Cornbury Music Festival!

When the line up for Cornbury Festival at Great Tew Park in Oxford was released back in March, tickets were hastily booked in the Maynes household within minutes of the announcement! For anyone that knows us, you will be well aware that me, my Mom and (very bizarrely for a 3 year old you may say!) Finley, has a small obsession with the band Squeeze! I had been previously to Cornbury back in 2012, long before Finley arrived, and had a fantastic time and knew how family friendly the festival was, so I was really excited to experience it with him in tow! And the fact that our all time favourites were there sealed the deal.

We purchased a day ticket for Sunday,  (not quite graduated to festival camping yet!) where Squeeze were scheduled as the headline act. Tickets were £80 per adult and £15 per child. As well as Squeeze, Caro Emerald, Deacon Blue, Lissie and many more acts were on the bill. Also included was a comedy tent, a kids zone, retailers and a fair, plus  much more.

Cornbury Mary and Gail

We decided to book a hotel local to the festival as it would finish well after Finley’s normal bedtime. I didn’t fancy driving the hour back to Dudley and finally getting him and myself to bed well past midnight after such a long day! It also helped as we stopped there on the way to drop our luggage off, get refreshed and get a cold drink on the way to Great Tew. A great assistance on such a hot day! We chose Banbury House Hotel which was about 15 minutes away. A great little hotel with fantastic staff.

The festival experience didn’t start well. The parking signage was appalling. When it’s 35 degrees, you have an excited toddler in the car and you can’t find where you are supposed to be it’s really stressful. We were told by a steward to go to the orange car park (for which there were no signs) that was located down a road that had ‘no festival access’ clearly signposted at the entrance. Luckily after about 15 minutes of driving around country lanes another steward felt sorry for me I think and let me park in one of the other car parks. When we got out of the car, again there were no signs to direct people to the correct entrance. We guessed a direction and got it wrong meaning we had to walk all the way back the path we had just walked up. When you have a small child in tow this is not an easy task!

We finally got into the park and I am happy that the day did get better! First stop was the fair. The rides were an extra charge but I think this is standard based on other events I have been to. Finley enjoyed the tea cups, the bouncy castle, the heater skelter (I had to go on with him – and got stuck half way down which was very amusing to him!)

We were getting hungry but this point so we headed over to the food area. There was a huge amount of food on offer. Fish and chips, pizza, curry, tea and cake. Finley and Nanny shared a portion of fish and chips and I opted for the falafel and hummus wrap. Again, as expected, the food was a little expensive. £7.50 for the fish and chips and £7.50 for the wrap. But it was delicious. Later in the day we had a stonebaked pizza from another stall (£6) which was very tasty.

I really wanted to embrace the whole festival experience and get my face glittered! Finley also wanted his face painted, so we found a stall that could decorate us both. I had a decoration of glitter on one eye and Finley wanted a glittery tiger effect. For the both of us it was £15. I guess you could say it’s good value – I am still trying to get the glitter and paint off his face 4 days later!

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Next we decided to visit the kids area where we were just in time for a very interactive performance of Robin Hood in the show tent. It was brilliant! It lasted an hour but Finley really got into it – clapping, shouting and singing. Not only were kids invited up to take part, but Mom’s and Dad’s too! It was really fun and nice to get some shade.

We caught the end of the Deacon Blue set, and being a kid of the 80’s I absolutely loved hearing their hits again. Me and Finley had a fantastic dance to ‘Real Gone Kid’ – one to get on You Tube for him now we are home.

So this leads to the absolute highlight of the day… the weekend… the year! As previously mentioned, my little boy is Squeeze obsessed. He watches them on You Tube, knows the songs, the albums, their names. If he could go on Mastermind, I am not exaggerating when I say he would ace them as a subject. We spotted in the crowd the keyboard player from the band Stephen Large and ex bass player and his wife Lucy Shaw. Mama bear instinct took over I think as I had to grasp the opportunity to speak to them for Finley – I can’t imagine how annoying it probably is if you are well known having people bug you all the time, but I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t at least asked them to say hello to him! So I went bounding over like a crazy person confessing our love and absolute respect for them and the band. I have no idea what I actually said! Stephen had to go and play for Caro Emerald who he also plays keyboard for, but Lucy sat and chatted to us for ages! Finley played with their children – it was all very unexpected. I am still a little starstruck and gobsmacked by the whole thing – but so grateful for her kindness and talking the time to speak to us. She was totally lovely.

