Category Archives: Days Out

Days Out: Blackpool Sea Life Centre

The small boy and I love visiting Sea Life Centres. We share a love of jellyfish, stingrays and sharks so wherever we go in the UK, if there’s a Sea Life Centre nearby we will be there! Earlier this year we had a couple of days in Blackpool and while we were in town we took the chance to visit the Blackpool Sea Life Centre. 

Days Out: Blackpool Sea Life Centre

Blackpool Sea Life Centre is on the promenade, about five minutes walk down from Blackpool Tower. There are ticket deals to be had, so if you’re planning to go buying tickets in advance, or multi-attraction tickets are a good bet. We have a Merlin card, so we just showed those on the way in and we were given a guide and waved through.

Like all Sea Life Centres, Blackpool Sea Life Centre is laid out in zones – Rockpool, Atlantic Depths, Quayside zone, Stingray Adventure zone, Kingdom of the Seahorse, Submarine Explorer, Rainforest Adventure zone, Shark Mission and Ocean Tunnel and lastly the Jurassic Seas zone. 

Blackpool Sea Life Centre

We have been to Blackpool Sea Life Centre before and we really like spending time in the Ocean Tunnel and the Stingray Adventure Zone. When we visited this time, we spent quite a lot of time with the octopus.

Whenever we’ve seen octopus before they’ve always been hidden away in the back of the tank having a sleep. This time the octopus was curled up in the corner at the front of the tank. We stopped to have a proper look at this amazing creature and we caught its eye. We’re not sure if we spooked it (we don’t tap on tanks or anything) or if it just wanted to show off for us, but we had a good five minutes with it swimming around and puffing itself up for us. Thank you Mr Octopus.

Blackpool Sea Life Centre

We also spent quite a lot of time watching the stingrays. There was a really good viewing area where you could pop your head in the domes inside the tank and watch all the fish and stingrays swim by. Sadly we’d just missed the stingray feeding session, but it did mean we had the area almost entirely to ourselves for a little while.

Blackpool Sea Life Centre is a really good sized aquarium with a fantastic collection of weird and wonderful creatures. It’s slap bang in the middle of Blackpool prom and the perfect place to take the family if it’s raining, or too sunny, or if you just want to spend a couple of hours feeling chilled out watching the creatures.

If you time your visit carefully you might catch them feeding the sharks. Or you could go backstage to find out more, or maybe catch a special talk. My tip is to go as soon as it opens when it’s quiet and it feels like it’s just you and the fish. 

I wonder which Sea Life Centre we’ll visit next?

Blackpool Sea Life Centre

For more information about Blackpool Sea Life Centre visit their website.

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I have been given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I wasn’t paid to write this post.

What’s on our Summer Bucket List for 2017?

I was speaking to a teacher this morning who excitedly told me there were “seven more sleeps” until the school holidays begin, this is a number which fills me with terror and excitement in equal measure. It may seem like a long time to fill with activities, but I think those six weeks will go in the blink of an eye. I asked him last night what he wanted to do over the holidays and together we came up with a summer bucket list of sorts.

We have some sketchy plans for the six weeks our six year old son will be off school and out of routine. I want him to relax, have fun and enjoy being six. We also want to really work hard on getting him ready for the big leap into Year 2, so lots of reading, some work books and lots of counting in twos, fives and tens. 

During the school holidays we are going on holiday in North Devon (right on the Cornish border) and there’s lots to do there. We will be going to the Just So Festival in August and Ben and I will be leaving Daddy and the dog at home and going to Ribby Hall for five days. In between we have trips out and fun things planned, plus plenty of rest days at home so we can chill out and get bored.

What’s on our Summer Bucket List for 2017?

⇒ Build sandcastles on the beach in Devon
⇒ Sleep lots (Ben’s suggestion)
⇒ Visit Ben’s cousins in Devon
⇒ Go to the playground in the park
⇒ Visit Westward Ho! and see if the shipwrecks are still visible
⇒ Go crabbing and have fish and chips in Appledore
⇒ Visit the Sealife Centre at Weymouth
⇒ Have lunch at the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster
⇒ Go on some treasure hunts using Treasure Trails maps
⇒ Visit the castle fort in the park in Bideford
⇒ Go fossil hunting in Lyme Regis
⇒ Count the stars at night, when camping at The Just So Festival
⇒ Go for a dip in the Bude Pool
⇒ Sing around the Just So Campfire
⇒ Visit Elizabeth Gaskell’s House in Manchester
⇒ Feed the animals at Wild Discovery at Ribby Hall 
⇒ Bake and decorate cakes for our nice neighbours
⇒ Build a bug hotel for our garden
⇒ Have a Cornish pasty picnic on the beach
⇒ Join the Tribal Tournament at The Just So Festival (we are buzzing!)

