Tag Archives: Camping

Wilderness Festival 2012 – Review

21 Aug

Way up in the blue skies surrounding Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, the sun shone brightly, projecting it’s warm rays of loveliness on this beautiful space that was now home to the Wilderness Festival for the next three days.

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I was lucky enough to have experienced the Wilderness Festival back in 2011 for what was then its first year. I went with a friend and my two eldest children and camped for the weekend. It was a great experience and with this gut felling it would return this year bigger and better, I just had to be a part of it.

This time however I decided to go it alone, well not alone exactly but with a friend just minus the children. Luckily I was in a position to do so as the children stayed with there father. This really was a great opportunity to let my hair down and have some serious fun.

Again camping was on the agenda and having finally set up the tent within the large camping area we decided to go & check the place out! My first impressions were of it’s size and how much larger the festival was in comparison with last year. As great as the festival was during its first year, I had felt that it was quite limited for the kids! This year things couldn’t have been any more different! There was a vast amount on offer from crafting activity, storytelling, hola-hooping, bubble shows and much more besides. With this I was tempted to make the couple of hours drive back to south london in-order to grab the kids. Of course I didn’t, mainly because there was more than enough on offer to keep me amused as well as the fact I was ever so slightly enjoying the “Me Time”

What’s great about this festival is how it’s not just your average music festival. This is a festival designed to attract varying interests therefore attracting a more diverse audience that consists of young party goers to middle aged old school ravers. With the Wilderness festival being so family friendly you can also expect to see lots of little tots running around in fancy dress, tutus and a pair of fairy wings. This is a festival like no other, offering a relaxed atmosphere while also keeping your mind and body stimulated. Whether you fancy joining in with one of the many intellectual debates and talks, indulging your inner senses while taking a relaxing soak in a wooden hot tub by the stunning lake, or an hours session at the roller disco, you’ll find it here at the Wilderness Festival.

Crafts: Although I myself didn’t engage a great deal in the various craft activities on offer it was easy to see just how much choice there was.The jewellery making in particular looked really interesting as I witnessed some of my fellow festival goers create some pretty impressive pieces.

Music: I love how the Wilderness Festival doesn’t focus itself solely on music alone therefore making it something of its niche ( after all, how can it with so much else on offer)? However, this doesn’t mean we were left wondering around in deadly silence. The Wilderness festival hosts a large live stage that’s graced by many different performers day and night. Some of the music on offer is by new & emerging bands such as the Stornoway a British indie folk band from the local Oxfordshire area who formed in 2006. Other acts included Rodrigo Y Gabriela, London Folk Guild, Spiritualized and many more!

The main stage isn’t the only place that you’ll find people up and dancing. I myself spent little time at the stage as I was far to busy taking advantage of all the other wonderful goings on around the festival site! Nonetheless, various types of Music from funky house, live bandstands & vintage harmonies could be heard playing around the different areas of the wilderness. Both day and night it’s easy to find something that suits your particular taste in music leaving you little choice than to get up on your feet and doing your thing Wilderness style!

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Food: The Wilderness is a festival like no other when it comes to the standard of food on offer. Book yourself a table at one of the banquets and eat food prepared by some of the top chefs around or opt for one of the many food trailers preparing every type of munch imaginable.The standard here is high, I can say with confidence no festival goer will go hungry! The only problem your left with is making the decision of what your going to have!

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Night Parties: Having no children with me meant I could dress myself in some funky festival get up, tie my hair with flowers and sport a spectacular mask once the sun went down. This years midnight masquerade Masked Ball hosted by the Old Vic Tunnels was a party not to be missed nor forgotten! The atmosphere was electrifying as large groups of festival goers were lead by a bongo drum procession into the Wychwood forest for a moonlit extravaganza. Sunday was just as incredible what with the fabulous Secret garden party that saw me dancing into the wee hours and left me looking like a sack full of crap for the entire week thereafter.

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Vintage: This is actually a festival in its own right. This year they were unable to operate alone and therefore joined forces with the Wilderness making it just that bit more spectacular than it already was. The area housed some funky vintage stalls and even a place to get a decade specific makeover. Here you could chill-out at the Future Cinema (open air cinema combined with live theatre) or indulge yourself in a bit of roller skating to some old school tunes at the open air roller disco. By night vintage was the place to find some of the most devise dressers with many taking us way back to the dance floor of the forties ballrooms. I’m actually really pleased that Vintage joined forces with the Wilderness Festival and have been left wondering if this is set to become a normality. I really loved the vintage area and therefore hope it will be. If not than its just another festival I’ll be adding to my must attend list for 2013.

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Sanctuary: I spent a great deal of time indulging my senses and refreshing my mind at the Sanctuary. There were many free sessions of meditation and yoga plus a vast range of treatments on offer which include massage, reflexology, acupuncture, holistic healing and more. My friend and I also decided to meet with the fortune teller who in all honest was a total joker! This guy wasn’t in tune with himself let alone ours. But we didn’t let him put us off and I later met with a sensational healer.

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Rememberable moments: Yes, it’s true, This years Wilderness did host a secret swim that saw festival goers of all ages lose their vintage rags before plunging into the beautiful clear waters of the Cornbury lakes. A massive gathering of skinny dippers who were happy to let it all hang out in an attempt to help set the World record which was for the highest number of skinny dippers swimming in the one place. Did I lose my swimsuit? Hell no, but well done for those who did.

