Day two: Glastonbury Adventure. Soggy bottoms 

I woke up pretty early this morning considering how tired I had been this morning. I love waking up first in the caravan though.. I love going outside and sitting in this huge place that’s going to be so full of people and craziness.. Just me and the odd straggler. Although I’m guessing come Wednesday night there will be more than the odd straggler at 7am.. It is a 24 hour party . 

It was quite sunny and warm this morning but by mid afternoon we were soaking! We had a cooked breakfast and Mr O got his cards for Father’s Day .

We managed to put up one of the workshop tents and fill it with gear. We had to help move the fire point from in front of our pitch too which involved emptying three drums of water into another, rolling the said drums over and re filling! Don’t ask! Especially as later on when the rain was really coming down we had to bail the water out of the drums before it was about to overflow into my tent,

The crew turned up this afternoon, Tara and the kids came and Sara and little victor turned up about 9pm. We have an extremely tight camp! Very squashed in.. We certainly don’t have to keep three metres apart like a camping and caravaning  site! God Tara’s tent opens into our awning and there is literally a foot of space in front of Sara’s camper van door. The plan it to tarp over between the camper van and our awning do we all have the awning as a communal ( and dry) space, Matt and Gracie turn up Wednesday ( Grace still has an exam to do) Matt will be camping in a similar place opening again into the awning, 

It’s very cosy! And we expect to see each other in our pjs!

So really that’s it today., once the rain came , the kids played with play doh and sulvanian families, we drank tea and stayed dry as much as we could. We are lucky we got hear yeast ready, it gave us some extra time so today we could have a slow ish day! 
(Keith and LIBBY did go on a bike ride, keith could barely breath when he got back and LIBBY spent most of the next hour photographing her muddy legs in selfies?!?! )

Now Sara is in we can put the other workshop tent up, which will block us all off and we can start to make things pretty! 

Lola is dry and cosy and we are very greatful for her. Kitty came in and literally fell into bed exhausted before, and the others weren’t far behind her. Once more I’m lay here feeling warm, dry and greatful .. Just wish Grace was here and then I can  really relax! 

What if? The normal Brexiteer on the street tells their story, 7 years on!


It’s seven years since we left the EU and things didn’t pan out as we thought, well all of us that voted to leave certainly didn’t think we’d end up like this!

We are in a terrible state and poverty and illness litters the dirty streets. Our homes are ruined and derelict. We are not a beautiful and Great Britain anymore!

We are at breaking point, no one can remember that only a few years ago how things were so different. How good we had it!

After we left the Eu the costs to trade with the rest of Europe doubled and that was just with businesses that wanted to trade with us. Countries just didn’t want to work with us, years of built up anger towards the English and their controlling history were brought to the surface and without the governing rules of the eu no one was forced to trade with us.

It was a perfect opportunity for other nations to make money from us too, they could charge what they wanted now, knowing we had no choice. It killed us as a nation, something the rest of the world said we had coming.

The small businesses went first. Even the companies who didn’t import or export products suffered. The realisation that every company needed something from somewhere else hit home. We were much more dependant on the rest of the world that we though!

So much was imported, wether it was simple parts, packaging or ingredients, so much of what we used would have been imported.

Then as costs rose,  businesses rose their prices to the customer. Of course as things progressed the normal man and woman on the street just didn’t have the money to survive and they certainly could’t pay so much more for the luxury items they once enjoyed.

Farming suffered,  as a lack of European workers left them short staffed and unable to produce as much as they once did.

That first year so many crops and produce rotted in the ground as thousands of European workers returned to their countries. It was a harsh turn of events as the British public were so desperate for the food they grew!

The second year farmers cut their agricultural quota more than in half to enable them to cope with lack of staff.

Many said because of the high cost of exporting food, their trade had dwindled and they simply didn’t need to grow so much anyway. But of course the people in the UK were desperate for their food.. but they just couldn’t get to it!

Year three saw farmers simply not growing , they couldn’t cover their living costs and the cost of growing the products, the public didn’t welcome the price increases that were there to cover the losses and with the huge rise in tax that year , farmers weren’t the only ones to cut their losses.

Those that do produce fresh produce now use all sorts of chemicals and take GM measures to ensure maximum growth at minimum cost. To think we were so keen to eat organic and naturally only a few years ago! We remember how even non organic growers had to abide by eu rules around the use of chemicals and and general farming standards! Not anymore, the U.K. Can’t afford such luxury of regulations!

Larger businesses started to suffer in year three as the tax rises hit them hard. The government explained that this was due to the dramatic fall of trading small business along with the sharp reduction in people actually paying tax ( so many became unemployed and tens of thousands of foreign workers and families returned home) The increase in people claiming benefits and using the nhs , the country had lost a huge amount of incoming tax!.

Taxes were crippling and companies started to lay off people more and more.. Business had dropped anyway with the lack of overseas trade and materials , but with the added high taxes the inevitable happened.

By year 4 only four huge multi national companies really existed. As they were funded internationally they had money to stay afloat and they pretty much controlled the market place and thus us as a nation.

Many say these company leaders are more powerful than the government, we all know that many ‘deals’ are made and corruption is rife!

The Food that is available in the shops tends to be preserved and long lasting rather than fresh and healthy. As a nation we get the cheapest and lowest quality and it is still more than triple the price it would have been four years ago.

