Category Archives: Days out

Bing Live Show – a review

Round the corner, not far away, Bing is coming to your local theatre to play.

We are complete Bingster’s in our house. The CBeebies loveable Bunny Bing is a regular on our screens and I have even been known  to take some parenting tips from Flop. Bing actually came to Cbeebies screens the year George was born 2014 making it feel special to us in some way.

The Television show is actually based on books written by Ted Dewan. I found a fab interview with him here, which explains more about his vision for the show and what it should become.

I contacted the press team who were kind enough to not only send tickets to myself, hubs and George for the Bing Live Show but also a fab goody bag. Checkout what was in the goody bag over on our IGTV .

Bing

Details about the show.

Currently touring theatres across the UK, the show is 80 minutes long, including the 15 minute interval. The Bing Live show is touring 60 venues around the UK until April 2019. Tickets prices vary from theatre to theatre.

Bing
Credit Johan Persson – Images Courtesy of Bright Media

Our experience of Bing Live.

The Bing Live show was engaging, exciting and really well produced. I’ve been to a few theatre shows aimed at toddlers now and they can only be described as hilarious carnage! If you have read my previous post “What will my child become?“, you will know that George is the epitome of sensible. He’s able to sit still and watch shows from beginning to end without fidgeting, fussing or complaining he wants to do something else. I’m not bragging, but I forget that this isn’t “the standard norm” (whatever that is) for toddlers.

So whenever we attend a show where the bulk of the audience are toddlers, I’m often in hysterics at how funny it is to be in a room with 100+ toddlers all trying to be kept ship-shape and quiet. Hence the description “hilarious carnage”. With Bing Live , it is anticipated, hell, expected even, that the little ones will roam around, shout, clap, scream. It’s embraced. I think this helps to take the pressure off the adults from trying to maintain the decorum expected of a visit to the theatre.

Bing

As I was saying, at previous theatre shows aimed at this age, the carnage has sometimes been a little distracting and over ridden the show itself. I didn’t find this with the Bing Live show. The volume was somehow magically loud enough to always be able to hear it despite the excitable audience. But it wasn’t excessively loud that it unnerved or upset any of the little ones. I don’t know how they did it but it was really clever.

The narrator gave us a typical countdown to the show starting so our little audience could get excited. George is pretty reserved so it was so lovely to see him anticipating the show starting. He was so excited bless him. As the curtain rose and Bing and Flop entered the stage, we got out first look at how the show was present.

We had already watched the trailer video on Facebook, so we knew the characters were all puppets. The thinking behind this was that the characters could be a relatable size for the children. Not too large they are scary, but not too small you can’t see their expressions. I loved reading more about the Magic Behind the Puppets on the Bing Live site.

Each character was cleverly manoeuvred around the stage using rods attached to the puppeteer’s feet and body. Whilst the puppeteer voiced the characters.

They all sounded more or less the same as the characters on the show, although Bing himself was a little more shrill and not as husky as he is on the show. He was voiced by a female. They all did a fabulous job. I would love to know if their voices are naturally that tone and pitch or if they were enhanced at all.

The live show is literally like watching toddler play and imagine and explore. The characters were as excited to see us as we were them. They then played out before us, their own make-believe theatre. Imagining and dressing up and exploring through singing and dancing.  There were moments the audience were encouraged to participate in the singing and dancing and this was lots of fun. It was also really helpful that the lights went up for these parts of the show.

I don’t want to give away much more except that it’s a great show that appears to be written by people who understand young children and parenthood. Little touches like announcing the interval with Bing declaring he needs a wee and everyone getting all aboard the toilet train. Cue a room full of grown ups asking their child if they need the toilet train, instead of the usual battle to get them to try for a wee. We loved it!

Bing

George’s verdict:

He absolutely loved the show and took his Bing and Sula teddies along to share it with him. When the crowd were asked to join in the singing and dancing, we did this with his teddies instead. He is quite shy to sing or dance out of the comfort of his own home with just us watching so this was the perfect way for him to still take part and enjoy it. Our seats were perfect and he had a great view. His feet were tapping and he couldn’t sit still from excitement. When I asked what his favourite part was, he replied “All of it”

Our local show was held at The Cliffs Pavilion Theatre in Southend-On-Sea, Essex.  It’s not the first time hubs and I visited the Cliffs, but it was the first time we have visited with George and fully explored the theatre grounds. It’s modern, comfortable with air conditioning inside the theatre. There’s plenty of seating inside and outside to relax and enjoy a drink or a snack before the show. Upstairs is a pretty cool and comfortable selection of seating booths. Decorated in a funky seaside print. it’s the perfect place to sit and enjoy the stunning sea views. After the show we took a walk down the steps to the seafront and as the tide had just gone out, we watched lots of tiny crabs making their way back to the water’s edge.

Bing

If you do attend the show, be sure to have a piccie in front of the photo wall. Share it on social media with the hashtag #Bingstar.

Bing

**Disclosure – we were provided with tickets to the show and a goody bag in return for our own review. All opinions are our own and do not affect the integrity of this post **

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Review – In The Night Garden Live Show

** Disclosure- In return for this review, I myself have been provided with tickets to the In The Night Garden showdome tour. All opinions are still honest and my own**

Wow, what can I say! We have just been to see the In The Night Garden Live on their magical showdome tour. Originally we were booked to see the Ninky
Nonk show at 12pm in the special Showdome.