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Camping: Cornbury park offers festival attendees plenty of space to set up camp with dedicated family camping areas and even the option to camp in luxury when opting for a weekends Boutique Camping.

Facilities:

Great Parking with an extensive amount of places.

There are plenty of toilets in and around the festival therefore avoiding huge queues of people dying to pee. Toilets are actually rather well kept, with toilet attendees making sure they are clean and well stocked with loo paper both day and night.

Camping facilities (toilets and showers) are some of the best maintained I’ve seen for a festival. You will also find a good number of water taps for filling bottles, washing pans etc… all over the campsite.

Boutique Babysitting is also on offer. Check the website for more information

Whats really lovely about the this particular festival is that of its friendly atmosphere. Both years I’ve attended this festival I’ve never witness a single bit of trouble (when you live in london this is incrediable rare especially when alcohol is involved)! Festival Revealers are free spirited and high on fresh air & happiness, an infectious state of being!

It’s my opinion, without a shadow of a doubt, that the success of this years Wilderness Festival has ensured it’s place on the festival top list. I can quite honestly say with great confidence that this is one of the best festival I’ve ever attended and I just can’t wait to experience it all over again in 2013.

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Early bird tickets for The Wilderness Festival 2013 are already on sale… Find out more by clicking HERE

Links
Wilderness Festival Website
Wilderness Festival Facebook
Wilderness Festival Twitter

Disclaimer: This is a review post! I was not paid to write this but did receive a press and guest pass in-order to write and then share a review. All words are honest and that of my own.

Holidays, festivals and Aspergers

14 Aug

As some may have noticed, this blogger has been a tad quiet these past few weeks. This I can only put down to the 6 week holidays.

The children have done well at keeping me on my toes since breaking up from school, there’s been all sorts of crazy family ups and downs (luckily nothing to explosive has happened)!

Little man struggles to get the most out of his holidays, what with the lack of a more structured routine, things can often get on top of him. However, this year his doing pretty well and I’m super impressed at how little man is adjusting himself and as a result his enjoying an easier, less stressful school break.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if family life paints the picture that portrays that perfect family the “Walton’s” or even that of the “Little House on the Prairie”. There has been meltdowns, sibling rivalry, tears and of course a little cursing. But thankfully on the whole, it’s been OK and could have easily been worse!

I don’t think I ever imagined that I’d write something like that of the above, especially not during past school holidays which have seen me wondering around in a zombie induced state or that of a women sitting in a corner with her head in her hands, questioning out loud her ability to be a parent! I’ve now come to learn that its a combination of careful planning, self confidence & consistency that makes holidays relatively pleasurable for the whole family (especially for that of the parent and child on the spectrum)!

Little man may scream & curse when I’m requesting a new rule is followed but these rules actually make his holiday and every other day more predicable. He has a clear message surrounding my expectations towards him.

This is the same when applying new activities to a timetable/schedule, as by doing so he is aware of what we’re doing and where we’re doing it. The only problems with this are that of having to reschedule a planed activity or trip, cancellations are by far the worse! Little man like most children diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, doesn’t really grasp the whole unavoidable circumstances explanation and things can therefore become extremely heated and long winded.

This year we haven’t really been on any huge trips and certainly not holidays. Yes, we’ve done some days out to the zoo, park and that of the beach but not as many as I would have liked! Nonetheless, little man seems happy as he engages himself in his special interests or spreading time in the garden where he jumps on the trampoline for hours at a time.

Yet, like his siblings and any other child for that matter, Little man does get bored. Sadly his one true friend who happens to live next door, is off on his holidays where he’ll spend a long sunny 3 weeks in Florida. It’s apparent how much the Little man is missing the friendship and as a result I’m often finding myself having to contend with a snappy, moody 11year year old.

The above has left me needing to think outside the box. There’s been a need to create fun on a budget in-order to keep the little mans mind healthy and stimulated therefore reducing the chances of him getting over absorbed in his interest or annoyed, over stimulated or bored.

Garden sensory play, board games and back yard camping have all played a huge part of our life these last few weeks.

Other then being a parent to three children there has been other things keeping me busy (thankfully I wouldn’t call these chores)! Their are a few new projects I’ve embarked on and some awesome brands I’ve started working with. Actually if I’m honest, I’ve had some lovely surprises since the kids broke up! Discovering I had been chosen to become one of the new Butlins Ambassadors, was one of those surprises, one that caused big cheesy smiles from fellow members of the household.

Becoming a Butlins Ambassador means I can book a holiday with the children between now and next August, and then share my views on the resort by written review and video.

Most importantly, I can report on the little things that matter to those families who have children on the autism spectrum, those with SEN and other types of disability. A holiday camp such as Butlins, runs scheduled activities & events throughout the day which is most appealing to the child who needs structure and routine to feel safe and comfortable.

As well as the review, I’ll be able to share all the need to know Butlins news which includes anything from fantastic competitions to fabulous savings.

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If the above wasn’t enough for me to get all excited about, I’ve also met with Acer who invited me to check out their latest Tech releases while celebrating the Olympics 2012 games and its worldwide partnership, by sitting down for a spectacular 3 course lunch at the stunning Spencer House in London (blog post & images coming soon).

