Why Are Kids Banned & Punished For Grieving?

15727213731_fc3dde6aec_b.jpgWe got Williams report today and they gave him 10 unauthorised absences for the days he missed after mum died (his very much loved grandma) in September.

I’m absolutely appalled by this and on doing some research it seems its quite normal, in fact any child taking time off following a death is classed as taking an extended ‘holiday’ It is just not allowed ! You will be fined! It’s official.. Kids are not allowed to grieve!

During the first few days of mums unexpected death (it was a very traumatic time) we were ‘door stepped’ by the school who sent round the schools attendance officer and LEA attendance officer to knock on our door without warning and question us. It was one of the most traumatic, humiliating and upsetting moments of our lives.

I sat at my dining table with my exhausted body slumping and a red raw face from crying solidly for three days , in front of me was the details of the procedures the funeral director needed to carry out on mums body and a number of forms I needed to fill out to register the death. I sat slumped with humiliation , William by my side as he sobbed Silent tears of grief and sadness and They stood over us and talked at us , we don’t remember what they said.. We just stared at them unseeingly and on mute through our pain.

We were so shocked and too upset to be able to react properly at the time, we had maintained contact with the school letting them know why William wouldn’t be in and even requesting the pastoral team to contact us with advice on how to support our broken young man. They responded by turning up unannounced (just after we’d seen the funeral director ) to check up on us. How is this even allowed, let alone appropriate, to intrude on a grieving family? I can only presume they turned up to check we weren’t lying about mums death?! They returned un-invited four days later and did the same.

William took 10 days off in total, two of which he was ill, one he was at the funeral and the rest he was simply broken. (You get two attendance marks a day )

Both our girls were given three weeks off university at this time but William apparently wasn’t entitled to any, yet at 13 was the one struggling the most.

To make things worse the school also dished out 10 behaviour points and 10 detentions on his return, among other things , for not completing homework that was set during the time he was absent.

We had been assured that during his return that all his teachers would be informed of his situation and that they would help support him. It was agreed that at anytime should he find himself getting emotional or that any time felt he was overwhelmed, that he could let the teacher know and they’d send him to the pastoral office where the dedicated staff member would support him.

On his first day he became upset after been given his third detention.. (teachers hadn’t been informed after all) and requested that he could go to see the dedicated staff member. The teacher reluctantly let him go after saying ‘don’t you think you’ve had enough time off?’.

As William arrived at the pastoral office he discovered that the staff member who was looking after him was busy with another pupil. So he was sent to the first aid room where the school nurse sat him in a room and gave him a box of tissues and left. He was in that room over an hour on his own and when the nurse came back she snapped ‘ you still crying?’ Tutted and left the room again. Not helpful.

He called us sobbing and we went to collect him, we were told we couldn’t just ‘pick him up’ without permission .. our own son? .. the conversation didn’t last long as we demanded firmly that we were taken to him and we could and indeed would ‘just take him’ at any time. Indeed he was found sat on his own sobbing to an empty room, our broken boy.

Just as you think you can see the light

Five months later and after counselling (that we organised privately) William is much better but on finding out his absences were ‘un authorised’ yesterday we felt very let down.. again! We are so very upset that it’s clear they care so little for our child and his needs. How can kids feel safe and ‘held’ when their grief is dismissed so easily? And how do we as parents trust the school to take care of our children when they are in their care?

For most kids loosing a grandparent it’s most probably the worst moment of their life so far, their first experience of loss and their first time that they question their own mortality! The way this is processed will determine how they deal with death into the future. Belittling this grief and not allowing or recognising their pain sends them a very strong but clear message… it says ” we don’t care about your family or your feelings, we just care about you passing your exams” it also tells them that grieving is somehow not acceptable.. perhaps even weak. This approach is not going to encourage any child to feel encouraged to engage in school life, the place they spend a solid eleven years of their live, day to day and it certainly doesn’t build us healthy and strong adults of the future.

The school report we received yesterday informs us that it is ‘very likely further action will be taken’ (due to this high level of unauthorised absence) . How fantastic! So after we start to recover from the hardest and most traumatic time of all of our lives, we now have to deal with a fine and the humiliation of having to sign a document that promises that we commit to ensuring excellent attendance or risk a trip to court and even social services getting involved.

As parents.  we are all committed to our children’s school and education , but our priority is always the commitment to our children and their overall health and happiness.. that always comes first!

I, like every other parent, expected to have the control over how we parented and that we’d decide what was best for our child. When you hold your baby for the first time you never imagine you won’t be able to care for your child at times of sadness without having to follow someone else’s rules or risk been fined or threatened.

Could we be at risk of social services getting involved? They did turn up at our house without warning and if they do take us to court what will happen? Will we be seen as a family who doesn’t do our duty and provide a solid education for our children? We weren’t the ones leaving a distressed child alone in a room, nor were we humiliating him in front of his peers or dismissing his sadness. We only let him grieve in a safe and loving environment, so how is it we feel so frightened?

It’s a no from me

Did you know a child can only attend a funeral at the discretion of a head teacher?

No matter what, who or how the death occurred. It’s right there in the report from the former schools minister ( it is the former schools minister, but I cant find any more recent information so have to presume this thinking still stands) 

It’s not a given they can attend to say goodbye to their loved ones at a funeral with all their other family members and parents . No, it’s something a near stranger decides for you and your child.. let that sink in a moment.. you don’t decide if you child attends the funeral of a family member with the rest of their family!

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Punishing with behaviour records.

William has an exemplary behaviour record, teachers always tell us he is attentive, quiet, polite and considerate. I’m not just doing the ‘my child is never naughty’ thing, he has him moments like any normal child, but William is and has been a gentle and quiet boy, the easiest of our four children and best behaved, he is a good kid. But this year so far he has so many ‘behaviour points’ given to him without any discussion or consideration.

It seems the way forward is to punish our kids whatever, in any circumstance. In fact they don’t even allow a child to try an explain their situation ( this is disrespecting the teacher) . So now , on record, he is suddenly seen as a child in which ‘action needs to be taken’ and he didn’t do anything wrong but grieve.

These ‘points’ come from him not completing homework that was set while he was absent (following the death …in one instance he didn’t get a log-in for an online learning scheme and was put in detention for not knowing about it.. it was given to children while he was at the funeral) one of the detentions was handed out for taking the wrong socks for PE on his first day back after the funeral. Socks??? if only they had seen the courage and strength he mustered to return to school that day! ..Then to top it off, another detention, because we didn’t sign his personal planner during the two weeks he was off school. I mean really? what were they trying to do to us? were we not broken enough? This was beginning to feel like they were bullying us.

He was shouted at and punished without any consideration of what was going on with him, blanket rules for individual children really doesn’t work .

When in training

When you train to be a teacher you are taught to always consider the needs of each individual student/learner. In fact I remember tons of sessions during my training where we examined how to see each learner as an individual with individual needs. We had brain storming sessions weekly where we were encouraged to think of reasons a student may be struggling or need support. Of course hitting a teacher or another student is a pretty black or white case, but giving the same punishments to a child for forgetting his PE socks (when they are going through a really rough time) is not something you are trained to do! It’s common sense to everyone surely?

You are trained to recognise when your discretion should be used. It’s your job as a teacher, your responsibility. Are teaching staff forced to implement no tolerance to all students now? It’s a dangerous and cruel tactic if they are?

As it stands at Williams school, you get the same punishment for your parent not signing you planner as say, a student who just verbally abused a teacher in a fit of rage.

This attitude is not teaching fairness and doesn’t give children the space to be heard or respected. School is not the army! This is a modern school, a place that is supposed to offer safety, pastoral care and social enrichment not punish the kids at every opportunity no matter what the specifics.

This stuff messes kids up! They don’t forget! It shapes them and sends them into the future believing their voice is not worthy of being heard. They believe that they are a failure and that if something out of their control affects their performance they must take the blame and just ‘carry on’ .

Not such a great message when the biggest cause of death in young men is suicide and that young people are self harming in higher numbers that ever before.

Schools are actively and openly damaging our children.

Problem parents and problem child

Not only did William go through a very traumatic time and loose one of his closest relatives, but he has now been tarred as a problem child in school and we have been labelled as problem parents. (Just to be clear, we have dedicated our lives to our children) we are not problem parents!

Looking at employment information and guidelines, adults (including teaching staff) receive 5 days minimum paid bereavement leave and up to 6 weeks unpaid.. however our children are not granted any. They are children, why aren’t they supported?

How does this make any sense? When we are in a time where the mental health of our children is at an all time low, surely we understand the importance of self care and pastoral, supportive environments ? Is the school system really supporting our children or are they marching them straight into a life of depression, self harm , mental illness and anxiety?

Apparently according to the former education minister, children can not use the death of a loved one as an “excuse to take an ‘extended holiday’ under any circumstances” as it affects their overall results long term! Don’t worry about the shell of child they spit out when they turn 16, as long as they get the results!

In what era do we live in? We moved on a long time ago from believing children should be separated and kept away from death. It’s clear that these archaic ideas have caused untold damage to the lives of children in the past.

Parents and experts (parents are experts on their child by the way) now understand that children must be able to grieve , to do this they must be told the truth about death and kept involved with people they love both in life, illness and in death. It’s the only way to heal and only way to move on into the future. It goes without saying that some children need to get straight back into life, but that is up to the parent and child to decide.

A funeral is crucial part of this process, a ritual and a closure, a final goodbye in the presence of you family and friends.

I repeat the only people that know what is right for a child is their parent and the child themselves. It certainly isn’t the call of a head teacher, who in most schools have very little to do with each child on a day to day basis. I doubt Williams head teacher could pick him out of a line up..he certainly says he’s never been face to face with her. So how does she get to give her blessing for him to attend a funeral? What does she know about what his needs are? or indeed who is is at all?

Cruise and Marie Curie, among others,  advise that each child is individually affected in their own way and that they should lead the way when deciding when they are ready to return to every day life after a loss. It certainly is not the duty of the education minister, the head teacher or the attendance officer, it’s the child and their parents.

