Round peg looking for square hole! 4 children, 1 marraige, a big 1950s house and garden and limited budget, festival producer, art and maker, adventure haver, bargain finder, travelled and product tested.
Mummy to 4 Married For 20-something years ( lost count) Artist, festival producer, Artist, Psychotherapist, interior designer, crafter, maker, gardener, vintage caravans, camper, home owner of an amazing 1950's house with huge garden, huge mortgage and too many rooms to clean! Review a few bits and share good products! Try to fit in to a square hole but find myself quite round pegged ... having Lots of adventures and making stuff nice with no money! I'm writing our adventures and share the things I make and do with others. Dyslexic and proud.. so keep your spelling and grammer corrections to yourselves.
So guess where we are going on Tuesday! Yup, the clue is in the title… we are going to Rome. But that’s not all we will be meeting the pope! A personal meeting no less!
William has been invited to attend with other children from across Europe with ED, the condition he and his sister both have.
So we fly Tuesday morning and meet the big man on Wednesday morning. We have a lunch and a couple of trips all thrown in and on Thursday we intend to hop on a tour bus and do Rome in a day.. no matter what they say!
It’s a funny thing telling people you are meeting the pope. Some get totally excited and say ‘wow’ while others just shrug it off. It’s a funny old thing.
So we have our list of things we need to remember, what to call him, what not to say and what you should wear.
I’m not allowed to wear trousers and my dress must cover my shoulders, boobs and knees! This was harder that I thought to find! Although I have something sorted and when I tried it on the kids agreed it was suitable but also agreed I looked boring and a bit like a Victorian nanny!
Kitty needs to wear white so that’s easy as she has a pretty white dress. William needs to be in a dark suit which is proving to be tough! He’s not the most compliant of formal dressers! We are trying on tonight!
The most worrying thing of all is that I’ve been nominated to provide the gift from the English families! Cripes! What does one buy the pope????
I asked my friends on Facebook and I had a wide range of ideas, some of my favourites were a ‘pope on a rope’ soap and ‘pope designed cupcakes’ although I’m not sure one of the most powerful men on the planet will be allowed to sample my baking!
So after much deliberation I have decided to create a painting, he took the name ‘Francis’ who was a lover of animals, environment and children. So that needs to be my subject matter.. still stumped as yet and I only have a two hour window to make this happen tomorrow night! So I’m trying to decide what to use as my subject matter.
My other concern is how I will cope travelling on my own with a three year old and eleven year old on my own. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I have a limited budget and limited Italian ! So we will see… any advise appreciated!
So that’s it.. I’ve not packed or anything yet as I’m working all weekend.. it’s gonna be tight but it’s nothing new for us!
We are currently dealing with three insurance claims! 3!!!! I can’t quite believe how unlucky we are or how desperate we are for them to pay up!
We are still waiting to hear if the insurers will pay for our caravan, ( four months on from the accident) Also we have a huge hole in our kitchen that we are waiting for a plumber and builder to give us quotes ( they came out to inspect it yesterday) and then mr O had to get them out to replace his windscreen after a stone hit and cracked it!
I’m praying they all pay up as all together there is about 12k of monies needed! This is a lot!
It concerns me how quickly insurers take money from us when we join up but then take weeks and weeks to decide if they pay out or not.. our Christmas budget is hanging in the Balance right now so fingers crossed!!!!
7am wake up, feeling good. Get the boy ready for school.
8.20am push boy out of the door kicking and screaming, blackmail him with empty promises of a download for his Xbox when he gets home. Toddler still in bed..bonus.. drink tea.
8.30am decide to sweep floor, get brush out of cupboard, everything collapses. Pull everything out of cupboard in a strop. Tidy cupboard! Even wiping down the dust pan and brush, vac and bottles of cleaner.. everything looks grubby! Empty overflowing plastic bag holder ( it’s supposed to hold 100 bags… fooking lying twunts) become strangely and manicly obsessed with fitting 100 plastic bags in holder. Fit 25 bags in holder and stuff rest behind the (very clean) bottles of window and surface cleaner.
9am close cupboard door and sweep up a sleepy toddler who is very angry to have found herself waking up alone and not with her mummy besides her with her amazing milk producing boobies!
9.05am sit on sofa wrapped in blanket providing toddler with morning milk!
9.10am cereal is provided and more tea made
9.15am wipe up spilt cereal and tea from rug.
9.20am make mistake of asking toddler what she wants to wear….
9.25am toddler bounces happily downstairs in Minnie Mouse tutu dress, odd socks, two head bands, gloves and swimming cap. I shout ‘good morning’ at 18 year old.
9.30 make tea. Start cleaning kitchen and tidying up after morning chaos.
11.30am shout to 18 year old to wake up and she responds with the response she deserves a lie in as she’s been busy all week. I want to explain a couple of hours work over two days doesn’t warrant a two day holiday .
12noon make lunch for toddler and myself, we snuggle on sofa after to watch ‘we can cook’
12.05pm I see a flashing in the corner of my eye… shit.. migraine alert. Lay head back on sofa and try pretend it’s not there.
12.15pm flashing now has stabbing pain and I think a fairy came and tied a rope tightly around my head. Think through scenarios .. how can I get to sleep this off before it blows !
12.30pm body feels heavy, toddler thinks it’s the best afternoon ever, she is on her third cartoon and mummy is still sat besides her. Text 18 year old
“Don’t suppose you could look after Kitty for me, I have migraine need to sleep it off”
12.40pm text again.. the though of standing or shouting upstairs makes me want to cry.
12.50 hear footsteps… 18 year old arrives with questions about her iTunes account.. fake emails detected and dismissed… I ask carefully if she can look after her sister while I sleep off head ache. I’m reminded she has a cold but will do it anyway.
12.55 crawl into bed, best feeling ever . Fall into a deep sleep where the pain of the migraine sits quietly in my dreams .
1pm. “MUMMY ? ” I jump awake ” what’s matter ? Is kitty ok?” “Yeah where is the lid for the blender?” I mumble ” I don’t know I’ll look later” she tuts and stomps off, toddler in tow.
1.05 I fall back to sleep only slightly wondering why she needs the lid for the blender.
1.25 “mummy” I jump awake ” what’s matter” ( head feels like it’s going to explode) ” look we picked some apples” toddler holds put a box of freshly picked apples for me to see. I see them through blurred eyes and mumble encouraging words about baking later. I sink back into a sleep head pounding.
