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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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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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*

Taking Time Out at The Spa Hotel, Ribby Hall Village

You know how sometimes life just seems to be careering on at full pelt and there seems to be nothing you can do to slow it down?  Things are crazy busy for us the moment – well always if I’m honest – but it seems to be particularly hectic at the moment with pretty much all our weekends booked up from the start of March through to the summer holidays combined with the usual frenzy of after school activities and tight work deadlines.  And whilst I do love to be busy, and much of what we are doing is super exciting, it can sometimes all feel a bit too much.

Back in the middle of March I was invited to spend the day at The Spa Hotel, Ribby Hall Village with some blogger friends – this practically makes it work right?  Ribby Hall Village is about 45 miles from where we live but if I’m honest I don’t mind a bit of time on my own in the car so the drive really didn’t feel like much of a bind!  I arrived mid morning, was given a robe and flip flops and shown to the changing rooms where the lockers were explained to me.  There are no phones allowed in the spa which frankly is bliss – locking my phone away for a few hours and really switching off was exactly what the doctor ordered!

The Spa Hotel, Ribby Hall

The main purpose of our trip to Ribby Hall was to experience the Aqua Thermal Journey  – “an amazing journey, where mind and body are treated to all kinds of unique and tantalising treatments, varying in temperature to detoxify, relax and revitalise.”  Essentially this is a series of experiences – a mix of steam rooms, saunas and hot tubs – which gradual increase in temperature.  The idea being that alternating between increasingly hot and cold temperatures can “stimulate and and improve your circulation, relax aching muscles, cleanse and rejuvenate your skin, and boost your immune system, as well as feeling luxurious and invigorating.”  The website suggests that the Aqua Thermal Journey should take about two hours but it definitely took us longer – probably because we were chatting so much – and we ended up rushing the end of the journey as we had a booking for lunch in the The Orangery.  If I’m honest I think I could have merrily spent all day taking my time on working through the various steps of the Aqua Thermal Journey and lying on the very inviting loungers – which I actually didn’t get chance to do!

Because the idea of the Aqua Thermal Journey is that it steadily increases in temperature as you work your way through the journey, each step is numbered and a small explanation of the treatment and it’s purpose given outside the room.  Sally was thoroughly amused by my need to experience all of the steps in the recommended order, I couldn’t bring myself to miss any out or do them in a different order.  This is in part due to the fact I’m naturally someone who follows the rules but also because I wanted to make sure I was getting the full benefit!

Ribby Hall Aqua Thermal Journey

Following the Aqua Thermal Journey in order meant that yes I did tip a bucket of ice cold water over my head (or at least down my back) and whilst it was brutal, I actually did quite appreciate the intensity of it!  There was only one room which we all really struggled with – The Balinese Salt Inhalation Room is the hottest steam room at 49 degrees!  The salt infused vapour encourages detoxification and cleansing of the skin and lungs – which I loved in theory but actually just found really overwhelming – it made my eyes sting and I couldn’t settle into breathing comfortably so soon left to move onto the next step!

One of my favourite parts of the journey was sitting outside in the hot tub in the Zen Garden – it was a cold day, but bright and sunny so being able to sit in a steaming hot tub whilst looking out into the countryside was absolutely lovely!  (I did end up overheating a bit and having to get out but I think I had just sat in there for far too long!)

After experiencing the Aqua Thermal Journey we took ourselves off to The Orangery for a light lunch – I didn’t bother getting dressed as I had a treatment booked later in the day but I did feel a bit daft sitting in my swimming costume and robe as most of the other guests were fully clothed!  Lunch was delicious and the service, whilst lovely, was decidedly relaxed.  It was nice not to feel harassed or rushed but as Sarah had to get off to do the school run we could have done with things being served a little quicker!

I had quite a gap from the other girls living to my booked treatment but I can’t say that having to spend more time in the spa was any kind of hardship!  The only downside was that I had got muddled up with my times and ended up getting ready for my treatment a good half hour too early – time I could have spent in the pool or hot tub rather than hanging around in reception but that was my own fault for not checking my booking!

