Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Dates for your Diary - Contact & Jackie Hagan present The Forest of Forgotten Discos! 11th - 23rd December 2018

The festive season is looming ever closer, and Contact is dusting down its glitter ball and ironing its spandex all in preparation for its journey into The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Running from December 11th to 23rd at the intimate and award-winning Hope Mill Theatre, this year's Contact family Christmas offering - integrating sign language and visual storytelling into all its performances - puts the FUN into funky for everybody aged 5-105!

There is a mystery in the forest - everyone has forgotten about dancing and bright lights and disco. Even Alexa the virtual assistant from the Amazon Rainforest - who normally knows everything - does not understand why this is the case. That is until 7 year old Red, who is afraid of nothing and nobody, explodes on to the scene. Red thinks that dad's new girlfriend will ruin Christmas and so has run away from home to make a new life in the forest.

Alexa introduces Red to the three bears who live there.... Bear Hug who is a creaky bear with a secret; Bear Minimum who has a higgledy piggledy bedroom she cannot keep clean and Bear Grills who just can't keep his head cool. Red and the bears embark on a journey through the forest and learn to work together....with some help from the audience along the way.

Written by the acclaimed Jackie Hagan - a stand up comedian, playwright and theatre maker who drinks cut price champagne from her glittery false leg - The Forest of Forgotten Discos! is an inclusive theatrical experience for all ages and all types of families. It has been written and is being staged very much in keeping with Hagan's aim to create work that celebrates the experiences of people left out of the mainstream. Creative integration of sign language and visual storytelling features in each and every show to enhance its accessibility.

Directed by emerging director Nickie Miles-Wildin, who starred in the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony, Nickie is currently Resident Assistant Director at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre as part of the Regional Theatre Young Director's Scheme. She commented:

"Having followed the work of Contact for many years, I feel honoured to be working with them on this playful Christmas show. I am really excited about the creative integration of the sign language at each show which we really want to be for everybody - regardless of age, family configuration or background. Working with the very humorous Jackie Hagan means also that rehearsals will be lots of fun."

Playing the role of Red is Paislie Reid who started her career as a child actress in two seasons of The New Worst Witch (CITV). Sophie Coward - who plays Alexa - trained at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA) and has toured with Mac's Arcadian in their BSL integrated Great Odds and performed with Paperfinch Theatre in an immersive twist on The Nutcracker at Theatr Clwyd.

The Bear Family trio is made up Sara Cocker as Bear Hugs: A former member of Contact's Young Company, Sara is also one third of Eggs Collective whose work includes Get A Round for BBC2's Performance Live series. Marquelle Ward is Bear Grills, best known for his role as regular character BB in ITV1's Brittania High and made his West End debut as Rum Tum Tugger in CATS at the London Palladium in 2015, for which he was nominated for West End Frame's "Best West End Debut" award.

Completing the trio is Ali Briggs as Bear Minimum. She performs using sign language and lip reading and is an experienced stage and TV actress with credits including Fat Friends, Alphabet Soup and 23 episodes of Coronation Street as Freda.

The Forest of Forgotten Discos! is a fun, heart-warming story that can be enjoyed by everyone this festive season.

As Contact's permanent home on Oxford Road continues its building transformation, the company is delighted to be concluding its 2018 In the City Part 2 Season at the acclaimed Hope Mill - The Stage's 2018 Fringe Theatre of the Year.

The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Runs from Tuesday 11th December to Sunday 23rd December. Tickets are on sale now priced £13/£7 - booking is available at www.contactmcr.com or by phone on 0161 274 0600.

Listing Details

Event - Contact & Jackie Hagan present The Forest of Forgotten Discos!
Venue - Hope Mill Theatre, 113 Pollard Street, Manchester, M4 7JA
Age range - Suitable for over 5's
Dates - 11th December to 23rd December
Times - Times vary, so please visit www.contactmcr.com for further details
Tickets - £13 / £7 concessions

Our Summer Adventure at Bristol Zoo Gardens - A Review

Last year we visited the fabulous Bristol Zoo Gardens over the October Half Term period and had the opportunity to not only see some incredible animals, but also got to join in with some fun Halloween activities. As a result it was high on our list of places to return to over the summer, so that we could enjoy the zoo and it's wonderful surroundings in the heat of the hot summer sunshine.

As we arrived at the zoo, we immediately noticed that it was much busier than our last visit. There were several coaches dropping off guests by the main entrance and the car park was completely full. Luckily we managed to find some parking down a nearby side street, though I was slightly worried that it would be incredibly busy inside and whether this may affect our day. I am pleased to say that we had an amazing day out and the increase in visitors did not have any impact on our day at all. If anything it was great to see so many people out and about enjoying themselves ranging from couples and families, to school groups and youth clubs. The weather was in our favour and this meant that guests were able to utilise the large open grass areas and enjoy picnics or treats from the operating food outlets. As a result we found that the attraction didn't seem crowded at all and my initial concerns were quickly forgotten.

As we entered the zoo, my children began to remember the layout of the zoo and where some of their favourite animals were located. Riley immediately ran over to the flamingos, which are situated opposite the entrance, whilst Ben and Emma took a left turn and headed straight for the lions with their dad.

The lion enclosure is fronted by large glass panels, which means that you can see these beautiful creatures really up close. At one point one of the lions was stood right by us and we could see every detail on its stunning face. My children found this fascinating and could have literally stood there for hours admiring them. My daughter took a wonderful photo during our previous visit, which shows just how close you are!


As we made our way along the path, the full beauty of the landscaped gardens became apparent. The pathways looked wonderful on our previous visit during the Autumn, but seeing all the flowers in bloom in the summer was absolutely stunning. Benches were ideally situated all along the walkway, so it was also the ideal place to just have a sit down and relax. The gardens are clearly extremely well cared for and appeared immaculately maintained.


The children then made a bee-line for the Twilight World, which is home to some fascinating nocturnal animals. It is very dark in here, so my youngest son Riley did get a little scared, but with a bit of guidance he was able to make his way around and spot some interesting creatures. However, he absolutely loved the area at the end, which has been recreated into a kitchen area. At first glance you may think, why is there suddenly a mini replica of the inside of a house, but on closer inspection, all is revealed. Riley began peering into the cupboard doors and noticed some small furry animals scurrying around in between the grocery boxes.......Mice!

The reptile house was up next and my children were excited to see the lizards. Riley remembered that we had seen some brightly coloured frogs on our previous visit and he was looking forward to spotting them again. All my children enjoyed learning more about the reptiles, by reading the information signs by each animal. This helps to make the visit to the zoo very educational and it was very interesting finding out some new facts.


As we exited the reptile house, we could all smell some of the fantastic food being cooked on the outdoor barbecue, so we took this as our call to have a sit down and enjoy a bite to eat. There is a large grass area where families can sit and children can play. We also found some benches around the outside of the area, so we chose to take a seat on these and enjoy our freshly cooked burgers and hotdogs, which were delicious.

