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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

The Woman in Black at The Grand Theatre, Blackpool

I have read the book, seen the film and felt compelled to watch the theatre adaption of The Woman in Black at The Grand Theatre, Blackpool. The stage production is celebrating 25 years in the West End and is described as the “most terrifying live theatre experience in the world” - The apprehension built before we had even arrived at the theatre!

The performance begins with unexpected humour with little indication of the chilling darkness that followed – there is an assumption and initial puzzlement that there is something wrong with the sound I found myself learning forward this was only the start of being physically drawn into the story. In true terms, the story was a masterpiece of acting, eerie lighting and evocative sound. With the stage set with a minimum of props, an effective use of imagery and suggestion take the audience on a terrifying journey.  

To witness the whole audience react to the build-up of tension and fear provides a very different and memorable experience of theatre. One teenage audience member covered her ears, clenching her head in her hands which summed up the increased, hold your breath tension increasing the need to know what happened.

I would highly recommend seeing this whilst it’s staged in Blackpool, I would consider it great entertainment for my teenagers, for my younger teen the matinee performance would give her a longer recovery time in daylight or a perfect night out for adults.  

Tickets were received for review on Monday 30th March 2015.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Elves and the Shoemaker 1st April 2015, Lancaster

The Elves and the Shoemaker

At the Dukes, Lancaster Wednesday 1st April 2015 

A hard-working but poor shoemaker struggles to earn enough money to support his family. The kind-hearted man decides to give his final pair of shoes, all he has left in the world, to a poor lady in need of help. The next morning the shoemaker awakes to find that his last piece of leather has been transformed into the most magnificent pair of shoes overnight. He discovers that not only are the shoes beautiful; they are also magical. Who is the mysterious maker of these marvellous shoes

Retelling the famous Brothers Grimm story, Elves & the Shoemaker is the perfect opportunity to introduce your little ones to the magic of live ballet, music and theatre.
After the BAFTA award-winning TV adaptation of Ugly Duckling for CBeebies, make sure you don’t miss this enchanting new production. Book Now 

Monday, 4 August 2014

Review: Fired 4 U, Walton le Dale, Preston

Review written by Nisbah at Five adventurers who visited Fired 4 U in Walton le dale, Preston with children aged 3, 5, 8 and 12 years.

Summer holidays are fantastic but the constant need to think of things to do with the kids can sometimes be a little overwhelming both mentally and on ones pocket.  I'm always looking for new, local things to try with my little adventurers and when we were asked to review a pottery/clay painting attraction, Fired 4 U, we jumped at the opportunity.

Fired 4 U is a lovely tea room/coffee shop setting in Walton le Dale  just outside of Preston. I particularly liked the quirky feel of the shop with wall murals including a handprint tree of customers. Compared with other pottery painting shops/studios we have been too, Fired 4 U is very relaxed.  The owner Jane is engaging with the children and parents a like.  Our Raihan takes a little time to get along with new people but Jane made him feel at ease straight away.

On arrival to the shop, Jane shows you what different things the children can try from pottery painting to clay based activities.  I have taken Maya painting before but wanted to see how older and younger children would find that activity. We attended with my adventurers aged 3 and 5 and my nephews aged 8 and 12.  Jane explains to the children how and what they need to do with the paints and other ideas to decorate the items once the original painting is done.
For the review we were going to try some pottery painting, Maya and Raihan chose a dragon fly and my nephews chose a squirrel and mug.  The kids had a great time with the activity.  Feedback from my nephews who hadn't done this activity was that it was really cool and they really enjoyed it.  I asked if they would do it again and from their responses and eyeing up other ideas of things to decorate I think they will be back soon.
Whilst we were at the shop there was also a party taking place, I thought this looked and was a great idea. The children all were having a great time and they would all make an receive your own decorated plate as a memory of attending a party.
Fired 4 U offer a range of activities for the children to get involved in. There's no restriction in terms of ages as babies can take part in the clay/hand printing ideas. Preschool children and older ones can try their hand at pottery painting and the clay activities sound really appealing. They also running a number of activities for the school holidays so it may be worthwhile to look into these, full details are here. Jane is very flexible so if you had specific requirements, I would recommend a quick call and I'm sure Jane would be able to accommodate your needs.
What we loved

