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Snacks – Hospital Essentials…


Along with all the clothing, toiletries, and comfort items you’d normally think of, most ‘hospital bag’ lists suggest that you take snacks and drinks along too. Labour can be a looong and tiring process, so it’s quite likely that you (and your birth partner) will get hungry or just need a bit of an energy boost.

The Babycentre site warns that prolonged physical activity (like labour) on an empty stomach can cause your body to start raiding your fat stores, which could give you a headache and make you feel (or be) sick. I’m not sure if I’ll want to eat anything during labour, or if I’ll have the time, but this is what I’ve packed so far…

– a HUGE bag of jelly babies…lots of people recommend them as high energy snacks, and I LOVE them (partly because I like to say “would you like a jelly baby” in Tom Baker’s voice)

– dried mango…because it’s nice and because it had been sitting in our cupboard for a while

– nature valley protein rich cereal bars…I started out with five of these but have eaten two already. If I’m honest, they’re not that great (too dry!) and I’m worried about taking peanuts into hospital, so I might just eat them all and get some seed bars instead…

– poppy and sesame crackers…these are AMAZING. They’re better with cheese but I love them on their own too. I actually can’t believe that I haven’t eaten these already. Cheese flavour crackers would be good too.

– raspberry leaf tea bags…these are the not-so-nice ones (they have a vague tomato soup smell/flavour) but they are individually wrapped which is a definite bonus. I’m not sure if I should take a thermos or not…they should have boiling water and cups in hospital?…surely?

– straws!…to make drinking easier (especially if I’m trying to focus and don’t want to have to lift a bottle/my head)

…the one thing we don’t have yet is drinks. I’m thinking a bottle of water (that we can then refill) and a couple of bottles of Powerade (blue of course) for its energy-giving properties. I used to inhale the stuff when I was doing skate training so I’m hoping it’ll make me feel like a fierce rollergirl again. I’m nothing if not optimistic!

We also need snacks for Luke, but I think he’ll be happy with a multipack of crisps.

I wanted to get a soft-sided cool bag for my snacks, and after looking around the town centre Luke found these little blue ones in the picnic section of Poundland. They’re about the size of a 6-pack of coke, close securely with a zip, and have a useful little pocket at the front too. The handle isn’t very long but it’s long enough to hook over your arm.

We did find a few others but they weren’t much bigger and were all around £5-10. They were a lot sturdier and thicker (so better as cool bags, I’m guessing) but we didn’t really need anything that was overly fancy.

I was worried that the Poundland ones wouldn’t be big enough so we got two. At the moment I’ve only filled one (and there’s still a bit of space in it) so there’s another for Luke (or me if I suddenly get greedy). They’ll be nice to use again after our little one is here for family-day-out packed lunches too.


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Barefoot – Looking Back…Right Back…


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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The Joy of Poundland…

Refering back to my previous post, you need a lot of things to make your camping trip an easy one, and although most of those things are relatively small and cheap, when you add it all up you can spend an inordinate amount on gear when you start out.

I knew that Poundland stocked things like cutlery, kitchenware and a few bits of camping gear, so I figured that it’d be a good place to start when buying all my stuff. In the end, I was very glad that I did because I got a lot of things that I didn’t expect to find and saved myself quite a bit of money.

The best find by far was a collapsible water carrier. It’s not all that sturdy and the tap isn’t as leak-proof as it could be, but it cost a pound (as you would expect from Poundland) and considering that a similar one from ebay would cost about £5 I could afford to buy two in case one splits unexpectedly.

As well as that I bought:

  • a rope
  • tent pegs (£5 from Millets or Blacks)
  • a rubber mallet (around £4 with p&p from Amazon)
  • a wind up torch
  • two tripod-style folding stools
  • some jam jar lanterns to hold tea lights
  • citronella candles
  • salad bowl
  • 4 forks
  • 4 knives
  • 4 teaspoons
  • 4 dessert spoons
  • dust pan and brush set
  • kitchen wipes
  • baby wipes
  • batteries
  • lighters

So, including the water carrier, I spent £22 on stuff that could have cost me around £45-£55 if I’d have bought it all elsewhere…and there’s so much more they sell that I didn’t buy.

They have ground-sheets but they’re only 1×2 metres big. On their own they have some practical uses (they would be very useful for lining the floor of the van/covering the bench seat if it was really muddy, or as a narrow place to take your boots off outside the van/tent) but I think you’d need to patch a few of them together to cover a decent area of ground, and if you’re going to do that then you may as well buy a bigger, slightly more expensive groundsheet and not have to worry about your patchwork floor coming to pieces or leaking at the seams.

Their plastic-backed picnic rugs are also quite small but would be useful for kneeling at the BBQ or as a portable dry seat for a single bum (or two that didn’t mind squishing together)…or you could buy a few and sew them together if you wanted to save some money. Large plastic-backed picnic rugs can be pretty expensive, but I got a decent sized one from a petrol station for about £8 on a half price offer. I bought a similar one a few years ago but that sadly drowned in beer and mud at a festival last year (it would have been salvageable  but I packed it into a plastic bag and forgot about it for a few weeks. It wasn’t pretty…). It was incredibly useful before I ruined it, so I’m very glad I could replace it without spending over £15 or having to sew a whole bunch of rugs from Poundland together!

As well as the things I’ve mentioned, you can also buy:

  • plastic and enamel tableware
  • emergency shelters
  • spare guy ropes
  • lanterns
  • storage containers
  • kitchen and BBQ utensils
  • disposable BBQs
  • table cloths
  • pegs
  • food
  • books
  • CDs
  • stationery
  • art supplies

…and loads of other things that you could probably invent a use for while you’re camping.

After you’ve done some window shopping online and gauged the prices of the stuff you need, it’s definitely the best place to start the real-life shopping, and it’s a fraction of the price of most ‘proper’ camping shops. Some of the stuff may only survive a few uses (I don’t have much faith in the tripod stools) but in some situations, like festivals, you may only want to take cheap things that you won’t miss if they get lost, broken, or irretrievably covered in mud.


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