Wednesday, 13 January 2021

St Helens Theatre Royal Announce An Online Extension of their 5-Star Christmas Pantomime Beauty and the Beast Until the End of January

St Helens Theatre Royal have today announced they will extend the online version of their 5-star socially distanced production of Beauty and the Beast until the end of January and is available to purchase and watch now.

Beauty and the Beast recently ran for the festive period from Friday 11th December and was due to finish on Sunday 3rd January, unfortunately due to a change in Tiers by the government, the show was forced to close on Wednesday 30th December.

Audiences who missed the show at Christmas had the option to enjoy the critically acclaimed production from the comfort of their own homes, a link to purchase tickets was available until the 10th January, this was a specially filmed version of the Christmas Eve performance.

Now the theatre has extended the online run to allow parents to treat their family throughout the month of January to beat those lockdown and January blues.

Image Credit: David Munn

St Helens Theatre Royal were one of the few venues across the UK who opened their doors for a Christmas pantomime after being closed for 9 months, due to the current Covid pandemic. The highly anticipated show proved to be a popular choice during the festive season and was praised by audience members and critics alike.

Theatre Royal manager Chantelle Nolan commented: "We are thrilled to be able to extend the online version of our popular Christmas production until the end of the month, January is normally such a dead month and even more so due to the strict lockdown restrictions and being told to stay at home. To watch theatre online from the comfort of your own home could be a lovely treat to children, giving them something to look forward to after doing their schoolwork or at a weekend and it also supports the theatre through the lockdown period.

"We are proud to say that during our 36-show Christmas run, we didn't have a single positive case and no cases reported to us via the public or track and trace. Our staff and full company were tested on a regular basis and we were delighted to receive constant feedback from customers saying how safe they felt in the theatre. We are really looking forward to bringing back audiences into the theatre for live performances and our Easter Pantomime, Goldilocks and the Three Bears which is now on sale."

Image Credit: David Munn

The full cast of Beauty and the Beast is Jamie Greer as Potty Polly; Abigail Middleton as Madame Botox; Scott Gallagher as French Frank' Olivia Sloyan as Belle; Andrew Geater as The Beast; Tim Lucas as Gaston; and Jenna Sian O'Hara as Fairy Rose.

The show is directed by Chantelle Nolan, written by Liam Mellor, with choreography by Nazene Langfield, and Callum Clarke is musical supervisor.

Get ready to go on a family adventure with the fabulous family friendly pantomime, Beauty and the Beast. This is the timeless story of Belle, a beautiful young woman who falls in love with the most unexpected of princes, who has been cursed to look like a hideous beast. Will the beast learn to love and be loved? Will the spell be broken in time for all to live happily ever after?

For more information, please visit www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

Follow St Helens Theatre Royal on the following social media channels:

Facebook: St Helens Theatre Royal

Twitter: @TheatreRoyalStH

Instagram: @TheatreRoyalStH

Listing Information

Beauty and the Beast  - Online Version - Tickets: £20 per device

Available via the website www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com

Image Credit: David Munn

*Disclaimer - This post is written based on a press release kindly provided by BEA. All details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, however I would always recommend visiting the venues own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.


Friday, 8 January 2021

10 Great Reasons As To Why I Love Amazon Prime Now!

* This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

We have regularly relied on home shopping deliveries in the past for a variety of different reasons. Work schedules, having to take 3 children around the supermarket who really don't want to be there and the simple factor of convenience, have all been elements that have persuaded us to make use of home deliveries for quite some time. However, when the first lockdown began, the home delivery slots quickly disappeared and those that were left were only available at an excessive price. We also realised that even if we could get a slot, there was likely someone much more in need of it than we were and so for a period of time we no longer used this facility.

This was ok for a while, until the need came for us to self isolate. Again we couldn't find any delivery slots and we were in a bit of a panic as to how we were going to get our weekly big shop done. Our neighbours were great offering to get us bits and bobs but I certainly wouldn't have felt comfortable asking them to do a huge shop for us, so I began to look for an alternative and came across Amazon Prime Now whilst exploring our Amazon Prime membership benefits.

In our area Amazon Prime Now has partnered with our local Morrisons store. Although this wasn't our usual supermarket, they all generally sell the same things and so we decided to give it a try. We have been prime members for years now so there was also no additional cost for us to use this service if we spent over £40. The difference with Prime Now is that you cannot see a whole host of delivery slots ahead of time or before you start adding things to your basket, so I was understandably a little bit wary at first that I may spend an hour adding items, to then find that there was no slot available for delivery.

