Friday, 20 July 2012

#Whistable Oyster Festival for Families #wof2012

Follow @EastKentMum as I enjoy the festival with my family and friends.
Saturday 21st July
10:00 Splashpals
FREE event at Whitstable Harbour
Watch Newfoundland dogs demonstrate water rescues.
Note: Whitstable Oyster Guide 2012 notes that Splashpals is on from 10-5pm and is weather and tide dependent.

11:00 Soran Bushi and Taiko Drumming
Japanese drumming and dancing: A fisherman’s dance by students 
Whitstable Harbour

12:00 Lunch
Head to the highstreet or picnic on the beach.

13:00 Ratty, Mole and Toad
Street theatre performance which follows these much-loved characters as they embark on an urban adventure.
Whitstable Library

13:30 Meet Salana the Seal
Meet Salana the seal: a two-metre long grey seal. Performed by Circo Rum Ba Ba.
Whitstable Library

14:30-15:00 Landing of the Oysters and The Oyster parade
The official festival opening ceremony. A centuries old tradition, the ceremony concludes with a procession from The Bowls Centre to Oxford Street where the Lord Mayor delivers an Oyster to each pub and restaurant along the way.
Long beach

16:45-17:30 Samba!
Horsebridge Square
High energy Samba music from local favourites Samba Pelo Mar.

Note: Keep an eye out for Morris dancing (performed by Dead Horse Morris and Friends) throughout the course of the day.

Sunday 22nd July

This is a day for strolling around, chilling out, enjoying local art, sampling local produce and soaking up the lively atmosphere. A must-do activity is to enjoy the best of over 60 local producers’ foods and drink at the EPICentre Food Fair in Whitstable Harbour.

The morning starts with a Sunday Service and Parade from St. Alphege Church. Then, keep an eye out for: traditional sea shanties sung in Whitstable Harbour, BBQs and beer on the beach, open art studio sessions, and various music events.

The highlight of the day for young children is Trundlehonk! A family-friendly one-man-band (with a comic twist) on walkabout at various points through the day.

I will be going to Sheds! This is a photographic exhibition of people and their sheds on show at Whitstable Museum. You can also find me checking out the art on display at the Horsebridge Centre. And don’t forget to buy your raffle tickets from the Horsebridge Centre, which give you the chance to win a Doll’s House worth £3000. Tickets are sold in aid of the Horsebridge Centre and Trust Sulha (a Kent based charity raising money to educate Afghan refugees in Pakistan).

Monday 23rd July

Get your wellies on for this early morning Seashore Safari on Whitstable beach (near Keam’s Yard). This free activity is guaranteed to fascinate the whole family as you discover and learn about the little creatures that thrive on Whitstable beach.

For little ones there’s a Pop Up Cinema in The Whitstable Umbrella Centre from 11:00-13:00. Bring a picnic rug and snacks and enjoy a range of child-friendly films in a relaxed atmosphere. Cost is just £1. (Note: This fantastic event set up by a local mum isn’t advertised in the brochure so don’t miss it!)

Children from 6 years plus can compete in a fun Bubble-Blowing Competition on Tankerton Slopes at 11:30. There is a cost of just £2.

There are two engaging workshops on at the Horsebridge Centre this afternoon. From 13:45 onwards there are three sessions available to Make a Beach Beacon in preparation for Thursday’s firework display. And, at 3pm, older children from 12 years up can take part in a Puppetry Workshop to learn the skills to bring artefacts to life and become puppeteers!

Note: You need to book in advance with the Horsebridge Centre. To book either event phone: 01227 281174.

Tuesday 24th July

From 10:00-13:00, there is a range of free games and fun activities for all ages on Tankerton Slopes. Then skip off to Whitstable’s Umbrella Centre to watch a free, Punch and Judy show. According to the Whitstable guide, this 350 year old tradition “promises to entertain a new generation of children and their parents”. However, I can’t promise to what extent it will have been revised for a modern audience. (Show times: 12:00; 13:45 and 15:00)

The funniest event of the day is sure to be the Crabbing Competition taking place at 16:30 on Horsebridge/Reeves beach in Whitstable. Judges decide who has caught the best crab on nothing more than a whim! Note: You need to register at 16:00 and pay just 20p).

Wednesday 25th July

Children aged 4 upwards will definitely want to take part in the Eggy Escapades egg race. Enter one of four workshops taking place at the Horsebridge Centre to prepare and decorate your egg in preparation for Friday afternoon’s egg racing competition on Tankerton slopes.