These internationally owned companies have us over a barrel. Most are owned by huge American companies and they pile items high and sell them all at a premium.

With no EU LAW protecting our rights, minimum wage is no longer in place. The government were forced into scrapping minimum wage and encouraged more zero hour contracts. But these zero hour contracts are not like they used to be.

The multinationals wanted cheap workers and without them it wasn’t worth them trading in the UK. (So they say) . Controlled by these budgets, factories and manufacturers actually returned to days gone by where men would turn out every morning a queue hoping they would get a few hours work… The bosses may pick one or two but it’s luck of the draw if you get work that day..

It’s impossible to ever make plans or feel comfortable because no one has the luxury of full time work.

Women became tied to the home and children, with the factories and employers had the luxury of picking and choosing who they wanted to work. So investing in a woman was not good business, maternity pay was scrapped and no one could afford child care! The very notion is quite laughable!

There was no laws on discrimination , we all learned pretty quickly that equality is only available to the privileged.

With hordes of badly treated working men, the stress of poverty and general misery, tensions in the home were always palpable.

Then as those tensions rose which every blow, alcoholism, drug use and domestic violence was at an all time high.

Funnily enough the one thing that boomed was the drug and alcohol trade! Don’t misunderstand, there were no pubs or nightclubs anymore and the quality or alcohol and drugs weren’t exactly great.. needs must… moonshine and dodgy chemicals where the chosen escape for many.

It comes as no surprise that depression and emotional health suffered greatly. The poorest among us were in continuous battles against illness and infection too.

The NHS couldn’t cope! Hundreds and hundreds of expert Drs and nurses from all over the world left their posts in the uk and returned home, or decided to work abroad where their skills were better rewarded. The Americans had put the prices for all the pharmaceuticals we bought from them too. What once would have cost us pence now cost us hundred of pounds. The nhs counts afford to dispense drugs at the price so the public had to pay for the meds’ they needed or simply go without. They said the nhs still existed but really it was just a free advice clinic, no one ever received treatment unless they had money to pay for it.

This left hospitals over-run with the sick, queuing not only in coridors but in car park and streets.. People were often waiting days to be seen.

Infant deaths were at an all time high with malnourishment and lack of maternity care stated as the cause.

There’s no googling symptoms, no one has wifi, you are lucky if you have electric! There are local people who have some knowledge of first aid and natural cures, but even they charge huge amounts to see someone. Things really have changed! But on a macabre positive there were less people making up our population. People dying from once treatable illnesses and families choosing not to bring children into the mess we had made, we were a county with a rapidly decreasing population.

The country’s budget was severely stretched and at the end of year five,  cuts had been made in all areas.

Roads were falling apart and motorways unlit and full of pot holes. Lack of funding for the police along with higher instances of  domestic and community crime meant road and trafic police were barely in existence.. Driving wasn’t safe or practical anymore. This had a huge effect of trade too.. Again costs rose to cover it! A vicious circle indeed!

Not many had cars anyway, fuel costs were more than five times than they used to be. With the Middle East flexing their muscles and making it known they wouldn’t do deals with the U.K. We found oil prices were ridiculous and owning a car was the last thing people were worried about.

Theft and street crime was massive. The desperation and poverty after the total collapse of free health care and benefit system in year 6 simply lead people in to resorting to theft and aggression.

Those few in employment who had maintained good property and a decent living condition, found themselves in constant terror. Break-ins, killings and simple theft was common place and many of those previously in jobs found themselves with nothing. Everything had been stolen from them with great force and the middle classes found themselves in the breadline with everyone else.

Increases in violent killings were huge and rising,  if you weren’t  killing to survive you were killing to protect yourself.

Policing was next to nil and what there was was more aggressive with military style aggression. Calling 999 was a thing of the past .

Now in year seven, we tend to survive day to day on what we are able to produce and grow ourselves. Water isn’t as clean as it was so we catch as much as we can to drink and water the garden. But much of our water is often taken during the night along with the food we grow and anything we manage to make. We have razor wire around our home and garden now and we have had to resort to violence more than once to protect our things and our children.

It’s not safe to send the kids to school, the schools are overcrowded and in a bad state anyway , with their own problems of discipline or lack of it. I think kids that do go only go to escape the misery of the home.

The government started off (seven years ago) by introducing an eight hour school day and they pushed the kids like mad to get the highest qualifications. It was all about showing the world how good we were! But that’s gone now.. It was always going to be impossible to maintain, especially as we struggle as we do.

We, as a family, tried to leave the uk and find work abroad in France or further afield. Unfortunately many the countries capped all UK migration in year one, leaving us with little or nowhere to go.

Many have tried to make their own way across into Europe on little boats or hiding under cars and trucks. Many have died, many arrested and sent back. Those that were left were herded into camps and treated like animals.

Locals abroad would abuse them and blame them for every crime going, sanitation in the camps was terrible,  many travelled on foot to try find a clean and friendly place to settle. But no one country wants them.

They are abused, tired and hungry. Not to mention without a home. They just keep going , walking, wandering… entire families looking for somewhere to work and live their lives. People who only eight years ago, had houses, food, cars, computers and well paid jobs and openly spoke about their hatred of refugees coming to the uk! The irony!!!

Others look at us like we are beggars now.. It’s the hardest thing in the world. We have lost our dignity.