I’m a big fan of NEOM fragrances and use them at home, but hadn’t realised until I was browsing the Ribby Hall Spa website that they actually do treatments – it would be rude not to try one!  Having had a couple of facials fairly recently I decided to pick a body treatment – I think I could have happily chosen any of them but the NEOM Energise treatment stood out to me: “Using changes in temperature, speed-of-touch and different textures this treatment begins with the Neom Body Scrub with its potently invigorating oils of wild mint and mandarin. Your skin will be buffed head-to-toe, left feeling amazingly uplifted and ready to be enveloped in the NEOM energising cream clay wrap. Whilst you’re wrapped you’ll experience a 20 minute face and scalp massage plus specialist reflex foot massage techniques (and back massage for 90 minute treatment option).” 

Oh. My. Days.

It was amazing.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it!  The treatment started with a guided meditation which was played on a CD while the therapist started work.  Now this sounds a bit odd but it was actually lush, listening to the instructions and concentrating on my breathing helped me to really relax into the treatment making sure I got the best from it.  The products used smell heavenly (as you’d expect from NEOM) and the whole experience left me feel really relaxed, with beautifully soft skin.  I loved that this was a whole body treatment – not just a fancy scrub but a treatment from head to toe.  I would book it again in a heartbeat – and I’d also love to try some of the other NEOM treatments on offer!  I was only gutted that I hadn’t left myself time to chill out after the treatment and had to set off straight home!

Ribby Hall is certainly up there as one of the nicest spas I’ve visited.  That makes it sounds like I’ve been to loads – I haven’t – but I’ve certainly seen a fair range of quality and Ribby Hall sits nicely at the top end and I’m already planning a return trip with Dave!

*We were invited to experience the Aqua Thermal Journey free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain my own*

*Read more reviews here*

Disney on Ice – Worlds of Enchantment at Echo Arena Liverpool

Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment

I can’t tell you how glad I was to get everyone into bed this evening – the levels of bickering and generally over-tired, over-emotional behaviour were reaching fever pitch and breakdown was imminent (I’m not sure which would have come first – mine or Amy’s).  However, it was all worth it.  You see my girls didn’t get to bed till after 10pm last night having travelled over to Liverpool to watch the latest Disney on Ice show – Worlds of Enchantment.

This was Chloe’s 4th Disney on Ice show and Amy’s 2nd – previously Amy had just been too little to manage the late night and whilst she’s still pretty small to be driving home from Liverpool at 9pm, she’s now more than capable of sitting and enjoying the show.  And enjoy the show she did.

This time, Ben decided to forgo his ticket in favour of a “lad’s night” with his best friend meaning that we were able to taking my goddaughter, Erin (who regular readers will be familiar with as she features fairly frequently on my blog!).  Previously when I’ve taken the kids to watch Disney on Ice, they haven’t known about it before hand but this time they’d been counting down for days with the excitement building.  In the past it hasn’t really occurred to me to dress them up, and I’ve tended to concentrate more on making sure they’re comfortable for the journey and the show itself but this time round we decided to let the girls wear their princess dresses which if I’m honest just seemed to add to the magic for them!

Meet Woody & Jessie at Disney on Ice

Meet Mickey Mouse at Disney on Ice

The Worlds of Enchantment show starts with a quick “Fit to Dance” performance which encourages the audience to get up and get moving – I was impressed to see Chloe leap up and bust out some moves, she normally takes a little while to warm up to these things!

The main show was split into four sections featuring Toy Story 3, Little Mermaid, Cars and Frozen with a short interval in the middle.

Having seen several Disney on Ice shows now I was super excited to see something different on the ice – Toy Story 3 and Cars haven’t featured before in the Disney on Ice shows that we’ve seen and if I’m honest I have more than a bit of a soft spot for the Toy Story trilogy so was thrilled to see some of my favourite characters performing.  As ever I found myself marvelling at how it’s even possible to skate as the back end of a donkey or dressed as a pig.  The Toy Story performance gave a whistle-stop tour of Toy Story 3 outlining the story from Andy packing up his toys to them arriving at Sunnyside, Lotso and eventually their escape – it’s amazing how much of the story can be condensed into a few songs and some skating!

Toy Story 3 Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment

Lotso, Toy Story Disney on Ice

The Little Mermaid always plays out well on the ice featuring your favourite songs and, possibly one of my favourite costumes of the entire show – Ursuala.  The enormous inflatable Ursula which we’ve seen previously didn’t make an appearance last night but I think the Little Mermaid section was shorter than the Toy Story one – it certainly felt that way at any rate.

Little Mermaid - Disney on Ice

Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment

Mother and daughter watching Disney on Ice, Worlds of Enchantment

After the interval (where poor Amy panicked that the show was over and she hadn’t seen Elsa) we were treated to Cars – which was a bit of an odd one as it didn’t involve any skaters just cars whizzing around expertly on the ice!  I’m fairly sure this was some fancy remote control trickery as I couldn’t see anyone inside the vehicles!!  Amy was super excited as one of her friends at Nursery loves Cars and she couldn’t stop telling me how much Noah would love this bit of the show and whilst it wasn’t my personal favourite I could see how exciting it would be for a Cars fan!

Cars at Disney on Ice

And then of course it was time for the grand finale, I’ve said it before but Frozen was made for the ice.  Every Disney on Ice show we’ve seen has featured Frozen and each time it is a spectacular of beautiful costumes, fake snow and amazing ice dancing.  Amy was beside herself – I think she actually enjoyed it more this time than she had the first time we took her!

Elsa from Frozen - Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment

Olaf at Disney on Ice

Proving you really are never too old for Disney, my friend Sarah from Extraordinary Chaos watched the show with her teenage son and friend!

You can catch Disney on Ice, Worlds of Enchantment at Echo Area Liverpool until this Sunday before moving on to Nottingham, Cardiff and Aberdeen.

*We received complimentary tickets to Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Enchantment for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

Reddish Vale Farm – Perfect for Under 5s!

It’s been years since we last visited Reddish Vale Farm, so long in fact that I was pregnant with Amy.  On the basis that it isn’t too far away from home, not too expensive and had cows (a key factor in any farm visit!) we decided to pay a visit this Easter rather than travelling to a much larger but more expensive farm.

With it being the first actually nice day of the Easter holidays, Reddish Vale Farm was understandably busy and we struggled to park onsite, having to drive back up the hill and park on of the nearby residential streets.  Luckily we found a spot not too far away and were able to make our way back down to the farm without a problem.

The farm had only been open about half an hour when we arrived and as such there was a bit of queue to get in but this moved reasonably quickly.  Of course this fed through into the first part of the farm being pretty crowded too and in hindsight perhaps we should have started in the play area and worked backwards.  The farm area was much quieter later in the day meaning there was plenty of room to mooch about and spend time at each animal pen.

Reddish Vale Farm - calves

Having been before, I knew that Reddish Vale Farm wasn’t very big but I think I’d forgotten just how small it actually is and I quickly worried that we were going to have wasted our money – it cost us somewhere in the region of £32 to get in (including a couple of buckets of carrots to feed the animals) which for a full day out would be great value but in reality turned out to be pretty expensive.

Because it was so busy we found ourselves moving on quite quickly from each animal pen to allow other people a chance to see and feed the animals and as such within an hour we had finished in the farm area itself.  I was quite disappointed as seeing the animals at our other favourite farms is the main focus of our day.  (Amy has been known to spend 45 minutes just watching the cows being milked at Smithills Farm!)

We made our way out to the new adventure play area – I say “new”, I don’t know how long it has been there but it’s certainly not something I’ve seen before and all the equipment looks pretty new so I wouldn’t think it has been more than a summer or two.  The playground equipment was spot on for Amy and Chloe, and whilst I would say it probably lacked the challenge Ben would like, it still kept him occupied for a good while – particularly the zip wire.

Reddish Vale Farm adventure playground

Zip wire at Reddish Vale Farm

We took ourselves off to the Tea Room for a drink and to share a cake before the kids tried out the soft play and bouncy castle – which if I’m honest I thought was an odd choice on their part considering the weather was so lovely but hey, who am I to argue.  There was a lengthy queue for the toilets at lunch time which was frustrating – especially as the majority of customers are small children who might not be able to hold it in!

All in we actually managed to spend about 4 hours at Reddish Vale by virtue of the weather – had it been cold or miserable I think we’d have been done within a couple of hours.  It was lovely to get out in the fresh air and see some calves but in all honesty I think our children are now too big for Reddish Vale Farm.

Here’s eleven reasons why we think Reddish Vale is great for Under 5s

It’s not huge – there isn’t too much walking for little legs

There’s a nice variety of typical farm animals in easy to see pens

There’s only one or two pens of each type of animal so it doesn’t get boring

The animals are used to being fed and petted

The soft play and bouncy castles are undercover for days when the weather is below par

The majority of the outdoor play area is easily accessible for little children – at 4.5yo Amy could go on everything independently

You can hand feed the animals with buckets of carrots purchased on entry (£1 a bucket)

There’s a small indoor petting area with chicks and rabbits to hold under staff supervision

There’s plenty of places to sit down to enjoy a drink and snack if you’ve brought them with you

The adjoining Tea Room offers a great variety of options for a snack or meal and isn’t too expensive.

Under 2s are free.

(I did film our day out which I will hopefully add in here later but for now by video editing software isn’t playing ball!!)

11 Reasons why Reddish Vale Farm is perfect for Under 5s

Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure at Manchester Arena

On Wednesday evening I picked everyone up early from childcare, the big two got quickly changed in the car and we hopped a tram into town, eating butties on the way!  There’s nothing like the excitement of a cheeky after school adventure!  Of course they didn’t know where they were going – they never do.

We got off the tram at Manchester Victoria ready to climb the stairs to Manchester Arena only to be met with notices stating that backpacks were not to be allowed in the venue.  Of course it makes perfect sense, I understand why they’ve instigated that ruling.  Unfortunately I just didn’t know anything about it beforehand.  It wasn’t like there was even really anything in my backpack – just a camera and a few snacks – I tend to carry it out of habit, especially if I’m out with the three of them on my own.  I like to keep my hands free!

So I’m left standing there on my own, with three kids having to make the decision between chucking my bag away or taking them home again and missing out on the show . . . at this point I was extremely glad that they still didn’t know what we were actually going to see.  It took me a minute or two to get my head straight and to come up with a plan – having three little ones rabbiting on at you isn’t conducive to thinking properly!  I decided I would try and get a smaller bag to decant my things into and dump my rucksack.  I’d had it a couple of years and it was on it’s way out – I’d been looking for a replacement for a little while.  I decided that the value of my old bag versus the value of the tickets and experience meant the bag would have to go.  A quick trip to the M&S Simply Food in the train station for a carrier bag to decant my bag into and we were all set.

No backpacks allowed in Manchester Arena

By the time we’d got over this debacle and made our way round to the box office, we’d basically missed the VIP Meet & Greet so we didn’t get to see Mickey or any of the other characters this time.  I don’t think the kids were all that bothered though, they were just glad to be there and to see “The Gingers“.

We soon realised when the show started that the Passport to Adventure show is extremely similar to the Disney on Ice Silver Anniversary Celebration we had seen in Liverpool some 18 months ago.  It featured the same characters in the same order – and whilst still impressive, probably lacked the wow factor for us as we were left feeling that we’d seen it all before.

We're going on an adventure at Disney on Ice, Manchester Arena

That said, Ben and I both took great pleasure in watching the show through Amy’s eyes instead.  Although Ben and Chloe have been to two Disney on Ice shows previously, this was Amy’s first time.  I’d always felt she was too young to really appreciate it before, and too young to cope with such a late night.  She absolutely loved it – she was mesmerised by all the different characters from some of her favourite films (Frozen and The Little Mermaid are especially well watched in our house – though Chloe would have you believe she’s now too grown up for Frozen!)

Very excited to see Olaf

Highlights for us included the wonderful national costumes during It’s A Small World, the impressive use of flight for Peter Pan & Tinkerbell, and the enormous inflatable Ursula who held a commanding presence on the ice!  Of course the cherry on the cake was the Frozen performance at the end – Amy was beyond excited when Anna skated into view but almost burst when Olaf bumbled onto the ice!!  The clever use of special effects to make it “snow” added magic to the performance.

Enormous inflatable Ursula at Disney on Ice

Anna & Olaf at Disney on Ice, Manchester Arena

Snow effects during Frozen at Disney on Ice

Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure runs until Sunday 15th October in Manchester and TICKETS ARE STILL AVAILABLE. Prices start around £31 per person including the booking fee and Venue Restoration Levy.

After Manchester, Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure will visit:

Arena Birmingham 18-29 October
SSE Arena, Belfast 3-5 November
Citywest Hotel, Dublin 10-12 November
FlyDSA Arena, formerly Sheffield Arena 15-19 November
The O2, London 20-30 December

Looking forward to the new year, tickets are now available for Disney on Ice Worlds of Enchantment hitting Liverpool Echo Arena on 11th April 2018.

Check out what The Brick Castle and Red Rose Mummy thought of Disney on Ice presents Passport to Adventure too!

*We attended Disney on Ice at Manchester Arena free of charge for the purpose of review, all thoughts and opinions remain our own*

*Read more reviews here*

In the Night Garden Live – A Guest Review

It’s safe to say that my three are past the point of being all that bothered about In the Night Garden, in fact it was never really a programme that caught on in our house at all despite being avid CBeebies fans.  However, we all know that the familiar plinky plonky music of In the Night Garden signifies bedtime for many a toddler and my friend’s son is no different.  When I was offered the chance to review In the Night Garden Live at the Trafford Centre this summer, rather than pass it up I asked my friend to go in my place and review the show for you. 

Here’s what they thought: 

In the Night Garden Live

It was early on Saturday morning when Large Fry woke up and what echoed down the monitor was ‘me see Makka Pakka now?‘  We’d only told him a couple of days ago but he was very excited to be seeing the real Makka Pakka & Upsy Daisy.  So we set off on our journey to Manchester to meet up with his cousin & Auntie to see the In The Night Garden Live show.

As soon as we arrived he spotted the posters and shouted at the top of his voice the names of the different characters.  He was super excited and when we met up with his cousin they ran together hand in hand to the entrance.  He also asked lots of questions about the arena & if it would burst if he bit it!

In the Night Garden Live - Showdome

We were greeted by some enthusiastic members of staff who engaged with Large Fry & contained his excitement whilst in the foyer & in the short, well organised queue.

Once inside the inflatable arena, before the show starts, they have a Pinky Ponk projected onto the wall which rotates around the room.  From the minute the two children saw this they were pointing at it shouting LOUDLY ‘it’s the Pinky Ponk!’ ‘Where the Pinky Ponk go?‘ Their eyes never left the ceiling as they were racing each other to spot where it would come from next.  Tracking it across the arena & looking at the stage kept them occupied for a while but just before the show started we were beginning to get a little overexcited to say the least!

There are two In the Night Garden Live shows to choose from this summer – each lasts just under an hour.  All the characters feature in both stories and they are completely unrelated tales so I would suggest it’s more a case of picking a convenient time than particularly needing to choose which show you see.  As it was, we saw the Ninky Nonk show, this is a show in which you see Iggle Piggle having an adventure with Upsy Daisy and losing his blanket.

In the Night Garden Live - Iggle Piggle in his boat

In The Night Garden Live combines a clever mix of puppetry and full costumes.  The puppeteers are all dressed in green so as to camouflage with the background and they also move around the stage props and scenery.  Every time a new character came on Large Fry would shout ‘me hug [insert random ITNG characters name]‘. This was a huge surprise & I dare say if we had opted for the character meet and greet after he would have gone shy and refused to look at the characters when up close anyway.  This is something you can book up when buying your tickets.

I have never seen Large Fry so animated & focused on anything like this EVER!  He was up on his feet dancing and singing along to the familiar songs.

ITNG Live - audience

ITNG Live is a 45 minute show, perfect for the children it is aimed at, Large Fry at 2 1/2 got a little restless towards the end but I think he was almost overstimulated by it all & too excited.  Even at 6 months his brother Small Fry is transfixed by Iggle Piggle and the whole of the ITNG crew on the tv but I wouldn’t run to a ticket for him for a year or two at least.

I would definitely recommend the show to anyone who has an enthusiastic ITNG fan or two in the family – I don’t think there was a child under the dome on Saturday who wasn’t excited, dancing or having a whale of a time.  It was magical to watch the looks on their faces & their awe and wonderment throughout.

In the Night Garden Live is running through till the end of August at the Trafford Centre and tickets are still available.  At £14.50 for a standard ticket (with adults & children paying the same price), this could be an expensive hour of entertainment but if you’ve got a real In the Night Garden fan in your household the look on their face might well be worth the spend! 

*We were invited to see In the Night Garden Live free of charge for the purposes of review – all thoughts and opinions remain our own*