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Last week was the week I got myself a little ‘Me’ time. I’ve just returned from a the “Wilderness Festival” in Oxfordshire. I spent the entire weekend with a friend discovering what Wilderness had on offer for its second year… and it was bigger and better than its first year ( review coming soon).

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So now I’m home and enjoying being mum. Yes, it gets tough sometimes but there is no place I’d rather be.

I bring you the Wilderness Festival

20 Jul

Last year I was overjoyed to win a family ticket with camping to the fabulous Wilderness festival set in the idyllic Cornbury Park Oxfordshire. It was the first year of an amazing new festival and this year they are all set to return bigger and better than ever.

I’m overjoyed at knowing that I will once again be joining festival goers, however this time I’m going child free.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a child friendly festival, but the children are spending this particular weekend with their dad so I’m going to be taking full advantage of the surroundings and of course… The night parties.

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THE ULTIMATE CHILDREN’S FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE IN WONDERFUL SURROUNDINGS

Witchwood School of Rock, The Bushcraft Company, Flying Seagull Project, Tea Potty Shed, Barefoot Books and the chance to meet a fairy queen in the forest…just a few of the things for your ‘Little Wild Ones’ to enjoy at Wilderness Festival

Taking place from 10th-12th August at Cornbury Park in Oxfordshire, workshops for kids and adults alike, interspersed with walks into the wilds and an enchanted woodland fairy trail.

Jo Vidler, Creative Director comments:
“We want to ensure that everyone attending Wilderness, no matter what age, can enjoy the unique offerings we have across the weekend. Our curators have raised the bar this year to create the phenomenal ‘Little Wild Ones’ area that will have all kinds of activities for kids. Wilderness will have opportunities for everyone to take part in something that they wouldn’t normally have the chance to experience, and for us that’s key.”

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Family friendly entertainment from the Suitcase Cabaret who will host an army of brilliance from comedy to music and activities including, horse riding, fly-fishing, Zumba! classes and Guerilla Geography available across the site. The award-winning festival welcomes back The Bearded Kittens to host the famous ‘Not Your Average’ cricket match on the lawn, complete with lashings of Pimms and piles of cucumber sandwiches, and Future Cinema make their Wilderness debut with a Bugsy Malone takeover complete with a massive splurge fight.

The fabulous Bushcraft Company will be delivering their outdoor adventures influenced by nature, where children will be able to learn bushcraft skills from lighting fires to woodland playing games, shelter building and carving techniques. They’ll also be offering a twist on babysitting with an exclusive kids-only overnight camp where parents can drop their children off at 5pm for them to enjoy a night of walks, games, campfires and cooking with experienced Bushcraft staff. They’ll be back to meet their parents by 11am the next morning – a treat for both children and mums and dads.

Embracing the Wilderness spirit, the ‘Little Wild Ones’ area will be a hive of inspired children’s activity. The Flying Seagull Project returns with a range of entertainment based in a beautiful gypsy-esque, open-sided pavilion tent, complete with vintage horsebox and Willy Wonka style stage. Kids can also discover the magic of nature with a rainbow trail led by the Fairyland Trust. Families will embark on a fascinating journey as they enter a wonderful land of fairy folklore and natural history.

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Let their imaginations run wild with a host of spectacular activities and workshops including jewellery making with Amy Surman, a Socktopus puppet workshop, which promotes creative recycling and will hold a dancing parade on the final day, and Witchwood School of Rock – the biggest little rock school in the world. The ‘Little Wild Ones’ also welcomes Hartbeeps – a unique blend of original music workshops and mini productions in this interactive experience.

Are you sitting comfortably? The Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre will take adults and children on a trip to the author’s mythical world with poems from ‘Revolting Rhymes’ and ‘Dirty Beasts’, and continuing with the literary theme, enjoy live storytelling music, arts and crafts and yoga from Barefoot Books.

The ‘Pop-up Garden’ will ensure all the family get green-fingered with hands-on knowledge of gardening, the Kite Studio will offer creative clay and print making workshops and Meet the Species returns to Wilderness to engage children with the environment around them, as they identify species in and around the site.

Wilderness is also pleased to welcome Tea Potty Shed with the T Potty ladies and their old-fashioned sweet shop. Children can learn how to weigh out sweets and count out pennies in return for some tasty treats. Also across the festival weekend families can spend some time together and take part in drumming, storytelling, face painting, fairy crown making, cinema, pottery and hula-hooping.

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As you would expect at a festival, the fun doesn’t stop when the sun goes down! Let the stars guide you on an enchanting woodland fairy trail, filled with beautiful secret fairy houses and the mesmerising Fairy Queen, who will tell old tales of ancient folk law about the nature that surrounds.

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Family tickets (two adults and two children) are priced at £260.

For further festival information and tickets to Wilderness Festival, please visit: www.wildernessfestival.com

Sounds awesome… Doesn’t it?
Checkout the lineup below and visit the Wilderness website and Facebook page for more information.

