Meal Planning Monday (18th August 2014)

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Hello and welcome to another #mealplanningmonday and another one without a plan. Yep, I’m away again so won’t be partaking this week.

Didn’t want you guys to miss out though so planned ahead and got the linky all ready for you!

The linky is below. As last week, if for some reason it’s not there (best laid plans and all that…) then leave your links in the comments!

If you are a newcomer to my blog,  welcome to Meal Planning Monday. I’m sorry I am not here right now to talk you through it but the idea is really simple. You can read more about Meal Planning Monday HERE.  All you have to do to join in is write a blog post about your meal plans for the week and add it to the Linky below. No blog? No matter! Just leave a comment below with your plans or you can join in with our Facebook group and let us know over there!

We’ve also got a great Pinterest board going on.

Follow At Home With Mrs M’s board Meal Planning Monday’s Family Favourites on Pinterest.

If you want to join this collaborative board then let me know. We’ve currently got over 860 followers so it’s another great way to share your recipes and posts with the masses!

Will be back next week!

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Blog Love (13th August 2014)

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It’s been quite a while since I did a Blog Love post but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been merrily reading blogs, I have, I just haven’t had much time to post! I thought it was about time a did another.

My blog reader has been completely full so some of these posts might well be a few weeks old now, doesn’t mean that they are not worth reading though, because they totally are!

Here’s a quick round-up of some of the blogs I have been reading and some of the posts I have enjoyed. I hope that something catches your eye and that you might find yourself a new blog to read!

I loved Italy last August and am planning to go back next August. What you need to know about Italy in August is that Italians tend to shut down and go on holiday, especially during Ferragosto. A Girl in Florence offers up a survival guide should you find yourself there during this time!

A girl after my own heart, Charismagick salutes PINK!

I’ve followed MamaCook for a while now and she has a new blog focusing on grown up food and I am very excited about it. Go check out Eat Like You Love Yourself now!

I’m quite keen on the idea of travelling to Croatia, so Pommie Travels 5 things you should do in Croatia was a great read for me!

Reading more has always been on of my ambitions/resolutions and I found this post from Vivatramp where she talks about how to become more of an avid reader really helpful.

I’m recently took my children to Camp Bestival and enjoyed Seed and Stitches review of a different festival and her thoughts on taking children to festivals.

MummyAlarm visits one of my favourite childhood haunts Wookey Hole. I must take my children there!

And there you have it for this month!

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Meal Planning Monday (11th August 2014)

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I know, it’s a miracle. It’s #mealplanningmonday and I’m on time.

That’s mainly because I am on a meal planning break whilst I am on my ‘olidays.

Doesn’t mean you are all off the hook though. Oh no. Meal planning as normal for you guys. Unless per chance you are also on your holidays right now!

You know the routine! The linky is below. If for some reason it’s not there (best laid plans and all that…) then leave your links in the comments!

If you are a newcomer to my blog,  welcome to Meal Planning Monday. I’m sorry I am not here right now to talk you through it but the idea is really simple. You can read more about Meal Planning Monday HERE.  All you have to do to join in is write a blog post about your meal plans for the week and add it to the Linky below. No blog? No matter! Just leave a comment below with your plans or you can join in with our Facebook group and let us know over there!

We’ve also got a great Pinterest board going on.

Follow At Home With Mrs M’s board Meal Planning Monday’s Family Favourites on Pinterest.

If you want to join this collaborative board then let me know. We’ve currently got over 860 followers so it’s another great way to share your recipes and posts with the masses!

See you soon!

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Camp Bestival 2014 – Part 2

….continued…You can read Part 1 of our Camp Bestival Experience HERE

WI food

The food as before was excellent, so much choice and the Dorset WI tent never ever disappoints. Good basic sandwiches, fresh as you like and tasty cake served with decent tea at fabulous prices. A really good value place to grab a spot of lunch. They were even making special children’s sandwiches to order for £1.50 – jam, marmite or chocolate spread. These went down a treat with my two when they were tired and hungry. We also loved The Feast Collective, there were some seriously good smells coming out of there and it was always bustling, I’d have liked to try more but sadly there’s only so much food you can eat! There’s a slight possibility that we visited Manna Kitchen more than once (okay, three times) to sample their Ultimate Brownies. Best brownies EVER. FACT  Other food highlights included sampling some delights from Los Churros Amigos (YUM!). These were much much better than some churros I have had in the past and the chocolate sauce that accompanied them was delicious.

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The feast collective 1

One of our favourite places to sit and relax was The Travelling Barn with it’s rustic setting and Penny Metal playing some rather weird music – I had to record it and Shazam it to find out what it was when I got home. It was strange but catchy and I am still trying to find out what it is.  At some points, a rather bohemian looking chap who I discovered was DJ Chris Tofu would put on some damn awesome country music and it was definitely my favourite place to be when that was happening! But oh, the drinks prices. Ouch. £8 for a pint of Pimms. EIGHT WHOLE ENGLISH POUNDS? I can buy a whole litre of undiluted Pimms at Asda for £10. I very nearly wanted to ask where they had left their highwayman masks but I was far too polite to do so, therefore I just supped up my overpriced Pimms and enjoyed the music.  They held various children’s workshops in the barn during the day including a very popular ukulele workshop.

