Thursday 29 March 2018

Star Wars Aquabeads Playset - A Review

Well the weather has been pretty terrible lately and so it is always handy to have some games and activities on standby that can be enjoyed indoors. All of my children love to get crafty and make things, so Aquabeads sets are often a popular choice in my family.

If you haven't heard of Aquabeads before, then they are basically small individual beads that can be arranged into a specific shape or design. Once you have finished your bead arrangement then you simply spray it with water, which then causes the beads to stick together. There is a huge range of different Aquabeads sets available that come with everything you need to get started. Once you already have your kit, then you can also purchase some smaller add on sets to help build your collection. There are many different themed sets too ranging from Star Wars to Sylvanian Families and Finding Dory to Disney Princesses, so you can be sure to find a set that your children will enjoy.

This month we were sent a Star Wars Aquabeads Playset which Riley was very excited about. We have tried some others in the range previously, but Riley was very keen to make his very own Aquabeads Stormtrooper and couldn't wait to get the box open.

As with all the Aquabeads products we have reviewed, the packaging was really eye-catching. We have always found the boxes to be very informative with plenty of images and text to catch your attention. The front of the box was bright and colourful, with numerous clear pictures of what you could make in the set. There are 4 templates inside the box which are Darth Vader, a Stormtrooper, R2-D2 and C-3PO and you can see each of these complete on the exterior of the packaging. I think it is great to provide these images so that you can clearly see exactly what you can make with the beads that are included.

The reverse of the box also provides a clear contents list so you know exactly what you are getting with this item. The Star Wars Aquabeads Playset includes:
  • Layout table
  • Bead palette
  • Sprayer
  • Template sheets
  • Yellow jewel beads x 10
  • Orange jewel beads x 6
  • Red jewel beads x 3
  • Blue jewel beads x 69
  • White polygon beads x 227
  • Black polygon beads x 269
  • Grey polygon beads x 278
  • Yellow polygon beads x 142
  • Orange polygon beads x 69
  • Light blue polygon beads x 8
  • Instructions
The Star Wars Aquabeads Playset is recommended for children aged 4+, however due to containing small parts, parental supervision is required when being used. There are several clear safety messages on the box and it is important to read these prior to use.

We opened the box and began to lay all the items out on the floor. The beads are wrapped in small individual packets for each colour set, which means you can open them and place them wherever you like inside the storage case. Riley absolutely loves organising things, so he really enjoyed opening the packets and setting it up just how he wanted it. Out of all the Aquabeads sets we have had, this particular design of case has been our favourite so far. We both agreed that there was plenty of storage for not only the beads but also the templates. Due to the size of it, it also meant that we could store some of our other templates and beads in the tray.

The fact that you can separate the colours into each individual compartment of the tray, makes it really easy to find the colour you are after when making your design. You can see everything right in front of you all in one place, so Riley finds it simple to now complete the designs on his own. The compartments are just the right size to pick up the beads with your fingers so it isn't too fiddly to get the beads out one by one.

Riley really liked the fact that you could put two templates in the layout table, so he selected both a Stormtrooper and Darth Vader. This would also work really well if siblings would like to play together as two children could do a separate design at the same time.

We set everything up on a blanket on the floor and Riley began to create his Stormtrooper design. He used to take quite a while doing the templates and also used to rely on me for help. However, the last couple of products we have tried he has managed to do them both independently and quickly. I love how quiet he is whilst playing with Aquabeads and it is great to see how much he concentrates in trying to get it just right. Sometimes he also likes to do his own thing as well, so he will follow the template but change the colours instead. He is a big fan of bright and bold colours, so you can guarantee that he will no doubt create a rainbow coloured Darth Vader in the next couple of weeks.

One thing he did find quite tricky with the Stormtrooper design is that once it starts to get quite full, it can be a little hard to make out the grey colours from the black in the template. As you can see in his completed design below, there were a couple of little mistakes where he got them mixed up. Riley was more than happy with his finished item though and I was really proud that despite him finding it a little difficult in some places, he still managed to complete it all by himself and was delighted with the end result.

Riley then sprayed water on the design to hold the beads into place and then we placed it in the kitchen to let it dry. I noticed that they have made a design change to their water sprayer as in our very first review for Aquabeads I remember commenting that the end of the sprayer flew off when I squeezed it a little too hard. There is now an additional top that you screw round the sprayer once filled which holds the bit that popped out previously in place. This now makes the sprayer much easier to use and prevents any little spillages like the one we experienced a year ago.

We usually leave our designs to fully dry for about an hour. They do dry a little quicker than this, but I have found that by leaving it this length of time, it makes it very easy to remove. If we find when removing the design that we have missed a bit and a bead comes loose, it is simply a case of respraying any loose beads and leaving it to dry a little longer.

Overall Riley really enjoyed this Aquabeads set for several reasons. He loved the pack theme as he is currently into Star Wars and regularly dresses up in his Stormtrooper costume. He also thought the palette and layout table were great and I would have to agree. It has definitely been my favourite storage case that we have come across so far. I think that Aquabeads are a fun and creative activity that can be enjoyed by all the family and we look forward to continuing to use their products in the future.

