Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Diggerland, Where heavy machinery and fun come together...

J eagerly went to measure herself against the minimum height board, and jumped excitedly up and down. There was nothing I could do but stand back and watch as my 5 year old climbed up onto onto the enormous bright yellow, mud covered JCB. Was she really allowed to sit behind the controls of this mean machine, and then take the controls, and drive off out of sight?

Monday, 27 April 2015

Dancing at Pineapple studios, for Annie

The temperatures outside was the hottest of the year, and as we walked in, it felt even hotter. The air was filled with excitement of both the children and the mums, some of whom travelled from miles. The sound of sweaty little feet pounding the floor, round in circles as the giddy children ran of the excess energy. It was then time to get down to business.... "It was a hard knock life".

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A day at the beach, M's style...

In half term last spring, we visited Crosby beach for the very first time. Its where my logo badge was captured. It was a great day out, albeit very muddy, when we were not expecting mud. You can read about it here. We had so much fun, that we decided to go back again this half term, with some different friends then last time, with 3 boys. Crosby beach is famous for the 100 cast iron statues of naked men, which the girls found hilarious last time.
 

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Sorry... not sorry

I am sorry I have been so quiet on the blog over the past two weeks. Well, I am not really...
I have been making the most of the precious time with my girlies. We have had a busy two weeks, with lots happening, which has meant in the evenings we have either got in very late, or I just needed to unwind with a few vodkas... I will be writing all our events up very soon, well more then likely next week, as S starts her 15hours a week in nursery, and J returns back to school... I am hoping I will have plenty of time to catch up... But here is a sneak glimpse to what we have been up to this Easter half term... hope you like it...


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Saturday, 4 April 2015

National Forest Adventure Farm Easter visit

We love the National Forest Adventure Farm. We were invited back again for Easter, after our visits in the February half term, and Halloween, and the girls always have fun. There is always something different going on. This visit was all about Easter, and of course spring, with all the baby animals on the farm.
 
Our day didn't start as smoothly as yesterdays trip to Liverpool, with S deciding she didn't want to go out today, and stripping off just minutes after I had got her dressed, in a way to sabotage our efforts. We also ran out of squash, and my girls refuse to drink water, so we had to nip to the shops first.... this all meant that with the hour drive to get there, we arrived just before lunch. We looked at the timetable of events, with various events at specific times, we didn't want to miss anything that the girls really wanted to do. We started off with feeding the animals in the barn, which costs £1 for a cup. The cows knew what the cup meant, and ran straight over to the rail nudging the girls. Both girls found it hilarious. I know that cows don't have top teeth so cant bite, so encouraged the girls to feed by hand.... I managed to capture the moment.... J has fed cows before, but she obviously forgot how wet they are... check out her face.... you can just imagine the EEEWWWWW......
 
 
S didn't want to just feed the cows, and after we saw some of the slightly older lambs being fed pellets, we tried too...
 
 
After the feeding of the animals we headed to the outside paddocks where there was meant to be pony grooming. This is on twice during the day, one being at lunch time, the other right near the end of the day. This was the one activity that J jumped up and down to do in excitement. We headed out, and asked if we were in the right place, 15 minutes we waited, with other families joining in the wait, before we all gave up.... no one showed up at the ponies for the grooming. J was devastated and started crying.... after mentioning it to the original member of staff, he went to chase it up... came back saying they were with a sheep who was giving birth so couldn't come. However, we spoke to another member of staff a few hours later, and she said no lambs were born today! Either way J was very upset, and they had about 7 unhappy children who waited for nothing.
 
 
On passing the animal barn again, the petting zoo was open, and the guinne pigs were out for a stroke, this made a perfect distraction, to get J out of her crying state.
 
 
Closely followed by lunch. The Adventure farm is great for picnics, with picnic benches outside, or under cover in the barn. Since Halloween they have tented it up even more to keep the wind out, and its even warmer... the girlies didn't complain once about eating outside, rather then in the café.
 
 
After lunch we decided the trip to see the Easter Bunny was a must. This involved a bumpy tractor ride, (makes it more fun!) which was running constantly up to the opposite side of the farm. The girlies loved the longer journey, and all the board animals they had to spot and shout out. It built a great atmosphere on a packed tractor. When we got to the other side, it was a small woods. We were given a pencil and an answer sheet. On our little walk, there were 7 questions, all around the subject of rabbits, with a riddle, and game from the mole thrown in too.
 
 
At the end of the little walk, which took no time at all as the girls whizzed through it all in excitement, from one board to the next, was the Easter bunny waiting just for them.....
 
 
 
It was then back to the main farm, scoffing the chocolate they were rewarded, on the tractor. The next activity the girls wanted to do was make their own cress head...
 
 
 This went down very well, with the girls making their own faces on the cups, filling them up, seeding, and watering afterwards... we now have them on our windowsill. If they grow, we can take a photo and pop them on the Facebook page, in hope of winning a competition.
It was almost time to bottle feed the lambs, this really is a must at spring, but J had time to squeeze in a barrel ride first. S was insistent that she would NOT ride it today.... instead she picked through the gravel on the path deciding which stones she wanted to take home....


