Friday, 29 May 2015

Festival Fever

The summer of festival fun has begun. First stop was the Hay Festival.

"There's no such thing as fun for all the family," is, I believe, a Jerry Seinfeld quote, and something I have thus far held to be true.

Going to the Hay Literary Festival was a twenty year ambition of mine and when I finally  made it last year, I determined to bring the family back to experience it as soon as I could.  Accommodation is at a premium in the little town during festival time and we found ourselves with no option but to camp. Our few family camping forays have proved...somewhat challenging, so when I was offered an upgrade to a 'yurt', I seized it.

The first day passed in a frenzy of activity. There was face-painting and cartwheel-turning and letters to climb and dinosaur stories and and books to be bought and ice-creams to be eaten and Letters Live for Hearth-mother featuring performances by Sandi Toksvig, Stephen Fry and Jude Law. 


There was even, and this is where we get to the 'fun for all the family' part, a selection of West country ciders for Hearth-father to taste. Though 'taste' suggests a little more delicacy in consumption than perhaps might have been observed in reality.

We were all exhausted at the end of day one and I spent one of the best nights I've had for months - in the comfort of the yurt's double bed with cosy wood-burner at its foot.

Even more to do on day two, with writers to meet and journals to be wrecked and faces to be painted, and a pub-supper. See, something for everyone.

Then marshmallows to be toasted around a campfire before bedtime.

Two weeks until the Isle of Wight festival (though we are child-free that weekend, so it will be an altogether different experience)...

I love summer!

Currently reading: Cruel Summer by James Dawson

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Lords and Ladies of the Dance

I have actually just organised the best eighth birthday surprise and celebration in the world. (Types smugly)

A few months ago I was accidentally watching Graham Norton's show when Michael Flatley was on promoting Lord of the Dance in London. I hadn't known it was his farewell tour and so I thought it would be a nice idea to get a ticket for Gertie for her birthday. (It goes without saying that this also required buying one for her mother to accompany her...) They weren't cheap, but if this was the only time that the current CAID Primary National Champion was going to get to see the world's most famous Irish dancer then so be it.

Through the wonders of the internet I managed to get tickets for the actual day of her birthday from the comfort of my sitting room whilst Graham Norton and Michael Flatley were still chatting.  He seemed like a nice bloke, so with a glass of red wine inside me and an iPad in my lap it suddenly seemed like a good idea to send Mr Flatley a little email explaining the situation.  I put a little picture of Gertie in for good measure.

Twelve hours later I had a reply, and an invitation to meet the cast.

The show was spectacular. More dramatic, exciting and beautiful than I remember from, ahem, twentyyearsagoish. And Michael Flatley himself performed, which we weren't expecting, so Hearth-Mother was a little overcome.

And the lovely cast (who, at the end of a long week probably had far better things to be doing than meeting an eight-year-old girl) were lovely, even singing 'Happy Birthday' to Gertie.

Gertie was amazed by 'Little Spirit' and her breath-taking flexibility on stage; then delighted to discover that in real life she was so petite that they weren't far apart in height. A magical evening was topped off by the gift of a signed programme from the main man himself.

The following day she had a 'pool party' with 25 friends, including raft races and a profiterole tower instead of a cake (Gertie's choice).

Alas, smug as I am and delighted by the success of creating an absolutely unforgettable eighth birthday, I am well aware that I may have peaked too soon.  What on earth to do next year...?

Currently reading: The Liar's Chair by Rebecca Whitney

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Toddler Tribulation

A little snapshot of what life is like in our house if the Coco Pops run out:

It doesn't make for a great start to the day.
And no, Rice Krispies with cocoa sprinkled on top does not make an effective substitute.

Note to self: Keep all breakfast cereal topped up.

Currently reading: Chop Chop by Simon Wroe