Tag Archives: Cheshire

What’s new at the Just So Festival 2017?

One of our family highlights of 2016 was going to the Just So Festival in Cheshire. It was our first year of camping at the festival and it was a wonderfully magical family weekend. We decided before we even packed the car up to come home that we wanted to go to the Just So Festival 2017, and that we definitely want to camp as that was so much fun.

Just So is an annual, intimate, weekend-long festival – an outdoor adventure like no other. Each year Just So seems to grow and change, with new and magical new elements being added. This year is no exception and the line up is already giving me goosebumps.

What's new at the Just So Festival 2017?

With Early-bird tickets for the festival being released in January, we take a look at what’s new for the Just So Festival 2017.  

The glorious lakeside Silver Screen glade is a large-scale area dedicated to all things cinematic. Recreate famous dance scenes from favourite musicals, join a musical chorus line and become extras in a Just So epic production. Expect marvellous music, theatre dance and circus all themed around the big screen. Bring a blanket while night falls to the beautiful outdoor cinema here and snuggle up to watch the best silent movies and family classics together. 

Inquisitive family explorers can discover the new Forgotten Courtyard. Tucked away in the ruins of the Old Tenants’ Hall is Rode’s beautiful Italian Garden. Expect to stretch your knowledge of the world around you and take part in workshops, provocations, debates and talks. Experience soundscapes and spoken word events here against the backdrop of the beautiful fountain, Italian cypress and olive trees. 

What's new at the Just So Festival 2017?

Head to the new covered Social Barn for a completely crackers celebration of fodder. It’s located next to The Social (with its incredible array of street food and drink) and home to the colouring cafe, midnight feasts and The Great Just So Bake Off.

Back by popular demand for 2017 is Away With The Fairies – deep within The Spellbound Forest find a secret fairyland. See if you can spy some fairies making mischief up in the trees and meet the Fairy Queen.

What's new at the Just So Festival 2017?

Together with these new areas, family festivalgoers can also re-visit much loved and established Just So areas such as Peekaboo, Spellbound Forest and the Woodland Theatre. Adventure into Tales of Animalia, dance the night away in Jitterbug and enjoy the Footlights stage. Not forgetting the wonderful High Seas and the wonderful Tribal Tournament.

Just So is set in woodland clearings, rolling parkland, arboreal amphitheatres and lakeside spots in the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire. It’s one of the most stunning landscapes in the UK, with limited public access the rest of the year.

Families planning on going to the Just So Festival 2017 are advised to buy tickets earlier than usual this year, with tickets selling at record speed for the 5000 capacity August festival. 

What's new at the Just So Festival 2017?

The Just So Festival 2017 takes place on 18 – 20 August 2017 at the Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire and we can’t wait. 
For information and tickets visit www.justsofestival.org.uk.

Spa Days: The Spa at The Midland, Manchester

Over the weekend my husband took me to The Midland Hotel in Manchester for a romantic weekend to celebrate my birthday. My gift from him was a night in a suite, a nine course meal in The French and some time in The Spa at The Midland. It was not the worst present I’ve ever been given. The boy did very well.

The Spa at The Midland

I am VERY fond of a spa day. Sometimes I will go to a spa for a treatment or two and then chill out in the thermal rooms, sometimes I will just go for a swim, a sauna and a steam. I find thermal rooms are very good for my back (I have chronic pain), the warmth of a sauna or a steam room really eases my old bones, so a spa day isn’t just a nice treat, it’s like therapy. 

As a guest at The Midland if you just want to use the spa, all you do is phone the Spa Reception and they’ll book you in for a time. This is so the spa doesn’t get too busy and noisy. If you’re not staying in the hotel, then you’ll need to book a spa day, there are a range of options on their website.

The Spa at The Midland has won a whole host of awards including Best City Spa Break Manchester, Best City Spa Day Manchester and Best Hotel Spa Manchester. The Spa at The Midland has also been named as ‘Best City Spa’ in The Candis 2016 Spa Awards. It is very good.

Take the lift to the lower ground floor and open the door to the spa, the smell of soothing essential oils permeates up the corridor to the spa reception. We were greeted by one of the staff, given a fluffy towel, a robe and slippers and directed to the changing rooms.

