Tag Archives: camp bestival

Camp Bestival 2016 – the return

Our youngest, Bonnie, had been to five festivals before her fifth birthday.
Due to our largish family, it was always cheaper to do a festi-hol, but by 2014 the elder ones had started to get jaded and wanted to do ‘normal’ holidays. We did like the masses and had a couple of short trips to Spain and a drive through Europe.
Then Camp Bestival announced Fat Boy Slim and Tears for Fears were headlining for 2016 and I couldn’t resist.
So here we are again, blazing sunshine, our trusty 20-year-old Japanese Bongo van and an awning propped on a windy hill in Dorset.
So far we’ve watched the kids make a den in the Dingly Dell, shoot crossbows with the Tudors, stuff their faces with posh ice-cream and organic salad (and chips) and enjoyed acts as eclectic as Turin Brakes and Mr Motivator.
Two days to go, so far, so good!

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Festival fever – after Glastonbury, here’s your round-up of festivals for summer 2016 in Northants and beyond

(Originally commissioned for Northants Herald and Post)

THE British weather is as unpredictable as ever, which can only mean one thing: it’s the start of the festival season.

As the mother of all music festivals, Glastonbury, has just taken place in all its muddy glory, we bring you a round up of some of the hundreds of UK festivals in Northamptonshire and beyond and some advice for those thinking about going for the first time with the family.

camp bestival6355 [965635] If you’re travelling with babies and toddlers, festival camping can be daunting, but a couple of fun days in a festival field can be easier to handle – and cheaper – than having to fly abroad in school holidays.
You need to accept that everything might not be operating-theatre-sterile for a couple of days, but there’s little that can’t be sorted with a multitude of various wet wipes.
A travelcot may seem like a heavy thing to lug to your campsite but it will allow peace of mind if your smaller offspring are prone to wander.
Take a tent that you KNOW how to put up in advance and if possible, invest in your own small trolley or wheelbarrow. Days can involve a lot of walking and it’s easier to entice a squealing toddler into a blanket-lined barrow than an unwieldy buggy that’s lost a wheel. Pack a set of warm clothes for evenings as it can get chilly (all-in-one rainsuits for kids are worth bringing) and give loads of time to get to stages for a favourite act.
Inevitably you won’t see everything on the line-up – sometimes you’ll just need to chill out with the kids and listen from a distance for your own sanity’s sake. Letting your bigger kids off the leash to wander without you may feel like a worry, but it’s an essential part of growing up and you should make sure they have a watch and regular meeting points. Don’t rely on phones as signal and battery life are usually limited.

Rucksacks and bumbags work better than handbags, cashpoints will be on site but be prepared to queue and pay fees, and you’ll probably survive with lots of socks but just two pairs of footwear – trainers and wellies.
If you’re bringing food, but only want to cook with minimal effort, a camping stove and kettle, cereal bars, tortilla wraps and noodles weigh little and can save you a fortune on festival food. Disposable barbecues are great if allowed and packet bacon will last a couple of days in a coolbox. Tea bags, coffee and UHT milk will feel like luxuries and you’ll be glad you invested in that multipack of earplugs from Boots.

 Festival line-up for summer 2016.

 Glastonbury, June 22-26, Pilton, Somerset. SOLD OUT.

Featuring: Muse, Adele, Coldplay, Foals, Beck, ELO

www.glastonburyfestivals.co.uk

 

FOLD (Freak Out Let’s Dance), June 24-26, Fulham, London.

First year of this Chic and Nile Rodgers curated weekend, with Beck, John Newman, Alison Moyet, Thompson Twins

foldfestival.com

 

Love Supreme, Lewes, July 1-3

Featuring: Grace Jones, Burt Bacharach, Lianne La Havas, Kelis

lovesupremefestival.com

 

British Summertime with Barclaycard, Hyde Park, London, July

This sees various big names for all music tastes play throughout the month, including Massive Attack, Kendrick Lamar and Jamie XX, Patti Smith, Carole King, Florence and the Machine, Take That and Olly Murs, Alabama Shakes and the Mumfords.

www.bst-hydepark.com

 

Northampton Town Festival, Racecourse, Northampton, July 2-3. FREE.

OK, so not strictly a music and camping festival, but the first year the town show and hot air balloons have been on the Racecourse for some time. A huge festival of family fun over two days.

www.northamptontownfestival.com

 

Tannerfest, Loddington, Northants, July 9.

