Sunday, 29 September 2019

Making Our Own Yoghurt with the EasiYo Yoghurt Maker - A Review

My children absolutely love yoghurt and you can guarantee that it will be one of the first items that they reach for in the fridge when they get home from school. With three children racing one another to their favourite flavours, it is fair to say that we do quickly run out, so when I was introduced to the EasiYo Yoghurt Maker, I was definitely keen to find out more.

I had never really considered the option of making our own yoghurt before and in all honesty I didn't even realise that this was something that was possible to do at home. However, EasiYo has created a fabulous kitchen accessory that makes the process of creating your own homemade yoghurt really simple, with minimal effort too!


Our EasiYo Yoghurt Maker arrived along with some separate flavour sachets of Greek Style Raspberry and Peach, but EasiYo currently have over 20 different flavours in their product range, so there is sure to be flavours to suit all tastes. We chose to make the Raspberry flavour first, so the children set about removing the lovely pink container from the box and passed me the instructions.

I was initially a bit sceptical about how easy the process would be, but was pleasantly surprised by how simple the three stages were to follow. To begin with we got all the equipment out ready and put the sachet to one side. We then half-filled the yoghurt container with room temperature water, opened and added the sachet mix, before securing the lid and shaking well.


After we had shaked it for a while, we removed the lid, added some more water until it was just below the top, before securing the lid and shaking well again. The instructions advise to ensure that you use room temperature water only, otherwise this could affect the consistency of the yoghurt and it may not set correctly.



Once we were happy that the powder and water had been shaken sufficiently, we checked that the plastic spacer inside the Easiyo Yoghurt Maker was placed correctly and then added boiling water to the top of the spacer insert.

As this part of the process involved boiling water, I carefully placed the yoghurt container inside the EasiYo Yoghurt Maker and placed the lid on top. We then left this on the kitchen worktop overnight to allow the yoghurt to set. The guide time for this is approximately 8-12 hours and once it has set, it can then be moved into the fridge for it to chill. It is noted in the instructions that you should not refrigerate the yoghurt before it has completely set.


The yoghurt was really creamy and delicious and as well as being enjoyed on it's own, it can also be used in some recipes too that can be found on the EasiYo website. It also offers some great nutritional benefits, such as being rich in calcium and protein, as well as having no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. EasiYo is also gluten free and vegetarian.

Another advantage of using the EasiYo Yoghurt Maker is that it helps to reduce the amount of waste of single use yoghurt pots and plastic in the home, as the Yoghurt Maker and storage pots can be easily reused and cleaned over and over again.

Overall we really liked the concept of the product and how simple it was to use. One sachet of mix makes 1kg of yoghurt, so not only is it cost effective, but it also lasts throughout the week too! My children enjoyed helping out with the process and there always seems to be more enjoyment in eating something that you have made yourself, so it was a very popular choice of snack. The yoghurt tasted fresh and delicious and my daughter also enjoyed combining some of the Raspberry Greek Yoghurt with her cereal in the morning. The EasiYo website also has a great range of recipe suggestions, so we are really looking forward to trying some of these out in the near future.

The EasiYo Yoghurt Maker has an RRP of £14.99, which I think offers great value for money and there is also a fantastic selection of flavour sachets to purchase. It is also possible to buy some additional EasiYo jars and storage pots and these can be found on the EasiYo website, Amazon, Lakeland, The Range, Morrisons and a large number of independent stores.


*Disclaimer - We were provided with a complimentary EasiYo Yoghurt Maker along with two flavour sachets, for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product and our experience. All opinions and photographs are my own. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.


Friday, 27 September 2019

Dates for your Diary - Mr Popper's Penguins comes to Greater Manchester this Christmas

For the past couple of years my family and I have enjoyed visiting Waterside in Sale over the festive period, to enjoy some fabulous Christmas productions. Our first experience back in 2017 was to see The Bear, which was an absolutely beautiful show, that was brought to the stage by Pins and Needles Productions.

Their return the following year in 2018 delivered a stunning adaptation of Father Christmas, which was based on the well known story book by Raymond Briggs. I can honestly say that this show was one of my favourite theatre experiences with my youngest son, as it felt so magical and special.

We were therefore really excited to hear that this years show is Mr Popper's Penguins which is a Kenny Wax and TC Beech production adapted for the stage by Pins and Needles Productions.

Puppets, penguins, packing crates and pure magic abound in this phenomenally popular and successful production of Mr Popper's Penguins, which returns to Manchester this Christmas. Running from Tuesday 26th November through to the 31st December, acclaimed children's theatre company Pins & Needles bring their award-winning and smash-hit show to Waterside in Sale for frost-filled, festive fun for all the family. Pppppop online as tickets are now on sale!

Painter and Decorator by day, Mr Popper spends his time dreaming of Antarctic Adventures. He is astounded when one day a packing crate arrives on his doorstep - and out of which waddles a penguin...

With original songs and performing penguin puppets to charm audiences of all ages, this delightful and action-packed musical adaptation of Richard and Florence Atwater's book (also made into a Hollywood film starring Jim Carrey as Mr Popper) is the perfect family treat to warm hearts and souls on a cold winter's day.

Darren Adams, Manager of Waterside says: "We are so thrilled to welcome back Pins & Needles to Waterside after two hugely successful and record breaking years which saw unprecedented sales and responses to their stunning and charming productions of Father Christmas and The Bear. This year, we are delighted that their internationally acclaimed Mr Popper's Penguins is making its way back to to the UK after a successful New York run on Broadway and right on to our stage for the first time to thrill and delight our audiences."

Mr Popper's Penguins opens to the public on Tuesday 26th November and runs until the 31st December. Schools performances are also available - for a full breakdown please visit watersidearts.org/popperspenguins

The show is recommended for children aged between 3 and 11.

Cookies and milk packs are also available to pre-order along with your tickets for just an extra £2.50 each for all shows.

Children (and adults too!) are invited to come in their PJs and bring a favourite bedtime teddy to the 6pm Slumber Shows to make their theatre experience a real bedtime treat!


  

Listing Details


A Kenny Wax & TC Beech Production adapted for the stage by Pins & Needles Productions: Mr Popper's Penguins
Venue - Waterside Arts Centre, Sale,
Dates - Tuesday 26th November to 31st December
Times - Times vary so please see the Waterside website to obtain the most up to date information.
Tickets - £16.50 / £14.50 / £12.50
Schools - £10 (1 free teacher with every 9 students booked)
Duration - 60 minutes with no interval
In the Robert Bolt Theatre

*This post is written based on a press release provided by Waterside. Images do not feature the Manchester cast.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Emmerdale's Sammy Winward And Full Cast Officially Launch Cinderella Panto At The Epstein Theatre

The paparazzi were out in full force yesterday as Christmas arrived early at the press launch for Epstein Entertainments' debut panto Cinderella, which comes to The Epstein Theatre from Friday 6th December to Sunday 5th January 2020.

The venue had been decorated by The Festive Decorators and guests were greeted with mince pies and mulled wine upon arrival to set the yuletide mood, before The Guide's Jay Hynd began proceedings by introducing the full cast.


Emmerdale's Sammy Winward will lead this year's star-studded cast in the title role. She will be joined by Benidorm's Crissy Rock; Brookside's Sarah White; Shameless' Warren Donnelly; Andrew Geater; Samantha Palin; and Lewis Devine.

Sammy Winward trained at the Academy of Classical Dance and Stage and is most notable for playing Katie Sugden in ITV's Emmerdale, a role she played for 14 years. Her other TV credits include Lucy Murdoch in Prey and Siobhan Murphy in Fearless for ITV.