What's on our Summer Bucket List for 2017?

Check back at the end of the summer to see how we got on!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Family Festival: What’s on at Just So Festival 2017?

The Just So Festival is now in its 8th year and 2017 promises to be a vintage one for this award-winning family festival. Produced by Wild Rumpus and taking place on 18th-20th August at Rode Hall in Cheshire, the Just So Festival is a wonderful melting pot of music, literature, arts, theatre, dance, comedy, storytelling, magic and adventure, with new and exciting sights, sounds and things to do. This annual, intimate, weekend-long family festival is an imaginative outdoor adventure like no other.

Family Festival: What's on at Just So Festival 2017?

Just So veterans will recognise the familiar festival goings on, such as tales from storyteller extraordinaire, Ian Douglas as well as campfire music and songs in the Spellbound Forest. There’s a full programme of extraordinary events happening throughout the weekend. Experience the wonder of the Woodland Theatre. Encounter lands, creatures and characters beyond your wildest dreams in Tales of Animalia. Visit Away With The Fairies, an enchanting secret fairyland where sprites make mischief up in the trees and you could with luck meet the Fairy Queen.

Sing and dance your socks off at the Footlights stage with over 20 brilliant artists and bands performing over the weekend, including Just So legends The Baghdaddies. Dance the night away in the Jitterbug tent where you can learn to dance the CanCan, Charleston, Circus Swing, Flatfooting, Bollywood, Ballet, Tap and Jive, not forgetting the retro disco.

Explore the universe at The Observatory.  Learn about the constellations with Star Gazing sessions led by an astronomer, make an array of star and moon shaped lanterns to parade against the twilight sky. Explore the High Seas and enjoy some family yoga, tai chi, meditation and take a wooden rowing boat out on to the tranquil lake.

Family Festival: What's on at Just So Festival 2017?

The littlest Just So adventurers should head directly to The Peekaboo Garden – an entire area of art, music, paint, clay, dens and bubbles and top notch facilities for the under 4’s.

This year Just So are introducing some exciting new areas to explore. By the lake you’ll find the Silver Screen – an area dedicated to your favourite family films, recreate iconic dance scenes, join in a chorus line or become an extra in a Just So production. In the Social Barn next to The Social you’ll find insect eating, foraging and the first ever Just So jelly fight. Not to mention peculiar picnics, barmy dinner parties, a food funny face challenge, plus the legendary Just So Midnight Feast and The Great Just So Bake Off.

Discover the new Forgotten Courtyard. Tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall is Rode’s beautiful Italian Garden complete with a fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. Find this secret spot in the grounds of Rode Hall and take part in workshops, provocations, debates and talks. Meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors and find out more about the world around us.

Family Festival: What's on at Just So Festival 2017?

Take yourself out of your day-to-day lives and experience a weekend of pure magic and wonder. At the heart of Just So is the now famous Tribal Tournament. Join in with the most bonkers competition in the land as festival goers of all ages dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and compete throughout the weekend to see which tribe comes out on top.

Whether you’re visiting for a day, or camping for the weekend, the Just So Festival is just the ticket for fantastic family fun. Get creative with clay, make a paper lantern, sing, dance, explore and immerse yourself in the magic and creativity of this wonderful family festival.

Families planning to come to Just So 2017 are being advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year, with tickets selling at a record rate for the 5000 capacity August event.

For information and tickets visit www.justsofestival.org.uk 

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

The Merlin Annual Pass BIG SUMMER SALE starts at 10am on Thursday 1st June and ends at midnight on Monday 3rd July 2017. So there’s never been a better time to start planning adventures for your family this summer. With access to 32 top attractions across the UK, grab a Merlin Annual Pass in the sale for just £119 per person.

Escape this summer to the Alton Towers Resort, home to some of the world’s most iconic rollercoasters.  While you’re there, visit CBeebies Land which has new additions for 2017, including a live and interactive show hosted by the fuzzy puppets from The Furchester Hotel and the Go Jetters Vroomster Zoom ride which little thrill seekers will love. 

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

Go in search of The Gruffalo at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort. Visit Sea Life Centres across the UK; explore the wonders of the ocean and come face to flipper, fin, tentacle, turtles, sharks, rays and octopuses.  Or start your ninja training at the new Lego Ninjago World at the Legoland Windsor Resort.