Many turn to anger , others simply put their heads down and keep trudging along. They are forced in to telling lies, giving false names and even stealing to feed their children. But none of this helps the reputation of the British refugees .

No one knows what is worse, staying and been in total fear all the time, living in slums and without any chance of an escape.. Or trying to escape, risk our lives and liberty… to hopefully find a new life somewhere?

I don’t know, I think we will try and get across to France. I fear for my children here and I fear for my husband. The local gang of thieves are constantly calling trying to get him to help them. We have to pay them in food and water to keep us ‘safe’ our supplies are nearly out.. We have nothing left !

Great Britain is not so great anymore. Shame we didn’t see what we had when we had it!
EXTREME? Maybe.. Maybe not.. Let’s hope so!

Day one: Glastonbury festival. Coming home and long drop psychology 

We spent the entire last 48 hours packing and sorting do when it turned 3am and alarm went off we were less than enthusiastic to get up. But we did and with a little bit of messing about joining the caravan on the van and getting the kids in without any tired induced falling out, we set off

I totally love this time of year, rain or shine,  the break of dawn is always stunning! 

We stopped for breakfast at half six and after a pastry and kitty a quick play in the grubby soft play area we were off again. Kitty was shattered but was super cute. So with the bag we bought her forthe festival   securely strapped to her back at all times, donned in pjs.. She made a super cute sight! 
By 9am we were coming up to Bristol, we stopped at the ‘teketubbies services’ (aka Glouctershire services…very posh farm shop /hipster services) they were queuing out of the door for the cafe so we all bundled into the parent/child changing and toilet room and giggled liked kids as we all had a wee in front of each other! 
We hit the farm shop and spent well over odds (£23) on a small bag of very splendid brownies, cheeses and other bits.. Yum! 

Just before getting on site we pulled into sainsburys at Glastonbury. We go every year, it’s the last wee in a flushing loo, chance to pick up last bits and just generally get excited seeing how the supermarket gets ready to enjoy the festival trade.

As we drove into sainsburys car park our usual spot was taken, we normally park across four spaces at the back of the car park so to fit the entire rig in, but it was full! How dare they , we’ve used that space on this day for the last ten years!!!! Cheek of it! 

It’s still a few days before the punters arrive but crew are starting to come in tomorrow enmass. We get an early delivery pass so we can have an extra day to not only set up the space but create the garden the festival commences . So locals are just getting used to the idea that 200k people will be descending their town within days. 

As I walked back towards the rig ( the van was stuck out slightly blocking the road.. Someone did take our space you know) an older couple pottered by. The little white haired lady all dressed in tweed and pearls said “oh Jack, the hippies are back” I had a little smile to myself.

So ten minutes later we drove into the red trade and deliveries gate. We were ushered straight through and saw stewards pointing us to the lane with no cars in it..! We zoomed (at a very strict 5mph) passed all the waiting trucks, rigs and vans to the front of the lane.. They said something to each other and pointed at us a few times.. What had we done wrong??? At last ( well about ten seconds later) the lady came over , stuck our pass on the window and sent us in! You could feel the fury of the four guys besides , who had obviously been waiting hours and we’re having their van searched! Not search, no health and safety, no checking tickets! It dawned on us later that we still had the health and safety sticker in the windscreen from two years ago , they must have seen it and thought we’d already been through the checks and just waved us in! Amazing to get in so quick but now feel so bad that I’m trying to get mr O to go back and get inducted!!! 

It really is like coming home, arriving back here is so lovely! Wenkniwbit so well and just feel so honoured to be part of the greatest show on earth. To see it been built from the ground up this week and to be part of the show   is super! 

The guys that run our area when we arrived, were out sorting a broken down van, so we emptied the caravan of our bikes and climbed into bed for a couple of hours! Total bliss! 

We have our pitch now, it’s a corner pitch again, they like us to be prominent so folks can see us.. ( We have a beautiful garden area ! ) But our crew area , where we live, a funny shape, we will see how we do it but it will be a real case of tent jenga ( I’ll post photos tomorrow when it’s light) 

Mr O and I spotted the wood pile hadn’t been scalped yet so took the van down to fill up on wood for building benches and signs. We also called at the long drop loos!! I usually avoid them and use the waterless composting ones , but they aren’t ready yet. 

We have a loo in the caravan but it’s strictly number ones only! Mr O and I shared out the toilet roll and entered the open top cubicals with a deep breath. 

After a thorough wipe down I braved the seat. It’s never gonna stop been weird pooing with the rain coming down on your head and having a couple seconds delay from poo exclusion to water contact., it’s quite unsettling! 

Anyway I finished, washed and sat in the van waiting. I spotted my husbands shoes under the door and had a little giggle to myself. After 23 years mar age I’m still embarrassed for him! Then he exited, came over and said in a stage whisper ” I need more loo roll” ha! I gave him the roll and he ran back to his cubical. 

Now as a bit of a psychotherapy geek, all I wanted to know was why he went back to the same cubical., it’s not like you flush and all the cubicals share the same trough! So why did he need to run all the way to the end and not go in the first door? 

On questioning him I got my very obvious answer 

” I’d bloody cleaned that seat! I’m hardly gonna let that baby go to waste!”

I get it! I really do! 

We got back and had some giggles with the kids, laughed at Daddy who after a few medicinal whiskies struggled to get the radio working.

