Wepre Park: Our Local 8th Wonder of World

Wepre Park is a place that I used to love going to when I was little. Back then, in my pre-teen days, with just little legs and scabby knees to carry me, the walk from home to the park entrance felt light years away, like we needed the phone box from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventures just to claw some of our day back. It’s only as I grew older that I started to appreciate just how close it is, and how lucky we are to have it on our doorstep. Being a Quay boy, and knowing the streets and alleyways like the back of my hand, I can now walk there from home in about 15 minutes. Of course, this slows considerably when Jesse is with me as we have to stop and crouch down for at least 2 minutes at every slug, snail or bug that we see along the way. But, my point is, it’s close. Really close.

Growing up in the area, I got up to all sorts of adventures in that park. In primary school and cubs I remember going there, net in hand, to hunt for pond skaters and the like. I’ve also fished for perch and carp in the famous old Rosie at a very young age, before quickly realising that silently sitting still for any length of time wasn’t really one of my strengths. I played manhunt in the woods there during those warm, endless, summer days where school is but a distant memory. I played golf there, famously losing a club to the trees following one frustrating stray shot on the 8th. I’ve been to the fair there as a teenager, consuming copious amount of Mad Dog 20/20 beforehand, only to wonder why the waltzers made my head spin Exorcist style. And I had so many games of skins versus tops football there, with lads I’m still mates with to this day, that to count them all would be a nigh on impossible task. The park is just full of great memories.

Since becoming a dad I have, quite unconsciously, made Wepre Park our most visited local destination. Having a dog that needs walking helps but, some weeks, we can go there almost daily. If either of us ask Jesse what he wants to do after nursery he’ll either respond with go camping, go to the beach, go to the zoo or go to the waterfall in Wepre Park. He loves it there, and with very good reason!  The park is 160 acres of lush Welsh landscape, intersected by the babbling brook that gently meanders its way through the woodland. In fact, it is thought that the name ‘Wepre ‘ is derived from ‘Gwybre’, meaning ‘Water Hill’ but, as with most words in our language, it has undergone many changes in its 800 year history (apologies, the English teacher in me couldn’t resist a spot of language change and etymology).

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In the south-west of the park, through the woodland and over Pont Aber, the stone bridge built sometime around 1800; Ewloe Castle can be found hidden amongst the trees, perched on a rocky outcrop. Built in 1257 by Welsh Prince Llewelyn ap Gruffydd to defy the English monarchy, the castle ruins are well worth a visit. They offer a good example of a castle built not so much for strength or prestige, but rather built for guerrilla warfare at a time of great oppression from Norman England. CADW (the Historic Environment division of the Welsh Government), Flintshire County Council and other organisations have worked hard over the years to improve the information signage around the castle and, more recently, access to the castle by improving the steps and pathways that lead to it. It may not be ideal for pram pushers, but baby wearers and toddlers in carriers are more than able to get to the top and enjoy a picnic in the grounds before going off to explore the old moat, the two towers, or the site of the original drawbridge.

Also in the south-west of the park is Devil’s Basin, personally my favourite bit of the park. Accessed down probably the narrowest (and slippiest, in wet weather) path through the woodland, you emerge from the dense undergrowth onto a small rocky ledge overlooking a large, shallow natural pool. A lot of people probably think that there are only two choices when you approach Pont Aber: to go left up to the castle, or to take the steep steps to the right and walk up to what used to be the top of the old golf course. My reasoning for this is that every time I have been up to Devil’s Basin, I have never bumped into another soul – not even local ghost legend Nora the Nun – so you get a great sense of peace, isolation and tranquillity up there, even during the busy summer months.

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If you follow the stream back from the castle, past the stunning red sandstone rocks, known locally as ‘Red Rock’, and take the steps down to the lower path through the woods, you’ll eventually come to our toddler’s favourite spot in the entire park: the waterfall. Built by the Victorian occupants of the Old Hall in order to drive a turbine that created electricity, the waterfall is just a beautiful spot. Jesse loves to clamber down and splash about in the shallow water at the base of the fall, just as I did when I was a kid. When I help him step across the large stones from one side to the other, avoiding the ‘crocodiles’, I remember times when I, too, would jump across them as a young critter, imagining the perilous dangers should I misplace a step and break the skin of the water.

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Not too far from the waterfall, back on the main path, is the Visitor Centre. It’s brilliantly child friendly, with a collection of tables filled with toys and books for them to enjoy, as well as offering a range of leaflets on the flora and fauna that can be found in and around the woodland. But, most importantly, they do a mean full English breakfast for just £5, so there’s no excuse for not having the energy to make the hike up to the castle and back!

Where the Visitor Centre now stands is the site of the original Old Hall. Although most people in the area will be familiar with the look of the grand Georgian Wepre Hall that was built in 1788, because of the photos and illustrations that are placed around the Visitor Centre, few people will know that there is evidence to suggest that the site originally had a dwelling on it as early at the 7th Century! There really is a hell of a lot of history in this park for you and your critters to learn about and enjoy. Adjacent to the site of the Old Hall, you are still able to wander around the gardens, which have recently undergone a long and careful programme of refurbishment. While you slowly make your way around them, make sure you check out the Old Hall’s pet cemetery as there are some very funny headstones for you to enjoy.

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Thanks to http://www.flintshire.gov.uk for their permission to use this map.

Despite all of this history, most people simply come to Wepre Park to walk and enjoy the natural environment that surrounds them, and I can’t really blame them. It is a beautiful place. Blessed with an abundance of wildlife, you’d do well to take a nature card with you (or pick one up from the Visitor Centre), so that you can set your critters off on an exploration spotting the various bugs, amphibians, birds and mammals that call it their home, including the rare and protected Great Crested Newt that resembles a small dragon (if dragons were 12cm long). However, if all of this still doesn’t sound tempting enough for you and your little ones, there’s also a large adventure playground on site, as well as the Rosie pond, should your young critters fancy their hand at angling, or just want to see some ducks.


Many people are naturally quite negative about their local areas, for whatever reason. I know, as a youngster, I was certainly guilty of this. Our little corner of north Wales will never be a London or a Manchester but, the older I get, the more I realise that never would I want it to be. I genuinely consider myself extremely lucky to live within walking distance of this beautiful woodland and these historic buildings and ruins. I just hope that Jesse and Amelie will make as many memories here as I did!

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Moel Famau Country Park

Moel Famau Country Park is one of our ‘go to’ outdoor family destinations.  Located less than 15 minutes from our home in north Wales, Moel Famau boasts the highest summit in the Clwydian Range at 554m/1818ft and, thanks to the Jubilee Tower ruins at the top, it has become a landmark feature that can be spotted from miles around. Not quite big enough to be classed as a mountain, it’s still a bloody big hill, which makes it the ideal training ground for young hikers and little outdoor enthusiasts.