Among Merlin’s attractions are; Sea Life Centres, Madame Tussauds, Legoland, The Coca-Cola London Eye, The Dungeons, Gardaland Resort, Legoland Discovery Centres, Alton Towers Resort, Warwick Castle, Thorpe Park Resort, Blackpool Tower, Heide Park Resort, Sydney Tower Eye and Skywalk.  

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

We have had so many wonderful days out with our Merlin Annual Pass. It’s very easy to quickly clock up excellent savings, especially over the long summer holidays. So whether you’re planning a staycation or just some fun family days out, a Merlin Annual Pass is a great way to maximise the good times this summer. 

See what you can save on your Merlin Annual Pass

Big Summer Sale! Grab a bargain Merlin Annual Pass

For more information or to buy passes in the Merlin summer sale, please visit www.merlinannualpass.co.uk.

I am a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador.  I was not paid to write this blog post.

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

The Whit Week Half Term falls under the sad shadow of the Manchester bombing. I live 5 miles away from the arena, and we’ve felt the emotional reverberations of the atrocity. The mood is defiant but subdued. Everyone I know wants to stay at home, holding their kids close where they can keep them safe. But generally kids don’t always love being stuck at home and will want to do something over the half term regardless.

For us our half term fun will be had on the fringes of the city. Whilst I’m happy to visit the city centre myself; for the next week or so at least we won’t be going in as a family. I know we can’t wrap our children up forever. We can just make sensible, informed choices and get on with life and live it well.

If you’re keen to avoid the city centre with your kids for now, I’ve selected a few out of town things to do in Manchester over the Whit Week Half Term. I’ve not included them here, but there will be lots of things to do over the Whit Week Half Term in the city centre, at the Whitworth Art Gallery, the Museum of Science and Industry, and at the People’s History Museum. However you choose to spend half term, enjoy it.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

We will be going to see The Three Musketeers at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale on Friday 2 June. Presented by The Three Half Pints;  Fresh from Justin’s House and Spot Bots, we will be joining CBeebies’ favourites in this hilarious new slapstick adventure of chivalry, swordplay and suddenly falling over!  For ages 5+

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

For ages 3+ catch Julia Donaldson’s famous book The Scarecrows’ Wedding, brought to the stage by Scamp Theatre. Running on Friday 26, Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 May. Scarecrows Betty O’Barley and Harry O’Hay decide to get married and Harry sets off for their wedding day essentials. This truly heart-warming adaptation promises wit, drama and wedding bells!   

On Thursday 1 June, Waterside will be screening Sing-a-long Trolls.  Bring the kids and sing your socks off to Trolls hits such as Can’t Stop The Feeling and True Colours.  Come along in Troll-themed fancy dress or costumes in bright rainbow colours. Prizes will be given out for the best outfits!  Tickets just £5 (or £2.50 for Family Club members).

Based on the fabulous new book by Steven Lee and with magic designed by Paul Daniels, Don’t Dribble on The Dragon is a spectacular musical adventure about growing up and the importance of family is the perfect feel good show.  For ages 3+ on Saturday 3 June.  Steven will also be signing copies of Don’t Dribble on The Dragon after the show.

Salford Quays Culture’s Summer Showcase

Over half term, endangered species from land and sea migrate to the metropolis of MediaCityUK, in the form of four gigantic sculptures for Quays Culture’s Unnatural Borders exhibition, which will run from Saturday 20th May until Monday 29th May. 

Four large sculptures represent endangered species – Polar Bear, Whale, Red Squirrel and a Bee. By day the sculptures tower over the public on large separate plinths. When the sun sets at 9pm they are illuminated with stunning visual projections, bringing a magical show of light and illusion to these 3D animals and their location. Day or night, these sound pretty awesome and worth seeking out, especially if you’re visiting Media City for other reasons too.

5 things to do during Whit week half term 2017

Catalyst Science Discovery Centre

Ok, so this means a bit of a drive to Widnes, but the boys go here often and they really enjoy their visits. This amazing science centre has three interactive galleries to explore as well as a stunning rooftop observatory. During this half term they have two interactive workshops for budding scientists to enjoy.