However, the traffic was worse travelling from Essex to Richmond than we had anticipated. We arrived 25 minutes after the 45 minute show had started. Stress!

Luckily I had called the customer service number whilst en route, The automated help line advised that should we be running late, to continue our journey. The help line stated that a member of the team would transfer our tickets to a later show on arrival.

I think for parents this is such a forgiving and helpful service. We all know how unpredictable children can be. A lady in front of me was even rescheduling her tickets for another day as her little one was unwell. It was no trouble for the staff and no extra fee.

showdome
On arrival, a member of staff greeted us at the entrance and gave us several options. We chose to attend the next available show, The Pinky Ponk show. Both shows have all your little ones favourite characters but they just tell a different story.

The show that we saw was ‘Makka Pakka Washes Faces’. This is of course until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s Megaphone (ahhh so many innuendos I’m struggling to contain myself).

showdome

The price of the show ticket also included a show guide worth £7. Inside the guide you will find lyrics to all the In The Night Garden favourites. As well as a story and puzzles for your little one to enjoy. The doors to the Showdome open half an hour prior to the show beginning so this guide is great for entertaining your little one whilst you wait for the show to begin.
showdome
Once inside, the narrator voice from the show gives you a regular countdown of 15 minutes, 3 minutes etcetera until the show starts. This builds the excitement levels even further for little ones as he parents all simultaneously say “ooooh”.
showdome
The show itself is a mix of life-size characters and puppets. As the show starts, it isn’t long before Makka Pakka appears on stage. He was full size and I was wondering how big Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy would be when they appeared as obviously they are much larger than Makka Pakka in the television show.

My perfectionist ponderings were soon answered when Makka Pakka left the stage and Iggle Piggle appeared. Makka Pakka then reappeared as a smaller puppet controlled by 3 people using sticks. It was all very clever.

The rest of the show proceeded to follow Makka Pakka wandering round the Night Garden, ensuring he had washed every characters face with his “dirty sponge” as I like to call it. The crew cleverly incorporated bubbles into the washing routine too which got the little ones excited.
showdome
The Showdome itself adds to the wonderment of the show. With projections around the ceiling above the stage. These include falling flowers, stars and a moving Pinky Ponk. Sadly this is the last year the showdome will be touring. Whilst the show is fab and it will be greatly received in a traditional theatre setting, the showdome made it for me.
showdome
The Showdome contains staggered bench style seating so that everyone has a clear view. We have visited other shows such as Paw Patrol live, where the seating was all on one level on the ground and it was very hard if not impossible to see the stage once a tall Dad came along. I love the show dome set up. It feels like you are entering a magical grotto and a doorway to the night garden itself.

It would be such a shame to miss this experience if your little ones are fans of In The Night Garden. I can 100% recommend it. I literally can’t fault it. The show offered snacks and drinks for sale and these were also a lot more reasonable than other shows we attended. A bottle of Coca Cola was £1.50.

You can also get involved in a “Meet the Character” experience for an added cost. There is merchandise and balloons available to purchase. Whilst you wait for the character experience after the show, there are tables with colouring for the children. And a television showing episodes of In The Night Garden. There’s also buggy parking and a microwave to heat up milk or baby food.

For anyone whose child is feeling overwhelmed during the show, you can step away from the seating area. Just behind the seating area,down the steps you and little one can watch the live show on a TV screen until such time they feel settled enough to return.

To be honest though the live show was as chilled as the television show and George took his shoes off and made himself comfy. We usually watch the TV show as part of our bedtime routine and he definitely felt the relaxing vibes despite it being live.
showdome
Last little mention which is probably totally random but I’ve always been a toilet connoisseur. The toilets are unisex which felt strange but it was lovely. Lovely because every cubicle had a little portable loo seat available as well as steps for hand-washing at every sink.

It’s little touches like this that make you feel valued. It feels like the In The Night Garden Live team understand the struggles parents have each day.

There’s plenty of cubicles and no one has to queue because everyone can go in. Often you find the ladies full with a long queue whilst the men’s is not child friendly and empty. There are also adequate baby changing facilities from what I saw at a quick glance. Baby change is in a separate trailer.

George’s verdict: He won’t actually comment but I know he absolutely loved it. Previous shows we’ve attended he’s been reserved, quiet and a little dubious. The In The Night Garden Live show he was constantly smiling, excited, singing! I think in this case, actions speak louder than words.

My verdict:- I felt like the show was made with parents and children in mind. They understand that sometimes we don’t run on time with kids. It’s not a problem. They understand that sometimes there isn’t always a Mummy and a Daddy around for toilet visits. It’s not a problem.

The organisers seem to understand that younger children potentially get overwhelmed easily. This was reflected in the volume of the show not being too loud. The show was well thought out and evolved quickly to ensure the children didn’t get bored. Yes there was some fidgeting but that’s to be expected of any child that’s asked to sit still for 45 minutes. The showdome set up meant it wasn’t a problem. There was room to have a little wander. I literally cannot fault it.

Go see it. The Showdome is touring and currently in Richmond, London until July 1st 2018. It will then be moving onto Birmingham, before ending the tour in Manchester on 19th August 2018.

Book your tickets via the website In The Night Garden Live

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Things to do when it snows.

SNOWDAY!!! Are you bored of the word snow yet? I’m not. The beast from the east (as they say) has arrived and we have a full on snow day here in Essex. Let me tell you there’s more to snow than simply getting cold and building a snowman. Here are some ideas I’ve seen throughout the internet or gathered from friends.