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Just to make sure they are well and truly broken

To make things worse and to fire the final nail in the coffin (pardon the pun) they continue to punish that child who took time off to grieve for the rest of the year. Every report sent out that same year will mention their low attendance (anything under 97.5. % is low) and this low attendance is forever referred to as staff make decisions on who is moved up and down in subject sets that reflect their abilities.

It’s openly acknowledged in school that often ability related sets are over subscribed to. So they need to make space to move kids up to achieve their potential. To do this they will take out the students with the lowest attendance before those with the lowest achievement level. This was told to me by staff when we questioned why our high achieving son was moved down a set. He was moved down not because he was struggling with the work but because he had taken time off due to illness.

So students who are ill, disabled, grieving or simply struggling with life, are put down into groups that don’t provide them opportunity to fulfil their potential academically. All because the system sees only ‘healthy’ students as their priority. In short it’s not about how clever you are, it’s about how lucky you are to stay healthy and that you are lucky enough to be blessed with an easy life. Yet another blow in the confidence of the child who is already facing challenging times.

If you’ve ever sat in a class where you are far beyond the level you are taught , you will understand the frustration and how it sets in a strong feeling of dissolution. Particularly as lower sets do tend to have less disciplined and positive learning environments.

Treats for the healthy and Lucky

At the end of the academic year many schools have a treat for those students who have excellent attendance. It maybe a film or take-out pizza, sometimes it’s a trip to a theme park. In the final year it’s the eligibility to attend prom.

It goes without saying that students who have been unlucky enough to be ill throughout the year or have lost a loved one, they will be excluded from these celebrations.

It is often normal for these children to sit and witness those celebrating their good health and fortune, while they are publicly excluded from the fun. A humiliating day and I guess that’s the entire point of it, to humiliate the kids into attendance?!

William’s school also offers a prize for the form with the overall highest attendance. Of course this creates added peer pressure and tension as poorly students and students who need time away, “let down the whole class.” Encouraging bullying and extra pressure these struggling children just don’t need the extra pressure.

For all those sick kids, for all those with challenging home lives , who are grieving or are suffering with their mental health, their school life consists of one miserable day after another. Something that really won’t help them during their already difficult lives.

So as they trudge through their childhood in an environment that doesn’t hear them or believe in them, they end their year sat in a detention room as their friends celebrate the end of school. They just sit punished once more for no other reason that not fitting to the expectations of every other ‘normal’ or healthy child. Often this repeated insinuation that they are not good enough sets in a attitude if ‘why bother’ and eventually they give up even trying at all.

Prom

The prom, albeit a modern and imported American tradition, means a lot to the kids these days. It marks the end of their school life and in turn marks the beginning of their adult life. It’s a milestone for them, a little like a modern debutant ball.

Yet even here, at the last opportunity the school has to bring all their students together, celebrate their childhood and achievements they still exclude and refuse to let some children celebrate.

Not only do they make them miserable and separate them from day to day school life, they then make sure they end it all with a parting shot of ‘ we don’t think you should be at prom because it’s to celebrate the ‘successful’ kids, you are not one of them, your time here was pointless, your childhood was wasted! ‘

Talk about a final kick in the teeth.

 

 

Providing a safe environment

What ever happened to providing an environment in which children can achieve and flourish? For many ‘unlucky’ children, school is torture. It punishes them at every corner. Staff don’t hear them, they don’t consider them and they punish them for the things they have no control over.

To finish them off they separate them from their peers and create a behaviour record that doesn’t reflect that child in any way, yet that reputation follows them into the future.

Recently the press reported that the rates for children deregistered from schools to be ‘home educated’ has risen sharply. These parents repeatedly say they felt forced out because their children were not a good statistic for the school. Is this what is happening? If a child doesn’t fit the desired mould do they purposely make them feel so undervalued and unsupported that they feel they have no option but to leave?

After all, parents only want their children to be well and happy. If school is not only preparing them for a life of work but for a life of mental illness and lack of self worth, then I don’t see many parents not taking them out of the system.

Perfect for those schools wanting 100% pass rates they separate the proverbial wheat .

Remember you can sit a gcse at any age, you can learn at any age, only the school system demands it has to be achieved by the age of 16. As many parents ask themselves what is more important? Is it health, happiness and confidence for life? or is it 8 GCSEs by the age of 16?

It’s clear the schools, government and Lea’s need to consider their responsibilities to our children and mostly they have to stop abusing them for not fulfilling their blanket expectations.

 

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2018 can Sod off !

Goodbye 2018…

It’s almost the end of the year and I can’t wait to see the back of 2018!

As I lost my mum, I had five friends who lost parents too. Loosing a parent is something you will never be ready for! Until you experience it you will never understand the grief it brings. I saw my mum only once a week ( she had an amazingly full life) but we text and spoke almost daily… it leaves a big gap when that person you always call isn’t there anymore.

When she passed away the first person I want to call to talk about it was her! The realisation she wasn’t there was a shock even though I was there when she passed!

This year I also lost an aunt and an uncle and witnessed people become very sick and frail.. I saw relationships fail and families break, it really has been a torrent of a year! I have to say it’s been the hardest I’ve ever had!

I had friends struggle with their business and money to make ends meet and the amount of friends and family struggling with mental illness and depression is unreal . We’ve all struggled here and some of us start seeing councillors in the new year to help us move on.. this is positive! Getting help and reaching out is a big step towards healing.

Health wise , both Keith, Grace,William and I have struggled (I’ve had a few (stress related) seizures over the last few months and my energy levels and back pains aren’t great) we have also had family and friends who have had terrible health worries this year. Everyone seems to have something going on with them! But the nhs supports us.. I’m greatly appreciative that we all get that support

We’ve had family stresses too , money issues, time issues, difficult neighbours, family and people in general behaving difficult, gossiping and generally lying and using us as their favourite topic of conversation.

Ive been shocked this year at how much people love to gossip. We did have a laugh though.. we literally sat at home not talking to anyone and still managed to be doing something wrong 😂 my dad always told me, if someone wants to find a reason to dislike you they will search to find one.. even if it’s not there.

But through the upset and hurt We’ve learned to walk away rather than try defend ourselves… this revelation has had positive affect and although it’s hard knowing people believe horrid untrue things about you and your family .. but knowing and realising you can live in peace without begging for your innocence is very freeing.

All these things, and more, have been felt by friends and family this year.. suffering in the same way we have…everyone seems to have had a tough old year… and everyone will be glad to see the end of it!!!

But—

…we have had good stuff too, HUGE BLESSINGS including weddings, engagements, babies and new friendships .. it’s always wonderful to see life changing moments happening before your eyes.

I also had my faith in mankind restored . The kindness I witnessed (from strangers as well as friends) when mum died was incredible and

I’ll never forget those people I came across on my way back from Ireland. I think about them a lot and it really helped me knowing such kindness was out there..

Also at that sad time in September we found out who was there for us and who our friends were when they rallied around to support us. ..

Matt and Keira took great care of me when I was alone and frightened , Booked me flights home from Ireland and generally had my back…, it was above and beyond.. I’m so grateful.. Em was at the end of the phone constantly and was around to help me with difficult jobs and supportive words..she was my rock. ..Tara was there to understand and listen and importantly to make me laugh!!!

…and that’s just a few of the special people!!! so many people supported us, and not always the ones we expected to pull through! , but we needed them.. we felt very isolated and alone.. you saved us…you are the ones who know us and love the people we really are… just as we do you…we are so blessed to have you…and we will look after you too when you need it!

We had amazing adventures this year too and travelled well , across the UK in Molly the caravan , camping in lay-by’s and various fields , enjoying festivals and our festival friends…This summer we walked around a fire mandala, had paint fights, saw amazing music, drama and arts, watched burlesque, cycled through magical woods, explored fairy gardens , saw parades, watched naked cricket and drank champagne while watching an orchestra play. We met incredible people, famous and normal lovely folk, we shared incredible talent within our space and our crew. As always we made things happen! I love my work and my team!

We also travelled to Norway, Thailand and Ireland, both on holiday and for work.. we experienced two completely different environments and we are thrilled we have been able to give the kids such experiences. We sledged, built a toboggan run for our sledge, went in an ice church, drank vodka in glasses made of ice, nearly broke our bodies sledging and trekking through 3 metres of snow! Thailand brought us utter breathtaking scenery, sun, spirituality, sea, monkeys, spiders, lizards, food, culture and more than we could ever wish for! Amazing!!!!

We celebrated Graces 18th in June with a big party at the local golf club. It’s was great to get family and friends together to celebrate… as expected it went on into the wee hours!

William turned into a teenager in 2018 and he’s turned a corner in health.. he seems much better this year! Mum turned 70 and Libby entered her 20’s! Milestone birthdays are always something to celebrate!

We had lots of good work come in and more importantly we survived it all ! We took on one of the biggest and most exciting projects we’ve ever done at work and we (and our team) completed it well and handled the stress! ..just! (It tested our relationship at times) Opti-Pharma continues to thrive and Angel Gardens continues to inspire and share.

We put food in our tummies and heat in our home and we will continue to do that thankfully with less financial pressure this year. Shelter and home is everything.. and we will do more this year for the homeless and those who have less than us.. collecting left over festival tents and sleeping equipment will be a start and I will work with my local church to support our local food bank ..

Our children learned and thrived, and even after they all struggled after their grandma died they found their strength and are again succeeding. We remain very proud of their humour, sense of individual style and their ability to behave properly when they need to, with excellent manners and consideration to others. They are passionate about important things and know right from wrong on a global and political scale as well as in a day to day environment. They all bring us such high levels of pride!

We did some work on our home too, with us moving out in November to the hotel down the road while we had a new boiler fitted. The kids loved living near Xscape and enjoyed climbing, cinema and eating out.

The new heating in the new ‘wing’ of the house made a big difference and the installation of the new log burner just before Christmas finished it off nicely!

The gardens were lovely this year, although we lost the new beds at the front of the house during a heatwave while we were in Thailand. We will re-plant these in the spring although the bulbs are in already!

