Taking part in the Dog Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

Today we went along to the Woolsery Agricultural Show in North Devon. Despite a drizzly start to the day, the sun shone for the most part. We saw the show advertised and on a whim we decided to go along and enter our nine month old pup in the dog show. It was not purely for pedigree pups, but scruffs, crosses and mongrels were welcome to enter too. We entered with no real expectation of success. Penny is a lively pup with fairly uncertain parentage, so we didn’t rate her chances against seasoned, well-groomed pups whose owners knew what they were doing.

Taking part in the Dogs Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

There were 15 classes to enter and rosettes would be awarded to the first six placing dogs in each category, with the first place dog from each being put forward to Best in Show.

1. Best Puppy any breed – 6 to 12 months old
2. Best Large breed
3. Best Small breed
4. Best Cross-bred
5. Best Rescue
6. Best Veteran – 8 years and over
7. Best Condition
8. Best Scruff
9. Best Child handler – 12 years and under
10. The waggiest tail
11. The most appealing eyes
12. Best pair (match or mismatch)
13. Prettiest bitch
14. Most Handsome dog
15. The one the judge would most like to take home with them 

Taking part in the Dogs Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

We entered a few categories, we faced disappointment in Best Puppy. Penny was very nervous as it was her first time in the show ring and showed herself up by hiding from the judge. Undeterred we entered her for the Best Cross-Breed and we were delighted when she came 4th.

We had some time before her next category – Best Scruff came up, so we stretched our legs, explored the Woolsery Agricultural Show, found some lunch and gave Penny a nice cool bowl of water. We were sure she would do well in Best Scruff since she is a big gangly scruffy thing, but we were wrong. She failed to place at all in Best Scruff. Maybe she’s too pretty to be scruffy? A change of plan was required, if she’s too pretty to be scruffy, should we enter her in the Prettiest Bitch category?

Reader, we did just that. After some deliberation, we were astonished when the judge handed us the 1st rosette. Penny is the prettiest bitch in Devon (or at least the prettiest bitch entered in that category at the Woolsery Agricultural Show). We were absolutely delighted!

Taking part in the Dogs Show at the Woolsery Agricultural Show

Because we’d come first in Prettiest Bitch, we were put forward for Best in Show. We were certain she wouldn’t win that one and we were right. There was stiff competition, with some dogs there being proper pedigree show dogs, as well as a small collection of scruffs and mutts. We were happy just to be there. 

We were thrilled, we hadn’t expected to come away with any rosettes, but to come home with a 1st and a 4th was amazing. We’d only gone because we thought it would be a fun thing to do and it really was. Have we got the dog show bug? Probably, but we have got some work to do before next year!

Review: Wobbly Worm – a great garden game!

With summer upon us and children to entertain during the school holidays, it’s good to get out in the garden and play some games. We’ve been playing a new game from Spin Master Toys which is great in the garden, or works equally well inside if the weather is not on your side – Wobbly Worm. 

Review: Wobbly Worm - a great garden game for kids

I confess I was initially drawn to this because I loved the name and seeing it in action on YouTube made me smile. I knew my son would love it and I was right. Wobbly Worm is designed for children aged 3+ and is an update on old fashioned hoopla. Wobbly Worm is a plastic worm with a base shaped like half an apple. Switch him on and he will wibble and wobble while you try to toss your hoops over his head.

The game is suitable for 2-3 players, but you could happily play with this by yourself, or in a group of friends or family.

Review: Wobbly Worm - a great garden game for kids

Wobbly Worm comes with 9 plastic hoops in different colours and sizes and a set of instructions. What aren’t included are batteries (you’ll need 2 C batteries) but you can put the worm together and play with your stationary worm while your other half nips tot he shops to buy some batteries. 

The hoops come in three sizes, obviously the smaller the hoop the harder it is to get on the worm. I liked that the hoops have little connector for safety, which can be quickly unclicked and opened up if someone does something they shouldn’t be doing with their hoop. 

It’s really easy to put your Wobbly Worm together, there are four worm pieces which fit together with connectors. You push one of the connectors into the base and put the smiley worm head on the top. All you need are the batteries which you’ll need a screwdriver to open up the slot to fit them into the apple base.