However, because these slots can't be booked up way in advance or prior to checking out, I am pleased to say that we have so far managed to get same day delivery on every single order that we have placed, though this may possibly change as the service becomes more popular. I have also noticed recently that they have started placing a guide at the top of the main page which tells you whether there are still delivery slots available that day or for the following day which definitely helps.

We now use Amazon Prime Now regularly and absolutely love the service. I have therefore compiled my top ten reasons as to why I Love Amazon Prime Now.

1) Ease of Use - The app is so easy to use. You simply download it to your phone and off you go. It is easy to search for items in the search bar, or alternatively you can have a look through the special deals that feature on the main page. Once you have started placing orders you can also access your previous items so that you can purchase these again and add them to your basket at super quick speed. The site is also available on your web browser too, so if you would rather use your laptop to place an order then that is still an option.

2) Fast Delivery - The delivery service is fantastic and on some occasions we have received all our shopping in less than 2 hours after placing our order. You receive a notification when the delivery driver is on their way and you can even track their journey to your home. Amazing!

3) Very Reasonable Delivery Fees - When you spend over £40 there is no extra delivery charge for Prime Members if you choose a 2 hour delivery slot. If you have 1 hour delivery slots available in your area then delivery costs £3.99 for orders over £40. Orders under £40 carry a £3.99 delivery charge if you choose a 2 hour slot and £6.99 for a 1 hour slot. There is a minimum spend on any order of at least £15. As we use this service for our main shop we use the 2 hour slots which means our shopping is delivered free as part of our prime benefits.

4) Paper Bags - Shopping is delivered in paper bags meaning they can be put straight into the recycling once you have unpacked your goods.

5) Real Time Product Replacements - In the event that your chosen product is out of stock you will receive a message whilst your order is being picked that offers a replacement suggestion. You can then choose to accept or decline that replacement.

6) Covid-Safe Delivery - All of our delivery drivers have been excellent at maintaining distance as well as wearing masks, which offers reassurance whilst having your goods delivered to your home.

7) Excellent Customer Service - There is no live chat facility on Amazon Prime Now in the event of any issue, but there is an email and call option. I was therefore  a little sceptical at first as to how quick they would respond to any problems. However, I recently received the wrong product to what I had ordered so sent them an email. I received a response in less than an hour, along with a no quibble refund of the product I had ordered which was returned to my bank account the following day. 

8) Great Communication - You are regularly kept up to date with your order and receive several notifications during the ordering, picking and delivery process. You receive a notification during the following stages:

  • When your order has been received
  • When your shopper starts working on your order
  • If your shopper needs to confirm any replacement requests
  • Once your shopper has finished working on your order
  • Once your order has been dispatched and is on its way
  • Once your order is within close distance
  • Once your order has been delivered
9) I.D for Alcohol Sales - This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think it is great that they will always ask to see your I.D if purchasing alcohol. They will do this regardless of how old you look and my husband and I have always had to show our I.D from a safe distance, despite clearly looking older than the legal age. Whilst this may annoy some, I think it is great that they are being compliant with the relevant laws.

10) 30 Day Free Trial - If you have not been a member of Amazon Prime before, then you may be eligible to sign up to a free 30 day trial of the Amazon Prime service, which will then give you access to Amazon Prime Now. If you enjoy the service then you can continue to pay the monthly or annual subscription charge, if not then you can simply cancel before your 30 day trial expires. You can find out more over on the Amazon website simply by clicking the banner below. (Affiliate link).

*Disclaimer - This post is written based on my own opinion and experience of the Amazon Prime Now service. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting Amazon's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Friday, 1 January 2021

Happy New Year!

There is no denying that 2020 has been very difficult for many including ourselves. We started last year full of excitement and looking forward to all the plans we had made, but it turned out extremely different from anything we could have anticipated.

As a blogger who focuses on travel, day outs and theatre, this meant that the majority of my work simply disappeared overnight. Our usual routine of visiting family every weekend quickly became impossible and we had to see people very close to us begin to struggle with both their physical and mental health. 2020 was definitely our year of challenges, but despite all the difficulties we faced, we did still manage to have some positive moments, for which we will always remember and be grateful for.

