Friday, 29 September 2017

The Wizard of Oz at The Epstein Theatre Liverpool - Competition

Get ready to go on a magical adventure over the rainbow with Regal Entertainments and their enchanting pantomime production of the Wizard of Oz. Due to the success and popularity of the show, The Wizard of Oz pantomime is back on the yellow brick road and will be embarking on a mini tour this October with dates in Southport, Liverpool and Rhyl.

The critically acclaimed panto production from Regal Entertainments visits The Epstein Theatre from Friday 27th October to Sunday 29th October, making it the perfect half-term treat for all little munchkins!

To celebrate, we have a family ticket to give away to the Liverpool show at The Epstein Theatre on Friday 27th October at 6pm. Read on for more information and for details on how to enter.

Eastenders actress Cheryl Fergison will continue to lead the cast as the Wicked Witch of the West, whilst BBC Pitch Battle star and singing sensation Maddie Hope Coelho steps into the role of Dorothy. Cheryl and Maddie will be joined by X Factor star David Heath as the Scarecrow, the charismatic Philip McGuiness playing the Tinman and the hilarious Richard Hazlewood as the cowardly lion.


The Wizard of Oz is a firm family favourite which tells the story of young Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto, as they embark on a wondrous adventure over the rainbow and in the magical land of Oz. Regal Entertainments' panto version of this classic family show includes an hilariously funny script, dazzling costumes and sets, plus a wealth of brilliant songs and show-stopping choreography.

In true pantomime fashion, the show is filled with an entertaining cast who provide a wide array of songs, jokes and slapstick comedy that is suitable for the whole family. We were fortunate to attend the show during its popular Stockport Plaza run in the summer holidays, and it had us giggling from beginning to end. You can read our review here: Wizard of Oz Review

Tickets are now on sale. Book early to avoid disappointment.

*The cast is subject to change.

To learn more about Regal Entertainments Ltd, you can visit their social media pages here:

Facebook: RegalEntertainmentsLtd
Twitter: @RegalEntsLtd

Full Tour Listing Details

Southport Theatre, The Promenade, Southport, PR9 0DZ
Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th October
1pm and 5pm
Tickets: From £11 / Groups (20+): All Seats £13 + 1 in 20 go free / Schools: £9 - 1 teacher in 10 goes free.
To book call 0844 871 3021 or visit ATG Tickets

The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ
Friday 27th to Sunday 29th October
Fri: 6pm | Sat: 10:30am, 1pm, 6pm | Sun: 12pm, 4pm.
Tickets: Adult £18/ Concession £16/ Family (2 Adults, 2 Children) £60
Groups (20+): All Seats £13 + 1 in 20 go free
To book call 0844 888 4411 or visit www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk

Rhyl Pavilion, E Parade, Rhyl, LL18 3AQ
Monday 30th to Tuesday 31st October
Monday 6pm, Tuesday 10:30am, 1pm, 5:30pm
Tickets: From £14 / Groups (20+): All Seats £12 + 1 in 20 go free
To book call 01745 330000 or visit www.rhylpavilion.co.uk

Competition

We have a fabulous competition for our readers, to give you the chance to win a family ticket for the 6pm performance on Friday 27th October at The Epstein Theatre Liverpool. Please check the terms and conditions and if you would like to enter, then please do so, using the Gleam form below. Good Luck!

Win a Family Ticket to see The Wizard of Oz at The Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

Terms and Conditions
  • There is 1 (one) prize of a family ticket to the 6pm performance on Friday 27th October 2017 at The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ.
  • A Family ticket is for 2 adults and 2 children, or alternatively 1 adult and 3 children.
  • The winner shall be required to collect their family ticket from the box office, prior to the show.
  • Tickets are non-transferable and there is no cash alternative.
  • There will be no contribution towards travel.
  • Tickets are valid for the date/time/venue specified only and cannot be used on an alternative date or time, or at a different venue.
  • Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 years or older.
  • Competition closes on 20th October 2017 at 12 noon. Winner shall be drawn at random on the same day and contacted via email.
  • Due to the time restrictive nature of the prize, the winner shall have 48 hours to reply to the email to confirm their acceptance of the prize, before another winner from the remaining eligible entrants is drawn.
  • No bulk or third party entries.
  • The winners details shall be shared with the promoter, for the purpose of prize fulfilment.
Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

My Top Ten Tips for visiting Disneyland Paris - Walt Disney Studios Park

We recently visited Disneyland Paris - Walt Disney Studios Park and had a truly magical time. I therefore wanted to share my tips for planning a visit.

1) Check Ticket Prices - Disneyland Paris day tickets come in four different price categories which are Mini, Magic, Super Magic and Super Magic Plus. The price for each category varies depending on the date you are wanting to visit. The mini tickets are the cheapest and are generally for off-peak weekdays. However we visited on Friday 1st September 2017 which was still our school holiday period and managed to purchase a mini ticket for this date, which was only £32 each. The Magic tickets are usually for weekends and school holiday periods, with Super Magic covering special event periods such as Halloween or Christmas.


2) Prepare for all weathers - The weather at Disneyland Paris is much like the UK, in that it can be very unpredictable. During our day visit we experienced glorious sunshine, chilly winds and heavy rain, which was topped off with a thunderstorm. We wore light trousers, short sleeved tops and waterproof coats which covered us for all the weather conditions we experienced. You don't want to be queuing outside in the pouring rain without a jacket.


3) Check the show times - The shows at Walt Disney Studios Park are quite frankly amazing! I would definitely say that they are a must-see for anyone considering a visit. There are quite a few different shows available which are all on at different times. In addition to this, some of the shows have both English and French versions, so it's a good idea to check the timings when you arrive to help you plan your day and make sure you don't miss out.


4) Arrive early - We arrived for opening time, which meant that we were able to walk straight on to our favourite ride the Hollywood Hotel - Tower of Terror. Queues obviously increase quite quickly as the park gets busier, so if you have a ride that you definitely want to try, my suggestion would be to arrive early and go to your chosen ride first, to make sure there is no disappointment.

5) Take advantage of Fastpass - Fastpass is a fantastic facility that provides you with a half hour time slot to return to a ride with a minimal queue. You simply scan your entry ticket at one of the turnstiles by the ride and it will print you a ticket with your allocated return time. In Walt Disney Studios Park, you can use this facility at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™, Les Tapis Volants - Flying Carpets over Agrabah® and The Rock n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith.

6) Keep hydrated - All the walking, excitement, queuing and of course the weather can make you feel very thirsty. We took water bottles with us, but also made use of the water fountains that are located around the park. We came across a few of these, which also helped to save a few euros instead of needing to buy expensive refreshments.

7) Look for dining deals - Some of the restaurants are cheaper than others and we found the best dining deals to be in Disney Village. Most of the menus are available online, so you can view these beforehand and check the prices to find the restaurant which suits both your taste and budget best. If you would rather dine in the Walt Disney Studios Park, then there is also a great selection of choice available, with varying types of cuisine. If you are staying in one of the on-site hotels, then you may also be able to take advantage of the meal plans on offer which give good value for money.

8) Check ride restrictions - Check for any height or age restrictions on rides before you arrive. It can be very disappointing for a child to be so excited about a particular ride, to then find out that they are too short or too young. If you check this beforehand, then you can let your children know which rides they are big enough for, or simply know which areas to avoid so that certain rides don't get spotted by your little ones.