Review: Wobbly Worm - a great garden game for kids

You can make your worm as long or as short as you want, just by adding or removing worm sections. The Wobbly Worm has a maximum height of 3ft, so at full length he’s about right for my quite tall 6 year old. Of course, the taller he is, the more he wobbles. To set your worm off wobbling, just press the start button on the apple base and off he goes!

Wobbly Worm is a great way to build hand-eye coordination and it takes some concentration to get the hoop over your worm, even before you switch it on and the worm and apply both start wobbling all over the place. It really is lots of fun. You can make it easier or more difficult by adding worm sections; drawing a line where you have to throw your hoop from. If you’re a beginner, just don’t switch your worm on until you get the hang of it.

Review: Wobbly Worm - a great garden game for kids

My son absolutely loved it and it will be coming on holiday with us. Luckily it all packs down into a reasonably small box which we can just throw in the car. I like that you can play with it differently to change up or change down the difficulty levels. I also like that it’s working and refining his co-ordination. It is really good fun for all the family, even the adults! 

Wobbly Worm costs around £20 on Amazon, but the price may vary depending on where you shop.

We were sent the Wobbly Worm for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own. This blog post contain an affiliate link.

Catch festival favourite Nick Cope on tour + Win a Nick Cope CD Bundle!

Summer is here and the festival season is upon us once more. Whether you’re off to Camp Bestival, Refract at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale, or taking in the sights at the Edinburgh Fringe, you must (you really must) catch “indie-surrealist kids’ singer songwriter” Nick Cope this summer. Nick Cope is a professional singer and songwriter, who first enjoyed international success as lead singer and songwriter with The Candyskins in the 1990s. These days he is a much loved writer and performer of beautifully bonkers songs for kids.

On tour with festival favourite Nick Cope

Nick first came to my attention when I saw he was appearing at Refract at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale on Sunday 30th July (tickets available here). I looked him up on YouTube and I knew that my son would love his work, and he really really did.

Nick has a number of CDs, each one is full of his funny, whimsical songs for kids of all ages. I now have two of his CDs; The Pirate’s Breakfast and A Round of Applause for The Dinosaurs which I know will fill a few happy hours on the long drive to Cornwall and back this summer. The songs are simple, funny and really relatable. I would love to see Nick perform live and I’m going to make it my mission to catch one of his shows soon! 

Nick has also recently released a DVD – The Nick Cope Show which is an animated compilation of brand new and classic videos by Nick and his son Burt (Burt has done some of the animations for Nick’s songs). The DVD is narrated by a cartoon Nick and features favourites like – A round of applause for the dinosaurs, I’m a little lizard, Flower in the garden, the classic The baby’s done a poo and many more. This 25 minute film is available on DVD and iTunes download.

Nick performs all over the UK at all the major art and music festivals. If you want to see him this summer (or at any other time really), all of his gigs are listed here. He will be appearing at Camp Bestival, Refract at the Waterside Arts Centre in Sale and the Edinburgh Fringe over the next month or so.

Nick is brilliant. We are big fans and I hope you will be too!

On tour with festival favourite Nick Cope + Win a Nick Cope CD Bundle!

WIN A Nick Cope CD & DVD Bundle

To be in with a chance to win a Nick Cope CD & DVD bundle, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

Check out our other giveaways over on our competitions page.

 
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4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5. The winner will be sent a Nick Cope CD & DVD bundle.
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Judging the International Cheese Awards 2017

Each July thousands of cheese producers and retailers from across the world descend on the sleepy market town of Nantwich in Cheshire to take part in the International Cheese Awards. The awards are part of the Nantwich Show, but trade day and judging takes place the day before the gates are opened to the public. I’ve been going for four years now, and judging for the last three. It is the highlight of my foodie calendar, but what did I judge at the International Cheese Awards 2017 and who won?

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2017

The judging day starts early, but there’s plenty of coffee and lots of really interesting people to talk to. I arrived early, just as they were opening up the cheese pavilion and was first in line to collect my judging pack. Taking the chance, I had a quick wander around to have a look at some of the 5685 entries and then settled down for a coffee. I found myself sat next to Jill Allen from the The Tillamook County Creamery Association in Oregon. Jill is lovely and we had a good chat about cheese (what else?) and her plans to visit the Cheddar Gorge before she goes home to America.

