Thursday, 16 May 2019

Revisiting the Wonderful Blists Hill Victorian Town - A Review

Blists Hill is a beautiful replica of a small industrial town, that genuinely makes you feel as though you have travelled back in time. It is jam packed full of interesting exhibits, informative demonstrations and plenty of activities for families to join in with. It is a marvellous representation of the Victorian community, which makes it a fun and educational day out for visitors of all ages.

It is part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums and we have very fond memories of our last visit to this attraction two years ago. We therefore decided to pay a return visit to this wonderful site, so that we could write an up to date review of the Blists Hill Victorian Town for our readers.

On the bank holiday Monday, we set off on the journey from our home in North Wales to Telford in Shropshire, which is a 90 minute drive. It was an easy journey that took us along some picturesque routes in parts, albeit with plenty of roundabouts, but we made good time and arrived at our destination for 11am. We followed the directions provided on the sat nav, however it was well sign posted from the main roads. Owing to it's popularity, there was a queue to enter the attraction, but visitors were attended to quickly and attentively. This ensured that no-one had to wait for too long before being able to enter and travel back in time to the Victorian era.

As we entered the street, my children immediately remembered the bank, so they insisted on a quick visit to exchange some of their coins. You can step inside the bank and swap modern day currency for older coins and then use these to purchase items in the shops. If you have any left over at the end of the day, you simply swap them back over before you leave. We think that this is such a fun idea and it really gets visitors thinking about the difference in value from years gone by. It is also interesting being able to compare the old style bank with today's modern facilities.

Located nearby was the chemist, which also features a small dental surgery inside. If you have a fear of the dentist, then Victorian dentistry would definitely not be for you, as there were a vast range of weird and scary looking instruments in use. The chemist displayed a vast collection of potions and lotions with bottles of all shapes and sizes. There were also some soaps and toiletries that were available for purchase which smelt really nice.

As we made our way along the street we searched inside the open shops and buildings. We found the post office interesting and there was a man sat outside making rugs and talking to visitors as they walked past. A beautiful horse was being led through the streets and Riley was looking forward to seeing more of the horses and other animals later in the day.

My children were very excited to visit the sweet shop again, which was definitely one of their highlights from our previous trip. There was a great range of sweets to choose from and you could choose to pay in new or old money, with the price list displaying both options.

Opposite the sweet shop is a wonderful photography suite which was my personal favourite from our last trip. Unfortunately we were on quite a tight schedule on this day, so decided to give this a miss on this occasion, but if you are a first time visitor, then it is definitely something not to be missed and provides you with a wonderful keepsake from your trip to Blists Hill.

For a very reasonable charge, you can dress up in Victorian clothing and have a picture portrait taken of you in traditional style. There is a large dressing room where you can select the clothes that you would like to wear, along with guidance and suggestions from a member of staff. Once everyone is dressed up, then you are taken through to a studio to have your picture taken against a traditional Victorian backdrop. Here is an image of my son Ben getting ready for his photo from our visit two years ago.

We continued our exploration around the site, before Ben requested a trip to the Doctor's house. As we entered, we were greeted by a lovely lady who welcomed us into the home and also then proceeded to talk to my children about activities that they may have done in Victorian times. Riley was very interested to learn more about flower pressing and he was shown how to do it, so that he could try it himself in the future.

We had a look in the waiting room and wondered how doctors managed appointments back then, prior to computers and modern technology.

Just past the surgery were some lovely farm animals, including pigs and chickens. Riley absolutely loves pigs, so he stood watching and talking to them for a while, before we proceeded to walk down the hill and past the G R Morton Ironworks.

Located at the bottom of this hill is a traditional funfair that both children and adults can enjoy, with a selection of fairground rides and stalls. There is an additional charge for these, but it is not overpriced and a go on the carousel costs only £1.50. In addition to the carousel there was also a swing roundabout, traditional swing boats and a coconut shy, making it a great place to stop and enjoy some Victorian fun. There are also some picnic benches and seating nearby, so it is also the ideal picnic area, with plenty to see and do.

Opposite the fairground is the old school house, where the very strict Mr Stern teaches his lessons. Visitors can attend the school at a time specified on the day and form an orderly queue outside before entering the classroom. When we arrived the queue was already very long, so we decided to walk round to the viewing windows instead, where you can see and hear everything that is going on inside. My children watched in amazement as visitors came in and took their seats, whilst Mr Stern shouted at them to be quiet and to hurry up so lesson could begin. The class then began by singing the hymn 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' under his watchful eye.

Ben said that Mr Stern was quite scary and was glad that he wasn't his real teacher, but he also found it really interesting how everyone immediately listened and behaved. We continued to watch the lesson for some time, before Riley asked if we could go and see the big boat, which he had remembered from our previous visit. We therefore made our way across to the big building, just a bit further down the path.

This purpose built building, houses what is believed to be the last known surviving Lower Severn Trow, which would have previously transported cargo along the River Severn. There is plenty of information and facts to read about the boat, along with a video that can be watched prior to climbing the stairs to the walkway. This allows visitors to get a marvellous view of the boat from all angles including a birds eye view from above. Both of my boys really love exploring boats, so they found this part of the attraction really interesting.

By this point we had started to get a little hungry, so we walked back up the hill to the towns main street to enjoy some fish and chips. I will be honest when I say that these are the nicest fish and chips that I have ever tasted and were absolutely delicious, cooked using the traditional method of beef dripping. We couldn't find any picnic benches available in the beer garden located next door, so we took our food over to some well placed rocks by the river and sat there whilst we enjoyed our food.

