Beauty and the Beast at St Helen’s Theatre Royal

On Sunday tea time I took Chloe and Amy along with Chloe’s best friend Willow and her mum over to St Helen’s to watch their October half term panto; Beauty and the Beast.  Ben had decided he wasn’t that bothered about coming but my girls love the story of Beauty and the Beast so I knew they’d really enjoy it.  Amy was a little apprehensive as she remembers seeing Beauty and the Beast at The Epstein a few years ago and being quite scared of the Beast.  I reminded her that she’s much bigger now and that she knows the story has a happy ending!

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Disney on Ice presents Dream Big – Review

Disney on Ice Dream Big, little boy mesmerised by Moana

Last Friday night, I took Ben, Chloe and Amy along with Uncle Will and Cass to see Disney on Ice presents Dream Big at Manchester Arena.  We’ve seen quite a few Disney on Ice performances over the last few years but I think this might actually be my favourite yet!

We're going on an adventure to Disney on Ice presents Dream Big

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A day out with TraffordCity

Trafford City SEA LIFE centre - finding nemo

TraffordCity, Manchester is  a “city within a city” – a shopping and entertainment destination built up around the Trafford Centre (which incidentally is currently celebrating it’s 20th birthday . . . I couldn’t quite believe it when I read that recently but then realised that it’s over 15 years since I stopped working there myself!)  There’s so much to do at TraffordCity – from retail therapy and a whole host of dining options in the Trafford Centre itself to a variety of sports opportunities.  When it comes to entertaining the kids there’s something for everyone – from snow fun at Chill Factore to Legoland Discovery Centre or SEA LIFE.

This week, I set off up to Trafford City with the kids for a day out.  It was a fairly grey and miserable day in the summer holidays so I knew that TraffordCity had the potential to be quite busy.  I decided it was best to just get up and out meaning that we were at our first destination by 9.30am!

Dinofalls Adventure Golf

Dinofalls Adventure Golf is situated just off the M60 and is part of the Trafford Golf Centre.  Featuring 18 holes of dinosaur themed crazy golf, and costing £24 for a family ticket (2 adults, 2 childen) – Dinofalls Adventure Golf is good fun for all ages and my little gang were super excited to be able to finally go to “the dinosaur place” they had seen from the motorway every time we went to the Trafford Centre!

We arrived at Dinofallls Adventure Golf at 9.30am, knowing that it had been busy during the holidays and hoping that being there first thing would combat this.  (Now when I say first thing, Dinofalls golf is actually open from 7.30am . . . I’m not sure I would ever feel the need to play crazy golf before breakfast but you never know).  As it turned out, we timed it really well – we arrived at the first hole at the same time as another family but they were clearly much quicker than us as after the first hole we never really caught them up again meaning we were free to play at our own pace without waiting around.  By the time we had finished the course there was quite a queue behind us – I’d like to think this was more because Dinofalls was getting much busier as the day went on rather than that we were so rubbish that we were holding everyone up . . .

Trafford City - Dinofalls Adventure golf

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The Big Feastival 2018 – Sort of!

The Big Feastival 2018 - We're going on an adventure

Right about now I should be dancing in the rain with Dave at The Big Feastival, enjoying a bit of old school hip hop from Sugarhill Gang (which Dave would have rapped incessantly throughout) and wondering what to eat for tea.  What I’m actually doing is sitting in my pyjamas catching up on Coronation Street after spending the day cleaning and tidying . . .

Friday lunch time we packed the car up and set off down to Alex James’ Farm in The Cotswolds for The Big Feastival (which is considerably further away than I had realised and thanks to some heavy traffic took over 4 hours to get to!)  We managed to get the tent pitched just before the heavens opened – it has to be said it’s considerably easier when it’s just the two of us!  Once we’d got ourselves set up we were able to take shelter from the worst of the rain before sticking on our raincoats heading into the festival for the evening.

We spent much of the evening pottering around and perusing the different food and drink vendors – picking out ones we’d like to re-visit over the weekend, Dave might have got a bit excited about some peanut butter brownies!  I was too cold to want to drink gin (I know, I know but ice . . . ) and decided to save that one for Saturday, preferring a steaming cup of hot chocolate from Neigh Coffee whilst Dave was all about the Birra Moretti (which wasn’t exactly cheap at £6.50 a pint but it’s his favourite so who am I to deny him!)