The judges were briefed and we made our way to the judging tables. I was in a judging team with retired cheese maker David Slater and Sarah De Wit, Product Development Manager for ASDA. Both were very knowledgeable and I like to take the opportunity to learn what I can about cheese from my fellow judges.

We judged the following categories – 
DP54 – Derby Block, UK Creameries – Winner Belton Farm
DP55 – Red Leicester Block, UK Creameries – Winner Belton Farm
DP389 – Packaged Fresh Cheese Snacks – Winner AB Zemaitijos Plenas 24 month aged solid fermented cheese chunks

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2017

Between the three categories judged we sampled 41 different cheeses, which was not a record breaker, but still a fair amount of cheese to eat in one sitting. Judging over, I retired to the press tent for a sit down and a cup of tea and to compare notes with some of my fellow press judges. We just had time for a quick look around some of the trade stands in the cheese pavilion before lunch. And yes, we did eat some more cheese.

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2017

Lunch at the International Cheese Awards is always a treat. After a feast of cheese, the lunch of excellent salads, thick slices of beef, ham, poached salmon or veggie quiche is very welcome. Pudding at an event which celebrates all things dairy is as cream-filled as you’d expect; with sherry trifle, excellent pavlova, chocolate roulade and a huge dish of fresh strawberries. It’s hard to know what to choose (so it’s best to have a little of each). You should save a little room for the best cheese board you will find anywhere in the world, this is the International Cheese Awards after all.

After lunch, the winners of the retail classes were announced, along with the International Cheese Awards 2017 Supreme Champion, which was the Roquefort Papillon Révélation from Bradburys Cheese. It’s available from Waitrose if you fancy tracking down this wonderful blue cheese.

Judging the International Cheese Awards 2017

It was a wonderful year for the International Cheese Awards 2017. Each year I discover some new cheeses and learn more about cheese tasting. I love it. I know being a cheese judge is something of an honor bestowed on the few and that I was in incredibly knowledgeable and gracious company, for which I am grateful.

This year was the 120th anniversary of the International Cheese Awards. Today (26th July 2017) the doors are open to the public; complete with cookery demonstrations from celebrity chefs including James Martin, Sean Wilson and Will Holland. If you can’t make it to the cheese pavilion this year, then put it in your diary for next year. It’s an unmissable event for cheese lovers and food enthusiasts!

For more information about the International Cheese Awards 2017, visit their website.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

I visited a friend over the weekend to share a few glasses of prosecco and put the world to rights. When she told me that when she usually drinks prosecco, she pops a pastry brush in the top of bottle I was fairly horrified. It is apparently just the right size to keep the bubbles in. However, we are not barbarians, so I told her about my new Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper and which I’d picked up at the UK Wine Hour Live event I went to recently, thankfully I’d brought my new stopper with me to try out.

If you’re anything like me, I often hesitate to open a second bottle of fizz knowing I will only drink one glass and the rest will go flat before I get the chance to finish it off another day. The Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper keeps the bubbles in the bottle and ensures that your fizz stays fresher for longer.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

It has an easy clip and lock mechanism which was a little stiff the first couple of times I locked and unlocked the stopper. Once I’d got the knack it was very easy to use. The stopper has a sleek black and silver matt finish, and once it is locked in place it is completely spill-proof, so you can lie your open bottles down in the fridge if you need to. It also means they are really great for picnics or whatever when your bottle might not always stay upright.

We used it throughout the night, keeping the bottle in the fridge and opening the stopper to pour fresh glasses of prosecco. We were impressed. Our prosecco retained all of its fizz and we tested the stopper was leak proof by turning the bottle upside down. There was a satisfying hissy fizz whenever we opened the bottle and I am incredibly impressed with the Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stoppers ability to keep my fizz fresh.

Review: Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper

The Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper costs around £12.99 but I’ve spotted it on Amazon for a few pounds less. If you drink prosecco as much as I do, this is a great investment. It would also make an excellent gift for any wine loving friends you may have.

To find out more about the Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper, visit their website http://avinawinetools.com

Note: I was given an Avina Sparkling Wine Bottle Stopper as a gift, all images and opinions are my own.