  • You simply can’t have a snow day without building a snowman! It’s standard snow protocol! I’m yet to master a decent Snowman. True to my crazy cat lady form, I do make a pretty mean snow cat (checkout the featured image) but my snowmen always end up looking like giant smiling dildo’s!?snowday
  •  Sledding! A snow day pastime which I’ve never actually done! I’ve never committed to the purchase of a sledge as we can go some years and have no snow. Plus I’ve always been at work when it snows. Now I have a child I really need to invest in one as we have a town famous hill near us, perfect for sledding that just looks epic!

    snowday
    Image courtesy of Pixabay
  • Even the best snow day can get tiring and cold. If you don’t want to waste all that precious, rare white stuff then bring the snow indoors! Taking messy play to a whole new level, this activity can surprisingly entertain your child for a decent amount of time. Simply fill a bowl, bucket, tuff spot, whatever your container of choice with lush snow and place inside. Add a selection of toys suitable for playing in the snow eh voila. When the snow melts (which takes longer than you would imagine) just get some more. My little George chose octonauts, go jetters and dinosaurs to use in his snow bowl. I suggested digging with a spoon. snowday
  • Snow days seem to be very creative driven, (when you aren’t just lobbing snowballs at each other). So why not extend this further with some snow painting. Fill some squirty bottles with food colouring and water and let the children have great fun making coloured patterns in the snow. Or as my friend once did, get the paint and brushes out and paint the snowman. Checkout her fab page for more ideas on activities to do with toddlers and preschoolers; Entertaining Ava – Ideas for Toddler and Preschooler Play

    snow day
    Image courtesy of the facebook group Entertaining Ava – Ideas for Toddler and Preschooler Play. Permission given.
  • Snow day taffy. Now this is one of those things I just happened to see pop up on twitter in amongst the trending snow posts. I have to admit that this seemed as bizarre to me as the idea that most Americans don’t own an electric kettle. But apparently this is standard behaviour in Canada. I found this fab how to here; How to make Maple Syrup Snow Taffy .
  • Send a special message to someone. It just so happened to be hubs birthday one year when it snowed. I used the shingle we had in our garden to create a message but you could use the squirty bottle idea previously mentioned. Your message doens’t have to be for a birthday, it could be a marriage proposal, disney announcement, baby announcement or just to brighten someone’s day.snow day
  • Snowball fights don’t have to be the only thing to use snowballs for. Grab a bucket or draw a line or circle in the snow and see who can get their snowballs in the circle/bucket. That way no one ends up sad because they have snow down their back or in their eye.
  • If you have a willing cat or dog, let them out in the snow and just sit back and enjoy. Cats and Dogs can be so funny in the snow and if you film them and send them into You’ve been Framed you might get £250 for your efforts.

    snow day
    My beloved cat Missy who we lost 10 years ago.

So there are just a few ideas to keep you going for a snow day. I shall be investing in a pair of waterproof gloves in prep for the next snow.

Have you tried any of these? Do you have any ideas to share? I love new ideas. I am becoming a bit of a pinterestaholic.

Until next time…..

CLOSED **Giveaway**- In The Night Garden LIVE tickets

This post gives you the opportunity to WIN tickets to the live show of In The Night Garden – Edit This Giveaway is now CLOSED.

** Disclosure- In return for bringing you this competition, I myself have been provided with tickets to the show**

If you haven’t heard of the In The Night Garden Live show then checkout their website here for more details.

The shows are live this Summer (2018). There is a choice of two live shows, lasting just under an hour each, giving you the opportunity to  see Igglepiggle, Upsy Daisy and Makka Pakka brought to life. The shows are a mix of projections, puppets and characters in costume and take place in a specially designed dome.

Night garden
Image provided and permitted coutesy of the team at In The Night Garden Live

Image courtesy of the team at https://www.nightgardenlive.com

Taken from the In The Night Garden Live website ;-

In the Ninky Nonk show, Igglepiggle loses his blanket and all his friends help him find it.

In the Pinky Ponk show, Makka Pakka washes everyone’s faces, until his sponge gets stuck in Upsy Daisy’s megaphone!

All the characters appear in both shows, and both are equally popular. The stories are not linked. So you don’t need to see both, and you can see them in any order. 

The dome is designed with tiered seating so that everyone gets the same fab view.

Night garden
Image provided and permitted courtesy of the team at In the Night Garden Live

 

If you would like to enter the competition and you are using a smartphone or tablet, checkout the link at the bottom of the page.

Otherwise, desktop users can enter using the link to the right of the screen                                                            

Entries must be submitted before January 21st 2018 so you haven’t got long!

Best of luck 💋🤞

 

Our visit to Kidtropolis 2017 kids event – October half term

** Disclosure – I was provided with tickets to attend this event in return for a pre-event post ( See here). We had such a fab time, I wanted to share our day with you all. All opinions expressed are my own.**

October was pretty cool and memorable. Having started preschool in September, we had our first official school holidays in October half term. George previously went to a private nursery where they remained open all year long. Having joined the preschool attached to his (hopefully) future school, they break up when the rest of the school does.

I wanted to have some fun activities to do together for our first half term. A quick search on google and I came across an event called Kidtropolis. You may have read my pre-event post here. I contacted them requesting tickets to the event in return for a review and I am proud to say they were the first event to accept a pitch from myself.