We then made it to the animal barn again just in time for them to bring out the milk. The barn was very busy, and this meant that the bottles had to be shared. They have bottle feeding three time during the day.... J loved it, S was more interested in watching them, but did have a go....


 
 After the feeding of the lambs, and of course the hand washing, we had one last hunt to do. Around the fun field, and yes it is a field packed with lots of fun things, we had to find the names of 12 characters, to get a prize on leaving. This helped J practise some of her reading, and S recognising her numbers. With all the too-ing and fro-ing from one board to the next, S went through a puddle of mud... she is no Peppa pig, and stopped and exclaimed she was stuck.... I was not in wellies, and not impressed....  but of course I had to snap a picture of her moment in hilarious distress....


It was then time for some serious fun, before the drive home. There is so much to do in the fun field. The girls chose the giant bouncy pillow. It sure is giant, and very bouncy....


...before trying to make a sand castle...


It was then getting late, and it was time to go home ready for tea... but not before collecting the prize for the last hunt...


It was a great day out, and I would highly recommend. Which ever season you choose, there is always something to do to keep you there for a day.




*We were given complimentary entry, in return for n honest review, all photos, words, and opinions are my own.
 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 3 April 2015

Beauty and the Beast at The Epstein Theatre review

Our half term started off wet as we headed to Liverpool for Beauty and the Beast. The spectacular pantomime version of the family classic is bought to the Epstein Theatre this Easter by LHK productions.
We all know how the story of beauty and the beast goes....  A vain and handsome Prince is tested by enchantress who seeks shelter. Disguised as an old woman, the enchantress begs for help only to be turned away by the selfish Royal. Seeing that Prince is rotten to the core, with no love in his heart, the enchantress curses him and the entire contents of his castle. The Prince is transformed into a fearsome Beast.  The only way to break the spell is for him learn to love another and earn love in return before the last petal from the magical rose falls. But who could ever learn to love such a fearsome Beast?
Starring 5ive pop sensation Ritchie Neville in his panto debut as Anton, Grease is the Word’s Alison Crawford returns to the Epstein as Belle and the hilarious Michael Chapman as Dame Dolly Doughnut.
This panto, wasn't like the exact 'Disney' story that the girls love. It's mixed with the classic songs like "Be our guest", which got J dancing off her seat, along with modern songs and references to 5ive songs too.
There was good old panto innuendo, which kept us "grown ups" giggling, and the girls were unaware, as well as songs to sing and clap along too, and of course shout back, "bonjour Louey".
There were plenty of surprises too, like when the Official Village Idiot ran through the audience, (just the row behind us), with Anton, following right behind, had the girlies is stitches of laughter. They slipped in one of my favourites songs for panto, the song "if I wasn't a panto star, I would be...." which again, caused ALOT of giggles from the entire audience. I wont spoil the surprise for that one...
It was a great show in the grade II listed theatre, that sits 400. The seats were surprisingly comfortable too. The option to loan booster seats for 50p also came in handy if someone tall is sat in front of the children. Grandma and Grandad were both laughing and enjoying the show too. It was great to come to an event where all three generations really enjoyed themselves. Little S (3yrs)managed to watch the entire show (apart from a quick toilet break) and J was just mesmerised.... I wasn't sure if it was the popcorn that tempted us as we walked in, or the "compulsory panto children's hand held flashing lights" that helped, but after seeing the stars afterwards, im pretty much sure its because she was watching a "Princess".
Apologies for poor quality... snapped on phone!

After the show, we were able to get photos with the main line up. The beast was no longer the beast, and was now the handsome Prince. All dressed up after the wedding.


...and probably one of my favourites of the day, just caught, as J ran off to speak to Belle, after a few moments chatting, a real heart felt hug... Thank you Alison, she really does think you are a real princess. I did mention to J that Anton was a pop star, but she wasn't star struck, although she did say he was handsome...

It was a little strange seeing a Pantomime at Easter, as it is usually at Christmas, but it was a lovely afternoon. I suppose it doesn't really matter when it is. We all walked away with smiles, and a great start to our Easter holidays. If you would like to visit the Beauty and the Beast at The Epstein, they are there until the 12th April, and tickets can be bought here.
*We were given complimentary tickets to view the show, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Our wet adventure to Liverpool


Today was the first day of half term, and we started it with a bang. We were off to Liverpool, via Manchester, on the train, two there, and two back. Our train left our small town station, just after 9. How we got there, all packed with a picnic, and layers of clothes, and nothing forgotten, and more importantly, with no raised voices, I have no idea. But we did. The girls were very excited, and bought along "Belle" with them, to show the real Belle later on. They pointed out the baby lambs en-route, along with the theme tune of the day "Wonder Pets". Sorry to everyone on the train, that will now have that song stuck in their heads.
 
