UK Travel: Five British Beaches to Explore This Summer

If you’d prefer to soak up the sun in the UK this summer, there are many excellent, award-winning British beaches to explore up and down the country. While most of the UK’s best beaches are generally in the South West, around Cornwall and Devon, there are some superb sandy beaches to explore in Wales, Scotland, and the South East, too – you just have to know where to look.

Big family trips to the beach can take some planning, transport is often an issue. Public transport can be minimal in rural areas and if you’ve got a small car and a big group of beach-goers then considering minibus hire to take everyone and their buckets and spades to the beach may be a sensible idea.

Woolacombe Beach, Devon

Located on the North Devon Heritage Coast, Woolacombe Beach is a two-mile stretch of picture-postcard sand beach that’s popular with families, couples, and surfers alike. Throughout the summer, the beach has lifeguards present as has plenty of parking. Just a few minutes from the Atlantic Ocean in Woolacombe Bay, you’ll find a quintessentially British ice cream parlour called Sea Breeze Ice Cream & Coffee Shop serving all the beach side refreshments you could ever need.

Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset

One of the UK’s most exclusive locations for holiday homes, Sandbanks in Dorset is considered to be one of the best beaches on the South Coast thanks to its peninsula location, giving it a European vibe. While visiting Sandbanks, you can hop on the Sandbanks Chain Ferry, a shuttle service between Sandbanks and Studland near Poole Harbour. Just a few minutes of the beach, Sandbanks is home to a fantastic selection of cafes and restaurants.

Rhossili Bay, Gower Peninsula, South Wales

Home to the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales is famed for its excellent walks, views, and natural landmarks, however, it’s not the first place you think of when searching for a beautiful British beach. However, Rhossili Bay in Swansea, South Wales, is set within the Gower Peninsula, one of the first Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. The beach is a vast and pristine stretch of sand surrounded by lush greenery and dramatic cliffs.

Nairn Beach, Nairn, Scottish Highlands

On the north coast of Scotland in Inverness, famed for it’s proximity to the world-renowned Loch Ness, sits Nairn Beach which during the winter months is a favourite for dog walkers. When summer comes, the beach comes alive with families, children playing, and couples. The beach benefits from an astounding view to the Black Isles and, further along, is home to a school of dolphins which, if you’re lucky, you might glimpse during your trip.

Hunstanton Beach, Hunstanton, Norfolk

Norfolk in the South East is home to many stone beaches; however, Hunstanton Beach isn’t one of them. Instead, Hunstanton Beach is a pristine sandy beach that’s perfect for families thanks to it’s proximity to an array of activities, including donkey rides, a funfair and pier, and a great selection of restaurants and cafes. Because of its west-facing location, Hunstanton Beach is sheltered from harsh winds, making it the ideal sunbathing spot on a summer’s day.

Wherever you are in the UK this summer, taking a trip to the coast for a day of sunshine is a wonderful thing to do. Choose coach hire London and get your friends and family together with a picnic and set out on a golden adventure and relax on one of the UK’s best sandy beaches and swimming in crystal blue waters, too.

UK Travel: The Best British Beaches to Explore This Summer

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Review: PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set

If you’re the parent of a child under 6, you will in all likelihood know everything there is to know about Paw Patrol. This kids cartoon has hit the big time and girls and boys adore it equally. My son is no exception and his love for the Paw Patrol Rescue Pups shows no sign of waning. He has Paw Patrol books, cuddly toys, games and now some of the Paw Patrol track sets to play with. We put the new PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track from Spinmaster Toys to the test.

Review: PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma's Lighthouse Rescue Track

The PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track set is a colourful plastic track set featuring Zuma and Skye. The set has a light up lighthouse and the track can be set out in a number of different ways. Zuma who is in his hovercraft zooms down the slope, knocking the lever and releasing Wally the walrus from the net. The Lighthouse Rescue Track set links up with other track sets in the series to create your own Adventure Bay.

Review: PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma's Lighthouse Rescue Track

Press the top of lighthouse to activate the light and spin Skye as she flies around to search for Wally the walrus. Once he is spotted, launch Zuma to the rescue. Oh no, Wally is stuck in a net! Lift the ramp to launch Zuma in his Hovercraft down the hill. Once he reaches the water he’ll hit the lever and rescue Wally. Build the world of Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set with 12 track pieces, 1 Wally track piece, 1 lighthouse, and 1 dock. You can even move the trees to switch the track and send Zuma straight to the dock and in to the water! Paw Patrol is on a roll with the Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set.

Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set contains –
  • 3 Track ends
  • A Dock
  • Lighthouse
  • Skye Mini figure
  • A Wally Track Piece
  • 4 Water Track Ramps
  • Zuma Hovercraft Racer
  • 1 Merge Track
  • 1 Intersection Track
  • 2 Merge Water
  • 1 Straight Water Track

The PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track is pretty easy to put together. The only slightly tricky bit is attaching the Skye mini figure to the plastic bar which goes on the lighthouse. This bit might require the help of an adult as it is a little bit fiddly. 

The lighthouse track set is pretty fun. There’s a button on the top of the lighthouse which you press and the lighthouse lights up and Skye flies around it (or rather spins around it). Near the lighthouse there is a ramp. Lift up the ramp and it tips Zuma in his hovercraft down and around the track, knocking the lever and lifting the net holding Wally the walrus captive.

The track set is lots of fun to play with, Ben pointed out that it links together with the other track sets, so you can extend the play and incorporate the other rescue pups and other parts of Adventure Bay. Ben really enjoyed playing with it, especially banging the button on the lighthouse and making Skye spin around. He also liked sending Zuma down the track to rescue Wally. 

Review: PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma's Lighthouse Rescue Track

It’s a well thought out set and you can play about with the route of your track. Apart from the light in the lighthouse there’s nothing electronic about it, it doesn’t beep or play music and you’re largely reliant on your own imagination. Ben is a very imaginative child, so he’s very happy to act out a whole range of rescue scenarios with his Paw Patrol figures and the Lighthouse Rescue Track without any prompting from us.

Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set is mostly made from colourful plastic. The plastic isn’t flimsy and the track fits together easily. The instructions for slotting the lighthouse, dock and track together are easy to follow and it can all be fully assembled in a few minutes. The lighthouse requires 3 LR44 batteries which are included, so it’s ready to play with as soon as it’s out of the box.

The Lighthouse Rescue Track Set is for ages 3+. My son is 6 and he has really enjoyed playing with it. He likes that it links together with his existing Paw Patrol track and he can use it to play with all the Paw Patrol figures he’s got. He has a wonderful imagination and can spent hours playing with it, setting up rescue scenarios and generally having fun with it.

This set costs around £29.99 and contains lots of track pieces, two figures and some larger pieces such as the lighthouse and the dock. I think it is good value for money. I especially like it because the only battery you need is for the light in the lighthouse. This means that there is no repetitive music or noises which could potentially irritate. 

Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set is made my Spinmaster Toys and is available from a wide range of toy shops and online retailers such as Amazon.

The Verdict:

Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set is a solidly built and colourful track set for Paw Patrol fans ages 3+. My six year old is really enjoying playing with it. Although I do think he’s very much in the upper age range for this toy. It is simple to put together and play with and has enough moving parts to keep things interesting. 

I would say that the Skye figure is a little on the small side. I suspect that is because she has to be put on the plastic bar to be spun around the lighthouse. It is also a little bit fiddly to get her on the plastic bar. So expect a few requests for help attaching her to the bar and the lighthouse. 

Additionally, we liked that it linked up to other Paw Patrol track sets, so you can create your own Adventure Bay. This could be the kind of toy you build and collect the whole set of over a period of time. 

Review: PAW Patrol Skye & Zuma's Lighthouse Rescue Track

We were sent Skye & Zuma’s Lighthouse Rescue Track Set for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. This blog post contains affiliate links.

Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m partial to a spot of culture and the arts. I’m a great believer in encouraging my son to enjoy them too, which is why we often go to the theatre, or visit a gallery, or do something to broaden his creative horizons. This summer Refract is coming to the Waterside Arts Centre, Sale. It’s a ten day summer programme bursting with experiential performance, music and events to challenge visitors of all ages to see things differently.

Refract runs from Friday 21st July to Sunday 30th July, and brings together a carefully curated programme of arts, music, performance and thought provoking wonders. With highlights including performances from inside a giant bird’s nest and inspirational theatre on a trampoline, thought-provoking and intimate shows inside a static caravan and interactive gaming on a mega scale.

Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

We’ve picked out some unmissable performances from the Refract:17 programme. But you can find out more about the full programme of events here.

BBC comedy stalwart Jan Ravens is previewing her brand new Edinburgh Fringe Show on 21st July. Enjoy an evening of stand up with Jan Ravens where she will be impersonating The Queen, Kirsty Wark, Fiona Bruce, Theresa May and many others.