We have plans to get the new floor fitted in the new part of the house in January and the new family bathroom will be fitted while we are in Norway. Hopefully we will finally finish the house this year.. let’s hope our paid work continues to pay so we can make that a reality!

So this new year we are going to hold our heads high and not let anything get to us.. my little (big?) family are strong and good, we will continue to work hard and continue to live and behave ethically and with kindness where we can…. we might fail at times, but nobody is perfect.. as long as we do our best we can sleep well at night.

We will take care of each other and our people, we will share what we have and be there when they need us…

We will have adventures and experiences whenever we can, and mix our business and work with pleasure as we continue try to find a good life work balance.

We will distance ourself from things that make us sad or uncomfortable and not get dragged into any unnecessary drama.. We will rise above it and get on with the importance of bringing our children up among good people who bring love and inspiration.

So.. 2018..

phew you’ve been tough!!!

But there’s always good stuff too… come midnight tomorrow I’ll be saying goodbye.. not just to 2018 but to everything that’s hurt us or made life difficult for me, my family and my friends ..

2019 will start clean and fresh… as I become the matriarch of my own family , Keith and I have become the elders and head generation of our little branch of family.. we will take on our role proudly and ensure new adventures await us!

May 2019 bring happiness, love and inspiration to you all!!! Xxxxx

Violent trumping causes unknown emotional damage to four year old!

Mr O and I decided to do a two week detox/boost diet thingy before our holiday in a few weeks. We just fancied a little boost as we’ve been feeling the pressure a bit recently and felt we needed a little clean out.

Unbeknown to us that’s exactly what we would be getting …in spades!

We have been doing it five days now and it’s all a bit surprising.

The foods been lovely actually and we both know that if we weren’t actively aware we are on the program we’d be enjoying it as normal. But no it just doesn’t feel enough.. we are craving sandwiches (we don’t normally eat sandwiches) and a not grabbing a quick cereal is causing Mr O great distress…

To lift the mood I’ve got the stuff in to make gin and tonics today as it’s ‘allowed’ so that will cheer him up! If it doesn’t at least he’ll be pissed and forget about sandwiches for a bit!

Anyway.. I digress…

Yesterday we did start to notice a difference in our bodies.. both of us… !!!

So my swollen tummy has halved in sized (I’m pretty sure it’s the bread that’s been making me so bloated). Mr O has noticed a weird salty taste in his mouth and most noticeable of all.. we both are trumping like troopers!

It’s bad! It’s not the kind of trumps that are silent and deadly but the kind that are loud and rattle the bedposts!

Violent trumping!!! (VT)

I’ve never violently trumped before! But yesterday I sneezed and my bottom made the most ridiculously noisy ‘dad’ fart ! It actually vibrated against the chair and hurt my buttocks!!!!

What. The. Actual. F*ck????

Anyway it made me jump and as I jumped up from my chair in horror it made Kitty jump and yelp in fear! She then frightened the cat who deftly shot off leaving the cat flap swinging in the shocked aftermath …. like a pendulous plastic tumble weed!

This all happened in a millisecond and I was left stood looking at Kitty, who was looking at me, shocked and horrified in equal measures.

I may have scarred her for life! Will this be an event she recalls in therapy in her twenties? Will she need intensive Emdr therapy to rid herself of this traumatic memory?

Later on Mr O was fitting the new dishwasher and one of these violent trumps forced its way through his work trousers as he leaned towards the stop tap .. as it came without warning he jumped and banged his head on the worktop he was currently under doing the plumbing. Kitty jumped in shock and as she did she stepped back and stood in the cat food! In disgust she cried out and as she removed her foot she knocked over the cats water. As her screams grew in volume and horror with each passing event, her Daddy tried to scramble out of the cubbyhole was working in to get to her…but as he tried to turn he knelt on a screw on the floor which, got him in the exact place that takes out every part of your ability to hold your body upright.. causing him to collapse in a heap and slump back against the unit knocking off a plate that was innocently waiting to be washed in the new dishwasher! … it smashed on the floor.. the cat ran out again the cat flap swinging in the silent aftermath once more!

Mr O stared at our daughter, as he slumped in a pathetic heap under the kitchen sink while she returned her equally appalled look. She stood one foot in a puddle and the other raised displaying squashed meaty chunks (from whiskers gravy range) oozing between her tiny glitter painted toes.

We are really messing with our four year olds stress levels now!

Friday night is Kitty’s night for been allowed in our bed.. so as she was starting to get sleepy last night while in the middle of us both, we discussed the events of the day. Suddenly mr O did, one of these now normal, violet trumps!

We laughed and I said ” at least aim your arse away from me” he maturely responded by explaining he was “keeping Kitty’s feet warm”

Well our 4 year old saw red, it was the final straw ! She’d Been putting up with this all day after all!

She threw back the covers “daddy now my feet are too warm! I don’t want you to warm them up!”

She was ready to cry and very cross…

…to cut a long story short I spent the next half hour ‘wafting’ her feet to cool them down from Daddy ‘over heating’ them with his violent trump!

You really couldn’t make this shit up!

We start today with a sense of interpretation not knowing when the VT will strike next!

Wish us luck!

Dry Skin and Witch Craft Cures for my ED Family

I’ve been living with ED carriers for 25 years ( yes it’s a big anniversary coming up) and in that time I’ve learned that one of the biggest problems my brood is dry, cracked and sore skin.

My husband particularly has hands and feet that are really dry and the skin is super thick. Before we knew of the condition the joke in the family was that the men….

‘…have feet only a cheese board would be proud of!’

But the uncomfortable, thick, cracked skin is on the heels and balls of the feet can be uncomfortable and frankly a cause for embarrassment.

Of course it gets worse at different times of the year.. winter dries in the cold and skin gets chapped and sore… summer brings sun burn and dehydration.

So what can we use to help it?

You can spend a fortune finding the right product but I have found them… it’s easy, cheap and so affective it’s almost magic!

There’s so many products on the market but I’ve realised you can get so much more for your money and make creams and potions that are so so much better, if you do it yourself.

img_2845I’ve always been interested in making my own body products from natural and organic ingredients. So much so that I’ve built up a massive menu of recipes over the years and I have become a bit of an expert. I’ve even been teaching others how to create their bespoke potions at Glastonbury and other festivals for over a decade as well As runing private classes from my studio and at other venues.

I don’t sell my products, its not what I want to do,  but I have a steady stream of family and friends with various skin and hair problems who I make things for. For me it’s about sharing the knowledge and telling people how easy it is it find the perfect solution for so many skin problems.

I was asked last week what I would recommend for ED carriers and their skin problems .. so I wrote this to share my advice… I hope it helps not just those with Ed but those with any skin conditions and those without any at all… we all need a bit of pampering .

So it’s very simple… I have two basic ingredients and you can use household ingredients to adapt them! All quick and easy and you don’t need any special ingredients or kit. You can make things in seconds and without loads of mess.

Here’s my top tips and basic easy ideas for helping!

 

Cocoa butter.

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This is the best stuff ever!!!! Buy a lump of cocoa butter from Amazon (or similar). It comes in a big block which can be broken up into smaller bits or melted and poured into tins.

It’s all you need!

Use it as a ultra moisturising balm, face cream, lip balm, hair conditioner, dab it on a cut to stop it bleeding and stop dirt getting inside, use it to polish your table or lubricate your saw.. the uses are endless… its naturally antibacterial and frankly it’s quite magical!

The best thing is you don’t have to prepare it.. I generally break it into a few good sized lumps.. about three/four inches across.. it’s not an exact science and it’s doesn’t brake in perfect squares it’s just a glorious big old lump of goodness.

You can store it in a little sandwich bag or just keep it on the side (unless you live somewhere super hot or it’s on a sunny window-ledge) it won’t melt into a puddle. .

As it has a low-ish melting point all you have to do is rub the block in your hands to dispense it. It starts melting straight away but only the bits your are touching softens, not the whole block. This means you only get the right amount and you don’t use too much.

It spreads a long way and is silky to the touch, so soft and smooth.. and it smells divine!

It’s pure solid cocoa butter so it does the job better than anything on the market.. you might buy creams with cocoa butter for the shops but take a look at the ingredients , often there’s only 5% of actual cocoa butter in it, the rest is wax, water, glycerine and alcohol.. as well as preservatives and perfume.. non of which are necessary.. here you have 100% natural moisturising heaven! You obviously don’t need to use too much and it will last for ever!!! (It doesn’t go off either)

(The manufacturers know how brilliant this stuff it and they know if they put too much in their products it will last you for ages and you’l never need to buy it again!)

Use it on your skin or lips, rub it straight onto legs and arms.. get your partner to rub one of the pointy bits into your muscles for a soothing massage… it’s just so very lovely.

It kind of creates a lovely barrier on your skin too, not oily but more of a balm type feel.. and it sinks into your skins so gently.. you feel the goodness and soothing nature of it straight away.

It’s a fantastic moisturising balm that works on everything especially eczema and very dry and sore areas where it not only moisturises but cleanses and protects too!

Making Cocoa butter in to creams/ lotions

If you want to create something a bit more prescriptive or create a more creamy texture, just shave a bit into a bowl (I use a cheese grater) and microwave (checking every few seconds like when you melt chocolate ) add a few drops of essential oils an

d some olive oil (about a quarter oil 3/4 cocoa butter but it’s not a problem if you use more or less) and pour into a tin/container. Let it cool and solidify . You will have something that is softer more cream like (but not liquid) that you can use as a whole load of stuff.

Essential Oils to Try…

  • Eucalyptus or tea tree oils for acne, burns or sores
  • Lemon or grapefruit oils for greasy skin or itchy patches .. it’s also very cooling.
  • Lavender or camomile for painful, sore or irritated skin.

 

If you pour your mix into a tin or pot and seal it, it will last years and years.

Scrubs/masks for super dry and sore skin!