The Spa at The Midland

The communal changing rooms are a little on the small side, but if they only have small numbers in at a time it shouldn’t be an issue. The changing area has showers as well as an area where you can dry and straighten your hair.

I headed straight for the pool area, taking a shower before diving in. The shower has three different settings, and is a bit of an experience in itself. The cool misty shower is great after the sauna. 

The pool isn’t large, but it’s big enough to do a few gentle laps before sitting in the jacuzzi. The jacuzzi is very warm, it was too warm for my husband, but the bubbles pummelled my back in all the right places so I did spend quite a lot of time in there.

There is a small sauna and a steam room tucked away near the tropical shower area. Both rooms are probably big enough for 4 or 5 people but no more. I really enjoyed both rooms and I would very much like to go back and spend some more time in them. There is something very cleansing about having a sauna and a steam, I’d recommend it, especially if you suffer with aches and pains.

I didn’t venture into the relaxation room, but hubs spent quite a lot of time in there, he made himself a herbal tea, found a restful corner and promptly fell asleep. I do enjoy a relaxation room after I’ve had a treatment, they’re good places to chill out in whilst you come round after a massage or facial. Or if you’re my husband, a great place to have a nap.

The Spa at The Midland

We spent a couple of hours enjoying the pool and thermal suites before heading back to our room to get ready for dinner. We are talking about coming back for an afternoon of post-Christmas relaxation in the New Year. We didn’t have the time to try out any of the treatments on offer at The Spa at The Midland, but that is something we will look at for our next visit.

The Spa at The Midland also has a gym, a number of treatment rooms and a cafe to enjoy when you visit. I’ve been to a lot of spas and this felt very luxurious, it was clean, the lighting was soft and relaxing and the staff were attentive without been obtrusive. I enjoyed my couple of hours in the spa very much and I’m looking forward to our return.

For more information and more detailed photographs (I didn’t take any photos inside the spa for obvious reasons), visit The Spa at The Midland website.

Preview: Halloween with The Witches at Tatton Park

This October half term, get into the Halloween spirit with a week of witchy fun and mischief – part of Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures. Meet The Witches at Tatton Park, part of a year-long programme of events celebrating 100 years since the author’s birth.  

From Saturday 22 to Sunday 30 October, The Old Hall – the park’s oldest building – will be transformed into Hotel Magnificent (the scene of most of the action in Roald Dahl’s famous book) where visitors are invited to a Spooktacular Halloween Party and are invited to dress up, or not if you don’t want to.

The Witches at Tatton Park

This Witch Spotting Checklist will help you spot The Witches at Tatton Park….

  • They always wear gloves

o    Witches don’t have normal fingernails, they have thin claws, like cats – which is why they wear gloves ALL THE TIME, even indoors.

  • They are bald as a boiled egg

o    But many choose to wear very realistic wigs –don’t be fooled!

  • They have large nose holes

o    Real witches have an amazing sense of smell due to their very large nose holes – they can smell a child from across the street. And the cleaner the child, the easier they are to smell.

  • Their eyes change colour

o    If you look carefully at a real witch’s eye, you will notice the pupil changes colour – it will send shivers down your spine.

  • They have no toes

o    Real witches have feet with square ends – but they try to hide this by squeezing their feet into pretty shoes. Watch out for them limping!

  • They have blue spit

o    Real witches have spit so blue they can even use it to write with it.

Whilst you’re at Tatton Park,  head to The Farm and collect your conker from the Witches’ Tree. The whole family can join in a creepy and chilling conker challenge.  To top off the fun at the Farm there’s gazillions of fun to be had taking part in the Fantastic Mr Fox Farm trail.

Tatton Park is is bringing Roald Dahl’s imagination to life, with a host of children’s trails and events for all the family. Join Danny the Champion of the World in the gardens, Fantastic Mr Fox at the farm and Matilda in the mansion and you’ve got to be careful of The Enormous Crocodile out in the parkland!

The Witches at Tatton Park

This October half term is the perfect time for an autumnal visit to Tatton Park to catch the Roald Dahl themed activities and exhibitions. What better way of celebrating Halloween but by visiting The Witches at Tatton Park!

