Showing posts with label Blog. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Blog. Show all posts

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Happy New Year - It's 2019!!

I would like to thank each and every one of my readers for taking the time to support the blog during 2018. The site has grown from strength to strength and we have some exciting new projects planned for 2019 which I cannot wait to get started on. We have worked with some amazing brands, attractions and travel companies in the past 12 months and look forward to sharing more news and reviews over the coming year. We would therefore like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year!


Sunday, 9 April 2017

A Family Visit to Puxton Park - A Review

We are very fortunate to get the opportunity to visit numerous attractions throughout the year, and we love to share our opinions with our readers. Whilst many of the places we visit are indeed fantastic, occasionally an absolute gem of a place will crop up, as was the case with Puxton Park, located near Weston-Super-Mare in Somerset.


For the past week we have been staying in a beautiful lodge in Burnham-on-Sea which was approximately a 30 minute drive away from Puxton Park. I had taken a look at the website before visiting and the attraction was described as "The ultimate fun-filled experience for the family". Following a browse through the online photographs, I had expectations of the attraction being a farm park with a large indoor play area, and whilst it does contain both those elements, Puxton Park is actually a whole lot more.

Our journey to the attraction was really easy, with it being located a short distance from the M5 motorway. It is very well signposted, and there is a very large sign located at the main entrance, so it would be hard to miss. The sun was shining and it was an absolutely lovely day to be visiting, so we were slightly concerned that parking may be an issue, however we were pleased to find that there was a huge car park, with ample parking spaces for guests.

On entry we found the reception area within a large foyer where there is plenty of room for guests waiting to enter the park. The staff on the desk were very friendly, and we were provided with directions to the entry doors, and a map so that we could find our way easily around the attraction.
In the past we have visited and reviewed attractions as a family of five, however on this occasion, the grandparents had come along too, and so it was great to be able to also obtain their opinion on the day and views from their perspective as well.


There are some toilet facilities located near the main entrance, and so we had a quick loo stop before entering. The toilets were quite low down, and so it meant that Riley was able to use the toilet without any assistance, and Nana also commented that the facilities were extremely clean. This was at the start of the day, however we visited them again several times throughout our visit, and they remained spotless.


On entering the park, we decided to make our way to the back of the site, and then work our way forwards. However, on the way, Riley spotted some electric tractors and quickly hopped on. These carried a small additional charge of £1, but lasted for three laps, and were very easy for Riley to control. He really enjoyed this, and we returned to this part of the attraction several times throughout the day. Next to this were some pedal powered tractors, all in a range of different sizes and aimed at under 5's. Riley really enjoyed making way around the tractor course and it was a lovely activity to start the day.



We then continued to make our way to Pets Village and the animal enclosures. We were immediately very impressed with the cleanliness in this area, and could clearly see that it is very well cared for and maintained well. Whilst here. we had the opportunity to watch an animal show, where the presenter provided information on several different animals including a chicken, goat, and a hare. The presenter spoke loudly and clearly, but also in an engaging manner that kept even the youngest of visitors interested. Guests were then invited down at the end of the talk to meet and stroke some of the animals, and the staff were also happy to answer any questions.




The bunny and guinea pig area was lovely, and the hutches had been cleverly decorated to resemble small town buildings including the local supermarket 'Miceland' a school and 'Toast Tails Fire Station'.



Our particular favourite was Meerkat Manor, where it was lovely to see the busy meerkats interacting with one another in their large enclosure. There were viewing windows all around the enclosure to make it easy for children to see, and the wall was short enough for adults to see over, so there was ample space for everyone to get a good view. There was a beautiful moment, where the meerkat on watch was joined by two others, and they all stood together perfectly still for several minutes. Absolutely adorable!



Next stop was the Puxton Farm & Dairy, which houses an organic herd of 150 pedigree Holstein cows as well as some beautiful Jersey cows. This part of the attraction is so well thought out, and the cow shed also features a maternity paddock, and nursery section. The walkway is located above the cows, so that they remain undisturbed, whilst guests get a view of the expectant mothers, and newly born calfs. There are also clear signs full of fun and interesting facts at frequent intervals along and around the walkway.




Just outside the main animal area, were some trampolines that were built into the ground. Riley, Emma and Ben burnt off some energy here whilst we had a quick sit down in the sunshine, before they ran over to the maze located next door. The maze is a simple but fun idea made out of fencing, and the kids absolutely loved it. Riley kept bursting into giggles every time they realised they had made a wrong turn.