The RRP of this set is £15.99 and it can currently be purchased from Argos. If you are feeling lucky though, then we have a fantastic competition for our readers, to give you the chance to win one of these fantastic Star Wars Aquabeads Sets. If you would like to enter then please read the terms and conditions and complete your entry using the gleam form below. Good Luck!

Win an Aquabeads Star Wars Playset

Terms and Conditions
  • There is 1 (one) prize of a Star Wars Aquabeads Playset as featured in this review. 
  • Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 years or over.
  • Competition closes on the 28th April 2018 at 23:59.
  • A winner shall be drawn within 7 days of the closing date and notified via email.
  • The winner will have 7 days to confirm their acceptance of the prize before an alternative winner is drawn from remaining eligible entries.
  • No bulk or third party entries.
Disclaimer: We were provided with this product complimentary for the purpose of providing an honest review of the item. Opinions are my own unless otherwise stated. The link to Argos is not an affiliate link and is provided for information purposes. I will not receive any commission or additional payment should you choose to purchase.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment comes to Echo Arena, Liverpool - Trivia Quiz!

There is less than three weeks to go until Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment skates into the Echo Arena, Liverpool from the 11th to 15th April. To celebrate this fantastic event, we have a fun Disney on Ice inspired trivia quiz for you, so you can test your knowledge and find out just how big a fan you are! I would love to hear how you get on, so please feel free to leave a comment with your score.

If you would like to find out more about the show, or how to purchase tickets, then you can find everything you need to know in our blog post here: Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment

Good luck with the quiz!

The answers to all the questions, can be found at the bottom of the page. No peeking!

1) Ariel has a fascination with what in 'The Little Mermaid'?

2) In "The Little Mermaid" Ursula gives Ariel the ability to walk on land. How long is this ability supposed to last?

3) What is the name of Ariel's best friend?

4) What is the device that Ariel refers to as a "dinglehopper"?

5) What colour was Tow Mater in "Cars" before he became rusty?

6) What does Flo sell in Radiator Springs?

7) What type of car is Sally?

8) True or False: You never see humans in "Cars".

9) What type of tyres does Lightning McQueen have?

10) What does Flo's license plate say in "Cars"?

11) What is the name of Sally's motel in "Cars"?

12) What is the road that Lightning McQueen finds himself lost on when he stumbles upon Radiator Springs?

13) What is Ramone's job?

14) What is Andy's last name?

15) Sid Phillips, Andy's next door neighbour from the original Toy Story makes a brief appearance in the third movie as what?

16) The calendar in Andy's room is always set to what month?

17) True or False: Lots-o Huggin Bear appeared in the first Toy Story movie?

18) What is the name of the daycare centre the toys end up at in Toy Story 3?

19) How do the toys realise that Andy is looking for them in Toy Story 3?

20) Who saves the toys from the incinerator in Toy Story 3?

21) Where does Ken ask Barbie to live with him?

22) In Toy Story 3, Lotso forces the toys to stay in what room of the daycare centre?

23) In which kingdom do Anna and Elsa live?

24) Who likes "warm hugs"?

25) What is Kristoff's profession?

26) What phrase does Elsa repeat when trying to control her powers?

27) Why do the guards open up the gates of the palace?

28) How long have the gates been closed in Arendelle?

Answers: 1.Humans or the Human World, 2.Three Days, 3. Flounder, 4. A fork, 5. Baby Blue, 6. Gas or "the finest fuel", 7. A blue Porsche, 8. True! Everything in the movie resembles something to do with cars. Even bugs resemble miniature Volkswagen Bugs, 9. Lightyear, 10. "Sho Girl" or Show Girl, 11. Cozy Cone, 12. Route 66, 13. He owns a body shop called "Ramone's House of Body Art", 14. Davis. It is written on his high school diploma which you see when he goes to the bulletin board to look at the picture of him as a child playing with the toys, 15. A garbage man, 16. August, 17. True. A very early version of Lotso appeared in the original Toy Story film on Andy's desk, 18. Sunnyside, 19. Mrs Potato Head's other eye is still in Andy's room, 20. The Aliens, 21. In his dream house, 22. The Caterpillar Room, 23. The Kingdom of Arendelle, 24. Olaf, 25. He is an ice harvester, 26. "Conceal it....don't feel it.....don't let it show.", 27. Elsa's coronation, 28. 13 years.

Sunday 25 March 2018

Cinderella at St. Helens Theatre Royal - A Review

Once upon a time, you would have to wait until Christmas if you wanted to enjoy the family fun of a pantomime. However, in recent years the popularity of these shows has certainly been recognised, with both Easter and Summer pantos now becoming more common. As a theatre lover, it is great to see an increase in family orientated shows being available throughout the whole year and a pantomime can also offer the perfect introduction to live entertainment for young children.