Line-up:
Music
RODRIGO Y GABRIELA performing with C.U.B.A, WILCO, SPIRITUALIZED, SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS, THE TEMPER TRAP, CRYSTAL FIGHTERS, STORNOWAY, BENJAMIN FRANCIS LEFTWICH, LIANNE LA HAVAS, CLOUD CONTROL, GIANT GIANT SAND, GRANT LEE BUFFALO, JENNY O, FIELD MUSIC, FATOUMATA DIAWARA, MILAGRES, TO KILL A KING, JAKE BUGG, LONDON FOLK GUILD
Cinematic Spectacular
FUTURE CINEMA PRESENT: BUGSY MALONE FESTIVAL TAKOVER ACROSS THE WHOLE SITE AND THE OTHER CINEMA’S PRESENTATION OF ‘LA HAINE’ FEATURING A LIVE RE-SCORE BY ASIAN DUB FOUNDATION

Food
YOTAM OTTOLENGHI, FERGUS HENDERSON + ST JOHN, VALENTINE WARNER, SAM & SAM CLARK’S MORO SOUK DINING TENT, THYME COOKERY SCHOOL

INTELLIGENCE SQUARED, THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY, THE SCHOOL OF LIFE, THE IDLER ACADEMY, THE LAKESIDE SPA, THE HEALING GARDEN

Late night parties
SECRET GARDEN PARTY presents RISE OF THE TRIBES, THE OLD VIC TUNNELS MIDNIGHT MASKED BALL, BOOM BOOM CLUB, RUMPUS, BLOODSTONE’S FEAST OF FOOLS

A Holiday Worth Remembering

2 Feb

There was no beautiful crystal blue waters laid beside a bed of golden-yellow sand! Instead there was muddy fields, trees & a lake! 

 There was no all-inclusive 5 star resort, a room with a sea view, instead there were tents, lots and lots of tents, all with a view of the portable loo’s. 

 As you may have guessed already, this wasn’t a holiday in the exotic Maldives or even a week in Spain, this was a Friday-Monday break in “Sunny” Oxfordshire England. 

 I’d be lying if I stated this was my favourite holiday, yet this is one I feel worthy of a write-up, one that showed me that a good family holiday didn’t have to mean an all-inclusive package dream holiday! 

 We couldn’t afford a family holiday in the summer of 2011 and I was grateful to have won the opportunity to have a weekend away with my children. Yes, I worried how the non structured holiday would sit with the Little man (aka A boy with Aspergers) but despite some ups and downs we had a pretty amazing time. 

 We arrived quite late on a Friday night having gotten lost a number of times down what seemed to be the same country lane! We found a great spot on the ground amongst a hundred other tents and tried to pitch what was to become our home for the next 3 nights! I say “tried” as we were still trying to pitch this thing some 2 hours later and almost took to sleeping under the stars when some jolly campers helped us out. 

 Little man and his sister embraced the whole camping experience pretty well, with little man sleeping better than he actually ever has (maybe it was the fresh air or the sheer exhaustion of it all, who knows)!The Wilderness festival: Little man places his wish on the tree, Alice with her face painted, Little man looks on at some wacky insects and right the beautiful lake.  

 By morning I started to see the experience in a whole new light! There was no swimming pool but instead we swam in the beautiful natural lakes under an array of slopping willow trees, I even swim under a beautiful star lite sky. 

 There was no hotel bar but instead we had open log fires with bars that resembled mini beach huts, to dance amongst the deers and trees was a totally awesome experience.

 We didn’t slip on our sandals and stroll along the beach, instead we wiggled into wellies and strolled along the river bank in the early mornings sunlight that shone between the cracks of the branches of the tall trees of the wilderness. To say it was beautiful would be an understatement!The beautiful lake, Little man has his face painted and his delight at his reflection. Alice runs in the Wilderness. 

 I sat and watched my son get his face painted for the first time, a huge step for the child with sensory sensitivity! Was it the magic of the Wilderness, who knows? I know that the smile on his face when looking in the mirror will stay with me forever!

Little man becomes Little tiger! Alice-Sara and Little man love the Little Alien & a magical tunnel in the Wilderness secret garden

  My children enjoyed boat trips along the river and strawberry picking in the near by fields that surrounded the Wilderness, we took them on long drives to neighbouring villages and stood by watching the wild horses race in the huge green fields. Yes, this may not have been an exotic break away, there was not a glimpse of blue sea and I swear it even rained on one of the days we were away, yet this was a holiday that taught me that holiday’s are what you make them. Yes, we do hope that this year we will visit some place that bit warmer, but we will never forget the holiday in the Oxfordshire Wilderness, for it was simply a holiday that is…and always will be worth remembering!

Above: Alice in a wig and hat, Alice with flowers in her hair & bottom Alice and Little man enjoying the festival.

This post has been posted as an entry into the Tots100/Al Fresco Holidays competition, as well as a link to the Al Fresco website http://www.thomsonalfresco.co.uk/

Preparing my child with Aspergers for our family festive break

8 Dec

17

Days till Christmas

We’re off to Butlin’s this weekend and are all rather excited about it.

 However, it’s really not a case of “just up and leaving” for us! Well, I suppose it isn’t for anyone really, but for us such a trip means extensive preparation.

 Little man is looking forward to the trip, however he has many concerns, things that for most add to the excitement of a holiday!

English: Skyline Pavilion, Butlin's, near...