9) Practice your French language skills - Try and use simple words in the native language when visiting. Words such as Bonjour or Merci are very easy to learn and just as easy to use. My children love to have the opportunity to learn new words or phrases in different languages, so it is great to put them in to practice when we have the chance.

10) Set a realistic budget - Your visit to Disneyland Paris can be as low cost or expensive as you want it to be once in the park, so set a realistic budget for you and stick to it. The shops are full of beautiful merchandise and I could have easily spent a small fortune, but I gave each of the children 20 euros so that they had enough to buy one large thing each or two small things (their decision). I knew there would be temptation so we took only our cash budget to the park with us and left my card locked in the car, so that we didn't end up splashing out on any excessive purchases.


Monday, 25 September 2017

A Magical Time at Disneyland Paris - Walt Disney Studios Park

A few weeks ago we had a wonderful family holiday at La Croix du Vieux Pont in France. One of the main reasons we chose that holiday park, was because of its close proximity to Disneyland Paris, which was just 90 minutes drive away. Riley has never visited a Disneyland park before and with him being at the lovely age of 4, where everything seems so magical to him, I was adamant that we would be taking him during the summer.

We knew that we would only have one day spare to visit, so I wrote down a list of all the rides, attractions and shows available in each Disneyland Paris park and asked my three children to decide which park they would like to go to. The choice was between the Walt Disney Studios Park or the Disneyland Park where the beautiful castle is located. It is possible to get a one day ticket which allows admission to both parks, however Riley is always tired by around 6pm, so it made more sense to just focus on the one park, without feeling rushed to do both.

After much deliberation, they made a unanimous decision on the Walt Disney Studios Park. They chose this park as it had a great selection of thrill rides for Emma, shows for Ben and smaller rides for Riley to enjoy, so it ticked all the boxes. Both Mr F and I were happy with the decision, as I had heard great things about the Mickey & the Magician show which is held there, so I was excited to be able to watch this.


I checked online on various sites to try and find the best deal on tickets, but ultimately ended up buying them direct from the Disneyland Paris website. We were visiting on Friday 1st September, which happened to be classed as off peak. This meant that we could buy a mini-ticket off the Disneyland Paris website, which was part of a deal where adults pay the same price as children. This ticket was only £32.50 each, which I felt offered extremely good value for money, given the amount of attractions that were on offer. I purchased these online and printed them off the day before our visit.

The journey from La Croix du Vieux Pont to Disneyland Paris was really easy. There were a couple of toll booths along the way, but the roads were all relatively quiet and we didn't come across much traffic at all. As we got nearer to the theme park, there were also plenty of signs by the road, so it was very easy to find our way. On arrival at Disneyland Paris, we stopped at one of the entry booths to pay our parking fee. This is quite excessive at 20 euros for a car and feel that this should be much cheaper. For guests visiting on 3 day tickets, this would cost them 60 euros alone just for parking.

We arrived at 9:30 and joined a short queue that led into the car park. There were car park attendants everywhere showing you where to park, so it was very structured and not a free for all with cars driving here, there and everywhere. Within a short amount of time, we were parked up and embarked on a short ten minute walk to the entrance of Walt Disney Studios. Our tickets allowed us to go straight to the turnstile and scan them on entry, so we made our way straight to the entrance, ready to enjoy all the fun on offer.


We entered Walt Disney Studios right on the opening time of 10am. This meant that the queues were very small initially. My daughter Emma and I, walked straight on to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™ (one of my favourite rides) with no queue at all, which got our day off to a great start. Whilst Emma and I enjoyed this ride, the boys made their way to Les Tapis Volants - Flying Carpets over Agrabah®. Riley loves rides, especially ones that go up and down, so this ride was perfect for him. Again they walked straight on to this ride, before moving over to the Cars Quatre Roues Rallye to enjoy a ride with Lightning McQueen. Emma and I then met back up with the boys over at this ride.



We all then made our way to Toy Story Playland, where we all queued for the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop. Riley absolutely loved this ride and said it reminded him of when you drive over a bridge and your tummy goes funny. This was the longest queue we had all day, which was 40 minutes, however it did not feel that long and I am sure the line moved quite quickly.



After the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop, we made our way over to the Slinky® Dog Zig Zag Spin. This was great fun for little ones and Riley loved going round in circles. It was great that there was so much to do for all ages, so that we could enjoy the majority of the rides all together as a family. Whilst in the small queue for this ride, we downloaded the app as suggested in the park map, so that we could plan which shows we wanted to go to. We realised that we would have time for one more ride before the Mickey and the Magician show started, so once we had finished in Toy Story Playland, we made our way over to the Studio Tram Tour®: Behind the Magic.




The queue for the tram tour looked large, however it moved really quickly as the trams can seat plenty of guests. We were seated on a tram within five minutes of joining the queue, excited to find out more about what goes on behind the scenes. We initially drove past numerous props from popular movies, before the tram took us into a huge set called Catastrophe Canyon. The tram parked up and soon after, the floor began to move, water began to flow and a large tanker began to slide down the set. It was amazing to see how these kinds of scenes in movies are created and we all enjoyed the experience. 

The tram tour continued and took us past some memorable vehicles such as a life size RC Racer and the 4 x 4 used in Con Air. Once we had travelled past these, we were taken to another huge set that replicated London city. Parts of the set were in pristene condition, simulating a lovely city area, whilst the other half of the city had been hit by disaster and you could see cars buried amongst rubble, derailed trains and lots of construction damage. Again it was very interesting to see how these kind of sets can be created and the on board commentary provided additional information on some of the production techniques that are used.


After disembarking from our tram, we stopped for a drink, before heading to the Mickey and the Magician show. I am purposely not going to go into too much detail regarding this show, in order not to spoil it for anyone thinking of attending, but I will say that this is one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen. Despite it only lasting around 20 minutes, it is crammed full of magic and music from start to finish and was absolutely incredible. I would personally pay the entrance fee twice over to simply watch this show alone. My initial thoughts prior to watching was that it would just be a magic show featuring Mickey Mouse, but wow this show was so much more. If you are planning a visit to Walt Disney Studios, then this show simply cannot be missed!

Once our incredible experience at the show at finished, we ran straight over to some more live entertainment, which was Disney Junior Live on Stage. Riley is a big fan of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, so he was very excited to get to see the clubhouse on stage. Numerous other guests were introduced throughout the show including Winnie the Pooh and friends, Handy Manny and the Little Einsteins. Emma and Ben were both familiar with all these characters as they had been on Disney Junior when they were younger, where as Riley hadn't heard of some of them before. Although Riley watches Disney Junior, his favourite shows include The Lion Guard, Miles from Tomorrow and PJ Masks, so it would have been nice if the show had included at least one of these. Riley still enjoyed the show very much though and was still delighted to be sat in, what he believed, was the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.


Following on the theme of the shows, we made another mad dash over to the opposite side of the park, just in time to catch the Moteurs... Action! Stunt Show Spectacular. This show took place in the Backlot and was a fantastic insight into how stunts are directed and created. It was high energy and breathtaking from the very start and my children were absolutely captivated from beginning to end. We saw high speed motorbikes and cars, whilst also learning more from the director and production team in between stunts. The cast and stunt artists involved were incredibly talented. This show lasted about 45 minutes and I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in vehicles, or with an interest in show and stunt production.