As a gal and a mama who loves a schedule (never go on holiday with me if you hate schedules), I love that the entire Kidtropolis week is scheduled from start to finish, slot by slot. In order to help you choose which day to attend, you decide which days have the activities and shows which would most interest you and book from there. The sessions are 4.5hours and booking includes two live shows.

kids

We chose to attend the Monday am. The first day of the event. We booked car parking at London’s ExCel centre in advance as this worked out cheaper than us paying rail fare from outside of London. There is more than ample parking available. The directions from the car park to the dedicated hall for the event could have been a little better and more organised but as it was day one we may have been the guinea pigs. Entry was quick and hassle free and we were in before we knew it.

There were ample food outlets accessible within the ExCel as well as food and drink within the event. We chose to get an ice cream and bottled drinks from the ice cream van within the venue. The ice cream was really unique. Like a whippy but soooooo delectably creamy. Best whippy ever!After the event we went for burger and chips at The Bridge Burgers and Dogs. Toilets were easily accessible too.

Back to the event, we had a map to guide us around the event but to be honest it wasn’t ridiculously huge. It wasn’t overly busy either so we able to flit from stall to stall briefly and then return to the things that interested us and that I had marked on my schedule. A schedule is fine in principle but obviously nowadays it has to pass the toddler look and judge test. If George doesn’t like the look of it and there’s not persuading him then we have to move on. Thankfully we managed to do everything we had intended, once George had relaxed and warmed to his surroundings.

kids

Our opening show of Peppa Pig live was really disappointing. They were running late and to be honest it was some random guy called david reading two stories from a book whilst a dressed up Peppa and George character stood on the stage. They didn’t even play the credit music until the end of the show. Thankfully things got much, much better. It was literally the first show, at the start of the first day, I’ll allow the organisers one blip.

The second show we had booked for the end of the 4.5 hour session was Marvin’s magic and it was truly wonderful The kids and adults all loved it and we picked up a prop for sale to start George on his quest as a magician. Watch out Dynamo.

kids

The rest of the day was so much fun. Genuinely! Having read reviews of previous years Kidtropolis events, there were many, many complaints of long queues and unhappy children. I saw nothing of the sort this year. Obviously I can only comment for the Monday am but we had a fab experience and I fully intend to return again and again. I think the biggest and possibly only queue I saw all day was for the inflatable assault course which George wasn’t interested in.

There were quite a few activities, shows and bits and pieces that are much more suited for the older kids. Learning how to be a vlogger from the child pro vloggers, Flawless dance zone, Kids fun radio, Tomy lightseekers which I’ve heard is very up and coming.

There were also many areas which George and ourselves don’t have much interest in yet. There really was something for everyone. Lorax, Minions, Star Wars, Drone flying, Minecraft GWR record attempt, springless trampolines and so much more.

George loved the Tomy games area where he was plied with free biscuits and enjoyed trying out some more classic board games with one of the stallholders who was dressed as a character from the game.

Kids

I’d promised him an air walker balloon. Having embarrassingly surprised hubs with one of these being delivered to his work one valentines I felt it was time to introduce the wonders of Balloon walkers to the Georgeous. We were so impressed with the dinosaur we purchased at £5 with a free helium balloon thrown in.

kids

Crazy golf is always a winner and George was more interested in making sure we did this over anything else.

Kids

He really enjoyed the Geomag stall playing with a variety of magnetic building parts. As did we and we bought something similar for his birthday.

Kids

He was a little shy to meet Chase from Paw Patrol but I know he would have regretted it if he didn’t.

kids

But George’s  favourite activity without a doubt was riding the balance bikes and ramps at the Bikertots stall. Followed by watching the professional Bike stunt show which left him in awe. We have since become visitors of the local skate/bike park. We have a little BMX dude on our hands I feel and this event was probably the first time I have seen him confidently go off and do an activity without one of us by his side. He still wanted Daddy close on occasions as it was a noisy venue but this is definitely up his street. They are a great franchise club, helping children learn to ride a bike.

Kids

George was also really, really taken (much to Mummy’s dismay as she heard her purse getting emptier) by Sylvanian families. He was besotted. Just look at the admiration for this well made classic childrens toy. He also enjoyed looking at the Aquabeads selection, including this epic bridge sculpture. Despite declaring “I want that” every time he sees it on the tele (who else’s kids does this a million times a week!)  up close he in fact did NOT “want that”.

Kids

The highlight of my day was meeting my own childhood idols, the characters from Rainbow. Bungle was there but as I said to Zippy,

“Nobody liked Bungle anyway.”

Speaking to Zippy, the guy behind the puppet had been in charge of him since 1973! I was completely starstruck. I even introduced George to how my mornings as a three year old used to be by getting up some episodes on You tube. Classic!

Kids

Did you attend Kidtropolis this year or previous years? What were your thoughts? Would you go back?

Huge thanks to Emily who organised the tickets for us.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Afternoon tea and cocktails at The Royal Hotel Southend – A review

** I’d like to disclose that I was plied with copious amounts of delicious food and alcohol in return for this honest review. This neither affects the integrity of the post or the honest opinions held within it**

Recently, as you may have seen if you follow me on social media, I attended my first ever bloggers event. An Essex bloggers event no less. As bloggers events go, I’d say the bar has been set pretty high with this one. The event consisted of welcome drinks, followed by afternoon tea, finished up with cocktails in the secret Dr Legba’s downstairs bar.

I’ll explain each part of the afternoon in more detail shortly, but first, let’s kick this review off in my typical fashion with a poem. An ode to the Royal Hotel, which by the way is no longer a hotel. Enjoy!