Image via Wikipedia

 Little man wants to know, how everything will plan out! Just how will we get there; how long will it take; how long does each and every activity last; what are the bedrooms like; what do they use to clean the pool; does the hotel smell of bleach, will there be a shower?

 OK, OK… Most kids ask questions but for Little man it’s not just a question but a real concern!

 When it comes to days out we need to ensure good preparation has played its part, otherwise Little man will suffer and the entire family will pay dearly. The truth is, I’m unsure why god considered me the “Right” person to mother a child on the autism spectrum! Organisation has never been my strong point! Well, when it comes to actually getting somewhere on time, I’m the worst ever! Seriously no matter what I do, something always seems to happen… always!

 We went camping back in July and absolutely nothing went to plan. It was extremely hard work and at certain points of the holiday I did have to stop and ask myself why I was actually putting myself through this. Yes, that may sound selfish and maybe a thousand adults on the spectrum reading this will now jump on my back! I know it isn’t easy for the Little man either, but at the time when his having an almighty meltdown in the tent at 2am, I did ask myself why!

 I always come up with the same answer! His my son, and just because he has Aspergers doesn’t mean he should miss the experiences that all children are entitled to. As a family, we are all entitled to a holiday and as hard as this may be, I’m determined to keep on trying! It’s my belief, the more we do these things, the better Little man is able to deal with them. It’s not that he don’t want to go on holiday’s or have day’s out, if this was the case then of course I wouldn’t push him, the fact he does want to engage in such activities, no matter how hard these things become it gives me that nudge to keep trying.

Camping wasn’t ideal for a child on the spectrum, especially camping at a festival, to be honest, it was the most unstructured place to take a holiday and as much as he now declares his a big camping fan, I would need to be thinking long and hard before embanking on such an adventure again.

 Now, we have been Butlin’s before! Little man was around 5 and this was prior to his diagnosis. Nevertheless things went surprisingly OK. I know his that bit older and yes, things do tend to unfold quicker and normally in a bigger more explosive way, but considering how structured Butlin’s can be I think it may actually be a really good place for a family consisting of a child with Aspergers to take a break.

 Well, we’re leaving on Friday, after school so it really is upon us.

 Here’s what I have done in preparation so far.

 We are staying in the Butlins hotel and I’ve checked with facilities are in our room (tv, shower, single or bunk beds etc.)

English: Ocean Hotel - Bognor, near to Felpham...

Image via Wikipedia

 Packed his clothing separately from ours, making sure they have been tumble dried for maximum softness.

 Made sure I’ve packed him entertainment for the journey (Lego, books etc)

 Downloaded the Butlin’s iphone app which has the full weekends entertainment, including opening times of certain activities, shows, the weekend line-up and any additional special bookable extras. Also includes a Map which is a bonus as Little man is driven mad when we get lost.

 As we haven’t been for sometime (I last went about 6 years ago) I’ve been speaking to some mummy bloggers on twitter who have been telling me what we can expect (What to avoid and what not to miss) I’d like to personally thank @TiredmummyofTwo who very considerately contacted me to ask if there was anything I wanted to ask as she was aware of my situation (please note, this isn’t someone who works for Butlins just a fellow blogger) I really am grateful that she took the time to contact me and offer that bit of support (it really is the little things that touch a person’s heart)

OK…  I’ve planed transport

 As the children’s father is now unable to attend, I’m now taking a friend who knows little man really well and is as good as family. This is important as on the Saturday I’m at the Tots100 Christmas party and my friend will take care of the children (a great mate)

 Trying to plan Sunday as-well as I possibly can as it’s Harley’s second birthday and little man can find other people’s birthdays difficult at the best of times.

 Making sure Little man knows exactly how many days in-till we leave and the times in-which we are leaving.

 Plus a host of other things that are actually rather jumbled in my head right now!

 Oh… and you better believe it! I have spent so long worrying about the Little man, plus ensuring all three children’s belongings are packed that I haven’t even thought about what I’m taking! That means packing when his at school today!

I can’t wait till everything is sorted so myself, friend and the children can look forward to our festive break which is promised to be filled with Christmas Cheer.

So… Wish me luck people! I’ll have the Mac so let’s hope that the holiday update is just that, “An Update” and a happy one at that, avoiding a festive holiday “Rant!”

Just because I love him

17 Aug

A few months back I was the lucky winner of a family ticket with camping to the Wilderness festival in Oxfordshire

 Yes, I was having a period of good fortune as I had also managed to get hold of a cybermummy ticket, won a build a bear birthday party and the fantastic prize of a £15o dove spa voucher.

This itself was a fantastic prize that I won on the awesome blog Not Supermum. The festival would commence on the 12th August and finish on the night of the 14th, meaning I would be leaving on the Friday and returning Monday morning. Given Little man’s Aspergers I considered all the options very carefully, which basically were, “Take him” or “Not take him” Of course I don’t want to leave my Little man behind and just because he has Aspergers doesn’t mean he is unable to be involved in the daily activities that you or I might participate in. I’ve always stated this opinion and continue to do so! However, I was thinking of him as opposed to anyone else, let me explain! Back in early July I was invited as a VIP guest to the Pandamonium Festival by Cadbury. The event was in Nottinghamshire and although we enjoyed the Cadbury mini games and the lavish VIP area where we sat next to the Ambassador  of China, things started to turn sour by the afternoon. A festival is a place that you can’t attend on a schedule, It just don’t happen! What with crowds, unannounced changes to a listing, and the fact that most of the time you are unaware of all the activities on site in till you arrive. This is an incredibly anxious prospect for Little Man and many others like him.