It was at this point that Grandad commented on how fantastic the disabled access was around the park. There were ramps to reach the cow shed area, and the ground was very even and flat throughout the attraction. There was ample space between each area, to allow room for wheelchairs or the use of mobility scooters, and benches were sited near each activity to provide a comfortable place to sit down. We have visited numerous places in the past where due to uneven ground, Grandad has had to hire a mobility scooter, but here he was able to get round fine with the use of his walking stick and found plenty of places to have a rest when needed.

We all began to get a little thirsty at this point, and so we decided to find the restaurant to stop for some lunch and a drink. On the way, we came across a lovely miniature railway which took you on a quick tour around a small lake. This was really enjoyable for all of us, and a wonderful activity to have within the park.


When we reached the restaurant, we were really impressed with the prices of the food. Most places over inflate the prices, but we found it to be really reasonable here, and the meals looked absolutely delicious. We had eaten a large breakfast prior to setting off that morning, and so didn't need a big lunch, which was a shame as the carvery looked spectacular, and I must admit that I was slightly envious of other peoples plates. The kids all had tubs of ice cream which were tasty, Mr F enjoyed a large slice of cake, whilst Nana enjoyed a wonderful Tuna Salad. We also all had some drinks, which again were fairly priced.

Whilst making our way to the restaurant we had noticed a large JCB Dig & Play area, which was a huge sand play zone which featured several large JCB models that children could climb on. Riley absolutely loved playing here, and could have quite happily sat here for hours. Emma and Ben joined in for a while, before heading over to the Jumping Pillow area whilst the queue was small. I was happy to see that safety was of importance, and noticed that the man in charge of this activity would only let a few children on at a time. We have been to a few places where there isn't even any supervision on these and so this was a great thing to see.


When we had first arrived at Puxton Park, and were travelling down their long drive way, we had noticed that there was a sign for a car boot sale to be held in one of the fields. Never one to miss a bargain, we decided to take a stroll down the drive to have a little wander around, and so we checked with the gentleman on reception that it would be ok to return in a short while. He said this was no problem at all, and stamped our hands to ensure there would be no issue when we came back.

When we returned from the car boot, we topped up our sun cream by the car, and dropped off our coats to save carrying them around, and headed back into the park. We went straight over to the bumper boats, which seemed to be the most popular activity as there was a large queue, however this did reduce quite quickly. There was also plenty of seating for anyone not riding the boats, which gave you a nice place to stop and have a rest whilst other guest in your party queued for the ride. This was the highlight of the day for the kids, as although they have ridden on bumper boats before, these ones could also spray and squirt water on other riders, ensuring that you got very wet! Children had to be over 1.4 metres to ride this on their own, but an adult could ride with any children smaller than this.



As our day out was drawing to a close, we paid one last trip to the fantastic outdoor adventure playground before ending our visit in the huge indoor play area featuring slides galore! The kids had an absolute ball in here, and there was plenty to do for all ages. The slides also included two scary drop slides which my son plucked up the courage to do, but my daughter passed on this, and I definitely didn't blame her as I wouldn't have done it either.

Overall we had an absolutely fantastic day at Puxton Park, and it is easy to see why they have recently won 'Experience of the Year' in the Bristol Lifestyle Awards 2017. The whole attraction was beautifully laid out, well cared for, and spotlessly clean throughout. All staff that we encountered were courteous, polite and friendly, and we felt that the entry prices offered excellent value for money. We could have quite easily visited for a second day had our schedule for the week not been full, as there were several activities that we did not experience including the crazy golf, falconry display and tractor ride, and so we will definitely make a point of returning should we be in the area again soon.

Entry prices are as follows:

Adults: £8.90
Children: £9.90 (2-16 years)
Children under 2 can enter for free.
Concessions £6.90
Family Ticket (4 persons) £36.00
Late Entry (After 3:30pm) £4.00

There is also a reduced rate available for disabled guests, who can pay the blue badge holder price of £3. As mentioned earlier in the review, the park is completely wheelchair friendly. Carers are also permitted entry free of charge, as long as relevant identification can be provided on arrival. For further information please visit this page of their website: Entry Prices

For further information on all the facilities then please visit the Puxton Park website here: Puxton Park

Disclaimer: We received a complimentary family admission for the purpose of providing an honest and impartial review. All opinions and photographs are my own unless otherwise stated.


Friday, 16 December 2016

Our Review of the Cbeebies Magazine!