I have read many great reviews of pantomimes that have been held at St Helens Theatre Royal in the past, so when the opportunity arose for us to go and watch Regal Entertainments magical Easter production of Cinderella we literally jumped at the chance. We regularly review shows in the North West region, but this was actually the first time that we had visited St Helen's Theatre Royal, so it was also nice for us to be able to visit a venue that we had not been to before.

Cinderella has been described as a fun filled show that has something on offer for the whole family and I would definitely have to agree. It is packed full of comedy, music, singing and dancing that not only brings a smile to your face, but has you moving and clapping in your seat too! Magic and enchantment also features throughout with sparkling costumes, a fabulous fairy tale carriage and a stellar cast.

Lee Latchford-Evans 'steps' into the role of Prince Charming fantastically well and is really suited for the part. His charismatic and bright personality shine through and with a notably strong singing voice, his musical performances throughout the show do not disappoint. Despite being best known for his role in STEPS, Lee is also an accomplished actor who has starred in musical theatre, film, TV and pantomime over the years. His casting in this show certainly helped to make it a 'steptacular' one and the end performance that featured a STEPS medley, was an absolute delight to watch and sing along to.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography
Georgina Parkinson plays the beautiful Cinderella and my children really enjoyed her vocal performances. She had many scenes with Lewis Devine as Buttons and we all felt that they both worked really well together. Buttons managed to build up a good rapport with the audience throughout the show with his comical timing and jokes which helped to ensure the pantomime tradition of audience participation.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography
Starring as the Fairy Godmother is Samantha Palin, whose singing voice was so powerful and amazing that it was a pleasure to listen to. It was no surprise to then read in the brochure that she has starred as the lead vocalist on board some of the worlds most prestigious cruise liners. There was one part of the show where she wowed the audience and even my husband (who is not easily impressed) turned to me and said her voice was incredible. Andrew Geater also features in the cast as Dandini, who has a very commanding stage presence.

The highlight for me though was of course The Ugly Sisters who brought some added comical value to the show. Resident Dame Si Foster was wonderful and was already a favourite of ours from his appearance in the Wizard of Oz, that we saw during it's Stockport run last year. Teamed up with Mark Newell to make the Kylie and Kendall Ugly Sisters double act, they created some wonderful laugh out loud moments, that were matched by equally impressive costumes.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography
The set worked well for such an intimate theatre and the closing scenes of part 1 where the fairy tale carriage was created was magical. My youngest son was captivated as he watched the transformation of the pumpkin and was completely surprised to see real Shetland Ponies up on the stage. Credit must also be given to the young dancers who help to make this particular scene so marvellous.

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography
After the interval, we were treated to a very special interview with Button's best friend. I won't reveal too much about this as I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, but my children thought it was absolutely hilarious. Comedy was a very strong part of the second half with plenty of entertainment to provide some good belly laughs. This combined with the dazzling ballroom display and the spectacular finale made it the perfect pantomime to enjoy together as a family.

The music featured during the panto had been selected well, with a combination of 80's favourites such as 'Holding out for a Hero' and some modern day chart toppers such as Rita Ora's 'Anywhere'. As the show progressed though I began to wonder why the audience had not been treated to a performance of a STEPS song, given Lee Latchford-Evans inclusion in the cast. However, this was simply a case of saving the best til last and sure enough the closing moments of the show provided the audience with an incredible STEPS medley. This not only sounded brilliant, but looked fantastic on stage too with the perfectly timed dancing of the whole cast.

Overall we think that Regal Entertainments Ltd have done a fantastic job of producing a family pantomime that is suitable for all ages. We all thoroughly enjoyed the show and with ticket prices starting from only £13, it is the perfect show to keep everyone entertained during the Easter holidays.

Listing Details

Show - Regal Entertainments Ltd presents Cinderella
Dates - Saturday 24th March to Sunday 15th April
Times - Performance times vary, so please visit the website for the most up to date information.
Venue - St Helens Theatre Royal, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ

Tickets - From £13*
*All prices are inclusive of a £1 per seat transaction fee. On-line bookings are subject to an additional 50p per seat on-line processing fee.

Box Office - 01744 756000
Website -
Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH
Facebook -

Photo Credit: David Munn Photography

*Disclaimer - We were provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own unless otherwise stated. Photographs by David Munn Photography.

Saturday 24 March 2018

Our Family Adventure at Sandy Meadows with John Fowler Holidays - Part Two!

You may remember that back in October we visited Sandy Meadows Lodge Park, which is a fabulous holiday park owned by John Fowler Holidays. The holiday park is situated at Brean, Somerset in a lovely coastal location. We stayed in a stunning four bedroom lodge and we were overwhelmed by what a brilliant time we all had.

Due to the fact that there was so much to do, both on site and with nearby attractions, we decided that one week just wasn't enough. Therefore a couple of weeks ago we returned back to Sandy Meadows to enjoy some more John Fowler holiday fun!