Get a Totally Tatton Twit Ticket and enjoy discounted entry to 3 of the Roald Dahl attractions. Family £27.50, Adult £11, Child £5.50. Car entry £6

For more information visit www.tattonpark.org.uk/Halloween

For more information about Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures and The Witches at Tatton Park visit www.tattonpark.org.uk/RoaldDahl

Spa Days: Volair Spa, Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park

Despite a promise to look after myself a bit better this year, beauty treatments and spa days have been pretty thin on the ground. Other things and other people come first, which as a mum is how it should be, but it was definitely my turn for a bit of TLC. Real life friend and fellow blogger Liz from Expression and Confession and I hopped in the car for a day at Volair Spa at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park. We had been invited to the spa for the day to check out their facilities and to find out more about the treatments they offer.

Volair Spa at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park

We arrived at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park and not being locals we had no idea what to expect. It is a large, very modern leisure centre. It’s an interesting state of the art building, filled with sculptures, interesting art works, the biggest swimming pool I’ve seen in a while, a gym, squash courts and lots more.

We headed upstairs to the Volair Spa. We were greeted by Hayley who gave us fluffy robes and slippers to change into. Once we’d got changed we sat in the relaxation room and chilled out with a cup of herbal tea while we waited for some more people to arrive. This is a really restful place, with soft mood lighting, scented candles and comfortable chairs or beanbags to sit on.

Volair Spa at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park

After a short welcome and health and safety talk we were shown downstairs to the Thermal Suite. I love thermal suites, they are always my favourite part of a spa. The thermal suite at the Volair Spa was small but perfectly formed. It had one steam room, a sauna and a jacuzzi. Everything looked new, scrupulously clean and very very tempting.

We were given some Lycon Spa Essentials exfoliating sugar scrub to scrub ourselves all over with before we began. There were lots of different scrubs to choose from, but I went for the pomegranate. We scrubbed and showered, and with fresh glowy skin we slipped into the jacuzzi to let the de-stressing process begin.

Volair Spa at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park

We had an hour in the thermal suite, and we tried out the sauna, steam room and jacuzzi. We felt deliciously relaxed and reluctant to leave for lunch. A two hour session in the thermal suite costs just £9.50, or two people for £15 which is excellent value. If I lived locally I could happily spend the day here, swimming for an hour or so, then unwinding in the thermal suite for a few hours.

Volair Spa at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park

After a light lunch and a glass of fizz we found ourselves in the capable hands of Beauty Therapist Hayley. Hayley gave us a fascinating hands on workshop on how to take our make up off and give ourselves a lovely home facial. My skin already felt pretty fantastic after applying the AromaWorks facial cleanser, toner and facial oils.

We were then ushered into one of their treatment rooms. The rooms are quiet, lit softly and are lovely relaxing spaces. I volunteered to have a Crystal Clear Micro-Dermabrasion treatment. It works by gently exfoliating the outer layers of the skin and gives immediate results for a range of skincare niggles including fine lines and wrinkles, open pores, blackheads, pigmentation, blemish scars and acne scars. I have pretty good skin for my age, but they promised to blast out some of my stubborn blackheads, clean my open pores and give me a general freshen up.

The Crystal Clear Micro-Dermabrasion didn’t hurt at all. Ultra-fine crystals are blasted onto your skin, but it feels quite gentle, just a little bit like someone is gently pushing your face with something like the rubber end of a pencil (that’s the only comparison I could think of, I’m sorry). It took around 20 minutes and afterwards my skin was moisturised. When I got home I took a photo…

Volair Spa at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park

… and I was impressed by how fresh and glowy my skin looked. It was visibly cleaner (yes I do wash every day) and brighter. Everyone who has clapped eyes on me since has remarked on how well I’m looking too.

We had a thoroughly relaxing day at the Volair Spa at the Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park. It’s a lovely, modern spa with good facilities, great treatments, a restful atmosphere and free parking. It was so good we’ve booked to go back next month!

Visit the Volair Spa at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park website for more information and special offers.

