Our 2018 had some pretty awesome highs and although it ended on a massive low healthwise it’s been nice to look back on the rest of the year which was significantly better!
FAMILY FRIENDLY FESTIVALS
It may be difficult to believe, but until 2018 we had never been to a festival as a family. In fact, Mr J. had never been to a festival in his life, and the festivals I went to in my youth certainly couldn’t be classed as “family friendly”!
Geronimo was our first experience of a family festival. We did have a brilliant time, and you can read more about it here. However, there has since been lots of negative press coverage so because of the controversy I’m not going to say much more. Nevertheless, for us, it was a great introduction to family friendly festivals.
Our Timber Festival experience was simply amazing. We adored every minute and had an absolutely beautiful family weekend, enjoying music, crafts, den building, stories, bug hunting and more in the stunning surroundings of the National Forest. We spent lots of time with our fabulous friends from Otis and Us and had a really chilled out, relaxed experience. This was also our first experience of glamping which was great fun! We hired a Bell Tent and the 4 of us snuggled up together under the stars – it was absolutely magical. Luckily, we were blessed with beautiful weather, which certainly made the experience more enjoyable. I wonder whether I’d be quite so effusive about our camping experience if we had experienced the horrendous weather conditions that led to Camp Bestival being cancelled later in the year!
If you’re looking for a chilled out family-friendly festival in 2019 then look no further than Timber – you won’t be disappointed! It was the winner of the “Best New Festival” award at the “UK Festival Awards, 2018” and it was our best festival of 2018 too! You can read more about our Timber experience here and you can get tickets to Timber Festival 2019 here.
Just So Festival
The award-winning Just So Festival is seen by many to be the ultimate family-friendly festival, and it’s not difficult to see why! It’s near enough to home for us to drive so although we attended on the Saturday and the Sunday we didn’t camp.
It was a lot busier than Timber (probably because it’s much more established, celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year) but not as commercialised as Geronimo. Highlights for us were the massive pillow fight (which has to be seen to be believed!), toasting marshmallows on a campfire whilst listening to the wonderful Ian Douglas tell stories, learning circus skills such as how to spin a plate, dancing to classic tunes in the “Flamingo Lounge” and watching a fabulous high wire aerial acrobatics show by moonlight. Oh, and how can we forget singing along to “Seaweed Under the Sofa” with our family’s favourite band, Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers! You can read more about our first Just So experience here.
One thing I really loved about Just So was the dressing up. You can choose allegiance to a tribe (we chose the Fox Tribe) and dress up accordingly. Of course, you don’t have to dress up at all if you don’t want to, but it was so refreshing to see everyone wearing exactly what they wanted and no one judging you or looking you up and down! Grown men going all out and joining their kids in full costumes with glitter, feathers and face make-up was fabulous to see! I often wish I was more “fashionable” and it’s so easy in everyday life to worry about what you’re wearing and worry if you stand out or don’t “fit in” but at Just So you could turn up in a bin bag, stiletto heels and a feather boa and no one would bat an eyelid…which is amazing
We’re hoping to return to both Timber and Just So in 2019, and are also looking into attending some other family-friendly festivals – does anyone have any recommendations?
Yes, unfortunately, both Mr J. and I worked lots during 2018 – but luckily, we both love our jobs! He travels a lot with work and his highlight this year was a week in America. Lots of driving to different areas was involved which although tiring, meant he was able to see some fabulous sights on the way. Lake Tahoe, a large lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains was truly breathtaking, as you can see from the photos below.
However, although I was jealous of those breathtaking views, I was more jealous that he saw, in real life, the Zoltar machine from one of my favourite childhood movies, “Big.” I wonder if his wish came true?!
My travels with work are not half as glamorous! However, I was quite excited that, whilst working in London, I stayed overnight in a lovely hotel, St. Paul’s Hotel in Hammersmith. The hotel used to be a school, and on the 15th May, 1944, the final plans for the D-Day landings were presented to General Eisenhower and senior allied commanders in the school lecture theatre, in the presence of King George VI and Winston Churchill.
Unfortunately in the final months of 2018 my body took a huge hit healthwise. I was incredibly ill and, although I fought for ages to keep going, I eventually had to give in. For me, this was incredibly hard, both in my work and home love lives. I felt that I was letting people down and seriously berated myself for being unwell – even though in my heart of hearts I know that it isn’t my fault and cannot be controlled. I am someone that always gives 150%, so when my health won’t allow this to happen I find it extremely hard to deal with. I’m recovering slowly and have had to take the doctors’ advice to rest and recuperate so hopefully I’ll be back to my “normal” self very soon!
Both children have started new hobbies in 2019. Little Miss started a new Ballet & Tap class, which she loves, and Bean joined our local Beavers’ colony. Mr J. gave me a camera for my birthday so I have started learning about photography and he bought himself a kayak at the beginning of the year and he loves going out in it on the sea to de-stress and re-energise! He’s also had a couple of kite-surfing lessons and wants me to have some too so we can go out together as “buddies”…I’m not too keen but maybe 2019 will be the year to try?! (Don’t get your hopes up, Mr J.!!)
Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have realised by now that we spend as much time as possible visiting my parents on the beautiful island that is Anglesey – our little piece of paradise. As soon as we reach the Britannia Bridge, which crosses the Menai Strait between the mainland and the island, we automatically feel ourselves relax, both physically and mentally, and it is always so hard to leave the island and come back to reality.
Whilst on Anglesey, we love to spend time on the beach, come rain or shine, which is the inspiration for the hashtag I started on Instagram, #sandytoedkids, for pictures of children (and adults) enjoying the beach whatever the weather!
We had lots of family days out on Anglesey and just across the border in North Wales in 2018. Penmon Point was a definite favourite, as was Parys Mountain (which is breathtaking), the beautiful Bodnant Garden and The Hidden Gardens at Plas Cadnant. We had a lovely day in Conwy, on the mainland, and had great fun at Greenwood Family Park, also on the mainland. Stay tuned for lots more Anglesey and North Wales adventures in 2019!
In July we visited the Algarve with my parents for some much-needed r&r. We did manage a couple of cultural excursions: visiting the historical market and streets of Loule, exploring the Roman ruins of Milreu in Estoi, and wandering through orange groves in Tavira. However, the holiday was mainly for resting, chilling out, sunbathing, swimming, barbequing and spending quality time together as a family – it was wonderful!
Closer to home we have spent many a happy day at Trentham Gardens – a wonderful place for a family day out. We also visited World of Wedgwood for the first time which was amazing – you can read more here. Typical Daddy and Bean had a great time at The Regent Theatre, watching their annual panto, and Nativity! The Musical,and as a family we visited the Victoria Hall in Stoke-on-Trent to watch a screening of The Snowman, accompanied by a live orchestra, which was truly magical. We also ventured slightly further afield to The Waterside Arts Centre in Sale to watch a lovely adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas on stage.
Looking Ahead Into 2019
To be completely honest, I have no idea what is in store for us in 2019. We haven’t made many solid plans and are going to go with the flow, making the most of our family time and experiencing things together. Obviously I want to make sure that my health returns to 100% but we’re hoping to go on lots of family days out, visit Anglesey lots and perhaps to go abroad. I want to explore our local area of Staffordshire, Cheshire & Shropshire more as well – there is so much on our doorstep to be enjoyed. Also, the children have loved our visits to the theatre so this is something I want to do more of too – as a Drama teacher I am passionate about introducing children to the arts from as early an age as possible.
So there you go – as they say, “Watch this space!”
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and fun-filled 2019!