Different: Doing the same activities with your children can end up be very boring for both parties.  This activity is not something you would do often but it's great as a treat/special occasion or some quality time over the summer holidays.  In addition, the children will finish with an item which they can keep.  My nephew made his dad a mug and he was so excited to be able to give his dad a gift.

Creativeness: Maya is really creative and this type of activity highlights that art knows no bounds.  We can be creative with such a number of mediums and helps children experiment with new things.

Fired 4 U: Compared to the three previous pottery places I have taken the children, this was the most laid back setting.  They also have a number of things that none of the others have, including stamps, stencils, special paints for writing.  It made the decorating much more fun, including some muffins on Raihan's dragonfly.  Apparently it was the dragonfly's dinner that he was carrying on his back!
Pricing: whilst the activity does cost, it was as reasonably priced as can be for such an activity and it was the cheapest place we have done the activity. Uniqueness: aside from my need to try different things, gift buying is my next favourite thing. I think any of these gifts would make fantastic presents for grandparents/family members so you can get the children to have a fun afternoon and have a present to give someone at the end. Also, this would make a great present for a child. Experience presents help instil the idea that there is no need to have a physical present but trying new things helps a child develop. Things to be aware of: Attention: Raihan is often away with the fairies and getting him to paint/let it dry and paint again proved to be a task in itself. For children 5 and over I think it's perfect, that said Raihan did enjoy it, and keeps showing anyone whose interested photos of his masterpiece. Age: Zayn is as nosey as they come and would be in and out everything. We didn't take him with us as he would be a little menace. I had taken Raihan when he was that age and he was happy enough to watch Maya. Remember the setting does not have lots of space and the activity does last a couple of hours. Overall, I think this is a great activity to do with your children at any time and will be a definite boredom buster in summer holidays. It's one of the activities that children will not have done/likely to do and it does make a nice treat. It's not the cheapest activity but given the cost of things such as the cinema these days I would rather spend that money on doing something that the kids will remember for a long time!

To read more about the range of activities or add your own review on Fired 4 U click here 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

More uses for a slow cooker than you needed to know

This is called 19 surprising non food ways to use your slow cooker, do people actually put their feet in them?

I find my slow cooker very useful but I think I'll be sticking to food uses for now, read how other people use theirs http://bit.ly/1nsNFSO

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Family Fun 19th & 20th July

The very adventurous Nisbah from Fiveadventurers joins us again with her weekend round up:

This weather again this weekend cannot make up its mind so we have tried to give you lots of different ideas to let you have family adventures regardless of the weather!
tennisGreat British Tennis Weekend (throughout UK) FREE
Once again Tennis clubs throughout the country are opening their doors to let potential Andy Murray's have a try at Tennis.  Clubs are offering this throughout the country and to find your local club, use the link here.  I think it's a great opportunity to let youngsters hae a try at a new sport which is not as readily available through schools when compared with football and netball.  This is the last weekend that the sessions are running so try to make the most of them.

Eureka (Halifax)
As you can tell, I have a little soft spot for Eureka.  I have a love of interactive museums and any that do it well, as in the case of Eureka always deserve a special mention.  Starting this weekend and running over the entire Summer holidays is a focus on being different thing, whether it's an artist, musician or a story-maker.  Eureka are running a number of activities alongside their normal exhibitions to get the creative juices going in all of the youngsters who visit.  Details of the events running can be found here.

