How pink, pink can be

So the joys of spring have finally fired me up again. Just returned from an amazing first family skiing experience in the french alps. I know this isn’t a travel blog but the stunning, panoramic views of sun touched, white topped mountains is enough to get the creative mind active. And it wasn’t just the  breathtaking scenery and lungfuls of clean clean air…. on the trip back we did a stop over at a B&B Jack had found online. It proved, quite unexpectedly to be another kick start for the sluggish imagination. La Beuceronne, as Ruby so astutely pointed out wasn’t really a hotel but somebody’s house. Our room was  huge high ceilinged and fushia pink, complete with a  mezzanine for the kids and  much to their delight, a spiral staircase. Everywhere around was antique paraphenalia,  faux turkish rugs and oil paintings.  Max discovered  the matching pink toilet paper which I think was also a first for us all. Alain and Xavier, the proprietors, were wonderful and explained that most of the furniture and antiques were family heirlooms. A recent guest had remarked that it was a museum but I disagreed, it was more like a gallery, full of inspiration. Is there such a term as antique kitch?  They took great pleasure in showing us their wedding album at breakfast in which most of their female friends wore wedding dresses to make up for the lack of a bride!  What a blessing to humankind gay men can be, although I wouldn’t want to be the unfortunate soul who gets to dust all those nic- nacs.

 

Pink picture to follow

 

Out to Lunch

A blog I enjoy following is ‘Pasties & Cream’ . The author has a professional style to which I aspire  although I know that I’ll probably never put in the hours it would take to learn to post in such a way. In fact, to be fair to us lowly scribblers, I believe she IS a professional writer. She makes great discoveries of things to do and see around Cornwall, unfortunately they’re usually just that little bit too far for us to hike from North Cornwall. She has inspired me though to share some of my more unconventional discoveries and perhaps expand slightly to encompass foody delights too.

Check out the Bedruthen Steps Hotel at Mawgan Porth, it’s a delight. I took my mum there last week for a half day spa with tapas lunch- a fantastic deal for only £30.00. A stone’s throw away from the beach, the restaurant and spa is glass fronted and overlooks the beautiful coastline. Huge sea facing jacuzzi and truly delicious food. Vegetarian collection of wonderful flavoursome delights. Things I would never dream of doing with a beetroot or a sweet potato. Surrounded by flashes of brightly coloured  furniture, our taste buds zinging with spices, we were transported from a  dismal grey day out into exotic climes.

Oh the joy of occasionally being ladies out to lunch.

Leo Saunders Open Studio

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Well worth a visit in Launceston this week inc. the weekend

And… just opposite Leo’s studio is St. Mary’s Church where there’s an amazing display of 50 decorated christmas trees!!      Everyday this week up to 4.30pm and later on Friday to co-incide with Launceston’s late night shopping

Uke Songs for Christmas

Some days I LOVE the internet…. just found a brilliant ukele christmas songbook online….. really easy to follow for us novices… and it’s a free PDF download! see Ukele Christmas Songbook-Ukuke.   Ruby’s busy practising her two piano carols and so me and Max mustn’t be outdone. It’ll be our first christmas ‘around the piano’ ( no one else can play)  At the weekend I was introduced to a game where you have to get an After Eight to slide down your face and into your mouth, needless to say it takes a lot of animated twitching and contorted facial expressions. It was, without doubt one of the funniest thing I’ve seen, or done, in a long time. Can’t see my eighty four year old mother in law being game for that one… but what a great way to get through those boxes of chocolate mints that always seem to doggedly appear through the festive season.

STUPID cassette players!

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The birdie lady (complete with back tattoo)

This evening my ears were treated to the sweet sound of both children practicing their instruments without being nagged. I’ve no idea what triggered it and am not jumping up and down punching the air, just happy to bask in a moment of parental pride. We’d had a funny sing-song last week with my new found busking skills (!) I’d pulled out a ‘Four Chord Tricks’ book and was banging away at some old favourites but the song that had the kids hooked was our gutsy rendition of  Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ ! Must have been all the melodrama paired with my terrible devil- may- care strumming .

The next day when Max was begrudgingly practicing his uke chords and I was trying to enthuse him he came up with an elaborate story about a ‘lonely village in cowboy film’ to explain why he was playing so slowly. It was brilliant and I was gob smacked….that’s right !! I cried….just lose yourself. Perhaps that’s a way to get on board with today’s kids….imagine it’s a soundtrack?….kids technology is so visually stimulating …. could they try making music to sound muted moving images on tv or a computer? We’ll have to give it a go.