After all the excitement of the shows, we decided that now was the ideal time to stop for a bite to eat and have a drink. My husband picked up a fast pass ticket to the Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith and we sat just outside the restaurant opposite. The fast pass tickets are a great idea as they are free of charge, but also prevent you from needing to queue for an excessive amount of time. You simply scan your park ticket and the machine then issues you with a fast pass for the ride, which states a particular time for you to return. These time slots are over a half an hour period, so you simply return within the time slot and join the fast pass queue, which gets you on the ride in a short amount of time. Once it was time for my husband to go, the kids and I stayed sat outside enjoying our food, whilst Mr F went to experience the ride. The Rock n Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, is a very fast thrill ride, which reaches speeds of up to 100 kmph in less than 3 seconds. Mr F loved it, though I think he regretted having something to eat beforehand!

Just as Mr F came out from the ride, there was a large bang and eerie music began to play. We noticed a lot of guests running to the centre walkway and so we decided to follow the crowd. Riley was fascinated to see a large group of Stormtroopers marching through the park. He has never watched Star Wars, but has heard a lot about it from his friends and has seen their costumes before. He watched open mouthed as they continued to parade through the park with guests excitedly following and photographing them.

Riley then asked to go on the Les Tapis Volants - Flying Carpets over Agrabah® ride again, since Emma and I had not been with the boys earlier. The queue was only 20 minutes, so we were more than happy to take him on this again. He enjoyed soaring through the sky and putting his arms in the air. His smile was absolutely priceless.



Time had literally flown during our day at Walt Disney Studios Park and Riley was now starting to get a little tired. It was 4:30pm and this particular park was due to close at 6pm, so we asked the kids to choose what they would like to do as our last experience. They had the choice of selecting something new, or returning to their favourite part of the park. Riley asked that we went back to Toy Story Playland to go on the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop again, which Emma and Ben were also both happy with. So we returned back there to enjoy the last half hour of our visit before making our way out of the park at 5pm.


We didn't get the chance to try everything in the one day and so we would definitely like to return again in the future, though we would probably allocate more time and take advantage of a 2 day ticket so that we could visit both parks over the 2 days.  We thought that all the shows we saw were absolutely fantastic, as well as there being a great choice of family friendly rides. The whole family enjoyed our experience and Riley found the entire day to be magical, which was just what I had hoped for. Overall we had an amazing time and will definitely be returning soon.

For more information, or to book tickets please visit the Disneyland Paris website here.


Disclaimer: All opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. We have received no payment for writing this post and it was written of my own accord, based on my experience. Attractions and shows were correct and available on the date of our visit (01/09/17) but can be subject to chance. I would therefore always recommend visiting the attractions own website when planning a visit. Ticket prices vary depending on date of visit.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Dates for your Diary - The Snowman Flies into Manchester this November

The Snowman is flying into Opera House Manchester this Christmas to delight audiences both young and old. Based on the book by Raymond Briggs, the film directed by Diane Jackson, and produced by John Coates, The Snowman will be heading to the stage with a wonderful mix of storytelling, spectacle and magic.

The Snowman comes to Opera House Manchester, from Wednesday 8th November through to Sunday 12th November 2017. The enchanting show will take families on a journey to the wintry world of a boy and his magical snowman, and will tell the story of a young boy's adventures, when his snowman miraculously comes to life on Christmas Eve.

 Photo Credit - Tristram Kenton

The show features a dazzling array of colourful characters including dancing penguins, magical reindeer, a beautiful Snow Princess, her wicked beau Jack Frost, and of course, Father Christmas himself. The Snowman is a Christmas treat for all the family and a perfect introduction to theatre and dance for the very young. Since it's premiere at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1993, the live stage show of The Snowman has been seen by more than one million people worldwide, and has thrilled audiences at London's Peacock Theatre for a record-breaking 20 years.

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre production features music and lyrics by Howard Blake (performed by a live orchestra), choreography by Robert North, direction by Bill Alexander, design by Ruari Murchison, and lighting by Tim Mitchell. The iconic song Walking in the Air will feature in a new arrangement by Howard Blake and sung by Aled Jones duetting with his younger (recorded) self, as released on Aled's chart topping Classic FM album, One Voice at Christmas.

The Snowman first appeared as a beautifully illustrated picture book by Raymond Briggs in 1978. It subsequently inspired the classic Oscar-nominated and BAFTA award-winning animated film featuring Howard Blake's wonderful score. It was first transmitted by Channel 4 on Christmas Eve 35 years ago.

Photo Credit - Herbie Knott

The film's signature song Walking in the Air reached number 3 in the UK charts when sung by choirboy Aled Jones in 1985, and the song was voted number 2 in a poll conducted by Classic FM to find out children's favourite pieces of classical music - beating Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, and Tchaikovsky's Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy among others.

The Snowman is presented by arrangement with Snowman Enterprises Limited (A Penguin Company) and Chester Music Limited.

You can book now at ATG Tickets or by calling the box office on 0844 871 3018

Listing Details

The Birmingham Repertory Theatre Production of The SnowmanTM  

Venue: Opera House Manchester, 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP

Wednesday 8th November 2017 - 7pm
Thursday 9th November 2017 - 10:30am and 2:30pm
Friday 10th November 2017 - 7pm
Saturday 11th November 2017 - 1:30pm and 5pm
Sunday 12th November 2017 - 11am and 3pm

Tickets: From £15*

To book please contact the box office on 0844 871 3018 or visit the website ATG Tickets

*Booking transaction fee applies.


Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Family Fun with Fuzzy-Felt by John Adams - A Review

We all have toys that we fondly remember playing with as a child and I am no exception. When I was in primary school, I used to have a childminder that would pick me up from school every day and I would go and play at her house for an hour until my mum came to collect me. My childminder had a great range of toys for us to play with, but I always remember getting the same toy out of the cupboard each day and would sit on the carpet happily playing til home time. That particular toy was Fuzzy-Felt.


My childminder had a few different sets, but I always remember my favourites being the house and farm sets. I used to love arranging all the animals on the green background and making farm scenes that would tell a story in my own mind. I was never really brilliant at drawing or art in school and so this was a way I could be creative without needing any certain skills. I could create what I considered at the time to be masterpieces by simply arranging the felt to create a beautiful picture.

This memories were brought to the forefront of my mind recently when the Royal Mail brought out a series of stamps that celebrated children's toys from the past 100 years. Clearly I was not the only one to have loved Fuzzy-Felt, as the Fuzzy-Felt farm set features on one of the new stamps. The stamps recognise the most iconic toys of the last century and so it was of course, only right, that Fuzzy-Felt be included in the collection.

Fuzzy-Felt also has quite an interesting history, in how it actually came to be created and produced as a best selling toy. During the second world war, tank gaskets were made from felt and whilst being manufactured, small pieces of off-cuts would be left over. These 'left overs' then became popular with the children of the factory workers, who would play with the felt. This then led to the creation of Fuzzy-Felt by Lois Allan in 1950.

The toy manufacturer John Adams, now produces a fantastic range of Fuzzy-Felt sets which include the following:

  • Fuzzy-Felt Busy Builders
  • Fuzzy-Felt On Safari
  • Fuzzy Felt Butterflies
  • Fuzzy-Felt Magic Garden
  • Fuzzy-Felt Pet Parlour
  • Fuzzy-Felt Little Princess
  • Fuzzy-Felt Little Ponies
  • Fuzzy-Felt My House
You can view the full range on the John Adams site here: Fuzzy-Felt Range

Being such a fan of Fuzzy-Felt from my earlier years, I was delighted to be sent the Fuzzy-Felt On Safari play set for Riley to test out, enjoy and review. This was something completely new to him and he hasn't come across it in school either, so he was firstly intrigued as to what was involved.