One of our favourite areas on our last visit, was the lemur enclosure, so once we had finished our lunch we made our way over to the entrance. It was a hive of activity in here with lemurs circling around above us and jumping from tree to tree. The opportunity to get so close to them is incredible and they didn't seem nervous at all about having guests.

As we left the lemurs we checked the time and realised that if we were quick, we would just make the Gorilla talk and feed session over on Gorilla Island. Their size and beauty is just astonishing and they are an incredible animal to watch and learn about. The talk was really informative and Riley thought it was hilarious how the gorilla's could catch their food with their hands, when it was thrown to them. We learnt all about their diet and how they behave in the wild, which we all found really interesting. We spent a further half an hour on Gorilla Island before visiting some of the other monkeys and watching them play, swing and climb in their enclosures.


The Butterfly Forest offered yet another area of amazement and delight as stunning butterflies flew around us and in an out of the trees. My children enjoyed trying to spot as many different species as possible and Riley was fascinated by the cocoons and learning how butterflies develop. A lovely lady who was there also provided Riley with some information and pointed out things to him through the viewing window. He was mesmerised!

Overall we had a wonderful time at Bristol Zoo Gardens which echoed our previous experience. It was lovely visiting in the summer as it was beautiful being able to see all the gardens in bloom and enjoy the outdoor facilities. It was also delightful to walk around in the sunshine and enjoy an ice cream whilst appreciating the surroundings. We found the talks and information boards really helpful and it was nice to be able to provide the children with not only a fun experience, but also an educational one too. We believe this to be an excellent all year round place to visit and would definitely recommend to others.


Attraction Details

Address: Bristol Zoo Gardens, Clifton, Bristol, BS83HA
Website: www.bristolzoo.org.uk
Opening times: 9am til 5pm, 364 days a year.
Ticket Prices: Tickets can be purchased both online or on the gate. Prices vary, so please visit the Bristol Zoo website to obtain the most up to date details here: Ticket Information


Disclaimer: We were provided with complimentary admission for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. Opinions and photographs are my own, unless stated otherwise.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Cheshire Fest to Return in 2019 With a Bigger & Better Festival!

Organisers of Cheshire Fest have revealed that the hugely popular family event will be returning next year and have announced dates for Summer 2019. Due to be held at Manchester Rugby Club in Cheadle Hulme, the festival promises to be bigger and better than ever before!

Cheshire Fest will be staged across two days, Saturday 1st June and Sunday 2nd June. Tickets went on sale at 9am on Friday 21st September 2018 and there are some early bird ticket offers available.

The event was unable to go ahead this year on its usual late September weekend due to fixture clashes at the venue, but organisers are excited for a return to the leafy green setting - and with a brand new Summer date in June there are big hopes for an exciting weekend of fun in the sun.

First launched in 2016, Cheshire Fest promises a huge celebration of family entertainment, live music, food and drink in the heart of the Cheshire countryside.

There will be lots of new additions for 2019, with a packed programme that has something for all the family. Further announcements will be made in the lead up to the festival.


Festival organisers Philip Osborne and Ben Harris commented: "We're absolutely thrilled and delighted to announce Cheshire Fest 2019. We'll be back at Manchester Rugby Club in June next year bigger and better than before - and to top it all, with a new Summer date to really kick-start the festival season. Feedback from last year has been so good and we cannot wait to reveal what we've been planning to take the festival to the next level. We have plenty of surprises to announce and it's going to be a fantastic family weekend."

Live entertainment on the Cheshire Fest Main Stage across the Saturday and Sunday will feature a stellar array of the UK's best tribute acts alongside the region's finest new talent.

The 'Big Hitters' theme on the Saturday promises a line-up of rock and roll, indie pop and festival favourite inspired artists, with Kings Ov Leon tribute band headlining the bill.

Sunday's 'Legends' theme will leave visitors having a good time, as Flash - a critically acclaimed Queen tribute band close the weekend alongside a host of other all-time music greats.

A full line-up for both days is yet to be released.

There will be plenty on offer for young festivalgoers in the all-new Play Park. Building on previous years, the Play Park will be expanded across the site and will pack in a wide variety of activities, interactive workshops, all the fun of the fair with thrill rides, and live entertainment on the Kids Stage.

Exciting programmes for Play Park and the Kids Stage will also be announced.

All this activity will guarantee that visitors have worked up an appetite - and they definitely won't go hungry or thirsty at Cheshire Fest, with the finest selection of food and drink on offer from quality festival traders and local independents.

The Street Food Village will offer a wide choice of international cuisines, vegan and vegetarian options, gluten free, raw-foods and kids menus. There really will be something to cater for all tastes. This impressive food offering will also be complemented by more than 50 cask ales and craft beers, produced by the very best independent breweries across the UK and Europe - as well as a relaxing Gin Garden, Prosecco Bar and plenty of Summer cocktails.

Cheshire Fest 2019 promises to be the event to kick-start Summer, right at the heart of the Cheshire countryside.

Book your tickets now to take advantage of the EARLY BIRD OFFER giving returning visitors the chance to grab a cheap ticket - these will be available for a limited time only. Head over to www.cheshirefest.co.uk for more information.

Website: www.cheshirefest.co.uk
Facebook: www.facebook.com/CheshireFest
Twitter: @FestCheshire

Listing Details

Event - Cheshire Fest
Venue - Manchester Rugby Club, Grove Lane, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire, SK8 7NB
Dates - Saturday 1st June & Sunday 2nd June 2019
Times - Saturday 12pm to 11pm / Sunday 12pm to 9pm
Booking - Book online at www.cheshirefest.co.uk

Tickets:
Limited 'first wave announcement' EARLY BIRD TICKETS ARE NOW ON SALE for a short time only.
Child (aged 6 to 15) - Single Day £6.50 / Weekend £9.75
Adult (16+) - Single Day £11.50 / Weekend £17.25
VIP Tickets (private tent with unlimited prosecco and washroom facilities) - £75

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Dates for your Diary - Bing Live! Coming to the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool in March 2019!

Calling all "Bingsters"! Bing and his friends are going on tour in the first ever Bing stage show! Bing Live! will visit Liverpool's Epstein Theatre on Tuesday 19th March to Wednesday 20th March as part of a major UK tour through to April 2019, and tickets are on-sale now!

Join Bing, Sula, Coco and Pando as they learn how to tell stories by pretending, dressing-up and singing songs. Flop and Amma are there to help, but in this magical world of make-believe things don't always go according to plan...

The CBeebies favourites are brought to life in a brand-new stage production full of fun, laughter, music and magical puppetry. Bing Live! is the perfect first theatre trip for pre-schoolers and their families.

Going to the theatre....it's a Bing thing!