Nowadays, with all the apps available online, and the huge range of children's channels available on TV, it has become common place to allow your children to sit on the sofa, lie in bed, or even sit at the table during mealtimes to watch their favourite shows or play their chosen fun games. Whilst some of these can still be very educational for a child and also a great tool for when you need 5 minutes to yourself, I personally really enjoy getting my children to do fun activities that stretch the imagination, and encourage them to read, get creative, and enjoy being active.


Riley and I were therefore really pleased to receive a copy of Cbeebies magazine, which was absolutely jam packed full with 43 pages of fun activities, and stories for him to enjoy. He was even more thrilled when he realised that the magazine also came with a bumper selection of colouring tools including pencils, crayons and felt tip pens.


We received edition no 470 which was described on the front page as a BIG colouring issue, and they weren't wrong with plenty of colouring pages inside to keep Riley entertained. The front cover had a wintry theme and featured a whole host of popular Cbeebies characters. Riley enjoyed naming all the stars on the front, before he decided to have a quick scan through the magazine and see what was inside. I was pleased with how many colouring pages there were, as he absolutely loves art (just like his sister). His favourite was the big picture of Bing, Flop and Sula.


On the first inside page, there is a great guide for grown ups, which explains the 6 areas of learning which support early years development, as well as an introduction from the editor informing you what is inside and on which pages you can find certain activities. My son decided that working through the pages in order wasn't for him, and so we just read through it at a pace which suited him, and then worked on whichever activity he chose to do in no particular order.


The whole magazine is really eye catching and colourful which is great for kids to help keep their attention and interest. On each page, there is again a section for grown ups with suggestions for further activities to follow on from what they have just read or drawn which is a great idea.

There was a bedtime story inside based on the clangers, which was great for when we wanted to have some quiet time too as we were able to read the story in the afternoon just after lunch, and again before bedtime, which meant that the magazine was getting plenty of use throughout the day.

In the centre of the magazine, there was a selection of stickers. Unfortunately my son doesn't like to follow any particular rule with where stickers should go, and just likes to stick them anywhere within the magazine. This was ok with me though as he was happy and enjoying sticking them wherever he liked, so as he was having fun, I didn't try and make him stick them in the correct places, and the majority of the activities could still be enjoyed without them.


I liked the Peter Rabbit workbook section which helped Riley to learn more about letters and how to write them by following over the printed letters with a pen, along with a matching game and a sticker activity.

There was a competition too for the chance to win a Talking Ubercorn and Vroomster toys and it was nice to see an opportunity for children to win such a lovely prize.


We had an enjoyable time reading through the magazine and enjoyed the activities together. I noticed that two of the pages within the magazine were taken up by full page advertisements which isn't too excessive compared to other publications. The rear page also advertised the next issue of the magazine which includes a Winter Workbook and shows you how to make your own snowman, reindeer and Santa. This edition is available now from all good newsagents and is priced at £3.99.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a complimentary copy of the magazine for the purpose of providing on honest and impartial review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Santa's Magical Grotto - Liverpool Town Hall

It is a tradition for our family to visit a Santa's Grotto, and we like to try somewhere new each year. I am really enjoying the festive season so far, as my youngest son who is 3, is really starting to enjoy Christmas and has been learning all about the true meaning of Christmas in nursery as well as making lots of craft and talking excitedly about Santa. He was therefore really happy when I told him that we were going to see Santa on Sunday.

The traditional style grotto is housed in The Crypt of the Town Hall, and after being greeted by Santa's Elves, you can follow the Santa trail through a festive fantasy world featuring reindeers, fairytale characters, candy canes and giant gingerbread men.


Santa's Magical Grotto has been described as being bigger and better than ever for Christmas 2016, and it is open each weekend from 26th November to the 11th December and will then be open daily from Friday 16th December to Friday 23rd December.

Lord Mayor, Counciller Roz Gladden, said "Liverpool Town Hall is a Liverpool Landmark - so where better to bring your family and enjoy a traditional magical grotto".

"This year, our excited young visitors (and old ones too!), can look forward to meeting Father Christmas in the grand surrounds of Liverpool Town Hall. We look forward to ensuring everyone has a truly magical time".

We live in North Wales, but Liverpool is within easy travelling distance at only 45 minutes by train or car, and so after reading all about Santa's Magical Grotto in Liverpool, we decided to pay a visit. We often choose to travel by train as the kids really enjoy it, it is more cost effective and there is no worry about finding somewhere to park.


We arrived at the Town Hall just after 10:30am, it was very busy outside due to an event taking place and so I couldn't see any signage other than it was the town hall, so I wasn't entirely sure if we had the right entrance. However, it soon became apparent that we did, as when the door was opened two friendly elves came dashing towards us. The elves were full of enthusiasm and chatted away to the kids. I really enjoyed the fact that the experience began as soon as you walked through the doors, and my son was so happy to have met an actual *real elf!