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travelling barn workshop

Music-wise, we listened to James a little, though I have seen them before and Mr M stayed out to see De La Soul on Saturday night. The children were pretty tired by Saturday night and they’re not really my bag so I was happy to go back and chill out on the campsite. He said they were very good though and managed to get quite near the front of the stage. I’d like to see some more current (bigger?) acts on the main stage  in the future but that’s probably just me. There wasn’t really enough draw for me on the main castle stage. I tended to prefer watching music on some of the smaller sets and enjoyed a peaceful evening watching Bach to Baby playing some beautiful classical pieces accompanied by some splendid singing on the bandstand. A very nice way to spend your time!

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de la soul

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I was looking forward to seeing Basement Jaxx, though in reality it was so busy we positioned ourselves right at the back and couldn’t really see or hear them very well. The upside was that this did mean we had a most excellent position for the spectacular firework finale on Sunday night. This was definitely a major highlight, the fireworks were outstanding and set in perfect timing to music. Bohemian Rhapsody was a great choice with it’s big build-up. I’ve heard grumbles about the lack of animations/lasers this year being projected onto the castle and we were slightly disappointed that this was absent this year however I still think the fireworks finale was splendid, even with being hit on the head with landing firework debris, an added bonus? Ha. Camp Bestival posted a video which you can watch here so you can see it for yourself.

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My big regrets are that I didn’t get to the silent disco AGAIN. I’m such a lightweight, by 10pm I was so tired from the day that I just wanted to snuggle under my duvet and I had very much intended to try out the spa and sauna but never got around to it – gutted! I thought it was a great idea so I’d be keen to hear from people who did have a treatment or a sauna.

One last point, for some reason, this year the wristbands were designed with a rather handy fixing that served to cut off all blood supply in your arm should you accidentally tighten it. As children do. We were told rather sternly when the bands were put on the children to not to let them tighten them because if we should find ourselves in the position where we might need to cut it off, they weren’t able to give us another. So there. Sucks to be you. Obviously children DO fiddle with these wristbands because they’re annoying with their long flappy bits dragging through your dinner, and therefore my son walked around with a too-tight wristband all weekend.

Oh and two last niggles – kids scavenging your drinks cup out of your hand for the 10p deposit. Not only out of your hand, out of the bins too. I’d be mortified and I feel like such a miser for saying this as I KNOW they are a festival staple and very very popular, well with children anyway, but those darned trollies. I hate them. My ankles hate them. Moving on….

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There is simply so much to do at Camp Bestival that I cannot list it all here – endless workshops and crafts, quirky installations like the observatories you can climb up into, circus skills, shows, comedy, literary readings, the soul park as well as some great venues like the Bollywood tent, Caravanserai and Pigs Big Ballroom which was always buzzing and I wish I had spent more time there. There’s just more there than you’ll ever squeeze into three days. You’ll certainly never be bored at Camp Bestival and if you are, then you’re doing it all wrong!

I’ve tried to be balanced and honest in my review and I know it sounds like I am doing a lot of whinging. We did have an amazing time, honestly, but I can’t help thinking that this is not a cheap festival by any stretch of the imagination. We were lucky enough to be provided with press passes however the same trip (without bringing food and drink into the equation) would have cost me over £500. That’s a lot of dough. I can’t help but feel that for that much money, you should be able to expect better toileting and shower facilities than what is on offer. Especially as you pay a premium for bringing a campervan in or pitching up in Camping Plus.  I know not everyone feels that way through.

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Apart from the niggles we really enjoyed our time at Camp Bestival. Would we go back? Yes we most definitely would. If you never been before and you have young children (or older children for that matter – there is something for every age group, even teenagers) then I’d recommend it. Just bring your own bucket. And loo roll. And hand gel.

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Disclosure: I was provided with press passes for my family to attend Camp Bestival which included a donation of £40 made by myself to the The Bestival Foundation. All words, views and images used in the post are my own.

Camp Bestival 2014 – Part 1

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Last weekend I attended Camp Bestival for the second time. You can read my write-up from my last trip HERE and HERE (apologies for messy format, it was pre-move to WordPress).  I was excited to attend the festival again as on the whole we had a good time and this time the children were two years older and more willing to stay up late. I’ve just read my 2012 posts and pretty much my positives and negatives are the same as they were then. I’m going to split this into two posts as I feel it might get a bit lengthy!

So we packed up the van and arrived at the campsite in good time just after Thursday lunchtime which meant we had a really good pick of the pitches. The campervan field is quite a long trek from the festival but I believe this is due to it being the flattest one they can offer. It’s no big deal, other than the hills of DOOM. I can’t express how much I hate those hills. I’m pretty glad I don’t camp in a tent as lugging my stuff up and down those hills would get right on my nerves. I can tell you, when we left, I was nearly whooping at not having to go up and down those again. The camping field itself though, no complaints.