Ludicrous Liquids – A chance for young scientists to get some hands-on fun in the lab, experimenting with interesting and surprising liquids. How many colours can you get into your rainbow straw and do you make a lava lamp? Hands-on workshops at 11am and 2pm

Fantastic Plastic – One of their most popular hands-on sessions. Enjoy working with an amazing plastic material to make a keyring to take home. Hands-on Workshops at 12 noon and 3pm

For more information about the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, visit their website.

Wythenshawe Community Farm

Join the Junior Farmer’s Club and learn how to care for the animals on the farm. Groom and feed Pip the friendly pony, feed and muck out the pygmy goats and collect the eggs from the chickens. Available on Thursday 1st and Saturday 3rd June from 1-3pm. The cost of the session is £10, for more information or to book phone 0161 946 0726.

Read about one of our previous visits to Wythenshawe Community Farm here.

Wythenshawe Community Farm

SHIFT Digital 

Over Whit week half term, Shift Digital will be running a series of free events in libraries and other venues in Cheshire. If you’ve got kids who are into coding, computers or science, it’s well worth taking them along.

Join Shift for Superhero Sewable Circuits on Wednesday 31 May at the Electric Picturehouse, Cross Street, Congleton. Make your own light up superhero mask. Learn the basics of e-textile sewable circuits and stitch light up LEDs onto felt to customise and create your own design. Ages 7+ FREE Places limited – to book call  01260 270908.

Minecraft fans should go to PatternCraft at Congleton Library on Tuesday 30 May  – 10am-12noon / 1-3pm. Go along and create 8 x 8 punchcard designs; feedback your card into the reader and by the magic of python code converting the physical holes in to binary files of 0’s and 1’s, build it on a minecraft map. Drop In – FREE – All Ages Call 01260 375550.

At Holmes Chapel Library on Thursday 1 June 10am-12noon / 1-3pm, learn to program the Micro:bit LED display and create interactive bitmap art that responds to movement and button presses. Ages 7+ FREE Places limited – to book call  01477 689550.

The full SHIFT programme – including talks, workshops, professional training, tech meet ups, art installations, family events and drop-in coding sessions – is listed on their website: www.shift-digital.co.uk

We hope you have a great Whit Week Half Term. If you’ve got any ideas for other fun things to do, please do mention them in the comments below!

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

The Just So Festival is an annual, intimate, weekend-long family festival is a wonderful, creative, arty, family outdoor adventure like no other. We go each year and it is such a highlight. I look forward to it all year long; we can’t wait to get there and we are always sad to leave.

Now in its 8th year, the 2017 this award-winning family festival just gets better and better. Each August the Just So Festival pitches up in the gorgeous grounds of Rode Hall in Cheshire, filling three days with music, literature, arts, theatre, dance, comedy, storytelling, magic and adventure. We always leave feeling inspired, rejuvenated and completely reconnected as a family.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

Produced by Wild Rumpus, the Just So Festival this year takes place on 18th-20th August. You can go for a day, or you can camp for the weekend. We have done both. We loved camping at the festival so much, being under canvas really adds to the adventure.

Why should you go to the Just So Festival this year?

ONE – Around the campfire
There’s so much to do at Just So, it’s hard to pick favourites. But we loved being around the campfire before bedtime, singing our hearts out with Scout Master, Ian Macintosh and listening to stories told by Just So legend, Ian Douglas. It sends you off to bed feeling happy, content and smelling vaguely of wood-smoke.

TWO – The first ever Just So Jelly Fight!
This year for the first time, in the Social Barn next to The Social you’ll find insect eating, foraging, jelly bean architecture and the first ever Just So jelly fight. Get ready to join in with the messiest, stickiest and most ridiculous of food fights.

THREE – Tribal Tournament
Just So veterans will know all about the famous festival Tribal Tournament. Festival goers of all ages dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and compete throughout the weekend to see which tribe comes out on top. Join in the Wild Rumpus Parade at the end of the weekend where the winners are crowned!

FOUR – Food, glorious food!
The range of food available at the Just So Festival is incredible. The Social area is where most of the food stalls are, but there are more on the Village Green and in the High Seas area. If you wanted to you could eat something wildly different for every meal at Just So. Our favourites are the grilled sweetcorn from Cotswold Corn Roast, ice cream from Ginger’s Comfort Emporium and hot dogs a-plenty from Piggy Smalls. Though other food vendors are available.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

FIVE – Do the Jitterbug!
Strut your stuff at the night time retro discos in the Jitterbug tent – dressing up is encouraged! If daytime dance is more your thing, you can learn to dance the CanCan, Charleston, Circus Swing, Flatfooting, Bollywood, Ballet, Tap and Jive. 