The Volair Spa is at Knowsley Leisure & Culture Park, Longview Drive, Huyton, Merseyside, L36 6EG Tel: 0151 443 2580

We were invited guests of Volair Spa, but all images and opinions are our own. We were under no obligation to blog about our spa day.

Just So Festival 2016 – A Magical Family Festival

The Just So Festival has a very special place in our hearts. This year was our third year, but our first year of camping. We’ve never camped before as a family, so we knew we were in for an adventure. Mix that with the magic of Just So and we managed to make a million memories and several hundred smiles, which was just what the doctor ordered.

We arrived on site on Friday afternoon, the festival was just beginning and as we pitched our tent in the Accessible Camping area, the heavens opened and we got our first soaking of the weekend. The folk at Just So aren’t easily put off having a good time, so I was sure rain would not stop play, and it didn’t.

Just So Festival 2016

There is so much to do at Just So. There are fixed areas like the Spellbound Forest (a forest with a campfire, a small hidden theatre and lots of activities and crafts happening all around); The High Seas with it’s travelling barn of merriment, huge pirate ship and sandpit, lantern making and more. As well as areas like the Village Green, Peekaboo (a tent village for babies and little ones), The Social, and brand new for this year, Tales of Animalia – a theatre hidden in the woods. As well as the Jitterbug Tent, Head Over Heels, Footlights and The Observatory.

Just So Festival 2016

Before we arrived we were sent a programme of events and I dutifully highlighted all the things I fancied, knowing that I would probably largely ignore my plans and just go with the flow, which is exactly how things should be. 

We explored the site, grabbed a few things to munch on for our tea, waved goodbye to daddy (he had to go home but promised to be back the next day) and we headed into the Spellbound Forest to listen to the Just So legend which is Ian Douglas and then take part in some singing around the campfire with Ian Mackintosh. The Campfire Song sessions soon became a firm favourite of ours, so we took part with gusto all three nights.

Just So Festival 2016

Throughout the weekend the early evening around the campfire sessions also included the exuberant David Gibb, Geoff Bird and terrifying and amazing (in equal measure) scientific experiments from the fantastic Dieter Wadeson.

We woke up on Saturday to a smattering of sunshine. Daddy returned and we headed off to explore. We headed straight for The High Seas to watch a performance of the laugh out loud “Shark Legs” and then for a quick play in the pirate sand pit. We walked through Sailcloth City – an avenue of sailcloth, with sailcloth dens and passageways to explore, and went to look at the lake. It was raining fairly hard by this point, so we watched the rowing boats on the lake for a short while and headed off to find some shelter.

Just So Festival 2016

One of the things I was most looking forward to was Les Enfants Terribles – The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory. Sadly we missed the first few minutes, struggled to get a decent spot to watch it and the sound wasn’t that great, so we did struggle a bit to keep up. The small boy climbed on my knee and we huddled together in the drizzle and watched the show. The performers bravely continued through the showers and we giggled at the madcap antics of Les Enfants. 

After the performance we headed back to the relative shelter of the Spellbound Forest. We watched as willow was woven into beautiful creations and nearby children were toasting marshmallows on the fire.

Just So Festival 2016

Out of the corner of my eye I spied a creature with terrible tusks, and terrible claws, and terrible teeth in his terrible jaws. Oh help! Oh no! It’s a Gruffalo. A very friendly Gruffalo who was very happy to meet all the children. He is a Just So favourite and it wouldn’t be the same without meeting him in the deep dark woods.

Just So Festival 2016

I managed to persuade the small boy to visit the Theatre for One in the Spellbound Forest. In the middle of the wood, under a canopy were six miniature theatre shows, each for one or two viewers. He settled down and watched a short puppet show about a mouse in a house and then watched an artist who painted his portrait, this is something which he loved. We are only sad that we didn’t managed to see all of the different performances over the weekend, but they were incredibly popular.

I was very keen to make a clay face, throughout the forest the trees are adorned with clay faces people have made. I watched the introduction by Barefoot Ceramics, then I look my lump of clay and made a lion head (with some additional help from the small boy). I had lots of messy fun with this and it’s something I’d like to do at home on one of our trees.