Cornbury Lucy.jpg

Still reeling from my celebrity encounter, we decided to go and camp at the front of the stage so we could get prime position. I had borrowed from a friend a Connecta carrier which was a godsend by this point. Finley was getting tired and I really wanted him to be able to see the stage. I can’t carry him very well now he is so big and I knew I wouldn’t be able to hold him up for the hour and a half set.

Cornbury Connecta.jpg

The moment I was most looking forward to was seeing Finley’s face when Squeeze came on. He spends so much time watching them on screen, I didn’t know if he actually understood that he would be really seeing them in the flesh! When they walked on stage he was mesmerised. He studied them all then started singing along and playing the pretend drums just like he does at home! It was really magical and an experience I will never forget. I think those around him found the toddler that knew all the words to this 80’s group very amusing!

It was great seeing them live again. Including the classics such as ‘Up The Junction,’ ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ and Finley’s favourite ‘Cool For Cats’ as well as including new material such as ‘Rough Ride’ and ‘Cradle To The Grave’ (another favourite- he even has a ukulele because of this song- I could have watched them for hours. Unfortunately as with most things with a toddler in tow it didn’t quite go to plan and towards the end of the set nature called urgently for Mr F so we had to make a quick escape. However, Me and Mom go and see them every time they are in Birmingham and I’m so excited now for next year when they will hopefully tour again.

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Back to the hotel we headed. Finley was asleep in 5 minutes, covered in glitter and sweat. There’s nothing quite like seeing someone you love fall in love with the music that you love. I hope that his first experience of live music is his first of many. Next year I would love to experience it with camping over the 3 days. I want to fully embrace the whole festival experience in all its glory! Already looking forward to it!

Cornbury Finley glitter.jpg

Top 10 songs tag!

Music is magic. Hearing a song just transports you instantly to a time in your life, a place, a feeling to to a person. We all love music in our house. I have a very varied taste in music personally! Right back to 70’s disco, 80’s new romantic stuff, 90’s brit pop and cheese and more recent hits.

I originally drafted this post for another blogger but I was too late (blame the child!) so I thought I may as well turn it in to a post for myself!

TOP 10 SONGS

So here we go! Off the top of my head (there are hundreds more fantastic songs!) My top 10 songs –

1-Toothpaste Kisses by The Macabees

When I met my then boyfriend back in 2009, I had never heard of The Macabees. He always had their CD’s playing in his car and this sort of unofficially became ‘our song.’ We had the lyrics inscribed inside our wedding bands – ‘cradle me, I’ll cradle you.’ It’s a really special song to me as you can imagine!

2- Real Gone Kid by Deacon Blue

This transports me right back to bring a kid in the 80’s. It’s so catchy and so great to sing along to. I remember dancing round to it in my hallway at my childhood home.
3- Don’t Stop Moving by S Club 7

I adore cheese and this is just the ultimate cheesy pop song. I could dance to it all night. It’s amazing!

4- Black Coffee In Bed – Squeeze

My Mom loves this band, I love this band and now Fin loves them too. This is one of my favourites of theirs. It’s such a sad song if you listen to the lyrics even though the tune is quite upbeat.

5- Sound Of The Underground – Girls Aloud

Another cheesy tune. I remember hearing this for the first time in the car and it just blew me away. It was so cool and catchy. It’s a timeless pop tune!

6 – It’s All About You – McFly

I sing this to Finley and he has started singing it back now he has learnt the lyrics. Tom Fletcher write it for his then girlfriend Giovanni when he forgot Valentine’s Day. It must be amazing to have such a great song written for you and loved by others!

7 – Lana Del Ray – Video Games

This woman’s voice is just stunning. Another one I heard and instantly fell in love with. It’s so haunting The whole album is just brilliant .

8 – Oasis – Champagne Supernova

The whole Brit Pop scene was around during my mid to late teens so anything from that genre transports me back to the a very carefree time in the 90’s! An anthem.

9 – The Cinematic Orchestra – To Build A Home

An absolute beauty of a song. If you haven’t heard this your life isn’t complete!

10 – Eddy Bo – From This Day On

I heard Mr M playing this one night in his office whilst we were planning our wedding. I asked him what it was and knew it should be our first dance at our wedding. It was the perfect choice. Just says it all in one song!

I tag!

Hayley at Winging It With Two Boys

Care at Care Johnson

Nicola at All Things Spliced

Abi at Something About Baby 

Azaria at Being Mrs Lynch

Himley Hall Under 5’s Day

Himley Hall Under 5’s Day has been one of the highlights of our summer since Finley arrived. We have attended every June since 2015. I think the overriding appeal for me is that it is a relatively inexpensive day out  but there’s loads to see and do. Plus there’s a beach. When you live in the Midlands, sand is a big big huge deal!!