The Ironbridge Gorge Museums recommend that you allow at least three hours for your visit and I would definitely agree, although you could spend much longer there if you decided to take part in all of the activities and demonstrations which are available. The fairground is seasonal so only operates in the summer months, but there is also plenty of other things to see and do for the remainder of the year.

During our visit there was the opportunity to take part in some traditional maypole dancing, try out some candle dipping, ride in a horse and cart, experience the fun of the fair, enjoy a lesson with Mr Stern and also witness a good old sing song in the local pub.

The shops are full of interesting items as well as staff on hand to tell you more about how life would have been in the Victorian period. In the pharmacy you can learn all about the lotions and potions that were used, whilst in the bakery you can view them preparing bread for sale (which you can also buy once it is ready).

Overall we had a fantastic time and it is somewhere that I am sure we will return to again in the future. It is an attraction that is suitable for all ages and I love that fact that both times we have visited it has been a different experience and we have learnt something new. Days out as a family are often fun, but Blists Hill also has that educational element that all my children find really interesting.

There is no shortage of things to see and do and I particularly like how friendly and helpful the staff are around the town. Blists Hill Victorian Town has a wonderful atmosphere and a real feeling of authenticity. I would therefore happily recommend this attraction to families looking for a fun and informative day out together.

Attraction Details

You can find out more about Blists Hill Victorian Town by visiting their website or social media pages, which can be found on the following channels:

Address: Blists Hill Victorian Town, Legges Way, Madeley, Telford, TF7 5UD.

Entry prices are as follows:

Adult Entry - £18.50
60+  - £13.50
Child with Gift Aid - £11.50

You can also purchase Annual Passport Tickets which includes admission to all 10 Ironbridge Gorge museums for 12 months. Further details on these can be found here.

Opening Times: The attraction is open 7 days a week from 10am til 4:30pm from 25th March to 29th September 2019.

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary entry to the attraction for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Prices/dates/opening times correct at time of writing but are of course subject to change.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Windermere Lake Cruises & The Lakeland Motor Museum - A Review

In a recent blog post, I reviewed our experience at the Treetop Nets located at Brockhole Visitor Centre in the Lake District. We had an incredible time and plenty of fun, but once our two hour session was over, we were keen to see what else there was on offer in the area, as well as having a little bit of time to relax.

It can often be hard to find an activity where the parents get a little bit of time to chill out, without the kids immediately declaring their boredom, but we found the perfect solution by combining a Windermere Lake Cruise with a trip to the Lakeland Motor Museum.

We walked the short distance from the Treetop Nets to the Brockhole jetty, where there was a Windermere Lake Cruises ticket desk to purchase your tickets. You can also buy them online if you prefer and then simply exchange your booking confirmation for the tickets on arrival. We did the latter and exchanged our online booking voucher for tickets with minimal fuss. I had printed a copy of the timetable off the day before, so that we knew exactly where and when we could catch the boats throughout the day.

We had a Freedom of the Lake ticket including Lakeland Motor Museum entry, which meant that it could be used on any of the boats for a duration of 24 hours and that we could also use it to visit the museum. However, if you did only wish to travel on a particular route, then you can buy tickets specifically for the journey that you require. There are a great range of ticket options available, along with the choice of adding an attraction for greater value for money. Attractions that can be added are the Lakeland Motor Museum, the Lakes Aquarium and the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway.

There was plenty of seating for us to wait on until our boat arrived and then when it started to come into the jetty, all the customers began to form an orderly queue. On first glance it looked as though our boat was nearly full, so I was slightly worried about us being able to find seats altogether. Whilst it was busy, there were in fact still plenty of seats available on the upper deck, so my family and I sat on two rows upstairs, so that we could get a great view of the scenery.

We had decided that we would travel to Bowness first, prior to visiting the Motor Museum, so as our boat travelled on a circular route, this meant that we firstly had to travel to Ambleside, before returning back past Brockhole and onto Bowness. This was a really relaxing and enjoyable boat journey which had the most picturesque backdrop to our travels. The boat guide pointed out some areas of significance and also highlighted some peaks to us in the distance. My children really enjoyed looking out for wildlife, as well as trying to spot some of the hotels and landmarks that were mentioned on the journey.

As we continued our journey to Bowness, we passed numerous other watercraft all enjoying time out on the lake. This varied from yachts and motor boats to kayaks and paddle boards. Riley loved waving to everyone as they went past and it was great to see so many people wave back.

On arrival in Bowness, my children immediately spotted an outdoor stall selling ice cream, so we disembarked and had a little walk around the waterfront, before purchasing a cone each for us all. There was also a little arcade that we played in for a while, before we continued further up the road in order to explore some of the town.

We had last visited the area a couple of years ago, so Riley couldn't quite remember his last trip, so we walked up to the outside of the Beatrix Potter Museum and took him for a look inside the shop. Both my boys collect coins, so they were keen to see if they had any of the new Peter Rabbit coins on sale.

After we had spent a short time in Bowness, we decided to catch another boat and then continue our onward journey to the Lakeland Motor Museum. I had printed the timetable off from the website previously, but there were also plenty of leaflets and boards which advised when the next departures were. Our boat was already boarding at the jetty and fortunately there wasn't a large queue, so we were able to get onboard straight away and find some seats.

There was a choice of seating available and as the weather had become quite cold and overcast, we decided to sit downstairs for the next part of our journey. There were some long seats with tables in between, along with large picture windows at the side, so you could still see all the scenery as you travelled. A small refreshment shop was also located downstairs, so we enjoyed some hot drinks and snacks to warm us up.

