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Latitude Festival 2016

I’ve only really scratched the surface of UK festivals, having been to Reading Festival twice and End of the Road three times (as well as some smaller ones like Festibelly and Redfest) but I’ve always had my eye on Latitude Festival. With its range of artists and offerings (from poetry and literature, to cabaret, to comedy to a real range of music) it seemed to capture the essence of what I love about End of The Road whilst also being a large enough festival to draw in some great headline acts. Rocket Dog footwear kindly invited me along to Latitude Festival last weekend to experience what it has to offer as well as road test their footwear for stomping around festivals (luckily with no muddy puddles included as part of the experiment!)

The night before the festival we loaded up the van with cider, our comfiest quilt, sausages and bacon for the perfect festival breakfast and a Boots baby aisle’s worth of baby wipes. “How long will it take us to get there?” asked Tom casually. “A couple of hours I think,” I answered vaguely, discreetly typing the postcode into Google Maps. “Suffolk is just past London, right?” Google Maps apparently disagreed with my grasp of UK geography, and we hopped in the van the following morning at 09.30, not realising that this wasn’t quite early enough for me to get there in time for Lapsley’s 14.00 set, nor Madeleine Shaw’s 15.00 talk in the Literature tent (turns out, Southwold is a little bit further on than London).

festival outfit dungarees
shoes: rocket dog* | dungarees: primark {old} 
jumper: topshop {old} | hat: h&m {old}

We arrived about 15.30 (to be fair, we also stopped en route to raid Tesco for prosecco and kettle chips, as well as to drop Bodhi at his best pal Henry’s house for the weekend) to roll up to the Campervan Field to be greeted by a burly security guard who had one question for us - “Have you got any glass bottles with you?” I glanced around at the two bottles of prosecco, eight bottles of cider and ten bottles of beer and opened my mouth to explain that we had strictly ‘cans and plastic bottles only’ before Tom jumped in with a “Yes. Lots. Our whole fridge is full of them.” That boy is too honest. 

After a lot of decanting and what turned out to be a very understanding and helpful security guard, we finally put up the awning, opened a cider and strolled into the festival site around 17.30. We wandered past stalls selling all manner of different foods and festival accessories before we made it into the main area. We headed straight to the Blixen pop up restaurant for a glass of prosecco and to sit by the river and take in some of the sights. We had booked in to their pop-up restaurant for dinner after a suggestion via Twitter and it felt like a real novelty to sit at a table and eat with proper cutlery (at a festival I mean, I do have that luxury at home). After a really yummy meal and another glass of prosecco we went for an explore around the site. Most of the acts we wanted to see were on the Saturday and Sunday so we spent most of Friday evening just generally exploring, popping into the smaller tents to see what was on, and soaking up the festival atmosphere.

We woke up early on Saturday morning (the perils of sleeping in a camper van - or indeed a tent) and filled up on sausage sandwiches before heading into the festival. Despite the fact that we lazed around the campsite for several hours that morning I still managed to miss the first person I wanted to see on the Saturday in the Comedy Tent! (The camper van field was probably about a mile and a half from the main area and I totally underestimated the walk!) We watched a talk on mindfulness, watched a little bit of Robin Ince (but the tent he was in was tiny and we couldn’t really hear from outside), and then headed to the main stage to see Daughter. Daughter are one of my favourite bands and they didn’t disappoint. It’s such an amazing feeling to see a band live who you’ve listened to for a really long time; particularly one whose music and lyrics really resonate with you. We managed to get pretty much right up at to the barrier at the front so we were really able to take in the show. We then headed to the BBC Radio 6 Introducing stage to see another one of my favourite bands, Half Moon Run. They are amazing live and I hugely recommend checking out their Live Lounge set - the singer’s voice is incredible and they are sickeningly talented.

boots: Rocket Dog, £65* | shorts: primary {instore, current}
vest: primark {inshore, current} | hat, as above

One of the really lovely things about Latitude is that there's a river that runs through the centre of the festival site, so there's a waterfront stage where you can watch the bands play right on the riverside, and you can even swim in the river (Fat Face had set up a little cabin where you could buy towels and trunks, and there were organised river swims and even swim treks every day).

Sunday morning was an absolute scorcher so we spent another morning just at the campsite watching the world go by and planning who to go and see for the day.  My haphazard packing the night before we left meant that I packed several jumpers and jeans but only one vest and no t-shirts, so I basically had to buy a vest in one of the vintage stalls (needs must).  Again, the hot, sticky heat and three days of dry shampoo also called for hair up - sweaty festival hair is absolutely not the one.

mini welly boots: Rocket Dog at Schuh* | shorts: primark {instore, current stock}
sunglasses: the little deer £17 | vest: vintage

We spent most of the morning watching comedy - Stuart Goldsmith and Daniel Sloss were both really funny and Bill Bailey was (as expected) absolutely hilarious - I laughed particularly hard at his comments about Brexit and how we should all just ‘move to the woods at Latitude, listen to poetry and eat quinoa’.  We then went on to watch Roots Manuva at the BBC Radio 6 tent and they were incredible and had everyone dancing - seeing everyone go totally bonkers when they played Witness The Fitness was quite a sight! We watched a bit of Lumineers and listened to M83 whilst tucking into dinner but after a while the effects of being out in the sun all day and drinking cider took their toll and we toddled back to the van, with achy feet and happy bellies (full of the most delicious quesadillas I've ever tasted).

