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A List…of Lists…

Today marks the start of week 30 of my pregnancy. I’ve got 7-12 weeks of pregnancy left (that’s hoping that our little doesn’t decide to put in an early appearance), which is loads (LOADS) of time to plan and organise.

Yeah right

I should have started already, but I haven’t, so this is a list of lists I need to write (and then put into action)…

  • baby stuff we need for the early days
    • (sub list) baby stuff we already have
    • (sub list) baby stuff we still need to get
  • things I want to MAKE before his arrival
    • (sub list) crafting supplies I need
  • things I need to DO before his arrival
  • what to put in my hospital bag (and baby’s…and Luke’s)
    • (sub list) all the stuff we need to get for the hospital bag(s)
  • labour music playlist

…and then there’s all the things I need to find out more about (like do we use sheets or a sleeping bag? what washing liquid should we get? what’s the best fabric for making baby wipes? how do I use a sewing machine?)…

…and all that is just the THEORY of us getting organised…

*panic*

At least I’m realising this now and not in 5 or 6 week’s time. I shall report back accordingly.

 
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Posted by on June 28, 2015 in Lists, Pregnancy

 

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Barefoot – Looking Back…Right Back…

***FROM THE ARCHIVE OF DRAFTS***

Despite having Old Red for over a year (*ahem* almost three), I’m still a bit of a newbie when it comes to packing for outings. In some ways I am brilliantly organised, sometimes usually to the point of having way too much stuff, but I’m still learning what we need and what we don’t need, and our trip to Barefoot Festival was yet another education.

What Worked…

  • Our gazebo!…last year (*ahem*…YEARS AGO) for Beat-Herder I bought a gazebo on a whim. This gazebo was NOT waterproof. Pie and I discovered this when we saw torrents of rain pouring through it and onto all our neatly stored stuff. The new gazebo has a woven plastic roof so it was much better at keeping rain out (when it wasn’t falling diagonally that is).
  • Once again, Poundland was a brilliant source of camping supplies…we got some tiny waterproof picnic rugs (just big enough for two people to put their bottoms on, or for one person to stretch their legs out) that were really light and folded up very small so they fitted in my festival bag. The main tent didn’t have any flooring so they were really useful to keep our bums dry.
  • Also from Poundland…a pack of three rain ponchos for a quid. The hoods on them were rubbish but they were easier than a coat to put on for a brisk run to the toilet, and you don’t mind leaving them outside in the rain as much as your favourite mac (we tucked ours into the roof of the gazebo).
  • Big fleecy blankets from Primark…they not only made excellent blankets (as you might expect), but they also worked really well hung from the gazebo as sunshades. We kept them up with pieces of rope (from Poundland of course) and LOTS of gaffa tape. They made our camp feel like a very cosy little den.
  • Instruments!…we took Luke’s guitar, my ukulele and an ocarina, along with quite a few music books. We had many lovely hours sitting in the sunshine and singing our hearts out.
  • Cooking for ourselves…we had a meal plan (of sorts) for the weekend, and took a BBQ along with us. We factored in a few meals out so we got to try wood-fired pizza and an amazing french-toast croissant, but ultimately we spent very little on food and ate really well. Admittedly, the fact that Luke is a chef didn’t hurt either…

Next Time We Will…

  • Remember that it’s never too early to start packing…especially if it’s camping stuff and things you don’t use on a daily basis. On the other hand, there is definitely a point when it’s too late to pack, and that point is about half an hour after you planned to leave. Next time I will try not to blur this line again…
  • Stick to the list…the list is there for a reason. If you don’t give the list the respect it deserves and put it in a pile of paper on the coffee table you are bound to have to go home for pillows and coffee presses, and you’ll end up spending the entire weekend buying tea at £1.50 a cup and having to barter for tiny sachets of sugar…

And We Will Take…

  • MORE BEER!!…we didn’t bring enough so we ended up buying 6 pint bottles of cider from the beer tent on our last night. That set us back twenty-four quid. TWENTY FOUR QUID!
  • More tarpaulins and blankets to make rain/wind/sun shields for the gazebo…and more rope! We took a small bundle but nowhere near enough to make an adequate ‘den’. Our den kept falling apart.
  • Pegs!…both of the clothes and tent variety. These would also have been very useful in the construction of sun/rain shields.
  • More instruments…like drums and a tambourine and maracas. Guitars and ukuleles are ace, but it would have been nice if everyone (kids included) could have joined in an made some noise!