As we were walking through the festive decorations, our elf guide asked our names and whether we thought we were on the good or naughty list this year. We were then encouraged to shout "SANTA" before being led into his cosy grotto. My son couldn't wait to tell Santa what was on his Christmas list, and I was a little bit worried about what is response would be as my son wants a Dolls House and a Kitchen, and quite a few people have proclaimed (much to my annoyance) that these are girls toys. I was relieved when Santa exclaimed "Well isn't that lovely, I will do my very best to bring you those toys on Christmas Eve as long as you're a very good boy." I was delighted with this reply as my son was grinning from ear to ear and my daughter loved seeing her little brother enjoy the experience so much.


Both children were provided with an early Christmas gift that was neatly wrapped, and I took a picture of the children side by side with Santa. When we left we took some more time to have a closer look at the decorations and take some photos. It was really quiet when we were there so the elves said that we were fine to take a good look and get some pictures.


As we left a lady approached and asked if we wanted to purchase our photograph, however no-one had taken our photo whilst we were there, nor was it mentioned to us whilst in the grotto, so I am not sure if the photographer had just popped out, or simply hadn't been made aware that we were there. This wasn't an issue though as the lady did kindly offer for us to go back down and have our photo taken, but it was at this point I was informed that there was an additional charge for this so I politely declined. I have read a few press reports on the event and note that none of the ones I have read mention the additional charge, so just to make you aware it is £6 for one photo or £10 for two.


For guaranteed entry, tickets can be purchased in advance via Ticketquarter and are priced at £8.25 per child which includes meeting Santa Claus, a selection box, and two accompanying adults (there is a cost of £1.50 for any additional adults). There are also a number of on the day tickets available at a slightly lower price of £7.50 but queues are likely at busier times.

My children really enjoyed the experience, and the elves were all really enthusiastic and friendly, which immediately made my son Riley feel at ease, as he is often very shy with strangers, but he chatted away to the elves and told them his name and age. As we were leaving one of the elves also approached us again, and asked if we had enjoyed meeting Santa and wished us a Merry Christmas.

Once outside I agreed that the children could open their gifts early, so they both unwrapped their presents and chose one of the chocolates to eat whilst we continued our day out in Liverpool and headed to Dreamworks Lights at St Georges Hall.




* Disclaimer - It was not a real elf (or was it????)
I was provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of providing an honest review of the attraction. All opinions are my own.



Sunday, 4 December 2016

The Brilliant & Bizarre Jelly Belly Bean Boozled Game - A Review

Whilst we were brainstorming for our Secret Santa gift ideas, my son mentioned a fun game that some of his friends had recently played. We had already selected 4 great presents to feature, but wanted something fun and little bit different to fill the fifth spot.

The game in question was Bean Boozled Jelly Beans by Jelly Belly, and I immediately thought how fantastic, a game involving sweets, who wouldn't like that? However, my son then went on to explain that these weren't just any jelly beans, and that the game featured some very weird and wonderful flavours.

Keen to discover more about this intriguing game, Jelly Belly kindly sent us a sample to try out for ourselves. When the product arrived, I was both excited and very nervous in equal measures.


The box is really bright and colourful, and immediately my eyes were drawn to the obvious Caution sign at the bottom of the box that said "Caution, contains weird and wild flavours". I was still keen to try it out however and began looking at all the surrounding images on the box which explained the different colours and flavours inside. They were:


  • Multi coloured - Tutti Fruitti flavour or.......Stinky Socks
  • Green - This could be Lime or.....................Lawn Clippings
  • Yellow - Buttered popcorn or.......................Rotten Egg
  • Blue - Berry Blue or.....................................Toothpaste
  • Peach - Peach or...........................................Vomit (This was the one I was most scared of).
  • Brown - Chocolate Pudding or.....................Canned dog food
  • Green - Juicy Pear or....................................Booger
  • White - Coconut or.......................................Baby wipes
The aim of the game is to take a turn on the spinner and see which colour it lands on. Each of the players then pick the corresponding coloured jelly bean. If you choose the tasty flavour then you win a point, but if you choose the bad tasting flavour then you lose a point. If you want to be really skillful then you could try and practice your best poker face and pretend that you are happily munching on buttered popcorn when really its Rotten Egg, but it is definitely not easy to try and pretend that your rotten egg flavour was delicious. Not easy at all! I did try to cheat a little and smell them beforehand to see if you could tell before tasting, and you couldn't smell a thing until it was bitten into, then it became quite obvious.