All of the journeys that we had with Lake Windermere Cruises were really smooth along the water and not bumpy at all. I sometimes get a bit dizzy or light headed when travelling on boats, but these cruises were really relaxing and enjoyable and it was nice to be able to enjoy this time together as a family.

If, like us, you decide to visit the Lakeland Motor Museum, then you will need to catch a bus once you arrive at Lakeside. These run regularly and in time with the boat arrivals and departures, with the journey on the bus taking approximately 10 minutes. It is a great little service which makes exploring the area really easy.

On our arrival to the Lakeland Motor Museum, my children immediately remembered it. It has some superb displays and exhibits that my kids always find really fascinating. The museum itself is located within a converted mill and it boasts a massive collection of over 30,000 exhibits that cover a wide range of transportation from the twentieth century. As well as the main museum, there is also a separate exhibit in an adjacent building, that is dedicated to The Bluebird and the racing career of Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell.

As we entered the main shop and reception area, my children were provided with some quiz books that they could fill in as we had a look around and they were really pleased to see that some of the questions were different from our previous visit. The quiz book encouraged them to read the information on the displays, which helped them to learn more and gain a greater understanding of the vehicle that they were looking at.

My eldest son found the original prices of the cars really interesting, so he downloaded an app whilst there, that allowed you to convert historical prices into the modern day equivalent. One vehicle originally cost £400 new which sounded so inexpensive, but once you converted this to today's money, it would have been the same as thousands of pounds.

There were some new exhibits in place that had arrived since our last visit, so it was great to be able to have a look at some new vehicles that we had not seen before. It is actually quite amazing how they manage to fit so many displays in one place. Everything is so well laid out and the route through the museum is really easy to follow. The extensive car collection covers a large time span and features some wonderful cars ranging from prestige and luxurious, to performance and iconic.

Along with the vehicles, there are also some really fun shop displays, as well as old vehicle and fuel station signs all adorned along the walls. As an added bonus there is also a small room upstairs that features some old arcade style games. Each of the games cost 20p to play and there is a change machine so that you can exchange a £1 for a few coins. My son Ben loved the Super Steer-A-Ball game and managed to get his timing to perfection so that he could complete the route successfully.

There was also a fantastic display of bicycles and motorbikes upstairs in what was quite a magnificent collection. With so many to look at and compare, it was really interesting to view some of the older and more unique designs that varied quite a lot to todays modern comparisons.

My youngest son Riley really enjoyed learning about the Bluebird and he even chose to watch the video that played in the exhibit, sitting nice and quietly and listening to everything that was being said in the documentary. He absolutely loves to learn and find out new and interesting facts, so he was amazed hearing all about the record attempts that took place on the lake. Another couple visiting actually commented on how well behaved and quiet he was, which was a lovely compliment to receive.

Once we had finished looking around all of the exhibits, we returned to the shop with our completed quiz books so that the children could claim their prize. They were all rewarded for their efforts with a lovely little medal, which Riley was particularly proud of, especially as he had managed to answer most of the questions all by himself.

Overall we had a fantastic time with both Windermere Lake Cruises and the Lakeside Motor Museum. The boats looked really well maintained and all the staff on board seemed very accommodating and friendly. A small refreshments bar on board ensured that we could buy some hot drinks and snacks, whilst enjoying a leisurely cruise around the lake. Riley absolutely loved waving to the other boats that went past, whilst Ben enjoyed looking for wildlife both in and around the lake. The on-board commentary ensured that we didn't miss anything of significance and this also kept the children interested as they tried to spot what was being described by the guide.

The Lakeland Motor Museum was well enjoyed by my children and although we have visited previously, they still found it just as fascinating as our previous visit. There were some new exhibits that we had not seen before and the quiz that children are provided with on entry was also different. My kids really enjoyed looking for all the answers throughout the museum and also had a great time playing on the vintage games in the upper floor. Both attractions were superb and it was a fantastic way to spend a relaxing afternoon together.

For more information on Windermere Lake Cruises or the Lakeland Motor Museum, then you can visit their websites or their social media pages on the following channels:

Windermere Lake Cruises

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Lakeland Motor Museum

Address: Lakeland Motor Museum Ltd, Old Blue Mill, Backbarrow, Ulverston, Cumbria, LA12 8TA
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*Disclaimer - We were provided with a complimentary Freedom of the Lake & Motor Museum Ticket for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. Opinions are my own unless stated otherwise.

Friday, 10 May 2019

Our Review of the Treetop Nets in Windermere, Lake District

As a family we are always on the look out for fun new activities to try, especially ones that we can all enjoy together. We enjoy adventure and being outdoors, so when we heard about the Treetop Nets in the Lake District, this sounded like the perfect activity for us to experience. We therefore decided to head up north during the bank holiday weekend to spend the day in Cumbria and see what kind of family fun there was to enjoy.

The Treetop Nets at the Brockhole Visitor Centre in Windermere, are suspended nets located high up in the trees and feature giant trampolines, tunnels and slides. Due to the fact that you are enclosed with nets around the side, it also means that there is no need to wear a harness and you can simply jump, run and explore your way through the treetops. We were all really excited to try this out and my children were particular keen to test out the slides, which were described as being super fast!

The journey from our home in North Wales to Windermere takes approximately one hour and forty minutes, so we decided to set off early at 7:30am so that we could stop for breakfast somewhere along the way. We had booked our session on the Treetop Nets for 10am, so this gave us just enough time to enjoy a bite to eat and have a pleasant drive.