The front of the box immediately caught Riley's attention due to the bright orange background and the images of safari animals and vehicles that were displayed. The contents on the reverse of the box listed that there were over 100 assorted felt shapes inside, so I knew that it would definitely keep us busy for a while. The reverse of the box also lists how Fuzzy Felt can encourage co-ordination, recognition, counting, sorting and story telling, which are all big plus points to aid a childs development.


Inside the box was a green felt board along with several sheets of coloured felt. The sheets had numerous animals, scenery, vehicles and trees imprinted into them and so the first task was to push all the individual pieces of felt out. This kept Riley busy for a good fifteen minutes doing the larger pieces and I helped out with the smaller more tricky ones.


Once we had our collection of Fuzzy-Felt pieces ready, it was time to begin creating our picture. At this point Emma asked if she could help Riley, so I happily let her step in and they worked together nicely, in creating a lovely safari themed landscape. The beauty of Fuzzy-Felt is just how easy it is to do. There are no specific skill sets required and it is just a nice calm activity to do on your own, or together with others. Riley can get a little frustrated if something gets a bit tricky and he can't do something the first time he tries, but with Fuzzy-Felt, there was no chance of him having any difficulties at all.




Riley couldn't stop grinning once his picture was complete and was extremely proud of his efforts. Emma created a story for him based on his creation and they sat together for ages just creating pictures and stories over and over again.


Overall we had a fantastic time making creations with our Fuzzy-Felt set. It was initially an activity I had planned to do with just Riley, due to the guide age on the box being ages 3 to 6. However the whole family ended up getting involved and both Emma and Ben also really enjoyed getting creative and producing their own fuzzy felt masterpieces. We all loved the fact that the pieces can be used over and over again, as well as being able to combine them with the other sets that are available. Emma was fantastic in creating funny stories for Riley based on the pictures he had made and it was lovely to see them laughing and joking together about what the safari animals were up to. He has already added the Farm Fuzzy-Felt play set to his Christmas list too, so he is already keen to start building up his collection.

You can find out more about the Fuzzy-Felt sets that are available by visiting the John Adams website, or their social media channels which can be found here:

Website: John Adams Fuzzy-Felt
Twitter: @JohnAdams_Toys
YouTube: John Adams YouTube Channel


Disclaimer: We were provided with this product on a complimentary basis, for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review of the product. All opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Dates for your Diary - The Wizard of Oz Pantomime Continues North West Tour

Last month we reviewed the highly entertaining and very funny pantomime The Wizard of Oz at the Stockport Plaza. You can read our review here - The Wizard of Oz at Stockport Plaza - Review

Due to the success and popularity of the show, The Wizard of Oz pantomime is back on the yellow brick road and will be embarking on a mini tour this October, with dates in Southport, Liverpool & Rhyl.

The critically acclaimed panto production from Regal Entertainments visits Southport Theatre from Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th October; The Epstein Theatre from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th October; and the Rhyl Pavilion Theatre from Monday 30th to Tuesday 31st October.


Eastenders actress Cheryl Fergison will continue to lead the cast as the Wicked Witch of the West, whilst BBC Pitch Battle star and singing sensation Maddie Hope Coelho replaces previously announced Charlotte Gallagher, in the role of Dorothy.

Cheryl and Maddie will be joined by X Factor star David Heath as the Scarecrow, the charismatic Philip McGuiness playing the Tinman and the hilarious Richard Hazlewood as the Cowardly Lion.

The show was a huge success during it's run at St Helens Theatre Royal last October and the Stockport Plaza last month, playing to a packed-out auditorium. It is guaranteed to delight the audiences of Southport, Liverpool and Rhyl this October.

Cheryl Fergison, most notably known for playing Heather Trott in the BBC soap, returns as The Wicked Witch of the West. Cheryl is a multi-talented performer and has starred in many stage and film productions. She is also a wonderful singer and musician.

No stranger to pantomime, she has also appeared in Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Beauty and the Beast to name but a few, as well as making audiences boo and hiss with her performance as the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz.

Stepping into the coveted Ruby Slippers, the incredibly talented Maddie Hope Coelho joins the cast to play Dorothy. Maddie trained at Laine Theatre Arts, West End MT and The Royal Ballet School. Her theatre credits include Fairy Goodapple in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Mary Margaret in Singin' in the Rain, as well as appearances in Sleeping Beauty and Aladdin. She is delighted to be playing Dorothy and hopes the audiences have a magical time.


David Heath was a contestant on ITV's The X Factor back in 2006 as a member of boy band Eton Road. Since his time on the show he has turned his talents to theatre with credits including Billy in Wag - The Musical, as well as pantomime leading men including Aladdin, Prince Valentine in Snow White and Prince Valiant in Sleeping Beauty.

Guaranteed to give an oil-slick performance as Tinman, the charming Philip McGuiness is a panto regular, having previously played Gaston in Beauty and the Beast and Captain Hook in Peter Pan.

Finally, no stranger to Panto, having played the Beast in Beauty and the Beast and Abanaza in Aladdin, Richard Hazlewood will be practising his best roar as the lovable Cowardly Lion.

The Wizard of Oz is a firm family favourite which tells the story of young Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto, as they embark on a wondrous adventure over the rainbow in the magical land of Oz.

Regal Entertainments' panto version of this classic family show includes an hilariously funny script, dazzling costumes and sets, plus a wealth of brilliant songs and show-stopping choreography.

Be sure to join Dorothy, Toto and their new friends Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion as they journey down the Yellow Brick Road to The Emerald City in search of The Wizard of Oz who can make all their dreams come true. This is the perfect half-term treat for all little munchkins!


Wizard of Oz Producer, Chantelle Nolan said: "We are very excited to continue our tour of the North West. We had an amazing time during the run of the show in St Helens last year and critics are raving about our recent Stockport show. Audiences seem to go mad for it with many families making return visits, so catch it while you can in Liverpool, Southport and Rhyl!"

Tickets are now on sale. Book early to avoid disappointment.

*The cast is subject to change.

To learn more about Regal Entertainments Ltd, you can visit their social media pages here:

Facebook: RegalEntertainmentsLtd
Twitter: @RegalEntsLtd

Listing Details

Southport Theatre, The Promenade, Southport, PR9 0DZ
Tuesday 24th to Thursday 26th October
1pm and 5pm
Tickets: From £11 / Groups (20+): All Seats £13 + 1 in 20 go free / Schools: £9 - 1 teacher in 10 goes free.
To book call 0844 871 3021 or visit ATG Tickets

The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ
Friday 27th to Sunday 29th October
Fri: 6pm | Sat: 10:30am, 1pm, 6pm | Sun: 12pm, 4pm.
Tickets: Adult £18/ Concession £16/ Family (2 Adults, 2 Children) £60
Groups (20+): All Seats £13 + 1 in 20 go free
To book call 0844 888 4411 or visit www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk

Rhyl Pavilion, E Parade, Rhyl, LL18 3AQ
Monday 30th to Tuesday 31st October
Monday 6pm, Tuesday 10:30am, 1pm, 5:30pm
Tickets: From £14 / Groups (20+): All Seats £12 + 1 in 20 go free
To book call 01745 330000 or visit www.rhylpavilion.co.uk


Sunday, 17 September 2017

Travelling with DFDS from Dover to Calais

If you have seen my recent blog posts and tweets, then you will know that we recently enjoyed a wonderful holiday in La Croix du Vieux Pont in Vic-Sur-Aisne, France. There were a few different travel options that we could have chosen, but ultimately we decided to self drive and take the ferry from Dover to Calais.