At 160km2, the Clwydian Range is an impressive natural playground that proudly holds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) status.  In fact, the area is so beautiful that in 2011 the Welsh government decided to expand it by adding the adjoining 220km2 of the Dee Valley area to the south of the range to create one huge AONB. And, sitting on top of all of this natural beauty, is the remains of the once majestic Jubilee Tower. Built over 200 years ago to commemorate the golden jubilee of King George III, the tower collapsed in 1862 leaving the ruins that locals know and love today.

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The heather covered moorland of Moel Famau is thought to attract approximately 200,000 visitors a year to its paths and trails, and with good reason.   Not only is it a great destination for hiking clubs and the many groups of young Duke of Edinburgh explorers I’ve led across this terrain over the years, It’s a very accessible outdoor destination for families too.   For families with little hikers, complete with their Lilliputian style legs, the two car parks at the base of Moel Famau offer you relatively short routes to the top.  In fact, if you begin your walk from the top car park, it’s only about 5.5km with a height gain of less than 300 metres.  Our two critters are too small to even class as Lilliputians yet, so we always take the carriers.  Our eldest, however,  at 2 and a half, will walk almost all of the way up, just waving the white flag on a couple of the steeper sections.  He simply loves spotting the ‘castle’ at the top and the variety of wildlife that surrounds the environment and that seems to keep him distracted enough to plough on one step at a time.

Whereas the walk from the top car park offers little in the way of trail choice, if you park further down the road you are rewarded with a wider variety of waymarked trails, which also offer an assortment of difficulties for those families up for more of a challenge.  In my opinion, the more strenuous route that takes you through the lower forest slopes is by far the most scenic, just be sure that your kids are equipped and physically able to deal with the gradient.  Again, I have taken Jesse up this route on numerous occasions, and while he will spend more of his time in the carrier, there are still ample opportunities for him to hike a little himself.  As you pass through the forest too, you can always use it as an opportunity to have a rest stop and build a den amongst the trees.

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If you still want more of a family hiking challenge, consider starting at one of the numerous points in the local area that have paths and trails that connect and intersect the country park.  Loggerheads, for instance, which we have reviewed as a mini adventure destination previously, offers an alternative start or finish point for hikes of a medium distance and with the river that flows through it, it offers a nice contrast to the open moorland of Moel Famau itself.  If time is not a consideration and you have both the energy and kids to manage it, then the hike from Nannerch to Llanarmon yn Ial, summiting Moel Famau and passing Loggerheads along the way, is a great one.  There really are so many family hiking possibilities with such a vast area of countryside.

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In terms of gear, as most of the trails are easy to moderate in terms of their difficulty, trail shoes can be worn.  However, if you are taking on one of the longer routes, using one of the interconnecting pathways in the area, then you may well consider boots for added support.  Similarly, if you choose to park in one of the designated car parks at the foot of Moel Famau, then a map isn’t necessary as the routes are waymarked.  For longer routes, which begin outside of the country park, however, you’ll need a map to get you from A to B (and obviously the skills to read it).  Child carriers with weather protection features are great for babies and toddlers as I’ve experienced strong winds and hail storms as late as May on my walks up to the top, so don’t rely on the weather at the bottom to be an indication of wind speed and the like at the top.  It can often vary significantly.

So, if you’re in the vicinity of north Wales this weekend, and fancy getting outdoors with your critters on some very beautiful but accessible trails, give Moel Famau your consideration.

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How do Babies Learn to Talk? Part 1: Sounds and Stages

In a departure from our usual family travel/outdoors/festival posts our latest article is about speech.  More specifically, it’s about how children and babies acquire speech.  The reason for this is that, as a parent, I often hear (or overhear, being the nosy sort) conversations about those celebrated first words or worries about rates of language development, and whether children are falling behind other babies and toddlers.  We seem utterly obsessed with baby talk. In fact, we’re so obsessed that we parents have developed a sub-language of our own – motherese – for the way we go all gooey and squealy when we talk to the little apples of our eye.  But more of that technical talk later.

Away from being a dad to my two crazy critters, I’m an English teacher in a large secondary school.  I have to confess that, since having children, teaching Child Language Acquisition to my 6th form A level English Language classes has become one of my favourite parts of the week.  Of course, I also have to confess that prior to having children discussing baby ‘gobbledoogook’ was one of my worst nightmares.  How times change hey!  And anyway, talking about their language development sure beats talking about the texture, structure and colouration of their poo I suppose!

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One of the easiest ways to begin to understand how your baby develops speech is to understand the stages that they are expected to go through.  The first of these is pre-verbal, i.e. before they can actually form words and talk.  This will be made up of progressively more sophisticated sounds, and patterns of sounds, which we, as parents, are able to attach an ever increasing variety of meanings and emotions to.  Basically, they are able to help us understand what they want and how they feel before they are able to formally verbalise it.  Pretty amazing hey!

 

Stage Features Approx. age (months)
Vegetative Sounds of discomfort or reflexive actions.

Examples of this could be crying, coughing, burping or sucking.  The control of sounds even starts at this early stage as they often have more than one cry noise to suit more than one need.  Come on, how many have said ‘oh that’s windy cry’?

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Cooing Comfort sounds and vocal play using open mouthed sounds.

Grunts and sighs become vowel-like ‘coos’

Laughter starts

Hard consonants and vowels produced.  These are among the easiest sounds for an infantile vocal system to produce.  Because of this, during the next stage (babbling) you’ll see why babies often say ‘dada’ (hard ‘d’ sound) before ‘mama’, which has a more difficult ‘m’ sound to produce.  But let’s keep that one to ourselves hey dads!

Pitch (squeals and growls) and loudness (yells) are practised.

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Babbling Repeated patterns of consonant and vowel sounds.

Sounds linking to own language.  They’ll begin to make sounds that sound familiar to our own adult language.

Some of these sounds will be reduplicated sounds (‘ba-ba’) while others will be non-reduplicated (variegated) such as ‘agu’.

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Proto-words Word-like vocalisations.  These do not match actual words but, impressively, they are used consistently for the same meaning.  For example, using ‘mmm’ to mean ‘give me that’, with accompanying gestures such as pointing, supporting the verbal message.  9-12

 

Following on from this pre-verbal stage is the verbal stage.  This stage, as its name suggests, is characterised by actual words and how babies and toddlers are able to string them together to begin to form grammatical constructions.