Our booking confirmation provided plenty of important information, so I had made sure that we had all read through this the day before. There are plenty of health and safety rules which are for the customers own benefit, so it is important to be aware of these and adhere to them both prior and during participation.

It is really important to wear appropriate clothing for the outdoors and for walking and bouncing on the nets, so flip flops and sandals are an absolute no! My husband and children all opted for joggers or leggings with trainers so that they could move about easily, whilst I opted for jeans and pumps. Long hair needs to be tied back so I made sure that Emma's was in a high ponytail before we arrived and I took a hair bobble along with me so that I could tie my own hair back whilst there. You are also not permitted to wear jewellery of any kind, this is because they can be easily caught in the netting which could cause you an injury, so it is best to make sure everything is left safely at home as there are no secure lockers on site.

You are advised to arrive 15 minutes early to allow time to park, pay for your parking ticket, make your way to the Treetop Nets and sign in with reception. I would definitely recommend arriving a bit earlier if you can as we arrived 15 minutes early, but had issues with the parking ticket machine (as did the lady in front of us), so by the time we had resolved this and walked to the reception area, we only just made our 10am slot. It is better to be early and play on the neighbouring park whilst you wait, than to be late and risk missing your session.

Once we had reached reception, we were greeted by a lovely member of staff who asked us to fill in some consent forms. Both my husband and I had to sign to confirm that we accepted the risks of taking part and then I also had to sign on behalf of the children. Another member of staff then took us to an outdoor briefing where we were told the do's and don'ts and given advice on how to use the slides. She also carried out a check to make sure that none of us were wearing any jewellery and provided us with some bags that we could use to go down the slides. These are essential for using on the slides if you want to avoid any risk of injury or rope burns. We were then free to explore!

Each session lasts two hours and on first glance I wasn't convinced that it would keep us entertained for that length of time. I predicted that we would all be done after an hour, but I will happily admit that I was wrong and in fact the full two hour session flew by. Initially Emma, Ben and my husband all ran off in different directions, whilst I stayed with our youngest son Riley. He was very nervous and apprehensive to begin with and would get scared if he looked down. We began by walking gently and holding onto the sides, so that he could get use to how it felt walking on the nets. This gradually helped to build his confidence and he began to move more into the middle, but he was adamant that he would not be going down any slides. After about twenty minutes he gained the confidence to start bouncing and really began to enjoy himself. Before long there was no stopping him as he ran and bounced his way through the nets.

At this point he was still unsure about the slides, but said that he would think about it and he watched on as his brother and sister went down them. His elder brother then managed to convince him to try one of the tunnels and he spent ten minutes just going back and forth through it. He absolutely loved it and found it quite a challenge to get out at the other end, which he thought was hilarious as his brother had to keep helping him out.

Emma and Ben then decided to spend sometime in the Ball Zone which is a huge netted area that contains large rubber balls (about birthing/gym ball size). Personally I found this area to be a little too busy for Riley who is 6 and it seemed more suitable for the older children and adults who were playing Dodgeball with the balls. I did notice that in the second hour of our session there was a member of staff supervising this area which was reassuring and play did seem much calmer during this time. Both Emma and Ben did enjoy it there though and were of a similar age to the others playing, so they just avoided any balls that were thrown or simply laughed it off if they did get caught by one. They stayed in this area for a good half an hour, so whilst it wasn't ideal for Riley, it was very enjoyable for them.

There was however, plenty of other areas for Riley to play so my husband and I set about trying to encourage him to go down the slides. Riley soon agreed that if I went down the slides first then he would have a go too. It sounded like the perfect deal to me, so I shuffled into my bag and set off down to the bottom of the slide. After a few minutes of doubt, Riley finally agreed and once he had gone down the slide once, there was absolutely no stopping him as he then went on the slides over and over again.

One thing that I particularly liked about the Treetop Nets was the Under 7's Chill Out Zone, so if it did ever seem too busy, or if your little one simply needs a break, then you can head there for some quieter time and play. There was plenty of space and it also had its own slide, so we did utilise this area on a couple of occasions especially at the beginning of our session when Riley was still building his confidence.

My only disappointment with the whole attraction, was how quick the two hour session seemed to pass! None of my children wanted to leave and before we had even walked out of the Treetop Net area, they were already asking when we could do it again. Both my husband and I enjoyed it just as much as the kids and it was nice to be able to take part in the activity with them, as opposed to just supervising.

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic time at the Treetop Nets and it is somewhere that we will definitely be visiting again. I thought the layout was great and I also liked the fact that there were picnic benches underneath the nets, so you could take a break when you needed to, or enjoy a snack and a drink. It didn't feel crowded at all at any point and because the ball zone seemed to be the most popular area, there were times where it felt like we had the remainder of the nets to ourselves which was great. The slides were really fun and fast and most importantly everything felt really safe. At no point did I feel worried or nervous about the nets being suspended in the air and seeing numerous staff members walking around and supervising was also very reassuring. Ultimately we had a brilliant time and my children have already requested a return visit in the summer holidays, which I have happily agreed to. The Treetop Nets are a fun experience for the whole family and we cannot wait to go back!

