I’ve been to quite a few festivals in my time, (any excuse not to wash for a few days), but I’ve never seen anything like the fireworks and animation display that celebrated the end of Camp Bestival 2012.

The weekend had been fantastic already, with surprise treats such as Chic – who’d have thought they wrote so many songs?? – and more predictably incredible entertainment in the form of Rolf Harris, but who’d have thought that something so amazing was going to be tucked away last thing on Sunday, long after I’ve normally given up and dragged the kids home?

The afternoon had been warm and relaxed. I’d spent a happy hour lying on the floor of the spoken word tent, thinking about how much more I liked Russell Kane as an author than a comedian, and then I’d teamed up with some strangers for a music quiz. A quick pint of pear cider and a last-minute entry into Ecover’s ‘Feel Good Giveaway‘* on my way to meet Boyfriend, and after a special moment sharing our dislike of the Happy Mondays, we were ready for some firework fun.

This video, courtesy of BrightonArt, is about fifteen minutes long, but it is well worth the watch. Set against the already stunning backdrop of Lulworth Castle, the combination of fireworks and animation was just breathtaking and made for a really spectacular end to a wonderful weekend.

 

 

*I could win £2,000 of family clothes from Boden! Nice. Fingers crossed I get lucky, so I can fit right in with all the yummy mummies at Camp Bestival next year.

If you follow me on twitter, you may have picked up on the fact that I was at Camp Bestival this weekend, courtesy of the very lovely people at Ecover.

"Ecover at Camp Bestival"

Yay for Ecover!

Despite the BBC predicting heavy rain, the sun shone for the whole weekend, and Boyfriend and I had a really wonderful time. I’ve been to Camp Bestival a few times before, so understood the whole family friendly vibe, but it was interesting to see Boyfriend’s confusion, as he compared it to his only other festival experience at Leeds. ‘When are people going to start pushing over the portaloos?’ he asked at one point, after telling me a rather nasty story about a guy, not wanting to lose his place at the front of a crowd, doing a poo on the floor.

Camp Bestival, needless to say, is not like this.

I shall be doing a proper round-up later in the week, including my personal highlights, but this is just a post to say thank you very much indeed to Ecover, for sending me off on such a fantastic weekend. If it wasn’t for Ecover, I’d never have seen this legend would I?

"Rolf Harris at Camp Bestival"

Can you tell who it is yet??

Thank you Ecover!

Last week, my talented colleague Bee and I paid a visit to the Argos Christmas gift show.

Well, well, well. What can we say? We were NOT impressed.

Now I totally accept that there may be some inherent differences between boys and girls, with girls often being inclined to enjoy more traditionally ‘girly’ toys, and vice versa. I also know though that there are plenty of girls who like playing with robots, cars, dinosaurs, and other things that aren’t bright pink, so why on earth did Argos feel the need to shove such horrible gender stereotypes down our throats?

See here, we have toys for girls:

And here, the toys that boys are allowed to play with:

It got worse.

On one side of the room, you had a hairdresser, offering women the chance to get their hair curled with the latest appliances, and opposite, you had this, because we all know that only men can play musical instruments:

Women obviously are too busy getting their nails done and arranging their daughters’ toys into different shades of pink.

Come on Argos. We’re in the 21st century now. Pull yourself together.

Variety is the spice of life, or so they say, but sometimes I worry that I take it too literally.

"spices"

See what I mean?

I was out with some friends a couple of weeks ago that I haven’t seen for a while. I was talking about a new job I’d recently started working on, and saying how nice it was to be doing something that got me out of the house and into an office with other people.

“You’re a bit like that though aren’t you?” one of them said.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well you know, a bit fickle,  always wanting to move on to something new.”

It wasn’t meant as an insult, just a fact, but it got me thinking.

It’s true of course that I do like to try new things, and get bored very quickly. It was less than a year ago after all since I was handing in notice my from an office job, and thinking how nice it would be to be able to stay at home and not see other people.

What I can’t quite get my head round though is whether this is a Good or a Bad Thing. Most of the time I try to put a positive spin on it – I like new challenges, it’s good to try new things etc etc – but other times I feel slightly ashamed of myself for not just being able to pick a job or a house or a hobby and stick to it.

I’m totally behind the idea that if you’re not getting what you want, not feeling fulfilled, you often need to just move on, but at what point does that go from being a healthy acceptance of change to something a little more compulsive? Is my apparent inability to commit to something long-term a weakness, or a sign of courage, strength of character, and a desire not to ‘settle’ for what I know isn’t quite right?