This week was also a voyage of discovery into old music technology. Max had been playing with his grand dad’s old radio for a while when he discovered the cassette player. We hauled a stack of cassettes out of the attic and let him carry on experimenting. The sound was awful but Max wasn’t bothered, he was enjoying turning it up loud without being yelled at. Twenty minutes or so later we heard some door slamming and a wail of pure frustration. Max came storming in. ‘What’s up?’ I said, looking into his very angry face ‘The STUPID THING won’t  move onto the next song, it keeps going past it!’

……..Here I have to add that his sister just wrecked yet another CD player and … how many discs I wonder?

Music Festivals 2013

So…. the first music festival this year with Frida and the kids was

MAKER     21-23 June    Millbrook, Near Torpoint, Cornwall   http://www.makerfestival.co.uk

I’d heard about this one from some local friends but it wasn’t until looking  at the website that I realised how near it was.  Having recently bought Frida it suddenly seemed like a possibility. There were only a few days to go but I decided to take a chance and just book it.  I couldn’t believe there were still van pitches available. Then, on the day, I miraculously hooked up with some familiar faces and their children so we all camped in the same place (ideal). Couldn’t believe my luck.

We took it in turns to check on the kids, throughout the weekend but they’d formed a gang, gone  feral and were only interested in being fed. The girls came down briefly to the festival ground,  a few hundred yards away, to do some of the craft activities but were happier building dens with wood from the firepit pile, going barefoot, getting muddy and exploring the woods (fenced off for safety) Music was good and varied with enough spacing between the stages not to get that annoying ‘cross over’ cacophony we’d experienced at ‘Beautiful Days’ There was even a cozy space set up for an enthusiast with vintage film clips. At one point I escaped down past the yurt rental for a  sunny walk along the coast path above Kingsand.   Next time I’m determined to find the access point onto the beach.

The Highs:   stunning location, use of campsite facilities as well as portaloos, very laid back, small enough for the kids to roam free safely,  children’s craft activities,  both stages under cover,  excellent choice of good food and only a few stalls, permanent pub and cafe on site, late night undercover dancing in ‘the bunker’, plenty of van and caravan pitches, howling at the full moon on solstice night (I wasn’t alone!) and sitting with a friendly crowd on the actual concrete bunker to watch a glorious sun rise reflected across the bay.

The Lows:    Fairly exposed to the winds and grey weather

Would we go again? Most definitely

 PRIDDY     12-14 July    Near Cheddar Gorge, Somerset   http://www.priddyfolk.org

I’m ambivalent about folk festivals. We’ve been regular visitors to Sidmouth  Folk Week over the years but mainly as a chance to spend some time with  my Mum as she keeps  a caravan nearby.  The lure of handing the children over to  nearby grandparents for the night was really the initial main attraction. We’d heard from some friends it was family friendly but another just laughed and said she used to go there when she lived in Bridgwater and it was strictly a ‘farmer’s do in a field’  -  fine if you were into comparing tractor sizes.  Halleuja for the internet… the website looked o.k and gave me chance to You Tube  the line up. I don’t as a general rule plan for music festivals, I’ve always preferred just to wander.  Sussing it out proved  a good move this time.

The weather was gloriously hot so  we were really glad to see a luxury, portable  shower block when we arrived on the campsite. We pitched in a tree lined (always good for hammock hanging) overflow field which stayed half empty and was a great space for the kids to congregate and run wild. The short walk down to the site took us through an immaculate village graveyard which turned out to be a good place to lie around in the shade during the day and watch the stars after the late night dance band. The kids were overjoyed to see a massive inflatable slide.

The Highs:    Peaceful rural location, showers, hot sunshine, all stages undercover, kids music and craft activities, De Fuego, Ushti Baba and Celtic Sound system, good selection of food and stalls, the dedicated area for daily’jamming’ sessions.