A firm fixture on the Northants music scene, this small but perfectly formed event is a laid-back day out for all the family.
www.tannerfest.com

 

Wireless, Finsbury Park, London, July 8-10.

Featuring: Calvin Harris, Chase & Status, Jess Glynne, Disciples, J Cole, KYGO, Boy Better Know. wirelessfestival.co.uk/

 

Electric Daisy Carnival, Milton Keynes Bowl, July 9

Massive dance music event featuring headliners Avicii, Axwell, Martin Solvig.

uk.electricdaisycarnival.com/

 

Lovebox, Victoria Park, London, July 15-16.

Featuring Jack Garrett, Major Lazer, Diplo, Kano, Stormzy, Jungle, Chet Faker.

loveboxfestival.com

 

Secret Garden Party, Huntingdon, Cambs, July 21-24.

Featuring: Primal Scream, Air, Caribou

secretgardenparty.com/

Camp Bestival, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, July 28-31.

The little sister of September megafest Bestival and a favourite of our clan, this is a great place to kick off the school holidays and start festivaling with the family, and you’re quite likely to see former music stars chilling out with their own young ‘uns as well as the world’s largest bouncy castle. This year’s line up features Fatboy Slim, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, Katy B, Bananarama and Jess Glynne, with turns from Dick and Dom and Mr Tumble.

www.campbestival.net

 

Green Man festival, Brecon Beacons, Wales, August 18-21

Featuring Belle & Sebastian, James Blake, Warpaint and Laura Marling

www.greenman.net/

 

V Festival, Staffordshire and Chelmsford, August 20-21

H&P Ed is feeling very old; he attended the first one of these back in ’96. The big names are flying in for this year’s V Festival with Justin Beiber, Rihanna, Sia, David Guetta, faithless, the Kaiser Chiefs, Little Mix and All Saints on the list.

www.vfestival.com/

 

Atomic vintage festival, Sywell Aerodrome, Northants, Aug 20-21

This 1950s-themed festival features music, pre-1963 cars and hot-rods, lots of food ideas and stalls, set in the aerodrome and surrounds over two days.

www.atomicfestival.co.uk/

 

Reading and Leeds festivals, August 26-28.

The traditional after-exam-results experience for teens, this year’s line up across the two cities includes The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Fall Out Boy, Foals, Disclosure, Vaccines, Eagles of Death Metal and Biffy Clyro.

www.readingfestival.com www.leedsfestival.com

grand_finale Shambala [965632]

Shambala, Kelmarsh Hall, Northants, Aug 25-28.

This is a lovely family festival with a real eco-ethos and a huge sense of humour. Dressing up is encouraged and while the stages usually feature less-well-known but excellent musicians, they’ve brought in the 80s soul divas Sister Sledge to headline on Friday. The circus and arts fields are always amazing.

www.shambalafestival.org/

 

 

ENDS

 

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Camp Bestival 2015 – early line-up announced

Camp Bestival in Dorset is the best festival if you’ve got kids, and the line-up is usually great for all ages.

One year we saw Blondie, Mark Ronson and Primal Scream in the same weekend, a high-point in our festival-going lives.

You can read reviews of previous Camp Bestivals here and here
Here’s the latest news on who will be performing in 2015. Clean Bandit, Underworld and Kaisers, plus The Cat in the Hat Live. Pretty good for starters. You can sign up now for early-bird tickets at www.campbestival.net

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Not waving but drowning

I haven’t been writing for weeks. Not this writing anyway, because as well as looking after the gruesome foursome over the hols, I’ve also had a whopping great essay project to complete (not finished) which seems to be consuming all waking hours and those when I should be asleep. Insomnia is a complete bitch.
I would rather have been waxing lyrical about camp bestival, Yorkshire sculpture park, Tyneside, uniforms and the hell of swapping the kids’ bedrooms rooms over, but it will have to wait. Academia. That’s a bitch too.