Little man is a child who manages reasonably well if his home life isn’t tightly scheduled, though we try with the help of visuals etc… It’s outside of the comfort of the four walls of our home, things become very difficult. Little mans intense need to control his environment causes him to become extremely rigid which is becoming a very tiresome for all involved. I almost had a breakdown once home from that festival, we all did including the little man himself, so, I needed to weigh things up in my mind before being any arrangements. 

If the truth be told despite any post I’ve written to assist a family embanking on a day out with a child on the spectrum I still find the whole task incredible hard for myself to apply. Many theme parks will cater to the family of a child on the spectrum, offering wrist bands to avoid queues and busy areas of the park (sometimes known as a ride access pass)!  Festivals are a very different  thing altogether.

So, after much deliberation I came to the decision that it was probably best if Little Man remained with his father who was already watching my toddler. However, I did something that some may describe as odd! I went against my instincts, choosing my desire for my child to have a weekend of fun just as his sister would. I asked him, he wanted to come! As his mother how could I possibly leave him behind?

We left for the Wilderness festival around 8 p.m Friday evening, (We meaning, myself, my friend Donna, daughter Alice-sara and my Little man) as total camping virgins.  During the drive Little man was a little anxious about speed limits and motorways. I tried my best to estimate our journey time, through I didn’t want to, as I wanted to avoid any rigid time keeping. This failed terribly as he would not rest till I gave the estimate. We hit Oxfordshire 20 minutes above schedule, giving us some extra time to now get to the beautiful Cornbury estate in Charbury the location in which the Wilderness festival would be held! I breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of avoiding any upset from Little man. We left the A road with his beautiful array of cats eyes that provided Little Man with visual delight and entered the extremely dark bendy country lanes. The roads were dark and narrow. I love these little lanes yet, I had little time to sit back and chill in the passengers seat as Little man was becoming a little worried. Suddenly everything went very wrong, what started of as having plenty of time given the fact we had hit Oxfordshire a little quicker than first expected had now flipped the other way, we were now somehow 20 minutes over schedule. As the realisation set in that, “We were Lost” there was no hiding it from  Little man who had already worked this out for himself. Once Panic had set in, it resulted in verbal abuse, mainly at myself, followed by lots of tears. I was becoming stressed along with my poor friend who was the one driving. The other problem was, the gates were due to close for the Campsite which would result in us all spending a night in the car! Can you picture it? Its a terrifying vision and one I would rather not live out!

Thankfully the lovely people at Wilderness took one look at my face and Im guessing that of little mans (That displayed a string of emotions) and my guess is, wanting to avoid the tantrum that was so obviously brewing,  had then decided to let us in! Well, it was this or maybe the fact they felt sorry for my poor daughter who had basically slept all the way from London and was now stood with a blanket around her, eyes still closed and shivering like a ice cube. Whatever the reason, I was most grateful to them when they ushered us in.

However it wasn’t a case of getting in, unpacking and jumping into a nice warm bed! Remember we’re camping here, and we are, “camping virgins!” Myself and my friend were yet to embank on our challenge of attempting to put up the tent. Lets just say that little man had good reason to blow up when we were still trying to work the stupid thing out some two hours later, (seriously not kidding, even I had a mini tantrum by this point, which largely consisted of me kicking tent pegs in sheer anger). Well, at least my daughter didn’t complain, nope she was in here sleeping bag embracing the whole camping experience by snoring under the full moon.

The festival was great, It had that hippy chick, carefree feel about it. Dress crazy, dance like a idiot, or sit and debate politics through the small hours, no one cares! This attitude makes life so doable even if it is just for them few days! I love that happy festival atmosphere. That’s the good thing about this type of festival, No one stares or makes judgements when little man is having a hard time! My parenting skills are not judged, “If they were at least they were discreet about it!” Honestly, I met some really nice laid back people.

The overall location was idilic, what with beautiful swimming lakes where I embraced the whole ‘Wilderness’ theme by freezing my arse off while being nibbled by crayfish, as Little man sat watching alongside my friend, (only myself and my daughter braved the cold waters and its many residents).

Another area of concern was Little mans fussy eating. He will not eat anything cold or packed in a cool box, knowing the festival would be selling food at normal “Festival prices” I was aware that we would need to embank on daily journeys to the nearest local takeout to be sure he ate.

As expected the festival wasn’t the type of event that you would find people following a routine, just like my true personality, people were spontaneous, taking things how and when they came. This may have been perfectly fitting for me if I were alone,though it’s been so long since I have indulged in such spirited self-being, that I probably wouldn’t know how! The point, “I wasn’t alone!” Of course the problems Little man had with the lack of routine were displayed through eruptions of unpredictable behaviours! He hit his sister and swore so loudly that he may of been heard from those back in London! There where moments that he coped and enjoyed those activities that he coped with, though the majority he did not handle well t all! Of course I understand its hard for him, yet I’m human and could not help feeling somewhat restricted from the events taking place around me. I often found myself feeling a tad sorry for myself! Though it would pass within seconds, I needed to think of Little man and ways to improve the situation.