 

Grandma and Grandad, jumped on the train number two, the stop after us, and after hugs, smarties and a coffee, we were all happy, despite the rain. The next stop was Liverpool itself. It was still raining, we were in Liverpool for a theatre show at 2pm, but decided to arrive early for a picnic and a few geocaches, so we headed to the docks. Last time we visited, it was so windy, S didn't get very far, before running in the opposite direction. This time, there was no wind, just rain. Along the docks, we found the buildings, I vaguely remember from my young childhood, when I lived in Liverpool for 18months.


Along just a little further, was statues... the girlies liked trying to copy the pose.... and the rain wasn't stopping the laughter....


...and trying to speak in the mega phones, without standing in the puddle.....


...on the hunt for a geocache, we found, what the girls called the "rainbow ship" .... it certainly stood out on this grey day with the grey buildings behind....


...the girlies thought they saw "big ben".... they are still obsessed by it now, and J was able to tell us the time despite the very low cloud....


...before we decided it was too wet for our picnic, and headed to find somewhere to eat instead, passing more boats and ships.....


....the girlies still managed to find Easter eggs, despite them being on a sign, anyone would think its Easter?.....

...we finally decided on Nando's for lunch, as we all like chicken, and its diet friendly... although J suddenly turned fussy whilst in there, and decided she no longer liked mayo on her burger, however, the lovely member of staff Lindsay, took J t the kitchen and got her a new burger with no mayo(and got her more colouring in sheets, J loved going with her for them)... THANK YOU!!! She really went the extra mile making J's day...

 
..We were then of too The Epstein Theatre, to see Beauty and the Beast. It was great fun, and a perfect way to fill a wet afternoon. There was lots of giggles from all three generations, and dancing, and clapping.... The girls loved meeting the stars afterwards too...
 
 
That then finished our adventures in Liverpool, so we headed back to the train station, where we met up with Mummy 3+1 dog who also went to the theatre... and our two trains back home. We made it back home just in time for hot chocolate, and a slightly later bed time, with no tantrums, and not too many tears.... (almost none, but the mayo incident did cause a few!! I blame the school for tiring her out, Teehee!)
 

How have you spent the first day of Easter, and half term?? Have you ever been to Liverpool, what would you recommend seeing when visiting as a tourist??


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

'CLAWS' has arrived at Manchester Sea Life

Last week we were invited to the Sea Life Centre at the Trafford Centre, in Manchester. They were launching the new exhibition, 'CLAWS', and they wanted US to be one of the first to see it.


'CLAWS’, which is replacing the stunning and hugely popular starfish exhibit, is on its way from Sea Life Paris and displays some of the world’s most exciting crustaceans.
 
 
The Rainbow Crabs dazzle with their vibrantly coloured shells, a fresh water creature they feed on nuts.  
The small but powerful Mantis Shrimp has a punch as powerful as a .22 bullet, they can even break bones with it. They stun their dinner with it as their claw travels at the equivalent of 100kph. On the night we visited, I heard it crack a mussel, but didn't actually see it, It really did sound just like a gun had gone off.
Stunning to look at, the rare albino lobster, is a white version of the traditional native lobster you may see at your local seafood restaurant and would traditionally be a blue-grey colour.
The Hermit Crabs are also interesting creatures, they live on the land and require a humid environment which includes both salt water and fresh water, without these key features they’ll struggle to survive. Hermit crabs will leave their shells to find a new home which is larger and has more space to grow.  J found these really interesting, and sat and watched them for a good while.
 
 
 A Giant Tasmanian Crab, which was caught in Australia and destined for the dinner table before Sea Life rescued it in 2012, will join the exhibition in two weeks time once he’s been granted a passport to travel. Claude, as he is better known, will eventually weigh in at an astounding 13.5kg and will be just under a metre wide once fully grown. I was gutted we missed him, but the girls were happy with the giant crab on the wall...
 
 
After the talks, and demonstrations of the mantis shrimp, we were then able to touch and stroke the crabs, in the touch and feel pool. The staff were really good, and popped some in bowls for the girls to be able to reach comfortably, and explore with ease.
 
 
 As well as the new residents, the aquarium has 5,000+ creatures to discover including sharks, seahorses, octopus, jellyfish and rays.  The girls loved exploring the aquarium. I was whisked away for a special dive, which I will blog about separately. Daddy held the fort with the girls, as they discovered all about the turtles, which both girls are now obsessed about.
 

The girls also checked out the many tanks, and discovered all types of different sea creatures...



As well as letting their hair down in the soft play...


Being treated to face painting...
 
 
And learning about the size of other fishes, including a Tiger shark. This is the jaw of one, and as demonstrated, it could have swallowed J up, but would have struggled on a grown man, due to the shoulders, the staff were great at getting the girls intrigued.
 
 
 The exhibition launches in time for Easter so families can have fun and learn during the holidays whilst being truly amazed by the magnificent marine life.
Online tickets start from £9.95. Children under 3 years go free. *Online prices vary depending on the time slot chosen, and can be booked here.
 
It was a great evening, and we all really enjoyed it....