2pm “mummy? Mummy? MUMMY! ” can’t jump up anymore head has been filled with lead. I choose to groan instead ” are you getting up yet? I’ve been looking after kitty all day now and I have to go out” I groan ” you’ve only had her an hour and woke me up three times , can’t you just let me sleep a bit.. get her jigsaws out?” ” I. Have. To. Get ready!” “When you going ?” ” about 6″ “it’s only two now” “MUMMY IVE HAD HER ALL DAY”
2.30pm lay on sofa with quilt and pillow, toddler playing jigsaws.. cartoons playing on loop .
3.30pm boy arrived home..”can I buy the download?”
3.35 boy runs upstairs with my bank card.
3.45 stagger into kitchen to make toddler some choclate milk. Find a blender full of berries with a food processor lid balanced on the top. It remained unblemded… my eyes grate towards a box of apples bobbing about in a water filled toy box.. there is a vague realisation that the very same toy boy was full of bricks this morning.
3.55pm back on sofa, toddler happily drinks chocolate milk. I rub my foot which is throbbing from standing on the pile of toy bricks . I can hear cartoons playing , I’m not sure if it’s in my head or in the room.. I slip into the half awake sleep that all mums do.
4.30pm daughter number two arrived home and babysits. I go to bed for second time
8.30pm wake up feeling like I’ve been run over by a combine harvester. Can her husbands voice and clattering pans.
8.35pm stagger down the stairs to check everyone is ok. Step into kitchen and see the chaos! Sink over flowing with pots. A random apple crumble (still attached to the bottom of the tin) sits on the side in a beach of crumbs that spread across every surface and floor. Tea things are everywhere, leftovers on plates and pans and serving bowls fill the sides.
8.36pm return to bed.
8am wake up with no head ache. Kitty is sleeping next to me in yesterday’s clothes and her tea still around her mouth. I hear everyone getting ready to leave.I am pleased they are all alive and greatful I slept.
9am I’m dressed, showered and energised.
9pm finally sit down after clearing the mess from my ‘night off’ yes that’s right my ‘night off’ not one but two of my brood said I’d had a ‘night off’ it took me a full day to clean the house and mess.
So I’m wondering what will happen when I go away next week for four whole days! Will the house still be standing? The thought of it gives me a headache!
Every year it happens, the festival season stumbles to a close and yes.. we start to sulk… ((cries like a baby)) ….we want the festival season back……
The kids are back at school and you are slipping back into normal life. The nights are getting dark so much earlier and there is no doubt that the smell of autumn is in the air.
You don’t have any more holiday to take and no one is doing anything!
You start to long for those long balmy nights, where your only problem you had was which clashing bands you would choose and if you were going to run out of cider or not before Sunday night. If Only we could have our summer back!
Here are my top tips for surviving winter as a festival goer.
1- Live music
If you are one of these festival goers for whom it is all about the music, then find a winter based festival. Many towns and cities host winter music festivals which hold gigs and live entertainment across various venues around the town or area. Our favourite is Whitby Goth weekend. There are hundreds of gigs around the town and the whole town turns into a winter festival. Folks get dressed up and simply just walk about enjoying the vibe of the town. With walk-about artists and other activities around the town you really do feel like you are at a festival…the shops in whitby are very ‘ethnic’ and ‘crafty’ so you can still buy your tie-dye t-shirts and Buddha joss stick holders like you would in a field. Also if you are brave you can even camp. There are various fields that open up for the weekend just for the festival goers to camp and there are some very splendid bed and breakfasts. This town is famous for been the landing place of Dracula himself. For the real Gothic experience try they fabulously themed Bats and Broomsticks B&B, with coffins in the hallways, sumptuous four poster beds and candle lit breakfasts it really does set the scene… but you will need to book well in advance for Goth weekend! Another good alternative place to bed down is La Rosa, these guys have not only a groovy vintage B&B but the coolest caravan park ever! ( you totally have to check out the website)
2- Get Creative
Maybe you are an arty bod and your festival experiences are all about discovering your creative side by getting involved with workshops and craft classes. If so then get on-line and have a look what is going on in your community. You will be surprised how many workshops and classes you will find. From felting ( try Em Fountain) , ceramics, leather work, painting and drawing and even the more interesting taxidermy and such! art galleries offer workshops but many of the crafts people you see in the fields at summer need to earn a living in the winter, they will be doing their classes somewhere….check them out on the web!
3- Finding your Chi!
So do you need your morning meditation, gong bath or tai chi at sunset? If the healing fields is your favourite place at the festivals then thats easy! take your yoga mat into the garden or join a tai chi group in your local park. If you want to find something more challenging and life changing search the web for weekend retreats . Try Barefoot Retreats for weekends and days away. Run by the lovely Lousia from Barefoot festival, she provides wonderful and life affirming events, workshops and classes for all levels of experience and intrests.
3-Get the kids outdoors.
Maybe your a family festival Mama or Papa? do you spend your summer festival weekends discovering and playing with the kidlets? if so… time to find something to get you all back outside… try a bush craft organisation like Spinny Hollow, Geoff and the gang are regular festival goers and you will find them offering workshops at many of the best kids and craft areas. Outside of festival life they have a coppice in winchester, you can visit and do so much more than they bring to the fields.. try them! Also have a look locally too, there are lots of outdoor adventures to be had, horse riding, foraging, nature trails and even the Go Ape will offer you and your
little ones and outdoor winter activities that will keep the field sadness at bay.
4- Chat to likeminded souls
If you fell you are stuck in a world of suburbia and work and can’t find anyone you can connect with and share your festival joy. Then try an online forum. Most festivals have them and Efestivals have loads of subjects to join in on. Or follow a blog, of course you can read mine 🙂 but try following musicians, artists and festival parents for example. Festival Kidz are great as is Earth Based Fun
While all these ideas are great, if you have spent all your festival dollars over the summer and need something cheaper and easier and a bit more…. grass roots.. then try….
5- Finding some green and enjoying it.