We are all in bed now, it’s not too late but we are shattered after such a long few days and I’m still struggling with a cough a cold but listening to the shipping forecast on radio 4 ( totally my favourite caravan activity!) as always have me comfort and strength!

They are all sleeping and I’m happily enjoying my caravan.. It’s the best! Well she is.. She’s called Lola.. From now on its how I will refer to her. 

Good night! 

(((Zips up awning and Closes roof light)) 

Payment to the volunteers 

10 years ago Keith and I decided to be a host family for a couple of children from belarus. The whole ideas is to open your home and your heart to these kids to enable them to live in a ‘clean’ land, breathing clear air and not eating food that is contaminted from the soil in which it all grow. 

Long story short is that the girls came and lived with us, at the time money was short, I was back at uni full time training to become a pshychotherapist ( A life long dream) 

I was breast feeding and working full time teaching. All this was going on and along with my kids and keith business still in its infancy, money was short.

 So we called around some local attractions to see if they could donate a couple of tickets to allow us to get the russian girls into places and allow us to give them a great experience.

One of the places we contacted was the Northern Green Gathering, it was happening just up the road from us, we offered our skills and painted up the composting loos so we could get a couple of free tickets for our guests. 

While I was there I supported the team in the welfare tent and continued to create bits of arts around the site. I’d not been to a festival for years and years and it felt like going home, talking to folks like us, letting the kids runs wild and watching our Russian girls enjoying such simple pleasures without poisoning themselves with every breath that they took.

From that weekend, lots of weird things came together and before I knew it I was selling a concept to number of festivals, offering a free creative space and asking only for donations. 

Volunteers came forward and a crew formed and we suddenly had a prospective business that could allow us to enjoy the festival scene offer something back and assist others to get into the festivals without having to buys tickets.

Looking back, Keith and I were funding it all ourselves, we bought materials and paid for insurance, fuel and various other bits and bats…( I still remain in awe of the kits we have collected over the years and maintaining it is always a challenge. ) 

by the end of that first season i had plowed over £3k into the space and was still not charging festivals for the work I was doing.. things had to change, I was funding not only the festival organiser’s profit margins but was litrally paying for my crew’s summer!

I learned fast and things got better, I started to ask for a small fee which covered costs and began to look at ways in which i could make enough money from the space without over charging and charging the public tons of money… my aim was to provide free creative activities.. I didn’t want to loose that.

Things grew and my stratergies developed and by year 4 a system and concept had evolved. I invited subcontractors into the space who charged the public and gave me a percentage, this paid for the free activities we offered, some fuel costs and other random items such as phone bills and stationary galore. 

Suddenly it felt viable, it had taken time but we were nearly there, nearly paying for the hours per day i was working and also offer others the chance to make a few bob too.

But with growth came casualties, crew who had vollunteers wanted to develope their businesses, and quite right they were too, they like me needed to make a living. But my business wasnt ready to pay anyone, I’d only just started to cover costs and still needed £7k to come back to our savings account to repay our investment over the years. 

I didnt dare to work out what my hourly rate was, i just knew it was best not to look. But no one saw it and friends left, often unappy, feeling I had let them down, that i was been stingy and greedy. I felt awful, it hurt me to think folks could feel this way

But.. It’s our tenth anniversary and things are much clearer these days. We have an amazing ethos and the community we have created a wonderful space and business.

I have a mixture of staff now, we have paid managers and performers as well as traders who pay a pitch fee or percentage to us to be in the space. We still have volunteers and I work hard to ensure they don’t feel cheated. 

Festivals have run off the back of the work of volunteers for years and without people working in return for their ticket, the whole sector would collapse.

It’s a funny thing but it’s actually the volunteers that get more out of working for us! And in turn we get more in return! They are the ones who arrive with ideas and nervous energy and the ones who come away inspired and content. Those who are paid tend not to emerge themselves in quite the same way. 

Maybe when you get a wage you get responsibility? You need to fulfil your role and with that expectation comes more stress?  When you are employed you feel you need to fulfil an aim and objective and I find it holds people back in terms of confidence to explore their work.

I find volunteers are much more able to explore their own ideas and  happily and confidently take ownership of their roles. They come up with ideas and go above and beyond with the opportunity to experiment with their role.. Maybe this isn’t something you can do if you’ve been paid a fee for a specific task? I don’t know.. I’m trying to work it out, 

It’s important to me that all crew wether volunteers or paid , feel trusted and acknowledged. We have very high standards and expect the best , but the best way to do this is not to design and force people in to roles that simply act put your ideas. (Square peg round hole) 

Giving staff the trust and freedom to own their job means everything. We all know that if we feel secure, interested and confident then we thrive. I happily encourage everyone to take a given role with an object and aim and let them decide how to play it out. .. Let them run with it! 

This creates a collective of massive diversity, a range of exciting activities and a whole host of unique experiences for the public. 

When we started I used to set up each tent and out a workshop activity in it. Staff would be on a rota and just turn up, run the workshop and go!  It worked but it wasn’t special.. It was missing the angel gardens magic that oozes out of the space today. 

Now we have huge amounts of workshops (designed and run by volunteers) and activities. All set out differently and all looking and feeling different too. All owned and reflecting the crew who are running it! 