It is certain to be a White Crissy-mas with Brookside's Sarah White and award-winning actor and comedian Crissy Rock as the Ugly Sisters.

Crissy's screen career began with an award-winning performance in Ken Loache's 1994 drama Ladybird, Ladybird. The Liverpool native is also renowned for her role as Janey York in ITV's Benidorm, and most recently took part in The All New Monty: Ladies Night which saw a group of celebrities strip-off to raise awareness of the importance of early health checks in preventing breast cancer.

Crissy's stage credits include Escorts: The Musical, Dirty Dusting, Rita, Sue and Bob Too! and Achy Breaky Bride, and panto credits include Ugly Sister in Cinderella at St Helens Theatre Royal and Fairy Godmother in Sleeping Beauty at The Brindley.

Whilst Sarah White is best known for her character Bev McLoughlin in Brookside, where her controversial and dramatic storyline saw her have a baby with her boyfriend's son.

Her theatre credits include Margy in The Morris at the Liverpool Everyman, Rita in three UK tours of Naked Truth, and Sheila in The Salon at both The Epstein Theatre and St Helens Theatre Royal.

Most notable for playing Stan Waterman in the Channel 4 series Shameless, Liverpool actor Warren Donnelly will play Dandini. No stranger to the stage, Warren's previous panto credits include King Rat in Dick Whittington and Abanazer in Aladdin both at Liverpool's Empire Theatre.

Also joining the cast is the talented Andrew Geater as Prince Charming. Andrew has recently played the Pharoah in the UK tour of Bill Kenwright's production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. His impressive vocal talents have seen him perform all over the world including as a member of world-renowned group The 12 Tenors. Other theatre credits include Jesus Christ Superstar, Guys and Dolls and South Pacific.

Bringing a sprinkling of magic to the show and making all of Cinderella's dreams come true will be Samantha Palin as the Fairy Godmother, whose theatre credits include the UK tour of Forever Dusty, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at The Kings Theatre and Cinderella at St Helens Theatre Royal.

Completing the cast is the hilarious Lewis Devine who will play Buttons. Lewis' career started from an early age when he appeared on the first series of ITV's Kids Stars in Their Eyes which he won with his impersonation of Donny Osmond. His panto credits include Muddles in Snow White and the title role in Peter Pan, both at St Helens Theatre Royal, and French Frank in Beauty and the Beast at Stockport Plaza.

Throughout the afternoon guests got to hear from the cast during a Q+A, with a first glimpse as to what to expect from Epstein Entertainments' magical production coming to The Epstein Theatre this festive season.

Cinderella is produced by Epstein Entertainments Ltd, a joint venture between Chantelle Nolan and Jane Joseph from Regal Entertainments Ltd and producer Bill Elms.

Producer Chantelle Nolan said: "The countdown to Christmas has officially begun! It was great to bring all the cast together today; everyone got in the festive spirit and it has made us all that more excited to bring the show to the audiences of Liverpool.

"We have a spectacular production in store this Christmas and are delighted to be able to bring even more magic to the production with the introduction of an interactive 3D scene which will make the action jump off the stage. With just 10-weeks until we open be sure to book your tickets early to guarantee the best seats!"

Epstein Entertainments' debut production at the venue promises to be a festive extravaganza, featuring - a first for the venue, a magical interactive 3D scene bringing the panto magic to life like never before!

Cinderella tells the story of a beautiful girl who is reduced to a life of servitude by her two ugly stepsisters. That is all set to change when an invitation to a grand ball at the palace arrives.

With a bit of magic and some help from her friend Buttons, Cinderella is transformed into the belle of the ball. But what will happen at the stroke of midnight?

Enchanted pumpkins, glass slippers, a sparkling fairy-tale carriage - Epstein Entertainments' version of this classic tale has something for the whole family.

Be sure to book your tickets early and get ready to be whisked off to the most lavish panto in all the land.

Listing Details

Show - Cinderella
Venue - Epstein Theatre, Liverpool
Dates - Friday 6th December 2019 to Sunday 5th January 2020
Times - Show times vary so please visit the Epstein Theatre website to obtain the most up to date information.
Tickets - Tickets from £11

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

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

For more details check out www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk to join their mailing list. Or alternatively you can visit their social media pages on the following channels:

Facebook - www.facebook.com/EpsteinTheatre
Twitter - @EpsteinTheatre


**Disclaimer - This post is written based on a press release provided by BEA. All information is believed to be correct at the time of publishing but is subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues' own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.


Monday, 16 September 2019

Star-Studded Autumn Season of Headline Shows Ahead at Storyhouse, Chester

As regular readers to the blog will know, I often mention my love for Storyhouse in Chester. It is one of my favourite theatres and my family and I have enjoyed numerous shows since its opening back in May 2017. Since then the theatre has welcomed many touring productions and events, as well as creating their own spectacular in-house productions and the upcoming Autumn season shall be no exception.

Whether you are an individual, a couple, a family or a group of friends looking to enjoy a night out together, then Storyhouse is sure to have a show to suit your requirements. Theatregoers will be spoilt for choice with the high calibre shows heading to the city, in what will complete a fantastic year of live entertainment at the Chester venue.

Cult classic The Rocky Horror Show return with one of theatre's naughtiest musicals from Monday 16th September to Saturday 21st September. The story will follow Brad and his fiancee Janet as they embark on an adventure that they will never forget, with fun, frolics, frocks, and frivolity - bursting with timeless songs and outrageous outfits. Audiences can expect a guaranteed party combining science fiction, horror, comedy and music.

Strictly's Joanne Clifton plays Janet in The Rocky Horror Show, and is joined by James Darch as Brad; Stephen Webb as Frank 'n' Furter; and Kristian Lavercombe as Riff Raff. Television actor Philip Franks, known for his roles in The Darling Buds of May, Heartbeat, Absolutely Fabulous, Foyle's War and Midsomer Murders, plays the Narrator.

Hot on the heels of this film classic is another favourite, as Bill Kenwright returns with Cabaret from Tuesday 24th September to Saturday 28th September. This multi award-winning production of Kander and Ebb's landmark musical features show-stopping choreography, dazzling costumes, and iconic songs including Money Makes the World Go Round and Maybe This Time and Cabaret.

The cast features former Eastenders actor and West End star John Partridge as Emcee; fresh from Cilla The Musical, actress and singer Kara Lily Hayworth as Sally Bowles; and singer and screen icon Anita Harris as Fraulein Schneider.

The musical fun and frolics will continue into October with Calendar Girls The Musical by Gary Barlow and Tim Firth from Tuesday 29th October to Saturday 2nd November. Calendar Girls The Musical is inspired by the true story of a group of ladies, who create a Women's Institute (WI) calendar to raise funds to buy a settee for their local hospital in memory of one of their husbands. The twist is that they appear nude in the pictures. This musical comedy highlights life in their Yorkshire Village, the effect on husbands, sons and daughters, but most of all how a group of ordinary women achieved something extraordinary.

The cast features Ruth Madoc, Rebecca Storm, Sarah Jane Buckley, Sue Devaney, Julia Hills, Judy Holt, and Lisa Maxwell. They are joined by Phil Corbitt, Ian Mercer, Sebastian Aberneri, Alan Stocks, Pauline Daniels, Ellie Leah, Danny Howker, Isabel Caswell, and Tyler Dobbs.