……………………………………………….

The majority of this post was written not long after Barefoot Festival, some time in the summer of 2013. Now it’s March 2015, I’m three months pregnant and I’m very aware that the next time we go to a festival we will probably have our little one in tow (unless, by some miracle, we manage to make it to a festival this summer…when I’m six months pregnant) so we’ll have a whole new set of things to take into consideration.

On one hand I’m very excited at the thought of the adventures and fun the three of us will have together.

On the other hand, I’m already wondering what essential stuff we’ll forget this time…

 

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Rocking the Ribble Valley…

So, I’m FINALLY getting round to typing up our festival exploits…yes, I know, I’m terrible.

I went to Beat-Herder armed with a notebook, some pens, and the heartfelt intention to journal each day and type the resulting entries up once I got home. In my usual style, I broke my promise to myself and ended up writing pretty much nothing at all. I couldn’t help it – I was having far too good a time, and I wasn’t about to sit down and start writing about it at great length.

Instead, I’ve taken the few bits I did write and joined them up with my (sometimes hazy) memories and a lot of photographs (mostly of clouds) and I shall now attempt to make them into something coherant on here…

Here goes!

Thursday 27th of June was a bit of a whirlwind of shopping and packing and Sarah arriving and late-night expeditions to Tesco and a LOT of worrying and a spot of insomnia. I was convinced that something would go wrong and that either I’d cause an accident or Red would break down on the way there. I finally fell to sleep at about 6am. Considering I had to get up and wash, dry and straighten my hair, our plan of leaving at 9am was clearly not going to happen…

Friday dawned and, after checking the oil and water, we eventually got our asses on the road at about 11am (totally my fault). I had completely failed to get a propane top-up before we left and so the plan was to try and pick one up on the way. We stopped just down the road from my house to get £60 of diesel (which almost filled the tank and saw us through the 320 miles we travelled with a bit left for another adventure) but they didn’t carry gas…a trend which continued throughout the garages and garden centres that I insisted we visit (making us later still…sigh). We had quite a bit of cooking and tea-making planned for the four days, and I knew we’d need a cuppa and a bacon sandwich on Monday morning…if we ran out of gas I would not be happy with myself.

It turns out that I didn’t need to worry on the first count…Red did amazingly!

91 miles of the journey were spent on the M6 (yawn) and I did between 50-60mph when the traffic allowed. We didn’t have to deal with too much slow traffic, although it did get heavy at times. It was quite scary being boxed in and having to manouvre such a bulky vehicle, but I really enjoyed it! It was pretty windy at times though, and I didn’t like being gusted into the next lane.

I had to do a few turns in the road during our fruitless search for a gas refill, but they were all fairly easy, and I got more and more confident with the weird clunky 5-speed gear box as the trip went on. The only problem we had was that the oil light kept flashing when I was on the clutch and finding the biting point. It got worse as the journey went on so I could only assume that the oil was getting too low at times and that he was losing it as we were going along. I know the oil filter leaks a little and there’s only ever a tiny drop of oil on the drive under him, so it must only be leaking when the engine is running. I had oil though, it was easy to solve.

We eventually arrived at about half past three and bobbed and bounced down the track in a conga-line with other vans and cars to find a spot in the squishy, muddy camper field. Pretty much anything passes for a camper van, including cars draped in tarpaulins, Land Rovers with really awesome safari-type roof tents, ambulances, old coaches, and the people who were canny enough to buy a van pass for their cars so they could set their tents up without having to carry everything across the mud-miles from the car park to the camping field. Clever. This wasn’t allowed in the festival’s camping rules, but the marshals were busy getting people over the mud and didn’t seem to be paying too much attention to what was going up where.

The grass was already quite churned up where the vans were pulling off the track and onto the field, and Red’s gears made getting to a free spot pretty scary. I was worried that the wheels were suddenly going to start spinning and that we’d end up stuck there all afternoon, but I should have had more faith in us. We totally did it! And then we could get down the the serious business of setting up camp and drinking some rum.