 

Stage Features Approx. age (months)
Holophrastic/one-word One-word utterances.  Following their use of proto-words they’ll now start to use single words in isolation that are real words.  These will, more often than not, be nouns as we, as parents, begin to point to and name things around them. 12-18
Two-word Two-word combinations 18-24
Telegraphic Three or more words combined 24-36
Post-telegraphic More grammatically complex combinations that resemble adult speech. 36+

 

Producing sound is crucial for any child’s language development. From an early age they will use their vocal cords to get the attention needed to ensure their survival and emotional needs. That is why they cry when they are hungry and when they want a cuddle.  The ‘cooing’ and ‘babbling’ stages mark the beginnings of prosodic features.  Prosodic features are features of sound such as pitch and tone (of voice) that we are able to control in order to add meaning to the sounds or words we use. This means that whoever is listening to us has a better idea of what we are on about.  Think about how you tell your kids off when they’re about to create World War 3 in your living room.  You use a serious tone of voice so that they know you’re about to lose the plot with them if they don’t stop it right now!   Crucially, early developments allow your child to increase the variety of sounds that they can produce (phonemic expansion) and then reduce the sounds to only those they need for their own language (phonemic contraction), showing that children have, at this stage, the potential to learn any language in the world from birth.

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So how are sounds produced?

Sounds are produced by air from the lungs passing across vocal cords.  So, when we consider consonant sounds we have to also understand what they are affected by:

  • The manner of articulation (how the airstream is controlled).  Is it a short, sharp sound like a ‘p’, which requires less control of your vocal cords, or is it a more complex sound like an ‘s’ or ‘l’, which takes longer to produce as it requires you to have more control over its sound?
  • The place of articulation (where it occurs).  To make sounds we can use our lips, tongue, teeth and the roof of our mouth, or a combination these.  Again, some of these are far easier than others for little mouths so sounds that require a combination of these things will often be among the last to develop in young children.

Sounding letters out loud helps you hear how and where they are produced.  Try saying the letter ‘p’ which is a plosive sound.  We purse our lips and block the airflow for a very brief period of time.  These are among the easiest sounds to say.  Now say ‘l’ (L) out loud.  This is known as a lateral sound so we produce this by placing our tongue on the ridge of our teeth, which allows air to move down the side of the mouth.  This, for a baby and toddler, is a pretty difficult task so will generally take much longer to master.

As a result of these difficulties that your little critters will come across when learning to talk, it is not hard to see why they make so many mistakes along the way.  These mistakes are a necessary part of the learning curve.  So, to finish part one of this guide, see how many of these mistakes you can spot in your little critters:

 

Term Explanation Examples
Deletion leaving out the final consonant in words. Go(g), cu(p)
Substitution Substituting one sound for another (especially replacing the ‘harder’ sounds that develop later, with easier sounds) ‘pip’ for ‘ship’
Assimilation Changing one consonant or vowel for another (as in the early plosive sounds ‘d’ and ‘b’.  In the example, you can see that it’s simply  easier for a baby to produce two different sounds (‘g’ and ‘o’) than it is to produce three different sounds (‘d’, ‘o’ and ‘g’). ‘gog’ for ‘dog’
Reduplication Repeating a whole syllable Dada, mama
Consonant cluster reduction Consonant clusters lots of consonants placed together) can be difficult to articulate, so children reduce them to smaller units. ‘pider’ for ‘spider’
Addition Adding extra vowel sounds to the end of words, creating a CVCV pattern. doggie
Deletion of unstressed syllables Leaving out the opening syllable in polysyllabic words (a complex word with lots of syllables).  Again, this just makes it a more manageable proposition for little mouths. ‘nana’ for ‘banana’

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Beautiful Llyn Brenig

Llyn Brenig reservoir is a stunning place for you and your family to walk or cycle in north Wales. Located in Cerrigydrudion, Conwy the lake offers beautiful scenery, multiple trails, fishing and boat hire as well as a very good visitor centre, making it a great destination for a mini adventure.

It always surprises me when we visit Llyn Brenig just how quiet it is. In fact, it’s possible to walk a good few miles on one of the many trails without bumping into another soul. This is probably one of the reasons why you have a decent chance of spotting a variety of wildlife there. Deer and otters, grouse and buzzards, and red squirrels and badgers can all be found on this beautiful landscape. If you’re really lucky you may even catch an osprey hunting the lake for fish, so a great idea is to take a wildlife spotting card with you for your critters. They’ll really enjoy filling it in and it’ll also distract them from just how far they are walking, which often results in a very quiet car journey home. Perfect!

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The reservoir itself is surrounded by stunning moorland, most of which is part of the Mynydd Hiraethog Site of Special Scientific Interest. And with good reason. From Bronze age burial grounds to 16th Century farmhouse remnants, the trails really do offer you a glimpse into the rich heritage of this particular corner of north Wales. Again, whether you do your research beforehand and go prepared, or collect some information leaflets and sheets from the visitor centre before you begin your walk or ride, you can seamlessly intertwine your energetic outdoor family adventure with some historical learning for you and your kids along the way.

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There are multiple trails to choose from at Llyn Brenig all of which are waymarked making them great for families who want a taster of the outdoors but who haven’t committed enough to it yet to map read (although maps are available from the visitor centre for those that want them). Despite having a few short, steep sections, most of the trails are also fairly flat and well maintained which makes them suitable for early walkers and riders. As a result, in terms of gear, trail shoes or trail runners are the order of the day as heavy boots will just be overkill on this particular terrain. However, if you’re taking on one of the longer tracks just ensure that your day pack is stuffed with all of your usual hiking gear as the weather is notoriously changeable in north Wales.

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Some trails, like the Elorgarreg Trail (5 miles) offer more uneven ground and rough terrain making them a better challenge for older critters. Overall, however, the major factor that really distinguishes trail difficulty at Llyn Brenig is length. The shorter trails, such as the 2 mile Forest Trail or 2.5 mile Dam Trail, are great introductory tracks dotted with the odd picnic table should you wish to sit and relax with your clan by the lake. However, the longer Brenig Trail and Circular Trail (both about 9.5 miles in length) offer a challenge for the more outdoor experienced and energetic families amongst you. For those of you that wish to cycle around the lake bikes can hired onsite but you’re advised to pre-book, particularly at weekends and busy periods. To further confirm their family friendly status you can also hire bike trailers for young children whose little legs haven’t got much peddling in them just yet.

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The visitor centre has the obligatory café which serves up your usual array of foodie treats including a great Welsh favourite the Bara Brith cake. It also has some truly lovely views over the lake to reward yourself with after a day of outdoor exertions. Adjacent to the visitor centre there is an adventure playground for children to occupy them while you sip a well-earned brew, although I can’t help but think if Jesse still has the energy to muck about on that he’s conned me by staying in the carrier too long! Last but not least, all of this is yours for the measly fee of a £2 car park charge. So what are you waiting for? Get outdoors!