Just So Festival 2016

Another on my must see list were the Baghdaddies. I’ve seen them play live before and I adore them. They toured the festival playing their vibrant, upbeat, infection music, drawing everyone in like musical Pied Pipers. I really do suggest that as soon as you’ve finished reading this you go check them out on YouTube.

Just So Festival 2016

A wander through the woods to the Tales of Animalia area found us watching a very popular performance of Reynard the Fox. The boy was enchanted by it and was very excited to meet the performers afterwards. They were excellent, really chatty with the children and very happy to take photos. Later on that weekend we spotted Cyclops and his naughty flock of sheep making mischief around the festival site. It’s the never quite knowing what weirdness and wonder might be round each corner which makes Just So so special.

Just So Festival 2016

The food and drink at the festival was of an excellent standard. We ate incredibly well and it wasn’t outrageously expensive either. My festival favourites were the steaming cups of amazing hot chocolate (to keep me warm) and the corn on the cob. Things so simple but utterly delicious. We did spend a lot of time carefully choosing what we would eat and then each of us having envy over what the other had. There was lots of different types of food to choose from and lots and lots of choice for veggies and vegans which pleased me greatly. It was good to have a choice and not just an option.

Just So Festival 2016

It rained a lot over the weekend. It could have made us all miserable but in many ways we hardly noticed it. The muddy paths were managed so they didn’t become dangerous. I didn’t slip once. The festival toilets were quite nice (compared to the horror of festival toilets I remember from the 90’s).  Just So was relatively small and friendly with a really lovely chilled and happy atmosphere. I think I would live there if I could.

Just So Festival 2016

We had a really magical time at Just So. We’ve had a horrible few months and spending off the grid time together, doing and seeing weird and wondrous things has done us a lot of good. It’s helped build confidence, expand horizons, it’s made us laugh and (me) cry a little, but in a good way. It was without a shadow of a doubt the highlight of our summer, perhaps even the highlight of the year. 

If you can only go to the Just So Festival for the day, do it. But if you can go for the weekend, then you really should. It’s magical. 

Early bird tickets for Just So Festival 2017 (18 – 20 August, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire) are on sale from Friday 26 August at www.justsofestival.org.uk at special early bird prices of £120 (adults), £45 (child) for weekend camping, £70 (adult), £25 (child) for 2 day non-camping, £40 (adult), £15 (child) for day tickets. Under 3s free.  

Judging the International Cheese Awards – ICA2016

Last year I was honoured to be asked to be a judge at the International Cheese Awards and I was delighted when I was asked back this year for more of the same. Except it’s never the same, because there are literally hundreds of categories and literally thousands of cheeses. 5000 cheeses this year in fact – making the International Cheese Awards at Nantwich the biggest and best cheese show in the world!

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The day began like no other, in the car at 7am speeding towards Nantwich. Arriving at the show ground in good time, I registered as a judge and readied myself for the judges briefing. Once I’d donned my official white coat I joined my fellow judges, Victor Hyman from the Barbakan Deli in Chorlton and Laura Barnes from Dewlay Traditional Cheese Makers in Lancashire. I was in excellent and very knowledgeable company.

We had four categories to judge at ICA2016 –
  • DP76 – Two Halves Standard Blue Stilton. Open to producers who are producing less than 1,000 tonnes annually.
  • DP77 – Two Halves Mature Blue Stilton. Open to producers who are producing less than 1,000 tonnes annually.
  • DP90 – Cheese – Any variety that contains Savoury Additives. Hard Cheese other than Cheddar. Cheese produced in UK only.
  • DP97 – Cheese – Any variety that contains Sweet Additives. Soft Cheese produced outside UK only.

We were efficient in our judging. Tasting and discussing the merits of each of the cheeses, examining their appearance, smell, texture and taste, weighing up the sometimes tiny differences between them. Loving some, liking most, disliking the minority. 

The great thing about judging is having to try new things you might not normally choose to put on your cheese board. It expands your horizons and makes you appreciate a cheese even if that cheese might not be to your normal tastes.

ICA2016

I’m not generally a blue cheese fan, but trying the Stilton and learning more about what to look for and what makes a great Stilton has made me appreciate it a little more, so much so that I added a generous portion to my cheese plate at lunchtime.