Join acclaimed comic poet genius John Hegley (22nd July 7.30pm), for an evening of laughter. Local legend John Hegley is one of the country’s most innovative comic poets. He has several best selling volumes of poetry to his name.

Other Refract delights include Dylan Thomas’s timeless masterpiece, Under Milk Wood and Waterside favourites Comedysportz, plus drop in activities for all throughout the ten days.

Music lovers will be in their element at Refract this year, with Salford starlet Ren Harvieu appearing on 22nd July as well as Eduardo Niebla on 24th July. Bringing in the Blues, King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys kick off the party on Friday 21 July with one rocking night of jazz, swing and blues. Not forgetting The Shee, The Demon Barbers XL and Nick Cope’s Family Songbook

Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

There’s something a little different for little people too.  Flock to Flit, Flap, Fly; An extraordinary squawking adventure set inside a giant bird’s nest. With live music, audience participation and birdsong, follow a young bird’s frantic and funny journey towards independence.

Enjoy a charming and comic tale complete with clangs, boings and unbearable hope to make our spirits soar with Anyday. This bouncy trampoline based theatrical performance is bound to put a spring in your step! Get one of your five a day with Goblin’s Peter and The Wolf featuring musical vegetables and puppetry in this hilarious performance. Tiny tots might enjoy Aleena’s Garden. Join lovely Aleena tends to her garden from the first days of spring to the short snowy days of winter.

Preview: Refract at Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

Smartphone addicts will love WiFi Wars.  Not only are mobiles and tablets welcome, they are an essential part of this live interactive comedy game show.

For older kids and young adults (and maybe not so young adults too) there’s Mobile.  Part theatre and part life lesson about class in modern Britain; this intimate, visual and powerful show is staged inside a caravan. Explore your sense of home, belonging, aspiration and the realities of social mobility.

There’s really something for everyone at Refract this year. With lots of free and low cost activities, performances and shows for visitors of all ages. It’s a real community arts festival and it’s all happening directly opposite the Sale Metrolink Tram stop. So it’s very easy to get to from wherever you are in Greater Manchester.

Full listings and information are available on the Refract website.

Win a Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang DVD

Two iconic Spanish comic strip characters Zip and Zap are brought to life in this exciting adventure – Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang. Brothers Zip and Zap thought they would get to enjoy their summer holidays. But after they’re caught stealing exam questions, they’re forced to re-do the year and are sent away to summer school. When they arrive, they soon realise their summer isn’t going to be much fun after all.

The headmaster is a fearsome tyrant with an eye-patch. He has a strict no fun, no play policy within the school. Along with his chief security guard, he runs the school with rod of iron. Zip and Zap quickly make friends and form ‘The Marble Gang’. Their aim is to wreak havoc around the school by creating mischief and playing pranks whilst everyone sleeps.

During one of their adventures, they discover that their headmaster is hiding a mysterious secret – one the Zip and Zap brothers are just waiting to solve…

Win a Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang DVD

Released on 26th June 2017, Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang is rated PG and is Spanish with English subtitles. With a runtime of 89 minutes, this adventure for pre-teens is directed by Oskar Santos and stars Javier Gutiérrez, Raúl Rivas and Daniel Cerezo. 

Order your copy of Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang on Amazon!

WIN a Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang DVD

To be in with a chance to win a Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang DVD, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:

1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will receive a Zip and Zap and The Marble Gang DVD.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 9th July 2017.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winners name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winner, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
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12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

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Craft Tutorial: Recreating Uranus (other planets are available)

It’s rare a craft tutorial comes with a soundtrack, but I’ve had this earworm the whole time I’ve been making this space craft, so it’s only fair to pass it on. This month Craft Merrily have challenged the Bostik Bloggers to create a space themed craft. I was very happy with this brief as my son has a space themed bedroom and I knew whatever I made would end up hanging from his ceiling being admired by 6 year olds. 

I decided to create a planet and I wanted to make one with rings because they’re prettier right? I didn’t want to do Saturn as that was too obvious, so my husband suggested Uranus as it does have rings. 

Craft Tutorial: Recreating Uranus (other planets are available)

For more information about Uranus, visit https://www.nasa.gov/uranus

How to make your own Uranus

You will need:
1 polystyrene ball
Half a sheet of tissue paper
A “ring” of cardboard cut to fit the ball
Glue
Blue and silver paint
Bostik White Glu
A length of fishing line

Craft Tutorial: Recreating Uranus (other planets are available)

How to make Uranus:

Using an egg cup to balance your polystyrene ball on, carefully tear up the tissue paper into pieces a few centimetres square and stick onto the ball using the glue. Once covered, leave it to dry for an hour or so.