We packed up a picnic as we always do and headed out early – traffic and parking can sometimes be an issue. Thankfully this year we managed to get in and arrived by about 10:30. We paid on the door and for 2 adults and a 3 year old it cost £18. You can book in advance and save 20% but I always wait just in case the great British weather doesn’t hold out!

The first thing Finley spotted was the West Mercia Police area, and was eager to sit in the police car and try on the police helmet and put the sirens on. In previous years, the police have chatted to us too but it was a little busier this year so we didn’t get the opportunity to do this. There was also a mini police car to drive around but Finley was a little big for this. Next stop was the beach for an ice cream and to build some sand castles! There is a lot of seating area around the sand area for parents to relax on whilst the children play in the sand. There are also some mini climbing frames and slides too which Finley loved. There are plenty of buckets and spades to go around. Like I said, even a fake beach is exciting for us!

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Next stop was the fair. The rides are an additional cost and there is no cash point on site so always good to bring lots of change. Most were around the £1.50 mark. Finley chose to go on the teacups, the swinging chairs and the bouncy castle. There was also a pirate ship and a mini rollercoaster type ride too.

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We also briefly visited the Hartbeeps tent and The Creation Station tent. The Hartbeeps activities seemed to be designed for children slightly younger than Finley but he was keen to play with the play doh and so some drawing at the Creation Station area. We did a year or so of Creation Station lessons when Finley was a baby, so it’s always good to see the class at local events we visit – holds a special place in our memories!

Himley Picnic.jpg

As the day drew to a close, I did feel a little sad. It will be the last time I get to go probably – at least with Finley. Next year he will be at school. But it’s always good to remind yourself  that there are plenty more traditions and memories ahead!

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A Maynes Microadventure!

I married a man who loves the outdoors. I must admit, apart from the odd Sunday stroll, I wasn’t a huge fan of anything that involved walking boots or a slight hill incline before I met Mr M. Being indoors with access to electricity was much more my thing!

If you can’t beat them join them so they say, and I am very grateful to my lovely husband for many things, but one of them is introducing me to the wonderful outdoors. He is a little more adventurous than I am, and has travelled to many places taking part in fell races and hikes in the Lake District, the Peak District and even to the Mourne Mountains. Whilst I am not quite to this level, I am a huge advocate of encouraging Finley to be outdoors as much as possible. When Mr M introduced me to the concept of microadventures, I fell a little bit in love with the idea!

A microadventure is a notion described by Alistair Humphries, an adventurer, blogger, speaker and author, and described as a short, simple, local, cheap, fun and rewarding activity. It’s goal is to get us away from the urban environment, away from screens and give us the opportunity to explore and enjoy the rural environment.

On Saturday, we decided to have an early morning breakfast in Uffmore Woods, which is near the Clent Hills local to where we live. The area is brimming with birdlife and Mr M has spotted dear whilst running there too, so we were hoping to spot 1 or 2 if we were lucky.

Microadventure 1.jpg

We packed up a flask of water and some fruit, porridge and a picnic rug and left around 7am. It was lovely to have the woods to ourselves and feel comfortable letting Fin have a wander around freely. He loves collecting twigs and jumping in mud. He has such an active imagination at the moment, so the world his his oyster and it’s great seeing him make up stories about being on safari and hunting bears and the Gruffalo in the trees!

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As Alistair says, adventure is about pushing yourself – whether that be physically, mentally or culturally. Adventure is all around us and can be done in short segments without having to cost much money if at all!

Finley thought having breakfast in the middle of a secluded wood was absolutely magical, and we even spotted the dear too!

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Do you have any ideas of microadventures you would like to try with your children? I would love to hear all about them if you do take the plunge!

 

 

18 Summers Wish List!

It’s a scary thought when you realise your time with this little wonderful person you have created is limited. It seems so far away, the teenage years, college, uni, them moving out. But I am reliably informed it arrives very quickly, which I can well believe when I see how far the last 4 years have flown.

I was tagged in the #18summerswishlist post by Mummy’s Diary, which is a pledge list for yourself and your children, of things you want to achieve before their 18th birthday. I loved the idea, so I was really happy to play along!

1.The great outdoors.

We are really keen to fit a camping trip in soon to see how we get on. It will be a first for me and for Finley, but I love the idea of us all pitching up a tent and cooking on a camp stove! Being outdoors as mush as possible is really important to us. I think so many life lessons can be taught by climbing trees, exploring the woods and spending time away from technology as a family.