To remove dead skin and to get a super strenth rescue moisturising soft treatment You can add brown sugar or salt to the above recipe (don’t use salt on your face or on sore bits of skin.. brown sugar is much softer and gentle.. sat is great for tougher skin on your feet/ knees/elbows) this make a face or body scrub with added moisture and softness .

To do this create the mix as instructed above then add the salt/sugar after you’ve added the olive oil, stir before poring into a container.

Just a couple of teaspoons will do.. you dont want it to be all scrub, its a more gentle scrub than a rough rub!

Use a small amount ,scrub your skin gently and sit back  letting it sit on your skin for as long as you want, rinse off the salt/sugar with warm water and pat dry with a soft towel.. the oils remain on your skin and you will feel soft and dewy! It really feels like you’ve been to an expensive spa yet it cost less than £2!

It really soothes your itching and sore skin patches too… especially if you use camomile or lavender oils.

I keep a pot by the sink and in the shower so the gang can reach it any time and integrate it into their routine.

The quick power fix for the hooves and paws!

This is the ultimate for a quick and very powerful fix very dry hands and feet!

Just mix olive oil and salt/sugar together and rub into the skin, (tea tree or citrus oils are lovely and refreshing too but you could just add lemon juice if you don’t have any.. but it’s not necessary) rub your hands together like you are washing them or give your feet a vigorous rub with it… Rinse and pat dry.

It’s so powerful and also removes every single big of dirt and grime making sure you don’t get any sores.

Use brown sugar if you have any cuts or open sores.. it won’t kill you but it will sting!

I’ve never found any product that works better!

Do it daily if you need to.. it won’t do any harm to your skin.

Soothing and cooling and feels so luxurious afterwards! It costs pence too!

 

 

Aloe Vera for cooling and soothing 

 

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The other ingredient I have in the house all the time is Aloe Vera Gel.

We probably all buy this as after sun cream or for soothing itchy skin so we are familiar with it.

Again often it’s mixed with other stuff to water it down.. but you can buy 100% aloe Vera Gel on line and it’s glorious!!!

A ‘small’ 1Kg bucket full of the stuff cost about £7.99 and because you get so much you can slather it on its very lovely.

Use it to simply to cool down skin or to simply sooth itchy, sore or dry patches. It’s simple and easy and won’t do anything to you that can cause harm.

Great for scratches, eczema, cuts, and any other dryness even in intimate areas too.

It’s so simple and easy.. again I decant into little pots and leave in the kids rooms and bathroom.

They even take little pots of aloe gel to school with them in the summer or when we are travelling.. it’s just very useful.. especially in the warmer weather to be able to dip their finger in and put on their wrists for instant cooling. Adding lemon oil gives a refreshing feel too… keep it in the fridge for extra cooling!

I use this on the long haul flights to bring the swelling in my old lady feet down. 

You can buy different sized tins and pots from Amazon too, from lip balm size to bigger pots .. it makes everything look and feel so special too having cool little pots everywhere and its so handy to be able to keep topping it up from the bucket each day.

 

Wrinkled bits!!

Just as a final note you can use cocoa butter as an anti wrinkle balm.. (something I know ED carriers often have under their eyes).

For this trick you need melt and pour the cocoa butter into latex moulds or ice cube trays. (You may have some cupcake moulds in the baking cupboard already.. square or round both work well.)

When they are set hard you remove from the mould and they are ready to use with no added ingredients.

To use. Smooth the bar of butter firmly over the wrinkled area and hold for a few moments, holding the wrinkly bits flat. Do this a few times and you can see the difference immediately. Skins is lifted and smoother instantly, the balm holds the wrinkles open so you have the lift and smoothing. you can use this on any of your wrinkly bits.

Although it only last a few hours it’s a little trick and can be used under make up to give you a quick fix.

 

Have a go!

So that’s it.. I have tons of recipes and I’m happy to help you if you want something specific.. but this is something you can developer yourself too. Its great fun to experiment and you can try using shea Butter, mango butter and many other butters and waxes too… but I will always return to Cocoa butter,

The best thing about using organic and natural products is that you can’t go wrong.. you won’t damage your skin and you can ‘ruin’ the product.. just play around with it.

I’ll do another piece at a later time with other ideas and ingredients to try.

But for now.. you need cocoa butter and aloe Vera gel and the whole family will be sorted for the summer 🙂

Enjoy making potions and enjoy your daily homemade spa sessions!!!

Sx

 

Note; it’s worth checking if any of the essential oils I mentioned may contradict with any of your conditions such as pregnancy and asthma. The ones I mentioned are generally pretty safe but do check to be sure.

Cocoa butter can be bought here

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Aloe Vera here

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Essential oils here

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Tins here

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Disclaimer: These are my own tried and tested recipes, they are not licensed or publicly tested. This blog is purely for your information and any products made are done so at your own risk.

How hard is it to book aholiday?

Five years ago we went on holiday, as a family of six we don’t go every year, we have to save up and go at least every 3 years… but this time its been longer.

We managed to get a few city breaks in between our big holidays, this year we went to Norway for 5 days in the winter and a few years ago we went to Paris for our daughters 18Th ( even if she didn’t come with us. …but that’s another story) With our festivals and little road trips in-between we get our adventures and we are happy to have it like that… but this year we needed and wanted our holiday..

We work through the summer and money can be tight so we tend to save up and have a really great holiday every few years.

We’ve been saving up for a special holiday this year, with special birthdays, graduations, celebrations and anniversaries ( one going 13, one going 18, us reaching a mile-stone in our marriage ( that makes us feel very old), )

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We wanted something special.

We had saved the cash and we were going to do it.. lets book..

Day one.. we start to look for a holiday….

  • I text the eldest daughter see if she wants to come ( she’s at uni) she does…

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  • I’m   doing this…

Day 2-4

  • Three days of looking around and deciding where to go ensues..
  • The kids all want to go back to Mexico.. (we went there for our last trip 5 years ago)
  • We tell them its time to do something new.. they sulk…we ignore them

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Day 5

  • Text eldest daughter who is away at uni.. ” are you still coming on holiday? we need to book today” she replies saying she’s not sure if can afford it, she also needs exact dates which we can’t give her as we have to know how many people we are booking for.
  • We explain this and tell her we will foot the bill and she just needs spending money.
  • 10 calls and loads of texts later she decides she cant make it this time.
  • No problem… we start to search for 5 people rather than 6…

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Day 5.. evening:  We find a great deal to Dominican Republic!!!

  • Its now evening and this is a great deal!!!! two weeks for 5 people, all inclusive, loads of pool space and on the beach, close to the town.. its all good…. show the kids they love the look of it.. its in budget and looks good.
  •  I get it ready to go.. put the personal info in and just before pressing ‘Pay now’ think I should give The eldest another chance to change her mind.
  • Text eldest child “we are booking now.. you sure you aren’t coming?”
  • She replies…. ” ok I’ll come”
  • I reply “are you totally sure?” she rings us again and an hour long conversation takes place about wether she can afford it..she would need to take time off work and needs the cash for other trips she’s has booked.
  • We continue to say we cant decide for her, its up to her…
  • She decided as much as she wants to she cant make it this time.
  • No problem
  • We go back to the computer to pay…
  • The holiday has gone up £1500!!!!!! WTF?

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  • Totally over budget..
  • I go back to searching but its late and I need to sleep.

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Day 6

  • Wake up and get straight on the computer.. what has happened.. all the holidays are up in price!!!!!

…..not just a bit….

………………………but by by thousands!!!.. ……..( a couple of hundred per person)

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  • Wow.. this is crazy… I start to look for alternatives and find a trip to Jamaica, all inclusive so no worrying about food and drinks, little cottages on the beach… looks amazing… its in budget.. we have saved up for somewhere tropical and lovely.. but we still have a budget to stay in..

Decide to just read the reviews…

oh god.. they are terrible..

  • I give up.. I take Jamaica off the list.
  • I give up.. I do other things and forget the holiday I am totally fed up of this shit.. I’m over it.

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Day 6 …evening

  • Mr O sees I have given up and decided to have a look himself,

…..its 10pm and I’m in the bath.

……….He comes up with his laptop..

……….he’d  accidentally put in that we could fly from London airports and loads of new places and prices have come up..

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  • Thailand ( my dream destination) has come up and this 5 * resort looks amazing…

…..loads of character

………and its bed and breakfast so we can go out and explore  it as a base..

……..I’m in love..

…….best of all it is in budget!!!!

  • We would have to travel down to Heathrow the night before ( we are in Yorkshire) and stay over but thats ok..

I get out of the bath

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  • we start to book it

………..but

  • …in that half an hour it has gone up..

AGAIN….

…..By 300 quid each

…….which mean its gone up by 1,500 for us all..

……..that would have been our food money and travel money getting to London.

  • We go to bed

Mr O lays in bed and thinks about it

…..he decides we should find the extra cash and go for it

……its somewhere we always wanted to go..

…..the hotel is perfect..

…….its a special occasion and we have been saving hard for this…

  • We go to sleep excited.. I kinda fell a bit more in love with him too

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Day 7

  • Excitedly we come down and go to book..

yup…

…..we are so doing this

.. we put the info in for each person and click the button….

….so exciting…..

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.

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.”card declined” 

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.

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  • what????

…we know there is the money there

….. we call the bank

  • No problem!

…..there is a security limit of what we can pay at any one time

……they tell us on the phone that they can take off the limit

…….its instant

……we press to pay again

.

.

.

“card declined”

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.

  • What?????
  • maybe we need to give it a minute to make sure the security block is off…

….5 mins later

  • We press to pay.

…..

“card declined”

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  • We phone the bank again
  • The operator can see the lady spoke to us

…… she ‘forgot ‘ to take the security block off.

WE ask them to stay on the phone while we book again..

……just in case.

  • We go to press ‘pay now’

Mr O shouts just as I go to confirm

… “stop!!’ ….

  • it has gone up……
  • AGAIN.

  • ……… while we have been putting out information in

……….and trying to book they put the price up by 83 quid each!!!!

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  • OMG how can this be happening..