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A Guide to Taking Kids to Music Festivals. Part 4: safety and welfare

Taking kids of any age to a music festival is a daunting experience for most parents. Despite many modern festivals welcoming families with open arms, we have to always remember that they weren’t designed solely for the benefit and enjoyment of critters. They are major events with a mass appeal. You’ll bump into everyone from newborn babies, to teenage ravers with alcopop issues, to pensioner hippies revelling in the mystique and spirit of their environment. So, with this in mind, we’ll guide you through the steps that you can take to ensure the safety and welfare of your prized offspring this summer so that you too can sit back, relax and enjoy the magical sights and sounds that surround you. Enjoy.

Let’s face it, most of us have had moments of panic when our pesky, fleet-footed toddlers escape our watchful gaze for a split second in the park or supermarket. I still remember legging it around our local Range store after Jesse decided to play an impromptu game of hide and seek as I bent down to get something off a shelf. It’s gut wrenching! So it’s completely understandable to feel anxious about this happening at a major festival with possibly 100,000 revellers around. But fear not, there’s a bunch of things you can do to minimise this in the first place and then deal with it if the worst does happen.

Firstly, to minimise this happening there are a few things you can do. Reins, particularly for toddlers, can be a useful addition (if you can keep your critters in them!) enabling you to have complete control over their whereabouts. Our favourite set is the LittleLife reins and backpack as they’re durable and have some packing space for their favourite teddy, drinks cup etc. (https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/littlelife-toddler-backpack-and-reins/)

Unfortunately, older toddlers may take issue with these in their usual dramatic way so thinking about how you position your tents on the campsite and where you choose to sit or stand in the fields can all help. If you are camping as group aim to position your tents in an enclosed circle. This leaves the middle ground as a safe area free for the children to eat, play, dance and tease each other whilst ensuring that between you, you are able to surveil them from all angles. It also means that due to the position of your tents you can explain to your inquisitive critters that they are a barrier not to be crossed without grown ups. This is far harder to achieve if you camp in a straight line. For older children, also ensure that you tell them which campsite you are on and, if there are numbered sections or warden posts, which one you are positioned by.

In the festival fields themselves sit or stand by a large and very noticeable object and familiarise your kids with it so they are able to recognise it quickly. If you are there for a few days this will certainly help them and you. At Kendal Calling, for instance, we like the large tree at the back centre of the main stage crowd. It is tall enough to be recognised from a distance by the low standing height of children, it is away from the major hustle and bustle of the main stage crowd, and it also tends to attract other like-minded families. Perfect. You’ll also see many families and large groups carrying some sort of raised flag or banner on either a spare tent pole or telescopic lightweight flag pole. Again, these are great as they create a very easy to spot and follow focal point, particularly when meandering your way from stage to stage. Just aim to buy or create something unique and memorable to standout. These can also be used on the campsite to further help identify your tent and area to make it even more recognisable to your kids.

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Mrs Potty Adventures, 34 weeks pregnant, begrudgingly holding Mr Potty Adventures can of beer under our designated tree while Jesse sleeps in his wagon.

 

However much we all resist thinking of the worst, if your child does leave your sight at the festival there are many easy things that you can do in order to ensure their quick and safe return. For this part of the series we got together with Sian from Lles Welfare (https://www.facebook.com/lles.welfare1/), a charity group that works at many of the UK’s major festivals to provide welfare support. In fact when we attend Kendal Calling in a few weeks time, a team from Lles Welfare will be there specifically for lost children, so who better to give you advice!

The first thing that is urged is that all children are wearing ID bands. These are cheap and readily available but provide valuable information should a child become lost. It is suggested that you put your names on the ID band rather than your child’s name and ensure that you put as many mobile phone numbers on it as possible as it’s easy for a battery to drain at a festival, so always make sure one phone is left charged in case of emergencies. More expensive bands are also now available that work with the GPS in your phone via a dedicated app. These provide extra security as you are able to pinpoint the location of the ID band on your phone.

Another great tip is to familiarise your children with the welfare tents. These are often centrally located and are manned 24 hours a day by charities such as Lles Welfare and St John’s Ambulance. Take them for a visit on your first day and ensure that they know that’s where they should head to if they suddenly become lost in the festival fields. Likewise, many of the onsite campsites have welfare/warden points located at their entrances so familiarise your critters with those too. As the entrances are often surrounded by tall outdoor floodlights these are easy to spot in a tent crowded field.

A final top tip is to take a photograph on your phone every morning of your critters. This means that should they become lost you are able to give stewards a photo containing exactly what clothes they are wearing that day, which really helps them to identify a child in a crowd.

Festivals should not be events to worry about. They should be events that you love as a family. So, by dedicating just a little forward planning time before you arrive and then taking the steps above once you’re onsite you should be able to relax and have the weekend of your lives. As ever, if you have any top tips that you’d like to share with us, please don’t hesitate to let us know.

In the meantime, if you missed any other parts of this series on taking kids to festivals they’re just a click away.

Part 1: choosing the right festival for you and your family

https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/a-guide-to-taking-kids-to-music-festivals-part-1-how-to-choose-the-right-festival-for-you/

Part 2: sleeping and eating

https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/a-guide-to-taking-kids-to-music-festivals-part-2-sleeping-and-eating/

Part 3: getting around the festival site with kids

https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/a-guide-to-taking-kids-to-music-festivals-part-3-getting-around/

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A Guide to Taking Kids to Music Festivals. Part 3: Getting Around

Having read part 1 of our guide you’ve already selected the perfect festival to attend this summer. You’ve also considered sleeping and eating arrangements after reading part 2 in this series. So in this, the third part of our taking kids to festivals guide, we’ll share our best tips for getting your critters moving seamlessly around the festival site no matter what weather and ground conditions are thrown at you.

Let’s face it, we all hope for those gloriously long, sunny days where you and your family can lay around carelessly on warm, dry grass. Unfortunately, Britain being Britain, a grey cloud is never too far away and this will definitely impact upon how easy it is for you and your tribe to move from stage to stage. Three hours of rain at home may well not churn up the local field that you walk your pooch on but at a festival, with sometimes in excess of 100,000 people mooching around, treading all of that water into the ground, you can be sure that any persistent rain is going to result in mud. A hell of a lot of mud!

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Obviously your choice of festival transport for your critters will very much depend on their age and the size of festival that you are attending. However, on the whole, you have two main options: to pull or to carry. As it happens we do both as we find it to be the best option for our very young children Jesse, aged 2 and a half, and Amelie, aged 8 months.

If you decide to pull you have a few options available to you. Despite the fact that we still see pushchairs at major festivals every year, we feel that they are too poor at performing in bad weather to warrant their packing size and weight.  Every time we have had mud at a festival we have seen a pushchair or buggy stuck in it.  Simple.  Therefore people with these end up far removed from the festivals main attractions desperately trying to keep to any sign of solid ground.  Festival wagons are now a common site at virtually all of the major festivals that pride themselves on being family friendly. However, these themselves come in a range of guises and styles each with their own specific advantages and disadvantages. One of the first considerations to make when choosing a wagon is how will you transport it to the festival itself. Large wagons take up a heck of a lot of space so unless you have a large family car or van available to you a foldable trolley may well be your best option.