Once upon a time there was a Southend Hotel,

Frequented by Lady Hamilton and her Admiral Nelson as well

No stranger to a noble figure or two

This Royal Hotel soon became unused. 

 

Then along came two brothers

Called Matt and Dave

This run down Hotel

They wanted to save

 

So along with their Dad they set to work. 

To make this old hotel a restaurant and bar with quirk. 

Prepared for hard work they rolled up their sleeves

Making the Royal Hotel a place you never want to leave.

 

Their vision achieved they opened their doors

To a place that is to be truly adored. 

The food is divine, the cocktails unique

The flaming absinthe on tap is a fascinating treat

I hope you enjoyed that and it has got you wanting to know more, so here goes. Despite the name, The Royal Hotel is now a restaurant and bar contained within a grade 2 listed building and for that reason the name cannot be changed. On arrival, I was welcomed warmly and greeted by Matthew, the director of The Royal Hotel. The surroundings felt comfortable, clean, plush, but not poncey. Ornaments and lamps from Debenhams make the place feel homely and welcoming as do the staff.

royal hotel

I was offered a glass of The Bees Knees sparkling pink rose wine. This is alcohol free fermented grape juice with a green tea infusion. It’s a fab alternative to wine. I’ve since found this can be purchased at Ocado and Morrisons so I shall be treating myself often as this stuff was delicious.

Soon we were escorted by the fabulously entertaining and thoroughly informative Jonathan. He made sure our glasses were filled with prosecco whilst informing us all about the history of The Royal Hotel. Built in 1791, it became a regular haunt for Lady Hamilton. The mistress of Admiral Horatio Nelson, who had a dinner party and ball in the very grand hall in which we sat. Months after the supper, he was killed during the battle of Trafalgar. The building hasn’t been used as a hotel since 1974.

Royal hotel

The building still bears the original chandeliers, dance floor and coving which have been lovingly restored. The rest of the building has been refurbished and is unrecognisable from how brothers Matt and Dave and their Dad found it when they took over.

The food was truly amazing. My personal preference would be the Gentleman’s afternoon tea. My favourites being the mini beef burger, ham hock and welsh rarebit croque monsieur, miniature cider jelly, and the millionaires shortbread was just incredible.

A list of the menu’s can be found on their website here https://www.royalhotelsouthend.com/

Royal hotel

Completely stuffed and feeling guilty for all the food I couldn’t fit in my belly, I then proceeded downstairs to the secret Dr Legba’s cocktail bar. I’m a huge fan of a cocktail but I was such a cocktail chav before Dr Legba’s. Woo woo’s, Cosmopolitan’s blah blah blah. Dr Legba’s will introduce you to flavours and tastes you never thought you would experience in a drink.

There are over 50 cocktails on the menu, a third of which have been created by Dave, who is a former head bar trainer at The London Cocktail club. One of my absolute favs, one of his own creations, is the Pork and Apple martini, served with a flaming absinthe caramelised bacon.

Royal hotel
Image courtesy of Lynsey Garrick at http://ladygogo84.blogspot.co.uk/?m=0

Dave created this using sour apple liqueur, Absolut vodka, pressed apple juice and fresh lime. It was truly so sweet and to coin one of my favourite phrases

It was like sex in a martini glass! Yum!

You have to visit just to try this, and I might add the flaming absinthe caramelised bacon is not just for show. You will have never tasted bacon like it! Although the menu varies from night to night, they are all to happy to make cocktails at your request should they not be on the menu the night you visit.

Royal Hotel
Image courtesy of Hannah Cornish at www.hannatalks.com

Dave has put so much work into making this bar a unique and magical place. Using as many reclaimed materials as possible, he created his own absinthe dispenser as well as painstakingly gluing over £170 worth of 2 pence pieces to the vertical bar front. He still has much in the pipeline, including a commissioned piece of art depicting the absinthe fairy. The secret, hidden door to the loos will soon have commissioned piece of artwork depicted the absinthe fairy. Dave also has plans to have circus style mirrors in the toilets and to eventually make the bar buzzer entry only, with the buzzer being hidden under a secret fairy door. You’ll be pleased to hear Dr Legba’s can also be hired for private functions.

I could literally rave about The Royal Hotel for many hundreds more words but I’ll tell you about one last special feature. Both The Royal Hotel and Dr Legba’s stock Dalmore whiskey. You have the option to complement the gentleman’s afternoon teas with a whisky platter of Dalmore 12 year whisky, 15 year whisky and cigar malt reserve. Dalmore are rather particular about who stock their whisky and they personally place the sale at venues chosen themselves.

Royal hotel

Huge thanks to Matt, Dave, Jonathan and everyone that made my afternoon wonderful. I look forward to visiting again very soon and bringing family and friends.

Shoutout to a few fellow bloggers who helped with some of the images featured in this post. Also shoutout to the lovely fellow bloggers I met and had fun with at this event.

The Diary of New Freedom by Lynsey Garrick

The Less-Refined Mind – By Kate Tunstall

Hanna Talks by Hanna Cornish

and to these  fellow blogging ladies for helping me

Danielle at Escaping Essex

Laura at Life by Laura

Sam at Beautifie

And finally thank you for organising Penny at A Penny for Them

Until next time……

Featured Image photo taken by Kate at The Less-Refined Mind

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Kidtropolis kids event – October half term – London ExCel

** I have been provided with Kidtropolis tickets in return for this blog post. All opinions are my own. Tickets can be purchased via www.kidtropolis.co.uk**

Kidtropolis is coming this October half term to London’s ExCel centre. Between 23rd and the 26th October 2017, Kidtropolis will be running a variety of activities and live shows to entertain your children age 12 and under, although older children are welcome.

