kids, travel

Futuroscope review

Summer family fun, and Futuroscope review

We’ve had a fab time this summer, with trips up to Lancashire, Swansea, and Hastings – and two weeks camping in France – at the end of our camping trip, we spent some time at a couple of theme parks, and I’ll let 11yo take over the story from here. This is his review in his own words:

Futuroscope review – age 11

This summer, after leaving the campsite at Dune du Pyla in Southern France, which we had stayed at for two weeks, my brother and I and family stopped off at an F1 Hotel near Poitiers, and slept there for the night to break up the journey back home.

Dune du PylaAs we woke up, my Mum and Dad declared that we were going for a surprise visit somewhere.

And so we set off, in our car, my brother and I stared out of the window hoping for signs of where we were going.
Not too long after, we spotted a big crystal shard building sticking out of the ground, in the distance.

We then started noticing signs marked Futuroscope, and there was then a turning on the motorway with a big sign directing us down a slip road, the sign was also marked ‘Futuroscope’!­

Futuroscope road signAs we pulled into the car park we started asking our Dad about Futuroscope and he explained that it is an amazing theme park which we have been driving passed every year and this year we were lucky enough to get free entry as my Mum writes a blog.

My first thoughts about Futuroscope was the fantastic large buildings: a city of cylinders, the great shard building, and we couldn’t wait to check out the rides.

As we walked through the theme park, I kept my eye out for rides and when I couldn’t see any I asked Dad and he said that the rides were all inside rides, so the first ride we went on was in the Shard building, which was a 4D movie with moving seats, wind, and on a moving conveyor belt so that it felt as if you were inside the screen – Rayman Rabbids Time Travel.

It explained all of the odd things about history and how they had been caused by the Rabbids. I really enjoyed this ride, as it was my first indoor theme park ride experience.

Futuroscope shardOur second ride experience was a driving experience. Were it seem like you were in a formula one car racing through the sharp cornered streets of a French city and nearly running people over. They made this experience work by using: moving seats, air fans and water jets; which sprayed at us.

Our next ride experience was my favourite because the staff strapped you into the hand of a robotic arm and asked you what level you wanted 1, 2 or 3. I chose number 3 and the arm span into action. Twisting and spinning, tipping upside down, all in the time of the beat. (there was music playing.)

The ride was called Dances with Robots. . . I’ve only included my very favourite rides as I would be here all day otherwise!

Ali: I would like to add a thanks to Futuroscope for their Premium passes – I can highly recommend, saves so much queuing time! The PREMIUM Pass gives:

• One-off priority access for 1 person to 5 attractions: “The Time Machine”, “Virus Attack”, “Dynamic Vienne”, “Dances with Robots” and “Arthur, the 4D Adventure” – we went on them ALL (although, the Virus Attack made me feel VERY ill!)

Follow Ali on twitter as @incredibusymum and for more posts like this one… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! and come say hello at too x
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crafts, education, kids, travel

The Good Life Experience – family festival

The Good Life Experience

Helter Skelter na na na na na

We’ve had ourselves a full and active summer, we just didn’t want it to be over…

Youngest started at ‘bigger than ever’ school and we thought, that’s it, Autumn is on its way – And then, with great joy, we packed our tent into the back of the car and took ourselves off for a long weekend to North Wales. We were meeting my sister, husband and Gracie the dog, for an amazing family weekend at The Good Life Experience, and WHAT a wonderful family festival.

Located in the grounds of the Hawarden Estate, former home of Prime Minister William Gladstone and now owned by his great-great grandson Charlie Gladstone and his wife Caroline (they of vintage lifestyle brand, Pedlars). You may have seen us talking about Pedlars over on too – as they’ve been one of our #sgiew (@sogoodineveryway) photo challenge judges.

It’s a stunning location, with a castle, rolling grounds, a lake… before you even start to take in the iconic helter skelter, the beautiful bell tents, and general loveliness that goes to make this such a fabulous spot for a family festival of Music, Culture, Food & The Great Outdoors.

Andrew Berry Brui good life experience prints

We bumped into so many people we knew from the world of Instagram, including the talented illustrator Lucie Sheridan, and sweetly lovely Ruby @RubyDiamonds and her family, the winners of our #sgiew_goodlife Photo Challenge earlier this year – you can read Ruby’s review here.

All of the workshops and stall holders were happy and enthusiastic, and a delight to meet bumping into a chatting to the nicest of people… nods at Amanda Banham ceramics, Ali Dover, Jennie Maizels (pictured below on the swing!), Beth from Decorator’s Notebook, YuyoHepple Gin (yep, I might just have sampled the gin), Edward Carefoot Journeyman, Dorte from Lewes Map, Elinor and Michael, Beachhutcook, Helen from Nellie and Eve; who have I missed!