After comparing the available ferry companies, we opted to travel with DFDS due to their reasonable pricing and availability for the particular times that we wanted to travel. The last time I travelled on a ferry to France was with school nearly twenty years ago, so I couldn't really remember much about it and it was the first time we would be driving abroad to a holiday destination. DFDS currently offer two routes from Dover to France. The first is Dover to Calais, with the second route being Dover to Dunkirk. The Calais journey was better for us, as it meant a shorter drive time once in France, to get to our destination.


I found their website to be very clear and I had a look firstly, at what kind of facilities were available onboard. The crossing only takes approximately 90 minutes, but that short time can feel like hours if there isn't much for the kids to do and they get bored. The website provided information on what facilities were available and I was pleased to see that there were a variety of dining options, places to relax, shopping and a games & play area.

I read that DFDS offered a dedicated play area called Pirates Island, which included soft play and toys. This sounded perfect for my son Riley and would provide him with a place to keep busy and entertained whilst travelling.


Once we had made our final choice on sailing date and times, we booked online and received our booking confirmation almost instantly via email. The email confirmed all our booking details, which I checked over carefully and it also provided some important information such as check in time. Usually you can check in up to 45 minutes before, but with it being the busy summer period, it was suggested that we arrived 90 minutes early. We didn't want to risk missing our journey, so made sure that we took this into consideration when planning our route from North Wales to Dover.

On our day of departure we set off early from North Wales at around 2am. Our sailing time was 09:10am and it is just under a 5 hour drive from our home. We made good time on our journey through the night due to there being very little traffic on the roads. Even with two rest breaks, we arrived in Dover for 7am and with us having time to spare, we decided to stop at a nearby Premier Inn for breakfast. I always find these really good value as kids eat free, so we can enjoy a full breakfast buffet with drinks for the 5 of us, for only £17.98.

Once we had finished our breakfast, we made our way to the port with plenty of time to spare. Despite being a bank holiday, we were suprised to find no queue and drove straight to the DFDS check in booth to hand over our passports. These were then scanned and we were provided with a hangar to display from our rear view mirror. We were told to follow the lane round and then join the queue in a particular lane number, where we could park up and then either stay in the car, or walk to the terminal for a drink. 

We had brought drinks with us on our journey and with just having had breakfast, we decided not to visit the terminal area and instead remained by our vehicle. We waited there for just under an hour and applied our headlamp deflectors whilst stationary. These are a requirement for all British vehicles to have whilst driving in France so we decided it was the ideal time to apply them, before boarding the ferry. 


Once it was time for us to board, the staff directed the lanes one by one onto the ferry. Staff onboard then showed us where to park and we then simply locked our car and made our way up the stairs onto the ferry, ready to explore.

We initially went straight to Pirate Island, where Riley enjoyed a good play before it got too busy. This was a nice area, but did soon become very busy and crowded, as to be expected on a busy bank holiday crossing. There was a television too which was showing a Scooby Doo movie, so Emma and Ben sat and watched this for a while. Once the ferry began to move, we decided to move to one of the outdoor decks so we could watch as we travelled through the water and wave goodbye to the White Cliffs. The weather was dry and quite warm so we stayed up here for just over 40 minutes, before heading back to explore the rest of the boat.

Our first stop was the shop, which was very well stocked and the prices actually seemed quite reasonable. I was expecting most things to be overpriced, but some things were actually quite low in cost, such as the perfume and alcohol. It was well stocked and in addition to the usual duty free items, there was a nice selection of gifts and toys available for children.


We decided to begin heading back to Pirate Island and stopped at the Games Arcade on the way. This was quite a large area, but didn't seem to have many machines. There was certainly room for more, and unfortunately three of the games that were available were out of order, which was slightly disappointing. The children did manage to enjoy one of the racing car machines though and this kept them more than happy. Once we reached the soft play area, Mr F and I enjoyed a coffee whilst sat by one of the large picture windows looking out over the water, whilst the children played again. We stayed here for the remainder of the journey and found it to be quite relaxing. 

Once we reached the Port of Calais, we returned to our vehicle and waited to be allowed to disembark. I had expected to have to show our passports again on reaching France, but suprisingly we simply just drove straight off the ferry and onto the motorway. We were out of the port in a matter of minutes, making the journey very quick and easy.


Overall we found it to be a good experience. The ferry was very clean and modern and there was enough to do to fill the 90 minute journey time. However, I think the Pirate Island could do with being slightly larger and that the games arcade area could also benefit from the introduction of more gaming machines. The food and drink we had onboard in both directions was hot and tasty and the service was great. We found there to be ample seating throughout the boat for all guests and the seats were comfortable and relaxing. The children enjoyed being able to sit out on deck whilst sailing and it was nice to be able to get outside and enjoy the fresh air during the journey. Both the embarkation and disembarkation process was quick and easy and this helped to make our travel stress free. We would definitely travel with DFDS again and hope to use them again in the future.

If you would like to learn more about the sailings that DFDS offer, then you can visit their website here: DFDS Seaways





* Disclaimer - I have received no payment for this blog post and it has been written of my own accord based on our recent experience. All opinions, thoughts and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. This article contains affiliate links.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Dates for your Diary - Cheshire Fest 2017 - A Family Friendly Festival

Cheshire Fest 2017 is a two day festival filled with music, food and drink and is a guaranteed end of summer celebration in the heart of the Cheshire Countryside. It will be held at the Manchester Rugby Club in Cheadle Hulme on Saturday 23rd September and Sunday 24th September and offers a fantastic entertainment programme, including some of Cheshire's finest talent.

The organisers have now revealed a full schedule for the weekend, detailing the wide range of activities that revellers can expect from the family friendly festival. The weekend festivities kick off from 11am on both days, with a full main stage programme of live entertainment throughout the day. Cheshire Fest 2017 also offers FREE entry for children aged 15 or under, with adult tickets starting at only £10 (plus booking fee) and includes a free drink.


On Saturday, the #RememberWhen Main Stage plays host to Cheshire's finest tribute acts including Want You Back (Take That Tribute), Dan East is Ed Sheeran, Be-Beyonce, MJ Mimms (Michael Jackson) and Elvis. Also joining the line up are some of Cheshire's finest local artists Leon Meya and The Sound, as well as Britain's Got Talent finalists' MD Productions.

Sunday's musical programme is sure to get the crowds rocking as the #FestivalAnthems Main Stage, delivers rock anthems. The line-up includes Antarctic Monkeys, Oashish, The Absolute Stone Roses and Yellow (Coldplay tribute). Local artists Nolan and Leon Meya complete Sunday's main stage line-up.

Elsewhere across the festival site, attendees can head to the Street Food Village to enjoy an array of gourmet street food and international cuisine. Beer lovers can sample the delights of the Mini Beer Fest with over 30 varieties of beers, cask ales and ciders from across the UK.