On the day of our holiday, we set off early in the morning and stopped at a Beefeater for a buffet breakfast along the way. After a bit of a lengthy drive, we arrived just before lunch and pulled up excitedly outside reception. Just like the previous year, we received a friendly welcome and were told that our lodge was actually ready early and so we could check in straight away. This was great news as it meant that after a long drive, we had no waiting around and could go straight to our lodge to unpack and enjoy some lunch and a rest.

We decided to stay in the 4 bedroom platinum hot tub lodge again. There are now a few of these on the site due to recent expansion, but we were very pleased to have the same one that we had visited previously. I really liked the location as it was so quiet and peaceful, with a nice outlook over the field in front. The hot tub also had reed screening all around it, which meant that because we were not overlooked, our family had lots of privacy when spending time either in the hot tub, or on the decking.

Just like our first visit, the accommodation was fantastic. The lodge was so spacious and clean, with plenty of room for all the family. The great thing about the lodges is that there are no tiny cramped twin rooms like you get in some caravans and instead each room has ample storage, comfy beds and they even had space for the kids to play. I am also reliably informed by the children that it is great for a good game of hide and seek as there are plenty of places to hide!

The outside decking area is just so relaxing and is a great place to enjoy a good book, a glass of wine, or some family games on the table outside. There is a sliding patio door that opens out onto the decking which means that you can come and go out of the lodge with ease, making it perfect for some alfresco dining in the spring and summer months.

The hot tub is brilliant and was enjoyed by all of us. It is very private so it offers a great place to relax as a family, as well as being lots of fun. There is a list of rules on the decking gate and in addition to this, the chemical levels are checked twice a day to ensure that the water is safe and also at the correct temperature. We thought that this safety conscious attitude was fantastic and it was great to see that the company made guests well-being a priority.

There was one slight problem in the kitchen of the lodge on arrival where something was broken. I rang reception and made them aware of this and someone came to the accommodation in less than twenty minutes. This member of staff then quickly replaced the item and apologised for the inconvenience. Simple things like this can happen and go unnoticed until reported by guests, so I am not surprised that it was missed by the cleaners initially. I never judge a company based on problems, but more on how they resolve them and I am pleased to say that we were extremely impressed with the sites pro-activeness and speed in getting the matter sorted. Well done!

Before long we were unpacked and enjoying our holiday. We had a walk around the park and read the entertainment guide for the week so that we were aware of what was on in the show bar throughout the week. There was certainly plenty of entertainment to choose from and we ended up visiting Dunes every night of our stay to enjoy the kids club and bingo games.

The evening entertainment was definitely one of our favourite things at the holiday park and the Dune Show Bar was located a short walk away on the adjacent Sandy Glade site. You could drive over there and park outside, or alternatively enjoy a five minute walk through the park, which is what we chose to do. The entertainment team work so hard to ensure that guests of all ages have a great time enjoying the activities which range from the kids club to bingo and family game show night to cabaret. There was something on every evening, which made sure that there was always something fun for us to do as a family.

Riley's favourite Stripey was Kelsey and he absolutely loved dancing and singing along with her at the Foxy Club. Usually Riley can be quite shy and reserved, but Kelsey's positive energy, cheery attitude and constant smile, made Riley feel really comfortable around her. The other Stripey's were fantastic too, each of them taking it in turns to take on a different role each night whether it be djing, bingo calling, or dressing up as the mascots. They were also great at getting everyone involved on the dance floor (even the parents)!

John Fowler Holidays actually have five mascots who are Freddy the Fox, Kenny the Badger, Trixie the Bunny, Cheffy the Chef and Paxo the Chicken. The costumes were brilliant and there was an opportunity every night to have your photo taken with them. I really like the fact that you could take the photos yourself, so there was no extra charge for a mascot photo. Riley loved meeting all the mascots and we managed to take some brilliant pictures that will be going into his memory box.

We all loved the bingo games and throughout the week we managed one cash prize win of £30 in the adults bingo and each of my children all won a game each (much to my relief) in the kids game. The prizes for the kids bingo are pre-determined based on the sales amount for the evening and so the prizes vary for each game. We managed to win a Foxy Club soft blanket with all the characters on, a Trixie Bunny keyring, flashing minion eyes and some finger puppets. If you aren't lucky enough to win though, then you can buy some Foxy Club merchandise in the Foxy Shop which stocks plenty of soft toys and character products. We bought a couple of items to add to Riley's collection and found the prices to be very reasonable.

Across the road from Dunes is a well stocked shop and a small cafe called Chef's Corner. We enjoyed a meal in there together on one night of our stay prior to heading to the bingo and found the food to be very tasty and fairly priced. The menu isn't huge, but does feature plenty of comfort food dishes and family favourites. My husband enjoyed the Steak & Kidney Pie with Chips & Gravy and said that it was delicious. You can also purchase take away food from here that is allowed to be consumed in Dunes, so you can enjoy a meal whilst watching the entertainment if you would prefer.