The Lows:    Missed Belshazzar’s Feast, both stages were totally seated…no room to dance! Limited bar…too much real ale

Would we go again? Yes

LITTLE BIG GIG     20-23 Sept      The Lizard,  Cornwall    www.littlebiggig.co.uk      

 At the end of the summer holidays some friends told me they’d just got back from this great campsite that “you’d really love”. They’d found it in a review published in the ‘Guardian’. The website for ‘Henry’s’ campsite sells it well showing another idyllic location. I also noticed they had a festival coming up. Unfortunately the van spaces were all gone, that’s another aspect of festivals with caravans… you usually need to commit and book early. So… I decided to buy myself a ticket and resurrect the 10 year old dome tent and go on my own. What a treat! as soon as I arrived I knew it was going to be a memorable weekend. Amazing location overlooking the Lizard Peninsula, just above the beautiful Kynance Cove. Crossing the rickety wooden bridge from the little field that was the main car park I  heard the sweet sound of a young vocalist with guitar playing a set in a bank of hay bales. I grabbed a wheelbarrow and trekked down amongst the maze of hedged off  pitches. It felt like the beginning of an exciting adventure just choosing where to camp. I settled for a space with an awesome panoramic view of the coast….unfortunately only visible for a couple of hours before the heavy mist set in. I felt a twinge of guilt when I saw the tiny wooden play castle and all the children chasing off the very lively free range chickens.

Happily I was adopted by a friendly bunch of revellers on the first night making  some new and lovely festival friends. There were two stages, one permanent and undercover set up by the bar, the other purpose built in one of the camping fields. The sound on both was great, playing all sorts as well as being a bit of a showcase for some impressive local talent.

The highs: Amazing location, very safe for kids, music programmed not to miss anything on either stage i.e. no sound overlap, well stocked kids activities, the undercover fire pit with late night open mic,  amazing singing workshop with Chloe Laing  http://www.creationsounds.co.uk , good food, very low key, campsite loos and showers…no dreaded portaloos

The Lows: No food stalls or anyone selling anything (some may be relieved at this) the foggy damp weather, no late night dancing… probably because the site is so small

I’m hoping more people will turn up to this one next year….it’s a gem.

Would I go again? Can’t wait, but will book early so we can all go and maybe explore the coast a bit

So here endeth the first of many family festival experiences. I hope that next year we’ll get to a lot more local music festivals which we missed when we were doing our road trip. I’ve already got some new and colourful bunting for the sun awning and streamers for Frida’s door….look out here we come.  Let the music play on……..

COMING UP around Launceston

POPCHOIR is coming to Launceston – Tuesdays 7.30pm-9.30pm from 25th Feb. 2014

Free tasters at Launceston Town Hall on 19th Nov. and 14th Jan  tel. 0845 5190 890  www.popchoir.com

COWSLIP workshops Christmas Craft Fayre this weekend . http://www.cowslipworkshops.co.uk
Newhouse Farm. Launceston. PL15 8JX Fri.15th Nov.- Sun. 17th
Lovely location, space for kids to roam and delicious cafe for ladies who lunch!

LIFTON ART GROUP exhibition.
Sun. 1st Dec. 10-4.00pm
Lifton Church hall opposite Lifton Hall Hotel

I take back most of the things I’ve ever said about caravans

So…. last year I got a bee about buying a vintage camper van. It was on my bucket list and I decided imminently do-able. Despite all the warnings from sensible friends and husband, I started to look for one.  I’d seen a recent shocking photo of myself which confirmed that rural living and being at home with kids for a few years had transformed me into a drone. It was probably some kind of mid life crisis and I’m sure I’m not the first to see a  funky VW as an escape pod; being the iconic symbol of fun and freedom. It was to be my passport to music festivals with the kids. We’d tried the ‘family- at- music- festivals’ thing a couple of years before when Max was 5 and Ruby was 4. Beautiful Days just outside Exeter. Great location, good mix of music, brilliantly well set up for the kids and miraculously clean toilets. I would have liked to have escaped to the late night headphones dancing but spent all day being tirelessly led around by the children. By the time it got dark I was too exhausted to do much else but sleep. I really admired all those who fearlessly hauled their kids around in converted bike trailers. And I didn’t doubt for a minute that little ones will sleep through anything. But Jack was a music festival novice and found the whole experience overwhelming rather than awesome and wasn’t keen to repeat it. So…. it looked pretty much like I was going to have to find a way to strike out solo.

One evening Jack showed me something online that would normally had made my blood freeze…….a caravan……. It was the standard fridge freezer on wheels that I’ve always dreaded….yet another nail in the coffin of middle aged convention. But tiny, not a lot bigger than our trailer. An obvious ploy to lure me away from an ongoing expensive headache i.e. a vintage VW but it worked. That Freedom Microlite research quickly led me onto Eribas and a couple of months later to our beautiful Frida.

It turned out that she wasn’t just an old wreck only fit to haul out a few times a year for festivals but sound enough to take us on a road trip across northern Spain and up through France. So now I’m a caravan convert, still loving being in the great outdoors but loving keeping dry and warm too.

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