Bing Live! is produced by Minor Entertainment (In the Night Garden Live) and directed by Will Tuckett, guest principal character artist of the Royal Ballet, whose production of Wind in the Willows won an Olivier Award for Best Entertainment in 2014.

The show will also bring together a first-class creative team. Bing Live! is adapted for the stage by Helen Eastman with costumes and puppet design by Tahra Zafar. As Head of Costume, Hair and Make-Up for the Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies staged in London 2012, Tahra managed the production of 23,000 costumes for all four Ceremonies. Her film projects include: Star Wars VII The Force Awakens, X Men First-Class, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and The Fifth Element and for television: In the Night Garden, Zingzillas and The Adventures of Abney and Teal.

The show will have music by Alex Silverman, sound by Rich Walsh and set design by Samuel Wyer. The cast of Bing Live are Mia Jerome, Michael Magennis, Hayley Murray, Will Palmer, Alice De Warrenne and Nia Walsh.

Since its launch on CBeebies, Bing has been a huge ratings hit and is the number one pre-school show on BBC iPlayer.

Celebrating the joyful, messy, reality of preschool life, Bing finds the big stories in the smallest moments that little ones and the grown-ups in their lives will recognise...whether it's dropping your ice-cream or losing your favourite toy.

The series has won an International Emmy Award in the Kids' Pre-School category in 2016, a Writer's Guild Award and a BAFTA nomination for Best Pre-School Series. The animated series, which saw Mark Rylance make his children's television debut voicing Flop, is produced by Acamar Films.

Andrew Collier, Creative Director of Minor Entertainment, said "We're thrilled to be bringing Bing to the stage - we know families throughout the UK love Bing as much as we do, and we can't wait to see children's faces light up when they meet him at the theatre for the first time."

Mikael Shields, CEO of Acamar Films and producer of Bing said: "Seeing Bing take a leap from the screen to the stage is hugely exciting for all of us at Acamar. We are thrilled to be working with Minor Entertainment to bring the 'Bing Live' shows to our young audience. Introducing Bing fans to possibly their first experience of theatre is a tremendous creative challenge and Minor has shown imaginative flair, exceptional attention to detail, and their passion for bringing preschool characters to life has been evident throughout our collaboration with them. We can't wait to watch the reaction from Bingsters to seeing Bing and Flop on stage next year."

Listing Details

Show - Bing Live!
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ
Date - Tuesday 19th to Wednesday 20th March 2019
Times - Tuesday 19th 1pm & 4pm / Wednesday 10am & 1pm
Tickets - Adults £18.50 / Children £16.50

To book tickets please call 0844 888 4411* or go online at www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk* or in person at The Esptein Theatre Box Office from 12pm - 6pm Monday to Saturday.

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


Disclaimer: Details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venue's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Review - Our Weekend Driving The All-New Ford Focus ST-Line

It is hard to believe that it is actually 17 years since I passed my driving test. I can remember feeling so nervous after already having several unsuccessful attempts and had convinced myself that I would fail all over again. Somehow I managed to pull myself together and finally passed with flying colours, although this left the slight issue of having no vehicle to actually drive.

With my new found freedom desperate to hit the road, my dad took me to one of the local garages, where I also had my first experience of applying for vehicle finance and I came away with an N reg Ford Escort, which at the time looked incredible. Over the years I have owned numerous Ford cars including the KA, Fiesta and Mondeo and I have seen first hand the improvements that they have made to the vehicles in this time. Therefore when Evans Halshaw got in touch to ask me if I would be interested in driving the All-New Ford Focus for the weekend, I jumped at the chance!

Obviously since passing my driving test, my wants and needs in a vehicle have changed considerably. My younger self wouldn't often think about the safety aspect, but more about the cars appearance and speed. However, these are now usually the last things I would look at, instead opting to consider the safety features, boot size, fuel economy and space instead. As a family we often travel in the car altogether, so these are all important factors that I now need to consider. But what if there was a car that literally ticked all the boxes, something that could appeal to my inner youth as well as the sensible thinking mum?

We were therefore very excited about putting the new Ford Focus ST-Line to the test and my husband went to collect our vehicle from the helpful representatives at our local Evans Halshaw Garage. When he arrived home, he was greeted by a flurry of oohs and aahs from the children whose first impressions speak for themselves. Before he had even had the chance to get out of the drivers seat, the children were asking if they could sit inside and explore what would be our car for the weekend.

As a family that travels regularly, we decided to test the car by driving through coast and country and enjoying a weekend break on the west coast of Wales. This would give us the opportunity to test every element of the car from suitcase capacity to speed. With plenty of hills to drive up we could also determine its power and control on the roads.


The exterior design was so sleek and stylish and this car definitely stands out from the crowd. We loved the black mesh grille with the elegant front bumper and felt that this was complimented nicely by the 17 inch alloy wheels. The ST-Line badge featured on the rear of the car, as well as on the door trim and it certainly turned a few heads when we were parked up. The windows were shaped nicely and my children especially liked the fact that they were tinted. It would appear that being able to pull funny faces at people when they can't see you is a big plus point for my kids!


The interior was just as great, with a really modern feel to it. We loved the little extras that made it look really trendy and sporty, such as the red stitching on the steering wheel and the sports seats. Chrome pedals and the silver trim around the dash finished the look off nicely and most importantly it was extremely comfortable. I felt well supported and snug in the both the driver's and passenger seat and also had plenty of leg room. My children felt that they had ample space in the back and although Riley is still in a car seat, all three of them could fit easily without feeling squashed.

In the front of the car there were two USB charging points and one 12V socket and in the rear was another 12V. This was great for keeping the kids connected whilst travelling and ensuring that any devices could remain charged. My mobile battery drains really quickly, so it was great to be able to use the USB port from the passenger seat whilst catching up on social media. There was a large touch sensitive LCD screen which could be used to control the radio, bluetooth connectivity and general settings. This was really easy to use and was handy for making phone calls whilst on the move using voice control. Our vehicle did not have Sat Nav but this can be purchased as an optional extra.


As we were heading away for the weekend we were a little concerned beforehand that we wouldn't be able to fit everything in the boot. However, there was in fact plenty of room for both our suitcases, a large plastic tub of food and even a portable fridge. In the space that was left, we managed to fit a large box of wooden train track that Riley insisted on bringing with him, some toys and a couple of footballs. Due to the fact that we could fit everything in the boot, this meant that none of us had to place anything by our feet. This usually happens quite regularly when we are heading off on a trip, so we were all happy that we could sit comfortably and relax on the journey without being surrounded by our belongings.



In terms of vehicle functionality, there are some very clever features that can assist drivers greatly. A particular favourite of ours was the Stop & Go function, which meant that the car would detect when you had come to a stop and automatically apply the brake. It would then release again when you were ready to move. As we were travelling during the Friday night rush hour, we experienced plenty of stop and start traffic, so we found this to be a superb little function.