Continuing with music, Wireless Wise - A Celebration of Radio 4 is on Sunday 22nd September and will bring together a group of seasoned radio personalities. Alistair McGowan, the Reverend Richard Coles, Garry Richardson, Charlotte Green, and special guest Richie Webb, will celebrate BBC Radio in an unforgettable evening of comedy, anecdotes, sketches, music and nostalgia.

There will be something gruesome yet thrilling for youngsters with a double bill of Horrible Histories from Tuesday 5th November to Friday 8th November with brand new shows, Terrible Tudors and Awful Egyptians.

Terrible Tudors will take a trip through the Horrible Henrys to the end of evil Elizabeth and hear the legend (and the lies!) about the torturing Tudors. Find out the fate of Henry's headless wives and his punch-up with the Pope. Survive the Spanish Armada as it sails into the audience! Terrible Tudors will run from Tuesday 5th November to Friday 8th November 2019.

Photo credit - Mark Douet

Awful Egyptians invites visitors to meet the fascinating Pharoahs, gasp at the power of the pyramids, and discover the foul facts of death and decay with the meanest mummies in Egypt. It's the history of Egypt with the nasty bits left in! Awful Egyptians runs from Wednesday 6th November to Friday 8th November 2019.

Comedy continues to feature strong on the Storyhouse programme, and this season dates include Ed Byrne, Ben Elton, Tom Rosenthal, Vikki Stone and Laurence Clark.

Ed Byrne presents his new show If I'm Honest on Monday 18th November. Ed's new masterclass in observational comedy comes hot on the heels of his 2017/2018 tour, Spoiler Alert. Ed takes a long hard look at himself, and tries to decide if he has any traits that are worth passing on to his children. Ed has recently appeared on Live At The Apollo, Mock the Week, The Pilgrimage, Top Gear, and QI.

Catch Ben Elton Live on Tuesday 10th December. The comic burst onto television screens more than 30 years ago hosting Channel 4's ground-breaking Saturday Live. Now, after a 15-year absence, Ben is back on the road with an all-new stand-up show - and promises to try and make sense of a world which appears to have gone stark raving mad.

Tom Rosenthal brings his Manhood show to Storyhouse on Friday 20th September. Known for his roles in Friday Night Dinner and Plebs, Tom was named Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year and was also nominated for Best Breakthrough Artist at the British Comedy Awards.

Multi award-winning comedian and musician Vikki Stone presents her show, Songbird, on Thursday 24th October. The show promises an evening full of Vikki's trademark comedy songs and stand up. Vikki has appeared on BBC Radio 4's The Now Show, BBC One's John Bishop Show, and the BBC Proms Podcast.

An exciting Autumn season concludes with the Storyhouse show for Christmas 2019 - Peter Pan, which runs from Friday 6th December through to Sunday 12th January 2020.

Following last year's stunning production of The Wizard of Oz, Storyhouse presents classic Peter Pan to entertain audiences of all ages this festive season. Journey to Neverland for a high-flying adventure. The forever young Peter Pan sails through the skies to bring Wendy and the Darling children to the Lost Children's enchanted island, where the fearsome Captain Hook rules over the high seas. Based on the timeless book by JM Barrie.

Storyhouse Artistic Director Alex Clifton commented: "No sooner does one season finish, than we start counting down to starting all over again and welcoming a brand new programme of entertainment. The spotlight is most definitely on music and dance for the autumn, and as the evenings draw in and the days get shorter, what's better than a trip to the theatre to experience a live show - giving you the real feel-good factor."

Storyhouse has a dynamic pricing policy on the majority of shows, ensuring the earlier you book your tickets, guarantees the best seats at the lowest price. For more information on Storyhouse and the upcoming schedule of shows, you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.storyhouse.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/storyhouselive
Twitter - @StoryhouseLive

Listing Details

Rocky Horror Show
Dates: Monday 16th September to Saturday 21st September 2019
Times: Monday - Thursday 8pm / Friday - Saturday 5.30pm & 8.30pm

Tom Rosenthal: Manhood
Garret Theatre
Date: Friday 20th September 2019
Time: 8pm

Wireless Wise - A Celebration of Radio 4
Date: Sunday 22nd September 2019
Time: 7:30pm

Cabaret
Dates: Tuesday 24th September - Saturday 28th September 2019
Times: Monday - Saturday 7.30pm / Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday matinees at 2:30pm

Vikki Stone: Songbird
Garret Theatre
Date: Thursday 24th October 2019
Time: 8pm

Calendar Girls The Musical 
Dates: Tuesday 29th October -  Saturday 2nd November 2019
Times: Tuesday - Saturday 7:30pm / Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2:30pm

Horrible Histories: Terrible Tudors
Dates: Tuesday 5th November - Friday 8th November 2019
Times: Tuesday 5:30pm / Wednesday 1:30pm / Thursday 6pm / Friday 10:30am

Horrible Histories: Awful Egyptians
Dates: Wednesday 6th November - Friday 8th November 2019
Times: Wednesday 10:30am / Thursday 10:30am / Friday 6pm

Ed Byrne: If I'm Honest
Date: Monday 18th November 2019
Time: 8pm

Peter Pan
Dates: Friday 6th December 2019 to Sunday 12th January 2020
Times: Performance times vary, please check website for up to date details.

Ben Elton Live
Date: Tuesday 10th December 2019
Time: 8pm

Tickets can be booked online at the Storyhouse website by visiting www.storyhouse.com, by calling 01244 409 113, or in person at the ticket kiosks located at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, CH1 2AR.



*Disclaimer: This is based on a press release kindly provided by BEA. Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the venues own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.




Sunday, 8 September 2019

Dates for your Diary - Sleeping Beauty Pantomime at St Helens Theatre Royal this October

For those of you who can't quite wait until Christmas to get your panto fix, then fear not, as St Helens Theatre Royal are putting on the spellbinding Sleeping Beauty this October Half Term and have recently revealed its stellar cast.

Regal Entertainments will present Sleeping Beauty at the theatre from Saturday 19th October to Tuesday 29th October, promising half-term fun for all the family. The full cast includes Samantha Palin; Mia Molloy; James Lacey; Lewis Devine; Shameless' Warren Donnelly; Abigail Middleton and St Helens' resident Dame Si Foster.


Samantha Palin will be transformed into the evil fairy Carabosse, who curses Princess Aurora - tricking her into an eternal slumber. Samantha previously played the Fairy Godmother in the 2018's Easter production of Cinderella. Her other theatre credits include Cover Malevola in Snow White at Kings Theatre and Gloriana in Cinderella at Theatre Royal, Wakefield.

Mia Molloy makes a welcome return to the Theatre Royal stage as the Princess, cursed to fall asleep until a handsome suitor wakes her with true love's kiss. The multi-talented Liverpool local was last seen heading over the rainbow as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz earlier this year. Mia's credits also include Liverbird Song - The Liverpool Blitz Musical at The Epstein Theatre and Our Day Out The Musical at Liverpool's Royal Court.

Starring as this year's handsome prince is Theatre Royal newcomer James Lacey whose dashing looks will no doubt cast a spell over St Helens. His previous credits include the UK tours of Shrek The Musical and The Sound of Music as well as the dance double for Richard Madden in Disney's 2015 blockbuster live-action remake of Cinderella.

The hilarious Lewis Devine will bring laughs-a-plenty to St Helens audiences as Chester the Jester. Lewis returns after taking audiences on a high-flying adventure as Peter Pan at Christmas and causing mayhem as French Frank in 2018's panto, Beauty and the Beast.