The most lovely thing about summer festivals is the pace of life. Just sitting and chatting with your family or friends and slipping into festival time is magic. So…..Get your wellies out and make a picnic, pack the guitar or ukulele if you have them (or a portable stereo if not). Find somewhere green and quiet and go sit, eat, sing and just chat. Invite friends, take the kids and just enjoy. Doesn’t matter what the weather is, just get wrapped up and just… sit! you could even take a tent, throw it up, hang some bunting and spend the day just existing in a field. Belltent.co.uk
sell bell tents complete with cosy stoves.. so you can even stay in your tent for the day all cosy and warm…
6- Enjoying the rain.
I know when it rains at a festival you really really want it to stop, you spend loads of time imagining how different you weekend would be if you could lounge about on the grass drinking cider and how you would be sat out around a campfire until dawn started to break…. but there is nothing more likely to bring back happy memories than the rain. The sound of rain pattering on your tent or camper van roof will always make you fell cosy and this sound will take you straight back there. So if it starts raining, sit in the conservatory if you have one, or even the car, maybe just sit in the house, turn off the telly/ radio and open the windows. Just take time to listen to the pitter patter and feel the odd splash. The smell of damp ground afterwards is pretty special too if you allow yourselves to notice..maybe put the tent up or erect a canopy in the garden to sit under when it rains… don’t forget to jump in muddy puddles!
7- Sitting outside no matter what the weather.
When your friends come around for a cosy warming coffee or simply if you are all climbing the walls, just turn everything off, wrap yourself up and go sit outside. We have a couple of benches we built from wood we found at Glastonbury, its so easy to do. just find some bits of wood, some nails and get creative…
Just sitting outside with a warm drink either by yourself or with company is a very lovely thing. Try warm spiced cider or mulled wine.. maybe a hot toddy…. for added effect add….
8- Lighting A Campfire and making the most of it.
Such a simple thing, but so effective and it makes sitting out in the winter all that more appealing. Keep a stock of fire wood and kindling, even some fire lighters for ease. You can pick up metal fire pans and various fire based recepticals all over the high street these days! Need more? why not go the whole hog and dig a fire pit. We have a permanent fire pit in our garden, you can too and they don’t have to be ugly… dig out the turf and fill with gravel or stones, build your campfire and sit on a rug, a rustic bench ( see above) or even bring out the camping chairs. You can light a fire quickly and easily with fire lighters, kindling and logs, maybe just buy a ‘firestarter log’, just light the paper and get an hours worth of flames. Get out the marshmallows and sausages if you are staying out for the night, maybe get on eBay and find an iron kettle and have a steady stream of hot water on the go for brews. Get some fire irons and boil soup or stews. you can stay outside for hours.
Top tip; there is nothing more magical than a campfire in the snow.
9-Celebrate festival style
You have bonfire night, halloween, christmas eve and new years eve to celebrate , so invite your festival pals and do all the things listed above! get wrapped up, hang canopies, bunting and light a fire, put up a bell tent and light the stove, sit on hand made benches, share blankets, drink warming drinks, play music, sing and dance…. your festival is only a scarf away!
10- Buy your tickets
Make use of early bird deals, book time of work and start planning. Maybe add new camping gear to your christmas list…. download a count down App and start counting down the days to your first event
Just remember its the people that make the festival vibe, that and the great outdoors!
As a great friend of mine says…..
“there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing “
So stop sulking and start partying.. summer will be here soon!
THIS IS A LONG POST! Don’t feel obliged to read … It is more of a reminder for the family of of what we have done so we don’t forget.. We had a very busy August !
I don’t actually know where to start but I can this… August has been CRAZY! it’s HAS EVen RUN INTO SEPTEMBER!
Let’s start from the beginning..
So as August broke so did the caravan! Our lovely Lola died and we travelled to Wilderness festival in a bulging van and slept in a bell tent… You can read about it in the post ‘Ynot ‘
We still had a great time at wilderness and the final night was spent with Tara and kids watching the wilderness orchestra.. Was a great night
We came home from wilderness festival in Oxford and had exactly five days before we went on our Parisian trip.
However , things are never so simple.. The day we got home Libby ( eldest) was setting off to Budapest to a festival with her friends.
So as we got in to the house after 2 weeks in the road it was a mad rush sorting out a tent and camping stuff as well as taking her to where she needed to be… She arrived safely the next day.
I spent the next few days booking the appartment, transfers, Disney tickets and airport hotels ready for our holiday. I also had to make sure everything was ready for Libby’s 18th birthday party, which was going to take place the day after we arrived home:
I’d booked the local golf club at the beginning of the year and did so as I knew they would set up the room and make life so much easier than hosting a party at home.
It is a big deal when your eldest turns 18 and mr o and I were keen to host something special to bring everyone together for this special occasion.
In true O’Brien style, we wanted live music and a chilled out night, but we wanted the room to look great and guests to feel comfortable. I spent the next day at home, making things and packing boxes with table decorations and room decor, complete with instructions for the staff.
We went to the venue to pay the bill and take everything down.. Another job off the list.
Knowing we would be arriving home from late on Friday I knew I needed to have everything ready. So the last few days were spent tidying the house, confirming and booking hair and make up, buying party clothes and hanging then ready. I even order the shopping to arrive late Friday night, with the cakes for decorating and items for breakfast for any guests staying over!
As our holiday drew closer I found myself starting the packing onSaturday night as we were setting off Sunday lunch time! Talk about last minute…it does freak everyone else out but we travel all over in the summer and if I have learned one thing, it’s you really don’t need to spend weeks and months planning trips!
On Sunday we took delivery of my mum and Lizzie ( graces friend) and set off on two cars to Manchester. When we arrived at the hotel it became apparent that the hotel we had booked wasn’t the one we thought it was and it was a bit of a disappointment. No swimming pool or fancy restaurant but a 1960’s throw back with tired decor! But it was clean and tidy and offered parking while we went on holiday.
As we arrived so did the in-laws, as we were in my husbands home town they came over to see us. A quick drink turned into quite a few and at 9pm I realised I had to check in on-line, bath the kids and get settled down.. With mr O still happily drinking I was left to sort everyone out.
Talk about stress! There was no wifi in the room so I had to sit down stairs in the lobby, but the website for checking in was so stupid and kept asking me for information I didn’t have, I must have gone up and down that lift ten times! Eventually I sorted it and we were checked in on line.. But the kids information was all wrong as the slide down menu for their age only went to 1999 !?! So I had to make them older than they were and of course the worries about it all night! I had no sleep what so ever!