Judging the four categories took us around two and a half hours. It’s surprisingly hard work and afterwards I had to sit down with a cuppa to recover myself. By the time I was rejuvenated lunchtime was upon us and it was time for a feast, followed by probably the worlds best cheese board.

At lunch La Guilde Internationale des Fromagers took their chance to induct some new members into their ranks, including Chef James Martin. I managed to film that bit, you can view the clips below on YouTube.

And this one…

After lunch the winners were announced and the Supreme Champion and winner of the Westminster Cup 2016 was Treur Kaas for their aged Jerseyhoeve Schorren. Reserve Supreme Champion and Reserve Champion Overseas was awarded to Elite Imports, whilst Champion UK went to Arla Foods with a Double Gloucester from Taw Valley Creamery.

ICA2016 was an absolutely fantastic day, exhausting yes. Will I want to eat cheese tomorrow? Maybe not, but probably by the day after. It’s a truly unique event and a truly unique experience. I’m proud to be a little part of that.

The International Cheese Awards is a two day event, day one was trade and judging day, day two (27th July 2016) the cheese pavilion doors are thrown open to the public and you can sample some of the 5000 wonderful cheeses there from all over the world. 

ICA2016

You can find out more about the International Cheese Awards 2016 on their website, and you can find out more information  and buy tickets to the Nantwich Show here.

Preview: Just So Festival 2016

One of our annual summer highlights is the Just So Festival which is held for three days every August at Rode Hall in Cheshire. The festival began in 2010 and this will be our third year there. It’s a weird and wonderful melting pot of music, storytelling, theatre, magic and adventure. We love it and this year will be our first full weekend there.

The Just So Festival 2016 takes place on 19th, 20th and 21st August. You can dip your toe in and go for a day, or fully immerse yourself in the festival experience and get a weekend ticket, or even book a camping ticket so you can stay over and enjoy the night time adventures including the lantern parade, pillow fights, the night sky spy and a magical midnight feast. 

Just So Festival 2016

The Just So Festival from Wild Rumpus is a three day treat for all the family, guaranteed to fuel your imaginations, it is packed full of wonderful sights and sounds, things to see and do and it’s a truly memorable event for all the right reasons.

This year there’s the outdoor cinema showing Labyrinth, Swallows and Amazons and The Wizard of Oz as well as circus workshops, Suitcase Stories, Travelling Treasury and other theatrical treats, such as the latest show from festival legends Les Enfants Terribles and stories around the campfire from the wonderful Ian Douglas.

Just So Festival 2016

This year we’ll be camping and I’m very excited about that. I’m already picking out some of the things we simply cannot miss at the Just So Festival 2016. Here are my top picks –

  • Sky Spy – join the Whizz Pop Bang magazine team for the ultimate bedtime wind down. Spotting patterns and shapes in the stars and trying to get a sense of just how vast our universe is. 
  • Ian Douglas – Campfire Stories
  • Les Enfants Terribles and their new outdoor show The Fantastical Flying Exploratory Laboratory
  • Samba Drumming Workshop
  • The Gruffalo visiting the Spellbound Forest
  • Midnight Feast on the Village Green with stories from Ian Douglas, songs from David and midnight shenanigans
  • Making Clay Faces and Bushcraft Wands
  • The Baghdaddies – one of the most fun bands I’ve ever seen live!
  • Circus Skills Workshop
  • Relaxation workshops including Indian Head Massage, Tai chi, Family Yoga and Laughter Yoga. 

There are hundreds more things to do at the festival, with something going on for all ages, from tiny babies to adults. 

One of the fun (but non-compulsory) elements of the festival is the famous Tribal Tournament. You and your family can dress up as a fish, frog, fox, owl, lion or stag and take part in the Tribal Parade on Sunday night to see which tribe comes out on top! Some of the costumes are amazing and it’s something we’ll need to put a bit of thought into as the festival approaches!

Just So Festival 2016

The Just So Festival is a wonderful, creative, imaginative, fantastic weekend for the whole family. It’s a lovely opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors, meet some mermaids, dress up, be silly, be creative, learn, enjoy, explore and just be together as a family. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

The Just So Festival 2016 will take place at Rode Hall, Congleton, Cheshire on 19/20/21st August. For more information, or to book tickets for the Just So Festival 2016 visit their website.