Other facilities on site include an indoor heated swimming pool. In addition to swimming, there are also some indoor water activities held in there for an extra charge which include water walking zorbs, aqua gliders and pool kayaks. To the rear of the pool building there is also an outdoor park which is a good size with plenty of equipment to play on. It was too far from our lodge to allow the children to go on their own, but they enjoyed some time here in an evening on the way to the clubhouse.

Although there is plenty to keep you entertained onsite, we do enjoy having days out and there is certainly no shortage of places to visit in the area. In our last review we mentioned that we had visited Puxton Park, Bristol Zoo, Wookey Hole Caves and the Helicopter Museum. This time we wanted to try some new attractions, so we ventured to Crealy Adventure Park, Noah's Ark Farm Park and Fleet Air Arm Museum. We also enjoyed a day at nearby Weston-Super-Mare where we had a pleasant time walking along the golden sandy beach.

Overall we had an amazing time at Sandy Meadows in Brean, Somerset. We very rarely return to the same place twice, yet I feel like I could happily return here again and again. There is so much to do in the area that there is certainly no chance of getting bored and the lodge accommodation provides you with a luxurious place to relax and enjoy your holiday. Would we return for a third time? Absolutely!

We will also be uploaded a video of our stay in the next couple of days, so watch this space!

About John Fowler Holidays

John Fowler Holidays have been established for over 60 years and their aim is to provide families with a wonderful UK holiday that includes comfortable accommodation, an action packed entertainment programme and on-site facilities.

They have holiday parks throughout the South West of England in Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, offering a range of accommodation options including chalets, caravans and luxury lodges. Some sites also have facilities for camping and touring.

If you would like to obtain further information on Sandy Meadows, or learn more about their other parks located in the South West of England, then you can find more information on their website, or social media channels which can be found here:

Website: John Fowler Holidays
Facebook: John Fowler Holiday Parks
Twitter: @JohnFowlerHols
Instagram: @johnfowlerholidays
YouTube: John Fowler Holidays

Disclaimer: This is a collaboration post and we paid a discounted press rate for our stay. All opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise.

Thursday 15 March 2018

Dates for your Diary - UK Tour of The Jungle Book is heading to the Lowry on the 2nd-6th May 2018

Children's Touring Partnership and Royal & Derngate, Northampton are delighted to bring their new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's family classic The Jungle Book to The Lowry from Tuesday 2nd to Sunday 6th May.

Originally written in 1894, Kipling's beloved tale will be re-imagined with a brand new score and script, exploring the universal themes of family, belonging and identity.

The Jungle Book tells of Mowgli the man cub who battles for survival in this heart-warming coming-of-age story about a boy raised by wolves in the jungle. With the help of his animal friends, including Bagheera the panther, Balloo the Bear and Kaa the python, Mowgli outwits the cruel and powerful tiger, Shere Khan, and learns the law of the jungle.

Cast includes Rachel Dawson as 'Kaa Grey', Lloyd Gorman as 'Shere Khan', TJ Holmes as 'Hiran', Avita Jay as 'Raksha', Keziah Joseph as 'Mowgli' Dyfrig Morris as 'Balloo', Deborah Oyelade as 'Bagheera' and Tripti Tripuraneni as 'Akala'. They are joined by Ruri James and Chipo Kureya in the ensemble.

Photo Credit: Manuel Harlan
The award winning creative team bringing Kipling's timeless story to the stage includes playwright Jessica Swale, director Max Webster and internationally renowned songwriter Joe Stilgoe.

Playwright Jessica Swale has adapted the story for stage. Her previous acclaimed play "Nell Gwyn" won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy in 2016.

Max Webster directed Dr Seuss' "The Lorax" at the Old Vic, which was nominated for Best Entertainment and Family Show at the 2016 Olivier Awards.

Jessica Swale, writer, said "I jumped at the chance to adapt The Jungle Book because it's such a vivid world - yet, for a writer, there's so much opportunity to imagine the jungle afresh. Part of the book's enduring appeal is that the jungle can be anything we choose. It's a playground, a school, a hideaway, an adventure, so I've enjoyed exploring what sort of place this mysterious, delightful, sometimes scary place might be - and what better way to do that than with Max Webster, one of the most inventive and imaginative directors working today."

"I loved the characters as Kipling wrote them, but wanted to find new voices which resonate now - funny, bright, dynamic voices, with a little more wit, and greater diversity, in terms of place, tone, gender and culture. It's a funny, heart-filled roller coaster of a journey which, I hope, will transport the audience right round the world and back again."

Director, Max Webster, said "The Jungle Book was an instant classic when it was written over a hundred years ago with its story of Mowgli finding his path through the jungle. Each generation has re-imagined this story as their own, and now Jess Swale brings it right up to date in a hilarious and action-packed version for the twenty first century. With wonderful songs by the jazz legend Joe Stilgoe, and packed with adventure, humour and magic this classic tale will tickle the tales of all the family. I am delighted to be working alongside Jessica, Joe, Children's Touring Partnership and Royal and Derngate to bring this vivid adaptation to the stage".