A video posted by Ali Clifford (@incredibusy) on

The Good Life Experience was founded in 2014 by four friends Cerys Matthews, Steve Abbott and Charlie & Caroline Gladstone, and they’ve crafted a festival that is wonderfully entertaining, based around themes of slow living, hand crafts, and the great outdoors, with a bit of poetry and live music thrown in for good measure. Fabulous guest speakers, art & craft workshops, swing bands and lindy hop dancing, coffee stops, ceramics, archery, axe throwing, Jennie Maizels‘ sketchbook clubs, Alex Pole forge kitchenware, plasticine stop motion animation, bushcraft,  a dog show(!) and so much more!

Plasticine dogs for the Amazing Scene Machine
Lea and Spike’s Plasticine dog for the Amazing Scene Machine
Looking forward to seeing the finished animation Jim Parkyn!

Between the six of us, we managed to cram a LOT into the weekend, listened to the amazing (and hilarious) Doctor John Cooper Clarke, adventurer Ben Fogle talking about his life, DJ78 with his classic wind up gramophones,  and John Higgs, talking KLF and the spectacular Swing Patrol swing dance class… yes, I’ve looked them up on the internet, there IS a class near me!

Amanda Banham has us hard at work – the two Ali-s – Clifford and Dover

We marvelled at Neil from the Harwarden Estate and his amazing pumkin carving, we danced and cheered for the amazing Stealing Sheep.

The wonderfully polka dot Stealing Sheep

As Tim at Gather Outdoors said, it’s great to meet up with so many like-minded people all in one place (and many that we follow and interact with on the ‘gram!)

We’re already planning our visit to The Good Life Experience next year and there are some Super early-bird tickets on sale here for 15-17 September 2017. We seriously can’t wait!

Black cow vodka
Roll up roll up – the academy awaits
Neil’s amazing pumpkins
That moonlit sky though…
Jeremy Vine in full flow…
Jennie Maizels brings the blue skies
Gill Meller and his smokin’ fish…
The forest bar
Adam Stanley, Welsh seafood pit bake
Adam Stanley, Welsh seafood pit bake
Adam Stanley, Welsh seafood pit bake
FANFARE CIOCĂRLIA and the wonderful Cerys
dj78 – we like his style!
Diabel Cissokho wowing the crowds
A field of clover for Gracie the dog to bounce around in
Instagram Stories came into their own! @incredibusy
Cerys reads Sue Boyle – ‘a leisure centre is also a temple of learning’
Cerys gets us all singing ‘let’s go fly a kite’
Caught by the river
Apples and Glitterballs


Jennie Maizels and me, Ali Clifford on the best swing ever


Words and photographs, Ali Clifford
Also writes over on

baking, cooking, crafts, create, key stage 2, kids, travel

Fforest gather – a new kind of family holiday

Cheese makingOh…what a summer it’s been… the best yet, and August has been marvellous, the weather fine, and family time together just so special as our boys get older – they are more independent and dare I say a little ‘feral’ this year? We’ve had the best of times and made new friends, made memories, and given us something to look forward to next summer too – why? what? how? you ask? Well, a week at Fforest gather, that’s what!

If you’ve not heard about Fforest gather – you’re clearly not following me on the instagram – or @coldatnight, which you should remedy forthwith – follow us here and here… It’s through instagram that I, and it transpires, chatting to fellow campers at Fforest gather, many others, have ‘met’ Sian and fallen in love with what she and husband James have been doing in Cardigan, Wales for the last couple of years…

A small intimate ‘festival’, not really a festival, but that explains the basis of the event – week long holiday with accommodation (optional, you can also bring your own tent/camper van) and daily workshops you won’t want to miss… a new kind of holiday in fact! Two family friendly weeks of adventures in nature, music, culture, creativity and simple pleasures.

view from our group tentWe stayed in one of the ‘group tents‘ – our family in one end, in two bedrooms, and our friends and their three small children in the facing ‘tent’. We brought our own sleeping bags and pillows, and the shared bathrooms a short walk away were positive luxury compared to some campsites we’ve stayed in! The group tents have a communal cooking, and eating area in the centre – and an amazing view across the fields. However, after trying the first catered meal in the canteen, we decided that we’d ditch the camp cooking, and eat with the majority of the other campers – the breakfast and evening meals were just amazing – and the dining area was super conducive to socialising too.