To find out more about Treetop Nets or to book tickets, then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

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Address: Treetop Nets, Brockhole Visitor Centre, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1LJ
Cost: £20 per adult/child over 5 / £13 for supervisors and under 5's

*Disclaimer - We were provided with a complimentary 2 hour session for the purpose of writing an honest review of the attraction and our experience. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Poopsie Sparkly Critters - A Review

You may remember that just before Christmas we had the opportunity to test and review the Poopsie Slime Surprise Unicorn. It was a fun, slime filled, activity toy that Riley absolutely loved. He was therefore really excited when we were recently sent the Poopsie Sparkly Critters, which either spit or poop slime.

There are a total of 16 to collect in the series, with each sparkly critter resembling a super cute animal with a sparkly unicorn horn. These sparkly critters will then either spit or poop slime, depending on which one is hidden inside. The slime can then be transformed by adding Unicorn Magic, Unicorn Shimmer, and if you are very lucky you may even get the ultra-rare Unicorn Sparkle.

Each Sparkly Critter belongs to one of seven groups and can either be a regular, rare or ultra-rare figure. These groups and their Sparkly Critter members are as follows:

Bougie Poops - Le Fluff (Regular), Fleece (Rare), Drama (Rare)
Doodies of the Forest - Cinnamon (Ultra-Rare), Sugar (Rare)
Disco Doo-Doos - Nanners (Regular), Chloe (Rare)
Turdz of Paradise - Stripes (Regular), Bamboo (Regular), Oopsie Starlight (Ultra-Rare)
Early Bird Turdz - Flutter (Rare), Dots (Regular)
Under the Poocific - Bubbles (Rare)
Junk Foodie Doodies - Singe (Ultra-Rare), Cheeky (Regular), Rainbow Brightstar (Ultra-Rare)

Riley was so excited to find out which Sparkly Critter he had received, so he set about opening the packaging. This is a really cool design which resembles a can of fizzy pop. It is really bright, colourful and eye catching. I helped Riley with the plastic wrapper on the outside of the can and he then began to peel back the cardboard opening.

Inside we found that the inner compartments rotated and in each section was a different bag to open. Riley carefully removed each of the bags and then he felt each of them to try and figure out which bag contained the critter, as he wanted to save that one til last. As he began to open each bag he kept trying to guess which figure he had. He was hoping to get something different from a unicorn with him already having a Poopsie unicorn previously, so he was delighted to find Bamboo inside his Sparkly Critter bag which resembles a lovely Panda. After opening all the bags we found that the full contents were:

  • 1 x Sparkly Critter which contained slime powder
  • 1 x Sparkly Critter dummy
  • 1 x Silly Soda Can
  • 1 x Slime Storage Bag
  • 1 x Unicorn Spoon
  • 1 x Unicorn Magic powder
  • 1 x Unicorn Shimmer
  • 1 x instructions
  • 1 x collectors sheet

As I opened the instructions I immediately had a little panic as they looked huge, but on closer inspection I realised that this was because they had been repeated in several languages. After breathing a huge sigh of relief, I had a quick read through them to see how we could create the slime.

There are 13 steps to follow on the instruction sheet, but the whole process is actually really simple. I could see that we would need a container to squirt the slime into, so before we began I made sure that we had something handy, along with a towel just in case of any spillages. We chose to use one of the plastic inners from inside an Easter egg box which ended up working really well for us.

To begin with I filled the silly soda can with water, whilst Riley removed the dummy from the cirtters mouth. It is important to make sure that you keep the critter upright whilst doing this to prevent some of the slime powder from falling out. Riley then tilted the critter backwards, inserted the straw into its mouth and pushed the plunger all the way down to feed all of the water.

We then placed the dummy back into the critter's mouth and Riley passed it to me to shake. You need to shake it up and down vigorously for one minute, before emptying the slimy water. If there is a heart opening on the critters bottom then it will poop, but if it doesn't then it will spit, so it is important to check this before emptying.

We then held the critter over the plastic easter egg tray and Riley squeezed it hard to remove all of the slime. At first it just appears like coloured water, so you need to leave it for 15-20 minutes to allow for it to set. It came out a bright green colour which my son thought was great!

The waiting time was the hardest part of the slime making process, so we used this time to open Riley's other Sparkly Critter so he could have two different sets of slime and critters to play with. His second set contained Chloe from the Disco Doo-Doos group, which produced a different coloured slime in Blue. It can always be a bit nerve-wracking with surprise toys as to whether you might receive a duplicate, so Riley was really happy to have two different Sparkly Critters and two different colours of slime.

Once our first slime was ready, we opened the Unicorn Magic and poured the powder into the centre of the slime. We added it a little at a time and mixed it in with the unicorn spoon. We then added the unicorn shimmer which made the slime really sparkly and glittery. Riley then set about mixing it with his hands which he thought was great fun. When he had finished playing with it, he simply popped it into the storage bag, ready to be played with another day.

He said that the slime felt a little bit different to others we had made before and that it was really squidgy, soft and super stretchy!

Overall we thought that the Poopsie Sparkly Critters were great fun. Both Riley and I found the slime making process really simple and my son loved the surprise element and the anticipation of seeing which Sparkly Critter he had inside the fizzy pop can. I thought that it was a really unique and clever design, with the added bonus of it being very easy to clean. Everything worked as it should and there were no leakages or spillages whilst we made the slime. We also really liked the fact that funky storage bags were included, which gave Riley somewhere safe to store his slime, so that it can be played with again in the future. The product has a retail price of around £14.99 which I think is really good value for money and I would happily buy these for my son or as gifts for others.

Poopsie Sparkly Critters can currently be found in most good toy retailers including Argos, Asda, Smyths Toys Superstores and Amazon.