Completing the creative team is set and costume designer Peter McKintosh, musical supervision and orchestration from Paul Herbert, choreography by Lizzi Gee, lighting design by Charles Balfour, puppetry design and direction by Nick Barnes, flight direction by Kate Waters and sound design by Matt McKenzie.

Children's Touring Partnership is led by Fiery Angel and Chichester Festival Theatre. Previous productions include the award winning West End and UK tour production of Goodnight Mister Tom and most recently the UK touring production of Michael Morpurgo's Running Wild.

The show is recommended as being suitable for ages 6+.

Listing Details

Show - The Jungle Book
Dates - Tuesday 2nd May til Sunday 6th May
Times - Times vary so please visit The Lowry website to obtain the most up to date information.
Venue - The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford, M50 3AZ
Box Office - 0843 208 6000

Tickets - £17.50 - £24.50

Running time - 2 hours 15 minutes including interval

Saturday 10 March 2018

BAFTA-Winning CBeebies Duo Sarah & Duck - Live On Stage at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool

The enchanting world of CBeebies' hit animated series Sarah & Duck will be brought to life on The Epstein Theatre stage this May in a brand new theatrical adventure.

Featuring a host of wonderful characters from the BAFTA award-winning TV show, Sarah & Duck's Big Top Birthday will play at the Hanover Street venue on Tuesday 8th May.

Presented by MEI Theatrical, in association with Polka Theatre, join Sarah and Duck, along with all their favourite friends including The Ribbon Sisters, The Shallots, Flamingo and Umbrella, as they plan a circus-themed birthday party for the Scarf Lady in their garden. But when the weather turns windy and the big top is blown away, will Sarah and Duck be able to save the day?

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith
Told through a fantastic blend of inventive puppetry, charming storytelling and toe-tapping music, and featuring all the familiar voices from the CBeebies series including Roger Allam as the narrator and Lesley Nichol as Scarf Lady, Sarah and Duck's Big Top Birthday will take families on a magical theatrical adventure.

Following the gentle adventures of a wide-eyed, 7-year-old girl and her feathered best friend, Sarah & Duck has been a huge hit since its debut in 2013, winning a BAFTA for 'Best Pre-School Animation' in 2014 and regularly appearing in CBeebies' Top Ten programmes for viewers aged 4-15. Now in its third series, it is shown in over 100 countries around the world.

Sarah and Duck's Big Top Birthday is written by Peter Glanville, artistic director of Polka Theatre, and Sarah Gomes Harris, co-creator of Sarah & Duck. It is directed by Roman Stefanski with set and puppet design by Laura McEwen. Sarah & Duck is a Karrot Entertainment production for CBeebies UK and BBC Worldwide.

The show is recommend for children aged 3-6.

Listing Details

Show - Sarah & Duck's Big Top Birthday
Dates - Tuesday 8th May
Times - 1pm & 3pm
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ

Tickets - Standard £14.50 / Child £12.50 / Family £50

To book tickets please call the Box Office on 0844 888 4411* or visit the website at* Alternatively tickets can also be booked in person at the theatre box office (open 2pm-6pm Mon-Thu & 12pm-6pm Fri-Sat).

*Subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy.

Photo Credit: Pamela Raith

Friday 9 March 2018

A Family Day Out at Crealy Adventure Park, Devon

It can sometimes be hard to find some fun places to visit during the February Half Term. The weather is often cold and miserable and many larger attractions are closed until April, when the temperatures begin to improve. I was therefore really pleased to find out that Crealy Adventure Park in Devon, would be open during the school holidays, so we could go and enjoy some family fun and adventure, whilst also exploring somewhere new.

The attraction was well signposted from the main roads and it was very easy to find. We arrived shortly after opening time and had to wait in a short queue of cars to get into the car park, but everything seemed well organised and the traffic was guided through quickly with the help of some car park attendants.

After leaving our vehicle, we made our short walk over the entrance, where we collected our tickets using the self service computers. I noticed that there were also some staffed ticket desks for anyone that would rather collect them or purchase tickets in person. We found the computer system very simple though and within minutes of our tickets being printed, we made our way through the turnstiles and into the park.

First impressions were that everything was spread out well, with numerous rides and attractions for all ages. There was plenty of open space and everything seemed well maintained and tidy. Emma and Ben noticed the pirate ship straight away so headed over to the queue to wait their turn. Within a few minutes they were enjoying their first ride with big smiles on their faces. Next it was Riley's turn to pick a ride and he spotted a beautiful carousel in the distance that he wanted us all to go on.

As we approached the carousel, we could see many other customers enjoying themselves. It soon became apparent that this wasn't just because of the carousel, but more the ride attendant who was operating it. The young gentleman on this ride was named Jordan and I don't often single out individual members of staff, but he definitely deserves a mention. His positive energy, friendly personality and determination to ensure that all customers have a great time, was fantastic to see. We have visited many places where staff can sit there looking bored, but Jordan clearly enjoys his job and the kids all seemed to love him. Well done Jordan!