Overall Latitude was a lot of fun and I'm enormously grateful to Rocket Dog for inviting me.  Have you ever been to Latitude? What's your favourite UK festival?

Ten things I'm taking to Latitude Festival

I am incredibly excited that I'm off to Latitude Festival this weekend - a festival I've not been to yet but I'm very excited to tick off my list!

We're setting off early on Friday morning so that we can get there in time for Lapsley and Oh Wonder on the 6 Music stage (also mega excited to see Daughter, Chvrches, Half Moon Run, Roots Manuva and M83 during the rest of the festival).  There's all sorts of fun looking things to get involved in, from lake swimming to yoga classes - we've also booked a table at the Blixen pop-up restaurant, which looks and sounds amazing (and very civilised for a festival).

We’re going in the camper van so we won’t have to battle with putting tents up (which is probably for the best as just putting the awning up tends to be something of a stressful affair for Tom and I) but we still have to be tactical about what we pack to ensure we don’t end up filling the van with clutter and not having enough space to sleep. I tend to make a big spreadsheet of everything I want to take and then tick them off as we load up the van so I know we haven’t left anything behind. The key things with festivals really tend to be ensuring you stay dry, stay warm and have some way of cleaning yourself and cleaning your teeth (I’m not a festival shower-er, I can just about go three days without a shower if I have enough baby wipes and dry shampoo). As well as, of course, enough alcohol to last you the weekend (if you’re that way inclined) and some totally impractical clothes that you would never wear outside of a festival…

Of course I'll be up late scrambling around doing last minute packing tonight, but I thought I'd show you the few things I've been organised enough to get ready already - the items that are top of my festival packing list...

001. Vango Rocket 120 - Bluetooth lantern and speaker (£45*)

Space is always at a premium at festivals so multi-tasking festival accessories are always a big win for me. This lantern is rechargeable (so no digging around for batteries) and has a built in bluetooth wireless speaker, so you can find your way to the loos in the night as well as getting to pick the tunes around the barbecue!

We do love our camping gadgets and we’ll also be packing a cooking set, plates and cutlery and the gas stove – although I love eating all the yummy food at festivals it’s good to have a way to make a bacon sandwich in the morning so you can have a lazy couple of hours at ‘camp’ before heading into the festival ground. I definitely learnt my lesson at Reading Festival last year when we all woke up on the Sunday feeling rather tender and couldn’t find any food places that were open until lunchtime!

002. Rocket Dog Wellies, Schuh*

Wellies are obviously a must-pack for a festival, especially seeing the scenes at Glastonbury this year with people wading through mud with all their belongings (no thanks).  I've long been on the hunt for wellies that are practical but also actually look cool and I feel like I've hit the jackpot with these ones from Rocket Dog.  I'll be wearing them with a denim shirt dress and leather jacket (as well as other, more practical coats I'll be packing of course - it is England after all).

Lush have some awesome bits in at the moment that are perfect for taking to festivals and these toothy tabs are another genius product. All you do is nibble one between your teeth and start brushing – no water required. You get a ‘blast’ of freshness from the mint, as well as lovely sparkly teeth! These are perfect for festivals as you don’t have to do the awkward ‘bottle of water’ juggle but you also get tons of tabs in the tub so they’ll last for a good couple of months after the festival. Lush also have solid deodorants that are great for throwing in your handbag at a festival so you can freshen up throughout the day.

Dry shampoo is an absolute festival must-have and it always tops most 'what to pack' lists. Personally I don’t love the scent of dry shampoo so I was very excited when I saw that Lush have brought out their own version. It soaks up excess oil without dustiness so it’s perfect for using between washes, plus it smells yummy!

005.  Power Bank phone charger {similar on eBay, £15.99}

My Power Bank is an absolute godsend when I’m going anywhere where there might not be regular electricity – I took it around Bali with me and it always comes to festivals (or even just a day trip where I know I’ll be using my phone a lot). This gives about three full charges to my phone once charged, and it has two ports so you can charge two devices at once. I have this all charged and ready to go to make sure I can still put up lots of Instagram snaps whilst I’m away at the festival (and use the Latitude App, which looks super handy).

006. Baby wipes - Baby wipes need no explanation really do they? Good for keeping clean (yourself and your tent/car/cooking utensils, etc etc).

007. Antibacterial gel - Another festival must-pack, helps to keep you feeling clean even when encountering grotty festival toilets.