The great thing about this game, is that it isn't limited on players, so whether there are only 2 of you ready to play or 10, it is an inclusive game for all, the only danger being that you may run out of jelly beans, but you can buy them separately in order to keep them topped up.

We watched a few funny videos on YouTube prior to playing, though I'm not sure whether this was a good idea or not, as one minute I was laughing and the next I was filled with dread as to what they may taste like, but after building myself up to it, I was ready to play!

We sat down in the evening a couple of hours after eating our dinner, and the kids were already laughing before we had even began. My husband was confident that none of the flavours would bother him, and I was merely sat there wondering what on earth I had let myself in for. My son chose to spin first and it landed on blue. I was somewhat relieved by this, as the thought of a toothpaste jelly bean didn't bother me too much, but miraculously we all had correct Berry Blue flavour.

Next up my daughter took her turn to spin and it landed on brown, I was quite looking forward to trying a chocolate pudding jelly bean, but oh no, as soon as I bit into it, it tasted just how dog food smells and despite my best efforts to keep my disgusted face hidden, I just couldn't do it. I quickly ran to the kitchen to grab a drink, which in hindsight I should have made sure we all had before playing. The kids were all laughing hysterically at my panicked face, which was then making me giggle too whilst desperately trying to remove the dog food flavour from my tongue. I swear I can still taste it now.

I will hold my hand up at this point and admit that I excluded myself from the game when it landed on the peach colour, I just could not bring myself to try a vomit flavour jelly bean. Yes I am a total wimp, and either my kids are extremely good at lying, or they totally swerved this one and all managed to pick the correct flavour of peach again, so as of yet, none of us have had the unfortunate displeasure of tasting this one. The only one that didn't bother me too much was the toothpaste flavour as this just tasted like the pink drink you have at the dentist, although it was rather strange having it in sweet form!


The game is great fun both for families or groups of adults and although some of the jelly beans may taste vile, they don't actually contain any vomit or dog food, and I checked the ingredients on numerous occasions just to make sure. We are planning on playing this again over Christmas when all the family come round, and I am looking forward to seeing all their faces. I played this with my eldest children who are 8 & 10, which I felt was just about the right age for children to enjoy playing but obviously this is down to parent discretion.

If I was to change anything it would be to remove the vomit flavour and replace it with something less disgusting. I have a fear of being sick as it is, and so no matter how hard I tried to participate fully in the game, there was no way I could bring myself to try this one. Our version of the game was the 3rd edition, so it would seem that they change the flavours occasionally, so I would be interested to find out what flavours may be on the next edition.

Jelly Belly have a great combination offer on their UK site at present for a 100g box with spinner and a 45g refill pack for only £10. This can be found here: Jelly Belly Bean Boozled

Disclaimer: I was provided with this product free of charge, for the purpose of providing an honest opinion and review. All opinions are my own.






Saturday, 3 December 2016

Letterbox cakes by bakerdays - A Review

I love surprise post, though obviously not the kind of surprise post where you receive a bill you weren't expecting, but nice unexpected surprises like a birthday card from a friend, flowers, or a treat from a family member. I was therefore really happy to learn more about bakerdays who provide quality cakes from artisan bakers and specialise in producing personalised celebration cakes. In addition to the usual range of cake sizes, they offer a fantastic product that allows you to create personalised letterbox sized cakes. Yes you read that right, letterbox sized CAKES!

Cake & coffee are two of my favourite things, so when I was offered the opportunity to review their service and product, the thought of this whole concept immediately grabbed my attention. I thought how surprised family members would be if they received a cake through the post instead of a card, or what a nice treat it would be to send to a friend at their works address. I was keen to find out more so I headed over to their website to see what it was all about.


The website was easy to navigate, and featured a wide range of categories that covered cakes for every occasion.  There was an explanation at the bottom of the home page that described the ordering process which sounded really simple. All you have to do is choose a size, flavour and then add the special message of your choice.  The process sounded too easy to be true, so I set about trying to design my cake.

The cakes come in a round shape in a range of sizes that can cover between 3-60 portions. The choice of sizes are as follows:
  • Letterbox cakes - 5 inches ( 12cm x 2.5cm). Suitable for 3-4 portions.
  • Small party cake - 7 inches (17cm x 5.5cm). Suitable for 10-12 portions.
  • Medium party cake - 9 inches (24cm x 6.5cm). Suitable for 18-25 portions.
  • Large party cake - 12 inches (30cm x 7.5cm). Suitable for 40-55 portions.
Bakerdays state on their website that all cakes are made to order and shipped in rugged packaging. They also offer a guarantee that it will arrive safely and on time. The company are clearly confident in their product and service which is great to see.