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Foldable trolleys, as their name suggests, will pack down nicely making them fairly easy to fit in among everything else that you plan to take when you are playing your first game of car packing Tetris on the morning of departure.  They also have decent ground clearance meaning they are ok being pulled over uneven ground and fields.  However, their small wheels mean they can become very difficult to manoeuvre in wet and muddy conditions.  Furthermore, as the frame is designed to fold it won’t be able to carry the same weight that more solid designs can, meaning they may not be suitable for carrying more than one child or older children (and meaning that you may have to make more trips back to the car as you probably won’t get all of your gear in it first, or even second time round).  They also do not come with a canopy meaning you’ll have to concoct your own should you wish to make it a waterproof haven for your critter.  Finally, these tend to be the smallest of all of the available designs so using them as a transportable sleep chamber may also be an issue for kids after a certain age.

Ready made festival wagons can also be bought through many online outlets.  Obviously, as with anything, read the reviews that accompany their description, but on the whole this type of wagon tends to be fairly similar regardless of the brand.  Most of these come with much larger wheels far more suitable to the great outdoors and prolonged use and most also come with a showerproof canopy.  Note: these are not waterproof so if you get any sort of rain that sets in a for a few hours or even a whole day, it won’t keep your critter entirely dry.  Obviously there are things that you can do to combat this that doesn’t mean spending all day in the tent.  For instance,  I have seen wagons with PVC shower curtains draped over the canopy structure to add an extra layer of protection, but these then just become something else to pack and carry around with you.  That said, the structure and frame of these wagons is far stronger than the foldable versions and their solid sides and larger internal dimensions make them much easier to fit out with a range of cushions and blankets to keep your critter cozy into the evening.

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The final option that you have available to you is to use a converted heavy duty garden trolley.  These are the favoured wagons of the companies who’ll offer to hire you out a festival wagon for the duration of your stay (at a premium), which is particularly useful for those of you who may be carrying multiple children as transporting multiple wagons in your average family car is simply impossible.  A heavy duty garden trolley is also our personal favourite.  They are stronger than the rest (able to carry anything between 150kg and 300kg) and larger than the rest which means not only can you transport more than one child around, but they also make relatively short work of transporting your stuff from the car to the campsite and back again.  Just make sure you take a healthy selection of bungee cords to help you secure your gear (not your critters!).  The other major advantage of these types of wagons is that as you are customising it yourself the possibilities are endless.  We decided upon a space theme for ours, buying  rocket material for the cushions and having weatherproof sides printed to complete the look.  We also constructed our own canopy, buying waterproof, rip-stop nylon to ensure a dry ride whatever the weather.  The disadvantage to these heavy duty wagons is that despite you having the ability to remove the sides walls, they are heavy and very large to transport making them out of the question for all but large cars.  For more on how we fully customised our wagon and constructed the canopy be sure to check out our post here: https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/making-a-customised-festivalcamping-wagon/

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Your other option for transporting your critters around a music festival is to carry them.  Again, in dry weather your options are so much more open and we still take our smaller carrier/sling for the baby for just these occasions.  They are so small and light that packing them as an extra is no trouble at all and they certainly give you that close baby bonding feel that we all crave.  However, you have to be practical.  Even in dry weather you could be outdoors for all of the daylight hours and most slings offer little in the way of sun protection so hats and clothing with an SPF rating should be considered.  They also offer nothing in the way of rain or wind protection so you should have an alternative in mind for poor weather.

Back carriers are a good option for children older than approximately 6 months who can hold the weight of their own head as they offer good levels of comfort for long days outside and they also have fairly large storage pockets meaning you can take with you everything from nappies to spare clothes and not have to worry about a walk back to the tent to pick up extras.  A lot of carriers also come complete with SPF and waterproof canopies and covering meaning that your child will be safe and comfortable in all weathers.  They can also be stood up on their own with your critter still inside it (under your supervision) meaning that taking time out for a quick picnic or rest stop is easy if your little one has fallen asleep.   You simply plonk them down next to you.  Their obvious down side is that they are yet another large, cumbersome thing to take with you, taking more space up in your car than more compact carriers.  However, we feel the protection from the elements that these provide make their consideration worth it.  To read more on our favourite child carrier check out our post on the Osprey Poco AG Plus here: https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/05/02/osprey-poco-ag-plus-child-carrier-review/

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As ever, if you have any comments or specific questions about this guide or any of the others in this series please do get in touch with us.  Next time we’ll be looking at the safety and welfare of critters at festivals.  It’s not to be missed.

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A Guide to Taking Kids to Music Festivals. Part 2: Sleeping and Eating

So, you’ve read part one of our taking kids to festivals guide (https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/a-guide-to-taking-kids-to-music-festivals-part-1-how-to-choose-the-right-festival-for-you/) and you’ve now carefully selected the perfect festival for you and your family. Well what next? Next, you need to think about what gear you need to take. In this second part, we’ll take you through accommodation options, sleeping arrangements and eating and drinking at festivals for you and your family.

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Accommodation

When most people think of festivals they think of tens of thousands of people congregated in a field somewhere in very close proximity, with only the paper thin nylon of a tent to separate you. And while for the vast majority of people this will ring true, there are other options available at most modern festivals.

For us, camping at a festival with our family and friends is all part of the experience. We love to set up all together and form our own little outdoor community. So if you plan to use a tent and camp what do you need to look out for? Firstly, if you not planning on camping regularly there is no point in spending an obscene amount of money on the latest tent just to get it out once a year to take it to a music festival. That said, if you do plan on camping in between festivals then something a little more durable and luxurious is probably ideal.

One of you first considerations should be the size of the tent. Most tents have an indication of the number of people they’ll sleep in their name. However, taking kids is something all together different. Unlike an empty campsite field they can’t really just go outside of the tent in the morning and play around. They will simply get lost in among the thousands of other tents. So you’ll need some extra space to allow your kids to settle and play inside of the tent before you are ready to take them to the festival breakfast club or early morning family cinema showing. So size up. We have a bell tent (https://pottyadventures.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/dusky-deer-5m-bell-tent-review/) for all of our family camping for this very reason. The huge living space that we are afforded is ideal for entertaining, changing and dressing our two critters. And as long as you select your festival campsite carefully (we opt for the family field) you should have no worries about taking your nylon or canvas pride and joy. Just make sure your tent has a good waterproof rating. At the end of the day you don’t want to rock up for a 5 day festival and come back to your tent on day one to wet bags and belongings.