SIX – The wonderful Rode Hall Estate
The Rode Hall Estate is beautiful and absolutely perfectly designed for the wonderful goings on at the festival. Explore the grounds and find hidden magic around every corner. New this year is the Forgotten Courtyard, a beautiful Italian Garden tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall complete with a fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. Find this secret spot and take part in workshops, discussions, debates and talks, plus meet some of the UK’s favourite children’s authors there.

Plus this year the Rode Hall Tea Rooms will be open for homemade breakfasts, lunches and cakes made from the organic produce grown on the estate. I heartily recommend their Staffordshire Oatcakes and steaming mugs of tea!

SEVEN – Carry on Camping, or glamping if you prefer
I didn’t think I’d be a happy camper, but I was. In our first family camping weekend, we whispered into the night under the canvas, cooked sausages on our little camping stove and snuggled up like caterpillars in our sleeping bags. 

With toilet blocks and actual real life showers with hot water, the facilities are excellent. If you have tiny tots they have their own special baby bath time available in Peekaboo. 

For campers who fancy a touch of luxury, there are a range of glamping options available to pre-book and campervans and caravans are welcome. Come for the weekend, camp, have fun, go off grid, get twigs in your hair, let go, have fun.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

EIGHT – Award winning Accessibility
I have chronic pain and nerve damage. I can’t really feel my feet and legs, so accessibility is important to me. The Just So Festival organisers have thought of everything; from accessible camping, refrigeration for medication, wheelchair charging points as well as accessible toilets and changing areas.

I used many of the accessible facilities last year I can say hand on heart they accessibility is excellent and is seamlessly woven into the fabric of Just So.  It’s a truly accessible event. And that’s exactly how it should be for everyone, everywhere.

NINE – Lively live music!
Down by The Social, you’ll find the Footlights stage with over 20 brilliant artists and bands performing over the weekend, including Just So legends David Gibb, The Baghdaddies and singer, Laura Oakes. 
 

These are my nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year. These are only nine of about 900 wonderful reasons. There’s so much to see, do and experience there. Immerse yourself in the magic and creativity of this wonderful family festival. Leave feeling inspired, rejuvenated and completely reconnected as a family.

Tickets for this intimate and fabulous family festival are selling fast, so make sure you book your tickets as early as you can. 

For information and tickets visit www.justsofestival.org.ukKeep up with the adventure and follow Just So on Twitter and Facebook.

Nine reasons to go to the Just So Festival this year

My blog post about my accessibility experience at Just So can be found here.

Days Out: Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Blackpool is the Vegas of the North. As a Manchester lass, Blackpool has always been my first port of call for days out, trips to the beach, or for a fun mini break. There is so much do see and do in Blackpool, it’s very easy to fill a couple of days. I recently took my son on a trip to Blackpool and amongst all the traditional bucket and spade fun, we visited Madame Tussauds Blackpool.

Days Out: Madame Tussauds Blackpool

The last time I visited Madame Tussauds Blackpool maybe 30 years ago and I don’t really remember much other than the Princess Diana waxwork. I know they keep their waxworks up to date, so I was interested to see what, or rather who would be there. 

We got our tickets and we were ushered through to see Simon Cowell. Lots of people were having pictures taken with him and we don’t watch talent shows so we just walked past him and to Paddy McGuinness, John Bishop, Gok Wan and Chris Tarrant. We didn’t linger as my son had no idea who these people were and I don’t watch their shows either. 

Through the doors and by the stairs stood John Thaw and Helen Mirren being good cop, bad cop. We paused for a photo with John Thaw, who grew up near where I live and my Grandma knew him when he was a boy. 

Up the escalator we found more reality TV stars (we don’t watch those kind of shows either). We managed to spy Ben Fogle and David Attenborough amongst the elaborate I’m A Celebrity areas, which we mostly skipped because it was busy. That said, we did enjoy looking at the frogs.

Days Out: Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Once you’ve escaped from the I’m A Celebrity area, you move on to the sports zone, which was a bit more like it. Even I recognised a few faces, Wayne Rooney, Joe Hart, Lewis Hamilton, Mo Farah, Gary Lineker etc. 

From the sports zone, your next stop is the Rovers Return, which is a working bar where you can get drinks and snacks. Bet Lynch is behind the bar looking fierce. It’s an ideal stopping point if you need a break. But my son has never seen Coronation Street and was keen to move on. So we did. 

I was pleased to find myself in the music zone. Where Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson were the most notable stars. Again, talent show singers dominated, with Olly Murs, Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis featuring. 

