Tag Archives: salford

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.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

One of the best parts of a night or two away in a hotel is the breakfast. At home I rarely eat breakfast and if I do it’s usually just toast or cereal. A hotel breakfast is a real treat, and like most people I like a big breakfast to set me up for a day of shopping, sightseeing or adventure. This week we were invited to the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club to try out their award-winning breakfast.

In November 2016 the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club was voted as having the best breakfast in the North West by Trivago. We were invited down to put their breakfast to the test. It was a great excuse for a proper family breakfast to see us right for a wintery walk later that day.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

Breakfast is served at the Grill in the Park from 6:30am -11am on weekdays, or 7am – 11am on weekends. Hotel residents can add for £10 upon check in for breakfast. For those not staying overnight, breakfast is available at £16 for the buffet and £12 for continental.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club includes a selection of continental meats, cheeses and smoked salmon; fresh fruit and yogurts; muffins and pastries; cereals, toast and hot cooked breakfasts with a choice of freshly cooked eggs, local sausages, bacon and all the trimmings. They also have a chef on hand to whip up a fresh omelette for you and freshly made waffles, more of which later.

The Grill in the Park is a comfortable but stylish setting for breakfast, and on Saturday morning it was busy with families and couples having breakfast with plans to visit the nearly Trafford Centre, or Legoland, or like us got for a long walk in the country. 

Breakfast is self service, though a friendly waitress offered us tea and coffee and the small boy had a hot chocolate. The service was efficient, with waitresses clearing plates away and generally being very helpful. I chatted to the chef whilst he cooked my omelette and he and the waiting staff were great to chat to if you needed some advice about things to do locally.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

Breakfast began with a selection of juices and fruit. Hubs went for a very lovely looking porridge with jam and bananas.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

The small boy loves fruit, so he had a big bowl of his favorites with some yoghurt. They also had a good selection of cheeses, meats and smoked salmon; as well as bread, muffins and pastries for those wanting a continental breakfast.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

I’d heard that the omelettes were excellent. They’re one of my favourite things, so I had to give them a try. There were about 8 different fillings to choose from, but I opted for cheese and tomato – all freshly cooked in front of me. When I got back to the table there was such omelette envy, we had to go back and get another for the boy.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

My husband opted for the more traditional fry up. He particularly enjoyed the sausages and the poached egg. I had a slice of fried bread with baked beans – a rare treat. It was so delicious I was sad to finish it. The small boy, true to form opted for a side of sausages to go with his omelette. He said they were the best sausages ever!

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

A special mention must go to the freshly cooked waffles. I love waffles but I rarely eat them. I’m so glad I insisted we share a waffle and maple syrup (for breakfast dessert). It was the lightest, airiest waffle I’ve ever eaten. It was a joy. If you go to the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club for breakfast, you must try the omelettes and the waffles.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

We’d eaten and eaten well. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, we all felt that the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club had nailed it. It was very, very good, with lots of choice and everything was well made and well cooked. 

I can see why the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club won best breakfast in the North West. If I was staying in the hotel I wouldn’t hesitate to book myself in for breakfast, but it is the kind of place we’d pop in to fuel up for the day if we were passing on our way to another adventure. Delicious.

For more information about breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club, visit their website.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

We were invited guests of the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club and our breakfast was complimentary. All images and opinions are our own.

Half Term on the High Seas at IWM North

To my shame I’ve never visited the Imperial War Museum North. I remember it being built and everyone who has been has always had really good things to say about it but I’ve never made the trip. Now the Metrolink is nearby I have absolutely no excuse not to visit. We were invited to a preview of the War at Sea family activity week which will be running over the February half term. Between 14th and 22nd February family visitors can take part in a week of free activities to discover what life was like on the high seas. From submarines to sea mines, families can explore the past 100 years at sea through storytelling, craft activities and objects on display. Sounds good, so we thought we’d check it out.

We are lucky enough to have our very own salty sea-dog in our family, a Submariner from the Australian Navy and we thought he’d enjoy a trip out too. We arrived at Salford Quays and were mightily impressed with the tank outside, this was only a small taster of what we would see inside.