Shameless star Warren Donnelly returns to play the King. Most notable for playing Stan Waterman in the Channel 4 series, Warren is no stranger to the St Helens stage having previously played the King in 2017's production of Sleeping Beauty and Abanazer in 2016's Aladdin.

Abigail Middleton is certain to bring some magic to the show as Fairy Sparkle, who audiences may recognise as Tiger Lily from Peter Pan last Christmas.

Completing the line-up and ready to bring this enchanting tale to life is St Helens' resident Dame, Si Foster, bringing his slapstick fun and chaos to the stage as Dame Queenie.

Sleeping Beauty tells the enchanting tale of Princess Aurora, who is cursed by the evil fairy Carabosse, tricking her into an eternal slumber which can only be broken by a kiss from her true love.

Will the beautiful princess find her true love and be freed from the evil fairy's curse? What fate awaits the evil fairy? Set your alarms and get down to St Helens Theatre Royal this October for a truly magical adventure.

Chantelle Nolan, Theatre Manager said: "I am absolutely delighted to announce the full casting for Sleeping Beauty! We have lots of returning familiar faces that our audiences know and love, as well as some Theatre Royal newcomers who are guaranteed to put on a spectacular show! Tickets are on-sale now, so be sure to join us this October!"

For more information you can visit the St Helen's Theatre Royal website or their social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/St-Helens-Theatre-Royal
Twitter - @TheatreRoyalStH

Listing Details

Event - Regal Entertainments presents Sleeping Beauty
Dates - Saturday 19th October to Tuesday 29th October 2019
Times - Monday & Tuesday: 1pm / Friday: 1pm and 5pm / Saturday & Sunday 12pm and 5pm (no shows 21st to 24th October)
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.

Tickets can be booked in person at the Theatre Royal Box Office, Corporation Street, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA10 1LQ (Mon-Sat 10am - 5pm). Alternatively, call 01744 756000 or log on to www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com.

Disclaimer: This post is written based on a press release provided by BEA. All details provided believed to be correct at the 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.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

JCB Remote Controlled Tower Crane by HTI Toys - A Review

After such a busy few weeks in the summer holidays, Riley has really enjoyed being able to spend some quiet days at home to play with all of his toys. He is a big fan of all kinds of vehicles and is often asking to add to his forever growing collection that seems to expand by the day. He was therefore extremely delighted to return home from school this week to find a special package waiting for him.

Riley excitedly opened the large cardboard box and quickly spotted the JCB logo on the product inside. He absolutely loves construction vehicles and already has a number of JCB products such as diggers, excavation trucks, dumper trucks and loaders, so he was wondering what could possibly be in such a large box. He was very happy to find a fabulous JCB Tower Crane enclosed and this was quickly followed by exclamations of "WOW" as he looked at the images on the packaging. The joy on his face when he also realised that it was remote controlled was priceless!


The outer packaging is really bright and eye-catching and features the yellow, black and white design that is identifiable with JCB. The images show the product clearly so that you can immediately get a good idea of how the product is used. There is also a variety of text to support the image which advise that you can swing the crane, lower the hook and that a remote is included to control the crane. The box also shows the height of the crane as being 100cm tall and the age recommendation of 3+ is also displayed.

Riley's big brother wanted to help with the assembly so both boys worked together to remove the contents from the box and begin the build. I thought that this may have been a little difficult for them, but Ben who is 11 found the instructions really simple and they had the crane built in less than 10 minutes.


The contents came packaged as above and had been separated into packs. There was also a sticker sheet that finished the crane off nicely once built and these were very easy to apply. The item does not come with batteries included and required 3 x AA batteries so it is important to ensure you have these prior to building, in order to avoid any disappointment.

Riley was very keen to test out the remote control function and he began to think of different games that he could play with the crane. He began by building some towers out of bricks and then using the wrecking ball to knock these down, before then attaching individual cars to the hook and raising them up and around using the controls. The hook can be moved up and down, whilst the arm can also be moved from left to right.


This led to him using the crane for some role play activities by pretending he was the manager of a building site, before then becoming the owner of a car garage who had decided to change his car display. He therefore used the crane to move cars around and set them up in his pretend garage. He found the controls really easy to use and very simple to understand and I loved how this toy encouraged Riley to use his creativity. He even put cones around the crane to designate it a no entry zone!


The JCB Tower Crane is large and it stands at a height of 100cm. After seeing the size of it I was a little concerned that we would have nowhere to store it fully built, as the boys share a bedroom and space is limited, however because of its narrow design it can stand over other objects with ease. It also has a great base which keeps the item sturdy and therefore it supports itself really well.


Overall this is a lovely toy which is also very reasonably priced. With an RRP of only £14.99 I would consider this to be a bargain and the perfect addition to any JCB fans collection. I felt that it was really good quality and didn't feel flimsy at all. The product was easy to assemble and stood well once built. The controls were simple to use and so far it has provided Riley with hours of entertainment which he has really enjoyed. I would happily recommend this product to others and due to the price, I also think that it would make an ideal birthday or Christmas gift.

This item is available to buy from most good toy retailers including Amazon. If you would like to find out more about this product or other toys available from HTI Toys then you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - https://www.htigroup.co.uk/
Facebook - facebook.com/HTIGroup1952/
Twitter - @HTIToys
Instagram - @HTIToys


*Disclaimer - We were gifted this item for the purpose of writing an honest review of the product. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

Preview - The Snowman Tour 2019 comes to Chester Cathedral

As much as I love the summer holidays, I cannot help but get excited when it comes to the Autumn season and my thoughts quickly turn to the excitement of Christmas. My family and I love to attend various shows and events to get into the festive spirit and last year we experienced the beautiful Snowman Tour from Carrot Productions, which was really special.

My children and I always watch The Snowman on Christmas Eve every year and it has become one of our firm family traditions that we all really enjoy. However, watching the show accompanied by a live orchestra creates a whole new magical element to this Christmas classic and we were therefore delighted to hear that The Snowman Tour will be returning for 2019.

Tickets are sure to sell fast at venues across the country for Carrot Productions' presentation of the iconic film The Snowman accompanied by a live orchestra. Parents who are keen to treat their children to this magical show are advised to start thinking about it now to avoid disappointment

This is the seventh annual tour by Carrot Productions, the most prolific performers of The Snowman film with live orchestra in the world. The cathedrals of Salisbury, Coventry, Winchester, Chester, Lichfield, Liverpool and Ely are among the thirteen venues across the country welcoming the production, adding stunning surroundings to the whole experience.

© Tom Bangbala

We are very excited to be attending the Chester Cathedral venue this year, when it visits the beautiful city of Chester on the 20th and 21st December for six shows. We are also very happy to be part of the blogger team once again for this very special tour.

Chester Cathedral is located in the heart of the city and is therefore easily accessible by public transport. There are also numerous pay and display car parks within walking distance from the venue.

Visitors to the Chester performances will also be treated to the enchanting animation by Tom Scott to accompany that most Christmassy of seasonal pieces, The Nutcracker. My youngest son Riley was absolutely mesmerised by last years animation, in what was his first experience of a live orchestra, so I know that he will absolutely love watching this.

The Snowman Experience offers much more than a viewing of the beloved movie, itself made extra vivid by the presence of live musicians: a professional orchestra and a young soloist performing the famous Walking in the Air song.