Egg decorating and race preparation workshops take place at the Horsebridge Centre (01227 281174) at 10:30, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:30. Cost: £3 per egg.

Thursday 26th July

The day is full of activities in preparation for the evening’s parade and night’s firework display.

Get booked onto a crown-making workshop to ensure your little one has a crown fit for a Grotter King or Queen. There’s also the opportunity to make a glorious grotter with your Whitstable Oyster shell.

From dusk onwards, children will wear their crowns and carry their oyster shell grotters as everyone takes part in a magical stroll along Reeves beach. The free firework display can be viewed along the stretch of beach between the Horsebridge and the Neptune pub.

Crown making workshops: 9:30-13:00 and 13:34-17:15. Cost: £3. Book in advance: 01227 281174.

Grotter-making: From 14:30-17:00 (pop along any time). Cost: FREE. I recommend bringing your own oyster shell, to avoid disappointment, in case they run out.

Firework Display: 21:45. Cost: Free.

Friday 27th July

Eggy Escapades – The Smashing Final

At 10am, all the children who decorated and took part in Wednesday’s Eggy Escapes workshop, now take part in this fun competition. Other children will enjoy watching, I’m sure. Good luck!

Young children from 5 years upwards will enjoy the free Picassos on the Pavement event outside Whitstable Library from 14:00-15:30. Local artist, Paul George, will help your little one create their very own piece of chalk art on the pavement.

My family is looking forward to hearing and watching the Barrow Band on The Deck at Whitstable Harbour from 14:30-16:00. Songs about fruit and vegetables are accompanied by little legumes dancing. I can’t wait to see the line-dancing mushrooms and swinging pineapples.

If you need a break but your children are still full of energy, then head to Deco 5 at 16:30. Picassos on the Pavement artist will end the day performing Fred Bear and the Magic Mouse. Parents can chill out and enjoy a drink while the kids have lots of free fun.

We are going to try to conclude the festival listening to music performed by Broadstairs and St Peter’s Concert Band at St.Peter’s Church, Sydenham Street. This special festival concert in the beautiful surroundings of St Peter’s Church includes a wide repertoire from favourite classics to Disney tunes. The cost is £5 (with concessions for under 10s). You can buy tickets on the door or call 01227 792425.

Have a wonderful time at The Whistable Oyster Festival 2012 and I look forward to seeing you. Twitter @EastKentMum.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

#AttachmentParenting and Business

Following this morning's article in The TelegraphI investigate how #breastfeeding, baby wearing and business can be compatible.

I have a 4-month-old baby and a toddler. Due to the funding on offer, business advice available, and creative vibe in East Kent at the moment I believe that it is essential to network, information gather and seek funding for my start-up business now. However, I am also passionate about the benefits to mother, child and society of natural parenting methods. These include baby-led breastfeeding, carrying baby and bed-sharing - all of which have recently been termed Attachment Parenting (but which my husband and I came to by accident).

We are in a financial crisis, a pension crisis, an unemployment crisis, a childcare crisis and parents are struggling as children spend less and less time with the family (whatever type of family unit that is). It’s time for society to ask some tough questions. Just tweaking the same old policies is not going to work anymore. I think some of the principles of Attachment Parenting (I prefer the term Natural Parenting) can help us do this. And no, this is not a return to the 1980s/90s supermum! Nor is it a return to a dangerously sentimental perception of motherhood. To find out more read:

The Health and Financial Benefits of Attachment Parenting
The World Health Organisation, among other leading international bodies, has demonstrated that breastfeeding for at least six months (ideally a year plus) is best for baby and mum - especially in the battle against obesity, which costs countries millions of pounds and lives. Going from breastfeeding to solid food (baby-led weaning) without the need for purchasing pureed food is also free. Through education we could help children have healthy diets and save parents money. This has to be a good thing.

Top Tips for Mixing Babies and Business:

  • Be respectful. This is not an in-your-face political battle. Most people are happy to assist you – particularly more mature women who were mums of young children over the past few decades.
  • Be thoughtful. If you’re breastfeeding, is it worth taking a muslin square to cover yourself even if you don’t usually? (I rarely cover myself when breastfeeding but one society-changing activity at a time).
  • Be considerate. If your baby is screaming continuously, please leave the room. We need to show that parents can mix motherhood (or fatherhood) and business in a responsible and reasonable way.
  • Be prepared for a lot of interest and questions. This can actually be good for networking!
  • If it’s a large gathering, like a networking event or there are public speakers, contact the meeting organiser in advance if you can. This will allow you to build a rapport with her/him and a chance for them to accommodate you on joint terms. For example, to arrange seating arrangements in case you need to make a speedy exit for things like nappy changes.
  • Can you do something to promote the organiser or can they use you to promote them as forward-thinking and open to new working practices?
  • Embrace social media and new technology for support, networking and flexible working opportunities.