I am always on the lookout for great events to attend with George. It was by chance that I stumbled across the Kidtropolis event on Twitter. Those of you that may of heard or seen negative reviews after last years event will be pleased to know I asked the organisers if improvements have been made for this years event and they have taken the feedback on board. To quote;

I just wanted to reassure you that Kidtropolis 2017 offers a new format, bigger and better than last year, with lots more brands and entertainment on the stages. Plus, with all tickets bought, families are guaranteed two shows each – these are selected upon booking.

George will be just under two weeks shy of turning three years old when Kidtropolis runs next week. They have a range of toddler friendly activities on during the week, including live shows from;

  • Peppa Pig
  • Postman Pat
  • PJ Masks
  • Sooty
  • Basil Brush
  • Fireman Sam
  • Naomi’s Wild and Scary
  • Octonauts
  • Captain Calamity Pie and Bubble Spectacular
  • And many more, including many dance acts from Britain’s Got Talent

There’s also a huge range of free activities all included in the price of your entry ticket. Some of these won’t be relevant to your child’s interests or age so I’ll leave you to checkout their website to see exactly what’s on offer. www.kidtropolis.co.uk .  Being mum of a toddler, the activities that stand out to me are;

  • WOW – where learning begins. Mini Professors (aged 2-5), Reading Fairy (Aged 1-5), or Toddler sense session (aged 13 months – 4 years). On Tuesday
  • Kids Out – featuring the famous galleon from Peter Pan, meeting a real life pirate and the chance to get a pic with a 7metre crocodile!
  • Balloon Besties – where you have the chance to purchase a walking balloon.
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show Meet and Greet. On Thursday
  • The creation station featuring making things with Playdoh or allowing your 1-11 year old to make their mark on canvas. Protective clothing provided
  • Meet the Paw Patrol pups, with different characters appearing at varying intervals each day. Checkout the website for which characters are appearing which days.
  • Auntie JoJo and Magic Martin performing magic shows for all the family and balloon modelling.
  • Geomag and Smartmax magnetic discovery as these are on George’s birthday wish list and we have played with these at playgroups and nursery and they are fab.
  • Biker tots (18 months – 4 years). Teaching balance bike skills using a 12” balance bike in a strider zone.

There really is so much more to do there. These are just some of the activities we like the look of. The ticket allows us a 4.5 hour entry slot so I don’t want to be too ambitious and add too much to our to do list. That said, I have a personal agenda, that is to make sure we see the cast of my own childhood favourite, Rainbow. Zippy, George and Bungle will be there celebrating the shows 45 years anniversary! I’m not that old!

You can access London’s ExCel centre via the super cool Emirates airline cable car so we are hoping to catch a ride. I hope George will be massively impressed. It’s so hard to predict this child’s behaviour. Which in one way I love but it can planning days out tricky.

If you haven’t already, head to the website www.kidtropolis.co.uk and book your tickets now. Your ticket entitles you to entry on a day of your choosing, during either the 4.5 hour morning or afternoon session.

Checkout our social media next week to see what we get up to at the event.

Twitter ,Facebook ,Instagram

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Is this hell, or is this a holiday camp? – my happy hellish holiday

Is this hell, or is this a holiday camp? Welcome to my happy hellish holiday. I love great british holidays. It’s all I’ve ever really known aside from a med cruise we took to celebrate getting my first job. I’m about to share with you my warped and twisted view of my surroundings at a british holiday camp. On this occasion we visited Haven, and it was amazing. They all pretty much follow the same script though. Enjoy.

It’s like something out of any sane person’s nightmares. Kids running at you from different directions as if running from an incoming asteroid. Taking it in turns to scream and cry. Or so it seems on face value. You can’t hear them as their screams are drowned out by the sound of cheesy pop tunes from the 90’s. All the classics are their. Steps, Busted, Cotton eye Joe and 5ive. Ah gotta love the dance move era. It’s a total cheese fest.

happy hellish holiday

The kids have been on the go all day. Like greyhounds in the race trap, that caravan door bursts open at 9am and they are off. Park, swimming, beach, amusements, repeat on a loop until one by one they flake out.

But what are they running on? Never you fear, here in hell they have an endless supply of fruit shoots, slushies, chips and nuggets, all washed down with a bucket of candy floss and a bag of sweets. Your kids will be on the most epic sugar rush and you’ll be there to take the tantrums and meltdowns as the rush wears off.

happy hellish holiday

But what about you, poor naive parents? Who innocently booked this ticket to hell thinking it would be fun. Heck they sold it to you as a holiday! Never fear, after spending a restless night sleeping in a freezing caravan on a mattress filled with rubble, you will be feeling on top of your game…..no? This is where your resistance to alcohol disables and you suddenly feel the urge to down pints of cider and glasses of wine. After watching the kids eat their body weight in nuggets, burgers and chips, you can’t bear the sight of anymore. So your food sustenance shall be Sahara nuts and krax snax crisps.

Joking aside, we’ve just spent a blissful week in a prestige Caravan at Haven Doniford Bay in Somerset. It was incredibly amazing to say the least and my satirical observations were made whilst slightly tipsy.

happy hellish holiday

What are your experiences of holiday camps? We all know there’s a little bit of hell in there somewhere. Don’t we?

