We recently dipped our toe into the festival scene for the first time. Before having children my husband and I used to love going to music concerts but we never made it to a festival – and since having children, I thought that they were just something I’d never get round to experiencing. Leaving me wondering, ‘did I miss out?’ There’s always been that small regret that I should have ‘done’ Glastonbury or maybe V Festival in my younger years. Although, I’ve never really been keen on camping, which probably explains why I never went to a festival.

However, with the recent rise of family friendly festivals, maybe we can still experience a festival with the kids in tow? Over the last bank holiday weekend we attended Elderflower Fields Family Festival in East Sussex. We don’t own camping equipment and if I’m honest I’m still not sold on the idea of camping (especially with three kids), so we decided to go for the day, giving us the opportunity to experience a festival without the challenges and cost of camping.

Elderflower Fields Family Festival is a three-day festival designed for families with young children. It’s a wild weekend of adventure, music, sports, nature and crafts – set in the heart of Sussex.

This small, perfectly formed festival was established in 2012. The organisers initially wanted to create a party for a few hundred friends and family but their plans snowballed and before they knew it, they’d sold over a thousand tickets. I love the thought of a party getting so out of hand that it ended up creating a new family business.

In 2014 Elderflower Fields moved to a bigger venue, Pippingford Park, where the festival now returns each year. It’s a beautiful, wild, hilly spot that’s perfect for the magical, fairyland feels of Elderflower Fields.

The organisers say that they intentionally keep Elderflower Fields small…

“…it’s part of what makes Elderflower Fields such a safe and special weekend for families. But we also try to increase the quantity and quality of the activities and performances every year, so that there’s always something new and exciting for our guests.”

So what did we think of our first venture into a family festival?

When I think back over our day at Elderflower Fields, three things come to mind. Firstly, it was absolutely magical. The whole site was decorated beautifully, with rustic charm and gorgeous detail. There was colour everywhere you looked, trees were decorated with large ornaments and lights, there were colourful buntings everywhere and everything had a shabby homemade vibe, which I loved. The festival also had a fairyland vibe with fairy tours and storytelling adding to the magical feel of the place.

The second thing that comes to mind is the food! The quality and the choice of food available was just astonishing – it almost felt like a mini food festival, with all the different independent food vendors. We wanted to try everything on offer but ended up opting for wood fire pizzas, homemade ice creams and sorbets (I had the strawberry and champagne sorbet, which was out of this world), and as we were leaving we picked up some chocolate covered waffles on a stick.

The third and last thing that I’d say about Elderflower Fields is how it’s perfectly catered for children. All the activities were fun, well considered and ideal to get kids involved. The variety of activities on offer was brilliant; we made giant bubbles, created science experiments, found fairy doors, listen to stories, danced to music, played in hammocks, rode down hill on skateboards and even made mud pies in the play kitchen. It really was a fun filled day that we’ll remember forever.

The festival also had three main stages dotted around the site for music and storytelling performances. The schedule was full and varied, ensuring that there was always something to see, do or listen to.

We enjoyed our day so much we’re already thinking about going back next year, who knows we may even camp!

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Now that Iris is past her first birthday it’s time for her to move on to her first bike… okay maybe not a bicycle, more a tricycle.

We were recently sent a SmarTrike Infinity 5 in 1 Tricycle to try. We actually had the box for a few weeks before we set about putting the trike together as we had five weeks (yes, five!) of chickenpox (one girl after another). It was a pretty frustrating time, as we weren’t able to leave the house and all we wanted to do was get out and have some fun. Anyway, after many weeks of looking at the box Dom finally assembled the trike last weekend, which he said was remarkably quick and easy.

So what makes this a “5 in 1” trike?

It’s actually a five phase buggy that turns into a trike. The Infinity Trike is suitable for babies from 10 months – the younger the baby, the more the trike is like a buggy. The ‘first phase’ has a reclining seat, a full harness and an additional safety bar protection. The ‘second phase’ has an upright seat position, which gives your baby the ability to hold onto the handle bar and play with the toy phone. In both these phases, the baby doesn’t use the pedals – they use a footrest and there’s a steering handle (with five different handle heights) for us parents, to easily push the trike/ buggy around.