We currently have no plans at all for 2021, which feels very strange. However, we do have hope and lots of it. We hope for a better year, for better health and for a year of love and happiness. We don't know what this year will bring, but we can hope for the best and I sincerely hope that 2021 is better for everyone. So on that note, Happy New Year to you all!

Sunday, 8 November 2020

A Night of Family Fun with Spin Master Games - A Review

Whilst lockdown has had many disadvantages, it has created a very positive experience for us, in that we have been able to spend plenty of family time together. In the summer we were able to enjoy the fabulous weather in the garden, but now the colder and darker nights are drawing in, it has given us the opportunity to enjoy some fabulous family games that have provided us with plenty of entertainment.

We were recently sent a selection of games from Spin Master which included Grouch Couch, Beat the Parents and Hedbanz. All of these games were great fun and suitable for all of our family with our age ranges being from 7 to 40. 

Grouch Couch Review

Grouch Couch was the first game that my children wanted to play. Our first impressions were that it looked like a fun game that was sure to make us laugh and we weren't wrong. The box has a clear window at the front (which is always my preferred choice when it comes to toys), so that you can see exactly what the product looks like inside. The text on the front describes it as 'The furniture with attitude game!™' and it is recommended as being suitable for 2-4 players aged 5+.

The rear of the box provides some clear images of game play along with a brief description of the game, which provides you with a good understanding of what is involved to play. It looked simple to understand, exciting to play and lots of fun, so we couldn't wait to get started.

On opening the box we found the following contents inside:

  • 1 x Grouch Couch
  • 16 x Treats
  • 15 x Lost Goodies
  • 1 x Dice
  • 1 x Instruction Sheet

The Grouch Couch was fastened into the box using an elasticated band and two plastic connectors. These connectors simply need to be twisted to allow the product to be released from the cardboard base. This was really simple to do and even better they can be continually used going forwards, meaning that you can also refasten it back into the box once you have finished playing. My only slight frustration with the game arose at this point as it was only on removing the item that we realised it needed batteries. I had checked the front and rear of the box before opening it to check this, but hadn't noticed that the information was actually detailed underneath the box and that it required 3 x AAA batteries. Luckily we had already bought some spare packs in preparation for Christmas, so this was only a minor inconvenience that we could quickly resolve. We were soon ready to play and I began to read out the instructions to the rest of my family. 

To begin game play you lift the centre cushion of the Grouch Couch and load all the 15 Lost Goodies into the hole before closing the cover securely. The Lost Goodies look like tokens, but each one has an object printed on them such as a sock or a mobile phone.  You then place the treats in a pile within each reach of all the players. Underneath the Grouch Couch is an on and off switch, so when you are ready to play you simply switch this on to begin your game.


Starting with the youngest player, you roll the dice and place that may treats anywhere on the Grouch Couch. That player then presses the remote control button which will make the Grouch Couch come alive as it begins to move and open its mouth. If he likes what you feed him, the Grouch Couch will make some satisfied burping noises and then release one or more Lost Goodies. These are flung out of the bottom of the sofa and are released quickly and at speed, which my children found hilarious. You then need to keep these Lost Goodies safe as the person who has the most at the end of the game is the winner. You will know when you have reached the end of the game as the Grouch Couch will sing a song before releasing the final Lost Goodies.

The dice can also play an important part in helping you to win, as if you roll a vacuum cleaner on the dice, you can then roll a number and remove this amount of tokens from another player. This adds a good twist to the game as just when you think you are winning, another player could take some of your Lost Goodies. After we had played this game a few times, we also added a further challenge in for my older children, in that they had to catch the Lost Goodies as they were released otherwise they would be forfeited. This added another fun element to the game and we loved that it was easy to add our own variations.

Overall we all loved this game and found it really funny. I liked that as well as playing by the set rules, we were also able to adapt this to suit my older children and add some variation to the game. It is really simple and easy to understand and I know it is a game that my youngest son Riley will want to play with his friends repeatedly, once they are allowed to visit again. The game is currently available to buy at Amazon for £19.99, which I feel represents good value for money. I can see this being a game that many families would enjoy playing together and I would therefore happily recommend this to others.


Hedbanz Review

Hedbanz is a game we are familiar with and has been a firm favourite of ours for many years. As described on the box, it is the quick question game of "What Am I?" and provides a wacky guessing game as you try to figure out what is featured on the card on your head.