Who's Been Sitting in My Chair
The Horse & Boo Theatre in Bacup is staging the show, Whose Been sitting in My chair.  We have watched the show in Buxton and really enjoyed it.  Maya was only 3 at the time and it was a little confusing for her, the way the story was told, but for pre-school/reception aged children it is fantastic.  It is an imaginative take on the classic story and works really well on the stage.  As in the words from the story, it isn't too big, it isn't too small, it's just right.  For ticketing and pricing information, check here.  I would recommend it for any youngsters who love classic tales.
Pirates Day (Mount Park, Morecambe)mount park
Happy Mount Park is calling our swash buckling pirates and bounty hunters to take part in the treasure hunt at the park.  There will be a fancy dress competition, story telling and lots of other pirate themed activities.  There will be theatrical performances and music being showcased throughout the day.  the event is on from 12pm - 5pm.  I have lots of really good things about this park so it would warrant a visit in its own right but combines with a family event, it seems perfect for some family shenanigans.
Back to the Future Open Day (Stockport) FREE
Stepping Hill Hospital is opening its doors to the public to let them have a behind the scenes tour of a working hospital.  The theme this year is "Back to the Future" and there will be lots of entertainment and stands for all the family.  My pick of what is available is the behind the scenes tour of operating theatres, laboratory services under the microscope and the giant walk-through colon.  There lots more to do on the day.  It sounds like a very different experience and fun day for children.  No booking is required but it can be made, with details here.   There is also free parking available.

Caribbean Carnival of Manchester (Manchester) FREE
Plattfields Park in Manchester will be home to the weekend long event celebrating everything that is great about the Caribbean Culture, past and present.  There will be the procession that goes through Moss Side, Hulme and other areas with a number of floats for the parade.  On entrance to the park the visitors will be greeted with the sights, sounds and smells of the Caribbean.  There will be a number of designated areas and a number of live stages.  The event wants to attract the whole community to join in this celebration.

Family Fun Day (Lowry, Salford) FREE
The exhibition 'Here's One we Made Earlier' will be launched with a family fun day which is being held in conjunction with the BBC.  There will be lots of hands on activities, meeting a number of CBBC characters and the viewing of the new CBBC drama 'Harriets Army'.  It sounds like a great day out allowing visitors to be one of the first people to see the exhibition with a great family fun day, timings are 10am - 3pm.

Pedal Power (Manchester) FREE
The Museum of Science and Industry are opening their new exhibition on bicycles called Pedal Power.  Pedal Power celebrates everything that is great about the two-wheel ride from track cycling to the technology behind it.  There will be lots of different types of bikes being showcased and there is a mini Velodrome to let young scientists understand the science behind GB's recent successes.  The exhibition is free and the museum is open daily 9 - 5pm.
The Palace Theatre in Manchester is staging the successful Dinosaur Zoo show for the next couple of weeks (18th - 26th July).  The show sounds perfect for any dinosaur fanatic out there and is an interactive and informative show which lets the audience learn about the less well-known but equally ferocious dinosaurs from the southern hemisphere .  The show sounds less formal than a normal staged show and from reviews it sounds captivating for a young audience.  We are attending the Saturday matinĂ©e performance and cannot wait.  our little adventurers get excited every time I show them the videos.  Tickets can be booked here.

Disney's Little Mermaid (Chorley)
Chorley's Little Theatre has staged the show all week and Saturday is the late day of the performance.  The show is based on the Broadway production so is a combination of the Hans Christian Anderson story and the Disney version.  Little Mermaid was always one of my favourite Disney movies and its not the often staged so would be perfect for any Ariel fans out there.  Family tickets are £22, for more pricing information and timings, click here.

Animals in the Park (Chorley) FREE
Astley Hall are again hosting an event where a variety of animals are brought into the park.  People can meet a variety of animals from miniature ponies, giant rabbits, lambs and a whole host of other animals.  The park and grounds are supposed to be very lovely so would recommend packing a picnic, meet the animals and let the children run around the grounds to burn off some steam.  Would be perfect for any animal fans :) More information is here.