As your baby gets older the real transformation occurs. At 18 months you remove the canopy (this is phase 3) and at two years the footrest is removed and replaced with pedals (this is phase 4). The fifth and final phase is to remove the parent steering handle and let your toddler free to roam the land on his/her own. The buggy is now a trike!

As we are now fully clear of any chickenpox (thank goodness) and the sun’s out, we decided to introduce Iris to her new set of wheels. We positioned the trike at phase 2, so that Iris could sit up and make the most of the little toy phone in front of her, which she loved, along with the comfy, padded seat and the sturdy safety harness. On a personal not, I loved the on-board storage and spacious bag that’s fixed to the back of the steering handle.

Having tested the SmartTrike Infinity at phase 2, I can tell you that this is a great buggy alternative. Most of our wheeled toys stay in the garden or sit in the shed but this one is practical and can definitely be used outside of our garden walls.

Most importantly, Iris loved it!! On our first trip to the park she beamed with delight, looking around like she was seeing the world in a new ‘more grown up’ way. She sat upright, holding onto the handlebars and looking so proud of herself. As if she was in full control of this little vehicle of hers. Of course, she was not in control but I think it made a welcome relief from her usual buggy.

This Infinity SmartTrike comes in grey, red, blue and purple and costs £129.99 from Toys R Us. I think it would make an excellent first birthday present, if you’re struggling for ideas for yourself or for grandparents.

Disclaimer: We were sent this SmarTrike Infinity 5 in 1 Tricycle in return for an honest review.

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It’s no secret that I’m a big a fan of Clarins skincare. I’ve been using their HydraQuench range for years (along with all my other Clarins favourites).  So I was a little worried when I heard that the range had been replaced. Would the new products live up to their high performing predecessors?

The new Hydra-Essentiel range for thirsty, dehydrated skin is designed to combat the negative affects of thermic shocks. What are thermic shocks? I hear you ask. A thermic shock is something our skin experiences during dramatic changes in temperature and environmental conditions. This could be going from a warm central heated house to freezing cold winter conditions, or a cool air conditioned building to a hot sunny environment.  When you think about it, it makes sense that these constant changes in temperature would take their toll on our skin and end up diminishing it’s natural hydration.

The new range also covers all the main benefits of the previous HydraQuench collection, making it perfect for anyone with tight or rough, dehydrated skin.

I’d say that dehydration is my biggest skincare concern, so I was more than happy to give these new products a go.

I was sent the Bi-Phase Serum and the Silky Cream. Here’s what I thought…

BI-PHASE SERUM (£44)

I didn’t think anything could touch the old Bi-Phase Serum but I was wrong. This one is even better. I’ve been applying two pumps of the serum onto my face every night and pressing it into my skin to ensure it takes in all the hydrating benefits. It has an almost oily texture and my parched skin literally drinks it up in seconds. This is the skincare equivalent of drinking a litre of water – and it really makes a difference!

SILKY CREAM (£36)

When your skin’s feeling a little rough, tight and generally well… dehydrated this cream is an absolute dream. It’s really rare for me to see instant results with my skincare but with this I noticed throughout the day that my foundation went on easier, lasted longer and faded less. And at the end of the day, after taking off my makeup, my skin didn’t look as tired and dull as it usually does. The cream itself feels luxurious and thick at first but then melts into the skin like a light lotion, leaving me skin feeling fresh and seriously moisturised. There are no real anti-agin benefits here but my skin does look and feel younger, probably because it’s starting to look older when it’s dehydrated.

Hydration is so important when it comes to looking after your skin. Drinking enough water is essential but sometimes your skin needs a little more help and this is where I’d reach for the Clarins Hydra-Essentiel products.

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We live 12 miles outside of London, which is close enough for us to be able to pop in at a moments notice – but far enough out to feel like we don’t live in the city.