It frustrates me – one minute being totally content with a situation, and the next feeling sick of it. How can something make me smile one minute, and yawn the next?

So fickle am I in fact, that I’m bored of writing this already. I think I might go off instead and open a coffee shop or take up fencing or something…

I don’t.

I feel bad about it, I feel like I should miss them, but no matter how much I try to conjure up fond images of them doing cute things*, I just don’t.

Does this make me a bad mummy?

I don’t think so.

"alone"

This is me, wandering alone in the desert in a moody, powerful way. Can’t you tell?

It’s not like I’ve always just gone off, happily doing my own thing, without giving them a second thought. In fact, for about the first two years of Belle’s life I was very rarely even in a different room from her. She was what you would call a ‘highly sensitive’ baby. I didn’t balk (too much) at this, just accepted that she’d let go (literally) when she was ready, and in the meantime I learnt to do a lot of things with just one hand.

Despite becoming a mum at such a young age, I’ve managed to hold on to a very distinct identity for myself, that isn’t just about being a mother. I am not defined by my children, and so when they’re not there, I don’t feel bereft, or like a piece of me is missing. I don’t throw myself on the bed and wail, questioning the meaning of my life without them. I know that whatever they’re doing, they’re probably enjoying themselves/having money spent on them/getting to stay up later than they would at home, so why would I worry?

Sometimes I voice these feelings out loud though, and it doesn’t go down very well.

Last year, I was away in Germany for work for five days. I don’t think I called home the whole time I was gone. One evening, out for dinner with a group of people, while one woman sobbed quietly into her soup, I declared that I didn’t miss my babies At All. “But you can’t mean that?” upset woman cried, a look of horror on her face. Everyone else turned to me, slightly aghast. “It’s just part of your whole slummy mummy act right?”

“Um…” what to say? I didn’t want to become known as the heart-of-stone woman…

“Oh no!” I backtracked, “I miss them of course! I just don’t miss them. You know what I mean.” And I hastily gulped back half a glass of wine.

I lied though. I didn’t miss them at all. Don’t tell anyone.

So what do you think – do I have a heart of stone, or after 17 years of parenting is it alright to enjoy a bit of time to yourself sometimes?

*At this point, I paused and tried to conjure up such an image, so I could give an example, but to be honest I couldn’t even get that far.

When Boyfriend came back from a three-week trip to China last week, I wanted to impress him with my new-found culinary skills. I’m not normally known for domestic goddessness, but while he was away, to prove I was capable of cooking more than super noodles, I had been practising. A weekly delivery from Hello Fresh helped, but that’s definitely still cooking.

On his first night back, I decided to cook lamb and feta burgers, with oregano potato wedges, courtesy of McCain. Nothing impresses a boy more, so I’m told, than a home-made burger.* If you’d like to woo a boy of your own, here’s what you need:

"potato wedges"For the burgers:

  • 500g lean lamb mince
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp cumin powder
  • 3-4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, freshly chopped
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 100g feta cheese, roughly crumbled
  • Salt and pepper to season

To go with your burgers:

  • ¼ cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 olives, sliced

For the oregano wedges:

  • 300g McCain Sea Salt & Cracked Black Pepper Wedges
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano

To serve:

  • Four crusty bread rolls, halved
  • Large G&T for the chef to help recover from stress of smoke alarm going off three times

I’m not going to bother with a ‘how to make’ section, as it’s so easy – mix all the burger ingredients together into burger shapes, sprinkle the wedges with oregano and stick in the oven as instructed, and that’s it really. The recipe card suggested the grill or a barbecue for the burgers, and as it was pissing down with rain, I went for the grill. Unfortunately, there seems to be a bit of a design flaw with our grill**, and after about ten minutes, the house was full of quite an acrid black smoke, and flames were flickering out from the oven.

When Boyfriend came down from the shower to ask why the attic floor was full of smoke, I decided to transfer the burgers to a frying pan, to reduce the risk of the fire brigade being called by a helpful neighbour, and that worked very well.

All in all, a very tasty dinner, despite me cooking it, although I’m not sure I made quite the impression I was hoping for, jumping up and down waving a tea towel under the smoke alarm.

*And taking your clothes off obviously. Do that bit later though – you don’t want to get splashed with burger fat.

**Definitely the grill’s fault, and not mine.