In terms of gear to accompany the tent a footprint is always a good investment as festival grounds can get notoriously muddy. Investing in an affordable footprint will not only prolong the life of your tent floor but will also make packing away and cleaning far easier. We also always take a cheap outdoor mat to leave at the entrance of the tent so that muddy wellies can be cleaned and left out before you get back into the tent, thus keeping the inside relatively clean. We also take our tent canopy so we have somewhere dry or shady to sit under, cook under and store things like the Potty Adventures wagon, which further extends the room the family has available to them.

If, however, you’re one of the growing number of people who don’t wish to camp among the masses most major festivals now offer you a range of alternatives…at a price! From pre-erected and decorated bell tents and yurts, to wooden-style pods and mini chalets, you really can live it up with your family. Most of these have their own dedicated car parks, meaning you park much closer to your tent, and have dedicated toilets and food vendors. This, for a lot of people, takes a hell of a lot of the hassle out of festival camping but be warned…you will pay a premium for these luxuries.

Festivals are great now in terms of welfare.  Although we’ll do a whole post on welfare and safety very soon as part of this guide to festivals series, we’ll just add at this point that saying hello and getting to know the people who camp around you can be of great benefit.  Firstly, it embraces that well loved festival spirit of enjoyment, happiness and community.  But secondly, it’ll also mean that people will recognise who is supposed to be around which tent.  As tents don’t have locks this really helps with campsite security.  It also means that on a family site, where drunken tent wandering is far less common, you also have like minded families keeping an eye out for young children in and around your area. Bonus.

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Sleeping

Ensuring a warm and comfortable nights sleep for your critters will be one of your top priorities. Again you have lots of options but most of these will be age dependent. For babies a travel cot is a good option unless you plan on co-sleeping. Even though they’re raised slightly off the floor, you’ll still want to make sure that you insulate underneath your baby as much possible. We use a Sleepyhead portable pod but a collection blankets underneath your child will also do the job. Our baby then sleeps in a Grobag. We always take two and at least one of those will be a winter one.  As with all of your critters just take a few extra lightweight, fleece blankets as a precaution in case the temperature becomes unseasonably cold.

For toddlers we suggest getting them their own junior airbed. We use a junior airbed with sides for our two year old to stop him rolling out when he’s dreaming about chocolate. Again, airbeds trap cold air so you’ll want to insulate them by putting blankets on top of the bed and underneath your critter. Ours then sleeps in a toddler specific sleeping bag (the Deuter Littlestar) which is both well insulated and expandable so it’ll last them a few years rather than a few months.  However, not all toddlers take to sleeping bags so you may want to trial this at home and take a warm duvet as an alternative if all they want to do is wriggle out of it.  A good tip is to take a bike puncture repair kit with you.  These take up next to no space at all and should you be unfortunate enough to find yourself with one that is going down, it won’t ruin your trip.

For older children foldable campbeds are a great option.  They are affordable, light, easy to transport and provide a good, stable sleeping surface.  You can then add a SIM (self inflating mattress) to the top of this to add some comfort and insulation.  The other advantage of campbeds is that you are able to store bags etc. underneath them, further helping you to keep the tent somewhat tidy and organised for the duration of your festival.  We sleep on the Outwell double Posada for this very reason.  Plus by the time you’ve added a good quality SIM it’s pretty much as close to being at home as you’re likely to get.

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Eating and Drinking

You’ll want to think carefully about your budget before you decide to do all of your feasting inside the festival arena itself.  Although modern festivals offer a great range of food and drink outlets, some even with sit down style restaurants and real ale tents, they can be pricey if you plan on buying three meals a day there.  We tend to opt for the happy medium of taking food to cook breakfast with, ingredients for at least a campsite family meal or BBQ (note: open fires are not permitted so disposable BBQs raised off the floor should be used) and then enough snacks to keep us and the critters happy throughout the day.  The rest of the time we enjoy eating out at the festival, tasting offerings from all over the world. It really is part of the experience.  First time festival goers are always very surprised at the range and quality of food available onsite.

So, if you plan on doing any cooking yourself, the first thing you’ll need is a camp stove.  These are mostly fueled by gas canisters or bottles and come in an array of shapes and sizes.  Obviously, how often you plan to cook and the size of your family should be your guiding factor.  Single burners are quick and very easy to transport if all you are planning to do is make a morning brew.  But making a chilli con carne or camp curry for a family of four or more will present them with a considerable challenge.  If, like us, you want to maybe cook family breakfasts yourself or the odd evening meal, then a double (or even triple) burner will be your best option.  These allow you to cook with more than one pan at the same time meaning you’ll be able to conjure up something a little more appetising than super noodles for you and your crew.  If you do opt for a larger stove you’ll also want to consider a folding camp table.  These are light and easy to transport but more importantly they provide a stable surface raised off the ground and away from the tiny, inquisitive hands of young children.

To accompany your chosen camp stove you’ll also need a pan/set of pans and kettle.  Although cheap frying pans are available from supermarkets to fry your morning bacon and sausages, the advantage of camping pans is that the handles are removable and sets of pans all fit inside one another.  This makes transporting them far easier.  Add a do it all spatula and you’re ready to ready, steady, cook.

If you are planning on doing a bit of cooking yourself (or just want to keep your beer/wine/cider cool) then a cool box is a must.  Steer clear of cheap supermarket versions that are only good for picnics as they’ll stuggle to last beyond 24 hours if you’re lucky enough to have hot weather.  Brands like Coleman  and Igloo make some great coolboxes – ours for instance was still keeping things cool on day 5 during a hot summer camp last year.  Just look out for what rating they give each box as that’ll give you an indication as to how long it will stop your milk from turning.  A great tip is to cool the empty cool box the night before you fill it with either some spare ice packs that you’re not planning to take or a couple of bags of cheap ice cubes.  This lowers the temperature of the box so that when you add your cool packs and food on the morning of departure it’s already up to speed.  We use a range of freezable cool packs and also always freeze a 2L bottle of water to place right in the middle of the box.  This ensures our food will last for days not hours.

To help keep you hydrated and fill the kettle for that wake me up brew you’ll also want a water carrier.  These come in both collapsible and solid designs and are great for having around camp.  Water bottles (reusable for the sake of our planet) and hydration packs/Camelbaks are also great to take water and juice with you into the festival arenas.  Just double check on the festival website as they may have a limit on the amount of liquid you can take into the stage areas from your campsite and please note most festivals don’t let you take any alcohol, although you are allowed to have it at the campsite.  Thankfully!  Finally, just ensure none of your drinks containers are glass as they will be confiscated on arrival for the safety of everyone onsite.

