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What We’re doing for The Big Little Tent Festival 2021

What We’re doing for The Big Little Tent Festival 2021

This past year has been an awful year on so many levels, but we’ve also had some good times as well. Spending time in our own little bubble, doing our own thing at a leisurely pace has definitely been the highlight.

We’ve done loads of stuff including setting up a cafe for afternoon tea, made a sweet shop, had many a lounge disco and I’ve lost count of how many Movie nights we’ve had over the last year. One thing that the kids have always pestered us to do is go camping. I sit firmly in the ‘anti-camping camp’ but could be persuaded to give glamping a go at some point.

The Big Little Tent  Festival

The Big Little Tent Festival set up by the Caravan Club last year is a way of grabbing a little piece of camp life in the comfort of your own home. Set up a tent in your garden or, like us you could set up camp in your living room and join in the fun.

To join in the festival there is a downloadable pack that contains everything you need to bring the festival to you including a checklist of things you will need,  festival wristbands, bunting templates as well as a whole host of activity ideas which you could easily spread out over a few days. There’s even a chance to win a childs Raleigh bike.

Setting up Camp

So as we don’t own any actual camping gear, we’re going to set up camp in our living room with all our home comforts which is very appealing from my point of view. We’re going to get festival ready with hair chalks, facepaint and an anything-goes dress code.

You could of course drag out your entire camping kit and set up in your garden. The Festival is running over Easter weekend with an action packed schedule including a Zoom Party where you can meet the Mermaid Princess and the Friendly Neighbourhood Hero for games, superhero training, and a campfire song!

Our Festival Menu

So thinking along the lines of food we would probably buy should we be in a real life festival, we thought we’d go for hotdogs, chips and corn on the cob followed by our own version of S’mores and popcorn at the request of Isabelle.


Pethood Stories – A Woman’s Best Friend with Petplan

Pethood Stories – A Woman’s Best Friend with Petplan – I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life where we haven’t had a pet of some kind. As a child we were surrounded by cat’s, rabbits and guinea pigs. There’s definitely something calming when you sit petting an animal. I was more than happy to share my Pethood story as part of a series from Petplan Pet Insurance.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Our Pethood Story

Our son had wanted a dog from around the age of five and would regularly ask but we had a cat who was a bit grumpy and it wouldn’t have been fair to get a puppy. So that Ryan could have a pet of his own we got him a hamster, and then another four months later when the first went to hammy-heaven. Unfortunately this one didn’t last very long either and as Ryan was heartbroken we decided that we needed to choose a pet with a longer lifespan so we got a Lionhead Rabbit called Sammy and Ryan doted on him.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Having a dog was still discussed on a regular basis, and as a family we quite liked the idea of having a dog but we were both working full-time and our cat was still the main issue so the conversation was shelved many times. I should point out that we did love having our cat, she was a lovely girl, she just didn’t like other animals.

Amazingly she made it to the ripe old age of eighteen, and as a pet family it wasn’t long before the yearning for a furry friend became apparent.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

2014 was the year of The Dog

Our situation had changed. We’d had a little girl who was now three and Ryan was fourteen. I worked part-time and Chris’ job was fairly flexible so it wasn’t long before the yearning for a dog came up again.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

We did a lot of research before making any decisions, taking into account the every day costs of having a dog as well as the time we had available for walking etc. Chris didn’t want a small dog, Ryan wanted an English Sheepdog, Isabelle wanted a puppy and I sat and did the research but we were looking at labradors and retrievers. Then I found the Labradoodle.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Labradoodles come in a variety of sizes with some being more curly and hairy than others. Labradoodles are a crossbreed of a Labrador and Poodle and was first bred around 50 years ago as a low-allergen guide dog. A lot of people mistakenly think that Labradoodles don’t shed their fur which is totally wrong – you only need to see what we hover up every day!

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

So once I’d discovered the Labradoodle it wasn’t particularly hard to convince the others that this would be the perfect breed. As a breed they are good natured, if not a bit daft, great with children and have a good life span. It’s interesting to see what the most popular breeds through time are. I found a local breeder who had some puppies available soon.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

I wafted the information through to the others on a daily basis and it was three against one (Daddy) and to be fair he didn’t take much persuasion.  I showed the kids pictures of labradoodle puppies with their scruffy gorgeous little faces, and appealed to Chris’ sensible head about the advantages of having a dog, in particular why a Labradoodle would be a good fit.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