While I was sat in the lobby of the hotel, this Chinese man came over with his phone, he was, I think, asking me to help him out the password into his phone for the wifi. But because his phone was all in Chinese I really couldn’t help him. But as I handed his phone back he gave me a little bow his stomach made this hideous bubbling noise and he left me with a huge and disgusting smell! After the stress and frustration of trying to fill in a form with crap wifi, hold a toddler near me and try get sense out of a husband who’d been drinking all day.. It was really the icing on the cake!
Morning came and we were picked up and taken to the airport. After all my worry about checking in on line it turned out they needed to check us in anyway as there was so many of us!
We had an easy flight and transfer to our apartment which was absolutely lovely. Totally shabby chic or clean scruffy! It was great tho and we were in a lively village area not far from the Pompidou.
We had a lovely week traipsing around Paris, it’s always hard when you are a big group, to keep everyone happy. It’s even harder to lead that group when no one wants to take the lead but still has opinions what and where they want to go! But we did it and had fun, we had lots of belly laughs and as always I got to visit my favourite art works.
Seeing the art work of my studies is like visiting old friends. Every artist has a movement that inspired and moved them and mine was the impressionist and post impressionist movement. I feel like I was there, gallivanting around monmatre and enjoying an exciting life of creative Adventure.
So seeing money’s water lilies, and visiting Picasso , Manet, Renoir and the rest of the boys makes me super happy! Always shedding a tear when I visit monets bronze ballet dancing girl! I totally love her! I always say to myself how id love to go by myself one time and just sit with the paintings.. When you are with non artists or artist with other inspiration you are always slightly rushed through!
We drank red wine in front of the ‘big tower’ as kitty called it, visited Sacre Cour , rode the train around monmatre and had various other site seeing and adventures!
While we were there it was kitty’s birthday! 3 years old! We took her to Disneyland and she had a ball! Besides missing the last tube home we had a great day!
We returned home Friday and an easy flight and journey arrived us back for around 7pm… But no rest for the wicked! Libby had arrived home from Budapest the day before and along with our mess I was faced with copious amounts of washing up, clothes and cases. As it was the big birthday party the day after I took all the cases and clothes up to our room and left it there! They stayed that way for four days!
My previous week of organising was already paying off as the shopping arrived on schedule. I’d bought frozen sponge cakes! It’s a new concept but perfect for what I needed! They were posh cakes from a great baker, but ocado had frozen then.. So as they defrosted over night ready for decorating in the morning, I was able to feed the troups, bath and shower them all and fall into bed ready for a busy day.
The day of the party was a blur, poor Libby was booked in for her hair doing in the morning but work had called her in and weren’t budging an inch. So while she was out I decorated the now defrosted cakes, finished the table settings and took everything down to the golf club.
We had a lovely surprise to find the staff had already set up the tables and decorated the room with the stuff we’d taken down.. They’d done a great job! We added the centre decoration and scattered glow sticks and sweets everywhere. We then had to set up the lap top and the projector.
We had created a lovely video for Libby with pictures and a lip sinc video of all her friends and family miming to queens bohemian rapsody! It had taken hours and hours of work collecting and putting together the clips everyone sent, I was still doing it the night before we got back from Paris! But it was done and was totally fab..! We set it up and watched the presentation together that afternoon and for the first time I ACTUALLY watched it, as a viewer and not as the maker. I had a little cry as I saw Libby grown up through photos before me and enjoyed the knowledge that so many folks had given their time to the video too. Emotional! We got home, room all ready, and after a shower and quick tidy up the make up lady arrived and started work on grace. I had been persuaded to have mine done too and as a none make up lady.. I was nervous! She worked her magic and I looked like a girl! It was weird… Libby hadn’t arrived back as she had finished me so she did a little blush and lippy on Kitty who was thrilled to bits!
When Libby arrived back from work she rushed in and sat down for her turn.. She glanced at me and said ” wow mummy you look fit!” I guess it was a compliment!
We went down to the golf club and Matt and Denzil were already there setting up the sound gear ready for the disco. We got some drinks in and waiting for the guests.
What a magical night, we had live music, the video, singing and dancing! It was very lively and most importantly Libby had a great time! It was so lovely to have so many of our family and friends in one place! Just great! Even William hit the dance floor! He totally rocked out! Denzil caught this great pic of him!
We eventually arrived home and at 5am everyone was in bed! Breakfast was great, hungover mates chilling out and eating bacon, drinking coffee and nibbling on pastries! It’s my favourite part of a party.. The debriefing and chatting in a hungover haze.
As folks left and new visitors arrived we stumbled through the day, by 6pm we were alone and sat in front of the tv watching crap and eating cake…. It wasn’t a late night!
Monday came and I had to go in to town to pick up banners and ribbons for Libby’s birthday which was the day after. We had arranged to give her a car. It was over in Manchester at Keiths brothers house. Keith had planned on giving her the key and getting the car some other time, but it wasn’t exactly the best surprise! I had visions of her opening the key and running out to an empty drive.
So with some plannjng, I insured keith on the car for the day and persuaded Matt to take keith half way over where Neil met them and took keith the rest of the way. He picked up the car and brought it home, parked infront of the house.. Libby didn’t notice as she arrived home.
So after another busy day we fell into bed once more! Morning came and I snuck outside to decorate the car. I was so proud we could give this gift! As Libby opened her cards she came to the silver box! It’s a very good job we did bring it over as she screamed and ran straight outside to look at it! It was magic!
Libby went out with her boyfriend and we planned on going for tea, but I’d picked up a bug and ended up staying in bed while the rest of them went out. She finished her day in Leeds drinking cocktails a happy young adult!
She and kitty enjoyed their cakes ( kitty hadn’t been sung to on her day so she shared the moment with her big sis)
Wednesday came and I had to check my emails at last! I found the confirmation for a one day event on the 3rd September so spent the next few day planning and booking folks for that. As well as unpacking from Paris and getting the washing and house sorted.. My days were pretty much full!