Preview: The International Cheese Awards 2016

This year will be my third visit to the International Cheese Awards at the Nantwich Show. It goes without saying that this fantastic event is the highlight of my foodie year. Last year I had the privilege of being asked to be a judge and I must have done something right, as I’ve been asked to judge again this year.

Judging takes place on trade day, which this year is on 26th July, and the massive International Cheese Awards marquee is thrown open to the public on 27th July.

This year is the 119th International Cheese Awards, which are held as part of the Nantwich Show in Cheshire. This year there have been a record breaking 4956 entries across literally hundreds of different categories of cheese, with entries from small artisan producers, to huge dairies and supermarkets.  Last years Supreme Champion  was the Greenfields Dairy Crumbly Lancashire Cheese, and I can personally vouch for this beautiful cheese, it’s a regular in our shopping basket!

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On show day (27th July) the demo kitchen is in full swing, with a host of familiar faces returning to this year’s show – including James Martin, Sean Wilson and Will Holland. Book your tickets for the demos in advance (£5 on  the Nantwich Show website) – they always sell out so quickly! Plus there’s a whole marquee of cheese to sample and explore.

As well as hosting the The International Cheese Awards 2016, the Nantwich Show is a brilliant day out for all the family, there’s so much to see and do, the Nantwich Show is apparently the biggest agricultural show in the UK, with everything from cows, sheep, pigs and pigeons to horticulture and honey. Check out the vintage cars and agricultural machinery as well as the latest in tractor technology! I know my boy would love it there!

Tickets are available on the gate priced at £18 for adults, £7 for children, £13 for senior citizens and family tickets for £45. However, if you book via the Nantwich Show website in advance, you can get discounted tickets (£15/£5/£10/£35). Your ticket covers admission to both the biggest cheese awards in the world and the largest one-day agricultural show in the UK, making it even more of a bargain!

The International Cheese Awards 2016

I can’t wait to get my judges coat on again and get sampling some of the finest cheeses from across the world. If you like cheese and want to learn a little more about the industry, I really can’t recommend the International Cheese Awards 2016 enough. It’s a HUGE marquee of cheese, and an experience every cheese lover should experience at least once in their lifetime.

You can find out more about the International Cheese Awards 2016 on their website, and you can find out more information  and buy tickets to the Nantwich Show here.

Review: Geronimo Festival, Tatton Park 2016

Over the Bank Holiday weekend, we went to our first Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park. The sun was shining, we’d heeded the warnings about queuing traffic and left a bit later than we’d planned. The weather was glorious and we knew we’d be spending the whole day there, so it didn’t much matter to us if we were an hour or so late.

We arrived to a packed site, the parking was a fair bit away and with my mobility problems, I was worried about how tough the day would be and I was glad I’d asked my OH to bring my chair. There were no queues to get in, I guess leaving it a bit later meant that most of the crowds had already been through.

Geronimo Festival

There were maps available just through the entrance and the site seemed fairly logically laid out. Our first mistake was only bringing snacks and not a full picnic, so I settled down near the Geronostage Zone to watch Mr Bloom with the boy whilst my OH joined a queue, a queue which he stood in for an hour and 45 minutes, returning with some cold and odd tasting corn on the cob and some cold but tasty lentil curry and rice. We were not impressed and in hindsight we should have just had burger and chips from the fast moving queue or taken a proper picnic.

Geronimo Festival

The boy and I sat in front of the Geronostage Zone stage and watched a variety of acts, the sound quality wasn’t great and the boy got a bit bored and ended up just running around, even Swashbuckle couldn’t hold his attention. It was clear that we needed to move on to something which floated his boat.

Geronimo Festival

I was keen to go at watch the Imaginary Menagerie show from Les Enfants Terrible’s, a show which I’ve seen before but really enjoyed. We settled down to watch it and he was utterly gripped and engaged by the whole thing from start to finish. Afterwards we explored the site, dipped into the craft tent, popped to the fairly nice festival toilets, looked at the stalls – the boy got a dinosaur tail, and saw a whale and a big dinosaur. We grabbed a coffee to power us through and ambled over to the Arena Zone.