I myself felt some strong emotions come over me during the festival. At times I was so goddamn angry at Little man as he swore and called me horrific names! Others times my heart arched, I longed for my son discover a world of enjoyment as oppose to fear and anticipation that nearly always tipped into huge bouts of anger, accompanied by meltdowns

Despite this I tried my best to give them both a good time and see it through to the end. We did it (Well, we left the night before we had to) This wasn’t due to little man but just the connivence of avoiding morning traffic on the busy M25.

I pray that one day, my son be be able to enjoy events fully like those  such as the Wilderness festival! I hope over time we help little man develop the skills needed to enable him to deal with his anxiety and hopefully reduce it.

Would I take him again?

Yes, if he wanted to, I would?

Why?

Because his my son and I love him, Its as simple as that!

I’m a mum get me out of here!

1 Aug

 So… a whole week has passed since the children broke up from school! There’s been sleep-overs, trips to the park, sunny days in the garden, days out, lots of play & craft making, cup cake baking, water fights and lastly, “Arguing” Yes, you heard me right, “Arguing” Big fat smelly arguments! Little man and his sister have driven me loopy with their constant, “Mum… tell him to get OUT my room” & “Mum… Tell he to stop looking at me!” Honestly I’m on the verge of a school holiday breakdown here people!

 Little man has spent more time at home these past few years then he likely has in school (thank goodness that’s all changed now that his in a school that can cater for his needs)! But to have the two of them home together is nothing other than extremely hard work! This is simply down to the constant bickering and lately physical fighting between the two of them. We went through a stage before where Little Man constantly hit his little sister which resulted in me seeking professional advice. It was a stressful time, what with the worry that my daughter was somehow getting used to such treatment from here brother, associating it with the “Norm” she just kind of excepted that this was the way things were! Of course I wasn’t happy with this, I wanted him to understand that it’s not OK to hit your little sister every time she makes you angry, nor did I want her to think It was OK for him or anybody else for that matter, to hit her! In the end I was left with no choice put to get out mummy’s big guns and call in an expert! No…. Not super-nanny, but a very nice lady who worked for the ‘Autism Outreach’ for our area, came to speak with Alice while kindly sharing some much needed ideas with myself on reducing the little guys violent outbursts. This wasn’t yesterday, but a good year and a half ago, so were talking some time here, meaning a lot has happened since. Alice has changed a lot in them eighteen months or so. She’s grown up a great deal (I’m not just referring to her mental state here, she’s actually grown quite a bit taller too). however this means that she’s more inclined to do the “Hit big brother & run for my life act” I’m not suggesting he hasn’t maybe hit her first, (which is very often the case) but… this only results in complete and utter madness descending throughout this already chaotic, crazy place we like to call home! I end up having to set chase after little man as he angrily throws himself up the stairs in this high speed chase in an angry desperate attempt to gain that all important last hit. You can bet your life on it she’s shouting a mouthful of insults and abuse at her angry sibling throughout her sprint to her room! Once at her destination, she will slam the door shut and then suddenly out of nowhere she very quickly acquires super human powers that mainly consist of strength! She uses such powers to push her chest of draws and whatever else is in arms length, in-front of  her door. It’s her one attempt to keep out a very angry Little man, who by now has gained his own super human powers, displayed in the way of fly kicks that are aimed at her poor bedroom door!

 I know Many can relate, parents all over the world get this everyday! Yet it’s that little bit more frustrating when one of your children is on the autism spectrum because it makes things that little bit more “dramatic”. Little man can carry on & on for hours. He has been known not to get them little clues us mothers give off while pulling that face, “You know the one! The angry mummy face that indicates, I’ve really had a bloody enough now!” You shake your head in an over exaggerated way while stating aloud, “Carry on kids, #*%*#* carry on!” When your child is on the spectrum they see that red face & head-shaking motion and it means nothing to them at all! If they hear the words, “Carry on kids, carry on!” their up them stairs quicker then you can blink! When asked what they think they are doing? Your given an answer that sounds like sarcasm, “Umm, I’m running back up stairs to hit my sister!” You re-phase asking, “Why are you running back upstairs to hit your sister?” They will answer, “You told me to carry on, carry on!” 

 We’re lucky that over the course of time and given this mum has pulled such a face  a million times, resulting the same tired explanation for my actions…  He now gets it, he finally understands the unwritten rules that surround my body language and sarcastic tone when I state “Argggh… CARRY ON KIDS, CARRY ON.” (Swearing is only for extreme cases when it accidently pops out!)

 Saying this, there are some things little man just doesn’t get, an example would be, “Why you wearing that mum? It makes you look like you have a fat belly!” Me, “Oh, Thanks son”  Little man, “My pleasure mum!” Of course that wasn’t quite the response I was hoping for! It’s for this reason I try to adjust my language, avoiding ambiguous language whenever I can. Though this isn’t easy you know! It’s actually quit amazing how often a person will use metaphors without really actually realising it! I guess it’s become second nature to most, myself included! I swear, if you try reducing your use of metaphors down to zero, you’ll see that these seemingly stupid little phases, such as, “Pot calling Kettle black” or “Raining cats & dogs” make up a good 50% of the English language (Well, in my case it did)!