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2. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

We haven’t managed to fit in an overseas holiday yet, so this is definitely one to tick off soon. We loved Italy when we went on our honeymoon there, so that would be a nice place to go back to.

3. City sightseers.

Following our successful trip to Bath earlier this year, I would love to do more city breaks. Edinburgh, Paris, Prague, Rome, Zurich, would be top of the list.

18 summers 2

4. Forest school and food.

Finley loves Forest School at nursery and loves going out for picnics and I love doing this as a budget activity if we don’t want to travel too far from home. There is so much to explore in your local area, and we are quite lucky to live close to Clent and the Wyre Forest so it’s nice to go up here while the weather is good.

5. Disneyland here we come!

We are saving up to go Disney World in Florida for my 40th and I am so excited!! We haven’t mentioned it very much to Finley as it is a little bit too far in advance and I think he would drive us mad! It would be nice to do it as a surprise and just take him to the airport without him knowing where he is going!

Disneyland

6. Happy Birthday!

Finley has such a great birthday date – 25th July – and since he was born the weather has always been fantastic on his birthday. I make no apology for putting so much effort in to his birthday. He is my only baby and I love planning so it’s win win for me! I hope to make each birthday memorable and special for him. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Some years we do a picnic in the park and just have a trip as a family. This year we are doing a party as he has friends at nursery and with him starting school we thought it would be nice. Hopefully we will go to the new Legoland Birmingham for his birthday too.

I tag!

Rachel at www.rachelclaire.com

Georgina at www.geegardner.co.uk

Charlotte at www.cupsofcharlotte.co.uk

Azaria at www.beingmrslynch.com

Vicky at www.tippytupps.com

Alice at www.livingwithajude.co.uk

Hanna at www.littlesnippets.co.uk

Mummys diary 2

Playing with imagination at the Children’s Play Village!

I couldn’t help but notice the flurry of PR activity late last summer around the Children’s Play Village in Warwick. I have been eager to go since it opened so when a friend suggested a visit to our Mommy’s social group, I was first to say yes!

The website provides pretty detailed instructions as to how to find the village, as it is located on a private road that isn’t picked up by using a sat nav. The information is really useful, however if you are travelling alone – and rubbish at remembering more than one sequence of A road and B road numbers! – it could possibly be a little tricky to find. We did however, manage to track it down fairly easily, but I can imagine the turning could be easily missed!

The village works on a pre-booking system within time slots. You can choose 9:30am – 12noon, 12:30pm – 3:00pm and 3:30pm – 6:00pm. Between each session the village is tidied and cleaned so when you enter the village, it is spotless. Only allowing a certain amount of people in also means there are plenty of tables available in the restaurant so you are guaranteed a seat.

Before play a visit to the toilet is essential (yep I am talking about toilets – again!) I felt these deserved a mention as they too were absolutely spotless. Big cubicles allowing room for a pushchair if you had one, changing tables and lovely Pears handwash which I think I now need to buy as it smelt divine! Just little attention to detail things like this throughout the centre made the visit really special.

Before you enter the play village, one of the team leaders gathers the children round to tell them a little about the village and to sing a few songs with actions. The song is all about capturing your imagination and having fun, so it really does set the tone nicely for the day.

Warwick Kitchen.jpg

The village is so well thought out. Attention to detail here is amazing. It wasn’t as big as I had imagined, but for me, that was a plus point as I do get a little anxious if I can’t see where Finley is in play areas. From the restaurant seating space you could keep a close eye on your child. We have an informal tag team agreement in our group, so one us gulps tea whilst the other goes on toddler watch duty, so in this setting it was really easy to do this.

Finley was immediately drawn to the Fire Station. He donned the helmet and fire jacket, along with the little fire canisters and foam fire pieces, and Fireman Finley went to the rescue! He loved driving the fire truck and pretending to go down the fireman’s pole.

Next we visited the village school, where there were great little educational games to play, along with a blackboard and desks. It was lovely to see the children take on teacher and pupil roles. It also opened up a conversation with him about starting big school in September and how fun it will be, which was really nice.

Another hit with Finley was Orly’s Beauty Salon. This little shop included mini bottles of moisturisers, a pretend telephone and computer for booking in clients and sinks to wash hair, along with fixed dolls heads that the children could blow dry and style. He loves drying his hair with my hairdryer so I knew this would be a firm favourite with him before we visited!

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Another very fun section was the theatre. Including a stage, lights and a huge choice of dressing up outfits (Finley’s favourite was a sparkly pink hat which unfortunately I couldn’t catch on camera!) A few of the children including Finley put on a show for the Mom’s and Dad’s which was so much fun to watch!