Once dry, carefully put the cardboard ring around your planet. The ring should be cut to fit the ball snuggly. 

When the ring is in place, paint over your planet and its ring in blue (or whichever colour you choose, your planet, your rules). You might need to give it a few coats, but remember to leave it to try in between. If you’re in a hurry, a hairdryer can be used to gently speed up the drying process.

Craft Tutorial: Recreating Uranus (other planets are available)

Once the blue base coat is dry and you are happy it doesn’t need more coats, paint over with silver paint. I wanted the silver paint to seem a bit like gases, so I dabbed it all over the planet and the rings so you could still see the blue underneath. Leave this to dry (again, carefully use a hairdryer if you’re in a rush).

Craft Tutorial: Recreating Uranus (other planets are available)

When Uranus is dry, take a length of clear fishing line and cut it to the required length. Tie a knot in the middle and thread the pin through the knot and tie it tight. Stick the pin in Uranus, thinking about how you want the planet to hang. I thought it would look pretty at a slightly jaunty angle, so I went with that.

I was going to embellish my planet with sequins and shiny stars, but it was so pretty as it was that I thought I would leave it as it is. If you decide to make your own Uranus, or another planet of your choosing, then you can paint it or embellish it however you’d like. 

I’m really pleased with how my Uranus has turned out. I know my son will enjoy adding it to his bedroom planetarium.

Craft Tutorial: Recreating Uranus (other planets are available)

Note: I am a Bostik craft blogger and I was sent the materials to create this craft from Craft Merrily. 

Check out my other craft tutorials here!

My first Father’s Day without a Father

Father’s Day 2016 was a pretty special one. We had a pretty chilled out afternoon, all the family came round for tea and cake and the sun shone. We all tumbled out into the garden and I took a hundred photos of us all having a nice time. One week later I got a phone call to say my Dad had died and everything fell apart.

It’s been a tough twelve months, there’s no denying that. I’ve cried every day. Our family has laughed, cried and remembered all the good and great things about him. But there’s a massive Dad sized hole in my life which can never be filled.

Father’s Day is coming. It’s not a date which can be ignored, we still have a Dad in the house so he needs cards, presents and cake. He will need a bit of fuss and some thank yous for being the “World’s Greatest Dad” or whatever. As much as I’d like to sweep Father’s Day under the carpet and erase this annual celebration of masculine parenthood from existence, I can’t. It doesn’t work like that.

I don’t resent anyone having a Dad. I don’t resent anyone celebrating Father’s Day. I will celebrate as much as I can along with them, but always with a knot in the back of my throat holding my grief inside for just one more day. 

I can’t pretend it isn’t hard. Walking past card shops filled with cards and gifts makes me hold my breath until they’re out of sight. Actually going into one a couple of weeks ago and having to buy a Father’s Day card and a gift for my husband was ridiculously hard. Is this one of those things which is supposed to get easier with time?

As social media fill with gift ideas and Father’s Day memes it becomes harder not to look it all in the eye. Most days of the year I wake up, hug my son, talk to my husband and remember that my Dad is dead. His absence is always there. Each day the place where he once sat in my life just yawns a little wider as I realise even more what I’m missing.

This Sunday, this Father’s Day I’m going to have to stick a very brave face on and swallow down my grief for another day. I’ve no idea how I will actually get through the day without crumbling completely. My first Father’s Day without a Father will probably break my heart all over again. Maybe I’ll use the day to remember him, just like I remember him every day.

It sucks.

My first Father's Day without a Father

Review: The Three Musketeers, Waterside Arts Centre

Over the half term we were invited to the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, near Manchester to see The Three Musketeers show performed by Three Half Pints. Three Half Pints are a slapstick comedy duo who have been on several CBeebies’ shows including Spot Bots and Justin’s House.

The Three Musketeers is a hilarious slapstick adventure full of 17th century style chivalry, swordplay and suddenly falling over. Aimed at children aged 5+ it was a fine way to end the Whit half term with a flourish. We went along to see the show, Ben was unsure he’d like it as he was unfamiliar with the story, but once it began he was laughing his socks off and joining in in all the right places.