Other key elements which make these Carrot Productions events so popular with parents include:
  • The orchestra drawn from some of the top musicians in the country, many of whom are members of such orchestras as The Halle and the BBC Philarmonic
  • Every performance features a young soloist local to the area, singing the haunting Walking in the Air solo which lies at the heart of the Snowman. Auditions are held in the Autumn, with local Music Hubs and Cathedral Choirmasters helping to find suitable soloists to take up this superb performance opportunity.
  • A rousing Christmas overture
  • A fun introduction to the orchestra
  • A visit from the organisation's very own snowman!
Tickets are expected to sell out fast, so for further information or tour details then please visit www.carrotproductions.com.

© Gareth Widdowson

If Chester Cathedral is a little too far for you to travel, then don't worry, as this magical experience is visiting 13 venues throughout the country in Derby, Chesterfield, Salisbury, Coventry, Buxton, Beverley Minster, Salford, Winchester, Bradford, Chester, Lichfield, Liverpool and Ely. A full list of all the tour dates and venues can be found here.

Each venue will feature a second animation, specially commissioned by Carrot Productions and audiences will be treated to one of three films: A Donkey's Tale a heart-warming story of Dillon the Donkey, an ordinary donkey with an extraordinary dream that takes him on a journey that will change his life which has been specially written and composed by Daniel Whibley; The Bear and the Piano, an exclusive animated film based on the award-winning book by David Litchfield with narration recorded by Joanna Lumley and music by Daniel Whibley which has become a family favourite for the next generation; or the most Christmassy of seasonal pieces, The Nutcracker, brought to life by Tom Scott's mesmerising animated film. The full tour listings here will advise which animation is being shown at your chosen venue.

If you would like to get a feeling for The Snowman Tour, 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 the time of writing, but are subject to change. I would therefore always recommend visiting the companies own website in order to obtain the most up to date information.

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

Saturday Night Fever at Storyhouse, Chester - Preview

The summer holidays are well and truly over and after enjoying 6 weeks with both my husband and children, I would be lying if I said I wasn't missing them today. However, every cloud has a silver lining and whilst I am a little sad about waving goodbye to the summer sunshine, I am incredibly excited about Autumn and some of the events that are lined up for the North West over the coming months.

You may have seen on previous blog posts that Storyhouse in Chester is one of my favourite theatres and I feel so fortunate to have this fantastic arts facility just minutes away from our home. The upcoming Autumn schedule is absolutely jam-packed full of some incredible shows and what better way to start the season than with Bill Kenwright's reimagined and revitalised stage version of cult film Saturday Night Fever.

Disco fever will be descending on the Storyhouse from Tuesday 10th September to Saturday 14th September when this smash hit show arrives in the city and tickets are on sale now.

Image credit: Pamela Raith Photography

Saturday Night Fever tells the story of Tony Manero and his reckless yet thrilling road to dancing success. It is directed and produced by Bill Kenwright, with choreography by Olivier Award winning Bill Deamer, designs by Gary McCann, lighting by Nick Richings, and sound by Dan Samson. The stage adaptation is by Robert Stigwood in collaboration with Bill Oakes.

West End star Richard Winsor reprises his role as Tony Manero, stepping into the iconic white suit for the Autumn 2019 tour. He has performed around the world, starring as the principle dancer with Matthew Bourne for 10 years. He then landed the lead role in the cult dance film StreetDance 3D and later went on to play Caleb Knight in the BBC flagship medical drama Casualty.

Richard Winsor will be joined by Olivia Fines (Stephanie), Brandon Gale (Double J), Owen Broughton (Gus), Ross Clifton (Joey), and Will Luckett (Bobbie C).

In this newly updated and reimagined musical revival, which launched in August 2018, the cast will also be joined on stage by Danny Knott, Jake Byrom and James Kenneth Haughan in the roles of the Bee Gees, singing the hit soundtrack of all the disco classics.

Completing the cast are Faizal Jay (DJ Monty), Grant Neal (Frank Senior), Melody Jones (Flo Manero), Natasha Firth (Annette), and Phil Mennell (Frank Junior).

The ensemble features Benjamin Harrold, Brett Shiels, Fletcher Dobinson, Grace Swaby, Helen Gulston, Jade Heusen, Robert Anthony, Sophie Sass, and Zoe Heighton.

Image credit: Pamela Raith Photography

The musical features the Bee Gees' greatest hits including Stayin' Alive, How Deep Is Your Love, Night Fever, Tragedy and More Than a Woman, as well as 1970's favourites Boogie Shoes, Disco Inferno and, for the first time, will feature a group playing the Bee Gees live.

Tickets for Saturday Night Fever are on sale now and range in price from £20.50 to £46.50. Each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee. Group rates are also available Tuesday to Thursday. Please note that the show is not suitable for children and has an age guide of 14+.

To find out more about the show, you can visit the following website and social media pages:

Website - www.kenwright.com
Twitter - @BKL_Productions
Instagram - @BKLProductions

Listing Details

Show - Saturday Night Fever
Venue - Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, CH1 2AR
Dates - Tuesday 10th September 2019 to Saturday 14th September 2019

Tuesday 10th September 2019 at 7:30pm
Wednesday 11th September 2019 at 2:30pm
Wednesday 11th September 2019 at 7:30pm
Thursday 12th September 2019 at 2:30pm
Thursday 12th September 2019 at 7:30pm
Friday 13th September 2019 at 7:30pm
Saturday 14th September 2019 at 2:30pm
Saturday 14th September 2019 at 7:30pm

Please note that the show is suitable for ages 14+.

Ticket prices - Tickets are available from £20.50 to £46.50 and each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee. Group rates are available Tuesday to Thursday.

Storyhouse has a dynamic pricing policy on the majority of shows, ensuring the earlier you book your tickets, guarantees the best seats at the lowest price.

How to Book

Online: www.storyhouse.com
By Phone: Call 01244 409113
In Person: Visit the Ticket Kiosks at Storyhouse, Hunter Street, Chester, CH1 2AR.

Further information on Storyhouse can be found on their website and social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.storyhouse.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/storyhouselive
Twitter - @StoryhouseLive

Image credit: Pamela Raith Photography

*Disclaimer - Details provided are believed to be correct at the time of writing, however 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. Post written using press release from BEA.

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Making Slime with The Hangrees - A Review

Well there is no denying that my boys absolutely love slime, whether it be making their own, playing with ready made tubs or spilling it all over my carpet, it is certainly a favourite in our home. Therefore when they were offered the chance to review one of the coolest new slime making toys on the market, they quite literally jumped at the chance to have some fun with The Hangrees!

The Hangrees are a new range of outrageous slime collectables, that come in a selection of parody figures such as Harry Plopper, Chew-kaka and Fartnite. They look hilarious and instantly appealed to my boys, but would they be as good as they looked?

We received a large box through the post which was packed full of goodies including three new Hangrees and a selection of food items in parody packaging. The contents of the box had the boys in giggles almost instantly as they pulled out a large tube of Poo-ringles and a pack of Diaritos. I must admit that my inner child also found these quite hilarious. We also received a packet of Reek's, a Booger King bag, a whoopee cushion, a Farnite Hangree, a Chew-kaka Hangree and a Five Nights of Farts Hangree.


They both selected the Fartnite one to try first, so we carefully opened the packaging and laid the contents out on the table. From previous slime making experience I know that this can get quite messy, so I ensured that we placed a towel across the table before we got creative. This proved to be a wise choice as there were a couple of spillages along the way.