When we went to visit the puppies we were led into a kitchen and in ran the puppies. I forget how many there were but they were all golden apart from one little scruffy brown pup. They were all over us, but this little brown one was biting at Ryan’s trainers, pulling at his laces and generally wouldn’t leave us alone. We knew then a there that he was going to be ours, it was like he’d chosen us.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Bringing him home in a veg box sat on Ryan’s lap, all of us grinning from ear to ear. As we’d done our research we knew that we’d have a settling in period where he might cry for his mum, brothers and sisters so we bought him a cosy bed and a toy monkey for him to cuddle up to.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Suprisingly he was no bother at all. He was at his happiest being around us and it really didn’t take long for him to be knitted into our family life. Dogs are known to lift people’s spirits that’s why they use them in some hospitals and nursing homes and coming home to this cheeky chappie is always a pleasure.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Charlie was covered by temporary pet insurance when we picked him up which lasted for a few days which gave us a chance to get his insurance in place. We opted for Labradoodle Pet Insurance Lifetime Cover which gives us peace of mind should anything happen. Petplan offer a range of cover which is tailored to your dogs breed so that you get the correct level of cover. Anybody even considering getting a dog should definitely factor in dog insurance.

It seems that most breeds have certain traits and illnesses they can suffer from. Labradoodles are prone to:

  • Ear conditions
  • Skin conditions such as dermatitis
  • Lumps and bumps
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Cruciate ligament rupture

Poor Charlie does suffer with his ears on and off and has received treatment quite a few times now.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

Life with Charlie

As we live on the coast we were keen to get him used to the beach so had his first trip to the beach at four months old. It was on this car journey that we had our first episode of dog car sickness which we later realised was due to anxiety. He gets quite anxious in the car, panting a lot which was resulting in him being quite sick. It took a while for him to overcome this, but we persevered making sure that we kept car journey’s short and always took him to places that he would enjoy.

Our Charlie has a lovely personality. As Isabelle was only three when we got him we made sure that he never jumped up at her, and even now he won’t jump up at children. He’s a sociable boy with other dogs and people. I don’t quite think he understands when people aren’t that bothered with him as he’s used to getting a lot of attention. He would wait for Ryan to come home from school for a bit of rough play.

Charlie is ruled by his belly! He’s a very well behaved dog, BUT will be a bit naughty if he’s given the chance to scoff. He’s gate-crashed many a picnic and has run off a few times when the temptation has been too great. Since getting him we have had another baby who is currently weaning so Charlie is in heaven at the moment.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

He doesn’t like water! Bearing in mind the Poodle in him are known waterdogs, he hates it! He doesn’t swim in water and will only go up to his ankles generally at the beach where the water is gradual. When it rains you practically have to shove him out the door. He’s such a wimp.

Charlie loves to play, but he’s not as bouncy and energetic as he was as a puppy. He’s hopeless with balls. He runs after the ball but then never brings it back. His favourite walks are on the beach or in the forest where he can discover lots of different smells and loves to find sticks and bits of driftwood.

Charlie is our third baby, our fur baby. I’m his Mummy! Only other dog owners understand when I refer to him in this way. It took around the same to choose a dog sitter as it did finding a nursery for the kids.

We had another baby last year and it was quite a big adjustment for all of us. It was our first time with a newborn and a dog and the fur was a bit of a concern for us. A year on and Charlie’s loving this new source of food that a weaning baby provides. We now have daily dog/pram walks which seems to suit everybody.

Charlie celebrates Christmas with us. He has a dog chocolate Advent Calendar, a stocking and presents under the tree.

We also celebrate his birthday every January by making him a cake or treats and presents. His dog bed even matches our sofa!

Charlie is undoubtedly a member of our family and we’d be totally lost without him.

Pethood stories - A woman's best friend with Petplan. Read how Charlie the labradoodle became part of our family

*This post is in conjunction with Petplan but all thoughts are my own

Elastoplast #TearsIntoSmiles Challenge

Elastoplast Tears into Smiles Challenge.


What do your kids call a cut or a graze?

A Baddie
A Boo Boo
An Oopsie
An Ouchie

Isabelle loves to make a huge song and dance whenever she falls over. She starts off crying and we’re desperately trying to work out if she’s hurt herself and if so what damage has been done whilst she bats us off covering up the ‘baddie’.


Once we’ve had a look we have to assess the situation and work out if it’s just a bang and we might need to rub on a bit of arnica or whether it’s more than that.

We have, like most parents a whole kit of stuff for every eventuality.

We have arnica for bruises
Antiseptic spray and cream to get all the nastiness out of a cut or graze
Plasters of course in all shapes and sizes
Cotton wool pads – for holding over the baddies (better with a sprinkling of magic water)
A cold pack that we keep in the freezer

I think that the biggest part of a cut or graze is the initial shock of falling over that scares them more than the resulting injury.