*Disclaimer - We were gifted these toys for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. Opinions are my own unless stated otherwise. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link which means that I may receive a small commission should you choose to purchase this product from them.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

The BBC Summer Social is Coming to Liverpool - 3rd & 4th August 2019!

The BBC Summer Social is returning to Croxteth Country Park in Liverpool on the 3rd and 4th August with a superb line-up that is sure to make the event bigger and better than ever before! It is set to showcase some incredible musical acts along with some of the very best BBC, CBBC and CBeebies talent, as well as providing a whole host of indoor and outdoor activities.

BBC Summer Social has recently announced a second wave of artists that will be appearing on the Saturday at the BBC's biggest family festival which includes Pixie Lott, Rak-Su, New Hope Club, Four of Diamonds, The Horrible Histories Movie Screening and more. These acts will join the already announced Busted, John Newman, Nina Nesbitt and Freya Ridings, along with dancing sensations The Next Step and Merseygirls.

Saturday will also welcome Max & Harvey, in addition to some big names from the world of Instagram and Tik Tok including Amelia Gething, Lewys Ball, Holly H and Rosie McClelland.

Joining CBeebies Superstar Mr Tumble on Sunday, a great selection of CBBC and CBeebies presenters will take to the main stage to host non-stop fun for all the family across both days. Presenters include Sam Nixon, Yasmin Evans, Jonny Nelson, Hacker T Dog, Lauren Layfield, Karim Zeroual, Rhys Stephenson, Lyndsey Russell, Naomi Wilkinson, Rebecca Keatley, Fern and Rory, Cat Sandion, Katy Ashworth, Ben Cajee, Maddie Moate and Dodge.

In addition to these wonderful acts, visitors will also be able to discover immersive activity zones, theatre shows, interactive and inspiring workshops, a spectacular range of outdoor and indoor activities and live appearances from the most popular children's authors.

Alice Webb, Director, BBC Children's said: "We are so excited to announce more acts to our already bursting line-up of music artists and BBC stars. As we celebrate the return of the BBC Summer Social to Liverpool for our second year, we are confident that 2019 will be bigger and better than ever."

The BBC Summer Social is a fantastic day out for the whole family and tickets are now on sale for this great event priced at £23.50 per person plus a £1.50 booking fee (free for Under 2's). Tickets include all activities, rides and performances at the festival.

Further information on the BBC Summer Social can be found on their website and social media pages which are located on the following channels:

Website -
Facebook -
Twitter - @BBCSummerSocial
Instagram - @BBCSummerSocial

*Disclaimer - This post has been written based on a provided press release.

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Dates for your Diary - Acrobatic Family Comedy Show Chores Comes to Storyhouse This Summer

Following on from two sold out seasons at the Brighton and Edinburgh Fringes in 2018, Chores is coming back to the UK for a new tour which includes two shows at Storyhouse in Chester.

Chores is a comedy circus show from Australia, which tells the story of two brothers who have to clean up their messy room so that they can ride their bicycles. Featuring a storyline that many families can relate to, this show is packed with cool stunts, acrobatic flips, unicycles, juggling - and not forgetting the infamous toilet paper guns.

Last year, Chores was proud to win several awards which included the Audience Choice Award at Prague Fringe; a nomination for Best Children's Show at Perth Fringe; and the Weekly Winner Award for Best Kids Show at Adelaide Fringe.

Credit: Embellish Photography

Chores is brought to you by Hoopla Clique performers Julian Roberts and Morgan Wilson. These two talented theatre clowns redefine slapstick humour and showcase teamwork, trust and co-operation. The physical comedy is suitable for diverse audiences as it requires little language and speaks to young and old alike. Inspired by Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, this is a show that's made for children, but there is plenty of hilarity to amuse parents and families too!

Julian is a natural on stage, having started training as an acrobat and a clown since he was just 14. His stage partner Morgan is a cheeky muppet, who is full of surprises.

Chores performer Julian Roberts commented: "Chores is the return to the good old days of pure entertainment, where bringing joy is priority number one. Operating at an extremely high LPM (Laughs Per Minute), we love it when parents enjoy the show as much as kids do!"

Chores comes to Storyhouse on Saturday 15th June, with performances at 11am and 2pm. Tickets are on sale now, priced at £10 for adults and £8 for children. The show is suitable for youngsters aged two upwards.

For more information on Chores you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook -
Instagram -

Listing Details

Show: Chores
Venue: Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR
Dates: Saturday 15th June 2019
Times: 11am and 2pm
Tickets: Adults £10 / Children £8
Booking: This can be done online at, by calling 01244 409113 or by visiting the ticket kiosks at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR

For further details you can visit the Storyhouse website, or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website -
Facebook -
Twitter - @storyhouselive
Instagram - @storyhouselive

Credit: Embellish Photography

*This is based on a press release provided by BEA.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Our Family Adventure at Coral Island, Blackpool - A Review

What a difference a week makes, as only seven days ago we were enjoying a day trip to sunny Blackpool and it finally felt like summer had arrived. We had a lovely family walk along the promenade, ate some delicious ice cream on the sea front and visited the largest free admission attraction in Blackpool, the fabulous Coral Island!

Unfortunately this weekend was comparatively different with gale force winds and heavy rain instead. Therefore our trip to Coral Island last weekend is a recent memory that is firmly on our minds, with the kids already requesting to return very soon. It is a great place to visit whatever the weather and is guaranteed to provide you with a jam packed day of family fun, with a whole host of fun games, rides and family dining options on offer.