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There is also Lotty’s Tea Room including a yummy looking selection of pretend cakes, a Post Office, a supermarket, Village Vets, an ice cream parlour and picnic site and a construction site. All packed with items designed to fire up little imaginations. There is also an area for babies to play in the centre of the village with a selection of wooden toys.

By this point, were were pretty hungry. There was a really nice selection including toasties, salads, sandwiches and sharing platters as well as a kids menu. We opted for the Little Picnic Basket from the children’s menu and the Cheeky Mermaid Fish Finger Sandwich, Along with a bowl of chips and a drink, this came to just over £14, which for the portion sizes I thought was really good value, as the quality was fantastic.

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At the end of the session, all of the children are encouraged to help to tidy away. It’s so much easier to get your toddler to do this when there are 30 other children doing it too!

I would definitely recommend a visit to Warwick Play Village. We will absolutely be making a second visit. I would particularly have this in mind for a rainy day activity!

www.childrensplayvillage.co.uk

Please don’t call us lazy!

It seems that there are a few topics that do the rounds every so often on the news and topic shows designed to divide parents – breastfeeding v bottle feeding, literacy levels, co sleeping to name just a few. Last week, the head of Ofsted Amanda Spielman, spoke of a rise in the numbers of children starting school in nappies.

I have documented our ongoing battle with potty training here. Not much has changed since I wrote the post back in February. We have good weeks where we silently tell ourselves that we have broken the potty training barrier and then we have weeks (like this week) where he just goes back to square one. We refer to it as potty strike. When potty strike strikes, it feels like the days are an uphill struggle with constant cleaning and clothes changes.

There were several threads social media following the report, with the topic being covered on programmes such as This Morning and Loose Women. In the social media age, everyone has an opinion, mainly basing it purely on their own personal experience. Everyone now has a voice, and it seems so easy to make very generalised statements about people that you have never even met and you have no insight into their life.

A selection of my favourite comments are as follows –

‘My little Maisie did it in a day. I just took her pants off and she just did it. It’s so easy!’*

‘It’s just lazy parenting. Plain and simple’*

‘My little boy was trained day and night by age 2’*

‘Parents nowadays just can’t be bothered. Too busy on their phones’*

‘In my day you couldn’t send them to nursery without being dry. We did it in a week. My Jack was reciting algebra by the time he was 5’**

I eye rolled so many times. I am really glad that little Jack is on track to read physics at Cambridge, and that you have been the perfect parent since he was conceived, but did no one ever tell you that putting other people down doesn’t make you any better?! I am, as are many other parents, raising children not robots and they all develop at different rates at different times.

Now, I have no doubt that in a small number of cases, there is a degree of parental neglect. But sometimes, the ‘the parents are lazy’ statement is a huge generalisation. There are many factors as to why children are later being potty trained now. Mom’s generally go to work now and there may be different childcare arrangements throughout the child’s early years. We generally wait until a child is ready now instead of rushing potty training, And disposables are sometimes mentioned as a contributing factor, as the child doesn’t feel wet when they wee.

I really don’t totally buy in to the ‘this didn’t happen in my day’ school of thought. From a source who shall rename nameless, I have been told of a little boy who attended school in the 60’s. He had poor social skills, poor literacy, lack of concentration. He was dismissed as a ‘naughty boy’ who was regularly hit over the knuckles with a ruler for ‘misbehaviour.’ Anyone with any experience of children by today’s standards would clearly recognise this child possibly suffered with dyslexia, possibly ADHD – who know’s? I am confident that this is probably a story replicated for many people across the UK. My guess is it did happen, but people just didn’t talk about it.

Potty

And us? We aren’t lazy. You name it, we’ve tried it. Taking days off work – check. Reward charts – check. Being nice about it – yep. Being cross – several times. Shopping for potty’s – We have a potty in every room, all chosen by the boy in question. Each day out is accompanied with a back pack full of clothes changes ‘just in case’. We feel like going to the toilet has taken over our whole lives some days. Finley starts school in September and the panic is starting to set in. We keep being told that ‘eventually he will get it!’ We are desperately waiting for that day to arrive!

Sometimes it just takes some kids longer. They aren’t robots. We feel stressed enough by the whole thing already. Please don’t makes us feel worse!

*I may have paraphrased and exaggerated these quotes slightly. But you get the jist!

**FYI Jack’s Mom, Finley can count to 100 and spell his own name and that isn’t exaggerated – so there!