Another element we were impressed by was the Speed Sign Recognition. When travelling along country roads the speed can change quite quickly in some areas from the National Speed Limit to as low as 20 mph depending on which village you are passing through and sometimes it can be easy to miss the signs. The Speed Sign Recognition tells you on the screen in front of the steering wheel what the speed limit is and based on our experience, this was extremely accurate. It actually became a bit of a travel game as the children would look out for speed signs and we would see how quickly the car would tell us and whether it was accurate. I am pleased to report that it had a 100% pass rate, which is very impressive.

The lane centre assist works to ensure that you are central to lane marking and has the ability to correct steering and ensure that your car is within the marked lane. Whilst we didn't actually need to use this feature, I did see plenty of other drivers who would probably make good use of this, considering the amount of vehicles we spotted crossing the lines on the dual carriageway.

Cruise control was very simple to manage and we found that all the features were well placed for the driver to use with ease. The whole design both internally and externally has been expertly thought out and we were left extremely impressed with our experience.

The Ford Focus ST-Line was very fuel economic and despite driving a 200 mile round trip, we still had just under half a tank of fuel left when we returned it to our local Evans Halshaw garage on the Sunday.

Overall we had a fantastic time driving the New Ford Focus ST-Line vehicle and had lots of fun trying out of all its functions and features. I found it to be a really smooth drive regardless of the type of road surface we were driving on. It could maintain its speed and climb hills with ease and my husband particularly loved the Sport mode, which would give it that extra boost on the acceleration and made it more responsive. It was great to be able to use a car that not only appealed to us as adults, but that also ticked all the boxes for a suitable family vehicle, with both safety and space being paramount throughout. Whether cruising down the motorway or tackling the welsh countryside lanes, this vehicle made driving a pleasure and we would definitely consider it for our next family car.

If you would like to find out more about the All-New Ford Focus then you can visit the website here: All-New Ford Focus

Alternatively, you can find out more about the great new Ford vehicles Evans Halshaw have on offer over on their website: Evans Halshaw Ford

To find your nearest Evans Halshaw dealership, then please visit: Evans Halshaw


*Disclaimer: We were provided with a Ford Focus ST-Line for a weekend, for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Dates for your Diary - Christmas at Dunham Massey 2018

One of our most favourite events last Christmas was the magical, after-dark, illuminated trail at Dunham Massey in Cheshire. Our review also proved to be extremely popular with our readers and was one of our most popular festive blog posts. We were therefore delighted to hear that it would be returning to the historic National Trust property for a second year, on selected dates from the 30th November to the 30th December 2018.

Christmas at Dunham Massey is brought to you by leading events producers Raymond Gubbay Ltd, in partnership with the National Trust. We thought that last years event was absolutely incredible, but this year the magical winter trail is set to be even bigger and better than before.

A larger-than-life glittering deer will greet customers, along with the sights and sounds of Christmas. Features will include a stunning Tunnel of Light adorned with over 100,000 pea-lights, an incredible scented fire garden, Bubbles on the Bridge, playful ribbons of colour-changing lights and the mesmerising voices of the Singing Trees.


Last year, we were treated to an incredible Water Fountain Finale and this year will be no exception. Guests will be able to enjoy this showcase spectacular of water jets and beams of light, which dance in time to much-loved Christmas classics.

The trail is specially designed to appeal to visitors of all ages. My husband and I attended the event last year, with our children aged 4, 9 & 11 at the time and it is safe to say that we all shared the same opinion - It was wonderful!

The historic courtyard will play host to some fantastic festive food outlets*, with the Manchester Food & Drink Festival providing the stalls. There will also be a vintage carousel ride for younger guests to enjoy*. Fire pits will also be placed along the trail where you can gather to toast your own marshmallows. This was one of the highlights for my children last year and they loved picking their flavours and toasting them over the fire.

This year, The Stables Restaurant at Dunham Massey will be serving a two-course traditional Christmas Dinner*. There will be a choice of two sittings, so visitors can dine before or after they visit the trail.

You can read our review of last years event here: Christmas at Dunham Massey Review

For further information on Christmas at Dunham Massey, please visit their website or social media channels which can be found here:

Website - National Trust - Dunham Massey
Facebook - DunhamMasseyNT - Facebook
Twitter - @DunhamMasseyNT

Event Listing

Attraction - Christmas at Dunham Massey, the magical after-dark illuminated trail.
Location - Dunham Massey, Altrincham, Cheshire, WA14 4SJ
Dates - Selected dates from 30th November to 30th December 2018.

Admission

Advance - Adult £16.50, Child (5-16) £10.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £50.00
On the day - Adult £18.50, Child (5-16) £12.00, Family (2 adults, 2 children) £58.00

Items marked with * will incur an additional charge.


Disclaimer: Details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing, however are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the events own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Preview - Disney On Ice presents Dream Big at the Manchester Arena 10th-14th October

The great thing about Disney On Ice, is that it is suitable for the whole family and can keep audiences both young and old entertained throughout. Whether you have memories of watching Beauty and the Beast as a child, or you are a fan of some of the latest blockbusters such as Frozen or Moana, then there is guaranteed to be something for everyone, when Disney On Ice presents Dream Big at the Manchester Arena from the 10th to the 14th October 2018.


Audiences will be transported to a magical world of imagination, as a combination of thrilling special effects and innovative lighting help to create the Disney magic that families love. The show will feature cutting edge figure-skating, eye-catching costumes and stunning set designs, which we have always been amazed by in previous shows. My youngest son Riley has always been captivated watching the skaters perform their incredible routines and high-flying jumps and we cannot wait to see this standard of skating again, when some of our favourite Disney characters come to life on the ice.


Disney On Ice presents Dream Big, aims to show that 'Every story beings with a dream' with a collection of inspiring stories that will be connected by a whole host of different Disney characters, who each have a desire to explore the depths, heights and horizons of their dreams. Moana and demigod Maui will be making their Manchester debut and they will be accompanied by some of Disney's most daring heroines.

Anna, Elsa and Olaf will tell a story of sisterly love from the kingdom of Arendelle, whilst headstrong Ariel will take audiences on a dive under the sea as she dreams about life above the waves. Belle, Aurora and Cinderella will be showing how to find the inner strength that comes from kindness and determination, alongside Jasmine & Rapunzel.

I was also delighted to read that Belle and her friends from Beauty and the Beast will also be taking to the ice. This story was my favourite as a child (and still is) so I cannot wait to see this being performed and I am sure my children will too.

There is also set to be a spectacular fire-breathing dragon which I am sure will be absolutely incredible to see.

Dream Big is certain to capture all the magic and adventure of Disney's immortal tales!


"Disney On Ice presents Dream Big was created with the intention to inspire everyone to explore their world by highlighting the defining moments of relatable characters who became their own heroes," says Executive Vice President and Producer Nicole Feld. "Having both a daughter and son at home, I knew it was important to present a variety of Disney stories as well as show the connection between these stories and illustrate how a journey can unfold in many ways."