 It’s what brings a vibe to the space.. Each little area buzzes to its own tune.. Together the whole space sings as an orchestra playing the most modern and exciting score… I’m just the conductor.. The skill and work comes from those sat in front of me, 

We work hard to offer our volunteers not only space to explore their abilities and ideas.. But also to demonstrate what they are capable of. Working in the arts and music sectors is tough and the first step is finding a way to be heard.

By offering creatives an audience and opportunity to create something for that audience you are providing a kind of self guided aprentiship  . We encourage group and one to one mentorship but find the crew don’t need guiding into mentorshipdom as they are empowered enough to share and take freely from their fellow crew on their own terms.

I’ve never seen anyone loose their confidence in the space. We have had crew in who brought negative energy in the past and it really did bring down the group.. One bad apple can change the whole barrel! So we work hard to ensure people understand that bitching and negativity isn’t welcome. We aren’t the happy police we just encourage everyone to respect, hear and support each other openly.

If people don’t want to be there then they shouldn’t be there.. Our spaces are well fought after and we always have a waiting list, thankfully we find these days that those that don’t fit in simply move on.. No hard feelings .. It just wasn’t for them… 

Some people stay forever, some people jump in and off, some find their mojo and go off and go start doing things on their own… And getting good money for their amount work… It’s all ok! 

We don’t just ask that crew take ownership of their role in Angel gardens but ask that they learn to take ownership of their role in life. 

We will play our part in that in however they need it,, it’s our payment to them…to support and believe in them and their work.

Interview : why do we do this? 

 A couple of years ago the lovely Naomi interviewed me for her site Festival Kidz. I just found it today and it made me smile. 

We will be back at Blissfields this year but the kids are now 17,16,11 and 2! 

In the Fields of Bliss and Angels

by Naomi, June 6, 2014

 Blissfields is one of those festivals that just manages to get everything right. We’ve only been once but it’s already become a family favourite because they manage to fit everything – great bands, hidden areas, fantastic kids’ entertainment – all in a very small space, yet it somehow retains its laid back and friendly vibe… just without all the walking!

The children’s area run by Angel Gardens is undoubtedly the highlight for families, and so Blissfields secured us an exclusive interview with the lovely Angel Sam – she talks about Blissfields, working at festivals, gaining a sense of belonging and the importance of spare socks.
How did you get into running kids areas at festivals?
We were looking after a couple of children from Belarus through the Chernobyl Children’s Project, we were keen to get them outside, enjoying some fresh air and having some fun. We took them to a small festival near us, we didn’t have much money at the time so called them to see how we could do something in return for tickets. I ended up making site art and painting toilets for the festival with the kids who simply loved it. During the festival we realised there wasn’t much going on for them so I made a sign and nipped home for some bits and bats, within a few hours I had a craft area, face painting and bedtime story going on. Other folks came to us with ideas and over the weekend we created quite a program… I knew we could do something much better with some thought, before I knew it we were arguably the biggest kids area in the UK.
What do you like most about your job.

Wow… hard question! I am going to cheat and give you two answers: 1- providing things that really make a difference, it’s not really the activities, it’s the little things like kids loos, great lost kids areas and pulling kids out of the crowd to make a fuss of them… they remember it forever! 2- Providing crew with an outlet to work with children and families whatever their skills; we accept crew of all ages, backgrounds and skill base, watching them share their skills with each other and the public is a huge part of my role.

Are you offering any new activities at Blissfields this year?

Yes!!! It’s very exciting… we have pony rides and grooming classes, djing workshops, graffiti walls, A huge Flash mob, a choir, talent show and what looks like a million other new crafts and activities (try our hobby horse workshop or tutu making class).

Do you provide things for little ones and really little ones? yes and yes…. our babycare tent has all the bits and bats you need to change bums and wash grubby hands and faces but we have introduced activities too, so expect music sessions and baby massage to name a few.. and of course we have NCT support for breastfeeding and general parenting support. Our craft tent is aimed at 2-8 year olds, the bell tent activities aimed at 8-12 years olds and the gardens and circus tent has stuff for all ages 0-100!.. our new teen space collects activities such as graffiti, beatboxing and djing workshops, as well as activities such asjewellery making, sewing and song writing. We also recognise young folk want to just hang out and make friends so we have a nice seated area for them too.

Do you have a dream activity that you would love to do, but are restricted by resources?

Ooooooh I could go on forever!! a climbing wall? skydiving? swimming with sharks? Learning to fly a plane?

How old were your children when you first took them to a festival, and do they enjoy festivals still? 
Do you think attending music festivals has affected them in any way (good or bad)?

Well I have 4 children so have a wide range of ages and experiences and they have all been festivalling for 8/9 years. Kitty was born last August (the day after I arrived home from Wilderness) and she attended her first festival last weekend, my other three are 15, 13 and 9 and they all experience their festivals in very different ways, mostly because they are very different young people. But thats the point! Festivals should cater and inspire everyone no matter what you are in to, what you believe in, your age, gender or interests. Everyone should be able to take out what they want from each festival. This is something we try do in Angel Gardens, we want children and adults to be able to pick and choose their activities and performances so they create their own tailor-made experience. They should always feel welcomed and belong. The bottom line at a festival is that you get a sense of belonging even if it only lasts a weekend. The biggest thing I think my children have learned is that they belong, they are valued and they have a voice, it gives them confidence and an education they would be pushed to find anywhere else… and yes they all LOVE festivals still. Bad things… they are far too confident!!!!! 🙂
1What is your best tip for attending a festival with your children?
RELAX! Children adapt and soak it all in if you let them, if you are stressing about everything they will too and you will have a weekend of worry. Talk to them about what to do if they get lost (I wrote a blog about this on the website) take loads of spare socks (I take the odd sock bag. No one cares if they match.. You just want dry feet! ) give them a back pack with a little torch, drink bottle, pens, roll up blanket and spare socks (again) let them explore and talk, ask and discover and most importantly enjoy everything together. Its not just about kids playing, adults need to play too and a festival is the best place to do this!!!