When we travelled from our home in North Wales last weekend, we set off at around 8:15am in an attempt to avoid any traffic. Our decision proved to be a success and we arrived in Blackpool at 9:30am just as Coral Island opened. We parked in the nearby car park just across the road and my children immediately spotted the huge parrot on the outside of the building. We hadn't had time to eat before we left, so I told the children that we could have a walk around inside first to see all the games and rides that were available, before visiting one of their on-site restuarants 'Peggy's Snack Bar' for breakfast. I thought that this would be a lovely way to start the day and would also put any hungry tummies to rest for a few hours, so that we could enjoy this wonderful attraction.

The first thing that we found out about Coral Island is not only is it the largest free admission attraction in Blackpool, but also that kids eat free, all day, every day, in every single one of their restaurants. There are five dining options available which are The Buccaneer, Captain Jacks, Peggy's Snack Bar, Big Fish Trading Bar and The Traditional Chippy. One child under 10 eats free with every adult's meal purchased, which we think is an absolutely fantastic deal and helps making eating out affordable, especially for larger families like ours where eating as a family of five can often prove to be quite expensive.

The Buccaneer Bar & Restaurant looked fabulous with a Pirate Galleon theme and serves family favourite meals, along with a three meat Sunday carvery every Sunday. Captain Jack's is the go to place for stacked burgers, ribs and delicious family sized desserts, whilst both the Big Fish Trading Bar and The Traditional Chippy offer award winning fish & chip meals. If you are also looking for a great choice of hot and cold meals, then Peggy's Snack bar has plenty to offer with prices starting at just £4.75 for breakfast and £4.95 for main meals, with the option of daily specials also being available.

We visited Peggy's Snack Bar for breakfast and my husband opted for the Big Breakfast. This costs £6.75 and includes 2 eggs, 2 bacon, 2 sausages, beans, tomato, hash brown, mushrooms and fried bread. I chose to have a Full English which comes at a price of £4.75 and each of my children had a kids breakfast which consisted of toast, beans and then a choice of sausage or bacon. Drinks are extra but are very reasonably priced with both hot and cold options available. My husband and I both chose a cappuccino and my children selected some bottled juices which all accompanied our breakfast nicely.

There was plenty of seating available for customers and it all appeared to be tidy and well kept. We noticed that tables were cleared quickly when guests left and the staff all seemed to work really well together to ensure both the serving and cleaning was managed effectively.

Our food was really tasty and we all enjoyed our meals. Personally I would have preferred it if I could have had toast instead of fried bread, but that would just be my personal choice and there is the option to purchase toast as an extra should you wish to. The sausage and bacon seemed good quality and the eggs were cooked just how I like them, so along with the well cooked hash browns and beans, it was the perfect meal to start our day. My children all cleared their plates and my youngest son said that his bacon was delicious!

Once we had finished our drinks, we made our way into the arcade which was probably the most challenging part of the day as we simply couldn't decide where to begin! With so much to choose from, the children all wanted to head in different directions, but eventually we were all able to agree where to start and we began to play on some of the machines to build up our collection of tickets.

Tickets can be won on a large majority of the machines and you can collect these tickets to exchange them for something at the prize shop. There is such a huge range of prizes to choose from, so you can swap a small amount of tickets for something small like a packet of sweets, or build them up to exchange for a much larger prize. Some of the items we saw ranged from footballs to toys, bubbles to caps and soft toys to superhero merchandise. There was definitely something for everyone!

Emma took a chance on one of the ticket machines and managed to win over 200 tickets from just 10p! She was absolutely delighted and couldn't believe her luck, which certainly put her in a great mood for the remainder of the day. Ben and Riley also enjoyed playing on the ticket machines and both of them managed to build up a nice amount of tickets to exchange later in the day.

After a short while, we moved onto the 2p machines which provided plenty of entertainment for the kids for quite a lengthy amount of time. They loved looking around the machines to try and find some that had prizes on the edge so that they could try to win them. Before long we had already managed to win numerous keyrings much to the childrens delight.

There were a couple of times where coins became lodged or prizes we had won became stuck, so we had to try and find a member of staff to assist. We did have a bit of difficulty the first time, but afterwards we simply went to one of the cash desks and they would radio for assistance. This seemed a good process and was much easier than walking around trying to find someone. When the staff did arrive to assist, this was done promptly and courteously so that we could continue with our prize quest. The staff seemed to work really hard and we also regularly saw the manager walking around ensuring that the whole attraction was being run safely and effectively.

One thing that really stood out to us, right from the very beginning, was how clean and tidy the whole arcade was in appearance. We expected that we might see tickets or sweet wrappers on the floor, especially in a place so big, but this was not the case at all. All the machines seemed well maintained with everything neat and in it's place. If a machine got low on prizes then these would be topped up, if something ran out of tickets then these would be replaced and if a member of staff did spot something on the floor then this would be picked up straight away. We were very impressed with the layout and how well organised everything appeared, which is obviously a credit to the manager and staff involved in the day to day running.

After a couple of hours of playing on the machines, the camel derby caught my children's attention. I remember playing on similar donkey derby's as a child and I knew that my children would love a game on here. The concept is really easy and you simply roll some balls and try and get them into the coloured holes. The more balls you roll and the more colours they roll into, then the faster your camel runs across the race. It is so much fun and we saw people of all ages enjoying this and trying their luck to win. Unfortunately my family and I weren't very good at it and didn't get a single win amongst us, but that certainly did not deter from the fun we had.