If you are taking a baby like we are you’ll need to consider ways to sterilise their bottles.  We take a travel steriliser and a pack of sterilising tablets which, as long as you are organised and plan bottles and washing times in advance, can make a potentially tricky thing quite simple.  Lots of festival children’s areas have baby changing and bottle warming facilities so you needn’t worry about prepping their bottle during the day or night when you’re away from your tent either, which is a great relief to parents of very young critters.  Ready made formula, although a little more expensive than the tub variety, is also a good, convenient option although we personally have a baby who doesn’t seem to like it!  If, like us, you do opt for the tub variety don’t forget to take the miniature storage pots or some very small Tupperware to measure out each feed of powder otherwise you’ll end up carrying the tub round all day.  A good tip is to boil your water on your camp stove before leaving the tent for the day.  Fill a good quality flask with some of it before allowing the rest to cool and placing it in baby bottles.  This means when they need that urgent feed you have hot water immediately available in the flask to just top up the bottle and bring it to a nice warm temperature.  As with all of your eating and drinking exploits you’ll just want to make sure you have a ready supply of anti-bacterial hand gel available to keep you and your family hygienic.

As ever, if you have any comments or specific questions do get in touch with us in the comments section below.  In the next part of this series we’ll be looking at how to transport you and your critters around the festival site and some of the other gear you might want to consider taking.

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A Guide to Taking Kids to Music Festivals. Part 1: how to choose the right festival for you

A hell of a lot of people wouldn’t even dream of taking their little critters to a music festival. But why? With festivals becoming ever more family friendly, offering everything from dedicated kid’s areas with organised activities to cinema tents with family friendly screenings, there has never been a better time to introduce your little ones to the joys of a summer British music festival. So, if you’re dreaming of sunny days, lying happily on picnic blankets in vast fields, cool beer or cider in hand, while your kids dance around you to the sounds emanating from the main stage, but you’re worried about camping, the weather, the notorious toilets or keeping them safe and happy in such a busy outdoor environment, read on. We’ll guide you through everything you need to consider to make your family festival trip the best weekend of the  year by an absolute mile!  In this, the first of the series on taking kids to music festivals, we look at how to select the perfect festival for you and your family and what to look our for.

Firstly, you’ve got to select your festival carefully. Before you even think about booking your tickets look around a range of festival websites. At the bottom of this article we’ve started a list of some of the most family friendly music festivals out there with links directly to their kids pages so you can see for yourself what is on offer. Although all music festivals have a lot in common each and every festival is unique and this shouldn’t be forgotten. What is right for one family will not be right for another, so do your homework. Obviously, most families will be drawn by the musical lineup and whether it caters to their tastes, but there are still a whole raft of things to consider.

Check to see if they have a dedicated kids area on site. These vary from festival to festival but you can expect a safe a secure area dedicated to families with a range of features and activities. The best ones have bell tents, yurts and marquee tents to offer protection from both the sun and the rain (come on, it rains at least once at every festival!) during those long days outside. Inside each of the tents they have a different range of activities to keep young children happy. Some will be craft focused, getting your critters to glitter and shape paper until their heart’s content, while others offer Duplo perfect for toddlers and competitive construction dads. In the larger marquee tents they often have kid’s disco and fancy dress competitions organised by the onsite staff and volunteers. Some festivals will have your favourite CBeebies presenters on hand over the course of the weekend to say hello and whip your critters up into a playful frenzy with daft games and competitions. On top of this they will have the obligatory bouncy castles and soft play areas if they still haven’t burned off enough energy for your liking. Another nice touch by festivals hoping to leave a positive impression on families is that during some of the discos or organised games they offer free drinks to kids to help keep them hydrated and help keep your costs down.

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Finally, the children’s zones also often have their own dedicated toilets and baby changing facilities all within a secure and fenced off area, meaning that families aren’t forced to share portaloo facilities with the 18 year old who had too many beer bongs and a hefty curry last night! Some even have bottle warming stations so look our for those on each of the festival websites if you’re planning on taking a baby.

The next thing you’ll need to do before you book is check out what else, beyond the kids zone, the festival has to keep all of the family happy over the course of the three or four days you are there for. Remember, entertained kids are also happy and tired kids. As I said earlier, modern festivals have come a long way. A lot now have giant cinema tents so have a look on their website or social media pages what they plan to screen. Family friendly sites will often screen kids films from fairly early in the morning until about late afternoon, before the more adult films are shown. For instance, the festival that we’re attending in the next few weeks is screening Toy Story, Aladdin, Shrek, The Goonies, The Lion King and Alice in Wonderland to name just a few. As well as cinema tents, festivals will have kids entertainment springing all over the site throughout the day. Usually there will be a central notice board to tell you what’s going on and when. So from trying to break the world record for building the world’s largest cardboard box fort, to musical jam sessions which introduce kids to a range of instruments, keep your eyes peeled for their next fun-filled adventure. Circus tents are also on the rise and they will often have specific times when children can attend to learn some basic circus skills such as juggling or riding a unicycle. Magicians also make regular appearances at a lot of music festivals with none other than Dynamo Magician Impossible performing at the Kidz Field at Glastonbury this year!

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Some festivals also advertise things like breakfast clubs. These generally take place in one of the many eateries onsite and are open only to families for a period of about two or three hours before they open to the rest of the general public. This means that families who have kids who wake early have somewhere to take them and feed them should they want to get up and out of the tent. These breakfast clubs usually offer covered seating protecting you from the early morning elements and have healthy, nutritious breakfast options at very affordable prices. On top of that, some of the breakfast clubs run activities such as kids yoga to help your critters mentally prepare for the epic day of fun ahead of them, which gives you that all important ten minutes to savour that first morning brew accompanied by a rare bit of peace and quiet.

Keeping kids clean is a major test at any festival so something else to look for on their websites is whether they have shower facilities.  Most do these days but you’ll be queuing for an age to get one at anytime during the morning so a good bet is to take the kids during the much quieter afternoon or early evening.  An alternative is to find out on the website whether your chosen festival offers shower upgrade wristbands.  These can be purchased in advance of the festival and are a God send.  The queues are far smaller and the showers are proper cubicles (albeit on the back of a lorry trailer) and resemble the sort of facility you’d get in most public swimming pools.  The toilets in these upgraded sections are also proper flushing toilets, not portaloos and they have proper sinks to brush your teeth etc.  There are even hair and make-up rooms with hair dryers, mirrors and GHD straighteners (yes, you heard me right) for mum and daughters (ok and vain Dads too) to perfect the days festival look.

One last thing that you’ll want to decide upon before you book it the size of the festival you want to attend. From major festivals the size of cities like Glastonbury to much smaller, intimate festivals like Shambala, there are advantages and disadvantage to both. Large festivals obviously have a lot more going on and a lot more choice when it comes to things like entertainment, music, food and drink. But they are also huge places. So if your little ones are very young and you’ll be pulling them in a festival wagon or carrying them in a carrier or sling you may want to opt for something a bit smaller unless you’re happy to stay for quite a while in one place, realising that you probably won’t get to see everything that the festival has to offer in just three days. It is very much a personal choice. The Kidz Field at Glastonbury, for instance, is truly awe inspiring. But if you plan to balance it out and keep the adults happy in your group you may spend a bit of time either walking between places or missing things you wanted to see. At the moment we are opting for the happy medium of medium sized festivals.