008. Waterproof jacket - Because Britain....

009. Cereal bars and snacks - As I mentioned earlier, as much as I like to eat and drink my way around a festival, I also recognise that this will probably leave me bankrupt, and I have a bikini to get into in a few weeks that might not fit if I spend every waking moment in the Gourmet Burger Kitchen queue. I always pack a couple of boxes of cereal bars or Nakd bars so I have something to eat first thing in the morning, or as a snack in the afternoon. Some festivals won’t allow you to take food into the venue area so make sure you scoff them though before the security people do!

010. Sensible footwear - I've got these awesome boots to wear for trudging around the festival during the day - to me there’s nothing worse than having uncomfortable feet at a festival considering how much walking and standing you end up doing. I always take a comfy pair of trainers or boots so I’m not left hiding back at my tent applying the blister plasters come the afternoon!

I've also downloaded the Latitude Spotify playlist and it's really good for finding artists that you might not have otherwise checked out at the festival - I've done that every year before End of The Road Festival and found some absolute gems.  

What are your must-pack items for festivals? Have you ever been to Latitude Festival?

How to stop getting 'bed head' hair

If you follow me on Snapchat (and if you don't you're about to hear a reference to the type of content that I post that will lead you to wonder why not), you may have seen my lengthy snaps or videos about what my hair looks like when I first wake up.  I’m stuck in a major hair rut at the moment and I rarely look in the mirror and feel happy with my hair – but first thing in the morning it resembles more like a wild bird’s nest than any kind of style. It’s a vicious circle because I end up having to use heat (mainly straighteners) to tame it, which just results in more hair breakage and less love for my wonky do. Over the last few weeks I’ve been attempting to minimise the impact that sleeping has on my hair, and I thought I’d share my tips here to help anyone else who might wonder if they’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards in their sleep! 

S i l k   p i l l o w c a s e 

This is one thing that’s been recommended to me several times, and until I started to try and find ways to minimise the impact of sleeping on my hair, I never got around to taking the plunge and buying one.  Silk pillowcases are said to be one of the key weapons against anti-ageing; minimising wrinkles, regulating your temperature during the night, acting as a hypoallergenic barrier and eliminating bed hair.  Silk is better at keeping in moisture (cotton absorbs moisture, meaning it can dry out your face and hair) as well as minimising the effect of friction on your hair if you toss and turn in the night.  Silk pillowcases don’t cause the indents in your skin that cotton pillowcases do too, so no waking up with lines all over your face! I bought my pillow from Amazon for £8 - it's a pure Mulberry Silk Pillow and just what I was looking for.

I’ve been using my silk pillow case for a couple of weeks now and I can definitely, definitely notice the difference from when I use it to when I use a normal pillowcase. My hair is much less tangled when I wake up and it hugely reduces the amount of styling I have to do in the morning. I’d like to buy a couple more so that I can revolve them now when it needs washing as it’s hard to go back to my old pillowcases when I change the sheets! 

H a i r   E l i x i r 

This Works are a brand that I already really love so I was really excited to try their Sleep Plus Hair Elixir (£25*), which claims to be a ‘motion activated sleep aid and hair treatment for healthy looking, manageable hair upon waking’. The Hair Elixir contains sunflower extract, argan oil and jojoba oil to boost hair vitality and aid in restful sleep. You spritz a few sprays onto your hair before bedtime (either wet or dry hair) and it works its magic throughout the night – with no rinsing required in the morning. This is another thing that has really helped my hair and I will definitely be re-buying it when I’ve used it up. It comes in a fairly big bottle and I use about three or four sprays just as I’m getting into bed. The spray feels instantly nourishing on my hair, and the scent immediately makes me feel sleepy (it’s a similar scent to my much loved This Works Pillow Spray, which has a constant place beside my bed).  On the few occasions when I've forgotten to use it before bedtime I've really noticed a difference in the morning, so I'm making a real effort to ensure it's a key part of my pre-bed routine.

S i l k  s c a r f

For people who don't want to invest in a silk pillow, wearing a silk scarf to bed is another option to keep your hair soft and friction free overnight.  I had a few vintage silk scarves in a box under my bed, but you can pick them up cheaply from charity shops or on eBay.  I used Ree Ree Rockette's land girl bandana tutorial to learn how to tie it, and made sure I tied it up extra tight (though obviously not uncomfortably so) to make sure it didn't come off in the night.  Wearing a silk scarf not only protects your hair from the friction and dryness of a cotton pillow, it can also help keep a style in place such as if you've curled your hair.

Using all of these methods I've found that my hair is much more well behaved, less tangled and  in a much better condition when I wake up in the morning (and generally).  I've also noticed that the hotter I am at night, the more I toss and turn (which obviously hugely adds to 'bed head'), so I've invested in a good quality tower fan for the bedroom, as well as sleeping with the window open every night to ensure I keep cool.  I blogged about tips for sleeping better last year and I still follow those to ensure I get as rested a sleep as possible, minimising social media before bed, trying to follow a yoga routine, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon and evening and having a sleepy tea before bed to wind down.  

Do you have any tips for avoiding 'bed hair'?