Family drama workshops (Manchester) FREE
Royal Exchange theatre in Manchester have monthly drama workshops for the family.  Working with Phil Cross, people attending will learn basic stage skills, team building exercises and this months focus is on expression, movement and confidence.   The event is free but it is ticketed so booking si essential.  The sessions are split into two categories:
Ages 4- 6 12 - 12:40
Ages 7 - 11 12:50 - 1:30pm

Skills Sunday (Manchester) FREE
The National Football Museum will be hosting a special skills session, every Sunday during the holidays.  The sessions are designed for the whole family and aim to improve your techniques, get healthier and be part od the world record attempt.  Classes are limited in size to 30 people sp arrive early so you have the chance to take part.

Fleetwood Festival of Transport - Tram Sunday (Fleetwood) FREEtram sunday
Enjoy a free, family day exploring trams in Fleetwood.  Visitors can enjoy rides on the heritage Trams between Fisherman's Walk and Thornton Gate throughout the day.  I love getting the children on as many different modes of transport as possible and the classic trams are great.  Last year over 70,000 attended and there will be lots for families to see and do include riding on segways, Scarecrow Festival and Fleetwood's lifeboat and crew will be there with loads of rides for children.  In addition, there is a Wyre Council's "Spare Parts" arts festival on the seafront including the likes of a JCB dancing.  Sounds like a great day out!

RNLI Open Day (St Annes) FREE
The Boathouse on St Anne's promenade is hosting the RNLI Open Day and Summer Fair.  There will be loads of activities on throughout the day, but the highlight will be the public being able to meet the crew behind the RNLI, seeing the Boathouse and being able to take a tour on the All Weather Lifeboat.  There will be lots of traditional fair activities running alongside this.  If the sun is out (forecast for Sunday is good) a picnic on the Beach and letting the kids get up close to a real lifeguards crew would be pretty fab.

Erth's Dinosaur Zoo (Hamley's Manchester) FREE
If you are unable to attend the show, the dinosaurs from the show are going to be attending s special event at Hamleys between 4:30-5:30.  But all little adventurers be aware, they are not as friendly as they seem!

Green Fayre (Beacon Country Park) FREE
Beacon Country Park's annual Green Fayre returns this weekend with activities across both Saturday and Sunday.  Set in the beautiful Becaon Country Park this event is the celebration of the countryside and countryside living.  The event will be open 11 - 5pm on both days and will be hosting a massive range of activities.  There will be a working woodlands area showcasing things such as willow weaving, coppice workers and wood carvers.  There will be a number of shows also on in the main area, from historical enactment to music.  For young children there will be a climbing wall, bouncy castles and have a go woodland sessions. There seems to be lots on in the event and I think its great that they are showcasing all the fantastic things that can be done in the great outdoors.  We will be attending this event on the Sunday, I think it will be a fantastic day out.

Moses Gate Country Fair (Bolton) FREE
Moses Gate Country Fair is back this weekend and should be a great day out for all the family.  There will be loads on to entertain young and old attending, so pack a picnic and have a fab day in the park and enjoy the delights of a local country fair.  There will be sports, funfair, donkeys and music.  What more could you ask for?

Peter Rabbit Tea Partiespeter rabbit
Calling all Peter Rabbit fans, the world of Beatrix Potter in the Lakes are hosting a number of tea parties through the summer months.  There will be a lovely lunch of cakes galore, sandwiches and rolls.  Every child who attends will be given a present and a balloon and a special guest will read the Tale of Peter Rabbit.  The tea party cost also includes entry to the attraction so guests can learn more about the wonderful characters from the Beatrix Potter stories.  Heres a link to information about the cost, dates and timings, when we checked there was still availability for this weekend.  The event cost £7.50 per child and £11 per adult but for any fans of the books, the attraction is supposed to be a great day out.
Brockholes Nature ReserveJunior Bird ID (Brockholes Nature Reserve, Preston)
Join one of the experts of the reserve on a guided walk and learn about the different birds that live in the nature reserve.  The guide will be able to help give tips on how to identify birds and then will lead the group for a walk around to see what they spot on the day.  The event is aimed at children aged 7+ and all children need to be accompanied by an adult.  It is advisable to book in advance, the cost is £3 per person and the details are here.
We hope you all have an amazing weekend.  Please do let us know if you did any of the events and what you thought of them.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy in Lancashire this summer