Days Out: Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Moving on to “Best of British”. We met Hugh Bonneville as he was in the Paddington movie. Plus Morecambe and Wise, some of the Ab Fab gang and Her Majesty and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Ben was very pleased to be standing next to the Queen.

Days Out: Madame Tussauds Blackpool

I was hoping my son would enjoy the “Family Favourites” area a little more, which he did. He enjoyed seeing Spider-Man, Bob the Builder and Sooty and Sweep. I would have liked to have seen a bit more in this area, but it was good there were some things he recognised.

Days Out: Madame Tussauds Blackpool

One area my son really enjoyed was the mirror maze and funny bendy mirrors. It’s worth taking a few minutes to enjoy rather than rushing through. 

At the end of our tour of Madame Tussauds Blackpool was a room full of classic comedians. Ken Dodd, Tommy Cooper and The Two Ronnies were probably my highlight of our visit. 

Days Out: Madame Tussauds Blackpool

There was a small display about how they make the waxworks. I would have liked a bit more on the behind the scenes aspect really. It was also very loud in some areas. If you are troubled by loud noises, music and cheering then you might want to wear earplugs. My son who has sensitive hearing walked around with his hands over his ears for most of our time there.

The attraction is dominated with reality TV and talent show waxworks, so we whizzed by them quite quickly. We are probably very much in the minority of visitors to Madame Tussauds Blackpool, but if you watch those kind of TV shows, then you will enjoy Madame Tussauds. 

The staff were excellent, very helpful, friendly and smiley. They are a real credit to Madame Tussauds Blackpool. The waxworks were well done, some of them were quite eerily lifelike. I loved the comedians at the end of the tour and it was worth it just to see them (for me at least).

Tickets to Madame Tussauds Blackpool cost from £10.50, but entry is free with a Merlin Annual Pass. If you are visiting several Merlin Attractions in Blackpool you can get multi-attraction tickets which will save you money.

For more information on Madame Tussauds Blackpool, or to buy tickets, visit their website.

 

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I have been given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I wasn’t paid to write this post.

Days Out: The Blackpool Tower Circus

Over the Easter break, the small boy and I headed off to Blackpool for a couple of days of seaside fun. We had a bit of a check list of things we wanted to see and do while we were there, but mainly we wanted to have fun and chill out a bit. First on our holiday agenda was a trip to the Blackpool Tower Circus.

I’d heard very good things about the Blackpool Tower Circus. Virtually everyone we told that we were planning a trip to Blackpool said that it was well worth seeing. I have very vague memories of going when I was a child, but that was about 800 years ago and things have probably changed since then.

Days Out: The Blackpool Tower Circus

We had been told be friends to visit the Blackpool Tower early and pre-book our tickets. You can pay an extra £5.99 on top of your ticket to sit on one of the front few rows if you like. If you do this you get drinks and snacks included and a chance that some of the performers will chat to you. Sadly these tickets were fully booked, so we got a pair of tickets in the stalls instead.

An adult ticket is £13 and a child is £10.50. We are Merlin Annual Pass holders, the ticket price is covered by our Merlin Passes, so we just showed our Merlin cards at the box office and we were issued our tickets.

You’re advised to arrive a good half an hour before the show starts. Tickets are unreserved so you have to find your own seats. We sat around 5 rows from the front and we had a great view. If you’re in a large group you might struggle to find seats together, so do go early.

Before the show and during the interval you can join the performers in the circus ring to buy lights and tricks, learn to spin plates or have your face painted like a clown (for a small additional cost). There is a bar at the back where you can buy drinks and snacks too.

The Blackpool Tower Circus has been in residence in the Tower since 1894. We visited the circus on 5th April which was only the 5th day of their 2017 season. We felt pretty honoured to be seeing it all so early in the season.

The approach down the winding corridors to the circus ring is filled with memorabilia and exhibits. We felt a bit pushed past it all by the crowds keen to get to their seats. This was a bit of a shame and I’d very much like to go another day and have the time to take it all in. 

Days Out: Blackpool Tower Circus

The circus ring itself is in the round, meaning wherever you’re sitting you should get a good view. The current circus design was completed in 1900 and it is remarkable. It’s beautiful and baroque with padded velvet seats. There is room for several hundred people to enjoy the show but you still feel you’re close to the performers.

Photography is not permitted once the show has started, so I wasn’t able to take any photos of the performance. However, the two hour long show, with additional interval was both breathtaking and hilarious.