Checkout the haven site now. We booked using The Daily Mail £15 holidays and upgraded to a prestige on arrival. Vouchers can also collected for cheaper holidays from The Sun on the £9.50 deal. Both tend to be term time though. Haven, Doniford Bay

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Ponies, Pub friends and Peppa Pig – A New Forest Holiday.

We have recently returned from a 4 night holiday to the New Forest. If I were to summarise our experience in short then ponies, pub friends and Peppa Pig are just a few of the things that made our stay there wonderful.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Oh great! Another mummy review about a holiday I couldn’t give a shit about!” But after regularly updating my personal Facebook page and also posting photos on instagram, I had lots of questions coming from people. They wanted to know what I thought of places we visited, where we were, so even if there is a small minority want to read this crap, then my possibly arthritic fingers have ached for nothing. (Big cheesy grin and a thumbs up from me.)

Our decision to book a break in the New Forest stemmed from a desire to take George (now 2 and half years) to Peppa Pig world before he completely lost interest in it altogether. If I’m honest I was feeling pretty hyperactive about it myself.

The New Forest really doesn’t describe itself very well. It’s actually a really, really old forest, decades in fact. But what it isn’t telling you is that it is one of the largest unenclosed pasture lands in the south east. Largest what what of a where now? Well basically it means that once you cross that cattle grid, it’s hello free roaming animals! Nothing can prepare you for the surreal beauty of this place!

Being my typical research freak self, I began looking for places to stay late last year and stumbled across an adventure packed holiday camp called Sandyballs. I checked that this wasn’t some sort of swingers camp, (have I ever told you about the time my 18 year old self and hubs accidentally found ourselves on the nudist beach at Brighton!)After confirming that everyone would be fully clothed and no car keys would be swapped, I subscribed to their mailing list.

Sidenote: I have no problem with swinging if that’s your chocolate cake. Each to their own. I just wouldn’t book that type of resort for a toddler friendly holiday. Let’s still be friends yeah.

new forest ponies

Just before New Years, they had a flash sale offering 15% off of the booking price. As a result, I managed to book us a comfort caravan on the site for £207 for 4 nights. When looking at hotels in the local area that offer 2 nights at Peppa Pig world (Paultons Park) and one night in their hotel, it equated to almost the same price and you would still be 18-30 miles away from the theme park!

Although the Sandyballs booking didn’t include the Peppa Pig tickets, these are £27.25 if purchased in advance online. Saving £4.50 per person the day and once purchased the ticket is open ended so can be used once on almost any date until the end of October 2017.

Our booking included a 4 night stay in a two bed caravan, sleeping 4 people. The caravan came equipped with central heating in all rooms, microwave and a decent size lounge television with built in DVD player.  It had other things but these are the things that are important to me and the night time milk monster. For a full inventory, check the Sandyballs website. (Link further down, cheeky way to force you to keep reading methinks).

In my own opinion and with relatively high expectations I found the accommodation clean and comfortable, aside from the mattresses on the beds! These were very soft if i’m being polite, completely knackered and in need of an update if I’m being honest. On one of the singles you had to fight not to roll off one side.  Outside you have a single parking space directly next to your caravan, some were a very short walk to a small parking area. If you have ever been to Centreparcs though then this is a luxury you will possibly appreciate. You also have a picnic table and barbeque. All service charges and linen are included in the price. As well as use of the leisure facilities. I’m not going to waffle on about everything in lots of detail because their website does that all for me.

All you need to know is, I loved it, hubs loved it, George said he loved it. Although at the time he was going through some weird “I can’t believe you’ve driven me 2 hours up the road and called it a holiday anxiety”. He spent the week insisting hubs carried him everywhere like some sort of Egyptian ruler and told me to “go away, I don’t want you”. To be fair though, when we took a walk through the forest it had random strange headstones and felt eerie. So perhaps it was haunted and George was in fact possessed for the week.

new forest comfort caravan

My overall opinion is that is was clean, friendly, welcoming and somewhere we would most definitely recommend.

Onsite you have a convenience store. The prices are relatively reasonable and not massively increased. Genuinely! I’d say everything was marked up by about 50p more than the supermarkets but that’s to be expected. There are a few local supermarkets such as Tesco express and Waitrose just a short drive away though.

There is an amusements arcade with a good selection of old and new style arcade games and penny drop machines. Next door to this is an unsupervised soft play area for younger children and toddlers. We didn’t get around to trying this unfortunately, but it looked pretty cool. As did the huge park play area which again we sadly didn’t get around to trying. But there wouldn’t be a reason to go back if we had exhausted everything so every cloud and all that.

sandyballs amusement arcade

Across the road from our caravan we had an access path to the forest. This was an active walk up and down hills and with access to the river. A toddler could manage it though. Sandyballs appear to own this part of the forest as there are many signs for their activities such as clay shooting and pond dipping. They have such a huge array of activities. We didn’t actually book any except cycle hire. There really is so much to do for every age. Checkout their website here, Sandyballs to see all they have to offer. It has our seal of approval.

Anyone that knows me, knows I believe that life is too short and the world is too vast to return to the same place twice. But on  rare occasions I will. I believe Sandyballs has so much to offer that we would both love to return for maybe a 7 day stay and hire a lodge with a hot tub.