The Big Feastival 2018 - We're going on an adventure

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Just So Festival 2018 – Our Highlights

Last weekend saw our third trip to Just So Festival – which I guess makes us regulars (though there are certainly people who have been plenty more times than we have!)  Each year we have done things slightly differently.  The first time we just visited for the day, the second time we camped for the full weekend and this time we made a last minute decision not to camp due to the weather forecast and just drove over each day. (We live just under an hour away from the festival site of Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire.)  Although we are fully set up for camping in the rain and wouldn’t let the weather spoil our fun, in this instance the forecast was bad for Sunday and the idea of putting the tent down in the rain when we didn’t really have the time or space to get it back up again to dry it out at home ahead of camping again the following two weekends was the deciding factor.

One of the things I love most about returning to Just So Festival each year is the mix of familiar favourites with the new.  There were things we were familiar with from previous Just So Festival adventures, others we saw at Timber Festival earlier in the year and yet more still which we’d never seen before at all.  Even just the fact that some things had moved around the site keeps things feeling fresh.

For us the highlights of Just So Festival 2018 were:

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William’s Den – 14 Things We Loved

William’s Den, situated in a small village called North Cave near Hull in East Yorkshire, is an adventure play space with a difference.  The team at William’s Den were keen to create a space which was just that – a huge open space full of possibility and adventure.  They wanted to create a place where children could play whatever the weather, where they could enjoy the outdoors and experience the freedom that comes with it.  And yet, at the same time they have created a space where children are safe, where their parents can get stuck in or sit back and enjoy a coffee while they’re children roam to their heart’s content.

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Twenty Reasons why you should book Holiday Village Tenerife

Holiday Village Tenerife / Hotel Costa Los Gignantes - view from Balinese beds

Holiday Village Tenerife is part of the Be Live Hotel; Costa Los Gigantes, situated near Playa de la Arena – the quieter, calmer little sister of Playa de las Americas which is half an hour down the road.  Dave stayed in Playa de las Americas for a stag do last year and said it is like Blackpool – make of that what you will!

We actually saw very little of Playa de la Arena, only leaving our hotel for a day out at Siam Park.  This felt extremely lazy but in reality is testimony to how well looked after we were at Holiday Village Tenerife.  Usually we would have explored local beaches & markets but the time just slipped away from us.  I think if we’d been staying for another week we might have planned to explore more but we just really didn’t feel the need.  Dave described this as a “take your brain out” holiday – you just don’t need to think about anything. Your meals are organised, the kids are entertained, your bed made. This is a far cry from the self catering holidays we would usually book and our heads have been well and truly turned – Dave actually started looking at booking our next Holiday Village break before we’d even got home!

Holiday Village Tenerife kids in quiet pool

With that in mind, here’s

Twenty reasons why we think you should book a family holiday at Holiday Village Tenerife:

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Visiting Siam Park With Kids

Siam Park rides with kids

Siam Park, Tenerife is widely regarded as one of the best water parks in Europe if not the world – they have in fact just been named the world’s best water park by TripAdvisor for the 5th year in a row.

Dave visited Siam Park last year on a stag do and came back absolutely raving about it – full of tales of exhilarating water slides and showing Ben videos on youtube.  Of course visiting with the kids was a whole different ball game and we wanted to share our top tips with you for making the most of your day at Siam Park – some of these will apply to anyone, others are more focused on visiting with little ones but either way, you should find them useful in planning your trip!

Fifteen Top Tips for Visiting Siam Park with Kids

1. Buy swim shoes

When Dave had visited Siam Park with the lads, they spent the day barefoot however I wasn’t comfortable with this for the children and thanks to the advice of another visitor in the changing rooms who told us the floor would be really hot, we decided to keep our flip flops on all day.  This meant that we had to leave them at the bottom of various slides and queue barefoot.  With hindsight, I wish we had bought proper swim shoes which could have been left on all day.  These are available to buy at the water park but obviously they will be cheaper if you are prepared and buy ahead!

2. Wear suitable clothing

I can’t tell you how many girls I saw walking around the park in teeny tiny bikinis.  If you wear a bikini at Siam Park, I guarantee you’re basically going to spend all day checking nothing has fallen out when you get to the bottom of a ride!  Treat your day at Siam Park as extreme sports and dress accordingly – this is a day for your one piece.  Whilst we’re on the subject of suitable clothing, it’s also worth considering wearing a rash vest for SPF protection if you’re visiting in the summer – our kids wore them fairly regularly on holiday anyway but we bought one at the park for Dave and it was without doubt the best thing we could have done.  Although you will spend some time queuing in the shade, the majority of the day is going to be spent in the open – and wet.  Your waterproof sun cream will only see you so far on this one.  Again, you can buy rash vests in a range of sizes and colours at Siam Park but planning ahead won’t do you any harm.  Life jackets are available for younger children to use free of charge however we took our own for Amy and she just kept it on all day for our own peace of mind.