For us the Arena Zone was the best thing about the Geronimo Festival, we watched the Motorcycle Imps display team roar their bikes over ramps and through fire, the boy was rapt. After the motorcycle display we wandered around meeting a huge puppet giraffe, a disco nun on a motorised piano, some horsey ladies, a scary dinosaur and much more, these were probably my favourite parts of the Geronimo Festival, accidentally stumbling upon some incredibly bonkers sight.

Geronimo Festival

Towards the end of the afternoon we were keen to take part in the Jedi Training, we arrived early and bagged decent seats in the tent, but there weren’t enough lightsabres to go around and disappointed, the small and tired boy lay down on the floor and didn’t want to join in, so we left the tent which was probably for the best as we ended up watching a fantastic display in the Arena Zone – the Horsemen of the Knight. Ben has talked of virtually nothing else since, watching the galloping horses in the joust and the Knights in combat, it was probably the highlight of our day.

Geronimo Festival

Geronimo Festival

Once the Knights had finished we stayed put to watch the Sheepdog Show. I’m rather fond of this and I’m sure I’ve seen this shepherdess work at the Cumberland Show, herding geese and ducks and showing off the skill of the dogs and their handler. Once that was finished everyone seemed to be packing up and going home, so we did the same.

Geronimo Festival

The weather had been very kind and had given us a great day, but Tatton Park was heaving and it did feel a bit like there were just too many people there. The day had been a sell out so it was busy and there were big queues. After queueing for so long for food we were all queued out, so refused to even consider queueing for anything for more than a couple of minutes.

If I were to go again I would plan my day better, I’d take a proper picnic, I’d focus less on the Geronostage and spend more time around the Arena Zone, I’d also explore more of the things happening in the fringe. There were aspects of the festival I really loved and things I was indifferent to, but I think all festivals are like that. There are so many things to do, see and join in with that there will always be things you like and don’t like, and so much you just don’t get time to see or do.

There was so much for the kids to do and Ben did enjoy himself, he ran around a lot and discovered and learned new things, his horizons were expanded and his imagination fuelled, which is one of the biggest reasons for taking him to events like this. The Geronimo Festival is a unique family experience and if you can experience it then I think it’s worth a visit.

Geronimo Festival

You can find out more about the Geronimo Festival on their website.

We were invited guests of the Geronimo Festival and were not asked to pay for our tickets, all images and opinions are our own.

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee, Bramhall

Last month I had a lovely treat at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport. I booked myself in for a pampering facial and it was incredible. You can read my full review here, but the picture below and the look on my face in the “after” photo probably tells you everything you need to know. Read on to find out more about how you could win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee, Bramhall for yourself!

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

Beauty Bee are located at Moorend Golf Driving Range in Bramhall and they offer a selection of deep tissue and sports massages to the golfers, as well as a full range of beauty and pampering treatments to non-sporting types too. Abby has worked as a beauty therapist all over the world and specialises in  Oncology massage, as well as facials, massages, waxing, manicures and pedicures.

I can’t recommend Beauty Bee enough, I had an amazing facial and Abby has a very calming and caring way about her. I’m really pleased that Beauty Bee has kindly offered the prize of a facial to one of my blog readers, one of you lucky lot will get to experience a Beauty Bee facial.

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

Beauty Bee is at Moorend Golf Driving Range, 177 Woodford Rd, Bramhall, Stockport, Cheshire SK7 1QE Phone: 07876 032125. You can find Beauty Bee on Facebook. They also offer treatments on selected days at The University of Manchester.

SPECIAL OFFER: Maternity Mondays at Beauty Bee – 30% off all treatments if you are on maternity leave and book in on a Monday. 

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

To be in with a chance to win a facial at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note that the prize is for the facial and does not include any transport or accommodation, so winners need to ensure they can get to Bramhall themselves. Good luck!

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 win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport. Transport and accommodation are NOT included.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 16th June 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner may be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode.
9. The winner’s name will be available on request
10. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.