Inside the box we found the following contents:

  • 1 x Hangrees Character
  • 1 x Food Parody container
  • 1 x Mixing Ball (this can be found inside the container)
  • 1 x Texture Packet
  • 1 x Powder Mixture
  • 1 x Mini Toilet Tub
  • 1 x Instruction Sheet
  • 1 x Collectors Sheet

I had a brief read through the instruction steps and was pleased to see that it sounded it extremely simple, so we began to create our Hangrees Fartnite slime.


Firstly we opened the texture packet and the powder and emptied these into our Farter Farms Uni Corn Dogs container. Ben then went to fill up the toilet tub with water which needs to come up to the fill line. Whilst he did this, I held the container tightly shut and shook it well to mix the texture mixture and powder together.



We stood our Fartnite character on a flat surface, raised his head and tongue and then emptied the water from the toilet into his body. You need to ensure that the character is in the standing position, otherwise if his right leg is raised then the water will come out of the hole at the bottom.

Once we had poured the water in, then the fun part began of adding the powdery mix and creating the slime. We carefully poured the powder into the character body, before then closing the head and shaking well for just over a minute. You could reopen the head at this point to check on the mixture, but we had followed the instructions well, so we were confident that we had done everything correctly and therefore simply continued with the slime-making steps.



We then sat our character above the toilet and raised his left leg to help position him on the loo. Once I was confident that his bum was safely over the toilet bowl, we then raised his other leg to put him into the sitting position that would allow him to enjoy a slime poo!

On first glance it did look quite runny, but the instructions said to leave it to set before playing, so we did exactly that and returned to our Fartnite Hangree 15-20 minutes later. At this point we did indeed have the perfect slime which was gooey, sticky and very stretchy. The toilet does have a lid, so this can also be used as a great storage tub for the slime.



Both of my boys were very impressed and the products also provided us with plenty of laughs. Our towel did experience a couple of spillages from the powder, water and slime, but we had expected this and to be honest my boys find making a mess all part of the fun. 


There are currently 20 Hangrees to collect in Series One and they are recommended as being suitable for children aged 8+. They currently retail at £9.99 each which I think is actually great value for money, compared to other collectables on the market. The fact that the characters can also be easily cleaned and kept on display once you have made the slime is another great plus point. They come in a great range of popular characters and both Riley and Ben have already picked out which ones they will be looking for next. Overall we thought that The Hangrees were great and cannot wait to build on our collection.

The Hangrees are currently available for purchase in most major toy retailers including Smyths Toys, The Entertainer and Amazon.

For further information you can visit The Hangrees website or their social media pages on the following channels:

YouTube - The Hangrees
Instagram - @TheHangrees


*Disclaimer - We were gifted the above products for the purpose of writing an honest review of the toys. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains an Amazon affiliate link.



Sunday, 1 September 2019

Our Trip to Domaine Des Ormes with Al Fresco Holidays - A Review

This summer we have had the pleasure of spending a week at Domaine Des Ormes in Northern Brittany with Al Fresco Holidays. Situated near the quiet town of Dol de Bretagne and only a half hour drive from the port of Saint Malo, this site offers absolutely everything you could possibly need for a fun-filled family adventure.

Whether you are looking for somewhere to simply relax, enjoy a spot of fishing, or want a holiday that can provide an abundance of activities for all ages, then Domaine Des Ormes certainly ticks all the boxes. It is also a fantastic base to visit some points of interest such as Mont St Michel or Dinard.

In the weeks leading up to our stay, I spent some time planning our trip and making plans, which I wrote about in a preview post that can be found here. Some of the information I found out prior to our journey proved to be really useful, especially in terms of budgeting and finding out tips from guests who had stayed there previously. This was our fourth press trip with Al Fresco Holidays, but we are also regular customers so it was our 9th holiday with them in total, therefore even if I hadn't undertaken any research, I already knew that we would be sure to have a fantastic time away.

Al Fresco Holidays know that everyone looks for something different when choosing their perfect holiday, which is why they have a fantastic range of sites on offer ranging from the small and quiet, to the large and lively. They specialise in family mobile home holidays throughout Europe in a great choice of locations and with wonderful facilities too. Each site also has a selection of travel options to consider and Al Fresco can help you find the right park to suit your needs, whether you are looking for somewhere that you can drive to in your own car, or would like to take a ferry or flight.


The Journey to Domaine Des Ormes

For our journey we chose to take an overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo with Brittany Ferries. Flying into a nearby airport was also an option, as were some shorter ferry crossings from Portsmouth to Caen, but this would have resulted in a longer drive time in France, so we thought that the overnight ferry would be a fun new experience for us all to try. I will be honest though and say that I was incredibly nervous about staying in an inside cabin on the ferry and I had heard various stories about sea-sickness which did give me a little cause for concern, however I needn't have been worried.

We set off from our home in North Wales at 6am planning approximately 5 hours for our journey to Portsmouth with a breakfast stop along the way. Our ferry wasn't due to depart until 8:30pm that evening, so we made the most of the day and visited Marwell Zoo in Hampshire along the way, before visiting a local restaurant for dinner and then checking in for our boat at 6:30pm. The check in process was extremely quick and simple and despite being randomly selected for a security search of our vehicle, we completed the whole process and were ready to board within half an hour of arriving.

Boarding the ferry was just as simple and a member of staff guided us into a parking space on the boat. We had packed a separate overnight bag so we removed this and our cooler box from our vehicle and then made our way to our cabins to see what they were like. As a family of 5 there wasn't an individual cabin that could sleep all five of us, so we had split into two rooms of an inside 4 berth cabin which was on deck 2 and an inside 2 berth cabin which was located on Deck 8.


We were pleasantly surprised by both cabins, with them feeling much larger than I had expected. They were compact, but not as much as I thought they would be and each of them had their own en suite facilities with toilet, sink and shower. They were surprisingly comfortable and the pull down beds were easy enough to move and put into place. After viewing our cabins for the night, I immediately became more relaxed about the journey and we made our way to the show bar area to enjoy the evening entertainment.

The bar area was really spacious and my husband and eldest son would pop in and out onto the outside viewing deck in between entertainment to admire the views. The seating was clean and comfortable and there were more than enough tables and chairs for all guests. We were treated to a cabaret show, family quiz, children's disco and some kids fun and games, where both of my boys won certificates for telling jokes on the stage. The drink and snack prices were also really reasonable and we ended up staying in this area until around 10:30pm, at which point we returned to our cabins for some sleep.

Although I had been nervous before our trip, the journey was far better than I had expected and every single one of us managed to enjoy a full nights sleep before being awoken by the ferry morning alarm at 6am. This gives you time to pack up your cabin and enjoy some breakfast should you wish to, prior to disembarkation. Before we knew it, we were driving off the ferry and ready to enjoy our week long holiday together.

As we drove off the ferry and into the port, our sat nav app decided not to work, so there was a slight panic that we had no idea which way to go. Thankfully it seemed as though everyone was exiting the same way, so we decided to follow the crowd until we reached somewhere safe to pull over and used our data to obtain some directions. Luckily for us, it was a really straightforward journey to the campsite and only takes around half an hour from St Malo. Approximately 15 minutes into the drive we also began to see signs for Domaine Des Ormes, which meant that we ultimately managed to find the site with ease.


Our First Impressions of Domaine Des Ormes

We arrived on site at around 9am, however it is not possible to check in to the accommodation until 4pm. I was aware of this prior to travelling, so we had already made sure that we had some snacks and drinks ready for the day, as well as planning some activities to do to keep the children busy. We entered the main reception to make the staff aware that we were there and they provided us with our wristbands so that we could enjoy the site whilst waiting. The Al Fresco representative was friendly and welcoming and also provided some suggestions of activities that we could do. He also said that he had made the cleaning staff aware that we were already on site, so should our accommodation be available sooner, then he would give us a call which I thought was great service.