Thursday hit us before we know it and the girls and their friends were going to Leeds festival. Grace at 16 was doing her first festival without us. With two of her friends she excitedly packed and along with Libby ( who was meeting friend there) climbed in the van for a lift. As we arrived the heavens opened! I mean TOTALLY opened. I left them in the pouring rain, water running off the ends of their noses! But they are festival savvy and know the score! I wasn’t worried. We arrived home , ordered fish and chips and watched a film! You can read my post about drug taking at Leeds in my post ‘is drug taking safer at festivals’
Friday came the next day and we attended the funeral of a very special young man. Jacob had died suddenly in a bike crash and at 21 we were all feeling a great sense of loss. You can read about him and the funeral in my post ‘losing an angel’
We arrived home late from the funeral on Friday night and fueled with a draining sense of exhaustion we collapsed in from of the TV, thinking about our own family and counting our blessings X
Saturday was heaven! For the first time since February , that’s seven months since, we had nothing to do on the weekend.. We did nothing! We watched three films! By 8pm though I wAs climbing the walls. Mr O played his records on his vintage player while I made Pom poms with the kids!
Sunday allowed for a lie in , after resting all Saturday we cleared the new downstairs toilet from all the decorating stuff, tools and parts we had for extension. Keith fixed on the doors and I put everything away in the sheds and cleaned the kitchen! It made a big difference clearing away stuff we’ve been struggling to store for months!
Bank holiday Monday was all about picking the girls up from Leeds and feeding them and unpacking . I managed to get in the garden too and cut back the months of summer growth and mess that comes with a summer on the road. I was happily tired and feeling fulfilled!
Tuesday was an admin morning! Keith back at work and I have had a security issue with my bank and payments I’d made had been held… So I woke up to six or so crew asking kindly where their money was. VERY STRESSFUL. I’m still trying to sort it and it’s fine just taking time! I also hit the lap top and sorted the gig for the weekend.
The afternoon was filled with a trip to Leeds with Grace! She had to enrol on her course and needed someone to help show her which train and where to go. She was so very nervous but got through it. It’s exciting times for her. New city, new course, new friends! I’m kind of jealous …. The smell of oil paint and adventure was in the air! As we arrived home on the train keith picked us up , we dropped the kids off before dashing off to wicks to buy stuff ready for the builder!
Wednesday brought the builders, who finished the steps to the house and did a few bits of finishing off. They also sunk the posts for the new fence which didn’t go well with our neighbour.. But that’s another blog! Having the steps finished made us really feel like we were getting somewhere and started looking forward to finishing the inside this Autumn.
That brings me to Wednesday! I spent the day in Wakefield with the kids, my mum and keith. It was mums birthday on Tuesday and is not been able to make it because of graces induction. So we treated her to lunch before going shopping for Williams high school uniform! That boy really doesn’t give a shit what he looks like! We literally dragged him around forcing him to try on and show preference in anything… High school will be a shock!
So as we returned, Libby came in, sad and dissolutioned as she had said goodbye to her beau for three months! He’s gone to Australia to meet his birth father and obviously Libby is heart broken. We hope she uses the opportunity to find herself and explore her options… But her heart hurts too much today to think so far ahead! Ah to be 18 again!
We spent the night doing our own thing, I finished designing a treasure hunt for the gig this weekend and decorated the old Silvercross pram for my little show and activities. ‘Mrs O’s magical Prambulator’ is in development and hopefully will become a walkabout theatre peice by next year.
Keith slobbed out and watched some football, William gamed, grace snap chatted, kitty played play doh and Libby cried a lot! It was like a normal household!
Friday we went to Derbyshire to run a day VIP gig which was fun.. The site was themed and just a lovely version of ‘adventure island’ with clients getting tokens for food and drink and all the activities and rides free, we didn’t need to spend a penny.
Our space was lovely and we provided crafts an theatre… It went down really well !
The crew worked hard and we smashed it but the fun came later when we were given lots of left over booze from the bars and cocktail bars as well as cakes and food. We sat in our space in an empty arena watch the fireworks in the opposite field. We had a real laugh and it ended the season off brilliantly!
We just got home via picking up a tool box for graces college equipment! She starts tomorrow and William starts tueaday. So it’s all new adventures for them!
I’m having September off! I’m keeping my head down and preparing for hibernation !
Today our main job was to get the lovely Lola Caravan cleaned and packed up ready for setting off the Glastonbury music festival next week and then onto various other events…
(Literally we are about to set off on our annual road trip of adventures and fun for 6 weeks and our caravan really is our home . She’s so loved and is super adorable! ) So Lola had been placed in storage over winter so the drive was empty while we had the build done. So when Mr O brought it back home the other day we were so pleased to see her and totally excited to get in and make her comfortable.
So armed with a bin bag and cleaning bottles I opened the door to my second and beloved home.
Looks like we had a mouse enjoying the caravan life! With droppings EVERYWHERE and every packed of dried food raded from the inside out , I had a bit of a job on my hands. I also had a bit of a cry! It was a mess! And by the way!! How did it get into closed drawers and cupboard.. (Little shit)
I’ve had to throw away all the bedding and pillows and take off all the cusion covers off the (awfully patterned) seats… We disinfected the seats and literally swilled out the entire van!
But through it all I was forced to empty all the cupboards and it felt great to go through our ‘caravan life’ I had great fun reading through last years programs and finding all our festival clothes and treasures .. Kitty enjoyed rediscovering all her caravan toys and Grace rediscovered her caravan DVDs.. It was nice to sure and look at our last three years of festival d’art.
After 6 hours the caravan smells less of mouse and more of bleach ( sod the environment… Sometimes only bleach will do) and I managed to whip up some new seat covers and they look lovely… Although they totally don’t match the existing curtains.. I’m trying really hard to ignore that and not embark on making new ones.. Especially as I’m running out of time rapidly before we go. But I will say this.. The struggle not to coordinate is very real!!!!
(I bought the yellow fabric from bhs in the shape of two single quilt covers.. Let’s hope I can find some more before the company closes for good bhs interior textile prints will be missed at Angel gardens HQ )
So today I have to go to a certain European shop to buy new pillows, quilts and overs for everyone.. Not the best timing financially but frankly I kind of like the idea of having all new. However time is not our friend… With the joiner coming to do the internal door and mr O needing to take bags and bags of half eaten and smelly bedding to the tip I’m not hopeful I’ll do any other jobs on my list,
Let’s hope this week is kind to me and I get good weather and time to pack, clean and sort everything out!
Ps – I found the mouse, well fed, content and dead in a pile of goose festhers.
A couple of weeks ago we had some awful news. One of our young crew members was killed in a motorbike accident.