If we have plain plasters, then part of making it ‘all better’ is drawing a design on the plaster whilst a cotton pad is held in place to clean it is all part and parcel of making sure that all is good and well in the world again.

I’m not playing down any falls that Isabelle may have, but thankfully she’s never had any serious ones that have needed proper medical attention.


We were sent a set of both Frozen and Star Wars Plasters which have all the characters of the films on them so Isabelle has already pointed out her top few from both sets for ‘future baddies’.


I love a challenge so it was no different when we were asked to take part in the Tears into Smiles Challenge – #TearsintoSmiles

So what do you do when your child has a fall?

We do all of the above and Isabelle plays a huge part in this by cleaning it herself and putting the on cream herself. She likes to put on the plaster but her aim isn’t that great so we try and do this ourselves if we can.

Following the clean up we have a bit of calm time when we sit and have a cuddle and either watch a bit of TV or read a book together.

Using Distraction

Once this is all done, it’s definitely a game of distraction that helps get the day back on track.

We were sent a Hoopla Garden Game to try out as part of the challenge which we set up in the lounge to start with but have since played with it in the Garden, and it’s even been on a trip to Nanny and Papa’s house.


Isabelle really liked this game and became the chief score taker (good for helping her count in tens and fives).

All the pieces come apart so could easily be packed away for the day on the beach as well.


This post is an entry for the Britmums #TearsIntoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast.

Lisa x


#VicksTricks for Coughs and Colds

#VicksTricks for Coughs and Colds

I feel like a bit of an expert on this topic as we’ve probably experienced the rough side of a cough and cold with our daughter more than the average mum and dad.

I say this not in a competing kind of way, but having Isabelle has changed so many things about what I used to believe was the ‘right way’ to look after a child.

#vickstricks for coughs and colds- Surviving the cold season with vicks

Ryan was never a sickly child, slept and eat well.

We never avoided people with sniffles and were never really that phased when we turned up to the nursery and yet another notice was on the door notifying us of the latest illness going around.

Isabelle changed all of this.

We truly believe that you could sneeze across the road from Isabelle and she would catch a cold.

I hated it when I went to baby/toddler group and there were always children with coughs and colds as we knew that she would get them.

It irked me when family and friends would visit with a poorly child or ill themselves knowing that she would get it.

I can imaging you rolling your eyes at this point, but Isabelle never gets just a cough or cold. It was always to the extreme.

She would be poorly for days on end, none of us getting much sleep at night due to the crying, coughing, and ultimately the projectile vomiting when she couldn’t control the cough.

She’s been given inhalers, antibiotics, and steroids to help ease her symptoms mostly not helping at all. We know the signs a mile off by now so we know what’s in store for us.

So I pass on our baton of wisdom in all things ‘Cough and Cold’.

My Tips

No milk. I know this one isn’t possible when little ones are little little, but milk is claggy in the throat and can sometimes promote coughing as it thickens the phlegm. Also milk sick is so gross smelling and a nightmare to get the smell out of carpets.

A nice calm bathtime routine. Adding a chamomile teabag into the water or a few drops of lavender oil to relax them and also open up their nasal passages.

No running. I know this sounds like a funny one, but Isabelle would have the most awful coughing fits if she had bursts of running around or being silly, so the run-up to bedtime has to be quiet play.

Open the windows – Even if it’s a freezing cold day. Open the windows during the day in your child’s bedroom to let some fresh air through. Alternatively, you could get a dehumidifier.

Menthol vaporiser – We have a plug-in one that we got from boots which we put on about an hour before Isabelle goes to bed.

Raising the mattress – When they have a cough and cold lying flat is not the best thing for them so put something underneath the mattress so that they are slightly raised. I also give Isabelle an extra pillow for the same reason.

Vick’s Vaporub – Don’t be shy go for the massive tub. We get through loads of this which we apply to Isabelle’s back and chest. We also read on a forum to put it on the bottom of her feet and leave her socks on so we did this as well.

Water – Make sure that your child always has access to water so that they can at least try to help themselves by having a drink during the night.

Isabelle can’t seem to control her breathing very well when she has a cough and a cold and is quite often sick as a result of her panicking when she’s struggling. She now knows to get out of bed. If we can direct the sick away from the bed at least she can get back in without having to wait for the whole bed changing dance.

NEVER let them in your bed. We know only too well what happens when they’ve been sick in their own bed and thinking that it’s an easy option for them to climb in with you only results in nobody having anywhere to sleep!

We’ve also tried nasal sprays which she didn’t like at all so we keep them as a bit of a last resort to be used only with bribery.

