Category Archives: Sophie is partying

Festivals in the rain

We have been to three festivals this summer, and all of them were accompanied by a generous dose of rain. It’s been a bit of a new experience for me – somehow, in my twenty years of festivalling, I have managed to avoid anything more than a few showers. In fact generally my festival memories exist in a blissful haze of summer sun, dry grass and being a bit too warm for comfort. Clearly that was never going to last.


I was a bit apprehensive as the weather forecast for the key weekends of this summer unfolded. I love festivals. Really I don’t think there is anywhere I would rather be than in a field with friends listening to music and drinking cider, stumbling upon weird and wonderful happenings as the days roll into nights and collapsing in a tent at the end of it all. Rain, mud and cold have absolutely no place in this vision, and I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to cope.

You know what though? It really wasn’t that bad. It was harder work for sure. And a bit less sociable. But there was something quite pleasingly symbolic about the perseverance, about the determination to have fun despite the universe’s best efforts. There was definitely a strong sense of camaraderie, and those moments where the sun peeped through the clouds or when music managed to whip damp crowds into a whirl of enthusiasm took on a whole new level of significance.

Sure, I wouldn’t have voluntarily trekked through miles of mud wearing an overexcited toddler or chased a flyaway gazebo through the campsite at four in the morning. I would rather not have covered my sparkly festival attire with waterproofs or kept said toddler entertained in the tent whilst the rain battered down outside. But actually, now that it’s over, I have a whole new range of festival memories to add to the pile.

And as for the toddler – to be honest he was in his element. What two year old wouldn’t want to splash through endless puddles, squelch in the mud and surf on rain soaked tables? In fact there’s a danger next summer, when the sun does return (are you listening, universe?), that there will be something fundamental missing from his festival experience…


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I’m sure he’ll cope though. And even if future festivals are drenched in rain rather than the sun I’ve bathed in over the years it’s good to know it won’t dampen our festival spirit.


Glamour and romance at Glazebrook House

Last weekend Leigh and I did something we have not done for a very long time: we spent a night away, just the two of us – in the wonderfully glamorous surrounds of Glazebrook House.

It’s actually the first time in two years I’ve spent more than a few hours away from Arthur – and the first time Leigh has entrusted him to anyone other than me. We have both enthusiastically embraced attachment parenting, and despite encouragement from various directions have really not wanted to leave him overnight. But as he’s got older, and we have seen him grow into an increasingly confident, self-assured little boy, the prospect started to seem a little less scary.


On top of that, I think we both have begun to yearn for a little more romance in our lives, the space to focus on our relationship and remember just how much we enjoy each other’s company. For Leigh’s ‘homemade’ Christmas present I gave him the promise of twelve dates – the opportunity once a month to do something special, just the two of us.

Now admittedly not every date is going to take place at a swanky hotel (sorry Leigh). Last month we went to the cinema, but Valentine’s day seemed like the perfect opportunity to ramp things up a little – especially as it’s also the five year anniversary of our first date in just a couple of weeks. And having come across Glazebrook House when my soon-to-be sister-in-law invited me to a wedding fayre there, I was already looking for an excuse to go back.


It’s not that far from us – just on the edge of Dartmoor – but stepping into the lobby actually feels like entering a member’s club in London or New York rather than a country hotel. We were surprised to discover it’s only been open a year – it feels like it’s been there forever, though at the same time it is unmistakably current. The design is quirky and eclectic, from the drums hanging in the stairwell to the rocking horse framed by vintage street signs on the landing.



Our room was utterly gorgeous too, with its insanely comfortable chesterfield-style bed, the industrial low-hanging chandeliers and the stunning and funky aircraft-engine mirrors.



All in all it was the perfect setting to get away from it all, and we certainly made the most of our freedom. I’d been longing to go somewhere I could get away with wearing the turquoise sequinned dress I’d optimistically picked up in Portobello Road last year, and this was just the place.


Leigh donned his wedding suit, and we headed to the bar for a pre-dinner drink. I happily could have stayed there all night actually – hanging out in bars is one of the things I really miss about London (and pre-baby) life.