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Back from festival in Dorset, off to the Olympics

Not much posting recently; we’ve been on holiday at Camp Bestival in Dorset (review to follow).
And after catching up on sleep in real beds, having much needed showers and unpacking (sort of), we’re off again tomorrow to the Olympics. The boys and I, (Bloke has gleefully opted to spend the day dossing at his parents’ with our four year old daughter as we could only get four tickets) are off to watch women’s hockey at 7pm.
I’ve now got to work out what we can take and what we can leave behind. Only one small bag for the day which can fit under the seat. No liquids, no branding, enough clothing to cope with anticipated showers, blazing sunshine and evening chill (our match starts at 7pm).
So, much like packing for last week’s camping then.
I’ll try and blog during the day, phone signal permitting…

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Camp Bestival 2011 review: Primal Scream, Debbie Harry, Amy tributes and Guardian shoulder bags as far as the eye can see

We’re just back from Camp Bestival 2011. I meant to ‘live blog’ while we were there, but the phone reception at beautiful Lulworth Castle in Dorsetshire-by-Sea is non-existent.
Which means it is a pretty good place to host a load of tech-addled parents and their phone-addicted offspring in the first week of the school holidays.

Hi Di Hi! (reads the massive sign they're leaning on)

We’re seasoned festivalers now. Helped enormously by owning a knackered rusty Mazda Bongo campervan whose seats-which-are-meant-to-collapse-into-a-bed but refused to budge on the evening we arrived. We had severe camper-envy on the distant hill on which the campervans were precariously parked.

Camp Bestival is truly the mother of all family festivals. Created by DJ and Dad Rob Da Bank and his fellow festival-loving music media workers, who have an uncanny ability to book a seamless line-up of classic bands, up-and-coming musical wizards, intelligent speakers and kid-friendly entertainers whose appeal spans generations.

We came prepared. We had a Luggable Loo in the awning and a garden trolley to cart any tired children around during the evening. The campsites had opened on the Thursday this year to allow a more leisurely set-up.

We were ready.

Friday July 29 – Priorities: Food, Carl Barat, Jon Ronson, Labrinth, Blondie.

We encountered our first long walk of many long walks from tent to site, found food, the cleanest composting toilets, kept the kids away from the queues for the fairground rides and heard a little of Jon Ronson’s book talk. We tried and failed to find where everyone had got their bright yellow Screamadelica Guardian shoulder-bags.

Castle field view

We split up late afternoon, with me taking the smaller two of our four children back to the tent for a chill-out and food bribes, while Dad and the oldest two watched Labrinth.

Back at camp we could hear ‘Sunshine’ sung across the valley in the blazing hot weather. Lovely.

We packed jumpers and waterproofs into the trolley for the night run, and got a plum spot to watch ABC and then Blondie, who did a fantastic set. We tried to explain to our sons why so many Dads were staring misty-eyed at Debbie Harry: She was hot when your Dad was your age. Sooo hot. And she’s still got it.

We headed home to the van each night knowing we’d missed lots of shows more suited to adults in the comedy tent and the silent disco but we were grateful the kids stayed up happy enough for us to watch the headliners.

Rain on Friday night didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

Saturday July 30 – Priorities: Find a Guardian bag, watch House of Pain, Mr Tumble, Mark Ronson, Groove Armada

What a day. A lazy breakfast and then down to see what was going on in the Castle Field.

Somehow we timed it perfectly to catch Dick and Dom getting thousands of children (and adults) to shout “Bogies” as loudly as possible.

"Daddy, they're singing my song"

Then to our three-year-old daughter Bonnie’s delight and bewilderment, the entire crowd sang “My Bonnie lies over the ocean.” Her song.

Perched atop Daddy’s shoulders, she then had a perfect view of the Zingzillas.

Her tiny mind was further blown when non-other than the iconic Mr Tumble took to the stage. And she didn’t bat an eyelid when Keith Allen wandered past with a pair of pants on his head. Best day EVER!

Back to the tent for half of us while the oldest boys were allowed a little free-rein to watch (running late) Miss Dynamite and Gentlemens Dub Club. We heard The Wonderstuff and Eliza Doolittle back up at the Hill.

Back down for a fat burger and chips, in time to feel the ground shake for House of Pain’s ‘Jump Around.’ Into position for Mark Ronson, who opened with Dave of the Zutons for his original rendition of Valerie, in tribute to Amy Winehouse. It was the first of two versions of the song by Ronson, who also included a cover of Winehouse’s awesome, melancholy ‘Back to Black’, performed by Charlie Waller of the Rumble Strips.

It was a scorching set by Ronson and the Business International and guests, including the Bike Song, Somebody to Love Me and Bang Bang Bang. And this wasn’t even the headline act.

We’d been looking forward to Groove Armada but technical hitches (lack of sound and the big screens) led to us getting bored and restless and heading back to camp.

But we did get a couple of bright pink Guardian bags that day. £1.50 for the paper and the bag came free! Bonus!