Angel Gardens has been in business for ten years this year and over that time it has grown and developed into something very special. We’ve had our ups and downs like any business but as a business it’s success is not actually in its bank balance.. It’s in its people!
We are a family, a group of people from all walks of life and of all ages, class and creed…and it’s that family that makes us so special.
We may only work together for a few longvweekends in each year, but when you live together 24/7 you really get to know people.
I guess it was only a matter of time before we lost one of our people. I guess we never expected it to be someone so young and vibrant.
Jacob was 21 , he was a skater, motorbike rider, circus boy, fire performer, artist and musician.. He was creative, funny and kind.
For a young man he was responsible and gentle while still open and honest without trying at all.
I always say to my daughters that I know I can trust a young person when they don’t watch me to see if I’m watching them. Jacob never did this,. He would look you in the eye and talk to you with truth and humility. He was one of those people that was wise beyond his years… In a very grounded way.
He has been at his girlfriends and didn’t return home. We saw on Facebook that his mum ( also part of the crew) was asking if anyone had seen him… Over night the news broke that his body had been found.
His family are coping tremendously well, they are celebrating his life and are accepting the outpouring of love from his peers and friends. Of course they are heart broken. They are such a close and tiny unit.. I really don’t know what will happen now.
As a crew we were badly shaken, loosing someone has a knock on effect and everyone feels it.. Some knows Jacob more than others. The younger crew members where his friends, older crew members knew him as a son and fir myself, I saw him as a skilled worker who was a vital and responsible link in our chain.
So as we chatted together from our four corners of the country, we shared our grief, concerns and plans as the funeral came closer. Michelle, his mum, asked us to wear our festival clothes and our crew tshirts which we did with pride. This is the post I put up for the crew who couldn’t make the funeral .
I promised many of you that i’d call and chat to you today about the funeral, but realised, i didn’t have the energy to do it over and over, so figured i’d write it down for you. I know many couldn’t attend but wanted to know how it went.. so here it is….
Just wanted to say how proud i was of the Angel gardens family yesterday, everyone looked splendid in their festival clothes, everyone one supported each other and everyone was a total credit to each other. The family had asked everyone to attend in their own festival clothes… so we wore our t-shirts and festival rags…. everyone looked lovely…
I did have a little gentle laugh to myself, the O’Briens arrived early and there was a funeral taking place, as the attendees were leaving they were very confused to find crowds of hippies, bikers and ‘weirdness’ lining the road leading unto the chapel. they must have been very confused 🙂
I was sat on my own at the crematorium as i was speaking, and i was terrified and emotional and feeling vulnerable by myself. when the Angel gardens family came in and stood at the side, they all gave me a squeeze as they passed me, just looking over at you all face me the strength not to break… thanks guys x
Shelly and Elliot did really well and were a credit to Jacob Mogwhy Chothia , the funeral was hard bit fitting in a very beautiful way.
As we arrived we all met and gave hugs and support, the Angel gardens gardens children took sunflowers in to the chapel and they all put them on the coffin on the way out. Angel gardens gave a bunch of sunflowers all tied up with an Angel gardens bandana.. these were from us all…. I wrote the words on behalf of us all, thanking him for his time with us in Angel gardens and asking him to enjoy the great big festival in the sky.
When Jacob arrived, he was escorted by lots and lots of motorbikes, we could hear them coming and it was a very emotional and amazing site as they passed, the smell of fuel, leather and the deep rumbling sound as they passed was unforgettable.
Jacob passed us and was in a coffin which was decorated with a magnificent tiger and the whole thing was painted in oranges and yellows, it was really beautiful;. There was a single floral tribute inside and it was from his family.
The service was strongly joyous, with laughs and lovely words about jacobs short life. The underlying theme was his ability to make people smile and his wonderful skills as well as the way he lived his life to the full. We all commented how nice it was to hear about his life outside festivals, we all know folks in our own way and we often forget its just a very small part of who they are.
The music was lovely too, with Three little birds in the middle of the service.. perfect!!!.. we sang this later too at the wake.
As we left the chapel we were all invited to take a little ‘peace’ sticker and stick it to the coffin, it was a lovely gesture and helped people say goodbye.
There was also a box of coins that Jacob had been collecting for years to make his handmade jewellery. everyone took one as a momento of the day and of Jacob’s life.
Of course it was upsetting and hard, seeing Shelly and her family struggle through such a difficult day was awful and we all found this really hard to witness. But we also saw the unity and support they had in place, so many ( and there were a LOT of people) all caring and supporting , we can all rest assured they will be guided and supported through these hard times and into the future.
After the ceremony we went to the Wake which was at a golf club near by, it was a stunning spot and with the weather so good everyone enjoyed the outdoors. Loads of people sitting around, drinking, smoking and in the end laughing and singing. There was a certain herbal smell in the air, which added to the atmosphere 🙂
The Angel gardens team supported Shelly by helping to add some music to the afternoon, Matt and Pixie Holly created music with Alison McNeil Tara Sykes Sara Rushworth Fraser Sugden Keith O’Brien and myself joining in with our voices.
A friend of Jacobs used his fire staff and performed and Kelsie span her poi. It was perfect.
It was sad, emotional, tragic, joyful, funny, happy and more… it was a perfect send off.
For those of you that couldn’t join us, thank you for your best wishes and messages, I have passed them all to Shelly and she sends her thanks….
Thanks to those that held their own little ceremonies in their part of the world. It was good to know the family and tribe were all joined together at the same time.
We are a family, we are a tribe… when we loose one of our own we feel it, even if we don’t know that person personally, we know it leaves a gap in our chain and effects us all.
We will move on now, we have decided to name the circus/games area in Angel gardens ‘Jacob’s Green’ and we will play and have fun here with lots and lots of children and we will support lots of young people as their develop their own skills and their own walk of life . We will look at designing a nice sign for next year and create a press release in the spring to introduce it. Anyone wanting to help let us know, we will collect monies for some equipment at some point and it will be a funded and non chargeable area for Angel gardens . as I say any ideas welcome for this.
But now we need to pick ourselves up and move on with the little bit of Jacob that you have experienced. Smile at his memory and send strength to his family.
If any of you need any support or need to share your thoughts, don’t be alone.. call me , call each other… use your Angel gardens family.
kind love and gentle hugs
You don’t feel you have the right to feel sadness in situations like this.. You see a mother and brother crumbling in grief and you berate yourself for feeling any kind of sadness.