We were excited by what dinner would offer though – and aware that our stamina was no doubt not what it once was – so soon headed through to the restaurant.



The food did not disappoint. Melt in the mouth chicken parfait, lobster cocktail and luscious turbot. Most importantly for me though the chef assured us that absolutely everything was nut free – right down to the chocolatey dessert. I’d mentioned my allergy when we booked and they’d clearly taken it very seriously.

Which left us to focus on enjoying our meal and each other’s company – and possibly a few too many glasses of wine…

We were both a little worse for wear the next morning, but I was determined not to kill the glamorous vibe and donned my new favourite jumpsuit for breakfast. By this point we’d almost convinced ourselves we were actually on holiday, and felt a million miles away from the stresses of everyday life.


We were however beginning to feel the absence of a certain little person, and after eggs royale and lots of coffee it was time to go and see what he’d been up to.


Arthur had, of course, had a wonderful time with my parents, as my mum’s photos show. In fact I think he probably enjoyed himself just as much as we had what with the train tracks and stone throwing and walking the dog, though he was still very pleased to see us when we turned up.

All in all a very successful night away. I think it will definitely be less than two years before we have another, though we may not be able to count on quite so much glamour the next time…



Mums' Days

A shimmery, sparkly winter wedding

We travelled to Dublin this weekend for the wedding of my cousin Tom and his beautiful bride Ciana, and what a shimmering, sparkling wedding it was.

It was about ten degrees colder when we arrived in Ireland than it had been here in Devon, and when we awoke on Saturday morning in our hotel about an hour South of Dublin it was to the most perfect winter day you could imagine. The sky was blue, and the frost had covered the entire landscape in sparkles: there was nothing for it but to wrap up warm and go for a walk.


Arthur was fascinated by the crispy grass underfoot, and transfixed by the long, drawn out shadows cast by the winter sun. He was so focused on the immediate sensory overload at first that I’m not sure he even noticed the spectacular scenery around him. I did though, and it took my breath away – especially with this little boy in red running through it.


It was the first time Arthur had really been aware of winter ‘on the ground’. He was still a couple of months off walking this time last year, so it was Spring before he was ready for outdoor exploration.

He was, as always, he drawn to the puddles: but these ones were frozen!


He discovered how cold – and how slippery – this stuff called ice was, and took tremendous delight in stamping on it as it cracked beneath him.


It was one of those walks where the pace was slowed right down so Arthur could take everything in, but it was most definitely worth it for the joy his new discoveries gave him.


A little chilly but but very much invigorated, we headed in to get ready. I am very glad that Arthur loves dressing up, and he was particularly proud of his sparkly boots – which handily matched my own silver shoes perfectly. Very important to coordinate with your toddler after all!


From there we went to the ceremony, which was nothing short of magical. The space was lit by nets of fairy lights and candles, shimmering off the pure white walls and filling the air with anticipation.


They had chosen a humanist ceremony, as Leigh and I had for our wedding, and I found myself welling up with nostalgia and love. After his morning walk in the cold Arthur slept in the sling for pretty much the entire ceremony, giving me the chance to focus on the words. I love how individual and personal a humanist ceremony can be, how different the details are as they adapt to the uniqueness of each couple, but also how the common threads running through are so empowering and all-enveloping, so fundamental – without any of the complications that I find religion can bring.

From the ceremony we headed outside into the chill then back in to the reception. The venue was full of Christmas trees, bringing another layer of magic and sparkle that Arthur just couldn’t resist.


This continued as day turned into evening, with the most spectacular dance floor I have ever seen taking centre stage.


It was the perfect spot for little people to run around on, and in fact the chatter and laughter of children that threaded through the fabric of the day was one of the loveliest things about it I reckon.

For Arthur, though, the band was definitely the highlight. I couldn’t drag him away as they were setting up and he started to realise what was about to happen.


When they did begin to play he was in his element. He watched the first dance, entranced but impatient, and as soon as he could he was up at the front, mirroring the guitarist’s fingers with his own and getting swept up in the music.