 Still… despite some sibling scuffles, a little attitude from my daughter who’s eight going on eighteen, and some bad language from the Little dude, things are going OK! 

 Little man is coping well without his very structured school routine. His been attending his new school following this routine a little over a month now and having only just adjusted to it, it’s now gone for a period of six long weeks, just like that! I’ve done my best to make sure I’m not allowing the little guy to spend his days sleeping till 2 p.m. in the afternoon, despite him having not fallen asleep till at-least 3 a.m most nights! Yes, it’s a bit of a struggle, I won’t lie when I say, “Some days I’m tempted to leave him to sleep the sunny day away!” After all his not easy to wake! As many may know from previous post, Little man normally, I’ll say 98% of the time, wakes up in a mood so bad it puts my monthly PMT rants to shame. The big plan has been to get him up early so he doesn’t find this already challenging task any harder when returning to school in September! I swear even those nights his in bed early, (very rarely) he still converts into some kind of morning demon that I’m ashamed to admit, “Scares the crap out off me!” Mother I do apologise if I was ever this unpleasant to wake, honestly, I wish my morning battles on no one, not even that of my worst enemy (though I don’t have one, but that’s beside the point)!

 As for the bedtime routine… THERE ISN’T ONE! I cannot blame the school holidays for this, it’s been a problem on and off since he could walk. Little man will begin to follow a good bedtime routine, then at the drop of a hat it’s vanished and things get frustrating for all! These past six months or more have been no exception. It took me forever to get Little man comfortably sleeping in his own room without making nightly trips into mine. He takes Melatonin, but its effects just seem to have disappeared. For this reason, we often take breaks between doses, sometimes on a weekend or through the holidays so its effects are more apparent when restarted! However, In all truthfulness these effects begin to fade in a matter of days anyway so I’m starting to wonder, “What’s the point?” As for the trips to mum’s room these have again become nightly. His not coming and getting in my bed. I’ve explained that his now far to old to do this, he just drags his duvet and throws himself on the rug! Why has it started again? I think it has something to do with a car accident that happened a while back, it took place right outside his window! The car made the loudest screech as it skid onto the wrong side of the road at high speeds (so fast one of the wheels came flying off and into our garden) luckily, despite it being a busy main road, it was the early hours of the morning converting it into something resembling a ghost town! The car itself, ended up missing our front path, flying through the neighbours bush, finally jamming itself into what used to resemble a front gate and a brick way! The noise was horrendous, waking him from his sleep it terrified him. Since then I’ve been greeted with him and his duvet almost every night and I’m at a loss of what to do.

 On a high note, we have some pretty awesome plans for the rest of the holidays. A fellow blogger has organised for us to receive tickets for the big dip, (open air swimming pool and fake man made beach minus the sea) located on good old ‘Clapham Common.’ She was so sweet explaining about our family situation to one of the organisers resulting in them sending us out a VIP pass to avoid the queues and crowds (see, some people really do care)! 

 We’re also planing a day out with some of the members of my Facebook page (other parents and their children on the spectrum). We are attending the Wilderness festival in Oxfordshire where we will be camping over the weekend (fabulous prize I won on the the fantastic blog “Not Supermum”).  I’ve never camped, nether have the children I’m relying heavily on my friend who is coming along too. My youngest who is just 20 months old will be staying with his daddy as I think it would be a bit much for him and it’s a long way to drive him back if he fails to settle in a “Tent” We will also be making a family trip to Legoland during the last week of the holidays and we’re staying down at the coast for three or four nights at a friends empty flat (when I say empty I mean, there is no one currently living there. It is furnished). The fact itself is located across from the beach, so its over looking the sea. 

 As much as I love my children I have at times avoided taking the two eldest out together! This results in double the days out and double the expense. I know its no way to live but seriously, there have been times I’ve quite literally pulled my hair out during a day out with them both. The last few hours of the Pandamonium festival at the beginning of the month was one of those days! So… I think I’m being extremely brave with the camping idea among others! 

 Another day out I’m extremely excited about will take play in just fours days (5th August) when myself and my youngest along with and my sister and her daughter (who is 10 weeks younger than Harley) will be going on our big day out to the Lollibop Festival in Regents Park London (a three day long event). Little man is too old and Alice is out with a friend plus this is my way of making it up to Harley for not attending the camping trip. This means I will only have one child to chase around once his set loose form his buggy. I can’t wait, his going to love it! With Cbeebies presenters, The Zingzillas, Waybuloo, Charlie and Lola, plus appearances from his favourite characters, “George pig” and Bob the builder” Its going to make his year. There will be lots to do and see, and I myself can’t wait for  Baby loves Disco, Yer… We’re gonna swing our pants and Huggies pull ups during this festival which has been especially created for weeny boppers. If u fancy checking it out have a look on their website and maybe I’ll see you there.

 So… As you can see, we have an eventful summer ahead. Here’s praying (Quite literally) that all runs smoothly, resulting in a fun but relaxed August! With my head now saying, “Yer, right… Dream On Claire!” I’m making it my mission to make it a  success! Now watch this space! 

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