heart rate and changes to the immune system"

Quite frankly, I feel lucky to be alive. I also feel blessed to have my children, and to have been able to give Julian to his wonderful family.  From now on I am going to seize every opportunity that comes my way and live my life to the full, because if my whole surrogacy journey taught me anything it is that life is precious and you need to grab it with both hands.

Last Sunday I took part in the Great South Run, fundraising for PHA UK, and I am pleased to say I completed the run and managed to raise nearly £300 for this amazing charity.  You can read more about PH and PHA UK here. 

Friday, 7 February 2014

My Dettol Addiction - 19 Week Pregnancy Update

I've not done an update for a few weeks and that's mainly because I've been feeling a pretty rubbish of late. It's a mixture of loads of things that have been getting me down.  I'm getting bigger, quickly, and these past two weeks I've been drained of pretty much all energy (maybe that's my anemia rearing it's ugly head?) so when I had car trouble at the beginning of this week it really didn't bode well for me.  I have been struggling backwards and forwards from work/school and even though i'm not at the stage where walking is a difficult the extra weight/belly definitely does not make things easy.  The kids school is about two miles from where we live and work is about a ten minute walk from there so it's been hard, the weather has also been a problem because it pretty much hasn't stopped raining all week...mind you I shouldn't complain because my Aunt lives in Devon and they've had a terrible time of it recently with the floods and the winds.  We went and bought a new car last weekend so once we pick that up in 10 days I'm going to go down there for four or five days and see how I can help.  I had a lovely friend come to my rescue yesterday when the rain was especially bad, she gave Grace and I a lift home once I had finished work and then went up and collected the other 3 children from school for's times like that you know who the good people are in the world :-)

I've been feeling rather emotional of late also, I think because of everything else that's going on at the moment it is very easy for me to get overwhelmed and feel like the sky is falling in. When you're carrying a baby that's not your own, that you don't have an emotional connection to, it's easy to concentrate on the shit things that are happening and how awful you feel and not look forward positively to the end result, because it's not my end result..does that even make sense?  I think it's also very easy to feel lonely when you're carrying a surrogate baby, and that's because there are many people out there that understand what it's like.  It probably doesn't help that I've removed myself from quite a few of the surrogacy groups that I was previously a member of, it's too political and controversial to go into here but it's safe to say I don't really like people who think of themselves well above everyone else.

I've not been feeling too well generally this week (aside from the lack of energy), Monday night I was up at about 3.30am with sickness and to be honest I thought that was the start of something quite nasty but it went as soon as it arrived, however on Wednesday I came down with a cold which has really rounded off my crappy week rather nicely! I have always suffered with terrible colds, ever since I was a kid, so I am pretty used to it..but that doesn't make it any more pleasant.  I think it's made worse by the fact I'm not able to dose myself up on half the contents of Boots at the moment, any suggestions to natural relievers of blocked noses/sore throats/stuffy heads would be much appreciated. 

As for the baby, T&F went ahead with the private scan weekend before last to see what gender the baby is, as soon as I saw the screen I knew I had been right all along...yes, it is indeed a little BOY!!  Little M is super excited to be having a little brother and I'm so happy for them all. The next chance they will get to see him is at the next NHS scan at the end of this month.  My Extra Strong Mint cravings haven't subsided any as yet and I've also developed an addiction to cleaning my house with Dettol - I absolutely love the smell.  I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to.

Anyway, that's all I can be arsed to write have got for you this week, hopefully i'll be back next week in a more positive mood.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Ice Pops and Extra Strong Mints: 17 Weeks Pregnant

This week has gone so fast, I don't know where time is going at the moment but I wish it would slow down as I don't seem to have nearly enough time at the moment to get everything done.

We had our Midwife appointment last Thursday, which aside from being called in nearly an hour late, went OK.  The Midwife we saw at the first appointment (who we both really liked) had moved on though to a different practice, which was a bit of a disappointment, and I walked into the room to find my ex's ex (yes, keep up please) sitting at the table with my replacement Midwife..turns out she is in the 1st year of studying a Midwifery degree now.  Slightly odd feeling talking about the surrogacy etc to her, but I didn't feel embarrassed or anything as I haven't got anything to be ashamed of...if anything it just proves that i'm actually a very nice person! Ha ha.  The Midwife found the babies heartbeat really quickly and it was great for T to be able to hear it, every little helps I think when trying to make it feel as real as we can for her.  My iron levels came back as low in my last set of blood tests, as I expected them to be, I need to think about really making an effort to get them up.  Mind you I've been feeling pretty well this week generally, felt sick last night but i'll put that down to the massive lunch I had at a work function I had to attend.

This week has been the first week where I've actually "craved" anything, and that's Ice Pops and Extra Strong Mints.  The former is a first craving for me in pregnancy, but the later has been a staple in the diet of my last two pregnancies as well.  Once the craving really kicks in you'll find at least four packets hidden about my person/handbag/house at any one time...I think it's the texture I actually crave more than the mintyness, I really enjoy crunching them, mind you I think it's the same for the Ice Pops as well though.

Last weekend was a bit rubbish as I was on my own as hubby had to work, however I kept myself busy with the kids and it soon passed and Monday morning was soon looming ahead.  This weekend is going to be much better though as T&F have booked to have a gender scan at a local private exciting!  I didn't think I was bothered either way but I am actually really looking forward to knowing what they've got cooking away in there because I know how much more real it's going to feel for them.  It will also be the first time Little M will see her brother/sister which will be absolutely amazeballs, and it will be 3D rather than a standard scan which will be great for her as it'll be so much easier for her to understand what's what.  My rabble will be there too so it'll just be a fabulous day.  I am going to put my cards on the table now and say I think they've got a little boy, and I know Little M thinks the same, but I think the rest of the family are thinking girl.  I don't know why I think boy, but I usually have a hunch with my pregnancies and this is no different.  Roll on Saturday and we'll see who's right I guess, but I will say that my track record for correct guesses is currently 100% :-)

I have been buying more maternity clothes these past few weeks, with the January sales being on and now being in the 2nd trimester it seems like it's a good time.  I bought this Black Skater Dress from ASOS Maternity last week, I liked it as I thought it would work well for either work or at the weekends.  I added the bow you see in the picture myself as I thought it needed just a little something extra.  I also got a pair of long flat black boots (no heels here hoo) to go with it but they were too tight around my calves so went back.

I also managed to get a pair of jeans and a couple of tops at my local branch of Peacocks, which were in the sale.  I do love a bargain! Next of my list is a maternity swimming costume as we often go swimming at the weekends and last time I had to sit out as my cozzie looked ridiculous..and there's no chance you'd see me in a bikini at the moment! Ha ha. 

Anyway, that's about all I've got to update you with this week...see you next week for more of the same.
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