Once we had finished on the carousel, we were joined by Nana and Grandad, who had decided to come along for the day to spend time with their grandchildren. My dad has walking difficulties at times, but we found the paths to be very even, well maintained and there wasn't too far to walk between areas. There was also plenty of seating all around the park which made taking a rest easy.

Next we visited the Driving School area, which was very popular. Despite it being busy we only had a ten minute wait and both Riley and Ben enjoyed driving around the miniature roads, complete with road signs and roundabouts. I was a bit worried at first, thinking that Riley wouldn't be able to control his vehicle well enough, but he actually managed perfectly fine and felt very grown up. This was his favourite attraction at the park and we returned to the cars, several times throughout the day.

The rain began to fall and it suddenly became very cold, so we decided to go and grab a coffee and let the kids burn off some energy in Buddy Bears Kingdom. This was a huge indoor play area with so much for little ones to do. There was also plenty of seating, hot food available for purchase, as well as a Lavazza Coffee Shop. We decided to buy some coffees to warm ourselves up, they were really nice, although the service was quite slow. This caused quite a lengthy wait between ordering our coffee and then receiving it at the collection point. It wasn't a major problem though as the children spent a good hour in there having fun, so the delay didn't cause us any issues and I am always mindful that the staff could have been new and just getting into the swing of things.

Once the rain had passed, we were all keen to get back outside and enjoy the other rides on offer. Riley insisted on a quick stop at this lovely clean park on the way though and I can't blame him. It was lovely to see a play area that was so clean and modern.

Next to the Driving School was the Dino Jeeps where we could explore the Jurassic Jungle and see what dinosaurs we could spot. Both my boys loved this ride and kept shouting out the names of any dinosaurs that they recognised. It was a fun little ride that parents could enjoy too, so I sat safely in the back whilst Riley pretended to be the driver.

All the children then requested to go back to the big Gorilla that we had seen earlier in the day. There had been a few people getting their photo take on it in the morning, so Riley was eager to return so we could get a picture too. Whilst here, we also spotted that there was hardly any queue for the neighbouring Safari Express, so the whole family including Nana and Grandad enjoyed a nice train ride around the animal statues. Riley's favourite was the giraffe that stood very tall!

It wasn't long before the rain set in again, so we decided to have a look around Croc Creek and the Animal Barn. All of my children absolutely love animals, so it is always nice to get the opportunity to get up close to some exotic creatures and feed some friendly farm animals. There was a very cheeky goat that kept trying to chew Riley's coat, but he found this hilarious!

Nana and Grandad had started to get a bit hungry, so once we had finished visiting all the animals we made our way over to the Adventurer's Food Court and Bar. To be honest I wasn't expecting the food to be that great, however Grandad purchased a hot pork baguette with potato lattices and it was absolutely delicious. The children began to starting pinching the spicy potato snacks though, so we ended up purchasing a portion each for them. They weren't cheap, however the portion was a good size and it was something my children really enjoyed. Despite being very busy inside the food court, the service was very quick and there were plenty of places to sit.

After enjoying our food, we gave the children a few pounds each to spend in the Adventure Zone arcade area. My children love trying to win the cheap prizes on the 2p machines, so they spent a bit of money each trying to win a whistle and some keyrings. We didn't spend too long in here as it didn't take long for the kids to use up their money, so we made our way back to the other side of the park, so that Ben could enjoy a ride on the Go-Karts at the Crealy Grand Prix.

The Crealy Grand Prix carried an additional charge of £4 for a single kart and £5 for a double kart. The single karts weren't running that day, so my husband agreed (with very little persuasion) to be the driver of a double kart with Ben as the passenger. Personally I think he enjoyed it even more than Ben, as he did his best Lewis Hamilton impression around the racetrack, moving from 5th to 1st as they sped round.

We went on a few more rides, finishing off with the Maximus Rollercoaster, which was my daughter's favourite ride of the day.

Of course no trip to an attraction is complete, without a visit to the gift shop! Unlike other attractions where you are forced to make your way through the shop on exit, Crealy Adventure Park does not impose that on you and instead it stands separately, making any shopping trip entirely optional. My children had some pocket money they wanted to spend though so knowing their limits, I was more than happy for them to take a look around.

We found the shop to be well stocked, with plenty of items to choose from that suited all budgets. There was a range of pocket money priced toys, clearance products and some more expensive merchandise, but in general I though that the prices were reasonable.

Overall we had a fantastic time and despite the water attractions being closed (completely understandable in Winter), there was still plenty to see and do. We found the whole park to be laid out very well and found all staff that we came across both friendly and polite. The huge indoor play areas gave us a nice break from the cold outside and it also gave us the opportunity to enjoy a hot drink. My children loved the indoor areas just as much as the outside and it was great for them to be able to have the choice, making it an excellent all weather attraction. We would definitely return and hope to visit again in the summer months.