Sunday, July 31. Priorities: Find the corn on the cob van, walk the Dingly Dell trail, see Sound of Rum, Wretch 32, Katy B, Nero, Primal Scream and the fireworks.

By now, we’re all knackered from so much walking and so many late nights, but somehow all still positive. The kids had made friends with neighbouring kids on each side, and were happily kicking footballs at each other and clambering over better vans than ours.

In the morning run up to the site we spent £2.50 three times on identical copies of the Observer, just because we wanted the new bright green bags, emblazoned with Primal Scream’s anthemic song title ‘Get Your Rocks off.’

We had a wander and settled for lunch in the kids field to be treated to a troop of Indian dancers and acrobats doing daring deeds and telling a sad traditional story of a princess and her suitors.

Pauline Black and The Selector were Ska-ing up the main stage with relish, and we settled into our tried and tested spot to the right of the stage for Wretch 32. Only a short set, including an out-of-character cover of a Script song. He pulled it back with storming versions of Unorthodox and Traktor.

Katy B's in there somewhere, rubbish photo

Newly orange-haired Katy B, who was the breakthrough act at Glastonbury, proved her vocal dexterity with an energetic set including Easy Please Me, Katy on a Mission and Perfect Stranger.

We’d have liked her to do more, and she could have, because dubstep duo Nero were a no-show, having already had their place in the pecking order elevated. Bah, losers.

Their slot was stirlingly taken on by beatboxer extraordinaire, Beardyman (who as far as we could see had no beard). A sublime set, clever lyrics and amazing visuals. Son 2 turned to his Dad and said: “You have to buy his album, so I can nick it off you.”

Then it was the big one. What we’d all been waiting for, either to reminisce about life before kids to the soundtrack of the Screamadelica album in full (us) or see what all this Primal Scream fuss was about (the kids).

What a soaring, hands-in-the-air, Bobby Gillespie rock-god worshipping experience it was. By the time they reached ‘Come Together’ it was as though the whole field could solve all the worlds’ problems just by singing. Incredible. The kids totally got it. Eldest son hasn’t taken off the t-shirt which cost him all his weekend cash.

Settling in for Primal Scream

The evening, and the festival, was topped off by a truly awesome fireworks display from the top of the castle, which had animation projected into it while a booming soundtrack accompanied the visuals.

The kids were still buzzing with excitement by the time we got back to the tent (Bonnie was asleep in the trolley on the way back). Our airbed may have acquired a puncture but we slept well, and when it came time to try to get the seats back into postition to pack the van and drive home, they slid into position effortlessly. Obviously good karma.

Mr Da Bank is, we agreed, a Top Bloke for putting on the best Camp Bestival yet (and we loved the previous ones too). Many thanks to all who came together to make it a festival experience to remember.

No fallow year either: next year’s Camp Bestival is already scheduled for Thursday 26th to Sunday 29th July 2012. Book early!

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Ten top tips for camping with kids

BY the time you read this, we should be back from our annual camping trip. For the few days before, I wasn’t in much of a holiday mood.

Getting ready for camping with kids is like mobilising a small army. Or at least involves searching every room in the house and spending a fortune on things you probably already had.

I’ve a few tips for those brave enough to take to the great outdoors during the summer break:

1. Take a high-sided travel cot for babies and an all-in-one snowsuit. It gets cold at night and the cot doubles as a playpen.

2. Buy readybeds for under sevens. (Preferably when they are on offer out of season). These are all in one airbeds and sleeping bags that fold up to the size of a football. It’s easier to persuade them into bed when there’s Tinkerbell or Buzz and Woody on the covers

3. Use ready-made formula milk cartons if camping with a baby. You can freeze them and keep in a coldbox to defrost slowly.

4. Wipes are your salvation against stinkiness. Baby wipes for bodies, antibac wipes for everywhere else. Hand-gel that cleans without water is essential.

5. Pack light, but for all weathers. You’ll need thick coats and woolly hats for night, foldable waterproofs for days. Slip on shoes to nip to the loo, wellies just because. While my sons would happily wear the same clothes to run about in and sleep in too, I insist on at least clean underwear and pyjamas. Shoes off at the door of the tent.

6. Solar fairy lights mark out your tent at night, and we have one of those flagpoles with a fish on top to help us navigate during the day.

7. Wind-up torches are noisy and don’t last long. Gas lamps sold in camping shops are a great investment, but keep out of reach of kids. Headtorches are a great invention. A solar radio will last far longer than your smartphone’s battery.