I chose to order a Letterbox cake, and with it being close to Christmas I decided that I wanted to go for a fun festive design. There were so many to choose from, but in the end I selected a Teddy design wearing a Santa hat that was surrounded by twinkly stars and a selection of presents.  I had a choice of fillings including dairy free and gluten wheat free options, but I decided to go for a Vanilla sponge cake with buttercream which had a price tag of £14.99.


You then have the option of having a personalised or unpersonalised cake. I thought it would be lovely to have a personalised one for my children and so I wrote Merry Christmas Riley, Ben & Emma. You can have a maximum of 40 characters so I was pleased that this just fitted nicely. The very clever website then even gives you a preview of your cake so that you can be sure it is exactly how you want it before you complete your purchase.

Once you are happy with your cake you simply add it to your online basket and checkout! There is a large range of postal options and you can even send your cake abroad using international delivery. My cake only took a couple of days to arrive and I couldn't wait to open it up.


The cake came presented in a cake tin that was in a letterbox sized cardboard box. Inside the box there was a cracker, along with a card. When you order other celebration cakes these also come with balloons instead of the cracker. There was a sticker on the inside lid of the box that provided the list of ingredients and I loved the fact that I would be able to use the tin again myself in the future which was an added bonus.


After I had sneaked a peek at the cake myself, I closed the box up and waited for the kids to get home. I hadn't told them about the cake beforehand so it was a total surprise and I couldn't wait to see their reaction. On opening the box, they were amazed that the cake had their names on it, and they loved the image I had chosen. I liked the fact that the text was really clear, as you can see in the image below. However, as much as they loved the look of it though, they couldn't wait to tuck in and try some.


It is described as being suitable for 3-4 portions, but we managed to have a small slice each between the 5 of us. The cake tasted perfectly fresh and soft, and the icing was lovely. I hadn't expected it to be as good a quality as it was, so I was quite surprised by how enjoyable and delicious it actually turned out to be.

Overall we were really pleased with the service that bakerdays offered, and the product that was delivered. I particularly liked how easy it was to order, and the wide range of occasions that the cakes cover. I have decided that I will most likely buy my children's teachers one each at the end of the school year as it is something both unique and delicious, and I will definitely be considering them as birthday gifts instead of cards in the future.

If you would like to connect with bakerdays or simply find out more, then why not take a look at their social media pages which can be found here:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Website

Disclaimer - I was provided with this product free of charge for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Disney On Ice presents Frozen comes to the Liverpool Echo Arena - Review

Well, we still haven't quite got over the excitement from last night, where we were fortunate to attend the opening night of Disney on Ice presents Frozen at the Liverpool Echo Arena. It was fantastic to see so many children ready to enjoy themselves with the majority dressed up as their favourite Frozen characters. We spotted some amazing Olaf and Elsa costumes whilst waiting to take our seats, and it was a really fun and relaxed atmosphere to be surrounded by.

We began our exciting evening out by catching the train from North Wales to Liverpool. It only took us 45 minutes with a change in Bidston and both trains were relatively quiet when we travelled at 3:30pm so there was no worry about trying to find some seats. Under 5's travel free on the train so it only cost us £10.50 for 3 of us for a single way fare. My husband drove there straight from work and met us at the venue after parking in the Waterfront car park which cost £7 which I felt was reasonable for venue parking in comparison to other places we have visited.


The Liverpool Echo Arena, is my favourite entertainment venue for many reasons. The first being the location as Liverpool is such a fabulous city, and the setting on the waterfront is just perfect. I absolutely love it in the summer, but in the Winter it is so pretty with all the festive decorations and twinkling lights everywhere. We saw some fabulous displays on our walk from James Street station to the venue, which felt like an attraction in itself. There are plenty of restaurants and other attractions nearby, so if you have the time you can make it a lovely family day out.

My second reason for loving this venue is quite simply the people that work here, we have never had a bad experience with any of the staff and have always found that they take great pride in their jobs and offer fantastic customer service and hospitality to their guests. An example of this last night, was when I was carrying my son out of the venue when the show finished (and my husband was laden with coats and bags), and without asking, a member of security walked ahead and opened the doors for us. It is little things like this that can make a big difference to a families experience because as we all know it can be quite stressful taking toddlers out and about, so every little bit of help is often appreciated.