Gazebo sides + wind = impending fail

We had a van, a gazebo (with two sides), a tent, a windbreak and a big blue plastic sheet that was doing an impersonation of a groundsheet. What we didn’t have was plentiful amounts of tent pegs. Red has two double beds so we decided to leave the tent in its bag and both sleep in the van. We thought we’d have an easy job with just the gazebo to put up, but it was brand new so none of the poles slotted together easily. I have terrible grip and wasn’t any use at all, and poor Sarah got blistered hands for her valiant and skilled efforts at getting the impossible poles together. The wind was pretty strong and within a few minutes of securing the sides to the gazebo, two of the little velcro ties had torn off. We decided that was a good enough reason to take the sides down and have a rethink, and so the windbreak went up instead. It was MUCH better…until one end of it fell over. Repeatedly.

After we stole a few more tent pegs from the less delicate corners of our structure, we managed to get the windbreak to stay up…for a day.

Windbreak! Win!…until it fell over…repeatedly.

And then we put down the groundsheet, folded the table out, went to collect water and had a well-deserved cup of tea. And some wine. Lots of wine.

Our view from Red’s nose as we set up our little campsite…

We hadn’t really eaten and so, after some more wine, we set about the task of testing Red’s stove and our unknown gas supply. Burger time.

I’d like to say that we made our own burgers and that they tasted all the more awesome for being handmade and fresh…but we didn’t. We bought pre-packed ones. And they were still awesome and we didn’t have to get minced beef under our finger nails when we had several days of no running water ahead of us. We weren’t lazy…we were sensible! Honest!

Burgers and onions happily cooking away on Red’s little two-ring hob…

Another thing I forgot was kitchen wipes, so what with these burgers and the sausages and bacon that was to come, things got a little greasy around the stove area. I did, however, remember to take a little melamine dish to use as a spoon rest, so at least there weren’t any puddles of fat glooping around the place.

So, we ate, we drank, we watched the rain and decided to set out the beds in preparation for our drunken return later on. Although I’d been up into the roof conversion already, I hadn’t dared get up with the bed actually pulled out before. The wood felt really bendy and flimsy and I was convinced that I’d break it. Sarah had the utmost confidence in it though, so I trusted in her confidence, pulled the board out, rearranged the matresses and then clambered up onto the work surface and slithered into the roof space. And it was fiiiiiiiine.

Mr Smiley flying in the rain, as viewed from one of my teeny “upstairs” windows…

It was so comfy I didn’t want to get down again…but I did. Slowly. As I’m sure most van owners could attest, the carpeted interior makes for easy all-over carpet burn if you climb around without due care. We togged up, filled our water containers with wine, and made our way along the boggy paths to collect our wristbands and explore the festival properly.

Dark clouds rolling over…the promise of clearer skies ahead…

I’ve only been to one festival before (Cloud Cuckoo Land, 2011) and that had just 500 attendees, 4 ‘stages’ and just one food vendor and one bar. It also had flushing toilets, running water and hot showers. It in no way prepared me for the massive muddy funfest that faced me when I strapped on my wristband and walked into the muddy squishpit that was the campsite and the arena.

It. Was. Massive.

Beat-Herder has a capacity of 5000 and this year they hosted 11 stages and had loads of vendors selling food and clothes and bags and circus tricks and god knows what else. There was a tattoo studio, a stone circle, a camp shop, cash machines, a barber shop…and mud. Lots of mud. We collected a program and slid round the stages and stalls before finally settling on pancakes from the Happy Crepe stall.

Serious smeary swirly batter spreading action…

…and folding…

Sarah had cheese and spinach in hers and said it was amazing, but I think savoury pancakes are a hideous idea and went for an apple and cinnamon filling. It was difficult to eat by hand and tasted a bit like a Lush bath bomb (not that I’ve eaten one), but it was edible and made me want to go back for more the next day.

Death in Vegas playing on the main stage as we ate crepes in the rain…poetic eh?

It started to get properly dark just as we were beginning to get properly drunk, and as we wandered around full of crepes the lights started to come into their own…

Beautiful orb lights…and the Lost point…

Orb close-up…I LOVE this photo…

And then we found one of the bars and bought a whole load of cider.

Nice.

The stone circle and fire pit…as viewed  through CiderVision(tm)

We spent the next few hours squishing round the muddy arena, inspecting the smaller music tents and trying to find things to spend our money on. On our muddy travels we discovered the brilliant Tyrannosaurus Alan in the Rajazzle tent and spent a happy half hour leaping around like special people. Then I bought a mahoosive sack of a shoulder bag that not only holds EVERYTHING, but doesn’t hinder my dancing! Festival perfection.