The Andrew Flintoff Cricket Academy comes to Lancashire this summer. It is a fantastic opportunity to learn from one of the greatest crickets stars in a fun & safe environment with fun, innovative and age appropriate coaching. The UK's largest and best coaching organisation for boys and girls aged 5-16. Every Academy features a visit from Fred or another international cricketer.

There are a choice of locations with day attendance or residential options Lancaster Day attendance for one week or same location Lancaster residential cricket academy

In Kirkham there is another cricket academy You can read more about what parents and children said after they have attended here

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Lantern & Larks Glamping in Lancashire

Mumsnet Lancashire review of Lantern & Larks, Bleasdale. 

I've always declined camping for a variety of reasons/excuses. I may be scarred by the memory many years ago of trying to find our tent in the middle of the night in a field of similar sized tents all I knew was the colour of it and they all looked the same in the dark! When we were asked to go Glamping at Lantern & Larks at their new site in Bleasdale I wavered, I have always said when my children asked about camping "When tents have kitchens and bathrooms I'll go!" - now I had to keep to my word. The children who historically asked are now teenagers aged 14 and 16. They were more enthusiastic than I was, even when I stressed hair straighteners would be useless there and WiFi was unlikely!

The directions to Bleasdale are easy to follow as long as you read right to the end and not presume you are there. The 'Glampsite' is situated down a private driveway with sheep on each side and green open spaces as far as you can see, the view welcomes you to your own piece of the countryside for the weekend. We parked up and met Jennifer - the site manager  for that day who showed us around and explained the workings of the stove and lighting provisions. The Lanterns and Larks website looks idyllic, solid furniture under canvas but you can't appreciate the size of the tents until you are there. There are 3 separate tents on site, each with their own generous space around them very different to our previous holiday experiences. 

Inside? Well, welcome to the tardis tent, to call it a tent doesn't do it justice, a canvas covered holiday cottage may be more apt. At times it was only the walls moving slightly in the breeze that reminded me of it's structure with it's solid furnishing and styled interiors it was so much more than I imagined. Whilst they look generously sized from outside the interior was perfectly proportioned 3 bedrooms, 1  double, 1 twin, 1 bunk, a kitchen area, a generous living space and dining table. Outside is a large decking area with cushioned seating and additional deck chairs with steps down to your own picnic bench area and fire pit.  At the rear of the tent is a zipped door which leads to the back door with room for boots and coats and leading to 2 separate rooms housing the shower room and toilet, the area is lit with motion sensor lights so even at night you can find your way.

Wheelbarrows are provided to help get luggage from the car -one wheelbarrow trip and loading up spare hands and we were all set. The storage within each room means you could easily stay for a week without having 'stuff' all over the place. The kitchen is well stocked with necessities and more. There was enough room for us all to be in there without getting in each other's way. Unsure of what to expect in relation to location of nearby shops we had brought our own food. There is also an honesty box for any essential you may have forgotten in such a natural environment I appreciated the trust put into people, there were personal messages written to acknowledge & thank for payment. The site manager visits each day and will replace batteries if required for the motion sensor lights and for the battery operated lanterns rechargeable batteries are exchanged at the honesty shop.