…..its totally out of reach now!!!!!!

  • We ring off from the bank who confirm the block is off

……..should we book in the next hour we will have no problems.

  • I start to search again…
  • The holiday we want comes ups….

it back to the  same price it was last night…!!!!!!!

…………………its only been a few minutes..

……………………….its cheaper again…..

……………………………..how???

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  • We go to book it quick!
  • We press

‘pay now’

……..the visa goes through to the verification box,

……….I go to put the code in…

” visa verification is locked as your card has been declined too many times”

  • WE phone Tui…

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..the block is off the card,

…… its just the verification,

…………….we don’t need to use that if we pay directly!!!!!

  • Tui answer and they are lovely..
  • we find the same holiday… we are about to book

“can you ring me on a land line and I will take the payment?”

  • We don’t have a land line..

……who has a land line these days?

……we have 5 mobile  contracts!

………why would we pay for a land line too?

  • They cant take a payment from a mobile...

and…

…..there as been a change in the price while we have been talking..

……….back up to an extra £1560 for us all!!!

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  • We put the phone down.
  • We have fallen out with Tui!

…………We refuse to look at the site again…

…… We did not discover our smile!!!

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  • Mr O starts to look to look at flights and hotel separately…
  • Within minutes we find an amazing holiday..

flights from Manchester to Thailand, with Emerates

( Third Childs dream airline… he’s been drawing pictures of Emerates planes for years)

…..change at Dubai ( exciting)

…..land in Phuket, Thailand

…..Get a transfer by boat to a little island and stay at the most amazing place,…..own villa,

….own pool,

….5 star retreat

.. and its £1800 under budget!!!

AMAZING!!!!

‘It was meant to be!!!!’

  • WE phone the bank

( we aren’t daft!)

……..they confirm the payment will go through..

…. nothing can go wrong!

.. we are totally on it….

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  • We press

‘Pay now’

…no verification comes up..

 …its all going well…

We wait as the little circle goes around while it processes the payment…

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“Payment declined”

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We phone the bank…

Mr O is not calm

“why cant I spend my own money?”

  • The nice man from HSBC looks at the account

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He finds that Expedia took the payment in two payments …

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one for the hotel

……and one for the flights..

We had security clearance for one f*cking payment!!!!!!

for only one..!!!

They had released the first payment for £3k

…..declined the other.

We are missing 3k

…….. the holiday booking says

“the payment didn’t go through!.”

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We phone Expedia…

They have no record of the payment

….but the bank says its left the account…

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  • An hour later on a premium number call
  • The man has no ideas what to do..

… he cant find the money

…. he cuts me off when I ask to speak to a supervisor…

….. I ring back… still cant find it

….. I beg them to look harder…

… he justs tries to get me to try the card again….

                       ( I later find has cost over £20)

Finally a supervisor comes on and explains what is going on….

We finally get some answers…..

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  • Expedia requested the payment

……the bank released it,

…….the band declined the second payment

………………Expedia then cancelled the first one

…… They  didn’t claim the money from the bank

Nobody has the money!!!

Our money

Our savings

The money is floating around in cyber space.!!!!!!!

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  • Expedia send us an email confirming that the money will not be claimed.

…..it will be credited into our account within 5 DAYS!!!!!

                          … Yes thats right 5  DAYS!!!!!

                             …… 5 sodding days!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • WE decide to risk booking the holiday

……..praying the money comes back without a problem

…………….it is obviously needed for other bills and stuff this month

ITS A BIG RISK FOR US

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We phone the Bank and Expedia

……..we  keep them both on the phone while we try book

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SO…. we try to

BOOK

THE

BLOODY .

HOLIDAY!

!!

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.

.

.

‘pay now’ 

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.

.

.

it doesn’t go through…

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The man at the bank tells us to hold…

we all hold again

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He comes back to us.. tells us to try again…

‘Pay now’

.

.

.

we ALL wait

the circle goes around and around…..

and around

and around

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the Expedia man waits

.

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The HSBC man waits 

.

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the kids wait

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.

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We all  wait

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“your holiday is booked”

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WAHOOOOOOO

I cheer

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Mr O cheers

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The kids cheer

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The HSBC man cheers

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The Expedia man cheers

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The cat freaks out

… and pisses on the floor!

.

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So a week after I first went to book …we have booked to  go to Thailand… and never has a holiday been more needed or deserved..

WE are STILL waiting for our £3K four days on and can’t afford to pay the mortgage and get this weeks shopping till it does!

We are feeling confident it will come in

                                              .. plus we are going on holiday!

YIP! YIP! YIPEEEEEEE!!!!

We cant afford new holiday clothes or expensive luggage

.. but thats ok

.. we will happily be the poor relations at the posh resort

… We have our manners and our family….

and…

I just don’t care!!!

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NOTE: I’ve had three emails from TUI offering me a further discount per person on each place if I continue with my booking…????!!!!

I…..

 ‘“Move Mail to trash”

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They text Mr O from the bank

” how did you rate your recent telephone banking experience ?”

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The End

PsI tried to buy The rough Guide to Thailands Islands today…  guess what? The visa verification is…..yup…. Blocked!!!!!

To see the amazing place where we are now going clickhere.… Im sure you will agreee its a bit more exciting than a package holiday!!! Cant wait to write about it!

PPS. The Santhiya Resort have already been in touch and so has the airline.. both professional and easy to sort out… Thanks goodness!!!

FESTIVALS: The safest place to take drugs?

Are festivals the safest place to take drugs?

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Before reading this it is important that you understand I am not in anyway encouraging any kind of drug or substance use. The safest way to use drugs is not to use them at all. But we know you do or if you don’t you will be given the option. We feel by giving facts and advise on how to keep safe more people will stay safe.

Please also note that Angel gardens staff are not allowed to take any substance while working in the space. this is directed at the festival public.

Its that time of year when worried parents wave off their perfect teens and watch with terror as they set off to their first festival.. knowing damn well that as they turn the corner to their rite of passage that they will be partying like they did themselves 20 odd years ago!

Its every parents nightmare! we were all young and we all know how likely it is our children will be around drugs at some point in their lives. We can’t stop them from experimenting, partying and going mad but likewise we cant stop worrying either.

The biggest fear is that they do what we did!

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Festival Drug Culture

There is no point pretending that drug use isn’t a huge part of the festival culture, and young people often partake for the first time in the festival environment.

Me and my team have worked the festival scene for over a decade and have seen every possible drug related situation.

Only last week at Glastonbury my staff found themselves looking after a very distressing and frightening situation with a young girl who was in a life threatening situation. read Angel Matt’s account of it here. It was a prime example of how the festival team of professionals came together and saved a young woman’s life.

It got us talking about how safe a space it really was for young people when It came to experimenting with drug taking.

As a parent of teens and as a festival worker and producer I still believe that festivals are the safest places to take drugs for young people.

Share this with your teens and read yourselves.


Here are 10 ways to use drugs at a festival in the safest way .

  1. You can ask for help.

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Unlike in the outside world a festival site is set up with its own systems to help anyone in need. Wether you are having a particular bad trip or experience or you simply find yourself having a panic attack, specialist welfare teams come as standard.

Welfare areas are separate to medical and security/policing areas, so people feel more able to approach them safely.

Comfortable and welcoming spaces allow for people to simply lay down in a quiet space for a while as well as been manned by trained and experienced councillors and welfare experts.

Welfare teams have seen and heard it all before and know how to handle a distressed festival goer, they know when to call for medical help, when a simple rest is needed or when a simple chat and cup of tea will help.

Often young people who are inexperienced in taking drugs can be overwhelmed and frightened, knowing there is a safe place to go and admit to their predicament without worrying about judgment or arrest is really helpful.

2. You can ask for information

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You can ask for information about drugs and find out the stuff you cant ask anyone else.

More and more festivals are bringing in drug advisory areas to festivals to enable young people to ask the questions they may not feel they can ask among their peers and professionals.

Just finding out what certain drugs are called and what they do to you can help young people make good safe decisions when starting out in their party life.

If there isn’t a specialised area for this, welfare teams will often be able to help.

3. You can test that what you are taking is safe.

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Many festival professionals are calling out to festivals to pay for teams to start offering free drug testing on site too. Checking substances are safe to take is a huge deal and cuts out tons of risk for young people.

Last year we were at an event where a bad batch of ketamine had turned the first night of the festival in to a scene from a war film.

On delivering yet another vunerable young woman to welfare the staff member informed me, that if only the festival would pay for testing they could find the bad stuff and  so many young people would be saved from such bad experiences.

This year we saw a rise in free testing.. we hope this will become standard we think its the responsibility of festival organisers to keep their customers safe.

4. You can ask for medical help without fear of arrest.

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The policing of festivals is very different to on the ‘streets’ where anyone found using or possessing drugs can face arrest. This can stop people seeking medical help when they need it and puts them at risk.

Security and police at festivals are more interested the dealers, not the takers.

You probably won’t get arrested at Glastonbury for smoking a joint in public but you may have to watch your back if you are selling ‘sweeties’ to everyone who passes by! With so much drug use on site, policing tends to remain with the bigger fish! So don’t EVER let the fear of arrest stop you seeking help.

Medical teams are ready to treat people suffering from bad effects relating to drug taking, they have on site facilities and easy access to outside services if you need them .

As they are already on site, stewards, security and other professionals  are able to radio for medical help in seconds and they don’t have far to go to find you. Much quicker than getting emergency services to you.

Most festivals ask you not to call 999 in an emergancy as it causes chaos and takes so long, events have all emergency services on site and will be there in minutes… if they need to get you to hospital they will be able to take you themselves or call the emergency services directly to come get you.

5. You have specialist teams and your people keeping an eye on you

8a9f2aa6a1831acc27a37bc6355cf939Should you need help and can’t get to it, because you are just far too wasted, people are watching.

Security and stewards are there to look after festival goers and are trained and instructed to keep an eye out for those needing help.

There are very few places that aren’t in public view on a festival site, even in the dark. Also its not just stewards and security who are watching, festivals have loads of staff running around with radios and they all take note of what is going on.