supper time

The beauty of the Fforest gather is that the workshops, talks, walks, performances and activities are all included in the ticket price. Two sessions a day, one at a very civilised 10am, and the afternoon sessions start at 2pm – Between our two families, we tried Screenprinting, Nature illustration; natural dyeing, canoeing, Tamsin with her pencil and puppet making, Bees make honey with the honey farm, making bacon, smoking fish, making cheese,  cooking with fire; axe & knife craft; yoga and wellness; drumming; beer cocktail classes; bird illustrations, silver ring making;  forest school sessions; den building; tree climbing; wild swimming and learnt about foraging with Jade and coppicing with Bruce – woah, all in one week?!

the pubThe evenings were equally entertaining, with, Music from Eyre Llew, and DJs and chatting, and Fforest Island discs, and beer drinking at the adorable little ‘Bwthyn pub‘. Candle lit, and roaring fire – this little pub is located at the heart of the Fforest camp.

A brief selection of our favourite workshops:
Natural dyeing with Hazel Stark – Indigo Shibori (a Japanese pattern technique) – we were so blessed with the weather, so a day spent outside in the Fforest vegetable gardens, patiently folding, pegging and dipping our canvas tote bags was well spent.

Indigo Dye
Indigo Dye

Bird drawing with Matt Sewell, such a delight; as was the glasses onto inanimate objects with Finn Thomson making faces and giving objects sight – such a fun workshop! Seeing objects – using wire, paper, glue, and a LOT of imagination, in the project barn.

Screenprinting was a really big hit with Lex from Feather studios and her patient partner @morganhenryjames.


Cheese making was a revelation (and made for the best photos! #instagramthat) Curds and whey with cheese chief Max – who it transpires, can also tell a tale, and sing a song….

Beer O ClockBeer was high on the agenda, with Evil Gordon doing a turn talking beer cocktails, Beerbods, and sourdough bread making in the wood fired oven.

Jade Wild Pickings

And then there was foraging! @wildpickings 🍃🌿 Jade took us on a walk; foraging for edible hedgerow wonders – we’ve learnt such a LOT this week 🍃🌿

Oh and Sam! The Newquay Honey Farm Man – brilliant and enchanted!

Seriously, this is an event/holiday/week long party I would recommend – such a lovely way to spend time with your family.
We went with good friends, and came away with even more…


The Farmhouse
Music from Eyre Llew
Beer cocktails in the Farmhouse
Coppice College


In the tool shed
walk into Cardigan to visit the PizziTipi
walk into Cardigan to visit the PizziTipi
Sunset over the Tipi
Sunset over the Tipi
Forage baskets
Forage baskets
making Sour dough
making sour dough
Coppice College Woodburner
Coppice College Woodburner


Time to plan for 2017… 14-27 August
A new kind of holiday.
Two family friendly weeks of adventures in nature, music, culture, creativity, making, growing & simple pleasures.
500 acres of bliss. Only 300 tickets available each week.
Week 1 – Monday 14th – Sunday 20th of August
Week 2 – Monday 21st – Sunday 27th of August
Accommodation released on 29th of September 2016.

Ali also writes over on

competitions, travel

WIN tickets to The Good Life Experience

WIN tickets to The Good Life Experience

SGIEW-goodlife-prize-draw-incredibusyWho would like to win two tickets to The Good Life Experience festival? Read on!

It’s Tuesday and we are back on track post-half-term-break so let’s launch this week’s #sgiew challenge! {@sogoodineveryway hosted by @incredibusy and @redtedart} I would have posted sooner but just spent a good hour looking at our wedding photos!!!! This week the theme is #sgiew_goodlife so let’s see your photos; tag us on your festival pics; school fête photos; tea in the garden; bunting on your tents; and how about we throw in a PRIZE TOO?
We have two #GoodLifeExperience adult tickets with camping from this week’s judge @goodlifeexperience worth £198 up for grabs – get tagging!

The Good Life Experience –  A festival of Music, Culture, Food & The Great Outdoors. Curated by Cerys Matthews & others.16-18 September 2016.

Use hashtags #sgiew_goodlife to join in #sgiew

And to read more about the hashtag #sgiew click here:


Ts and Cs:

The prize is two adult tickets with camping, to The Good Life Experience 16-18 September 2016.
Use hashtags #sgiew_goodlife to join in #sgiew
One winner will be selected by @goodlifexperience
No purchase is necessary to enter the competition.
The competition is not open to employees (or members of their immediate families) of The Good Life Experience or any other participating company.
The closing date for the competition is Sunday 12 June 2016 at midnight. The winner will be chosen at random from all the entrants who have used the hashtag #sgiew_goodlife
We will notify the winner by DM on instagram. If we do not get a response to the note within two days, the prize will be offered to a runner-up. You can find out who has won a particular competition by contacting Ali at @incredibusy. The Good Life Experience’s decision will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.