After arriving at the venue, we were really excited to have the opportunity to meet Elsa, Anna, and the amazing Mickey Mouse. The costumes were amazing, and despite my son's earlier declaration that he no longer liked girls, he was ultimately delighted to meet his favourite characters from the show. It was also great to see so many local celebrities attending in support of the show, and I also enjoyed the opportunity to meet some other bloggers and their children.


Shortly before the event started we took our seats. The tickets said upper tier and my immediate thought was 'Oh no I've forgotten my glasses" however the seats were actually fantastic and we had a brilliant view. The seats are tiered appropriately as well, and by this I mean that your children can see from their seats regardless of if an adult is sat in front of them. This is one of my biggest annoyances in other venues where you then have to spend the entire show listening to your child declare that they cannot see anything over and over again due to the 6ft person seated in front. It definitely wasn't an issue with these seats though, and there was also sufficient room in front of the seats for children to get up and dance along with the show.

The entertainment began with a mini 10 minute show promoting the new "Fit to Dance" programme, which encourages children to get fit and active by creating their own stories and displaying them through dance. We learnt the Snowman dance, and my son loved the part where you had to "Put your hands around your middle and Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle".

The two Fit to Dance instructors then introduced some all time favourite Disney characters which included Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Ariel & Eric, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Timon and Puumba, and Marlin & Dory. My youngest son Riley was delighted by this, and thought it was hilarious when Goofy kept pretending to fall over. The dancing was fantastic, and the ice skaters exhibited some amazing skills which were fascinating to watch. We are lucky to have an ice skating rink nearby so my eldest son started asking straight away if we could go ice skating at the weekend, which I don't mind as it is great to see kids be inspired to try something new and this was just from the opening ten minutes.


The main part of the show then began and we were introduced to the Kingdom of Arendelle, and the young characters Anna and Elsa. Whilst playing happily in the snow Elsa accidentally hurts Anna and vows never to do it again, and she hides away fearing that she is unable to control her powers. The way that this was portrayed was simple enough for children to understand, yet also displayed great technical skating which made it great for both the children and adults to watch.

As the story continued we saw the kingdom prepare for Elsa's coronation, and this was one of my favourite parts of the show as I love it when there are numerous dancers involved and the choreography looked amazing. During the coronation celebrations Princess Anna meets Prince Hans, and despite only just meeting, they hastily fall in love and Princess Anna accepts his wedding proposal. This scene is accompanied by the lovely song "Love is an open door" and it was a really nice piece of ice dancing. Queen Elsa forbids the sudden marriage however, and in an outburst of anger she plunges the kingdom into an enternal winter. Princess Anna then embarks on a magical journey to find Queen Elsa, fix their relationship and put an end to the winter.

The show then takes you on an amazing journey with Princess Anna on her quest, where she meets Kristoff and Sven who help her on her journey. The first half also featured the iconic "Let it Go" song and it was great to hear everyone singing along including parents!


There was then an interval of around 15 minutes, which gave the chance for snacks & toilet breaks. There were plenty of facilities within the venue so the queues weren't too long and my husband and son both managed to get back to their seats with plenty of time to spare.

One thing I would like to highlight about the show is how relaxed it is for families. All the children are up singing, dancing and chatting along, and so it makes it much more comfortable for parents who don't have to keep telling their children to sit down or be quiet. My son liked to switch seats regularly throughout the show with his brother, and would intermittently swap from my knee to his dad's knee too, but we didn't need to worry about him bothering any other guests as most children were up on their feet anyway.

The second half featured my absolute favourite performance of the night which came from Olaf and his "In Summer" song. This was a fantastically choreographed piece which was both entertaining and mesmerising to watch. There was obvious laughter throughout the venue when Olaf first came out onto the ice and it was quite clear that children loved him.


The show also featured an excellent display of remote controlled features, including the spectacular scene of the Marshmallow Ice Monster which grew larger and larger. My son was a little bit scared during this part, but I think that this was a combination of the monster and also feeling tired. I personally found it interesting to see remote controlled objects used amongst the ice skaters and felt it was a great use of technology.

Another aspect of the show that my children loved was the snow. The scenes were frequently filled with snow falling from the roof which helped to make it feel really magical and wintry. It made me look forward to hopefully seeing snowfall this winter, especially on Christmas Day, now wouldn't that be great!