At midnight, we headed into the ToilTrees a stage hidden away in the woods with funky stripy lighting spiralling away up the tall tall trees, a scary little town, and – more importantly – a bar. We stayed there til three and danced our asses off to Utah Saints, Fake Blood and Eddie Temple Morris, whilst making copious trips to the bar. We even managed to find a firm piece of ground to dance on!…which was awesome until I fell off the edge of it and almost ended up on my ass in the mud.

…and at some point we decided enough was enough and we should probably hit the disgusting port-a-loos for the last time before retiring to Red’s comfy beds. I think it was about 5am when I passed out whilst staring out over the campsite from my cosy roof bed…and the music was STILL playing.

We slept til lunchtime, and the occasional showers rained in through the open roof vent onto my drunken face. It was all rather lovely until I had to give in, get out of bed, and make a welly-clad trudge to those horrible toilets. And after sausage sandwiches we settled down to an afternoon of tea and biscuits and books and naps and writing…

Well…we did!

Our neighbours played awesome music and when they were quiet we could hear the various music wafting over the fields from the stages, and occasionally Red buzzed with the bass. The weather was intermittently glorious and terrible, but it was mostly terrible and we were even treated to a spot of thunder and lightning! It was that afternoon that we discovered my gazebo, a last-minute and not-cheap purchase, was NOT waterproof. I had, in effect, bought a rather expensive sun shade.

Beautiful mountainous Saturday afternoon clouds…

View from the front of the van…moody clouds over campervans and a tipi

Several drops of rain on my window pane…

A cosy place to hide with our hangovers…

Eventually we decided it was time to get back on the cider wagon, cook dinner and head back on out before we missed Saturday night…

Corned beef hash patties (made with sweet potato)…NOM…

Our main aim for Saturday night was to see Orbital on the main stage and then find something to fill the time before we could head into the trees to watch James Holden and Nathan Fake. I’m a geek, but I’m not a music geek and so I was happy to get my CiderVision(tm) on and be lead around to listen to awesome things. Through the mud. The OCEANS of mud.

Sarah…and the mud…and ahead is the queue to get into the arena…

The sea of mud, as viewed from the incredibly long queue…

We ate more crepes…

Sarah’s banana and nutella crepe…

And then…Orbital…(came on stage…we didn’t eat them)…

Orbital on the main stage…

Taken during one of the duller tracks..one of the flags and the (almost) full moon…

I have to admit…I didn’t really like the first few tracks they played, but I got into it more as they picked up their pace. I also have to admit that I REALLY liked their dubstep (ohh, the shame) and kinda went a bit crazy during those tracks (well, as much as the mud would let me anyway) and as we bopped around like crazy people we started talking to our new friend, Robb, who was kind enough to take pictures of us hugging like the soppy gits we are…

Mwaaaahhhh

And then Robb introduced us to Ros and we all danced merrily around! And a good time was had by all.

Ros and Robb and Sarah…as seen through CiderVision(tm)

We found out that Robb was part of a folk band called Happy Red Tractors, who were playing a set the next day, and we chatted and laughed and danced and when midnight rolled around Orbital finished playing and I convinced everyone that the best idea to fill our time was to go and watch Black Lace. That well-known dance group. Ahem.

They agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to go with me, and my little heart filled with joy. One of my ex-boyfriends had one of those cheesy mobile discos (don’t laugh, it was brilliant when I was 17) and so I have an inane love for things like Jive Bunny and, indeed, Black Lace. I was having the time of my life dancing to Superman, and I REALLY wanted to join onto the Conga and it was awesome awesome AWESOME!…

BLACK LACE!!!

…and then they insisted we leave! How rude!…and I didn’t even get to hear Agadoo. For shame,

And so we headed to the ToilTrees again for James Holden and Nathan Fake. The night is rather blurry from the trees onwards, which I attribute to the proximity of the bar, but I know I didn’t like Nathan Fake because I got bored and went for a wander round site til it was time to do something more interesting, like retire to someone’s tent and meet more people and talk until way past sunrise. It was the most excellent of nights. I know that because I didn’t take any photographs.

I’d love to be the kind of person who has photos of the fun and the dancing and the bands, but the truth is that if I’m taking photos I’m not leaping round like a crazy person and being part of the action. I’d rather have the memories than the photos. But I still want to spend £hundreds on a new DSLR. Go figure…

Sunday morning disappeared entirely and it was mid-afternoon by the time bacon was consumed and Robb introduced us to the delights of brandy-laced coffee for breakfast (it may have been afternoon but it was breakfast to us). Then it was yet more lazing around until we had to drag ourselves across the mud once again. My hair was ruined by rain and time so, despite the wind (and the fact that it was slightly too small for my head) I decided to hide my shame with my straw trilby. Bad idea, Louisa...