Days Out: The Blackpool Tower Circus

The glue which holds the show together are the clowns Mooky and Mr Boo. Mooky the Clown is the hilarious and cheeky funny guy which everyone loves and Mr Boo is his straight man. They’re brilliant and they were very much the highlight for my six year old. Mooky the Clown is a Blackpool Tower Circus legend and has been clowning around in Blackpool since 1992.

The whole show was incredibly good. With acrobats, an amazing tightrope walker, trapeze artists, a fantastic live band and a troupe of beautiful dancers. There were several eye-watering acrobatic feats, my favourite being the neon clad trapeze artists and the Chinese tightrope walker. The circus is filled with amazing acts from all over the world and is genuinely incredible.

Days Out: The Blackpool Tower Circus

Blackpool Tower Circus – April 2017    Picture © Jason Lock Photography

The finale of the circus show is the dancing fountains. The circus ring is lowered and filled with water and beautiful acrobats twirl and swirl on a Roman themed carousel of sorts. It’s an awesome sight. The Blackpool Tower Circus is one of only four circus rings left in the world that can do this.

We felt it was excellent value for money, especially with our Merlin Annual Passes. We would definitely consider the £5.99 VIP seating upgrade next time though. The circus itself was awe inspiring. The show is two hours long with an interval and it’s packed with fantastic performers and performances. The small boy is still raving about the clowns and I’m keen to go back and watch it all again. Always a good sign.

For more information about The Blackpool Tower Circus and to book tickets visit the Blackpool Tower website.

Days Out: Blackpool Tower Circus

I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I have been given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I wasn’t paid to write this post.

Days Out: Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home

Over the Easter weekend we hopped in the car and drove from South Manchester to Bents Garden & Home, near Leigh, Greater Manchester. We’d heard that they had recently opened the Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf course and we thought we’d take our six year old dinosaur enthusiast to check it out.

Days Out: Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home

The Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf course at Bents Garden & Home is nine holes of dinosaur excitement. Tucked away in a corner of the garden centre, out by the lake the Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf is certain to appeal to all ages of dinosaur or crazy golf enthusiasts.

We made our way to the Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf shop where you buy your round (or rounds) and pick up your golf club, ball and score card. The shop also sells a small range of dinosaur related gifts and outdoor games. In one side of the shop there’s a dinosaur dig area where little ones can brush away the sand to discover the remains of a dinosaur. 

Days Out: Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home

When we arrived it was pretty busy. We had to wait around ten minutes in a queue before we could tee off. The course seems to be in a bit of a windy spot. It was a bit chilly in the wind, so if it’s not a glorious day make sure you’re layered up. It wasn’t a problem that we had to wait a few minutes. There was plenty to look at and our miniature paleontologist filled the time by pointing out some of the dinosaurs he could see and telling us a bit about them.

Days Out: Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home

The golf course itself was lots of fun. It was challenging at times but just the right level for my six year old. We all had fun, but really it was the surroundings and the novelty with made it. If I had to find something to criticise; at other crazy golf courses, they’ve had a sign suggesting what a good par would be (the ideal number of shots for each hole). I missed being able to see if I was doing well or not so well. 

Days Out: Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home

The Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf course is on a fairly small plot, but it’s packed with dinosaurs. There are a couple of life-sized animatronic dinosaurs which roar and make noises. There are also lots of static dinosaurs which are close enough to get a good look at. The course is planted with Jurassic style trees, grasses and plants. It’s very, very well done.

Days Out: Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home

Our son absolutely loved it and is very keen to go back again soon. If you or your kids love dinosaurs then the Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home really is unmissable.

A round of golf for over 12’s is £4.90, ages 4-11 £4 and under 4’s it’s £3. A family ticket is available at £16. The course is open 10am – 5.30pm, last admittance is at 5pm.

For more information about Jurassic Cove Adventure Golf at Bents Garden & Home, visit their website.

 

We paid for our visit in full.

Things to do in Manchester: Easter 2017

I was checking my diary this morning and realised with a slight sense of panic that my son breaks up from school this Friday. Easter is a few short weeks away and between now and then I have two weeks of school holiday to fill. I do enjoy having the boy wonder at home, but now the weather is a bit better I feel we ought to get out and do stuff.

We have plans for a couple of days in Blackpool to see the sights and hopefully get on the beach, but it’s good to have a few things closer to home to do. I’ve picked out a few things to do around Manchester over the Easter 2017 holidays.