"Our greatest wish for our guests is that they will be inspired by these tales of bravery and see that anything is possible if you follow your dreams," says Feld Entertainment Regional Vice President, Steven Armstrong. "Many of the stories we're presenting - like Cinderella and The Little Mermaid - have been around for generations and stand the test of time. Others, like Moana and Frozen, inspire a new generation of young girls through self-reliance and a belief in themselves."

Disney On Ice presents Dream Big will be skating into Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Nottingham and London from the 21st September 2018 to the 6th January 2019. For the complete list of tour dates, head to www.disneyonice.co.uk. You can also keep up to date on the latest developments through social media by visiting:

Facebook - www.facebook.com/DisneyOnIceUK
Twitter - @DisneyOnIce #DreamBig
YouTube - www.youtube.com/DisneyOnIce
Instagram - @DisneyOnIce

Listing Details

Show - Disney On Ice presents Dream Big
Dates - 10th to the 14th October 2018
Times - Wed, Thurs, Fri: 6:30pm / Sat & Sun: 10:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30pm
Venue - Manchester Arena, Manchester

Disney On Ice presents Dream Big UK Tour Dates

Glasgow, Intu Braehead - 21st September to 30th September 2018
Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena - 2nd October to 7th October 2018
Manchester Arena - 10th October to 14th October 2018
Birmingham, Arena Birmingham - 19th October to 28th October 2018
Belfast, SSE Arena - 2nd November to 4th November 2018
Dublin, City West Hotel - 9th November to 11th November 2018
Sheffield, Fly DSA Arena - 14th November to 18th November 2018
Nottingham, Motorpoint Arena - 21st November to 25th November 2018
London, The O2, 26th December 2018 to 6th January 2019


Disclaimer: Details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing, however are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the shows own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Dates for your Diary - Guess How Much I Love You at the Epstein Theatre, Liverpool - 16-17th October

The much-loved classic children's book, Guess How Much I Love You, will play across the UK this Autumn and visits Liverpool's Epstein Theatre on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th of October.

Following a West End run at the Arts Theatre and spring tour earlier this year, Selladoor Family and ABA International Touring UK announce the Autumn tour of the stage adaptation of this world-famous book, published by Walker Books - written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram.

Join Little and Big Nutbrown Hare, from the best-selling Guess How Much I Love You and I Love You All Year Round collection, as they leap off the page and onto the stage in this magical journey through the seasons.

Watch and join in as Little and Big Nutbrown Hare settle down after a bedtime story and re-awaken to discover the delights and colours of each season as they compete to measure their love for each other in this timeless loveable story.

Cast includes Gemma Higgins as Little Nutbrown Hare, Daniel Harkin as Big Nutbrown Hare and Jessica Dives as Mother Nature.

Photo Credit: Barry Rivvett
Guess How Much I Love You is directed by Anna Fox, with music composed by Harry Sever and movement by Lucie Pankhurst. Sound design is by Yvonne Gilbert and lighting design by Charlie Morgan Jones. Explore this playful story of love and nature as it unfolds on stage through puppets, live music and interactive play for children aged 3 and up.

The family favourite is brought to life by Selladoor Family, the producers behind James and the Giant Peach, Seussical and The Owl And The Pussycat and ABA International Touring (UK) Ltd whose current tours include What the Ladybird HeardHairy Maclary and Friends, and Shark in the Park.

David Hutchinson Executive Creative Producer for Selladoor says "Following our short UAE tour in 2017 and a successful season in the West End and UK, we are delighted to bring Sam McBratney's beautiful story of friendship and discovery this Autumn, with Anita Jeram's beloved illustrations hopping from page to stage. Adapted faithfully from the household favourite book, Guess How Much I Love You is an affectionate, gentle and interactive story that both parents and children can enjoy together as the perfect introduction into live theatre."

You can find out more information on the following social media pages:

Facebook - www.facebook.com/guessuktour
Twitter - @GuessUKTour

Listing Details

Show - Guess How Much I Love You
Dates - Tuesday 16th October & Wednesday 17th October
Times - Tuesday 1:30pm & 4:30pm / Wednesday 11am & 1:30pm
Venue - The Epstein Theatre, Hanover House, 85 Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ
Tickets - Adults: £13.50, Children £12.50, Family Ticket £45

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

To book tickets you can ring the box office on the number below or visit the website.

Box Office - 0844 888 4411
Website - www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk

Tickets can also be booked in person at the theatre box office (12-6pm Monday to Saturday)

Disclaimer - Details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing but are of course subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venue's own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Preview - Cinderella Pantomime at the Manchester Opera House - December 2018

Last Christmas we visited the Manchester Opera House, to see what my son described as 'The Most Epic Pantomime Ever" referring to Dick Whittington starring John Barrowman and The Krankies. It was one of the highlights for us of the festive period and we loved the show so much that we actually went to see it TWICE! Laden with special effects, comedy and plenty of laughter, it was no surprise to hear that it won the Special Entertainment category in the Manchester Theatre Awards.

When we left the show on the second occasion, we actually spotted some posters advertising this years pantomime of Cinderella. No cast had been announced at that time with it being so far in advance, but it certainly got us thinking as to who could be starring as the Handsome Prince or the Ugly Sisters and whether it could offer the same panto magic that John Barrowman and The Krankies had brought to the stage. Well I am very pleased to say that this years casting does not disappoint!

Cinderella is set to be the Fairy Godmother of all pantomimes and will be playing at the Manchester Opera House from the 8th December to the 30th December 2018. Earlier this year, they announced the first stars to be joining the line-up in what I consider to be sheer brilliance in role choice. The Ugly Sisters will be played by two television icons who are most recently known for their appearance on ITV's Manchester based soap Coronation Street......Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis!


Connor McIntyre recently starred as the ultimate villain on ITV's Coronation Street and quickly rose to fame as Pat Phelan. His evil antics and high-profile storylines quickly established him as one of soap-lands ultimate baddies. Other television credits include The Governer, A&E, Murder City, See No Evil, Wire in the Blood, Law and Order, London's Burning and Casualty with his film roles including The Be All and End All and Charlie Noads R.I.P. He is also no stranger to the stage and has appeared in The Comedy of Errors, One for the Road and Harry's Christmas.

Les Dennis is known for his presenting, comedy and acting, having being a firm family entertainment favourite since rising to fame on the 1974 talent show New Faces. He has had success in prime-time shows such as The Laughter Show and Family Fortunes, having hosted the latter for an incredible 15 years! Other film and television credits include Intimate Relations, Brookside, Hotel Babylon, Merseybeat, Extra's and Life's Too Short. In 2014 he joined the cast of Coronation Street initially as a petty criminal, but won the heart of both Gail Platt and the viewing audience, before his demise at the hands of fellow Ugly Sister Pat Phelan! His theatre work has included roles in Chicago, Spamalot, She Loves Me and Me and My Girl in the West End, as well as UK tours of Art, High School Musical, Hairspray, Legally Blonde and most recently playing the much-loved Uncle Fester in The Addams Family.