The game comes in a red square box with bright and colourful graphics on the front and rear. Whilst there is no description on the front, the images give you a good idea of what the game involves and what is included in the box. The rear of the box provides a contents list, further graphics and some more details about how the game can be advanced using the Hedbanz app.

On opening the box we found that the contents included:

  • 6 Blue adjustable headbands
  • 13 Scoring badges
  • 69 Picture cards
  • 3 Sample question cards
  • 1 Timer
  • Instructions

To set up the game you firstly need to separate the Picture Cards from the Sample Question Cards, then shuffle them up and place them face down in the middle of all the players, along with the Scoring Badges. Each player then places a Headband on their head, making sure that the Hedbanz logo is in the centre, as this is where the Picture Card will be placed. You then deal one Picture Card face down to each player, who must then insert their card into the clip on the headband. As tempting as it may be, do not sneak a peak at your card!

The youngest player then goes first, before play continues to the left. On each players turn the timer is flipped over and you have to ask the other players questions to try and guess the picture on your head.  The Sample Question Cards give you some ideas of what you could ask if you get stuck, but we enjoyed trying to think of our own questions. If you manage to guess the picture before the time runs out, then you take another card and continue asking questions until the time runs out. When you guess a card correctly, you can add a Scoring Badge to your headband and the first to collect 3 Scoring Badges is the winner.

Now whilst the rules of the game are simple and easy to understand, it is amazing how quickly your mind can go blank whilst you are trying to think of questions to ask whilst racing against the clock. I had a clear plan in my mind of how I was going to figure what was on my card fast, but once the timer began and the pressure set in, my plan of action went out the window. My family and I couldn't stop laughing throughout the game at some of the guesses that were made and it took a few turns each before we gradually started to work out our cards. Overall we think that this is a great family game that is easy to set up and understand. It is currently available to purchase on Amazon for only £10, which offers excellent value for money.


Beat the Parents Review

Beat the Parents is a game we have never played before, so we were keen to try this out and find out more. The front of the box didn't give too much away, but the reverse gave a good explanation of this head-to-head family game which is packed full of questions and challenges. Adults have to answer questions about kids' stuff, whils the children answer questions that the parents should know. As well as being full of fact filled trivia, it also includes fun and exciting challenges, with the team that crosses the game board first being declared the champion.

Inside the box we found the following contents:
  • 1 Game board
  • 110 Question Cards
  • 50 Challenge Cards
  • 2 Movers
  • Instructions

My children were really excited about this game as they were determined to beat us parents. The object of the game is for kids to play their parents as both teams try to answer questions and complete various challenges. The first team to get their mover to the other end of the game board are declared the winners.

Setting up the game is easy and each team sits on opposites sides of the board. Kids are yellow, whilst the parents are red. You then shuffle both decks of question and challenge cards and place them face down next to the board. Kids go first and the parents must draw a Question Card and read out loud the first question on the card. If this is answered correctly then the kids can move their mover by one space on the board and the parents then go on to ask the next question that is displayed on the card. An incorrect answer means that they can not move ahead and their turn is over. If you land on a challenge space whilst moving your mover then you must stop there and draw a Challenge Card. 

The Challenge Cards feature a wide variation of challenges. The challenges can be anything from playing Rock, Paper Scissors with an opposing team member or having to quickly add up the ages of everyone in the room and being the first person to shout the correct answer. We found the challenges to be great fun and some of them also provided plenty of laughter. The team that wins a Challenge Card can then move their mover the amount of spaces indicated on the card. The first team to reach the Win space wins the game!

Overall we really enjoyed this game and particularly liked the variety of challenges it offered. Beat the Parents is currently available on offer at Amazon for only £10, which offers great value for money, especially as this game can be played many times without feeling too repetitive, due to the amount of question and challenge cards available. You do need some extra items to complete some of the challenges such as a pencil or ice cubes, however most of these are ordinary items that you would have in your home and you could always remove any Challenge Cards that you would be unable to complete. My family and I enjoyed this game and felt that it also helped to improve our general knowledge skills. I would therefore recommend this game to others.


*Disclaimer - This blog post features items that were gifted to us for the purpose of writing an honest review of the products. Any thoughts and opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. Any prices stated within this post are subject to change. This post contains Amazon affiliate links.