Back to School: Tough school shoes from Jake Shoes

Year One has been HARD on my son’s school shoes. I have no idea what he does during his school day, but he’s worn through the top of every single pair of shoes he’s had this year. Admittedly they’ve all been cheap supermarket shoes made of pretend leather, maybe that was part of the problem. Some pairs barely lasted a month, I think I’ve been making a false economy on the school shoes front. This year I’m trying a different tactic, I’m going to see if a pair of virtually indestructible Kickers from Jake Shoes will survive the year, or at least a term.

Back to School: Tough school shoes from Jake Shoes

We chose the “Kick lo velcro kids” from Jake Shoes. They are a mini version of a of the classic Kick Lo shoes. The Kick lo velcro kids have velcro straps so he can get them on and off easily. They are made from really good quality black leather and have a thick, grippy sole. The leather is really thick hard leather so they will need to be broken in over the summer. He will wear them for a couple of hours here and there and they should be just right by the time he starts back at school in September. 

Back to School: Tough school shoes from Jake Shoes

I think they look really smart. He is really pleased with them and was desperate to get them on and run about in them. With the shoes being made from real leather we will need to give them a polish every so often to keep them looking good, especially with his habit of scuffing the tops of his shoes.

What I like about them is one shoe has a green label and the other a red label on the shoe, which will help him to remember which shoe goes on which foot. Something he does still struggle with when he’s not concentrating on what he’s doing. 

Back to School: Tough school shoes from Jake Shoes

Jake Shoes have two high street stores, one in the Manchester Arndale Centre and one in Stockport Town Centre. Both of them are local to me, but for convenience I ordered online. It’s good to know that they do have high street stores so close to me, sometimes it’s good to be able to get his feet measured and have him try on a few pairs before we choose a favourite. 

The Jake Shoes website is really easy to use, the shoes were delivered quickly and in perfect condition. We chose the Kick lo velcro kids shoes in size 13.5 kids and they cost £53. The price varies depending on the size, starting from £45.

Jake Shoes are specialists in kids shoes. They stock a large range of school shoes, including Kickers, Geox and Timberland, as well as other popular kids shoes like Converse, Vans and Lelli Kelly. Will these Kickers survive the rigours of life on the feet of a six year old? I have high hopes that they will!

See the full range of Jake Shoes school shoes here.

Back to School: Tough school shoes from Jake Shoes

Note: We received these shoes for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

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.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

A couple of weeks ago to celebrate two friends getting new jobs, a group of us went for afternoon tea at Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury. To my shame I’ve never eaten there before, but I’ve bought and eaten plenty of their chocolates over the years. I was interested to see what their chocolate afternoon tea would be like, plus it seemed like a bargain at £16.99 each, so I needed to check it out properly. 

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

Cocoa Cabana in West Didsbury is a small chocolatiers and cake makers. They have three small tables inside and on nice days you can sit outside on Burton Road and watch the world go by. There were eight of us, so we took up all of the inside tables. Because of the size of Cocoa Cabana and the work involved in making an afternoon tea you do have to book in advance. 

My friend Sarah had done all the booking and had arranged for us to take some celebratory prosecco with us to have with our tea. There was rather surprisingly no corkage to pay for this. The afternoon tea comes with unlimited tea or coffee, you can have hot chocolate but there is an additional charge for this.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

We were served pots of good tea and we chatted as our sandwiches were brought to us. I was one of two vegetarians and our sandwiches were brought on separate plates. I thought that was a nice touch as the carnivores often snaffle the veggie sandwiches before I get to them. The sandwiches were freshly made with seeded bread and good quality fillings. There were nice egg sandwiches, cheese and pickle and ham and mustard amongst others.

More tea was poured, prosecco corks popped and a procession of sweet treats were brought to our table. The freshly made fruit scones came with lashings of cream and a salted caramel sauce; a real twist on the classic but one I really enjoyed. It was a little sweet for a couple of my friends, but the sauce was a winner for me.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

The chocolate tarts were much coveted. Crisp pastry filled with chocolate ganache and topped with a red berry. The tarts were excellent, but very rich and very intense. Most of us managed half a tart each (you can take what you can’t finish home if you’d like).