Once you’ve selected your ideal festival check when you are allowed to camp from on their website. This may seem straightforward but some festivals offer you the chance to arrive a whole day early for a nominal extra fee. The vast majority of the bands and music at Kendal Calling, for instance, begin on the Friday but you have the option to pay a little extra for a Thursday ticket. This means you get to arrive before literally thousands of other people and you can be sure of your pick of the camping spots. However, you’ll still want to set off as early as you possibly can because even with early entry you’ll be one of many trying to secure that perfect spot. This is particularly important if you’re planning on camping with a group of friends or other members of your family as you’ll want to make sure that you can all position your tents right next to each other to create your own little community. Finally, check whether your chosen festival has a dedicated family campsite. Most these days do, so you’ll be positioned well away from the younger, more raucous festival goers and their beer bongs in a field of your own with like minded families and children.

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In the next of the series we’ll be looking at what gear you’ll need to enjoy your first festival with kids. Until then, and if this article has made you yearn for a summer festival date of your own, take a look at just a small selection of family friendly music festivals that could find their way into your diary very soon. Enjoy.

Major Music Festivals:

http://www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk/areas/kidz-field/

Medium Music Festivals:

http://www.latitudefestival.com/family

http://www.kendalcalling.co.uk/attractions/kids-calling

http://www.campbestival.net/kids

http://www.greenman.net/explore/areas/little-folk/

Smaller Music Festivals:

THE KID’S FIELD

 

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Camping at Tyddyn Isaf, Anglesey

Tyddyn Isaf is a multi award winning camping and touring park located right on Lligwy Beach in Anglesey.  To say they have a good location would be a massive understatement.  It’s brilliant!  But Tyddyn Isaf is also blessed with great family friendly facilities and staff who go above and beyond the call of duty to make your stay as positive and enjoyable as possible.

Before we start, this particular camping trip was fraught with things going wrong.  Even for very experienced campers like ourselves it became comical just wondering where disaster will strike next.  From the car breaking down twice, to Jesse falling off the posada bed and pulling the newly dyed inner down with him, splitting the stitching that connects the hook in the process, to a new pan handle mysteriously going missing shortly after a certain toddler had been seen to throw something in the bush, which made cooking a little more challenging, to splitting one of the shock cord pegging points.  I think we had enough bad luck on this trip to last us all year.  That said, it is trips like this where being well prepared and having good gear and a few general camping emergency spares (the spare climbing carabiner we always carry did a great makeshift job of keeping the inner up minus its hook) pays huge dividends.  What also helped, however, was having a great campsite with spectacular views to erase the temporary pain of each episode.

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The view from our bell tent (bottom right) was spectacular.

Located right on Lligwy beach with a short, private footpath that leads you down to the sand there is definitely a wow factor when you first arrive and begin to set up.  Both camping fields slope gently downwards towards the bay and, while they don’t make for perfectly flat pitches, you are more than compensated with the views that are created by the subtle descent.  Seriously, the slope is so gentle that anyone who complains and wants a pitch that you could balance a spirit level on is probably missing the point here.  With a privacy hedge surrounding the fields on all sides – I say fields, what I actually mean is pristinely kept grass –  each area feels very private and distinct.   Just how we like it.  Furthermore, the hedges create a nice boundary for young critters so we could let our eldest run free without having to worry too much about where he could get to.

The site is most definitely family friendly.  Apart from having their own onsite playground, tents are only positioned around the edges of the fields allowing the centre ground to be kept for playing ball, flying kites and general childhood merriment – all of which are actively encouraged.  There is also a decent amount of space left between pitches so even during bank holidays when this popular site is fully booked it shouldn’t feel overcrowded.  And although it is not something that we personally use, there are also numerous electric hook ups available for those families that want a few more of their home comforts.

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The camping fields also have their own adjacent shower and toilet facility that will serve your needs in all but the busiest periods.  Even then, it is only about a 3 minute walk down to a much larger facility.  Another shower block, again only a couple of minutes away, also provides accessible facilities.  The facilities themselves are great.  They are modern and very, very clean.  The showers, operated using your electronic key fob (£10 deposit) that also operates the main entrance and the secure gate down to the beach, are instantly hot and refreshing.  There is also a baby bath located in the ladies. Although we would prefer for this to have been positioned in a gender neutral location to support parents of both sexes who wish to bath their children, it is something that the owners plan to upgrade at the end of the current season. Once done, this will put them way ahead of the vast majority of other sites in terms of providing accessible child friendly facilities, further underlining their status as a premier family friendly site. Furthermore, each of the blocks are fully heated and even offer background music – a far cry from family camping of old!  The location and number of facilities, together with the standard to which they are finished, makes tent life with little ones a relative breeze, particularly when they have been splashing about in the sea or diving around in the sand all day.

The site staff are genuinely friendly and welcoming.  On arrival you’ll be taken down to your pitch and then left for about an hour to give you time to setup before they come back to get you checked in.  They actively interacted with our little ones during our stay, asking them if they were having a good time and what they had been up.  But it was on the final day that they came into their own.  Having packed the car and being ready we turned the ignition to find the car was dead.  A quick phone call led them to send down one of their guys – another genuinely friendly man – with some jump leads to get us started.  Unfortunately for us it didn’t work, but it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying!  He must have been with us for the best part of an hour.  You simply can’t bring back to life a completely dead battery so breakdown services were called and a short time later, sporting a funky new (but rather expensive) battery, we were on our way.  It’s not often that we are compelled to write to thank people but on this occasion, because of their helpfulness throughout our stay and particularly on the last day we sent them a quick email of gratitude once we arrived home.

In terms of what there is to do beyond the boundaries of Tyddyn Isaf you are pretty spoiled for choice.  Anglesey is the surely the jewel in the north Wales crown with a multitude of spectacular beaches within easy reach.  And that is if you ever get bored with Lligwy beach being on your very doorstep.  A few minutes drive out will take you to Benllech and Red Wharf Bay with their many family friendly eateries (the Boat House on Red Wharf Bay being our personal favourite), shops and pubs.  But if you are just here for a couple of nights you really have no need to leave.  Whether it is waking up early to make a brew under the canopy of the bell tent overlooking the beach, or simply sitting up after sunset quietly listening to the distant waves and sea.  The views from Tyddyn Isaf will never get boring.

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The view from our bell tent.

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Lligwy beach – less than a 5 minute walk from your tent.

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Lligwy beach – less than a 5 minute walk from your tent.

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Pristine camp grounds with privacy hedges.

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Lligwy beach – less than a 5 minute walk from your tent.

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