But it’s ok to grieve for those who pass, even if you grieve more for those left behind than you do the deceased.
It’s always hard when it’s a young and good person that goes… Especially when it’s sudden and unexpected ! It hits everyone.
I was honoured to speak at the funeral and wanted to say something that explained how doe use Jacob was. I ended up writing loads but cutting it down to the essentials was strangely comforting.
I managed to speak without faltering, which was amazing really! I was so nervous and so emotional.. But when it came to it I knew my words where more important than my tears.. Somehow God gave me strength to talk.
Here is the full version.
Its such a cliche isn’t it? ‘Its such a loss’ ‘ he was such a great bloke’ ‘how tragic’
we all say these words, they roll of our tongue when someone we know passes to the other side
We all feel sympathy and we all feel loss, but often out of duty and from a distance.
But today, with Jacob, these words are not true, i mean really not true… in fact they really don’t do this awful situation any justice at all.
This awful unfair tragic accident, that has taken away someone that was more than just a ‘nice bloke’, its more than a ‘loss’, to us all, it is so much more than a tragedy,,,,, saying these words feels like an insult here today.
We are all kind of the same, we are born and raised with pretty much there same bits and pieces, hands, feet, toes, emotions, attributes and personality.
Of course we all have ways in which we stand out too, skills, qualities and our own way of treating others.
Some people aren’t very nice, others, like most of us, work really hard at been nice, we try hard to do the right thing, say the kindest words and feel the empathy we crave we should give…
but some, and there aren’t many, well… they are the special ones, the ones that stand out,
they are the Angels of the world.
They are the ones that don’t try to be nice or remember to say the right things,
they don’t try to work hard at helping others or make an effort to be generous or honest…
They just are,
they just do,
they just be.
Jacob wasn’t just a nice bloke.. he was a specular example of who we need to be. Its not a tragedy … i don’t know what it is.. i don’t know a word that works well enough.. but i do know he’s too special to not be doing something important wherever he is now
and as he leaves us here with our grief and memories… we all take forward his gifts… the gifts of knowing him… his energy his lovely gentle energy.
he is always part of us, and we will be honoured, honoured to know hime both in life and in death .. always, to be part of the family.
I saw grief in all shapes and sizes. My own daughters handled it differently. My eldest was great friends with him, she sobbed and was heart broken for his loss. My second eldest grieved for his mother and brother and for her sister. My husband grieved for his younger brother and I grieved for them all.
Seeing young people attend a funeral enmass is a sad but humbling experience. But I’m glad I’ve seen it.. Again I feel honoured .
Rest in peace Jacob. You will be so very missed in and by every part of your full and glorious life!
Finally I’m super proud of our Angel gardens family , they sang and played for him at the funeral, together they did what they do best… Be a tribe xxxxx
I’m very blessed to have had the opportunity to bring my children up in a festival environment..they have experienced the best festivals can offer , the people, the acceptance and the creative community.
But then we don’t do
Leeds/reading, v festival, park life festival or similar, they are very different kettles of fish. My children have been around drugs. Not that me or their father partake, we are clean as a whistle,we talk to them too.
We don’t hide it, drug taking happens, we answer their questions and tell them the truth. But there is no doubt they have seen the dealers and takers and unfortunately the negative outcomes too.
From my experience it’s not the older drug takers that are an issue, the older folks are the more experienced they are, the more they spend on their ‘meds’ , the more likely they know and trust its source. But young festivals, where 16 to 18 year olds take leave of their parents for their first weekend of freedom are more vulnerable in their excitement to experiment.
They don’t know the difference between good and bad ‘shit’ and they don’t know what their bodies and minds can handle. They don’t know who they are buying from and actually what to expect!
We have seen some messes, even at the ‘tamer’ festivals, we’ve seen some very scary messes over the last ten years of travelling the circuit! It’s not pretty and if can be scary! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve smelt death in the air!
As a none drug taker it’s easy to get frustrated when your friends are having a ‘great time’ with the help of their chosen compound , not realising that they are boring as shit when their buzz sets in and they are staring into middle space, not keeping up with conversation, slurring their words and actually only partying in their own heads! But we are lucky enough to never see them get in such a state we had to get them help or keep them safe. To be honest we tend to have left them to it long before this could happen and settle for some good conversation and laughs on our own, where we are high on life and the moment.
All this aside I don’t think parents should stop their kids going to the ‘rites of passage’ events. You see their kids have their own minds and they are more educated about drugs than we ever were. Frankly if they are going to use they will find a way to use wether it’s in a field with 25,000 others or at home on a park bench with their closest pals.
Parents should rest at ease..a festival environment is actually the safest place to experiment with drugs, With trained welfare teams on hand, security, stewards and medics all watching armed with radios and festival awareness , having a bad experience both mentally and physically doesn’t leave you as vulnerable as it would elsewhere.
Outside of the fields finding and requesting help ( if you can physically talk) is less likely when you are in a club or a private party. Not only do you need to find courage to phone 999 or come clean to a family member or friend, you are at risk of prosecution , something festivals tend to avoid. They are more interested the dealers, not the takers.
Also you are among groups of others when you’re at a festival. Festivals are great for bringing people together and it’s not like been in the street.. Folks don’t just walk past you if your in trouble. Different genres at events and different music and crowds tend to bring similar ages and accepting groups together. This allows great community spirit and peer support should you find your self in drug fueled trouble. Our experience shows that folks in trouble are brough to the attention of staff very quickly.
This is less likely in the ‘outside world’ with such mixed groups of people and fear of prosecution as well as the stigma of drug and alcohol users, it comes as no surprise that folks will just walk on by leaving you lay in the gutter needing help.
Many festivals are now offering testing facilities, where substances can be checked to ensure they are safe to take. At a recent event we attended I chatted to (a very busy ) welfare team. It had been a super messy night, folks were littered around puking, crying, shaking, passed out. It looked like a war zone! Welfare told me a bad batch of Ketamine was the cause , they didn’t know what it had been mixed with but it was having a rotten effect. We were guarding our pitch from serial urination and general aggressors while they told us how the team were frustrated. Welfare had the kit to test substances but the production team didn’t want to spend the extra money on the service…. not many do. It’s a shame and I think it’s something that will come in the future.