Following the chocolate theme, there was also a large plate of chocolate brownies. I am not much of a brownie fan, but I shared one with a friend and it was perfectly crisp on top and gooey in the middle. 

What did turn my head was this little plate of prettiness. Tiny eclairs, a teeny banoffee pie, a bite-sized cheesecake, little raspberry chocolate pots, a miniature lemon meringue tart and the lightest, most magnificent pistachio macaron ever.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

As with every afternoon tea I’ve ever had, there was far too much food, which is probably a good thing. Afternoon tea should not leave you wanting more and the staff at Cocoa Cabana were clearly used to boxing up leftovers. 

The Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana is just £16.99 per person, which is really excellent value. We didn’t feel rushed and the service was attentive but not intrusive. I did need to go home and have a nap directly afterwards, but that is my greed and not a comment on the quality of the food. I liked the separate veggie sandwiches; and the macarons I will dream of for a while yet. I do think the salted caramel sauce should be sold in jars.

The verdict? A good afternoon tea, with some real highlights at very reasonable price, I’ve paid upwards of £25 in Manchester for very average afternoon teas and the Cocoa Cabana afternoon tea was better value and much better quality. Plus the service was accommodating and attentive. It’s nice to have afternoon tea (and chocolate) of this quality available outside of the city centre. Go on, treat yourself (and me).

Cocoa Cabana 128 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 2JQ

Visit the Cocoa Cabana website for further information http://cocoa-cabana.co.uk/

Review: Afternoon Tea at Cocoa Cabana, West Didsbury

Note: We paid for our Afternoon Tea in full.

7 Things to do in Manchester – Summer 2017

Over the last few weeks I’ve been studiously jotting down some fun things to do in Manchester over the summer 2017 holidays. My list seems to go on forever, so it’s time I wrote it down properly and shared it with you, dear reader. As ever, if you have any more suggestions for summer fun, please comment below!

A Summer of Victorian Entertainment for Children and Families at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is throwing open its doors this summer to the world of the Victorian children at play. Every Wednesday in the summer holidays, a range of activities will take visitors back in time to when the Gaskell’s daughters would have played in the House. Highlights include circus skills, Victorian theatre and costumed actors with a Victorian craft to take home for each child.

There’s so much going on at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House this summer, visit their website for more information and to pre-book for special events

intu Trafford Centre turns fairy tale dreams into reality with Princess-Sing-Alongs

A whole host of beautiful princesses from fairy tales are set to descend on intu Trafford Centre this summer. Every Tuesday join one of their Princess-Sing-Alongs. Wannabe Princesses (and Princes) are invited to join a host of beautiful princesses for a sing-along in the Main Dome of the centre every Tuesday at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm.

Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White will be performing at the centre, welcoming fans with the chance to sing along to their hearts’ content.

7 Things to do in Manchester - Summer 2017

Manchester BookBench Trail

Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust have joined forces with Wild in Art to bring their iconic BookBench sculptures to Manchester. The BookBenches will be displayed in cultural hubs, leisure and shopping centres across Manchester. Families will be able to discover the BookBenches by following a trail and complete quizzes and activities as they so do. Many of the venues will host reading-themed events throughout summer 2017. Visit the website for details about the trail.

The Lowry, Salford Quays

This August The Lowry hosts an incredible selection of family shows. In the Quays theatre they have a month long run of Room on the Broom (Tue 1 – Sun 27 Aug), the well-loved classic The Jungle Book (Tue 29 Aug – Sat 2 Sept), and in the Lyric theatre you’ll find the kooky clan from The Addams Family (Tue 29 Aug – Sat 9 Sept).

The Lowry will also open its doors on Sat 5 August from 10am until 4pm for a summer 2017 Open Day, with free activities that enable visitors of all ages to explore the venue in a completely new way.

7 Things to do in Manchester - Summer 2017

Digital Skills for all the family in Cheshire!

Drop in and get making at these free and family friendly hands on workshops at different Cheshire East libraries across the borough. Choose from – Animations in Minecraft, Build an Infrared Detector Circuit, Interactive LED art and PatternBeats.