Overall we had a fantastic time, the show was captivating from start to finish and I can only imagine the amount of hours that the performers have to put in to rehearsals to make such a great show. The standard of ice skating and choreography was exceptional and I enjoyed the fact that the dancers made full use of the ice so you could get a great view from wherever you were sat in the audience. I also appreciated the fact that they had incorporated some of the favourite Disney characters into the show, as although it was Disney on Ice presents Frozen, everyone loves Mickey Mouse! My youngest son being only aged 3 did get a little sleepy towards the end of the evening, however there are some 10:30am and 2:30pm shows during its run at the Echo Arena which I would definitely recommend if attending with babies and toddlers.

There are still some tickets available and it is running until the 4th December so if you would like to purchase tickets for the show, or find out more about the production then please visit:

www.disneyonice.com or www.echoarena.com

Alternatively you can contact the Echo Arena box office on 0844 8000 400

A full list of tour dates can also be found on the Disney on Ice website here: Disney on Ice




*Disclaimer - I was provided with complimentary tickets for the purpose of providing an honest review of our experience. Any opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl - Review and Competition

I have fond memories as a child of reading my favourite Roald Dahl books over and over again, and they would be the first books I would choose to borrow from the library. My favourites were Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, The Witches. Fantastic Mr Fox and The Twits, but in reality I literally loved them all.

At the time, they were the only books that could really draw me into the story and make me laugh along as I read, and over the years I received many of Roald Dahl's books as gifts for Christmas or Birthdays and I was never disappointed. My children have gone on to enjoy these stories too, and have also built up quite a collection themselves.

However, when stories capture your imagination as much as Roald Dahl's do, doesn't it often get you wondering more about the characters, or simply imagining What Happened Next?

I was therefore delighted when I came across "The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl" written by Stella Caldwell, illustrated by the wonderful Quentin Blake and published by Carlton Books.



The front cover of the book features a whole host of illustrations of popular characters, and the book is described as "A spectacular scrapbook of stories, characters and creations". It looked fun and inviting and I couldn't wait to open it up and read inside.

Unfortunately, my son got there before me, and I was pleased to see that after only a short while, he was chuckling away to himself whilst reading. After a bit of persuasion, he agreed to let me have a look through it with him so we could enjoy the book together.

The first couple of pages provided a little bit of insight into Roald Dahl's world, providing some facts and information on where he may have got some of his ideas from, based on his own life experiences. These small pieces of information continue throughout the book and really help you to learn more about the author and realise the inspiration behind the stories.



My son particularly enjoyed the Charlie and the Chocolate scrapbook pages which featured a funny advert for Willy Wonka's invisible Chocolate Bars, described as being perfect for eating in class, along with a letter from a school complaining about Willy Wonka's spotty powder which causes those who consume it to break out in bright red spots and as a result, half of the school was absent due to suspected "chicken pox". My son thought that this was hilarious and a great idea to get a few days off school, if only such a sweet existed! There was also a field guide to "Loompaland" where you can read all about where the Oompa-Loompas live, along with a map and dietery information!


My favourite was the government health warning in The Twits section telling you to be "Beard Aware - Know Before You Grow" informing you of all the things that could be hiding in your beard. Luckily being female, I don't have to worry about this too much, but it made me laugh and go ewwwww at the same time! There is also a very handy guide on How to be a Twit, just in case you ever become interested in the "Twittish Trickery of a Twit" haha!



There is also a lovely end to the book, that I won't reveal, but if you are a fan of Roald Dahl quotes like myself, then you won't be disappointed and I thought that this was a really fitting way to not only end the book, but to also remember Roald Dahl aswel.

The book itself is a 64 page hardback book priced at £16.99. It is designed with a scrapbook theme, with lots of little inserts, imaginary newspaper articles, recipes, photos & letters, and is sure to be a delight for any Roald Dahl fan.

If you would like to purchase this book, then this can be found on the Carlton Books website here: Carlton Books - The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl

To celebrate this wonderful book, Carlton Books have kindly provided me with a copy to giveaway to one lucky reader. All you have to do is enter using the gleam form below. Good luck!

The Gloriumptious Worlds of Roald Dahl Book Giveaway

Terms and Conditions:
Entry is open to UK residents aged 18 or over. Any bulk/third party entries will be disqualified. The winner shall be drawn at random from all eligible entries. The winner shall be notified via email and will have 14 days to confirm that they wish to accept the prize. Should the winner fail to respond, then a new winner shall be selected at random from the remaining entries. The winner's details will be shared with the promoter for the purpose of prize fulfillment, which shall be sent directly from the promoter. Please allow up to 28 days for delivery, though every effort shall be made to try and get this to the winner before Christmas.

*Disclaimer - I was provided with this product free of charge for the purpose of this review and to give my honest opinion of this book. All opinions are my own.