In addition to the Mini Beer Fest, festival goers can enjoy a relaxing G&T in the tranquility of The Gin Garden, grab a cocktail at the Cocktail Bar, enjoy a glass of fizz in the Champagne and Prosecco Bar or savour the taste of Summer at the Pimm's Bus.

Photo credit - Jazamin Sinclair

If you are in the mood for a dance, then a silent disco will also be on site, where you can dance to your hearts content with music as loud as you please, with passers by continuing to enjoy the festival. Comic Con and Sci-Fi fans are also being catered for, with Star Wars characters parading around the site, which is well worth a selfie or two!

The Kids Tent will keep the younger festival goers entertained throughout the weekend with a whole host of workshops, games and live entertainment. Stars of the TV show The Voice Kids UK will entertain throughout the day. Frozen meets Beauty and the Beast offers children the chance to meet and greet some of their favourite characters, as well as enjoy stage performances. There will also be a huge range of giant inflatable castles in Bouncy World, a Family Fun Fair and Little Explorers Activities.

Festival Director Philip Osbourne said, "After launching our first festival in 2016, we've taken huge steps to bring on board a cracking team of organisers this year to reinvent the festival. We're all about big days out with family and friends and we think this new format, location and programme will offer just that! It has been an absolute pleasure to put together the programme for Cheshire Fest, we hope the people of Cheshire enjoy what is sure to be a great weekend."

Tickets start at just £10 plus booking fees, which includes a free drink for every ticket buyer! Book now for the perfect end to summer. Tickets are available now at www.cheshirefest.co.uk and selected venues across Cheshire.

Listing Information

Dates - Saturday 23rd September & Sunday 24th September
Times - 11am to 11pm
Address - Manchester Rugby Club, Grove Lane, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, SK8 7NB

Website - www.cheshirefest.co.uk
Facebook - facebook.com/cheshirefest/ 
Twitter - @festcheshire

How to Book

Book online at www.cheshirefest.co.uk
Tickets: £11.25 (Including Booking Fee) for a day pass & £17.85 (Including Booking Fee) for a weekend pass.
(All paid tickets include a free drink).
Under 16's go free

Monday, 11 September 2017

Our Family Adventure at La Croix du Vieux Pont with Al Fresco Holidays

Last week we spent a wonderful few days at La Croix du Vieux Pont with Al Fresco Holidays and we are already missing our relaxing evenings sat out on the decking by our accommodation. Whether you are looking for a base to explore Paris & the local area, somewhere within easy reach of Disneyland Paris, or simply a destination that has so many activities on offer, that you need never leave the site, then La Croix du Vieux Pont ticks all the boxes for the perfect family holiday.

We travel around so much, but have never self driven to France before, usually opting for the fun of flying instead. It has been something that we have wanted to try for a while though and after spotting a great deal on Dover to Calais ferry crossings, we started to look at our options for an end of summer trip to France.

With Riley only being 4, he is still at the beautiful age of believing in magic and has a love for Disney Characters such as Mickey Mouse and the Lion King. Therefore I wanted to find a holiday park that was in an easy driving distance to Disneyland Paris. My husband and I also wanted to find somewhere that offered plenty of activities on site to keep the children busy, as well as somewhere that had a kids club, so that us parents could have the opportunity to relax too. As we had decided on a location near to Paris, we had a look at three Al Fresco parks that were all within a 2 hour drive to the city. When we came across La Croix du Vieux Pont, it was an easy decision to make and so we excitedly booked our stay.


About Al Fresco Holidays

Al Fresco Holidays specialise in family mobile home holidays throughout Europe, with some fantastic family friendly holiday parks on offer.  There is a wide range of different parks on their website, that offer some wonderful facilities, in a great choice of locations.

Al Fresco Holidays have recognised that everyone looks for something different in their holidays and therefore they offer a selection of different sized parks such as large and lively, small and friendly, authentic and value, as well as midsize and sociable. This means that you can be sure of finding a holiday park that suits your needs and requirements. 

They offer a variety of mobile home options, which are all well equipped, comfortable and modern. The mobile homes are a great idea for larger families as some of the mobile homes can accommodate up to 8 people, making them extremely cost effective. They offer more space than just an individual hotel room and some of the holiday homes also offer decking, outdoor seating and a barbecue, which helps you to make the most of the sunshine too!

The website makes it easy to find a destination or park that suits you, by using the search function and then refining the results to suit your particular needs and requirements.  You can make selections such as budget, being near to the beach, kids club facilities and dining choices to name a few. There are also a variety of options as to how you wish to travel with flights, self drive, the ferry or Eurotunnel all being something to consider. If you cannot decide which option would be best for you, then Al Fresco representatives are always happy to assist and provide their recommendations and help.

The Al Fresco Holidays Website

I find the Al Fresco website really easy to use and navigate. I think it is well organised and it is easy to search for holiday parks based on location. You can also search for the best deals and offers on their whole range of parks, as well as view comprehensive information on the choice of holiday homes available. The design of the website is sleek and modern, with no over complicated graphics. It's simple design makes it easy to see everything clearly, without the need to search through endless lists or contents pages. 

My favourite thing about the website, is the amount of information it provides about each park. There are images, videos and reviews to help you obtain a thorough understanding of each park, which helps you to make an informed choice.

The booking process is very simple and literally takes a few minutes to get your family holiday booked. You can pay a low deposit, which allows you to pay your holiday off at your own convenience, so there is no need to worry about having to pay for everything all in one go. Once you have selected your chosen holiday park, there are a range of optional extras that you can also add to your booking such as air conditioning, linen packs, baby packs & toddler packs. These packs are a great idea and can cut down the amount of luggage that you need to take with you, which is very handy if you are restricted to a particular suitcase weight on airlines. 

For example the baby pack contains a travel cot, high chair, baby bath, socket covers and a baby gate, making your holiday home, not only comfortable, but safe too! During the booking process you can also add an equipment damage waiver, which covers you should there be any accidental damage during your stay. As anyone with children knows, accidents can happen at anytime, so I personally always take this out, so that I know we are covered in the event of any mishaps. The charge usually equates to just £2 a day, however if you choose not to take out the equipment damage waiver, then you will be required to leave a deposit of £200 on arrival. 

The Journey to La Croix du Vieux Pont

There isn't much public transport available in the area where the park is based and it is approximately one hour and twenty minutes away from Paris. It is nestled within the french countryside, in the lovely village of Vic-Sur-Aisne. You could fly into one of the Paris airports and hire a car or get a taxi, but I believe that both of these would be expensive options, so my personal opinion would be to catch the ferry or go via the Eurotunnel to France in your own vehicle and drive.

There are a few options for this as you could travel from Hull to Zeebrugge, Dover to Dunkirk, or Dover to Calais. The latter two are short ferry crossings which take around 90 minutes, with the Hull ferry likely to be more expensive due to being an overnight sailing. The Eurotunnel option is the quickest route with crossing times of roughly half an hour. We chose to drive from North Wales to Dover through the night and then got an early ferry crossing from Dover to Calais with DFDS. We chose this option so that we had a nice break between the drive and that it would give us a good amount of time to stretch our legs, enjoy the fresh sea air and grab a bite to eat and a drink onboard. 



We found the check in and boarding process at the port really simple and with no delays, we set off on time across the English Channel. On arrival in Calais, the disembarkation process was just as easy and we simply drove straight off the boat and out of the Calais Port onto the French motorway.