What do you think is the best thing about Blissfields?

Blissfields is such a lovely festival! its small enough to feel personal but big enough to feel exciting and cutting edge. The site is beautiful and the crowd is chilled. The BEST thing is that we are there ready and waiting to play and quite frankly have been a bit silly for a few days!

Original interview here

Plaster wars by the picky Bitch

As you know we have been spending our life’s savings and building our forever home. 

It’s a large extension that curls around our house . Adding a bedroom and two extra bathrooms, a much needed boot room (4 kids, 2 adults = LOTS OF COATS AND SHOes)

Anyway the build was completed a few weeks ago just leaving us with the inside to do, plastering, decorating fitting bathrooms etc.

Anyway when we built the bedroom I decided to keep the roof space open and put in skylights. When I went to look at it I saw the way the roof cut in to the original roof and got totally inspired and wanted to plaster it out and use it as a feature where I could display sculpture and add spot lights.

Well anyone would think I was wanting to recreate the dome of St. Paul’s!  I had a plasterer booked into to do the work, he was £150 a day and we had used him to cover a hole in the wall and he seemed great. Just as he was about to start on the Monday he came to visit the job with his ‘lad’ . (The lad must be 70 at least). They walked around the job and made all he right noises until they go to the roof void! 

The hissing through teeth started and tails of how dangerous it was and how it would put loads of time on the job etc etc.. I simply asked ” can you do it or not?” He replied he could.. All was well until he started to leave. He told me he would be on site Monday and he’d booked out his diary for 6 weeks!!! The build only took 8 weeks!.. I mean the whole building!  6 weeks at £300 a day ( his lad wanted  £150 a day too) bloody hell it was gonna cost more than the whole project! 

So I contacted some other plasterers, they all came around and had a look , pretty much all the same price but all reckoning two week tops.. As we thought. But… No one could fit us in… We needed to start straight away and it needed to be done before we went to Glastonbury as we would be on the road for weeks.

Then this lovely man contacted me… He was going on holiday and couldn’t do it but he sometimes worked with someone who was looking for work. He came to see it and the man who was going on holiday was so giddy about the roof void.. He loved to do different stuff and he really wished he could do it.. I got on really well with him.. We chatted about house and the design plans and he was totally into it.. His mate however stood quietly and made the odd sighing noise. 

After they left I got the quote.. He wanted £200 a day for three weeks.. So I replied saying we could do £150 a day which we believed was standard and we expected it to be done in around two weeks… We asked if he could match it. 

Now keep in kind he has no work on and obviously needed he job… There was no way I was going to over pay him for longer than needed just to keep him in work… I expected him to come back to me with maybe a set price or something.. I was happy to come to deal! Instead I got this text…

Think he meant to sent it to his mate! 

Well for a start i offered £150 a day not a hundred so he was lying to his mate for effect and …. And…. ‘Picky bitch’ ????

Anyway after much hilarity and sacking him off I got the first guy back to do the down stairs, I said if he could do it in a week it would be cool.. No complications just do the work! 

Cool.. It happened.. 

It only took four days! So I had a chat.. Turned out he did feel he could do the roof void but would do the upstairs and leave that bit.. I’d get the man to come after his holidays to do the roof.

Then he text… “I’ve been thinking .. We will do your roof it’ll be fine”

Day one on upstairs I get called… ” Sam I don’t understand how you want this roof” …for god sake!!! I told him to just leave it!  He carried on and at 2pm told me he had fit the insulation and tidied up so he was gonna get off… This was his tidying up…

I put a couple of bags up there  hoping he’ll take the hint! 

So ….Yesterday mr O and I went upstairs armed with some plasterboard and  some determination.. Guess what? We had it done in a couple of hours.. Never put on plaster board in our lives!

They are here today and I can hear banging about, they are falling out with each other and saying it’s too warm.. They havent mentioned the roof void! But they are nearly done boarding the rest. 

They will be plastering tomorrow and done by Wednesday.. So 6 weeks turned into 10 days after all… And the roof will get done… 

All that fuss.. I am such a picky Bitch ! 
UPDATE: it’s Saturday morning and things have moved on. Last time I wrote on this is was Tuesday and expecting him to start plastering on Wednesday. As it is he didn’t finish the last bit of boarding and certainly didn’t start skimming.

I rang the bloke who’s mate called me a picky bitch and he’s know here with his mate doing the roof void for me… There’s moaning and lots of ‘information’ but they are on it and have even done a couple of the walls. 

Plasterer number 1 and his elderly Lad  are back Monday.. But I’m gonna try ask these guys to stay late and do a bit more for us.. They are doing more in a morning that he’s done all week! 