6- You have your new festival community looking out for you too.images-12

Don’t forget that you are part of a community at a festival, they are great for bringing like minded people together and it’s not like being 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 and drink fuelled trouble. Our experience shows that folks in trouble are brought to the attention of staff very quickly.

7- You don’t Have to take drugs or drink.

Vintage_Photo_Labor_Day_Weekend_Camping_Watermelon_Party-1Festivals are brilliant for bringing like minded people together and mostly people respect each other and their decisions.

It is absolutely fine not to partake in taking or drinking.

The most maturity you can show is to know your limits and not to do anything you don’t really want to do.

8- Spiking and date Rape drugs

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There is no doubt spiking happens, many festivals offer testing kits for your drinks or you can buy them on line before you go.  Try here  for a good starting point.

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Most people don’t want to share their drugs with strangers but it does happen. Take special care to not take a swig from anyones bottle of vodka or accept a drink from anyone… if you witness anyone popping anything into a drink either tell that person or approach a staff member.

All the above points are there for you should you find yourself in a position where you are feeling like you have taken something and you don’t know what it is… feel safe to approach them.

So called Date rape drugs are rare at festivals as so many people are watching. ( see point 5) but if you see anyone looking vulnerable with a member of the opposite sex then flag it up immediately with a staff memeber.

9. It’s ok and safe to be honest

YLF_072It’s important to be honest, if you do know what you have taken and you are feeling unwell or vulnerable, it’s crucial you tell the professionals exactly what you have taken  so they can help you.

As said above you are safe to do this without judgment, don’t be tempted to say you have been spiked because you don’t feel you can admit what your choice of drug was.

10- Follow your own advice and do your bit.

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To be safe everyone needs to work together, so watch out for others need help, looking vulnerable or just generally over doing it.

Stay with your friends and look after each other.

Flag up anything that worries you about someone to staff

Do everything you need to do listed above to keep you and everyone safe.

Ask yourself if you really want to to do this? don’t feel pressure and don’t pressure others.

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Please note this blog does not in anyway encourage drug or substance use in any way. The safest way to take drugs is not to take them.

But if you do then this is here to advise.

Note all festivals have different systems in place, please check with each event on booking tickets.

How Wonderful Life Is, While You’re In The World… by (Angel) Matt Yates

Guest Blogger fellow festival Angel , ‘Bruver from anuva Muva’ and friend Matt Yates writes about his experience at Glastonbury last week with his guitar and hero’s cape.

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.It’s been

a habit of mine for many a year to always keep a plectrum on me and a guitar to hand. If people ask why, I joke that there may be an emergency similar to that in many films where the pilot has collapsed and someone shouts out to the passengers “Can anybody fly a plane?!”, or in my case, “Can anyone play guitar?!”, at which point I would step up for my ‘hero moment’. It is of course a joke, I couldn’t for the life of me think of any emergencies where such action would be needed, much as festivals have taught me to accept and welcome the unpredictable.

It’s the Monday morning at Glastonbury, around 7am, and I’m having a last cup of tea in Angel Gardens with fellow crew member Tara, silently chiding myself for having fallen asleep around midnight, and only resurfacing around 3.30 to find that most of my friends were turning in. As crew it’s a long festival for us, we were all in by the Sunday beforehand to setup. By the time the gates open to the public we’re half way through, and with the heat at the beginning of the week we were all fairly exhausted. We sat watching the glorious morning sun rise higher as the revellers still going made their way to the stone circle, silhouetted against the rays. We were chatting to the Green Crafts stewards, offering water to anyone who looked in need and enjoying our nightcap.

The peace and serenity then gave way to chaos. We heard shouts, commotion and hysterical screams as we saw a blur of security wrestling with someone, chased by various teenagers and stewards. My initial assumption was that there must have been some fight or scuffle. Tara and I both rose to our feet to see what we could do to help. It then became clear this was something far worse.

As the people crashed into our space the person at the centre of things went completely limp and was placed on the grass. Her friends were screaming and crying, we fed the exhausted lead of the security team water, whilst she explained to us that the girl on the floor had taken a mixture of Ketamine and hallucinogens and was having seizures. Within a short space of time the young girl was thrashing around uncontrollably, screaming, standing up, before collapsing again. The security were trying to get her friends to talk to her or sing songs in the hope that in the fleeting moments where she was able to identify her surroundings, things might appear as normal and recognisable as possible. The girl continued to shift in and out of consciousness, medics arrived, and at some point I heard Tara saying “Matt plays guitar” and I was then asked to play. I dived into the Bell Tent, grabbed a guitar and fished out a plectrum. And I gigged.

The whole experience was harrowing. The girl continued to fall in and out of consciousness, and would occasionally stand up and partially absorb her surroundings before lapsing into another seizure, at one point lying face down in the grass kicking the ground with a speed and ferocity which was frightening to witness: she kicked so hard the sole came off one of her boots. An Ambulance arrived. Her friends thought she was dying in front of them.

I have a set of songs in my head that I play lots, if I can’t think on the hoof of what to sing: Wonderwall, To Make You Feel My Love, Three Little Birds, I Can’t Help Falling I Love With You, things like that. In the middle of Your Song, she was conscious and standing and looking into my eyes, and I stared back into hers, seeing them filled with agony, with a life or death fear; a terror, a torture. I have never seen eyes so scared. Some truths sound like they’re lies, and this is one: having got near the end of the chorus, she latched on to the last line, and sang back to me “How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world”. She was back in our world, and for us all around her that was a truly wonderful thing.

I think that was the last time that I saw her conscious.

The medics decided the time was right to place the girl into the ambulance, and I watched them carry her limp body away, blood streaming from her nose.

We sat consoling her grief stricken friends with the Green Crafts stewards, offering water and cups of tea and reassurance. The whole thing had lasted around half an hour I think, time sort of stood still. Someone asked security if they’d seen something this bad before, they shrugged, and replied “Yes”.

I am grateful for the following things:

I am most of all grateful to have heard that the girl is alive and recovering from what must have been unimaginable trauma.

I am grateful to fate that she was rescued by the Security Team who were exceptional in exceptional circumstances. They have probably saved her life.

I am grateful her friends stayed with her.

I am grateful for the support given by the Green Crafts stewards to her distraught friends.

I am grateful for the community of Green Crafts, that it was a safe space, that the Stone Masons allowed us to borrow their cups for brewing up.

I am grateful to have friends like Tara, who was in the thick of things before I’d even reacted. We have each other’s backs. With Wings on.

I am grateful to have been useful.

“Can anyone fly a plane?!”

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Marauding into Summer 2017

After an accident last year we lost our beloved caravan Lola! We were devastated when the insurers told us she had to be scrapped and even more gutted when they offered us half of its value!

So much so I couldn’t bring myself to look at new caravans for the family to do the festival season this year.

But Mr O forced me to look at one or two on ebay and before I knew it I was falling in love with lots of vintage and lovely old ladies. We had spent our savings on a super posh van with Lola and she had all the mood cons… shower, hot water, blowers and more… Mr O hadn’t wanted me to revamp her up too much either and although we did make her ours we were limited to what we did with her.  After all that fuss we lost her anyway and we had had old vans that had lasted longer.. vintage was the way to go this year.. oh and she had to be cheep!

after loosing out on a few we found a bargain van, she was going for about £300 at the time and we could see why she was so cheap, she looked clean and although a bit unloved she had potential for me to let me creative juices flow.

WE had a bid and unbelievably won her for £400!!!! amazing if she wasn’t a dud of course.

Day 1 Mr O picked he up on Saturday and arrived back home with her for lunch time. I had bought some cupboard paint and some bits and bats to get working on her, we figured we could maybe sell her straight on and find something we loved a bit more.

Within a few hours, I had painted the cupboards and Mr o had fit a new water pump in her, already she had potential. We decided to take out he bathroom and fit a log burner. The loo was a bog standard ( I know) portapotty and we could always fit one in the van or in a toilet tent, the sink only had hot water so we figured we might as well use the kitchen sink and use the space to create a lovely stove area to make the van super cosy.

Day 2; Sunday: I stapled some pom pom trim around the edges of the cupboards and stapled some £3.99 battery powered fairly lights all around making sure the switches and battery packs were by the door for when we walked in. The van does have electric but only from a hook up, we don’t always have this in a feild so Mr O set to putting in an extra battery and the solar panels that we had taken off Lola.. we now have electric without a hook up!

I nipped into town and spend about £70 of bits and bats to make her cosy, blankets and quilt covers, little ornaments, plates and cups etc .. she was starting to feel more like ours.

Day 3: I had ordered some bits from Amazon which arrived today, some tile transfers to cover the old tiles, some stick backed plastic to cover the grotty melamine tables. With a few hours fitting this in the van she suddenly started feeling like home.

Day 4 is still to come, we are cleaning up an old log burner and I have ordered a new flue pipe for it for £20 , we will go up through the sky light in the bathroom and create a chimney. I have some heat resistant paint to paint the old bathroom and rill attach a pull out dryer for clothes and socks. We will remove the door of the bathroom to stand the burner in and hopefully create some cut out panels in the walls and fid some wonder trellis grids to let the warm air our into the caravan.

By day 2 we had named her.. like with animals it meant we were attached… Molly is part of the family already and cost us less that £500! bargain!

WE have ordered some decals for the outside, she is two tone green with an orange stripe. We figured just getting rid of the orange stripe and adding a blue or white one will tidy her up.

We will add her name and some info of the business on the back.. then we should be set!

 

 

 

 

Keeping it cool with A Florida Surprise

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Williams ‘Disney savings tin’ Live on ITV

FLORIDA WITH AN ED FAMILY.

Two weeks last saturday we had a very exciting thing happen. We went LIVE on prime time TV as we were part of a surprise for our son William.

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The moment of our surprise 

to us in our home and surprised our boy as he sat on the sofa with a trip for four to Florida! all expenses paid!!! WOW!!! people actually win this stuff! See our story here.