Get some balm for their noses which get sore and red from all the nose wiping. It’s like a plaster, they love to have something to put on.

For coughs, we give Isabelle ice lollies which she loves, but it also soothes her throat. If she’s not eating we can make them from fruit so that she’s at least getting some nutrition in her.

All the cough medicine that they are able to have. When things have been really bad we’ve been told by our doctor to give Isabelle an antihistamine to make her sleep.

During the day create a space where they can sleep if they want to. Isabelle won’t go to bed but if she’s comfortable she might at least close her eyes.

Have a selection of easy to play with toys. No jigsaws or complicated games which will end up in them getting ratty.

DVDs or TV for them to watch. Whilst you don’t want them stuck in front of the TV all day some little ones can’t seem to cope with much else.

Don’t expect them to sit and eat huge meals. When Isabelle is poorly she never wants to eat so we let her choose from a selection of things such as fruit, crackers, toast, yoghurts, etc so that she can pick what she wants and is more likely to eat it.

Olbas Oil on a flannel over the radiator and then dot a few drops around the room.

Honey and Lemon – Make them a cup of warm honey and lemon. Putting it in a fancy cup with a straw usually works for Isabelle.

Kids’ magazines always cheer Isabelle up. Isabelle’s favourite part is of course the toy on the front and it’s possibly the only time that she’s interested in the stories and activities inside the magazine as well.

Another good one is to be armed with an iPad or phone with some good kids apps. Isabelle is currently into kids youtube watching the unwrapping of ‘Blind Bags’. The voices totally drive me nuts but as each one only lasts about 4 – 6 minutes they’re tolerable in small doses.

We were sent ‘That Book’ – The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep. It was quite a long book and I’m sure that it might work on a child who stays in bed, lying down in bed and doesn’t talk all the way through, but it made me tired, and she did go to sleep quicker than usual.

We also received some finger puppets which at the moment have prime pillow space in Isabelle’s bed along with bunny.

We do all of this whilst trying to avoid the sneeze spray so that we don’t end up getting it ourselves. It NEVER works, one or both of us always comes down with it so make sure that you have a cupboard full of remedies for yourselves as well.  Chris seems to like the Vicks First Defence Nasal Spray whereas Ryan opts for the Nasal Stick.

#VicksTricks Sliced Banana Trick

This is my entry into the #VicksTricks Campaign.

Lisa x



Fun Summer Activities to Do at Home

Fun Summer Activities to Do at Home By Ty Schmidt

It’s something everyone always told me would happen, but I didn’t believe it until it happened to me. My dear 18-month-old son has developed into something they all said he would. A sponge. From the ground up, that is what he is on a daily basis. He picks up everything, from words and actions to a general understanding of all things happening around him. And while this is super (just what any parent of a toddler longs for during those sleepless nights of newborn-hood), it comes with its fair share of considerations.

Among them is how best to keep this young mind occupied with all things learning while he’s awake. He still sleeps enough to make most adults envy him, but how do you engage him while he’s awake. If your answer is PBS Kids or Disney Junior, you’re not alone. But you shouldn’t have to live that way, and neither should your toddler. There isn’t anything particularly wrong with Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse, the Wild Kratts, or Curious George. Each show has its own empirical charm. Yet there is more you can be doing with these warm summer days than learning how George most efficiently packages a grocery bag.

Summer Activities for kids

Live a little this summer by keeping these fun summer activities in mind:

DIY season. With the exception of the dead of winter when literally nothing else is going on, summer is one of the best times to get those creative juices flowing. Siphon them into something meaningful with a do-it-yourself theme to at least one day a week this summer. It doesn’t even have to be the same day. Just choose one day a week when you indulge in all things creative (like a homemade water slide) and really bring it to life.

Summer loving. For most of us, summer is a time that involves making the most of water. As a Midwesterner, one comes to appreciate the water of summer, be it in pools, water balloons, water tables, or basically any form. Find ways to embrace the simplicity of water this summer. You won’t regret it.

Camp comes home. Channel your inner child and embrace what he or she shares with you about fun things you did to stay occupied in the summer months. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but things like a family campout in the backyard or family game night outside can fill those hot summer nights with a purpose that breathes life into everything you do.

Get cooking. I didn’t cook much with my mother growing up, and I wish I had. While I refuse to live vicariously through my children, I have already decided to involve them more in the food preparation for our family as they grow old enough to understand the purpose behind what they’re doing. From chopping the ingredients to fresh homemade salsa to understanding what grows in our garden, it is never too young to start teaching little ones about where food comes from and the importance of eating well.

For more ideas and inspiration, head to Fun Summer Activities to Do at Home

*This is a collaborative post with Modernize Home Services.