A couple of weeks ago I organised for us to enjoy a family day in London, pretending to be ‘tourists’ in the city that’s literally on our doorstep. We did two things we’d never done before, and these two things (I’m guessing) would be high up on a normal tourist’s hit list. First of all we went on the London Duck Tours. The Duck Tours are a fun and informative way to learn about the city of London. Once on board the “bus that turns into a boat” (as the girls called it), we got to see some of London’s most famous sights, learn some interesting facts about the city from the commentator and finished off with a thrilling splashdown onto the river!

This is actually something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ve seen the yellow ‘ducks’ driving around the city and thought “we should do that one day”. Do you do that? Put things off, for no reason? Well, I can now tick this off my bucket list. And do you know what? It was fantastic! I learnt so much about our capital city, silly but interesting little facts that I didn’t know before. The commentator was great and kept things fun and light hearted for the kids, while making sure we didn’t miss a thing as we went round the tour.

Of course the best part for the kids was the end, when the bus did actually turn into a boat and took us up and down a stretch of the river Thames.  Apparently these duck themed buses were originally used in the Second World War, but have now been completely rebuilt and modified to meet the safety regulations of today.

After having lunch on the Southbank we headed to the Sea Life Aquarium for our second activity of the day. The Sea Life London Aquarium is situated on the South Bank, near the London Eye and is spread over three floors of aquatic wonder.

The aquarium has over 500 species of global aquatic sea animals, there’s literally something to grab your attention around every corner. A major new feature at the Sea Life London is the Shark Reef, which allows you to view the sharks from a glass tunnel walkway. Lili and Poppy were both so excited by this thrilling feature, it literally felt like you were fully immersed in the huge shark filled tank.

They also loved the new Gentoo Penguin Colony at the aquarium’s Ice Adventure, which is a frozen antarctic landscape where you can view penguins as they play together. If I’m honest, the aquarium is visually stunning and full of interesting information about the amazing underwater world but a word of warning – it does get very busy at weekends. We went on a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed, which made it difficult to get a good view of some of the tanks. It also meant we missed out on the full experience, which is a shame.

If you’re planning a visit to London sometime soon, I’d definitely put these two attractions on to your list. Although, I’d advise you to visit the Sea Life Aquarium during the week or first thing in the morning at weekends.

Disclaimer: We were invited to try these attractions but all opinions are my own and true.

 

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A few weeks ago I was sent some products from John Frieda’s Luxurious Volume collection, which as I’m sure you can guess is designed to add volume and make your hair look fuller.

Now my hair isn’t particularly thin, however it is fine (I’ve just got a lot of it according to my hairdresser), which means it does have a tendency to look flat at the root. Also, as I don’t wash my hair every day it can get a little greasy, which makes my ‘flat hair’ look even worse. These are all issues this range claims to combat.

I’ve been using the Luxurious Volume 7 Day Shampoo (£5.99), Conditioner (£5.99) and In Shower Treatment (£9.99) for the past few weeks now and I’ve been pretty impressed. The shampoo and conditioner are pretty self-explanatory – they cleanses and condition without stripping your hair and give added volume and a soft, smooth finish.

I wouldn’t say using these shampoo and conditioner made my hair look thicker, however it does now feel smoother and looks more polished. Also, the my hair is less greasy and more manageable, so overall I’m happy with the results.


For me the real star of show, however, is the 7 Day In-Shower Treatment. It’s a semi-permanent treatment with a volume boosting system that penetrates your hair to thicken each individual fibre. This clever treatment increases the texture and fullness of each strand, to create volume that stays true for up to three washes. Think of it like a conditioning treatment or mask, something you’d use once a weeks as a special treat.

You simply apply 3-4 pumps of the product onto damp, washed hair. After you’ve completely covered your hair, focusing on the roots, leave it in for 3-5 minutes and then rinse. Once you’ve blow dried your hair you’ll really notice a difference in its look and feel, I certainly did.

This John Frieda range is available from most supermarkets as well as Boots and Superdrug.

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