The only thing was we only had 48 hours to get ready to go!!! Visas, money, passports, packing… you name it… we had a day to get sorted!!!

One of things I wanted to do was to contact Diana at the ED society. William was diagnosed with ED just about 3 years ago and since his diagnosis we hadn’t been anywhere really hot. We had always travelled to tropical places and unknown to us we were doing lots of the things we needed to do to keep William Safe already, but it is always good to get more advise.

Ectodermal Dysplasia

ED, Ectodermal Dysplasia is a very rare genetic condition that effects many things such as hair, nails and teeth. But most importantly it effects the ability to sweat. This is more serioueds_logo_small.jpgs that you might think, and before you say ”’ ooh I wish I didn’t sweat, I bet you save a fortune in deodorant!’ well yeah thats true… but its quite a serious condition and is a huge issue for anyone especially a child.

We don’t only sweat to keep cool, we sweat when we sleep and when we are ill. How many times have you gone to bed feeling awful and that you might be getting a cold, you go to bet to ‘Sleep it off’ and as if by magic you feel better in the morning. The very concept of ‘sleeping it off’ really should be ‘sweating it off’ our bodies use sweating as a way to cleanse us of infection, virus and more, we don’t even notice it really but you will notice when you wake up in the night drenched after a cold or flu!

We get clammy when we have an infection or virus and of course we sweat buckets when we exercise and find ourselves in hot environments.

For a person with ED their bodies have to find other ways to do this, William may get a rapid heartbeat or be super short of breath if he gets a bug or simply overheats.. and believe me he gets EVERY bug going!!! ( he doesn’t sweat it out over night like us) He gets tired very easily as his body is working super hard to keep cool and the body pain he suffers can be unbearable. The biggest challenge is of course keeping him cool in hot environments. This blog is how we coped in Florida walking around Disney in 100 degrees of tropical heat with a boy ( and his dad) neither of who sweat! ( for more info about ED look here)

So… Dianna had talked to me when we spent time in Rome and she said how we could support William and Keith by using Disabled services throughout all areas. I had never considered classing William (and his dad) as disabled as we have always coped, but the more I spoke about it the more I realised how much we could be helped.

The first thing we did was get a letter from The ED society, This explained that Both Keith and William had this condition and that they needed extra support though any disabled sources provided. I put this in my bag and though I would only use this in Disney World but actually used it more than I thought.

Here is how we got on….

Airport.

We found Gatwick pretty quiet and to be honest, as prize winners we did feel very special and like VIP’s.

There are plenty of seats in the airport and its nice and cool. We were greeted with a party in the Virgin Lounge. (I believe you get access to this lounge if you book a Disney Holiday through Virgin. )

The Lounge was clean and bright and had lots of seating with complimentary drinks and helpful staff.

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Inside the lounge 

I would imagine it to be a bit noisy and busy on a normal day and do think we may make use of the free drinks and then go find a quiet corner in the airport departure lounge.

The Flight

We flew with Virgin Atlantic, now I know we were on this amazing prize but the basics still applied to us. Mostly that 9 hours is a long time on a plane!IMG_0193 but the Virgin staff really made it easy for everyone. Drinks are free and they are happy to keep providing you with water and such. They are friendly and you don’t feel like you are pestering. I know we have always flown with Thompson fLy and the staff are somiserable and you really know they don’t want to help… so you stay away from asking for anything.. not good when you need to ensure your family are catered for.

The seats have good leg room and they allow you to roam around the plane for a stretch. The plane is kept cool and there are good blowers in the roof that you can aim on each other to give a bit of extra temp control.

Arriving in The States

After a 9 hour flight to America we bumbled off the plane with the other passengers, as we sleepily found our way to the passport control we saw the huge lines of queues. We joined the end and william sat on the floor exhausted and pale. Keith was struggling too and I looked around seeing if there was a bench or something they could sit on while I kept our place in the queue. As I looked around I was the sign, ‘Disabled or Special assistance queue’ could we use that? we had a disability and we were going to be using a similar service in Disney.

I mentioned it to Keith and he expressed concerns, we weren’t in a wheel chair and didn’t look disabled.. would they question us? We had the letter in our bag and we did need support, we decided to go for it.

We guilty walked into the queue that only had two families ( in wheelchairs) and one with a little boy who seemed to have a learning disability.  No-one battered an eyelid and we went through the line smoothly and found ourselves on the air conditioned coach, everyone calm, waiting for the rest of the party to join us. Realistically we still had to wait the same time but the difference was we waited in a better environment.

Transfers

Disney had teamed up with Virgin and Itv to provide our hotel and transfers so we were shuttled to the hotel on one of their coaches. Staff were brilliant and the driver welcoming. The bus was fully air conditioned and had seat belts.

Water was available on request and there was a loo. As anyone with an ED child knows… a loo close by is very important!!!! ( all that water)

Parks

There are 6 parks on the complex all are really different and offer different vibes and activities. You can get into all these with your Park Hopper ticket/wristband.

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Epcot by night

Magic Kingdom: The original and most magical… Castles and princesses, parade and Mickey! bloody packed always and is huge!!!

Epcot: A slower paced park with more educational attractions. ( don’t forget every attraction in Disney world is bloody brilliant…) don’t shy away from this park because it hasn’t got the roller coasters and thrills… we actually find it’s our favourite. You need a full day ( if not two) to enjoy this fully

Hollywood Studios: All about films and blockbusters. some rides and loads of attractions and activities, smaller than the others but full to the brim of starwars, Mickey and cartoons.

Animal Kingdom: A slower pace like Epcot but all the attractions are excellent and awe inspiring. the live animal attractions are great and its obvious Disney take good care of their live stock!

Blizzard Beach/Typhoon Lagoon: Both are water parks but nothing like you would imagine… you feel like you have stepped into another world… shallow pools, lazy rivers and kids pool their will never believe… all themed and super wonderful.

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Exploring the posh cars at Epcot in the Test Track area.

Everything and I mean EVERYTHING in Disney world is fantastic! You never go on something and think it was rubbish! This time we didn’t go on a single roller coaster and enjoyed family rides that suited us all ( Kitty is three and William 12) honestly it is all mind blowing…

If you have a full 2 weeks you can take things slower and do every inch of the parks, maybe even do a few days finding Mickey ( a treasure hunt searching for hidden Mickey images) If you have a short time you can plan and select what you want to do.

Our Time in the Parks

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Busy Gates… use the disability assistant gate!

Our first day was a hot one and we made sure william had a swim and shower before we set out into the parks, we had water and William and Keith both wore hats and light clothing. As we arrived at Hollywood Studios it was super busy at the ticket gates. We decided to use the disability care assistantance gate and we were through in minutes.

As we got inside I sat the family on a bench and went to the Guest Services office to get our Disability Pass.

The lady came over to where the guys were sitting and set up the scheme on a hand held tablet. She took a photo of William and he tapped his electronic wrist band on the screen.

She explained how we could go to the front of a line and ask for DAS, they would then tap Williams wristband and a photo of him would come up on their screen, they would then offer us a time to return as a family. This would stay inn place the whole time of our stay.

The time given would reflect the length of the queue, so if the queue was an hour, we would be given a time to return in an hour. This helped us accept the help more as we weren’t pushing in, just not standing in the queue to save our place.

The lady was great and really made us feel welcome and supported, she didn’t question our request our condition and just got on with explaining what to do around the parks.

IMG_6393So we tried it…. we went to the first ride and the queue was an hour long, we went to the front of the queue and they happily gave us a time to return. As we walked away I heard a beep on my phone, the return time had automatically updated on my Disney app….

The Disney App and Wristbands

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Kitty wasn’t so sure… but the photo came straight back to my phone!

This is new! last time we came here, we had a card and that was it..

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Fancy wristbands that do everything!

…now we were all given fancy wristbands. These wristbands did lots of things: they opened our room door, scanned it to get into the parks, you could charge everything to your room from all over the park and you used it to scan as you entered a ride.
It all ties up to a Disney app which we all had on our phone. This app had our booking on so showed our hotel, let us book fast passes in advance, showed us what times our fast passes and DAS return times where and also sent pictures to our phone that they took on the rides.

It was all a bit clever and although I heard people saying it was all a bit BIG BROTHER…but I liked it… I don’t have anything to hide and I loved how

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The Disney app Keeps all you information in one place

everything was at my finger tips. I could literally go into the park with nothing but the kids ( although we needed to take in fans, water, share T-shirts, Calpol and suncream.. life of an ED family!!)

We found all the photo booths had been taken out of the end of the rides and instead photos would magically appear on your phone to look at . You could buy them directly from the app and charge them to your card.

Fast passes and DAS

By using Fast passes that we booked the day before and The DAS system we didn’t have to queue once. It took a bit of working out, but I could do this from our room as I lay in bed the night before.

As you return to your ride at the right time, you simply scan your wristband on the Mickey sign and it pings and lights blue letting you in. No-one knows if you are ‘disabled’ or if you have a ‘fast pass’ and this allows for you to feel comfortable that you are been assisted and not getting special treatment.

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Getting our DAS return time for the Buzz Lightyear ride.. can you spot us?

Keeping cool in the parks.

There was no doubt we landed in a bloody heat wave! a heat wave in Florida!!!! it was hot! and as we were only there for 5 days were were out the first day without having time to acclimatise to the heat.

Although we found loads of ways to keep cool we still had a some very HOT moments

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A hot moment…

But there are ways to keep cool….

Water

Disney have water fountains all over the park that are free to use, you can fill your bottles and cups with them and you don’t have to buy expensive bottles of water ( about $3 a bottle £2.40 ) although Disney don’t stop you from taking in your own food and drink which makes a change from UK theme parks who like to ensure you buy their over prized items.

Cool Spots

Everything is air conditioned!! shops, inside rides, queues, toilets… you never find yourself too far away from a cool place. Although we found ourselves with sore throats and sniffles because of the dry air and huge difference in temperatures. ( ED people often have a lack of or over production of various bodily fluids so bunged up noses and are throats are always a familiar face.. so this will probably irritate you if you have the condition.. take saline etc) We could live with that.. there is nothing more wonderful than stepping onto an air conditioned bus after a long day at the parks.