It has also been revealed, that stepping into the role of the handsome Prince Charming, will be the wonderfully talented Gareth Gates, who first rose to fame in 2002 as the runner-up on TV talent show Pop Idol. He has since sold an incredible 3.5 million records in the UK, released three albums and had four UK number one singles. Last year Gareth also opened his new performing arts school in Salford Quays called Fates Academy.

Gareth has appeared in theatre productions, which has seen him play Marius in the 25th anniversary tour of Les Miserables for Sir Cameron Mackintosh, as well as roles in Loserville at West Yorkshire Playhouse and the UK tours of Legally Blonde, Boogie Nights the Musical and Footloose. He has also regularly toured in the concert Mad About the Musicals. Gareth has also appeared on ITV's Dancing on Ice and The Big Reunion.

Michael Harrison, managing director of Qdos Entertainment said: "I'm absolutely delighted that Gareth Gates has agreed to bring his singing talent to our Manchester pantomime this Christmas. I'm sure Gareth will be the perfect ally for Cinderella as she battles the formidable Connor McIntyre and Les Dennis in the guise of her ugly step sisters."

Sheena Wrigley, Theatre Director for the Palace Theatre and Opera House, added "As well as being a terrific singer, Gareth has built an impressive theatre career and also has a great affinity to Manchester, having opened his performing arts academy in Salford Quays last year. He is a fantastic addition to our cast, alongside the previously announced Connor McInyre and Les Dennis, and we're excited to present another high-quality production to our audiences this Christmas."

Further casting is to be announced.

Cinderella will once again be produced by Qdos Entertainment, the world's biggest pantomime producer, with a production that is sure to delight and entertain audiences of all ages. Listing details and information regarding tickets can be found below.

Listing Details

Show - Cinderella
Dates - Saturday 8th December to Sunday 30th December
Times - Performance times vary, so please visit the ATG Tickets website for the most up to date information.
Ticket prices - From £12 (transaction fee will also apply)
Address - Opera House Manchester, 3 Quay Street, Manchester, M3 3HP
Box Office - 0844 871 3018 or for group bookings 0333 009 5390
Website - www.atgtickets.com/Manchester



*Disclaimer: This post contains an affiliate link, which means that I may receive a small commission, should you choose to purchase from this retailer.

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Aquabeads Minions Playset - Review & Competition

After all the glorious sunshine we have had this summer, the weather was bound to turn eventually and this weekend saw us endure some heavy rain and wind. However, whilst our plans for some outdoor fun may have been placed on hold, we certainly weren't short of some indoor activities to enjoy, starting with our favourite crafty and creative toy....Aquabeads!

Our last Aquabeads review featured the Star Wars Playset, which Riley really enjoyed, but we were recently sent this Despicable Me Minions Playset which features some marvellous Minion characters to create. Riley couldn't wait to get the box open and get started on his designs.


The front of the box is really bright and colourful and features several Minion characters. One thing that stood out to us, was the image of the bead peeler in the centre of the box, as none of the previous sets we have used included one of these. We all agreed that the graphics were displayed well, with plenty of informative detail on the packaging, such as a mini three-step guide as to how Aquabeads stick together with the water spray.

It also stated that it only takes 10 minutes to peel, so we were keen to try this claim out as we often leave our creations to dry for a much longer period.


As always the reverse of the box provides a clear contents list so that you are fully informed as to what you are receiving in the playset. There is also an image on the right hand side of the box which provides pictures of all the different characters and items that you can create with the enclosed beads. The Aquabeads Minions Playset includes:
  • Table Tray
  • Bead palette
  • Sprayer
  • Bead Peeler
  • Template sheets
  • Yellow beads x 220
  • Pink beads x 5
  • Brown beads x 120
  • Blue beads x 151
  • Light blue beads x 20
  • Green beads x 5
  • Black beads x 127
  • Grey beads x 74
  • White beads x 43
  • Brown jewel beads x 5
  • Instructions
The Aquabeads Minion 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 lay all the contents out on the sofa so that we could make sure that we had everything that was needed. Riley really liked that the case was in his favourite colours of blue and yellow, so he was already really happy with the set before we even began.

I cut off the corners of each of the bead packets and Riley arranged them into the case and placed them where he wanted the colours to go. Once everything had been arranged, Riley selected the design that he wanted to attempt first and began to make his creation.


This set also caught his sister's attention and so Emma asked Riley if she could help with one of the designs. Riley was more than happy for them to play together, so Riley followed one template whilst Emma attempted another.


When we first started using Aquabeads a couple of years ago, Riley would often need my help to assist him with placing beads, however he now finds this really easy and found the minion templates simple to follow. He finished his design completely independently and only made one mistake which was the colour of the eyes, opting for two brown beads instead of one brown and one green.

Emma completed the design on template two and it was great to see them playing together nicely throughout the activity.


Once the templates had been completely covered in beads, Riley filled the sprayer with water and began to spray the Minion creations. The sprayer was compact and easy to use and also fitted nicely in the storage case once finished. We left the designs to dry for the recommended 10 minutes and then Riley excitedly used the brand new peeler to remove his Minion from the tray.


The peeler made removing the creations a much easier process. Previously it has been too tricky for Riley to remove them with his fingers, so I have had to take my time to remove them from the tray myself, hopeful that no beads become detached. However, with the peeler, you simply slide this along the roof of the tray and it evenly removes the Aquabeads with ease. It is a great idea and a fabulous addition to this Aquabeads playset. It is great that the company are looking at ways they can improve their product and introducing innovative ideas.


Riley and Emma enjoyed this activity so much, that they continued to use all of the templates in the set, using up nearly all of the beads. I believe that there is a Minion add-on set available, so I will certainly be purchasing this to top up our collection.

The RRP of this set is £19.99 and it can currently be purchased from Amazon* and other good toy retailers. 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 Aquabeads Minion Playsets. If you would like to enter then please read the terms and conditions and complete your entry using the gleam form below. Good Luck!

Aquabeads Minion Playset Giveaway!

Terms and Conditions
  • There is 1 (one) prize of an Aquabeads Minions Playset as featured in this review. 
  • Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 years or over.
  • Competition closes on the 30th September 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.
  • Winner's details shall be shared with the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfilment and permission shall be obtained from the winner prior to doing so.
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. *This post contains an affiliate link to Amazon which means that I may receive a small commission should you choose to purchase from this retailer. 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Preview - The Snowman Tour 2018 comes to Warrington's Parr Hall

The summer holidays now seem like a distant memory, so as we enter September my thoughts now turn to the excitement and enjoyment of Christmas. The festive season is my absolute favourite time of year and as a family we enjoy many Christmas events and activities.