The story follows the adventures of Dick-tagnan, played by Richard Franklin and his Musketeer colleagues, Ernie (Robin Hatcher) and Derek (Callum Donnelly). All three of the half pints play a number of different characters during the performance, almost all of them silly.

The play which is just over an hour long with an interval is a glorious festival of slapstick comedy. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen slapstick like this and to be honest it’s good to have proper slapstick comedy back. The Three Half Pints are masters of slapstick and make it look so easy. Although I would have preferred a “don’t try this at home” before the show, rather than after. My son managed to copy one of their moves during the interval and it hurt!

The Three Musketeers show was genuinely hilarious. There is a bit of risqué banter for the parents too, but most of it went way over the kid’s heads. The Three Half Pints are a comedy trio to look out for in the future. They’re incredibly funny and we laughed hard throughout the whole show.

It was a great show and well worth catching next time they’re in town.

Review: The Three Musketeers, Waterside Arts Centre

Click here for more information about The Three Half Pints including tour dates.

We were given these tickets for review purposes, all opinions are our own.

Fitness Gear for Father’s Day for under £50

My husband is a late convert to exercise. Like many of us he was put off sport and fitness at school. As a result it’s taken him 20 years to put on some fitness gear and get off the sofa. In fairness to him he’s remarkably sporty now. In the last couple of years he’s taken part in Born Survivor (one of those military style races where they roll you in mud and make you crawl under barbed wire). He’s taken up Kettlebells, then had to give that up due to a dodgy elbow and now he’s joined a running group. 

We’re keen to encourage his sportiness, partly because he really enjoys it and partly because it gets him out from under our feet for a few hours a week. With Father’s Day approaching we thought that giving him some new fitness gear would be a nice supportive gesture.

We thought we’d treat him to a new pair of shorts, a couple of new tops and some running socks. But is it possible to get some decent fitness gear with a budget of just £50? 

We checked out the DW Sports website and found that we could find good quality running gear to suit budgets both large and small. We were pleased to be able to almost entirely him kit out so that he looks the part when he meets with his weekly running club.

Fitness Gear for Father's Day for under £50

The New Balance t-shirt in heather is £14 (currently reduced from £22) it is lightweight and made from moisture wicking fabric (which takes the sweat off you body and dries quickly). It also has an antimicrobial treatment which resists odours and skims the body, so it’s not too tight and is comfortable to wear.

Fitness Gear for Father's Day for under £50

It’s always good to have a couple of running tops to choose from, so we also bought this colourful Puma Core Run t-shirt in bright plasma (£12). Again this is a lightweight material, it’s moisture wicking and comfortable. It’s also very, very bright. Much brighter that it appears on the website. It may be bright, but it does make it ideal to wear when running down the road when the evening light is fading.

My husband lives in shorts for about 8 months a year, but he does have a selection of shorts he wears for exercise. With new running tops, he needs new running shorts, so we chose the Nike Dri-Fit Academy Knit Shorts (£15.99) in a lovely shade of blue and white which will go with almost anything. Again they’re made with moisture wicking fabric, Nike call it “Dri-Fit Technology”. They’re a nice length, not too short or too long and they have an elasticated waist which makes them comfortable to exercise in.

Fitness Gear for Father's Day for under £50

Last but by no means least, we got him some new running socks. I learned long ago that normal socks are no good for running in, not only do they wear out pretty quickly, but they often slip down your foot causing blisters and other problems. We went for a two pack of Sof Sole running socks (£7.99). Made from a Polyester material, with moisture management technology these socks are ideal for anyone racking up the miles, these specially designed running socks minimise movement and friction. 

So for a fraction under £50 we’ve kitted him out ready for his running club. We think he looks really smart. He feels really comfortable and the small boy thinks he’s nailed his Father’s Day presents for this year. And he’s right. 

We’re really impressed with DW Sports. We ordered the products on Friday, they arrived early on Monday and delivery is free when you spend over £40. It’s all brand named products at what I felt were very reasonable prices. This new fitness gear will make a great Father’s Day present for our fit Dad!

We were sent these products for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

We're going on an adventure

Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Lowry

Over the weekend the Stuff And Nonsense Theatre Company brought their production of The Emperor’s New Clothes to The Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays. This new adaptation of the well-known tale, written and directed by Niki McCretton is currently on a UK tour.

This one hour show is for ages 3+ and brings to life the Hans Christian Andersen tale of an eccentric Emperor who loves clothes more than anything. It’s his birthday and he wants a new designer outfit to wear to his birthday parade. Two ‘designers’ (Bolshie and Banana) promise to create him an outfit that’s “never been seen before”, and the eccentric and vain Emperor doesn’t quite realise the spectacle he is about to make.