Following on from the excitement of the Camel Derby, we moved to another part of the arcade to play prize Bingo. My very first job when I was 14 was working in an arcade and I used to work on the bingo calling the winner's numbers back to the announcer if someone made a claim. I remember how much the customers used to love the anticipation and excitement of only needing one number and hoping and waiting for it to be called. I was therefore really looking forward to enjoying a game with my family.

Coral Island Prize Bingo has digital screens and has been well and truly modernised. There is still a bingo caller, but gone are the days of having to turn your number over as you now simply need to press on the screen to have your card marked. Unfortunately the numbers were called far too quickly to look for them and so instead you simply just tap on the screen after each number is called and the cards are automarked. Whilst this is great for ensuring that you don't miss a number and also helps the younger players, it does take away some of the excitement. However, we still really enjoyed it and I did in fact win my very first game! My eldest son also won a game and we each received 120 points. I believe that the prize points increase depending on the number of players and whether it is a jackpot game and then these points can be exchanged for bingo prizes.

I gave my points to my youngest son and there was actually a really good selection of prizes to choose from. I didn't expect him to get much since I had only won once, but after much deliberation he chose a Batman bubble wand, a gold motorcycle toy and some sweets. I have to also commend the lady that was serving here as she was so kind and patient whilst my son tried to make his decision. She also gave him some suggestions as to what he could get with his points and didn't try to rush him at any point. He was delighted with his choices in the end and we were also provided with a Coral Island bag to place everything in.

As we took another walk around the arcade we noticed a small crowd of people near one of the entrances, so we decided to be nosey and take a look as to what had interested everyone. Much to Riley's delight there were some superheros meeting and greeting guests and Riley was over the moon to be able to have his picture taken with Thor, Iron Man and Captain Marvel.

Before we knew it, we had already spent over three hours in the arcade and yet we still hadn't seen everything that Coral Island had to offer. I asked the children what they would like to do next and they all asked to take a ride on the Pirate Flyer.

The Pirate Flyer takes you on a tour of the arcade onboard a mini Pirate ship that travels along a monorail track. This is a superb place to get a good view of everything and to also spot any games that you may have missed. It costs £2 per rider or £3 for 2 riders which I thought was a reasonable price. My youngest son Riley absolutely loved this ride, so much so, that he insisted on riding on it again. He loved trying to search for things as we moved along and enjoyed waving at other riders as they went past on the opposite side of the track.

Keeping with the theme of rides, we then made our way to the Ghost Train. My daughter and I found this hilarious, as I am quite jumpy, so even though I know exactly what to expect, it still made me jump out of my seat and scream. We literally laughed the whole way round and my son and daughter decided to go on it again straight afterwards a couple more times.

My husband then spotted something that he hadn't seen in an arcade before, which was a Virtual Reality experience than could be played with one or two persons. My daughter jumped at the chance to join her dad on a virtual reality adventure so they spent a moment getting the headsets set up, before travelling along an underground track avoiding obstacles along the way. This costs £3 per person, which may sound a little expensive, but it is quite a unique experience that lasts quite a while, so I would say that you do get good value for money.

There is also a large screen located above the participants, so people can also watch your adventure on the monitor. It was really funny watching my daughters reactions to things and she didn't let go of the bar the whole time. It was quite entertaining just watching them enjoy the experience and by the time it had finished there were several other families wanting to have a go.

We all decided that we would like to try and win some more tickets before heading over to the prize shop to redeem them, so we spent some further time playing on the basketball and throwing games, along with the ticket slot machines. My children won quite a few tickets on these and kept winning free spins, so this helped to build up their ticket collection.

Once we had spent all of our budget for the day, we made our way to the ticket eaters. There are numerous machines that you guide your tickets into and it will count them all automatically, before printing a receipt that shows how many you have obtained. You then simply take this receipt over to the prize desk to choose your prize. I hadn't expected the children to come away with much, but they each averaged around 500 tickets which meant that they could actually get quite a few decent toys. In the end they each came away with a bag full of goodies that contained everything from sweets to Fortnite character figures. Riley also managed to get an Avengers juice cup with built in straw that he was really happy with.

As our day was coming to a close, we decided to enjoy a fish and chip dinner before setting off on the journey home. We had noticed that The Traditional Chippy had been busy all day which showed us how popular it was with visitors and we couldn't wait to try the food for ourselves. My two boys decided to opt for chicken nuggets instead, but my husband, daughter and I all tried the fish and chips which were absolutely delicious and very reasonably priced too!

You can choose to take these away if you fancied eating on the seafront, however we chose to eat in their seating area which like the rest of the attraction, seemed very clean and well maintained. It was busy, but not crowded and the staff worked hard to ensure that tables were cleared quickly. We all really enjoyed our meals and it was the perfect way to end our visit to Coral Island in Blackpool.

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic day at Coral Island in Blackpool. None of us could quite believe how much there actually was to see and do, all inside one building. A lot of thought has clearly been put into this attraction, in creating somewhere that is extremely family friendly and plenty of fun too. We all saw games there that we had never seen before and we enjoyed the mixture of both new and old arcade favourites. The VR Experience was great fun, along with the Pirate Flyer and Ghost Train ride which were suitable for all the family. Every single member of staff that we came across were both friendly and courteous, though a special mention has to be made to the staff that work in the prize shop who all exhibit great patience and professionalism when visitors take some time to choose their prizes. We found Coral Island to be an absolute TREASURE of an attraction and there is no doubt that we will be returning again very soon!

*Disclaimer - We were invited to visit Coral Island as guests, for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience at the attraction. All thoughts and opinions are my own.