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a tired boy needing some shade

The hotel room was air conditioned too and we were able to adjust this accordingly. I found this out after waking up the first night shivering.

There were ice buckets in all the rooms too and a great communal  ice machine central to each complex of rooms( no more that 2 mins walk) They provide plastic bags to so you can fill it with ice and take it out with you.

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Ice buckets 

Water Play

There are lots of places with water too in the Parks, little play areas and splash areas, all free , inside the parks and great to stop and play for a while ( and cool down ) while waiting for your return time for a ride.

No-one feels too old in Disneyworld so even William and Keith were happy to play in the splashes.

One of the things we always have bought in Florida are the fans and refillable cups. They are super helpful for keeping everyone hydrated and cool. ( see below in ‘other things’)

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One of the many water play areas.

Evenings

Parks don’t close till late ( 9pm out of season and up to 1am in the height of summer) obviously it is cooler on an evening. So if you want to take the day easy you can enter the park at 3pm and still have a full day ahead of you. Please don’t do what we did the first time we went and get so excited we ended up spending 16 hours in the park and made ourselves so exhausted we had to spend two days in our hotel room! The your time and enjoy what you choose to do in full.

If you stay in a Disney Hotel you get the bonus of ‘extra magical hours’this gives you two extra hours without the public crowds. (Either morning 8-10 am or evening 9-11pm ( low season or 11-1am high season). Even with the thousands of hotels rooms on the complex the queues and crowds are really reduced at these times so its worth doing.

Other ideas

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Fan Sprays were great 

These spray fans are brilliant, they are like a cleaning spray bottle and instead of just a spray they have a battery operated fan too. You see kids walking around with them round their necks spraying them selves and fanning themselves as they go. there are plenty of places selling them and plenty of places to fill them too. we have used the ones we bought here 10 years ago for year here in the uk and on other holidays.. a perfect ED product.

The refillable cups are great too, they cost about $14

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Refillable cups can be filled all over the complex

dollars and are the kind of cups that keep a drink cool. There is a little chip in the bottom which is read as you place on the base of a soda fountain, you can fill it up anywhere around the complex, all eateries have them in all the parks and hotels.

They have ice machines and a selection of drinks, from water to energy drinks! even coffee and tea!.. keep an eye on the kids though… I found william hovering over the energy drink tap!!!!  But they are fab… you are never far from a cafe/takeaway or similar and you can use for as long as you stay on the complex.

Hotel

It is super expensive at the moment at Disney World, The dollar is not what it was and we found it twice as expensive as it was five years ago. We were lucky enough to have a stay in a mid range Disney hotel ( Caribbean Beach Hotel)

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The Caribbean beach Hotel

which really helped us make the most of our short stay.  But…. we worked out the costs for us to do this as a family and it would have been huge. Our Prize was worth around 12K we think ( two adults and two kids for 5 days) … we have always managed to do it for about 5k (for 6 of us for two weeks). There is no doubt it is something you need to save up for..However there are good reasons to stay on site in a Hotel if you can afford it……

The hotels are HUGE so don’t expect to feel special! saying that, staff are always up for helping. They are super clean and very very well thought out. Lots of activities for kids and adults, boat rides, fishing and Disney character appearances. I suppose if you stayed for 2 weeks you would make most of the facilities but we really wanted to enjoy the parks.

We found the best thing was how easy and quick it was to get back and forwards to the parks. Buses run frequently and are all air conditioned. It takes around 10 mins to get anywhere on the complex and buses come at the latest every 10 mins. Knowing you can get back quickly and cooly was a real comfort.

When you stay in a hotel off site ( a third of the price) or a villa, you will be driving. You need to pay $20 to park! and the carparks are huge. But its all planned out well, you park and get on a little train to the park entrance. I think it takes between 20-30 mins to actually get from parking the car to getting inside…, but it is doable and easy.

The busses stop at all parts of the hotel so you don’t have to walk to get to the stop. ( the hotel complex had 10 areas all hosting around 200 rooms in blocks) They are free and you don’t need to show a pass or anything. The driver tells you where they are stopping and you never feel rushed. Drivers are trained to help wheelchair users on and off the busses.

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Waiting for a bus in the shade 

The hotels have great aircon both in the rooms and other areas such as food halls and shops. You can escape easily. You can change this inside your room so you aren’t freezing all night.

The hotel pool was lovely, there were smaller pools in the middle of every block of rooms and a main larger pool in the main part of the hotel. Towels were provided and there was lots of shade. The staff are great and would sort out shade if everywhere was full.

The main part of the hotel had a large food hall, you could fill your cups up here from free and there was loads of ice for the taking. Water dispensers offer free water.

There are a number of shops that sell basic groceries and large bottles of Water. We bought a large bottle to fill our bottles up daily. ( the water fountains in the parks are free but do have a chemical taste to them)

We didn’t need any medical support but there is a medical centre on site.

You are allowed to use the facilities of any of the Hotels on site, so there is lots of choice of restaurants and pools.

Swimming.

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Swimming to keep cool

Disney world has two amazing water parks that are free with your tickets, you can get the free bus to them and they are brilliant for keeping cool and having fun.

They are huge so you won’t have any trouble finding shaded areas and safe areas depending on your Childs ability to swim.

The lazy river can be found at both parks and is a wonderful creating river that roams around the whole site. You grab one of the hundreds of inflatable rings and bob along until you feel like getting off.

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Well managed pools with shallow edges and free towels 

As with the other parks some of the queues are long for the slides and there are no fast passes available. we found the staff really helpful and they allowed us to skip the line.

Conclusion

I know Disneyland in Florida looks to be a very confusing and hard work holiday. But we were only there for 5 days and we had figured out all the new bits and bats within a few hours.

Don’t be afraid of visiting with an ED family. It is one of the best places you can go and rest assured everything will be perfect.

There are very few places that customer care is 100% en-point! It is perfect and you will not find anything to complain about except for the cost of things and maybe the crowds!!!

We have visited both Disney World in Florida (4 times) and Disney Land in Paris ( 3 times) and I really do believe it is cheaper to go to Florida for a fortnight than it is to go to Paris for a week! Really… look in to it.

We had a wonderful prize and it was a once in a lifetime trip with the all the bells and whistles you could ask for but on a normal holiday there are cheaper ways to do it.

Look at villas and car hire as well as other flight operators. If you can afford a Disney Hotel it is much easier and will save you lots of time and energy.  But this isn’t the only option.

I hope this has been helpful… we are back home and I still can’t believe it happened! but it did and we are still high on the magical memories we have!

A Saturday night in front of the TV. Part 1

It was a cosy Saturday evening and we had plonked ourselves in front of the Tv with our kids after a day of gardening and jobs. A usual event in our house, to sit down together and watch Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway. It is one of the only programs we all sit down and watch as a family.

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As we watched we made the usual comments about how it was so great to see the age old format that we watched as kids, curtsy of Morcambe and Wise and The Two Ronnies. We laughed at the cheesy puns and silly pranks and loved watching normal families as they were supposed in their homes.

At the end they showed a video of the prize they were giving out to 200 people over the series. A holiday in Florida! wow how lovely that would be. It set us off talking about how we were so ready for some sunshine and how we hadn’t had a sunny holiday for a good 4 years now, we had worked so hard lately and really would love a break. We were planning a camping trip over easter, so we settled with that.

Then it said they had a few more seats left on the plane and you could nominate someone by sending an email. I didn’t think about it again until on the Monday I was cleaning and came across the savings tin that Kitty and William had been putting money in religiously for our next Disney trip. I quietly mulled over the prize and though, why not apply… someone has to win and our kids really needed some fun.

So I did….. I wrote the email and explained about the tin and about who we were. I clicked send and forgot all about it until a message pinged back in inbox. They wanted more information could they call me…

Over the next four days I spoke to producers, researchers, I sent the tin down to the studios and filled in form and form, contract after contract! They still wouldn’t say if we would defiantly be a winner but the plan was laid out.

They would come to our house on saturday and set up a secret camera in the tv, William would have to leave the house while they did it so not to suspect. They would flash to us live in our living room and surprise William by showing his savings tin and telling his he was going to Florida.

It wasn’t until Saturday morning when the producer turned up at our door that we really thought this could happen. I managed to get William out of the house to his friends and we ran around like crazy people as we set up the house for them to film. All the time we were getting ready for our friends 40th Birthday Party in the next city, I was planning and running it for him and had to go and set it all up ready. So I was running around like a loon and the day passed in a flash.

7pm came and we had got ourselves ready to go to Matts party, we called william down and told him we were going as soon as we had watched the show so he needed to be ready. William wanted to play a game on the Xbox so we lied and told him his uncle Neil would be on the show and we wanted to watch.. so he sat with us excit3edly.

All the time, the producers and sound man were hidden in our bedroom! The producer kept texting me.. ‘Move to one side’ ‘ don’t let Kitty touch the tv’ ‘tell Libby to move out of shot’ ( the prize was only for 4 , so the girls weren’t able to come with us!!!’

Then it happened… the tin flashed on screen held by Dec, the camera came on us and we were live to 8 million people! Thank god I had had time to vacuum the floor! William’s face was a picture! he was in total shock and sat with his mouth wide open looking at me for confirmation! before we knew it, it was over, we were booking a taxi and leaving to the Party….

Bizarre….. William was in shock and couldn’t believe what was happening… we were too… as we walked into the party we just carried on as normal, no-one saw it as they were all at the party.. so no-one knew. The only reminder was the beeping of our mobiles and our friends and family text and messaged us with total excitement.

Our facebook page, email and text messages were full of our friends and family who were just so excited for us, work friends and clients emailed us and we felt very very loved!

When we left the party, we came home with some friends and we watched the show for the first time. It was so very exiting and it kind of started to feel real… all I needed to do know was get ready to go to Florida in just under 48 hours!

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