Most families will have their own little Christmas traditions, such as going to a pantomime, enjoying a breakfast with Santa or preparing and opening Christmas Eve boxes. For my family though, one of our favourite things to do, is to cuddle up on the sofa and enjoy The Snowman together on Christmas Eve, which is something I also did with my parents too, when I was a child.

I was therefore delighted to learn more about The Snowman Tour from Carrot Productions which is heading to Warrington Parr Hall for one day only on Thursday 20th December 2018. There will be two performances with one being at 1:30pm and another in the evening at 7pm.

Parr Hall is easily accessible by public transport with Warrington Bank Quay train station being only a two minute walk away and Warrington Central train station and Warrington Bus Station being an easy seven minute stroll. There is also limited parking available for patrons at the rear of the venue if you wish to visit by car.

 Photo Credit: © Tom Bangbala
Tickets are on sale now and audience members will be in for an absolute treat as families can enjoy a beautiful presentation of this iconic film, whilst being accompanied by a live orchestra. A young soloist, who is local to the area, will also be performing the breathtaking 'Walking in the Air' solo and I cannot wait to see this song being performed live.

My youngest son who is five, has never experienced the wonder of a live orchestra before, so this is set to be the perfect introduction for him. With music being performed by some of the top musicians in the country, many of whom are members of orchestras such as The Halle and the BBC Philarmonic, this is sure to be an incredible moment for him and I cannot wait to see his face light up with wonder and delight!

The Snowman experience will also include a special visit from the organisation's very own snowman and I am sure that this will be very magical for the younger members of the audience.

Photo Credit: © Gareth Widdowson
Visitors to the Warrington performances, will also be treated to a second animated film of the award-winning book* 'The Bear and the Piano', written by David Litchfield, with a musical score by Daniel Whibley and narration by the wonderful Joanna Lumley. This is sure to add to the overall experience and my family and I are really looking forward to enjoying this production.


However, if Warrington Parr Hall is too far for you to travel, then don't worry, as this magical experience will be visiting a total of 16 different venues across the country including seven cathedrals in Blackburn, Chester, Durham, Gloucester, Lichfield, Liverpool and Winchester. A full list of all the tour dates and venues can be found here: https://www.carrotproductions.com/the-snowman/.

Some venues will also feature a special screening of a world exclusive, in the form of 'A Donkey's Tale' which tells the heart warming story of Dillon. An ordinary donkey, with an extraordinary dream, which takes him on a life-changing journey. This has been specially written and composed by Daniel Whibley and has been commissioned by Carrot Productions for audiences to enjoy. To find out whether your nearest venue is showing 'The Bear and the Piano' or 'A Donkey's Tale', then you can visit the Carrot Productions website to obtain the most up to date information.

Tickets are expected to sell out fast, so for further information or tour details please visit: www.carrotproductions.com

If you would like to get a feeling of an evening with The Snowman, then please watch the video below:


Disclaimer: We are being given 4 complimentary tickets for the purpose of providing an honest review of the tour later this year. All opinions are my own. Details provided are believed to be correct at time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the companies own website to obtain the most up to date information. *This post contains an affiliate link.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Anita Dobson To Star As Miss Hannigan In UK Tour of Annie Coming to Storyhouse Chester in March

Michael Harrison and David Ian are delighted to announce that Anita Dobson will star as 'Miss Hannigan' in their smash hit production of the musical "ANNIE" playing at Storyhouse, Chester from 25th March to the 30th March 2019. Further casting is to be announced.

This production recently ran for an extended season in the West End following a sell-out tour of the UK and Ireland in 2015/2016 as well as a recent sell-out season in Toronto.

As Angie Watts in Eastenders, Anita Dobson created one of the most popular characters in television winning numerous awards. Her West End theatre credits include 'Madame Morrible' in "Wicked", 'Mama Morton' in "Chicago", 'Mrs Meers' in "Thoroughly Modern Millie", 'Chris' in "Calendar Girls", 'Joan Crawford' in "Bette and Joan" and 'Nancy' in "Frozen" at the National Theatre for which she was nominated for an Olivier, Evening Standard and London Critics Award. Her film credits include "London Road".


Set in 1930s New York during The Great Depression, brave young Annie is forced to live a life of misery and torment at Miss Hannigan's orphanage. Determined to find her real parents, her luck changes when she is chosen to spend Christmas at the residence of famous billionaire, Oliver Warbucks. Spiteful Miss Hannigan has other ideas and hatches a plan to spoil Annie's search.....

With its award-winning book and score, this stunning new production includes the unforgettable songs 'It's the Hard Knock Life', 'Easy Street', 'I Don't Need Anything But You' and 'Tomorrow'.

"ANNIE" has Music by Charles Strouse, Lyrics by Martin Charnin and a Book by Thomas Meehan. "ANNIE" is directed by Nikolai Foster with set and costume design by Colin Richmond, choreography by Nick Winston, lighting by Ben Cracknell and sound design by Richard Brooker. "ANNIE" is produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian.

Listing Details

Show: Annie the Musical
Venue: Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR
Dates: Monday 25th March to Saturday 30th March 2019
Booking: This can be done online at www.storyhouse.com, by calling 01244 409113 or by visiting the ticket kiosks at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2AR

*Disclaimer - Details provided are correct at time of writing, but are of course subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website, in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Dates for your Diary - World Premiere Stage Adaptation of Zog Comes to Storyhouse, Chester in April

Freckle Productions and Rose Theatre Kingston are delighted to announce the world premiere stage adaptation of Zog, based on the book by Julia Donaldson with illustrations by Axel Scheffler, which will fly into Storyhouse, Chester from Friday 5th April to Sunday 7th April on its first ever UK Tour.

Large in size and keen in nature, Zog is so eager to win a golden star at Madam Dragon's school, where dragons learn all the things that dragons need to know. Zog tries so very hard, perhaps too hard, and he bumps, burns and roars his way through years one, two and three. Luckily, the plucky Princess Pearl patches him up ready to face his biggest challenge yet....a duel with a knight, Sir Gadabout the Great! Zog promises to be roaring fun for all ages.


Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's much-loved Zog is adapted and directed by Mike Shepherd (founder and Artistic Director of Kneehigh) with an original folk score by Johnny Flynn (award-winning actor and singer-songwriter with The Sussex Wit) played live on stage. It is designed by Katie Sykes (Jane Eyre at the National Theatre, A Monster Calls at The Old Vic).

Zog is produced by Freckle Productions, whose most recent production is Tabby McTat, an adaptation of the book by Julia Donaldson, following their acclaimed productions of Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales and Stick Man.

Julia Donaldson said today: "I'm tremendously excited that Zog will be taking flight around the UK in this first ever stage production. Going to the theatre can be a truly magical experience, I know it will be such a thrill to see the world of Zog being brought to life on stage."

Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler are the UK's number one picture book pair and are creators of many modern classics, including The Gruffalo which is in 75 languages.

Zog was first published in 2010 and won the Galaxy National Children's Book of the Year Award. It has gone on to become a perennial bestseller. For Christmas 2018, Magic Light Pictures will premiere an animated film of Zog on BBC One featuring an all-star cast, following their award-winning films such as The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom and Stick Man.

Suitable for children and families of all ages.

For further information you can visit the Zog Live website or alternatively their social media pages which can be found on the following channels:

Website: www.ZogLive.com
Twitter: @Freckle_Prods
Facebook: www.facebook.com/FreckleProductions
Instagram: @Freckle_Productions

Listing Details

Show - Zog
Venue - Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, CH1 2AR
Date - Friday 5th April 2019 to Sunday 7th April 2019
Times - Various performance times, please visit the website for more information.
Ticket Prices - Prices vary, please visit the website for more information.
Box Office - 01244 409113
Website - www.storyhouse.com

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Our Summer Holiday Visit to Puxton Park, Somerset - A Review

One of our favourite places to visit in Somerset is the wonderful Puxton Park. We have been fortunate enough to have visited this family friendly attraction twice previously, however these visits have always been in the Autumn months and so my children were eager to return in the Summer sunshine.

Since our last visit there have also been a number of new additions to the park which include a High Ropes Course and a Wallace & Gromit sculpture installation. The Puxton High Ropes course was new for the Spring 2018 season and offers a 20ft high, thrilling challenge that both children and adults can enjoy.

As mentioned in my previous reviews, Puxton Park is described as "The Ultimate Fun-Filled Experience for the Whole Family" and they're not wrong. With activities to entertain all ages, the Puxton Park attraction has clearly taken careful consideration into what families look for in a day out and have worked hard to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone.

It is easily accessible from junction 21 of the M5 and well signposted from the motorway. There is also a large sign located at the main entrance which makes the attraction easy to spot whilst driving. We made our way along the driveway to the car park and my children began to get very excited as they remembered all the activities that were available.

As we approached the main reception area we saw this wonderful statue, that had been sponsored by Puxton Park for the 2018 Gromit Unleashed 2 Arts Trail. The purpose of the sculpture was to raise money for Bristol Children's Hospital and the Special Care Baby Unit at St Michael's Hospital.

It was great to see Puxton Park supporting such a worthy cause and my children thought that the Merry-Go Gromit was superb!


We had arrived shortly after opening time and it was a beautiful sunny day, so my children asked if we could head straight over to the Bumper Boats to beat the queue. This activity is great fun and allows you to travel around a water filled pool, in a circular bumper boat, with a water gun located on the front. This means that you can fire water at other guests, which everyone seemed to find hilarious! Emma and Ben enjoyed shooting the water at one another and came off the ride absolutely soaked. Fortunately the sunny weather soon dried them off and they spent half an hour on the nearby park before we made our way towards the High Ropes course.


We had visited Puxton Park expecting to pay at least another £5 each in order to enjoy the high ropes course, so we were extremely surprised to learn that this was INCLUDED in the entry price. We couldn't quite believe that there was no additional charge, considering that there must have been quite a large investment required to create such an exciting facility. Safety harnesses are provided and fitted by staff and you are shown how to use the equipment prior to accessing the course.


For safety reasons you must be wearing fully enclosed shoes, so this is something that you need to bear in mind before visiting and in order to avoid any disappointment. Unfortunately guests wearing crocs, flip flops, open toe shoes or similar will not be allowed to participate, so make sure you are dressed appropriately before attending.

The Puxton High Ropes course has been described as being one of the most exciting and challenging courses in the West of England, so we couldn't wait to put it to the test. Standing at over 25 feet tall, it features a wide range of fun and challenging elements including a rolling log, wave tunnel and walk the plank, that will certainly put your nerves to the test as you step out over the miniature railway track.

You need to measure above 1 metre in height to participate, but for toddlers or children under this height, there is the great addition of a Sky Tykes Junior ropes course. This is designed for children aged two to seven and is a miniature ropes course packed full of fun, to ensure that even the youngest of guests can enjoy the activity too. We thought this was a wonderful idea and felt that both courses were well constructed and felt really safe.


Like our previous visits, my parents had come along with us for the day and they have always commended the parks layout as being very disabled friendly with easy access to the majority of the site. My dad walks with the aid of the stick so uneven surfaces can prove tricky for him at times, however the paths around the park are smooth and level with plenty of benches available to have a rest if needed. There was some seating nearby the high ropes so they sat and enjoyed some drinks together whilst we climbed high on this new thrill-seeking activity.

My son Ben usually has a fear of heights, but after watching Emma, he plucked up the courage to give it a go and attempted all elements of the course apart from the rolling log. Admittedly none of us quite managed that one!


After the excitement of the high ropes, we had worked up a bit of an appetite. As we were visiting on a Sunday, we decided to enjoy the carvery together in the restaurant. I had booked a table a couple of days earlier and so we made our way over at lunchtime. The food was absolutely delicious and really well priced too. We all enjoyed our meals including the children, with two out of three managing to clear their plates completely! It was certainly one of the nicest Sunday Lunches that we have had in a while.

Once we had let our lunch settle, the children wanted to try Water Zorbing. Again this was included in the price, which makes the entry cost seem such excellent value for money, given the amount of activities you can participate in. We have visited other attractions before where you have had to pay £5 each to enjoy something like this, so again we were shocked at no additional payment being required.

Both Emma and Ben had a few minutes each inside the balls and certainly burnt off a lot of energy, trying to stay upright!


The remainder of our day was spent enjoying some of the children's favourite activities from our previous visits. Riley has always loved the Puxton Miniature Railway and also likes seeing all the farm animals in the barn. Ben and Emma on the other hand absolutely love the indoor play area and could literally spend hours going down the drop slides. They are definitely braver than me!

Overall we had a wonderful visit to Puxton Park and it has firmly become one of our favourite family friendly attractions in the UK. There is something for everyone to enjoy and I believe that the entry price offers superb value for money. The Puxton High Ropes course is a superb addition to the site and it is great to see that investments are being made that enhance the visitor experience.We will definitely be returning in the future!

Attraction Details

Puxton Park, Cowslip Lane, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset
Parking - Yes, there is plenty of free parking available.
Opening times - Daily from 9am til 5:30-pm Monday to Sunday (excl. 25th/26th December and 1st January).
Entry prices - Entrance costs vary, so please visit Ticket Prices to obtain the most up to date information.
Website - www.puxton.co.uk/
Twitter - @PuxtonPark
Facebook - Puxton Park


*Disclaimer - We received a complimentary family ticket to provide our honest opinion and review of the attraction. We purchased three additional tickets for our accompanying guests. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.