We decided on a BBQ for that evening and set about exploring the local area. We set off across the field instead of using the sensible slate paths provided with teen 1 and 2 clearing the pathway for us. We set off down the hill and aimed for the bridge ahead, down the hill which is steep in  places and younger children would need supervision. We could hear the trickling water in the distance, ahead there was a bridge across the stream teen 1 & 2 were equipped with wellies and waded in using sticks to check the depth of their steps ahead. Enthusiastic parenting aside, I stayed on the bridge and listened for large splashes in case they fell in!
We walked through the nearby meadow The noise of the crickets was amazing, such volume for something we couldn't see. The vastness of the open fields regressed teen 1 & 2  to enthusiastic children with their let's explore exclamations they set off up a steep hill climbing up they looked like they could reach the sky. Such beautiful surroundings within close walking distance we were reluctant to leave but realised it was so close to our tent we could easily go back. We had been provided with a fire pit for our stay which was to serve our cooking requirements for the evening, everything was cooked through much faster than our BBQ at home. We sat on the decking contemplating our holiday with the realisation we had only been there about 4 hours yet we had settled in and relaxed so much in that time, contemplation whilst toasting marshmallows comes highly recommended. We met the site owner who explained their consideration in opening up the land for holidays given the beauty of the area I can completely understand the reluctance in sharing.
We set off on another walk that evening heading up the lane and across fields, there were para-gliders in the far distance and rolling fields at one point we could see across to Fleetwood. We headed back as the sun was about to set we were expecting the temperature to drop but were unaware of how suddenly that happened. Battery lights are provided but we chose candle light.  Duvets and blankets are provided - it turned into an earlier night than we had planned to keep warm under all the layers.

We had the best nights sleep in such a long time, emerging around 10am about 12 hours after we had gone to bed! Dazed by the realisation we had spent so long asleep our thoughts soon turned to breakfast. We had a breakfast pack which is filled with essentials many of which are sourced locally and were there for us on arrival in the ingenious cool box filled with frozen (usually hot) water bottles they kept our food chilled all weekend despite the days being warm. The pack provided bacon, eggs, sausage, fruit juice, local marmalade and butter, bread, tea, coffee,sugar & cornflakes. The bacon & eggs alone would be worth a trip to Bleasdale for. As tempted as I was to attempt stove cooking we were too hungry to wait so used the gas hob, breakfast was devoured by all as we planned the day ahead. 
There are many nearby places to explore including Cobble Hey Farm & gardens, Old Holly Farm, Bowland wild boar animal park and an array of walking trials in different directions.

We were more than happy just to be in such a stunning location away from the usual distractions of day to day life. It was alien to be away from the usual tech and TV but so enjoyable to hear the soundtrack of sheep and birds and explore an area we haven't been to before. We live less than an hour away yet we could have been a million miles away, such was the relaxation and pleasure in being there. It was fantastic and much needed. The space on offer, I feel, adds to the relaxation also knowing any noise you make you do not have neighbours nearby helps when children are playing. We watched the children of neighbouring tents play with the wheelbarrows up and down the paths which looked great fun until we needed more logs and they still had the wheelbarrows.

We had a chat on what could be improved on, we struggled, I'm hoping next time we go  they will come and pack for me as I think the people behind the design of Lantern and Larks would have thought to pack trainers - they seem to have thought of everything else! Teen 1 thought WiFi and electricity, teen 2 said it was missing board games  which are available to borrow In the honesty shop along with ball games, we borrowed the badminton kit for games on the decking. We found the shower to be intermittent in hot water but adequate once you knew what to expect and preferable to walking over a field and joining a queue.

We wouldn't hesitate to return, the weather forecast for the weekend we went was mixed, the space on offer I feel helps cater for everyone whatever the weather, part of the decking area is covered so can be enjoyed regardless. We felt we had been away for longer than a weekend and we were sad to leave. Lantern & Larks are almost fully booked for the school holidays, they also have some great offers at the moment including a discount for parties of 4 or less for bookings made before the end of October. For us such an offer is perfect, more space on offer and a reduction in price, we would usually pay under occupancy  fees to enjoy a 3 bedroomed holiday stay.

We were the guests of Lantern & Larks  but all views are our own. Mumsnet Suffolk have  reviewed Lantern & Lark Sweffling Hall, Suffolk  here