Not forgetting “Crewecraft” – a festival of all things Minecraft in Crewe – join one of five public interactive sessions where you can build a part of Crewe’s heritage.

Full information on venues, dates and times and how to book your free place for all these workshops – http://www.shift-digital.co.uk/events/

Kids’ Cookery Camps with Food Sorcery 

Kids aged 7-14 years can book a place on on one the Food Sorcery Kids’ Cookery Camps this summer. The workshops help kids gain the confidence, skills and independence they need to get cooking. 

Chef Jason gets the kids prepping, cooking and eating tasty, nutritious food in a fun and friendly environment. He teaches timing and safety in the kitchen and encourages creativity with flavours. The menus will vary, but there is always be a vegetarian option available and special diets can be catered for if discussed in advance.

For more information, visit the Food Sorcery website.

Summer at the Museum of Science and Industry

The Museum of Science and Industry is always a hive of activity over the summer. This year is no exception – there’s plenty to keep your family occupied! From cheering your team on at the Science Showdown, to getting your game face on at Power Up! What about tinkerering and creating at MakeFest too? With their special events and exhibitions; as well as the usual halls of fun and a steam engine ride – they’ve got everything you need for a fun-filled, family day out.

Visit the MSI website for full listings.

7 Things to do in Manchester - Summer 2017

Picture:  © Jason Lock

These are just a few of the many, many things to do in Manchester over the summer. You can catch up on our plans for the summer holiday on our summer bucket list. But if you have any other suggestions for things to do, please comment in the box below!

Have a great summer 2017!

Days Out: Foodies Festival 2017, Tatton Park

As a keen eater of food, I can think of few things more exciting than going to a food festival, particularly a food festival on a glorious July weekend in the grounds of one of the great Cheshire estates – Tatton Park. We had VIP tickets for the day, so on Sunday we made the short trip from Didsbury to Knutsford to enjoy the Foodies Festival 2017.

Days Out: Foodies Festival 2017 at Tatton Park, Cheshire

If you’ve never been to the Foodies Festival before, it’s a bit like a giant farmers market, with lots of street food stalls and beer tents as well as little stalls selling kitchenalia and other foodie items. They also have some marquees where you can book to see various demonstrations, kids cookery, wine tasting and yoga if you’re so inclined.

The Foodies Festival does an annual summer tour around the UK, but sets up camp in Cheshire each July. It’s a real celebration of global food with stands and stalls from all over the world, plus local UK producers keenly selling their wares.

Days Out: Foodies Festival 2017 at Tatton Park, Cheshire

It is and it isn’t a family event. Both times we have been we have taken the boy and he’s quite liked it, mainly because he gets ice cream and a good hour in the excellent adventure playground afterwards. I guess being dragged around a busy festival while your parents swig samples of gin and nibble excellent cheese doesn’t really do it for most six year olds. Which is why booking tickets for one of the kids cookery demos would have been sensible idea had we thought of it earlier.

Days Out: Foodies Festival 2017 at Tatton Park, Cheshire

I’m reliably informed that Friday is the day to go to avoid the crowds, Sunday was busy but we picked our queues carefully and tried our best not to be too greedy. Between us we ate some delicious dishes; nibbling Spanish cheeses and meats, Paella, Calamari and er, chips and garlic mayo. We found homemade cakes and bags of fudge for pudding. Along the way sipped prosecco, mateus rose (it’s still a no from me), gin samples, raspberry juice and a lovely gin cocktail.

If you enjoy good food and discovering new and interesting things then the Foodie Festival is for you. It is busy, especially on the weekend days and the tickets are not so cheap that you’d just pop in for a quick bite for your lunch (VIP tickets are £35 each). With an additional £6 to park your car at Tatton Park, the costs of the day soon mount up.

Next time I think I will find a foodie friend to go with, rather than take the boys. That way I can explore things at my own pace. It’s certainly the place to go with a picnic blanket to sit on in the sunshine; listening to the live music and getting pink-cheeked merry on pimms or prosecco from the Bus Bar. 

Days Out: Foodies Festival 2017 at Tatton Park, Cheshire

Click here for more information about the Foodies Festival 2017.

Note: I was given a pair of tickets to the Foodies Festival 2017 in return for this blog post. All images and opinions are my own.