It was a lovely, lovely day, shimmering and sparkling from start to finish. Between the ice and the trees and the twinkly lights it was wonderfully, magically romantic. And now that we’re back home, with Christmas fast approaching, we are well and truly imbued with the festive spirit.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Somersaulting into summer

Continuing this summer’s emerging theme of music and partying and tents we have just had another fantastic weekend of very little internet – this time at the sensational Somersault Festival in North Devon.


We arrived on Thursday morning and set up camp with two other families – it was hard to tell who was more excited as the anticipation began to build, but kids and adults alike were determined to have a good time. It wasn’t hard.

Our little camp was a brilliant base for the weekend’s festivities. There were bubbles and body painting, duck baths and duelling ukeleles.


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Arthur loved being able to roll out of bed in his pyjamas and get straight into a new day’s play. He’s becoming quite the seasoned little camper with all our adventures, and certainly seemed to sleep well in the tent with all the fresh air and excitement.


He loved exploring the festival site too – whether he was running around or cozied up in the sling, checking out the stalls or making new friends.

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We were all super impressed with the kids’ area. I’ve always been curious about what goes on, slightly jealous of the glitter and magic and games in the children’s fields of festivals I’ve gone to in the past. This time though I had a child of my own to take me there, and it didn’t disappoint.

Arthur was particularly fond of frolicking with the fairies, and though I didn’t keep him still for long enough to do any crafts there was a great selection of different things to make – from a stunning array of masks to wings, wands and hula hoops.



The bigger kids we were with even made bath bombs – then had the genius idea of using them back at camp to soothe their tired feet as they prepared for an evening of dancing. I will definitely be getting Arthur onto that when he’s a bit older – though I will have to appoint myself chief tester…

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One thing we certainly didn’t expect is just how HOT the weekend was going to be! We had a couple of showers, but nothing like the torrential downpours the Met office had been promising. Lots of people took the opportunity to cool off in the river – a pretty cool feature to have in the middle of a festival, though I’m glad no-one took an unintentional dip in the middle of the night!


We were sorely tempted to join them, but instead decided to head to the beach on Saturday afternoon. The sea was heavenly, and it was all we could do to tear Arthur away from running on the sand and splashing in the waves. I’ve never actually been to the North Devon coast before. It was pretty stunning – we’re already planning our next trip!





With the myriad of different things to do it was easy to almost forget we’d actually come for the music. The line-up was eclectic and exciting, a perfect blend of bands I know well and was looking forward to seeing again and people I hadn’t heard but wanted to! Arthur absolutely loved the music – whether he was chilling out in the afternoon sun at the Communion stage, jigging around in the sling to Jack Johnson or dancing to Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars with a huge grin on his face.


We weren’t able to get that close to the stage, mainly because Arthur has decided he won’t wear his ear defenders any more – they were awesome last summer when he was still tiny, but now that he’s a bit older I think we’re going to need to work on getting him used to them! The distance didn’t matter too much though – especially once Arthur was up on his Daddy’s shoulders so he could see what was going on.



I think he found the live music really inspiring, and it’s inspired me again to find more gigs to take him to. Festivals are brilliant for introducing kids to the sheer joy of live music – especially one that’s so completely family friendly as Somersault. It’s brilliant as a parent too to be able to do the things that are not so easy with a kid in tow – and to know that they’re enjoying it too rather than being stuck at home.

As the sun went down I was very glad to have a baby that still loves to be worn – he snuggled up in the Connecta where he was warm and safe, nodding off not that much later than his usual bedtime. Which meant I could stay up and enjoy the rest of the acts!


Ben Howard was superb on the Sunday night. I really love the new edgier direction his music seems to be taking, though it was great to hear the crowd singing along to the old favourites too.

My absolute musical highlight of the weekend was definitely Bear’s Den though. They played a fantastic set late on Sunday night on the Communion stage, with haunting melodies and infectious rhythms carried along by the banter of the band.


Even with such a packed weekend I still left feeling like there was so much we didn’t see or do or hear – which is a very good reason to go back next year. I think Arthur’s just going to love festivals more and more as he grows up. He was looking a little forlorn as we packed away the tents, and rocking his ukelele with renewed vigour even as we were trying to pack him into the car to make our way home.



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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall