We’ve had a crazy busy couple of weeks and have been really looking forward to a slower pace over half term. No rushing to get out of the house on a morning, no frantic panic looking for socks, shoes, book bags and clean t shirts. No dragging Chloe out of bed with the promise of a new dress if she managed to make it through half a term without a tantrum in the morning (which incidentally she did!) Just no real pressure. We’re all tired. Ben and Chloe have both been really emotional for the last week or so. This is fairly common for Chloe towards the school holidays but Ben usually manages to hold things together – I think a combination of his SATs, his after school commitments having trebled and fighting off a bug have all knocked him for six and last weekend we had tears over not being able to hold a chip butty properly! Yes. I know. We are so ready for half term.
To set our half term off on the right foot, we hopped a tram into town (my car has been in the garage but we had already decided that getting the tram would be a nice treat) and made our way to The Printworks which is just over the road from Manchester Victoria station.
The Printworks is billed as “Manchester’s Premier Entertainments Complex” housing an enormous 20 screen Odeon Cinema and a wide variety of places to eat and drink. This half term, from Tuesday 31st May through to Friday 3rd June it’s “Kids Week” at the Printworks with a range of free activities going on in The Pump Yard (including story telling, dancing and even vegetable planting) and plenty of family friendly options for a spot of lunch too.
We were invited along to The Printworks to enjoy a family film and some lunch. Although I knew Ben would really enjoy the new Angry Birds, we decided that Zootropolis was probably a better option as we were taking Amy too. Usually, if we’re going to take the kids to the cinema, we tend to just take the big two at the moment as they can sit happily through a film whereas Amy tends to get a bit fed up. She’s only 2.5yo after all. I must admit, I was much more up for watching Zootropolis having seen some clips and heard lots of great reviews.
The Odeon Cinema in The Printworks is enormous and set over several floors so the kids though that having to go up lots of escalators to get to our screening was great fun! The screening was relatively empty and we were able to have our pick of seats which is always nice! The seating is super comfy and really generous with leg room (something Dave and I often struggle with). The fact that the seats are fixed (rather than the fold up ones you so often get in the cinema) is great for little ones as I know my three often struggle with the flip up seats. It was a shame the arm rests were fixed though as Amy really wanted to curl up and lean on me for a snuggle but the arm rests were in the way.
The film was great, holding all our attention right the way through (well, except Amy – though she did better than I expected). Some parts of the film were “laugh out loud” hilarious, others a little scary. Ben actually snuggled right up to me and openly admitted to being frightened – not that he needed to, I could feel he was actually shaking a bit! Over all, the kids thought it was fantastic and I know they’ll happily watch it again.
After the film we were all more than ready for some lunch so we made our way over to Peachy Keens. This isn’t somewhere we’d been before but we’d heard great things about the “world buffet” from friends (including Jenny from The Brick Castle who visited recently). We were taken to a larger table in a fairly dingy corner of the restaurant which seemed to be being used as a staff room – when we arrived there was a member of staff laid down (!) in the adjacent booth and during the course of our meal there was always at least two staff members sat there. Whilst this wasn’t an issue per se as they weren’t disturbing us, it did make us feel we weren’t really part of the proper dinner experience and had been shoved out of the way.
Having never been to a buffet before, we explained to the kids that they could choose anything they wanted to eat and showed them all around the buffet first so they could see what was on offer. They were excited at the prospect of choosing and serving their own food and we told them it was a good chance to try different things. I was really surprised that rather than going straight for pizza and chicken nuggets, Ben’s first choice was chicken tikka masala! The girls stuck to the “safer”, tried & tested route of pizza, chips, chicken nuggets, crisps etc.
Dave tried Chinese food first whereas I went for Indian. We were both a little disappointed with the quality of the food – the chicken in the curry was very dry and over all the food seemed to be fairly bland. However, the kids were clearing their plates and going back for more – three times over! Although I wasn’t overly impressed with the quality of the food itself, I should point out that the buffet was all hot and well stocked. The staff regularly came to clear our empty plates from the table but made little effort to interact with us which was a shame as Amy was full of smiles and good manners each time they came over.
The desert stand looked the most enticing with bite size cake pieces, ice cream and a chocolate fountain. The chocolate fountain was fairly unappetising as it just looked a mess – I was glad that none of the kids seemed very interested in it. I picked up quite a plateful of tasty looking morsels, which unfortunately turned out to be fairly nothingy and I left most of them. The kids demolished their ice creams!
We left Peachy Keens with full tummies and happy kids. The relaxed dining experience is great for families and the all you can eat buffet represents great value. Whilst Dave and I are unlikely to go to Peachy Keens on our own, I do thinks its worth considering for a family lunch – especially if everyone likes to eat different things!
Our afternoon at The Printworks made for a really great way to start our half term holiday – everything was so easy and convenient so there was no stressing out. I would never really have thought of it as being a family friendly venue before having only experienced it at night but it’s definitely somewhere we’ll consider returning to in the future!
*We were invited to spend the afternoon at The Printworks free of charge for the purposes of review however all thoughts and opinions remain our own*