The Sat Nav had given us a journey time of approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, however I had done some research beforehand and read reviews from previous guests, who had recommended staying on the A26 until either junction 10 or 11. The Sat Nav kept trying to pull us off the motorway so we ended up ignoring this until we exited at junction 11. There are a few important things to remember when planning your road trip in France and it is important to consider such things as tolls, speed limits (remember these are in kmph not mph), the compulsory car safety kit and of course remembering to drive on the RIGHT hand side of the road. 

I initially thought that this would be quite confusing being on the opposite side of the road from what we are used to, however it was actually really easy. The roads had barely any traffic on them and we didn't come across a single traffic jam. Everywhere is well signposted and there were plenty of rest stops and petrol stations on our journey. We made a couple of quick stops on the way, firstly to top up with fuel and secondly just to stretch our legs. We were on the motorway for over 100 miles making it a really easy straight route. The last half an hour of our journey was a little busier and involved numerous roundabouts, but again it was all relatively simple.

Our Arrival at La Croix du Vieux Pont

The campsite is well signposted from the road and it would be hard to miss the turning. We went to the main reception firstly who advised us that as we were early, we could park in the main car park and enjoy the facilities prior to checking in at 4pm. They provided us with directions to the Al Fresco reception and also told us briefly where we could go for a drink or a swim.


We had taken the children's scooters with us, so we parked up, got the scooters out and went for a quick exploration of the park. It immediately became apparent just how large the park was, there was so much to see and do, so it wasn't long before the kids were excited about what we could do during our stay. We had a quick look around all the facilities and took a walk up to the lakeside beach, where we stopped to enjoy a drink.


When it was time for our Al Fresco experience to begin, my daughter and I went to the Al Fresco reception, where we were greeted by Nich, a lovely young gentleman who made us feel very welcome. He gave me some information about the Al Fresco Holidays kids clubs, activities to do in the area and invited me to ask any questions that I had regarding our stay. I provided him with a cheque for £50 to cover our housekeeping deposit, which is returned to you at the end of your stay providing that you have left the accommodation as you found it. A cheque is the best way to do this and is Al Fresco's preferred method too, as this does not affect your available funds by having to leave cash. Once I had signed the housekeeping deposit form, we made our way over to our Vivaldi accommodation. We had only had a brief look around the mobile home at this point as the sun was shining brightly and the kids wanted to have a swim, so we quickly unloaded the car, before heading back over to the lakeside beach where we spent a good couple of hours sunbathing and swimming in the sunshine.

Our first impressions of our Al Fresco holiday were great and we couldn't wait to enjoy everything that was on offer.


Accommodation

We stayed in a Vivaldi 3 bedroomed mobile home, which was very spacious and clean. It had one double room and two twin rooms meaning that we all had our own space. The main living area was open plan and consisted of the lounge, dining room and kitchen. There was plenty of room for all of us and we never felt too crammed in. 

The space continued outside too, where there was a lovely large decking area that had an outdoor table, a parasol, six chairs & two recliners, which was perfect for some Al Fresco dining. It was a lovely space to relax outside whilst the children played. There was also a nice grassed area, along with a space to park the car right outside.


The kitchen contained everything we needed for our self catering break, with a kettle, pots & pans, utensils, microwave & dinnerware. There was also a large fridge freezer that had plenty of room for all our food and the all important ice creams and lollies for the kids.

There was a separate bathroom and toilet, which I always prefer as being a large family it can cause problems in the morning if someone is in the shower whilst someone else needs the loo. The shower was a nice size and there was a large sink area and cupboard next to it, so there was plenty of space to store your belongings. There was also a shelving area opposite the sink, so there was enough storage for all our toiletries.

The bedrooms were very comfortable. The double room had a sliding wardrobe, bedside units, a mirror with shelf, along with plenty of lighting. The twin bedrooms also had wardrobe units and the mattresses in all of the rooms were comfy and offered a good nights sleep.

The dining table was ideal to enjoy our breakfast together in the mornings. There were only 4 seats set at the table, however we found that there were also two spare chairs in one of the cupboards which meant that there was enough seating for all of us.

Overall we were very pleased with our accommodation. It was comfortable, spacious and gave us everything we needed for our stay, so we were more than happy with it. There were also newer models located opposite the beach which looked beautiful in their own little plot and a higher quality of outdoor furniture. Although we were very pleased with our Vivaldi accommodation, we would definitely consider one of the new lounge models as an alternative in the future.


La Croix du Vieux Pont Holiday Park

Well there is certainly no chance of your children getting bored at this holiday park. There is so much to see and do, that we didn't manage to even do half of it during our stay. From swimming pools to bouncy castles, mini golf to kids clubs, parks to fishing, this site literally has it all!


Firstly, there are several swimming pools, which are both indoor and outdoors. The site has a long season and the weather can be very similar to British weather, in that it can be glorious sunshine one day, then cold and rainy the next. Therefore having the choice of both indoor and outdoor pools, means that there is always swimming available whatever the weather. The swimming complex features a lazy river ride, water slides, a children's splash zone, separate children's pool and jacuzzis. The clever aspect of the indoor pools are that if the sunshine comes out in abundance, then the roof can also be retracted. There were plenty of sun loungers available and we had no issue in securing a couple near the children's pool on each day of our stay.


My children's favourite swimming pool though, was the artificial lake, that was surrounded by a beautiful sandy beach, which Riley absolutely loved. There was plenty of space and Riley was really happy sitting on the beach building sand castles, mountains and digging holes.



You were allowed inflatables in this pool and so the kids really enjoyed being able to play and relax on their inflatable crocodiles and rubber rings! The grass area next to lake provided a lovely place to lay your towels and sunbathe, whilst still being able to supervise from the shores. The lake side beach bar also meant that there was somewhere close by to grab some refreshments, though on most days we took our own food and drink with us in a cooler bag, which seemed to be a popular idea with a lot of guests. 

Next to the swimming lake, was also a large children's park, a beach volleyball court and a mini golf course. The mini golf carries a small charge to play as well as needing a deposit to use the clubs and balls. This is minimal though and we found all the activities to be very reasonably priced.



Adjacent to the swimming lake, were two fishing lakes on either side. The first one was also used for watersports which included paddle boarding, kayaking and pedalos. Fishing seemed to be a popular activity and every day during our stay there were numerous anglers trying their best to catch some fish. My son Ben became quite fascinated by this and enjoyed making friends on the lake side whilst watching the fish being reeled in. Some of them were absolutely huge, which Ben was amazed by. You do need to purchase a licence to fish in the lake and the costs vary dependent on the duration of your licence & whether you are a child or adult. We found that this lake seemed to be more popular for fishing that the other lake which was located towards to the top end of the site. I found this surprising, as I thought that the water activities would disturb the fish, but there seemed to be no problems catching a bite on the line.

The kids club was a great facility to have, with numerous activities taking place for different age groups each day. We only used the kids club once, despite initially planning to use it every day, purely because there was just so much to do on site, so we ended up doing a lot of family activities together instead. 

Next to the pool complex, was also a laser quest, bowling alley and an indoor soft play area, which again provided plenty of opportunities for indoor fun should the weather be poor. In addition to the indoor activities, there is also bouncy castles, trampolines, bungee trampolines, pedalos, kayaks and go karts outdoors, therefore providing plenty of entertainment to see you through the day. All of these carried an additional charge, however you can purchase a leisure card that can be used for some of the activities on site. These are great value and offer some fabulous savings. For example you can buy a leisure card for 40 euros which gives you 70 euros to spend on activities.