8. If you’re cooking in camp, do it on a proper stove. A disposable barbecue won’t heat the kettle. Mornings are more manageable with a cup of tea to hand

9. Use bribes, bribes and more bribes. Colouring pads, comics, sweets, crisps – whatever it takes.

10. Be relaxed. Yes, it’s dirty, the food’s cold and you’re missing Eastenders. Get over it, let the kids go feral and crack open the box of cheap wine. You’re on holiday.

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Why our family gave up on Glastonbury

HOW many of us watching the annual Glastonbury mudfest were thinking, actually, I’m quite happy seeing it from the sofa, thanks?

That’s quite hard for some of us to admit. Bloke and I were regular Glasto-goers in our pre-parenting years, but have only been once since.

And it’s not one I’d go to again with the kids.

Something about seeing those pictures of muddy, knackered-out little urchins being dragged around by adults either DETERMINED to have a good time, or looking as though they were about to cry, just made me think, take them home, have a bath, watch the rest on TV. Leave them with Grandma next time.

The Glastonbury site is just vast. Nothing you see on telly can actually make you understand how exhausting and confusing it can be if you’re a grown-up and relatively sober, let alone a kid. Even in good weather.
I think the next Glastonbury-goers from our house are more likely to be our elder two boys, and even then I’m thinking “not until you’re 18.” The idea terrifies me, but I guess it won’t be long before I don’t have much of a say.

But in the meantime there are festivals that are great to visit with kids, and for the last few years we’ve attended the likes of Womad and the excellent Camp Bestival with the entire brood.

Bonnie had been to three festivals before her third birthday. 

You must bear in mind that going to a festival with family in tow isn’t like going to one on your own, where the only person you’re responsible for is, er, you.
At a family festival you can still enjoy the live acts, the music, the outdoorsy freedom and even a cider or two, and your children can do the same (minus the cider). You let them stay up later than usual and experience music and art in a way that our generation couldn’t.

But you also have to admit that when it’s dark, muddy, chucking down with rain and blowing a gale, its kinder to everyone if you head back to relative safety and comfort of a tent or camper. It might feel defeatist but you’ll be grateful in the morning. Honest.

There’s plenty of firework finales or headline acts we’ve missed because we’ve just bottled it and stayed dry. That’s the beauty of going to a festival over a conventional music gig. If you miss something, you’ll catch something else that’s good too.

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We’re all going on a festi-holiday

SEEING as we’re all skint, and booking an overseas family holiday seems a thing of the past, we’ve started planning this year’s Festi-Hol.

Blessed with an oversized family and an ageing Bongo campervan, our trips away in recent years have included one of my big dislikes – camping.

However, throw me at a festival and somehow the discomfort and hassle seems to lessen. Slightly.

Add a few bottles of cider and some brilliant live bands at sundown and I’m yours for the duration. I’ll even bring my own supernoodles.

The mother of all family festivals is Camp Bestival in Dorset, which drew us in a couple of years back with promises of Mr Tumble, Zane Lowe and Florence and the Machine.

Combining the weekend with a few days exploring beautiful Dorset from a windy campsite, we felt we’d killed two birds with one stone. The kids slept in a tent, played on beaches and ran around at a festival being either cool and detached, arty and dancy, or just watching mesmerised from the comfort of a pram (depending on their age).

This year we’re tempted back to Camp Bestival as they appear to have booked headline acts specifically with us in mind: Blondie, Primal Scream, Mark Ronson, Wrench 32, Katy B, the Gruffalo and Mr Tumble. Add in the skatepark, comedy tent, zoo in the woods and fellow families-in-the-same-boat, and it’s already sounding better than a week in Majorca.

If you’re nervous of festi-holling with kids, then do your research. We used to do the festival circuit regularly pre-parenthood, and some we’d avoid. While Glastonbury does cater well for families, it is dauntingly huge. V, Reading and Leeds are not really aimed at a junior audience, and you tend to see more than you bargain for at the more rock or dance music festivals.

Some of the family festivals offer payment plans, but charge extra for boutique camping, parking and camper passes.

If you don’t have a campervan, the festival experience isn’t too hideous. You can park up and transfer all heavy tent stuff to a pull-trolley (most festivals will hire you one), and the toilet facilities are much, much better than they used to be.