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My biggest gripe about the campsite was the toilets. I know. Always a festival gripe, but they were bad last time and they were grim this time.  I know I am at a festival blah blah and should expect the toilets to be bad and honestly I do but I do question why FESTIVAL has to equal crappy toilets. There’s no need for it whatsoever. Mr M has been to Le Mans with a lot more (drunk) people (generally men) and he said the toilets there were great. Just because it’s a festival you should accept smelly loos and inadequate facilities? When you’ve spent hundreds of pound? I don’t buy it.

The main problem was there seemed to less toilets in the campervan field than there was last time (I remember an extra bank of them being delivered halfway through last time) and I think even if the organisers had doubled them, it wouldn’t have been enough. By Thursday tea-time toilet tissue had run out (though this was replenished many times over the weekend) and the hand gel had disappeared by Friday morning (and was NEVER replenished). It’s not the end of the world, I alway took my own loo roll and gel but it was a pain in the bum with children as we all went in separately. Then there were the queues in the morning were quite frankly ridiculous. I’ve never seen anything like it. They were equally as bad for the showers. I took a picture to demonstrate the queues, it was worse than this at times and believe me – this picture was taken an hour and a half after the queue first formed, you can’t even see the toilets! I was glad I had a bucket to pee in that’s all I am saying.

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It’s not the be all and and all but the toilet situation really did put a bit of a downer on the weekend. They weren’t much better in other fields or the festivals. Other people have been singing the praises of the compost loos and it’s true, they don’t smell as bad but the times I used them, there was never any loo roll and again, no facilities for cleaning your hands. The crunch is that were simply not enough toilets provided for the number of people. I’ve read comments on Facebook and Twitter which suggest I am not alone in this thought. Come on Camp Bestival, you can do better.

The festival itself was well organised as you would expect and the site was kept clean at all times.  As I happened to mention in my 2012 review, the stewards/security staff (from Showsec, not the Oxfam volunteers) were their normally spectacularly unhelpful and rude selves. They definitely have an “it’s not my job” attitude and if I were the organiser I’d be sacking them off and getting another company altogether. Never seen such a miserable bunch. Not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination but not really fitting with the chilled, family vibe of the festival itself.

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We loved many many things about Camp Bestival and one of our favourite events was the medieval jousting which was absolutely brilliant fun and superbly entertaining. We watched this twice over the weekend as my son loved it so much and he didn’t mind that the format was exactly the same every time. He loved cheering on and there was some good crowd interaction from all the people involved.

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A favourite from last time, we were all pleased to see The Flying Seagulls back again, these guys are definitely my children’s favourite act by far. The Flying Seagulls work in association with charities, schools and care centres in countries such as Romania and Cambodia, as well as in the UK itself, visiting places like orphanages, poor rural communities, schools and hospitals to do arts, music and craft workshops. They also do music lessons, dancing and circus shows and they are very good at what they do. My children could sit for hours watching them and it’s great to know about all the good work they are doing.

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flying seagulls

Samsam Bubbleman from BubbleInc was AWESOME at creating fantastic HUGE bubbles by his wondrous stand of all things bubbles. He must have had the patience of a saint too as there were some rather annoying children popping his large bubble efforts constantly. BubbleInc was definitely somewhere I left most of my money… I had my eye on one of the fab bubble machines but at £100 Mr M put his foot down! Probably for the best.

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The Dingly Dell is a favourite wandering spot and I was pleased to see there seemed to be a whole lot more going on in there this year. It seemed to be buzzing and busy and we enjoyed visiting the National Trust and the Butterfly Conservation stand. We even managed to see some teeny tiny baby peacocks sitting in one of the fields. There’s a children’s play park in here which was perfect for the children to run around and let off a bit of steam.

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The Freesports Park ramp was a huge draw for us on our last visit and this time was no different. There were lots of have-a-go sessions available for children to join in but my two prefer to observe and we sat there for quite a while watching these brave young boys performing their tricks. Pretty impressive I have to say. I always enjoy the music they play here too so it’s a nice place to sit and relax for a while.

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Something my son had been looking forward to was visiting the Skylanders stand and getting a first look at the new Trap Team game which is not released until October. It was a busy and popular area but he managed to get a few goes on the Wii and is very much looking forward it coming out in a few months after playing on it for just a few minutes.

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Other things we saw and did included face painting – it cost £3.50 to have a child’s face to be painted (they did adults too for slightly more money) and the designs that you could choose from were beautiful. We sat and watched the Insect Circus after hearing rave reviews but I’m afraid I didn’t really get it myself and the children got bored quite quickly.

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If you asked my children what the highlight of the weekend was for them, I’m pretty sure they would say that it was holding a Little Owl. Even I was totally won over by it. It was so small and cute and amazingly soft to stroke. The people that ran the stand were just lovely and so patient with the children. It was a totally lovely experience.

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to be continued (and I promise the second part isn’t so moany….. )

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Disclosure: I was provided with press passes for my family to attend Camp Bestival which included a donation of £40 made by myself to the The Bestival Foundation. All words, views and images used in the post are my own.