Up-chucked and Up-cycled terrace on a budget

When the extension was built we were left with a thin slither of ground between the house and the deck. I was a bit stumped what to do with it and we had run out of cash to get a brick wall and steps so needed to be creative with a budget of about £350. i am always keen to ensure the garden is suitable and accessible for the kids to play in, so it needed to be safe, pretty, fun and still grown up… quite a design challenge.



I ended up finding some great storage benches in ikea, they were perfect for covering the rough edge of the deck and gave us a lovely   seating and potted plant area.

The Applaro range is really adaptable, you can buy the bench, fence and shelves separately or as one.. They even have a little fold out table too.

Needless to say it was cheaper to buy a number of the modules than build a wall and step. So we fixed a number of them to the edge of the deck easily which covered up the mess behind. One of the benches was used as a container to house the pump for a waterfall and we used the fence parts to create a safe barrier for the kids falling off the edge of the deck. We got the matching fold out table and situated it between two benches to create a cute dining area.


My intended to put gravel down and wanted some kind of stepping stones so we didn’t hurt out feet on the stones.But we were struggling to find something that was colourful and didn’t dull down the effect.

By coincidence that week, Tobyn, from messaged me asking if I wanted some damaged Indian tables. They had been used in the glamping areas at festivals and although damaged , still had some life in them. Knowing we did festivals and used the bell tents, he knew low tables would be perfect for us.

They arrived! I’m expecting around 20/30 tables.. But no.. There must have been 200! The pallet was stacked to the top of the huge lorry, and as the builders were using the drive for skips and kit.. It was put at the end of my drive towering over the skip like a leaning tower of tables.

I needed to shift some quick! The neighbours were ( as always) rolling their eyes at our latest spectacle and they were blocking my drive. Many had missing legs and done had careers missing or damaged, but the patterns were beautiful and the table shape was sturdy and attractive. I put out a post telling fork to come and collect them.

I gave out some to the local school for kids to up cycle and gave a few out to neighbours and fellow festival workers.. I put some away for our own festival space too… But I also had a
plan!!!! Which was good cos there were loads left.


I took the more beautiful ones inside and painted them.. Absolutely covered then in yacht varnish. chopped off the remaining legs and left to dry.



We had cleared the ground on our new little terrace and put a level of sand down, I set the now square , footless tables onto the sand and set them by pouring the gravel around them!


We spread the gravel around and made sure there was enough stones underneath the tables to keep them steady too…I was an instant transformation.

(I have more set aside to create a little deck for Mr O’s BBQ , I’ll do the same but screw then together to create a platform.)

Tip: I mixed a little sand in the varnish to ensure the surface wasn’t too slippy and made sure the underside of the table was full of gravel to give in extra strength.

we still haven’t finished the terrace, but it’s coming on.. The colour scheme is Mulberry and grey but with the pops of colour from the tables aka stepping stones.. It’s really attractive along side the purple garage wall that I painted about 10 years ago!

I have the steps and banister in now, we used a couple of sleepers, cut three to size and screwed them together, much more attractive than the bring steps we looked at and only cost us £30! You can’t see on these pics but we have purple balustrades with a chunky rope  now too.

IMG_0778Because we create a garden at Glastonbury every year, I have been getting ready by working with a garden centre and taking all the plants they can’t sell. they just need some TLc and I get them all happy again and use them in my Garden at Glastonbury. Just as I was coming to the end of making my terrace, they called with a delivery…Not wanting to take the plants out of their pots I have just placed them around the deck, waterfall and terraced and it has suddenly become all lush and lovely.

I really love the high shelf on the fence part of the unit, it gives me a fence while still allowing me to add fairy lights and pots without taking any seating space away. The unit IMG_0761comes with hooks too, so you can hang your lights and lanterns easily.

Because the terrace is so close tot he house and very sheltered I can bring out my house plants too, which has given us a lovely tropical feel to the space.

I love stepping out of the house straight onto this little garden area. Our garden is wonderfully huge, but this can make it a little impersonal and less cosy. Having little areas like this really makes a difference.

I reckon the terrace cost me about £400 all together. I used a lot of recycled materials and we were lucky enough to have a stash of Yorkshire IMG_1381 (1)stone and an old pump behind the shed to make Kittys Waterfall and rockery on the deck, the little stream runs down the deck and land in one of the benches which has been lined with a plastic liner.

One of my other issues was the little bit of garage wall, the foundations were showing and i needed to cover somehow. Our neighbour had asked if they could put an old gate in the skip, I of course fished it out and gave it a coat of paint, a but of faffing around and we fit it, it works perfectly and the old hinges work as hooks for the little lanterns.

With my up cycled pallet herb garden blocking the ugly wall.. its really coming together. Kitty demands to eat breakfast out there every day anyway.. so it must be doing something right.

IMG_1073 (1)
Im going to be staining the deck this week and finishing off tying the rest of the garden together into the colour scheme.. so … this space.

Airs and Graces kiddy waggon review

We were sent a basic trolly with a canopy and it came all in one box. We were tremendously excited about this product and got to work on it straight away.

In the true spirit of testing , we set our 14 year old daughter on the task of putting it together! She did it too! It was really easy to put together and the only thing she needed help on was attaching the pole which needed to be bolted nice and tight . It was up in fifteen minutes ! You can take it apart easily ( we kept the wheels attached) the whole family were able to erect it easily ( aged 10 to 43) 

In true festival family style we pimped up the waggon with sticky backed plastic, gold fringing, LEDs and a few other bits. The cushions it came with were fine and fit lovely but we did add a small cusion for when kitty might get tired and want to lay down.