As long as you’re prepared to carry a few packets of tissues and wash with wet-wipes for a couple of days, sleep badly, eat far too many chips, and bribe your children with over-priced ice-creams, it’s a great experience. There’s so much to see, as well as people-watching the wild dressing-up outfits and the Boden-clad Yummy Mummies who get their nannies to watch the kids while they pretend to like poetry.

Finish your weekend with a visit to Monkey World or the Tank Museum, and a festi-hol can tick more boxes than your average family trip ever could.

Family-friendly festivals for 2011

Larmer Tree, July 13 – 17, near Salisbury. 5 days £197 adult, £158 aged 11-17, £127 5-10, day tickets available. Line-up Joolz Holland, Imelda May, Seasick Steve, Asian Dub Foundation.

Camp Bestival – July 28-31, Lulworth Castle, Dorset, Adult £170, Ages 11-17 £85, under 11s free, Line-up Blondie, Primal Scream, Laura Marling, Mark Ronson, ABC, Katy B

Womad, July 29-31, Malmesbury, Wiltshire, £135, £70 aged 14-17, under 13s free. Line-up: Very much world/jazzy

Guilfest July 15-17, Stoke Park, Guildford, £120 , aged 12-15 £70, under 12s free. Line-up Razorlight, James Blunt, PIL, Peter Andre and Erasure

Beautiful Days, August 19-21, Devon, adult, £110, 14-17, £60, under 14 £30. Line-up Big Audio Dynamite, Cater USM and founders The Levellers

Latitude, July 14-17, Beccles, Suffolk, Adult £170, £5 for 5-12 year olds. Line-up, The National, Suede, Paolo Nutini, Waterboys, OMD, Paloma Faith

Bestival – September 8-11, Isle of Wight, £170, aged 13-15 £85, under 13s free. Line-up The Cure, Primal Scream, Magnetic Man, Grandmaster Flash, loads more names

Shambala, Aug 25-28, Kelmarsh, Northants, £119, 15-17 years £79, 5-14 years £29, under 5s free, no names, no advertising, no sponsors, good fun.

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Would you give your 11-year-old a mobile phone?

GOING through the holiday snaps stored on various cameras I noticed a theme: Dougie is playing with his mobile phone in almost every photograph.

This was to be expected. Giving an 11-year old his first mobile phone and then not letting him fiddle with it for the next month is like giving a puppy a chew toy he can’t bite.

If, like us, you are taking the plunge and getting your pre-teen a phone as secondary school and new independence looms, then don’t leave it until September. Get it now and they’ve got the rest of the holiday for the novelty to wear off.

There’s legitimate research that says children shouldn’t be holding mobiles to their ears as their brains are still growing, and they are more susceptible to the radiation emitted.

There’s also fears of them being more open to mugging, bullying and generally spending too much of their time and our money. We parents can argue that we grew up fine without mobiles, but we also grew up with smoke-filled homes and no seat belts in our cars.

We need to accept that times have changed, and mobile phones are both a noisy, expensive curse and an utterly brilliant way of keeping tabs on our children.

Trust me: that phone isn’t really for him, it’s for us.

Festival not as exciting as my phone

Last year we went through the whole hand-wringing over mobiles with our eldest son before he went to secondary school.

Back then, a whole 12 months ago, it was easy to buy a bog-standard, no-one-would-want-to-nick-it model, which Jed bored of quite quickly and only uses to write illegible texts to his friends on. I pay £10 a month for credit on a pay-and-go basis– no negotiation – after advice not to sign a kid up to a contract. Getting a free texts/limited calls sim card is advisable, as they won’t spend much time talking on it.

However, phones have come a long way in a very short time. They are far more sophisticated, and even getting a cheap one meant touch-screens, android technology and social networking built in. It’s a job to even work out how to actually make a phone call on the blinkin’ thing.

Much to the annoyance of Bloke and I, Doug’s bargain phone is better than our contract ones. And no, we are not going to join the herd and hand over any money to Apple. Iphones are so last year.

Dougie is a techno fiend. Within minutes of its first battery charge he’d entered all his mates’ numbers, sent us all texts, downloaded a game, set his ringtone and transferred all his music files. I fear the novelty may never wear off.

I’ve already wrenched it from his sticky mitts, usually when he’s engrossed and ignoring everything around him, like walking into the road. I need to stem his addiction now before he gets it confiscated during his first week of school.

After all, it’s no good to me as a tracking device if it’s in a teacher’s drawer. . .

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