And it was time for Happy Red Tractors!!

Happy Red Tractors on the Stage in Smoky Tentacles Shisha Lounge…

They were toe-tappingly, boot-stompingly brilliant, and I boogied down as much as the previous two nights of liver-bashing would allow. It was the best way to kick off a Sunday of music, and when their set was over we met more people, made a plan and set out into the evening…

A dragon flies over the festival….

Soaring dragon in the Sunday sky…

The plan was to hit the main stage and catch The Beat and Lee Scratch Perry. And what a plan! I don’t think I’ve ever had a more chilled out Sunday…I got drunk and I danced in the gentle rain with my oldest friend and my newest friends and it…was…awesome.

I did my usual trick of claiming not to know who either of the acts were (I knew the names but I couldn’t have named anything they’d done) and then saying “Ohhh yeah! I know this!”…and both sets were really REALLY good…I was utterly knackered by the end of it. Someone threw a bra a Scratch while he was on stage and he was so appreciative that another twenty or so followed!

A not-very-good picture of Lee Scratch Perry…and I think that’s a bra he’s waving around there!

Sarah and James…and James’s hat! That, and his tallness, helped me find the group again if I lost them!!

James and Helen, squinting in the flash light…

And once again the night gets hazy and blends into tents and talking and splodging through mud and getting to sleep at sunrise…and only two photos emerge from this point in the night…

First my hat toppled off onto the squidgy mud…

After its first dive into the splooge…

I rescued it and wore it with pride – a casualty of the mud. Festival grime for the win!

…but then it fell off into a massive splooshy puddle of liquid mud and…well…see for yourself…

In its final resting place…the bin.

It seemed beyond salvation, so in my drunken state I decided that it was now a fatality and in a fit of poetic whimsy I placed it atop a wheelie bin, took a photograph and sadly left it behind.

And so the festival was over…

We’d planned to leave in the morning and get Sarah back to her hometown of Derby by lunchtime. Like most of our previous plans we ended up scrapping it and we slept through til the afternoon. The queue to leave the site was scarily long and non-moving, so we elected to put the remaining gas to the test and drink gallons of tea until it started to clear. At some point we got round to taking down the windbreak and the gazebo, and after a bit more tea it was time to check the oil and water and join the now-moving queue.

…except I couldn’t get the oil cap off. And neither could Sarah. And the oil was too low.

We may have been the last people to take down our camp, but luckily we weren’t the last people to join the queue, so I enlisted the help of a nearby strong man who (eventually) got the oil cap off for us. Having not had to fill it before I didn’t know that I needed a funnel and therefore didn’t have one. It made for a very messy attempt at getting oil into the sump, but I managed it somehow and we could set off on our way.

It was five thirty by the time we left the festival gates and hit the road. We stopped for coffee along the way and got to Derby three hours later, and it was just gone ten by the time I finally got home. Old Red may have been slow, but he got everyone where they needed to go. He’s a star.

Sarah is totally right…I spent so much time worrying that we’d break down or run out of gas, and neither of those things happened. Red got us across seas of mud and tarmac and the gas saw us through three breakfasts, two dinners and a seemingly impossible amount of hot drinks. And yeah, I forgot things that we could have used (like kitchen wipes and tent pegs and a beanie to cover my hideous hair), but it wasn’t the end of the world to have to live without them. I think I’ve learnt that the time to stress is when the things go wrong and not before. That way you can accurately judge how stress-inducing such a situation might be and you don’t waste time needlessly anticipating the worst. If I can remember that in the future then I might get a little more sleep!

In conclusion…Beat-Herder was awesome and brilliant and fabulous and great and I will be buying an earlybird ticket and a van pass for 2013 as soon as they’re on sale. Red is a comfy ride and a cosy home, and I had the best travelling companion I could possibly have. Yes it’s soppy and lame, but there’s no one I’d rather have had in my passenger seat than my oldest and bestest friend…and she reads a map like a boss.

Our first trip was the ultimate in successes and so I’d just like to repeat the closing sentiment of my last post…

…WE DID IT!!!!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on July 13, 2012 in Camping, Festivals, Food, Travel

 

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