Attraction Details

Address: Crealy Adventure Park & Resort, Sidmouth Road, Clyst St Mary, Exeter, Devon, EX5 1DR
Telephone: 01395 233200
Facebook: @CrealyResort
Twitter: @CrealyResort
Instagram: @CrealyResort

Opening times: Opening times vary throughout the year, so please visit the Crealy Adventure Park website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Ticket prices: Prices vary so please visit the Crealy Adventure Park website to obtain the most up to date information. There are sometimes savings to be made by booking online as opposed to paying on the gate, so it is worth checking the website for any online discount that may be available.

Disclaimer: We were provided with a complimentary family ticket for the purpose of writing this review. Opinions and photographs are my own unless stated otherwise. 

Sunday 4 March 2018

Dates for your Diary - The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout on 6th April 2018

Homelessness is something that my children have often asked me about, as it can be very upsetting to see people both young and old sleeping out on the streets. With the recent cold weather that we have had, it is something we have been thinking about a lot. I was therefore very interested to learn more about The Whitechapel Centre after they recently approached me with information regarding The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout.

Recognising that many people want to help those they see sleeping on the streets or without a home, Liverpool Cathedral has joined forces with Liverpool's leading homeless charity, The Whitechapel Centre. Together they have created the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout, which will be taking place on the 6th April 2018.

The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout is a fun and friendly event open to people of all ages. It is a rare opportunity to spend the night sleeping inside the country's biggest cathedral and raise money for the local community at the same time. While it won't be like being on the streets, both The Whitechapel Centre and the Cathedral hope it will help people to understand how difficult it might be, when you don't have a place to go.

Ruth McCaughley, Fundraising Manager of The Whitehchapel Centre, said:

"The Whitechapel Centre's vision is to see an end to homelessness, social exclusion and housing poverty in Liverpool. We can only do this by working in partnership with organisations like Liverpool Cathedral. There are many different complex reasons why someone can be homeless and we help people address these problems as well as finding suitable accommodation.

The Whitechapel Centre opens it's doors every day of the year - supporting people to find suitable accommodation, managing their finances, building relationships with landlords, looking after their health and their home, plus linking with the local community, so that every individual can reach their potential. The money raised from the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout will help The Whitechapel Centre move closer to this vision."

Paul Smith, Liverpool Cathedral's Director of Enterprise added: "Not only does our Cathedral dominate the city skyline, it is core to the city's life. We welcome people from all backgrounds and our events are one of the ways we engage with the Liverpool-wide community and beyond.

We are very pleased to host this event which will provide vital funds for both ourselves and The Whitechapel Centre.

By raising money in innovative and thought-provoking ways we can continue to fund essential work and maintain our position in the life of the city."

The two charities are particularly hoping to encourage children and young people to get involved. Ruth said "We know that many children and young people are concerned about the rise in homelessness and rough sleeping in Liverpool and want to help. The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout  gives them the opportunity to experience the sense of vulnerability that you would feel when not in your own bed, within the safety of the Cathedral."

The Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout is on Friday 6th April at Liverpool Cathedral. It costs £5.00 per person to register and you will also need to raise £50.00. All funds raised will be split equally between the two charities. Children are encouraged to take part, but they will need to be accompanied by a responsible adult. For safeguarding purposes, a maximum of five children can accompany one adult for this Sleepout.

To register for the Liverpool Cathedral Sleepout, please visit

Friday 2 March 2018

Dates for your Diary - LHK Youth Theatre present A Night of Musicals at The Epstein Theatre on 11th-12th March

LHK Youth Theatre are back at The Epstein Theatre next week with A Night of Musicals on Sunday 11th and Monday the 12th of March.

The talented young stars from Liverpool's renowned youth theatre company are bringing to life all the hits from some of the biggest musicals around including Shrek and Mamma Mia, in a show that promises to be a fantastic production for the whole family. Become a Dancing Queen for the night and sing, dance and laugh along to what will be an incredible performance by this highly talented cast.

Be sure to catch some of the best young talent around as these stars in the making perform a selection of the greatest and most loved musical numbers.

LHK Youth Theatre is run by LHK Productions - one of the most acclaimed and unique theatre and pantomime production companies in the UK.

Formed in 2005, LHK Productions has quickly put its stamp on the UK's theatre scene hosting countless shows in some of the biggest and most prestigious venues in the country.

LHK Productions Managing Director, Lee Kelly said: "All of the cast have been working incredibly hard on this production. I am extremely proud of each and every one of them, and they should be proud of themselves for everything they have accomplished. They are all superstars and when the show opens next week I am sure audiences of Liverpool will agree!"

A Night of Musicals comes to The Epstein Theatre on Sunday 11th and Monday 12th March and tickets are on sale now.

Listing Details

Show - A Night of Musicals
Dates - Sunday 11th March & Monday 12th March
Times - 7:30pm
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ

Tickets - Standard £16 / Concessions £15

*Subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy.

Box Office - 0844 888 4411
Website -

Tickets can also be booked in person at the theatre box office (open 2pm-6pm Mon-Thu & 12pm-6pm Fri-Sat)