The first outing was Glastonbury and it was great getting over the bumpy paths. I worried about getting through the crowds but folks were great and totally fussed over kitty and took loads of photos of her in her waggon.

It’s not the easiest thing to turn around , you need a good turning circle so we did get stuck in heavy crowds at the stage a few times. Also the pole that you use to pull it along could do with a catch or something as it doesn’t stay up when you are at a stand still. We did have a few moments where it fell and bonked someone and we tripped up over it as it lay on the floor. We created a bit of a catch for it, but something more sturdy would have been great.

It’s perfect for babies and toddlers , Kitty was 18 months and she loved been able to see around her, having the gold down canopy gave her shade and helped when sleep came and it did seem to be pretty much waterproof.

We tested it to the max at Wilderness festival where we carted two toddlers around in it, yes it was heavy but still not as bad as chasing them around the site! 

They are a good price at around £45 and the fact they fold flat very easily you can transport them easily. Even if you are tracking across site with your kit you can use them to help carry the load. We went to the proms in the park in London and pulled Kitty along in ours through the city complete with picnic chairs and baskets of food.. Plenty of room for toddler and kit! 

I’d certainly say YES! To anyone asking if they should get one.. They might not be as sturdy as some but for the price they are incredible value and they look great!


Airs and Graces Home – Festival Trolleys and Carts for hire and to buy

Sonic boom was nothing aside my beating heart 

A few weeks ago we were getting with our evening when we felt and heard our house shake … It was apparently a sonic boom coming from two fighter jets that were scrambled to guide a passenger jet that was off course. A bit extremely I think, but that was the story. Anyway here’s what happened.

Well we heard the booms and it was totally terrifying.. After the first one crashed around us, I ran around the house checking on the kids so sure I was going to find one of the injured somewhere under a pile of rubble. (Keep in mind we had no idea what just shook our house from top to bottom at this stage.) meanwhile Keith frantically went to see if our new house was falling down , he came back announcing it must have been thunder. But just as he said this we gathered in the lounge and another one boomed and rattled the house from top to bottom once more! 

It was so very loud and so powerful. The door shook the most and the loudest, we naturally ran outside, where we found the entire street outside looking up and around in shock and fear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people out on our street in the 12 years we have lived here seeing neighbours actually talking to each other too was , on reflection a site as it doesn’t really happen so much around here.

Actually seeing everyone out calmed us all a bit, I think we realised it wasn’t something that had happened just our in our home and that we weren’t alone! 

Trying to get through to Gracie and mum Anne was frantic as the phone lines were all blocked .. But I desperately needed to check in on them. Watching the news told us nothing and we simply had no clue what was happening. Facebook friends across the north reported all sorts of theories; Russian planes in our airspace, Russian planes been attacked, explosions in Rothwell , a plane coming down in Doncaster ( where grace is staying) green smoke and flashes reported in Wakefield and a hijacked plane been brought down!!! None of which were confirmed of course! 

I think the not knowing was worse, would it happen again? It was so loud and so ground shaking, you could feel it in your feet and your heart.. Like when you stand next to a speaker at a concert. 
So many things were running through our heads as parents, things that we didn’t dare say out loud… were we about to witness something awful? Were we under an attack of some kind? Was there more to come? What was happening? 

The news showed nothing and we scrolled through the web for something official . Nothing was released for what seemed like an age, but in reality it was about half an hour. We found tweets from various official sources but it was all so vague, though it was becoming clearer it wasn’t explosions but a sonic boom from a fighter jet or two. ( although we had a two minute statement that night nothing else was said about it in the media)

Eventually we got through to everyone and we all calmed down. But Grace was in her own staying with a friend waiting for parents to come back and was frightened. Hard as a parent to have a frightened child that You cant get to.

Turned out William was really frightened, he said he’d thought that when the door rattled the second time that he soldiers were going to come in with guns! Typical 11 year old! But he was so shaken he has ended up sleeping next to me on the floor in a make-shift bed. He was very frightened. 

We had to watch you tube videos to find out what we could about the speed of sound so he could understand and even then he was scared to go upstairs alone… 

All seems a bit silly now but it just gave us a little insight in to the fear families must feel daily across the globe as their countries are attacked. Two big booms that’s all it was.. But it shook us much more and for much longer than the second it exploded above us. 

We talked about feeling safe and lucky as a family.. It was a good conversation to have and hopefully it will be an experience in which in retrospect will be healthy for the children. I wanted to ensure the children understood that this fear is a constant reality for many children across the globe. As frightening as it was for them (and us) it really gave them an insite into those living in daily terror from attack in their own homes.

While I’m not convinced the story they gave us in the press was what really happened that night, I do believe fighter jets were given the clearance to go at the speed of sound to whatever they were getting to. 

It made me realise, should we find ourselves under attack we would be on our own.. Phone lines would go down and the news would not tell us anything till a good time after the event. We draw comfort from been a policed and lawful society but one has to ask how far that protection would go should we really need it?  How can we be protected and looked after when a whole country would need the same level of assistance. It’s every family to themselves…scary eh? All that from a Big Bang!!!!

Conspiracy of course was rife:

Apparently there was a press gagging order released seconds after the scrambling of the jets.. Here is the conspiracy theory websites take on things :