Festivals need to take responsibility to do what they can to ensure their guests are safe, if there is drug taking at their event and vulnerable young adults as their customers, then they need to consider it their duty to ensure they minimise the negative effects.
So as news came in that another young person lost their life to drugs at Leeds festival, and I read about how parents are terrified about their children’s safety, I think of the professionals who had to deal with that awful situation and hope the organisers across the uk take heed and think about what they can do to stop this or at least do everything they can to minimise the risk! . Another lesson learned we hope. If festival producers and councils spent as much time worrying about the welfare of their clients as they did about sound levels and car parking, festivals would have a much better reputation.
My girls are both at Leeds this weekend and I’m pretty sure they are been safe, but what do I know? I was young once and remember how invincible I felt! The only thing to do is to hope that if they need it, they get support and gentle care. We can then rest assured there are plenty of qualified and able folks on site to look after them… If, of course.. The purse strings were opened for them!
I know I know… I am totally late with this again and I’m sorry but it’s been a bit chaotic..
We set off to Derbyshire to produce the kids area on the Wednesday, after a coup of hours we arrived on site with a very poorly looking caravan! We literally dragged her onto site.
Poor old Lola had come off her chassis and it was obvious she was very unwell!
We had very little signal on site so had the excuciating task of having to wait until the Monday to contact the insurance to see if we were covered!
The festival was an odd one.. It isn’t really a family festival and is a messy one too. Thousands ( 25k to be exact) of 25-19 year olds all drinking and taking loads of crap drugs , peeing and puking everywhere!
There were families and we created a wonderful area, in fact we did one of the best we’d produced all season!
Crew had a magical time in our back stage area socialising away from the crowds and also out front during the day entertaining the kids and working together in that special way they always do.
In one way I think the weirdness and aggression of the vibe actually made the festival for the crew , as they were forced to socialise together in our safe area back stage.
The 16 year old daughter brought her friend and they camped together in a little tent and the 17 year old also camped with her boyfriend so the caravan spent her last weekend with us with just the four of us. We did spend a lot of time in her, it was cold in Derbyshire! The heater was on most days!
As Monday arrived, Mr O started calling the insurers and the papertrail started. After many calls and negotiation we had an assessor named Joe come out to take a look.
A rotund jolly man toddled across a messy and smelly field to our highly decorated canaravan and happily told us she was a right off! Not unexpected but very saddening. We had to arrange collection and get it delivered to our yard back in Yorkshire. Not easy logistics when you are in a field in the middle of nowhere.
We stayed an extra night on site while we sorted it all out and then sadly left Lola in the field on her own as we made our way to Oxfordshire for the next festival!
We had to take as much kit as we could in the van including the cusions to sleep on and lots of blankets. We decided enroute to stop off at a hotel so we could get clean, rest and make use of the wifi to sort out all the admin.
Heaven! We found a very lovely 4* hotel in Warwick with a swimming pool and all mod cons! As the children swam and we enjoyed the steam room and and heated sun beds I finally relaxed for the night!
We arrived on site late Wednesday and set up our camp, we were sleeping in a bell tent and by the time it was up and cosy I remembered how much I loved camping!
I love crawling about, love the cosy beds and love sitting outside !!!! I totally love the adventure of cooking meals from dried and tinned foods as well as organising systems form washing up and keeping clean! Why don’t we do more of this?
It’s day two of the wilderness festival and I’m enjoying running my own workshop.. It’s great doing the teaching myself and not looking after a big crew.
Tara is here with the kids and we are jokingly calling her the ‘nanny’ as she looks after kitty with such love and attention…she’s the only adult outside our own (not so) little family that kitty will goto so it’s a real joy for me to be able to fully concentrate and focus on my work.
Although I do miss her! Tara is brilliant and knows how hard it is to stay focuses when the kids are around, so she doesn’t bring kitty to visit me during the day. So by the time I get back from work and get in the tent, kitty and I are both thrilled to be together again.
Our playtime and cuddle time is so special and at home we do it just before everyone gets home, but here is is as soon I get back and we enjoyed a few songs and games together while Mr O brought me some tea!
The children are having a lovely time and I can relax at work knowing this! Even William has his best ‘girl’ friend ( apparently Poppy is a ‘G-ate’.. A girl that’s a mate!)
They play so well together and it so lovely seeing them together, both are clever kids and don’t have friends on their wavelength at home.. It’s a pleasure to watch them spend ever hour together.
However there has been trouble at the mill! As life as an 11 year old boy is not all it is cracked upto be when all the girls want a part of you! On the whole he’s been enjoying playing with his girl friends and they are all totally in love with him, but there has been some competition between the girls and William frankly can’t be bothered. I found him and poppy hiding from the other girls in our tent a number of times. Such a heartbreaker and so loyal too! #proud
Tara and the children (bear and poppy) are enjoying their festival, spending their evenings together eating dinner and doing lovely things. They are a lovely family and I feel blessed to have them in my life.
The 16 year old and friend are happy and enjoying ‘hanging out’ after working all day. Raven( friend) has never done a festival and she is from a tiny family, living just with her mum. So spending two weeks on the road with the O’Brien clan must have been a real culture shock. But she’s fit in nicely and I’ve been happy to have her part of the family. Grace certainly has enjoyed having a friend with her.
They both worked doing face paint (grace) and glitter art (raven) they were busy and worked hard. So good to see grace refind her confidence again!!! (Shed lost it a bit this summer) So as they both earned a daily wage they enjoyed going off and spending it.
Grace finally fulfilled her dream of getting dreads at Ynot festival and it’s like she’s found herself.. She’s more confident and said herself how she feels like she has found the girl she always knew was! Made me think about the power a ‘style’ can have… A blog for another day maybe?!
Everyone is happy!
Lola is back in Pontefract and we will deal with her on Tuesday.. Poor thing! We are gutted to loose her, but trying to be positive. I’m wondering if we can strip her insides and rebuild her in my potting shed? Could be good winter project?! And thinking of ideas to replace her.. Maybe it’s time for a change? The girl are starting to want their own tents do we could get something smaller and more unique?! Maybe a roll top waggon? We’ve been looking this weekend!
So it’s Sunday night and the family are all sleeping.. I’m lay listening to far off music and frivolity. It our last day of our 2016 festival season.. Home tomorrow before packing for our Parisian trip and preparing for daughter number 1’s 18th!
All exciting and positive but sad to say goodbye to the fields for a while!