We decided to take a walk around the site first, in order to get our bearings and find out where everything was. The site has a really useful app called Les Ormes which features a map, copies of menus, lists of activities and a diary of events and shows. We therefore used the map to search for areas of the site that were of interest to us, which we found helpful. However, we certainly didn't need the map to spot The Dome, which is an incredible new building that covers a pool, lazy river, slides and wave pool. My children thought this looked amazing and I promised them that we would take a closer look once it was open later that day.


Accommodation

After a lovely morning exploring we received a call at around 1pm to inform us that our accommodation was ready earlier than expected and that we were welcome to make our way to the mobile home. We collected the key from reception and followed the directions that were provided. The site is very large, but it is easy to find your way around and there are signs pointing to each named area.

Al Fresco Holidays mobile homes are well equipped, comfortable, clean and modern. A large proportion of the mobile homes also come with decking areas, sun canopies and barbecues, so you can also make the most of the outdoor space as well. They are perfect for families as some of them can accommodate up to 8 people making them a very cost effective holiday option.


Within a few minutes we had found our Vivaldi Lounge mobile home and parked up outside. On all previous parks we have stayed at, we have been taken to our accommodation and shown around, so I did kind of miss this personal touch that we have been used to before. However, my husband said he actually preferred just being left to it, so I guess that this just comes down to personal preference.


Our plot was a really nice size and we had a large outdoor decking area complete with rattan furniture, as well as a lawned area with sun loungers that gave the children plenty of room to play outside. There was a nice amount of space between each mobile home, so you didn't feel like you were being overlooked and the grounds were all well maintained.


I absolutely loved being able to sit outside on the decking in the evening and enjoy a glass of wine as the sun set in the distance. It was so peaceful and tranquil and it was definitely one of my favourite places to just chill out and relax.

The Dome

Once we had settled in to our accommodation and unpacked the car, my children were excitedly asking for us to return to The Dome. This is a wonderful building which has covered some of the pre-existing facilities, as well as allowing the development of some new pool and splash areas, which can now be enjoyed whatever the weather. At 20 metres in height and 75 metres in diameter, it is quite outstanding and offers a tropical swimming area with water heated to 29 degrees celsius. My children were amazed by the building and my husband and I were equally impressed.


Although it wasn't fully complete during our visit, some slides, a lazy river ride, wave pool and lounger areas were all open for us to enjoy and we were also able to watch the completion of the new lazy river and splash zone, which then opened the day after we left. The staff were working so hard to get everything open as quickly as possible, but it was great to be able to enjoy the majority of the facilities during our stay.


My children particularly enjoyed the wave pool, especially as floats were also allowed. We had brought an inflatable crocodile, unicorn and some rings with us, so the kids were really pleased that they were able to use them to ride the waves. During our stay the wave pool would start at quarter past every hour and then last for twenty minutes. The waves would start off quite slow, before becoming fast and high which was great fun. There were also ropes placed either side of the pool that you could hold onto during the waves and use them to guide yourself out if you needed to, which I thought was a great safety feature.


The slides were also very popular with all of us and were great fun. It was lovely to be able to race down them with my children and make a big splash at the end. There was also a bubble spa area where you could relax on hidden loungers, which we also really enjoyed.


We loved The Dome so much that we actually ended up visiting every single day. On one evening during our stay there was a fantastic pool party that took place in darkness with a DJ and disco lights that lit up the whole building. It was a fantastic atmosphere and everyone was dancing away, including the staff. The pool party was one of our favourite evenings during the holiday and I am sure it will be a memory that my children will talk about for quite some time.

The weather was very hit and miss during our stay so The Dome proved to be essential for us, however if you prefer the great outdoors, then there are also a variety of other pools available to enjoy. These can be found at the Aquaparc which is a short distance from the dome, or alternatively there is an outdoor pool adjacent to The Club House and another at the Hotel which park guests are also welcome to use.


Activities

There are so many activities available to enjoy at Domaine Des Ormes including some that are completely free of charge such as The Pyracord, Aquafit, Football, Slip and Slide, Swimming and Fishing to name just a few.

In addition to the free options, there is also a wide variety of paid for activities, which are all offered at very reasonable prices. Emma and Ben absolutely loved the Zip Wire which cost only 6 euros for two goes. I thought that this was great value for money considering that all equipment is included and training is also provided to ensure guest safety, prior to using the wire. The Zip Wire travels past The Pyracord and over the large grass area, before heading over the pedal boat lake. Ben was a little nervous at first due to his fear of heights, but he absolutely loved it and couldn't wait to have another go.




Although Riley was old enough to take part in the Zip Wire, he decided to give it a miss and opted to go for a pony ride instead. He absolutely adores animals and he was so excited about seeing the ponies at the stables and going for a ride. This activity cost 10 euros for half an hour and there is no staff instruction, so you have to be comfortable at leading your child around a designated track by yourself. For older children aged 12+ you can also go horse riding with an instructor for an increased cost of 21 euros for an hour.


Riley was so happy riding his pony and he literally didn't stop smiling the whole time. The walk was well laid out and easy to follow so there was no risk of getting lost. Our pony was good as gold and we gave him lots of cuddles whilst on our ride. It was such a lovely moment seeing him so happy and he is now keen to start horse riding lessons at home.


Ben's favourite activity throughout the week was fishing and we spent a lot of time at the fishing lake near to the golf course. This was a beautiful and well maintained area, which was surrounded by tree houses and a huge lawned area where we could play with the stunning chateau in the background. There is no licence required for guests to fish on the lake, so as we had brought all our own equipment with us, this made it a completely free activity for us to enjoy. We were also regularly joined by a family of beavers, who would come right up on the bank to say hello, which Riley thought was amazing.



Other activities included a climbing wall, a high ropes course, archery, wakeboarding, golf, archery tag, crazy golf, gyrotrainning, paintball, tennis, pedalo hire, an escape room and a variety of different sports.


If you really wanted to treat yourself, then we also noticed the opportunity to go on a half hour helicopter ride, which looked incredible and we would often see the helicopter taking off and soaring through the sky. This costs 100 euros per person and requires a minimum of three people to take place. We have decided that if we do return next year, then we are going to save and treat ourselves to a special helicopter tour of the area.


Kids Club

Al Fresco and Eurocamp both work together to provide an excellent kids club, which is also completely free of charge to attend for their guests. Each club is split into different age groups with a huge variety of activities available.

We viewed the schedule of activities in the main reception and then went to the kids club tents to obtain some registration forms. These allow you to fill in your child's details, note down any medical needs or allergies and also provide consent for photographs and parent pick up. If they are in the older group then you can also give your permission for your child to sign themselves in and out which I did for my eldest daughter Emma who is 12.

Riley can be extremely shy, so although he wanted to try kids club he was very nervous about being left on his own. I explained this to the member of staff and she showed me to a picnic bench outside where she said I could wait if I wanted to, so that Riley could see that I was still there. This really helped to encourage Riley to join in and he very quickly made friends with some of the other children.

It was great to have a Kids Club available for my children to use and a fantastic way for them to make some new friends. Riley particularly enjoyed the Bubble Workshop and loved creating and popping all of the bubbles.