Things to do in Manchester: Easter 2017

 Whitworth Art Gallery

Last week I visited the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester for the first time ever. I’m slightly ashamed that in the 40 years I’ve been alive and living in Manchester I’ve never visited before. The (closing soon) Andy Warhol exhibition drew me in, but I was impressed and in awe of virtually everything I clapped eyes on. 

I already knew they had an impressive and inclusive arts programme for families. When I spied the Art Hampers on my visit, I knew we’d be back to put them to the test.

Just pick up an Art Hamper, they’re free and available any time during gallery opening hours. The Art Hampers are filled with materials for you to get inspired and make, draw and build anywhere in the gallery. Let your imagination and creativity run wild, but don;t forget to return your hamper at the end of your visit.

For more information about the Art Hampers, or the other family events during Easter 2017 at the Whitworth Art Gallery, visit their website.

SHIFT / Cheshire East

SHIFT is a vibrant and interactive programme celebrating all things digital in Cheshire East. From exhibitions and workshops to talks and hands on making – SHIFT is full of inspiring and creative events for all ages and abilities. During Easter 2017, SHIFT have a range of digital activities for tech savvy families. 

On Saturday 8th April at Sandbach Library learn about Interactive LED Art (BBC Micro: bit). Ideal for ages 7+. Get your LEDs flashing and learn to program the Micro:bit LED display to create interactive bitmap art that responds to movement and button presses. The possibilities are endless. Places are free but advance booking is advisable via the library: 01270 375355.

On Monday 10th April at Handforth Library, learn about Animations in Minecraft (ages 5+). Go along to combine coding, making and tech to create 8-bit animations in Minecraft using physical punchcards, powered by PatternCraft. In this free and interactive workshop you’ll learn basic computing and code, and have fun! Places are free but advance booking is advisable via the library: 01625 378272.

For more information about SHIFT and the other events they’re running over Easter, visit their website

The Museum of Science and Industry

Experience the amazing power of steam, water and electricity at MSI, Manchester. Activities run from April 1st to April 17th. Admission to the museum is free, there may be a small charge for some activities

The Museum of Science and Industry is powering up for Easter 2017. Whether it’s the power of water, steam or electricity – experience the sights, thundering sounds and astonishing power of the museum’s machines, muscles and contraptions as they burst into life through a series of hands-on demonstrations, workshops and shows for everyone.

For more information about what’s on at MSI over Easter, visit their website

Waterside Arts Centre

The Waterside Arts Centre in Sale have lots going on over Easter, but this show caught my eye, Mush Ado About Puffin on Saturday 29 April 2017. 

Things to do in Manchester: Easter 2017

Join Open Attic as they sail the stormy seas to bring you this funny tale about a man all alone; a friendly puffin, and a whole lot of fuss over nothing. Much Ado About Puffin is about old habits, new friendships, and stepping out into the unknown! Suitable for ages 4+. 

Merlin attractions in Manchester

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Manchester has just re-opened after a huge refurb and has a brand new LEGO Ninjago City Adventure play feature with a Ninjago Training Camp, Ninjago Build Table, Ninja Skill training, Interactive Adventure playground and a Rotating Climbing Wall, Sounds pretty awesome, especially for Ninjago fans!

At Manchester’s SEALIFE Centre, on 1st and 2nd April visit the Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler’s The Snail and The Whale event at SEA LIFE. Experience this beloved children’s book as you follow the story around the centre through an amazing underwater world.

Don’t forget to decorate your very own ‘Snail Rock’ with a ‘Save The Whale’ message to display at the centre and support marine wildlife conservation. This is a ticket only event which you can book here.

SEA LIFE Blackpool

Open Day – Helly Hansen Watersports Centre, Salford Quays

If you are interested in trying out watersports this Easter, Salford Leisure are hosting a family Open Day at the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre at Salford Quayson 16th April 2017.

The event is FREE and includes face painting, arts and crafts, a climbing wall, a bouncy castle and various stalls. Plus the Easter bunny will be paying a visit to Salford Quays and hiding eggs for a special Easter Egg Hunt.

For a small fee of £4, adults and children aged 8+ can book hour-long taster sessions in sailing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, powerboating, polo training and so much more.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy, so bring the whole family for a fun day out. Just don’t forget your towel!

The event opens at 11am until 5pm at the Helly Hansen Watersports Centre, Salford Quay. You can find more information here.Things to do in Manchester: Easter 2017

There’s always so much to do in and around Manchester during Easter 2017. If you’ve got any suggestions please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what you’ve got planned!