All the staff we came across on the site, were really lovely. The Al Fresco team are an absolute credit to the company and we were so impressed with their friendly hardworking attitude. Nothing seemed too much trouble, and the same can be said about the La Croix du Vieux Pont staff who were always walking round with a smile. On one occasion the manager of the site was driving around throwing prizes to the kids and Ben bagged himself a brand new bright green rubber ring. This retailed at 12 euros in the shop, so Ben was very pleased with his bonus gift! 

For convenience there is a shop on site, as well as a bakery. We purchased fresh croissants and baguettes from here every morning and the queue was always out the door. It was worth the short wait each morning though as everything we purchased from the bakery was delicious. The prices were slightly higher than the supermarket in the village, however they tasted much nicer and it was ideal to not have to drive down the road and just simply walk to the bakery on site. The site shop offered a good selection of food products and drinks and the prices were reasonable, though some things such as snacks & chocolate bars etc, were a little on the expensive side.



Near the swimming pool and sports complex there was also a gift shop where you could purchase your inflatables, toys or gifts to take home with you. Riley bought a large plastic boat for 6 euros which he played with every day of our stay in the swimming lake.



Towards the far end of the site, there was an outdoor adventure company called Tower Pursuits who ran activities on a daily basis that included a climbing wall, abseiling, trapeze & zip wire. The sessions get booked up quite quickly, so it is a good idea to pop over on arrival day and get booked in for any activities you want to try.

In the evening we enjoyed taking a stroll around the whole site. It was a lovely walk in the evening just as the sun set and the lake lit up beautifully.


Dining and Drinks

As we had planned ahead for self catering in our accommodation, we had no need to dine out during our stay, however there were plenty of options available had we wanted to.

Berny Burger offers an evening takeaway service where there is a wide range of fast food choices available for purchase. The takeaway looked very clean and well presented and there were also some tables and chairs outside, should you wish to dine out instead of returning back to your accommodation with the food.


For a more formal dining experience, the Brasserie Macao was a very popular choice. This appeared to be fully booked on most nights, with people often queuing outside waiting for a table. I have heard nothing but positive reviews from other guests regarding this restaurant and the dining area looked absolutely lovely. The menu was very extensive and had something to suit all tastes. Whenever I walked past, it seemed such a lovely atmosphere and you could always see the staff working hard throughout the restaurant. The smell of the food was absolutely divine and the few meals that I saw being carried out, looked extremely appetising.


Another option was the La Plage Beach Bar which offered a more refined menu, as well as a vast choice of drinks and cocktails. The setting of the La Plage Beach Bar was very idyllic and overlooked the lake and beach.

If you fancied venturing off site for something to eat, then the local restaurant Chez Micheline comes highly recommended. Again this can get booked up extremely quickly and quite far in advance in peak season. It is within walking distance from the campsite, so I would recommend either calling to book a table or taking a walk down on the first day of your stay to make a reservation.

Evening entertainment

Bar Summer located near the main pool complex was a bustling place in the evening, with plenty of tables both inside and out for guests. Entertainment was provided in the evening and this varied on a nightly basis. Some evenings it was a children's disco and others there would be live entertainment such as a band. The entertainment for each day would be displayed on a board outside the bar, so it was easy to check what was on during your stay. Entertainment is of course seasonal and so could be quite limited if you visit in off peak times.

Our favourite place to visit in the evening after our walk, would be the La Plage Beach Bar. This was in a lovely setting and entertainment during our stay included a karaoke night and a fire dance show. The fire dance show took place on what was a beautiful sunny evening and so with the lake still being warm, we all watched the show from our inflatables in the pool.



Local Area & Places to Visit

If you did decide to leave the site to explore, then there is plenty to do in the area. The local village of Vic-Sur-Aisne is very picturesque and holds a regular market day which during our visit was on a Wednesday. There are also numerous other markets that take place on different weekdays in neighbouring towns such as Soissons and Chauny. 

The stunning Chateau de Pierrefonds is less than a 30 minute drive away and at only 8 euros admission (under 26s FREE) it makes it the perfect low cost family day out. It is a stunning architectural design and well worth the short journey to visit. There is plenty of free parking available in the village and then it is just a short walk to the entrance to the Chateau.

If you want to travel slightly further afield, then the theme parks of Disneyland Paris and Parc Asterix are both less than 90 minutes away. We drove to Disneyland Paris on one day of our stay and found it to be a really easy drive. Just remember to take some change for the tolls and don't forget to top up your fuel, as petrol stations seemed quite far apart once we had left the main motorway. The site also has a double decker bus that runs trips to Disneyland Paris, though travel days vary throughout the season. This is a great option to have if you don't want the worry of driving and at the time of our stay it cost 17 euros per adult and 14 euros for a child aged 2 to 11. An infant between 0-2 years cost 10 euros to travel. We felt that this was a good price for a small family, but it worked out more cost effective for us to drive.


Paris itself is about 1 hour 20 minutes away, though the traffic can be pretty hectic. One alternative we looked at was getting the train from one of the nearby towns to the Gare du Nord station in Paris. This seemed like quite a cost effective way of travelling into the city centre, but due to being so busy participating in on site activities, we just didn't get the chance to give it a go. Just like the Disneyland Paris trips, the site also runs a bus service a couple of days a week, which takes you into Paris and costs 23 euros per adult, 17 euros a child and 11 euros for an infant.

Our Al Fresco Experience

We have stayed with Al Fresco Holidays on four occasions now and have never been disappointed. Everything from the moment we booked, til the moment we checked out, was absolutely perfect and I cannot thank Al Fresco enough, for yet another wonderful family experience. We received plenty of information prior to our stay, which helped us to feel excited and prepared for our holiday.


I had a couple of questions prior to our stay and made use of the Al Fresco Holidays online chat service that is available on their website. The customer advisor was extremely helpful and although they did not know the answer to one of my questions, they offered to contact one of their representatives on the park and emailed me a couple of hours later with the answer. What fantastic customer service!

The on site representatives were amazing and Al Fresco Holidays should be extremely proud of what a great team they have. On the last night of our stay, one of the representatives came to check us out and return our housekeeping deposit as we were setting off very early in the morning for the return journey home. We ended up having an hour long chat with the gentleman who was one of the loveliest people you could wish to meet. We weren't made to feel like customers, but instead we were made to feel as if we were staying with friends, which I think is a wonderful attribute to have. Unfortunately I cannot remember this gentlemans name, but his wife Diane also worked on site, who was equally as lovely.

The Al Fresco reception was also a welcoming place, with plenty of information on what to see, where to go and opening times of the facilities on the park. There was a selection of board games that you could sign out and borrow as well as some books and beach toys. I thought that this was a great idea as it is nice to have a family board game to play in the evening.

Overall we had yet another fantastic experience with Al Fresco Holidays and will definitely be using them again in 2018!


For further information you can visit the Al Fresco Holidays website which can be found here: www.alfresco-holidays.com

Alternatively you can follow them on social media, via their channels which are:

Twitter - @AlFrescoHols
Facebook - Al Fresco Holidays
Instagram - @alfresco_hols



Disclaimer: We were provided with a discounted media rate for our accommodation for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review of the Al Fresco experience and the La Croix du Vieux Pont Campsite. All opinions and photographs are my own, unless otherwise stated. This post contains affiliate links.