IWM North

We were taken to the main exhibition space and in a cosy corner we talked about the adventures of Able Seaman Wally Tobin in A Sailor’s Story interactive storytelling session. This was a lovely moment with all the children sat listening to the story and joining in when they could. It was a nice introduction to life on the ocean wave for the children and the small boy was gripped, though loathe to join in. After the storytelling we went back downstairs to the learning studio to make our very own message in a bottle.

The learning studio is a great place for kids, with things to look at and read, as well as comfy sofas, toys and a brilliant dressing up box. We played in here for a little while before moving back to the main exhibition space to have a proper look around.

IWM North was apparently designed to make you feel a bit disorientated and confused, much the way war would make you feel. The floor in the main exhibition space slopes by two metres, it’s dark and there are films and images projected against the large white walls. It is disorientating and I felt a bit wonky for a few hours after we left.

IWM North

The exhibition space is full of interesting artefacts and stories, from modern day conflicts right back to WW1. On the whole the collection is interesting, varied, fascinating, with lots of activities for children to get involved in along the way. I think we viewed it on two levels, for me I was incredibly moved by the steel from the World Trade Center and small trinkets of everyday life people had on the during the wars, items of clothing, precious things they made themselves in prisoner of war camps, that kind of thing. My son who is four loved the vehicles, the Harrier Jump Jet (how did they get it in there?), the small fire engine, the tanks and cars. He like the activities, smelling the less than lovely odours from the WW1 trenches. But I was very moved by the whole experience.

As we were getting to the end of the main exhibition, a warning came on that they were about to show a film and the lights would go out, we stuck around and we were really glad we did. A fantastic film flickered around us, projected on all those tall white walls. The film told the story of the Home Front in WW2 and it was fascinating. We felt utterly involved in the experience and were quite moved by it, even the small boy watched it, I think more for the whiz bangs than anything. It was an incredible, immersive experience.

We’d worked up an appetite for lunch so we went to the Watershard Cafe for a spot of lunch. The food was well priced and excellent quality. The boys had a rather excellent beef stew, mash and green beans, I had soup and the small boy had the “ration pack” lunch, which was five items of yumminess. We all really enjoyed lunch.

IWM North

After lunch we decided to take a trip up the Airshard which is a lift which takes you up 29 metres so you can view the city. Submariners are not known for their love of heights and none of the menfolk I was with fully appreciated the views from the (incredibly safe) Airshard. I took a few pictures but it was a cloudy day and Salford Quays, though always beautiful, was not looking her very best.

The IWM North is a brilliant free day out. There’s so much to see and do there and although we spent a good three hours looking around, we’re looking forward to going again and exploring some more.

If you’re local it’s well worth a visit to IWM North this February half term, there are lots of events and special activities planned during that week, you can find more information on the IWM North website.

Books: The Hedgehog and her Hoglet

Today the small boy and I attended the launch of a new children’s book at The Lowry in Salford. The Hedgehog and her Hoglet is a beautiful book born from a community arts project; written by Carla Henry and delightfully illustrated by Matt Hunt.

The Hedgehog and her Hoglet was inspired by a mum attending an arts event with her child. She said that when her baby came along she lost her confidence and felt grey. She said she needed to get her colour back. It’s a sentiment echoed by so many mums, it really rang true with me too. I may have shed a tear or two during the reading.

The event itself was a lovely, warm, community event. It’s clear that The Lowry are incredibly proud of the work done by their engagement team, alongside Salford City Council and Sure Start centres in Salford. It was great to see the families involved in the project, playing along with the story as Carla Henry read it out, we left clutching a copy of the book ready for bedtime and a balloon.

The Hedgehog and her Hoglet

We’ve just read the story at bedtime twice. The small boy is three and I can confirm it’s a hit. It’s beautifully and simply written. Every word counts and the tale of how the hedgehog got her colour back is quite lovely. The illustrations really make this, there is so much in them. Lots of little talking points which is always one of the real joys of reading a children’s book.

You can buy The Hedgehog and her Hoglet from The Lowry and costs just £4.99. The proceeds from sales of the book will be used to deliver creative projects for families in Salford.

Update: Two years on this lovely book is still part of our bedtime reading. Hedgehogs are still a favourite and we still enjoy reading this book together.