It’s also worth noting that we went just out of season in the last week of March so there is more on offer during peak times. There wasn’t much in the way of evening entertainment. Onsite there is a restaurant, The Forest table, offering Italian cuisine. We had a fry up breakfast here one morning and it was delicious. This restaurant appeared calmer of an evening and less suitable for the likes of a noisy toddler and his Blaze and the Monster machines car tearing it up and down the table.

We chose to dine at the Woodside Inn one night and stopped by a second night for dessert and drinks. The Woodside Inn is both dog and child friendly. This reminded me of the scene in the film Titanic. Whilst the more refined classes were enjoying fine dining in the upper decks or in this case The Forest Table. We were herded together, dogs and rowdy children into the pub the Woodside Inn, to do some irish dancing on the tables. Clearly this is just a figment of my imagination but it did make me chuckle.

We absolutely loved it at the Woodside inn. The food was lush and portion sizes were sufficient. We attended the pub quiz curry night on the wednesday and there was a good mix of pensioners, 50 somethings and thirty something families in attendance. The banter was good and the quiz was very well organised. Needless to say our confidence wasn’t much help as we came close to bottom.

The staff everywhere were very friendly and always made an effort to interact with George, who was at times struggling to adjust to the excitement of being on holiday and was being very clingy and temperamental.

The swimming pool area was nice but it wasn’t all singing and dancing, no slides or alike. There are two small triangular splash pools for toddlers, either side of the steps to the main pool. As it was March, we couldn’t try the outside pool as it is closed off peak. I absolutely loved having some much needed chill time in the Jacuzzi and Spa, pummelling my sore muscles after a crazy bike ride. Whilst still being able to seeing hibs and little one play together in the splash pool.

new forest mountain biking

Ah yes, the bike ride. Hubs and I haven’t ridden bikes in just over two years. Having hired from  the onsite cycle centre, who provided us with a route map of varying difficulties, we set off. It was George’s first time on the back of a bike in a special childs seat. We were apprehensive as to whether he would enjoy it, but he really did.

Our chosen cycle route took us down the road before entering the forest. Once in the forest, we encountered many ponies. You are advised not to approach or touch them, but they approached us so it seemed rude not to. They simply wanted a little scratch and then they were on their way again, munching through the forest. At one point a grey pony crossed the path ahead, specifically to stand in my way. I asked him if he was trying to tell me not to continue that route and he simply looked at me and walked off. Leaving me dumbfounded. Needless to say he wasn’t wasn’t warning me about any dangers ahead. Maybe about the small stream we had to ride across that I ended up getting a sodden foot in, but I’m here to tell the tale.

The ponies were just totally surreal. As soon as you cross the cattle grid there are ponies galore, with the odd cow and donkey. It was just awe-inspiring.

Until next time…..

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Flying With A Baby

A review of Everyman cinema – Beauty and the Beast 2017 #KCACOLS

This post is a review of  Everyman cinema, detailing the experience we had watching Beauty and the Beast, 2017. Please note there will be NO spoilers from the film, so please feel free to read on without hesitation.

Visiting the cinema is something I haven’t done in several years.  To celebrate my birthday, (I totally believe in Birthdays by the way!) I thought it was ideal to try out our new Everyman cinema. I know so many people who claim birthdays are ” just another day”. Not so in my books! Each birthday is a celebration of making it through another year. So many people don’t make it through no choice of their own. To my mind, life is a gift to be celebrated. So I asked my darling mum to have George for several hours. Allowing myself and hubs to have some quality time together.

Our local area has recently received the marvellous addition of an Everyman cinema. If you haven’t heard of Everyman , they are a cinema chain offering a luxury cinema experience. For our film of choice I decided a romantic rendezvous with the hubs wouldn’t be complete without a romantic fairytale ala Beauty and the Beast.

On arrival we approached the desk and informed the lone girl at the counter that we had booked to see the 13:45 viewing online. After determining we were there to see Beauty and the Beast, her interaction with us ceased. I had to ask her for guidance, explaining that we hadn’t been before. It would have been helpful to have been asked if we had visited before and explain how things work.

As we made our way to the main atrium, a selection of boutique styled seating and tables confronted us, along with a bar and several people sitting eating. A quick stop off at the loo revealed all the soap dispensers had ran out. The member of staff I informed was very apologetic and this was rectified when I visited the loos again before we left the cinema. We took a seat in the atrium and began to peruse the menu.

Having done my research, (I’m a stickler for research!) I knew you could order food to have brought to your seat in the screening. Again though, being a total newbie I didn’t know how you went about arranging this.

The barman simply asked for our order so I asked how we arrange for the food to be delivered to our seats. He said he would give us our drinks now and the food would be delivered to our seats. (The film wasn’t due to start for half an hour so in hindsight we should’ve asked for the food there and then). The menu has a choice of pizza, garlic bread, nachos, chips, burgers and hotdogs. With sundaes, brownies and then typical sweets and popcorn for afters. Drinks were varied with upmarket soft drinks, wines, beers, cocktails, coke floats and milkshakes.

We ordered an orange and ginger fentimans for hubs and a chambord royale cocktail for me. We ordered fries with cheese each. Then I ordered a sundae and hubs ordered a brownie. After moseying about for a while with our drinks, we saw ourself to the screening room. You don’t need your tickets checking, unless you want assistance to your seat.

everyman cinema review

After settling down in our comfy, spacious two seater sofa, complete with cuddle cushions, we waited for our food. As we waited for the the trailers to begin, a waitress appeared with my ice cream sun