Food and Drink

A major benefit of the Al Fresco mobile homes is that they contain all the equipment that you need to prepare meals and self cater. We brought a lot of food cupboard basics with us such as tins, pasta, sauces and drinks and then bought some fresh items from the on-site Spar shop. There was also several large supermarkets all within a reasonable driving distance, but we had no need to use these during our stay.

When on holiday though it is nice to be able to treat yourselves and enjoy a good meal out together. Domaine Des Ormes offers numerous restaurant options ranging from a Creperie to a Pizzeria. We used the pizzeria and takeaway a couple of times during our stay and found the prices to be reasonable for resort restaurants.



My children particularly liked the Pink Cabin which served a huge selection of ice creams, waffles and pancakes on a daily basis between 2:30pm to 11pm. I initially thought that 2.50 euros for one scoop was expensive, but just look at the size of them! I am reliably informed by my family that they were absolutely delicious too. Unfortunately the Pink Cabin is only seasonal though and according to the Les Ormes app it is open between the 6th July to the 31st August.


The Club House offer a fantastic menu of French brasserie style cuisine and it is open all year round. The Bar is open everyday from 8am til 9pm and the restaurant is open between 11:30am til 3pm for lunch and from 7pm til 9pm for dinner. The menu features a selection of salads, sharing plates, pasta dishes and popular mains such as Grilled Rib Steak and Chicken Casserole. A kids meal deal was also available at a cost of 8 euros and included a main, dessert and drink which I thought was good value.

A snacking service is also available throughout the day and when the weather is nice, you can enjoy your food on the outside terrace which overlooks the beautiful chateau. Another restaurant was Pizzeria Chez Madeleine which offered views of the outdoor Aquaparc or the shows in the evening. They sold a great range of pizzas, salads, pastas and desserts and just like The Club House, they also offered a children's meal deal of a main, dessert and drink for a slightly higher price of 9.50 euros.

As we had taken a large amount of food out with us, we mainly self catered and also made use of the outdoor BBQ, however we did use the pizzeria and takeaway at Chez Madeleine on a couple of occasions and the food was delicious and plentiful.


Entertainment

Our experience with the entertainment was somewhat affected by the weather during our stay. Domaine Des Ormes has a superb schedule of shows, but the majority of these take place outdoors so sadly several shows were understandably cancelled. We had heard fantastic reviews about a light and sound experience which takes place on the outer walls of the chateau and is preceded by a large picnic party. This is where guests can gather and enjoy a huge picnic together, but a large thundery shower a few hours earlier led to this not going ahead. All was not lost though, as it was replaced with a pool party inside The Dome which we all really enjoyed.


We did manage to watch a couple of the shows though, the first being the Big Show Superhero which saw the likes of Batman, Ironman, Spiderman and The Joker all battle it out around the Aquaparc. It was fantastic and was a much higher standard that what I had expected. This was followed by a firework display, which again was superb and a lovely way to end an evening.

Riley really enjoyed the Kids Disco where the entertainment staff would teach children the dance moves to some popular party favourites. There was also the opportunity to meet the Les Ormes mascot at the end of the disco, which he was very happy about. As Riley is so shy, his older brother Ben always joins him to help offer encouragement and reassurance which is lovely to see.

Other entertainment that was available throughout our stay was a children's mini disco, karaoke, an ABBA night and an 80's night in Bar Du Moulin.


Local Attractions

We had initially planned to spend a couple of days off site visiting some local attractions, but my children were so happy making the most of all the facilities that were available, that we actually ended up staying on the park throughout the whole week.

However, there is plenty to see and do in the local area and some of the nearby towns and attractions looked fantastic. The reception area has plenty of information on everything that there is to do, as well as having plenty of leaflets available on places to visit.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mont Saint-Michel is only a 40 minute drive away and you can park all day for 13 euros, which includes a shuttle service to take you across the bay. At the top of the village streets there stands a stunning abbey, which I am sure offers some incredible views.

If you would like a trip to the beach, then the seaside city of Dinard is also a 40 minute drive and offers great views of the bay. A few kilometres past Dinard is Plage de Longchamp in Saint-Lunaire which offers a great spot for some surfing.

Family attractions such as Alligator Bay near Mont St-Michel and The Grand Aquarium in Saint Malo are also great options for day trips. We drove past The Grand Aquarium on our way back to the port and it looked absolutely huge!

Our Journey Home

We were all so sad when it came to leaving Domaine Des Ormes as the week had quite literally flown by. We left the site just after 8am, so our Al Fresco representative came to check us out the night before and to return our cleaning deposit which meant that we didn't need to worry about waiting around in the morning.

The journey back to the port was really straightforward and we hardly came across any traffic on the way, making it a nice and pleasant drive. On arrival in the port the process was just as quick and easy as when we had arrived and was simply just a case of providing our reservation number and passports, before being guided into our queue line ready to board the ferry.

As this was a daytime crossing we had no cabin booked, which in hindsight I wish we had done, just so we had somewhere private to go and relax and charge our phones in between the daytime entertainment. The journey crossing was due to take around 8 hours and with daytime cabins only costing around £26 for a four berth, then I would definitely book one of these in the future.

We certainly felt the crossing a little more on the return journey and it did get our tummy's turning at times. Riley also suffered with some dizziness, so we did our best to distract him as much as we could with the onboard entertainment. We enjoyed a full cooked breakfast shortly after departure, where the kids were each provided with a goody bag and we then heard an announcement to tell us that there was a cinema on board and tickets were available to purchase.

I went to the reception and was delighted to see that they were showing Toy Story 4, so we booked tickets for the 12:30pm show. This cost us £25 for a family of five, so it was also far cheaper than if we went to a normal local cinema. Riley didn't complain once during this so I think that having something to concentrate on definitely helped him on the journey.

Straight after the film the entertainment staff put on a fantastic pantomime of Peter Pan, so again this kept the kids busy for another couple of hours and made the time pass far more quickly. There was even the opportunity to have your picture taken with the cast after the show.


Our Al Fresco Holidays Experience

Overall we had a fantastic time at Domaine Des Ormes and we are already looking at booking to return next Easter. We loved the huge variety of activities that were available, which meant that we could have a relaxing day just fishing and sunbathing by the lake, whilst the next day could be completely action packed with high ropes, horse riding, swimming and watersports.

The Al Fresco Holidays experience was superb as usual from start to finish and if we ever went to the main reception with any questions, we could always find a representative to speak to. Prior to our holiday I also spoke with several chat representatives online to ask various questions and every advisor that I spoke to was polite, courteous and offered great customer service.

Our accommodation was spacious and comfortable and we particularly enjoyed the outdoor seating which gave us a lovely place to relax in the evening. I felt that the mobile homes were nicely spaced out which also gave you some privacy without feeling overlooked.

If you are therefore looking for a holiday park that offers plenty of activities amongst beautiful countryside surroundings, then I would definitely recommend Domaine Des Ormes!

For further information on Al Fresco Holidays, you can visit their website or social media pages on the following channels:

Website - www.alfresco-holidays.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/alfrescoholidays
Twitter - @AlFrescoHols
Instagram - @alfresco_hols
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/user/AlfrescoALF

There are currently some fantastic offers available on 2020 holidays, so be sure to check out their deals and availability here - https://www.alfresco-holidays.com/deals-offers-inspiration/2020-holidays


*Disclaimer: This was a press trip, which means that we were provided with complimentary accommodation and ferry travel for the purpose of writing an honest review of our experience. Food, drinks, activities and other associated travel costs were all at our own expense. Opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated. This post contains affiliate links.