A call to action
Children are suffering. Mums and dads feel torn. Rather than just talking about the same old topics: the importance of breastfeeding, the need for quality childcare and the requirement of my generation to support an ageing population (#whenIm65), we need to come up with alternative economically and socially viable solutions.

I don’t like the options available to me and my family and neither do most of the other mums and dads I know. I want to find ways of sharing my experiences and maybe, just maybe, through social media and exposure other parents, MPs, healthcare professionals, business entrepreneurs, FTSE 100 companies, academics, charities, educational bodies etc will want to join my experiment too. 

I’m a catalyst for ideas and experimenting with new business and parenting techniques. For debate and ideas please use me!

Mixing Babies with Business in East Kent
I have recently attended some important business and voluntary group meetings with my youngest baby in a sling. Sometimes my toddler comes too if it’s the kind of event where we can do colouring-in, puzzles and other fun activities. But sometimes this isn’t fair to him or appropriate to the event, so daddy, his grandparents or a friend have helped look after him (more on the childcare debate another time!).

I would particularly like to thank and highlight the following events for welcoming me as a slinging, breastfeeding mum trying to do business and support families in the local community:

With thanks to @hackneydoula for highlighting the article.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Grandparents, Childcare and Working #whenim65 
If we remove ageism as a barrier to work then anyone who is healthy, fit and willing should be able to contribute to society by working– no matter what their age. BBC 1’s documentary The Town that Never Retired was insightful

However, it investigated the concept of what work is within a fairly conventional framework. If we are serious about tackling the major issues facing our society (an ageing population, the pension crisis, high youth unemployment, unaffordable childcare etc) then we need a radical re-think about what work is and how it is valued and remunerated.

Grandparents and childcare
My children’s grandparents are all over 65 and working. Some of the work they do is paid and some is voluntary but they all hold positions of responsibility. My in-laws also offer invaluable free childcare support to me and my husband, as they live locally (and they’re amazing!). This helps me as I’m trying to set up a business, alongside fulltime motherhood and various voluntary posts to assist women and families in East Kent (although statistically I’m either deemed unemployed or a homemaker).

Increasingly society is dependent on pensioners offering free childcare and even free care to their mentally or physically disabled spouse as they grow older. They are also relied on to provide much-needed voluntary support in the community. I still remember helping my grandmother in a charity shop when she was in her 70s years ago. And yet, over 65s are often not perceived as being capable of doing a job in a commercial environment. When my business is up and running, I hope to utilise skills from talented people based on their skills and enthusiasm - and not age.

An experiment for East Kent?
It strikes me that East Kent would be an interesting place to experiment with alternative working practices given its ageing population, the number of unemployed, the large number of further and higher educational establishments, the growth in start-ups and its regeneration agenda. It also has an interesting dynamic due to its vibrant creative community involving artists of all ages.

I'd love to know what the people of East Kent think.

And finally ...
This article was inspired by late night Tweeting between @escapetocreate and @Marcowhitspurs. Thanks both!

You can see Parts 1 and 2 of of BBC1s TV documentary The Town that Never Retired on BBC iplayer.

Coming soon: An article on Breastfeeding and Business in East Kent and EastKentMum's recommendation for families visiting the Whitstable Oyster Festival.

Friday, 6 July 2012

@EastKentMum on @LoungeOnTheFarm

Important info for families going to #LoungeOnTheFarm can be found at

The weather is warm but wet. We are packing the last of our bits and pieces for Kent's family friendly music festival and will be arriving soon.

I recommend you find the #NCT tent. Rumour has it that tired mums may get a free massage! Let me know if this is true. Certainly there will be chill out areas for babies. You can also find out about what your local East Kent children's centre can do for you (if you're not already accessing this free facility).

Zingzillas are performing this weekend if your children fancy a bop with their furry friends.

I will be tweeting updates as @EastKentMum throughout the weekend. Do let me know if you find any top child-friendly food facilities, events or activities and I'll post or re-tweet.

Top Tip: Don't forget your waterproofs and wellies. And double bag children's spare clothes if you're in tents (especially bedtime clothing so they are warm and dry). 

Image downloaded from the Lounge on the Farm website.