It’s only the village pig herder Molly who is brave enough to break the news to the Emperor. Thankfully some well appointed bunting saves his blushes and a happy ending is guaranteed all round.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is brought to life by versatile performers Jenny Harrold and Toby Gascoigne who play couple of quirky characters and each manages a plethora of puppets. The show is packed with pithy dialogue, funny puppets as well as music and song.

The puppets, many of whom are made in the style of Muppets are the stars of the show. Each one has a funny accent and great dialogue. Jenny and Toby are lively and engaging, and my six year old son loved the play. It is pitched at 3+ but I think some of the younger audience members struggled to stay engaged during some of the wordier portions of the performance, so perhaps 5 or 6 is about the right age.

The set is one of the stars of the show. The action takes place in and around a huge wardrobe and dressing table. Throw in a couple of screens and this homely set is transformed, with the help of your imagination into a town, a palace for the Emperor, a bolt hole for Bolshie and Banana and the scene of the great birthday parade. 

The Emperor’s New Clothes is a triumph of storytelling. In the hour long show Jenny, Toby and the puppets really brought the story to life. With enough audience participation to keep most of the little ones engaged, this production of The Emperor’s New Clothes was funny, fun and captivating.

The Emperor’s New Clothes is funny, energetic, charming and captivating. It’s as engaging for parents as it is for children, and for me that’s the secret to really good family theatre. 

Review: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Lowry

We were given tickets to The Emperor’s New Clothes for review purposes. All opinions are our own.

Three times in my life when I’ve needed money fast

I’ve always been pretty good with money, living within my means and budgeting and saving when I can. In good times and bad we’ve always had enough to pay the bills and keep a roof over our heads. It’s those pesky times when you’re hit by a big bill for something unexpected which knock you for six. 

No matter how well you’re managing your money, having to dig deep and find £500 for a car repair bill, or a new washing machine is always going to mess up your budget for that month, and perhaps the following few months. Despite careful planning and budgeting, we have sometimes found ourselves in a financial pickle. 

Here are the three times in our lives when we’ve needed money fast –

Unexpected and huge Vet bill

We inherited a wild and wonderful dog. She was young, bouncy and fearless. She also wasn’t insured. One of the first times we took her for a walk she had a freak accident and poked herself in her throat with a stick. A huge haematoma developed and she not only needed emergency treatment, she needed specialist emergency treatment. Several surgeries later she was better and we were £3k poorer. 

We scrabbled around trying to find the money to pay the bill. We spent our savings, our family had a whip round and we budgeted extra hard for months afterwards (beans on toast for tea every night). It was tough and it took us a few years to get over the financial hit we took. The lesson? Always insure your pets.

New car after write off

When my husband was involved in a car accident and his first car was written off, we thought we would be ok because it was insured. It turns out we had undervalued his car (a nippy little Citroen Saxo which we loved) on the insurance forms, so instead of getting the £2k it was worth, we got half that and needed to find the difference and a little more for a new car. 

I don’t drive, so we relied on his car for holidays, for shopping and getting us both to work. He used his car for work a lot too. Whilst we could manage for a few weeks solely on public transport, we needed a new car pretty quickly. Again we scrabbled around, dipped into savings and negotiated hard with used car salesman. We got our new car, it probably wasn’t the car we would have chosen if the circumstances were different, but it got us from A to B and took us on a few adventures over the years.

You can’t live without a fridge freezer can you?

White goods are a bit of a nightmare. They’re mostly essential and these days when they go wrong it’s usually cheaper to replace them than it is to repair them. Having said that, our trusty washing machine repairman has kept several of our washing machines limping along for a few extra years. 

What we cannot live without, especially now we have a son is a fridge freezer. A few years ago we went away for a weekend and when we returned home we discovered that the fridge freezer had died and everything in it had defrosted. It was completely kaput. Although it was quick and easy to get online and find a replacement, finding the £350 to pay for it was a little trickier.

We’ve been lucky when it’s come to big bills. We’ve usually managed to get enough money together by digging into what savings we had and family have usually been happy to help out if we needed them to. Finding the money to pay an unexpected and big bill can be a nightmare, a short-term loan from a company such as Cash Lady could help to get you over the bump.

Big, unexpected bills are part of life, and whilst you can put money to one side to pay for them, sometimes that’s not enough.

money Three times in my life when I've needed money fast

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