Siam Park with kids - wear appropriate clothing. Rash vests are a great idea for extra sun protection

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Coral Island, Blackpool

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure Justice League 2p machines

For many, Blackpool is the epitome of traditional British seaside holidays – but despite it being just an hour away from home, it’s not somewhere we ever go.  In fact, aside from a trip to the circus a few years ago, I don’t think we’d ever actually been during the day until our visit earlier this month!  Funny isn’t it that something can be right on your doorstep and yet you never take advantage of it.

Heading over to Blackpool on one of the hottest days of the year didn’t feel all that smart – I was worried that we’d get stuck in traffic, struggle to park, that it would be heaving and that we’d suffer in the heat (this is a major concern when your family is 40% ginger!).  We decided to set off early doors (I’m talking 8.45am) to beat the rush and actually made it over to Blackpool in little over an hour and easily found a parking space in the Bonny Street car park opposite Coral Island.

Coral Island is Blackpool’s largest indoor free admission family attraction – perfect positioned right on the seafront and ideal for passing the time on a rainy day or in our case, an air conditioned oasis in a heatwave!

From the moment you walk through the door, Coral Island is an assault on the senses – it’s dark and noisy with flashing lights drawing you in everywhere, tempting you to pour your holiday money into a vast array of games and machines.  Basically heaven for our children who have only ever really been to an arcade once before in Scarborough where they developed a heavy obsession for 2p machines (and who can blame them!)

Whilst we got our bearings and started to choose what things we might like to try out, Dave made a beeline for a change machine to make sure we had a ready supply of coins!  The kids were fascinated by the Pirate Flyer ride which literally takes you on a ride above everyone’s heads, giving you a great view of Coral Island in the process!  You have to buy your tokens before you go on the ride and one of ours got stuck in the machine, it took me a matter of moments to find a member of staff to help us out and remove the token from the machine.

Coral Island Pirate Ride

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - pirate ride

Next on our list was hitting up the 2p machines, where I honestly think we could have played all day.  We picked out machines which not only give out 2ps but prize tickets and so began our collection!  The kids were so excited when the machines spat out reams of tickets for them to gather up, you’d think they’d won the ticket lottery!

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure Justice League 2p machines

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure 2p machines - Amy

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure 2p machines giving out tickets

The Camel Derby was great fun, though the kids found it quite tricky and the other adults who were playing alongside us were difficult to beat – Dave couldn’t resist giving the kids a hand but we soon decided that it was probably not worth them playing again!

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure Camel Derby

Of course we couldn’t visit the Admiral’s Lounge, Island Slots or Casino as these areas are clearly fenced off and suitable for over 18s only but we did have a lot of fun playing Prize Bingo.  This isn’t quite the same as the old bingo dabber on a card situation, you sit yourself down in front of a screen, pop your coins in and basically press at the cards as the numbers are called – they are automatically highlighted for you and over the course of a few games both girls managed to win a line each giving them points to spend on a small prize.  (A flashing hedgehog and a light up ball if I remember rightly!)

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - Prize Bingo

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - Little girl playing Prize Bingo

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - Prize Bingo Winner

We loved that nothing was really that expensive so we didn’t feel we had to say no to rides or arcade games (though we did limit some of them to one turn!)

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - ride

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - bowling arcade game

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - Father and daughter playing air hockey

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - arcade games

One of the newest additions to Coral Island is a VR simulator ride – I warn you now, this isn’t cheap at £3 so was definitely a one go only ride, but Ben absolutely loved it!

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - new VR ride

When it comes to eating in Coral Island there are four restaurants offering a range of food and best of all, kids eat free! One under 10 eats free for every paying adult so we obviously had to pay for an extra children’s meal but this is fairly typical.  I let Dave choose where we ate and he picked out The Buccaneer – a fairly traditional pub with a piratey twist from the decor to the staff (yes, the staff were in full pirate costume which the kids loved!).  I had a lasagne (which was possibly the most tomatoey lasagne I’d ever had in my life but it filled a hole!) Dave and Ben went for burgers whilst the girls had chicken nuggets as is standard!

Coral Island | We're going on an adventure - Lasagne

Of course the most important thing to do before we left was to cash in ALL our tickets!  As it turns out, we didn’t actually have that many tickets at all compared to some of the people we saw feeding them into the “ticket eater” but we had enough for Ben to be able to choose a small toy from the Treasure Chest!

I think we spent about £40 on the arcades and the same again on dinner & drinks for five . . . we could have easily spent longer in Coral Island but we felt it was only right that we went for a quick paddle before our car parking ran out!  We’ve promised the kids we’ll go back another day.

Blackpool | We're going on an adventure

*We were invited to visit Coral Island and our expenses were paid however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*