Days Out: We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, The Lowry

AD/Press Trip. One of our favourite places to visit is The Lowry and Salford Quays. There’s so much to do there, from the Imperial War Museum North, The Lowry Outlet, Blue Peter Garden and of course The Lowry itself. There’s always something fun on and it’s worth a visit just for a look around the galleries upstairs, but during the school holidays there’s even more fun on offer.

This week we were invited to visit The Lowry, have lunch at Pier Eight and watch their summer blockbuster – We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, followed by an actual bear hunt. With summer holiday boredom seriously kicking in at home, we relished the chance to have an afternoon of bear hunting at The Lowry.

Days Out: We're Going on a Bear Hunt, The Lowry

We began by having lunch at Pier Eight. I’ve eaten there before in the evening and the food has always been excellent. We ordered from the new bar menu, the boy chose pasta from the kids menu, and I chose four of the small plates. There is currently a lunchtime offer where you can get four small plates and two drinks for £18, which is really good value.

Days Out: We're Going on a Bear Hunt, The Lowry

I chose the soup of the day, which was celeriac, one of my favourites. I also ordered the dirty fries, topped with cheese, crispy onions and spicy mayo. There was a dish of falafel and hummus and some delicious broad bean bruschetta. It would have been a very fine lunch for two, but definitely a delicious but too big lunch for one!

Days Out: We're Going on a Bear Hunt, The Lowry

After lunch we made our way to The Quays theatre for the 2pm performance of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. The boy is 8 now and I did wonder if he might be a little too old for it, but I needn’t have worried. It was an hour of brilliant fun, we were both laughing our socks off, joining in in all the right places and singing and dancing in our seats. It really is a fabulous show, packed full of memorable songs and funny moments. It’s a treat and a half, and a great way to spend an afternoon.

We’d had such a lot of fun, we decided to do The Lowry Bear Hunt, or as much of it as we could. Around The Lowry and The Lowry Outlet there are lots of big bear benches dotted about, all have a page of bear facts to read. It’s great fun and we loved trying to find them all.

Days Out: We're Going on a Bear Hunt, The Lowry

Upstairs at The Lowry is The Lookout where throughout the summer you can find lots of different and free family activities. On the day we visited there were lots of colouring and craft activities on offer, so we just enjoyed hanging out and doing a bit of colouring together.

We had a brilliant afternoon at The Lowry, there was lots for the boy to do. We both absolutely loved the play and the actual bear hunt was inspired and lots of fun. If you’re stuck in the summer holiday doldrums, an afternoon down Salford Quays is a great way to perk everyone up!

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt runs at The Lowry until 1st September, for more information or to buy tickets, visit the website.

Days Out: We're Going on a Bear Hunt, The Lowry

We were invited guests of The Lowry and received complimentary tickets and a meal in exchange for our review. 

Lancashire Lightning Vitality T20 Blast – Great family fun!

AD/Press Trip. In the weekend after the nail-biting Cricket World Cup, and still full of cricket fever, we took my son and his cousin to Emirates Old Trafford for the afternoon. We had been invited along to watch Lancashire Lightning’s Vitality T20 Blast match against Durham. The boys were incredibly excited about going to their first live cricket match, and I was too.

Lancashire Lightning Vitality T20 Blast - Great family fun!

The doors opened at 1pm, but the match started at 2.30pm. There were lots of things going on outside the ground for families, they’d closed the road off outside and you could take part in all kinds of sporting challenges. The boys were keen as mustard to get inside, so we did that.

This match was billed as one of the most family orientated fixtures of the summer, with lots of activities going on around the ground for children to enjoy. It certainly was that. We’d brought a picnic with us, so we took our seats and got stuck into our sandwiches. There are plenty of places to grab a snack or a meal around the ground, but you can save a bit of money by bringing your own if you prefer. Likewise, drinks of both the hard and soft kind are readily available. It’s all very civilised, and there wasn’t a sniff of rowdiness.

We watched the teams warm up, and before long the match began. T20 is fast-paced, exciting cricket which is ideal for cricket fans who might be a bit overwhelmed by longer versions of the game. It was three hours of action, with lots of singing and dancing. The celebrations reminded me a lot of the ice hockey games we sometimes go to, but this was much, much warmer!

Lancashire Lightning Vitality T20 Blast - Great family fun!

Very quickly the boys and I started to pick up on the rules and we really got into the swing of things. The crowd was full of families, all absolutely loving it. Going to see live sport can be an expensive business, but we were very pleasantly surprised. Tickets for children start at just £1 and adult tickets for the stand we were in were around £13. Having taken the family out to other sporting events and not got much change out of £100, this was a bit of a revelation.

The Vitality T20 Blast is three fast-paced hours of cricket fun. It’s a brilliant family day out, with loads going on too. If you’re lucky like we were, the players sometimes come out at the end to meet the fans, sign autographs and take selfies. This was the icing on the cake for the boys, and they were thrilled to meet their new heroes.

Lancashire Lightning Vitality T20 Blast - Great family fun!

The boys and I had a brilliant afternoon; we arrived at Old Trafford complete newbies and left really wanting to come again another day, and then another day after that!

You can find out more about Lancashire Lightning, their Vitality T20 Blast matches and buy tickets on the Lancashire Cricket Club website.

Disclosure: We were given complimentary tickets in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

AD/Press Trip. Last year we went to the first ever Timber Festival and it really wowed us. We were keen to return again and return we did. Timber Festival is held in the National Forest at Feanedock in the Midlands, it’s a beautiful place and a great spot for a festival.

The National Forest has been growing since the early 1990s, over the last 25 years or so millions of new trees have been planted. It makes sense then, with climate change and climate emergency being high on the global agenda, that Timber is a family festival with a distinct environmental bent.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

For me it was a chance to have three days of chilling out, having fun and getting back to nature. For my outdoorsy son, he was looking forward to running around with his friends, building dens and learning more about nature. As ever, before we arrived I went through the programme and circled all the things I wanted to see and do, but as usual I missed quite a lot of those things, went with the flow and still ended up having the best time ever.

If you’ve ever been to the Just So Festival, Timber is a bit like that, but with a lot more things for adults and older children to do. The layout of the festival is a little different to last year, something which I approve of. It’s a large site, which is great because you don’t feel like you’re with hoards of other people, there’s a real feeling of space.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

We arrived late on Friday afternoon and pitched our tent in the accessible camping section between our two friends, Jenny at The Brick Castle and Rachel from Marvellous Mrs P. Each of us has our own physical challenges, so the accessible camping area was great for us all; and our kids get on very well together so spent much of the weekend playing beautifully, which was really nice.

After a quick meal we ambled off to wristband exchange and had our first look at the site. There’s a beautiful viewing spot at the top of a slope (which all the kids loved rolling down) and we arrived just in time for the start of a glorious sunset. We had a look around, got our bearings and a drink, had a little dance to the Woodland DJ on The Eyre Stage, and watched the sun go down. We had a plan for the next day, and nothing was going to stop us.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

Except when we woke up, the glorious sunshine had turned to rain. It was pretty heavy rain too. We sat in the tent, drank coffee and surveyed our options. We waited until the rain abated, then scuttled down to Field Notes because I really wanted to see Phill Jupitus. I managed to find a spot inside the tent, so I was at least dry while the rain hammered down outside. Phill was fantastic, interviewed by Radio 4 stalwart, Geoff Bird, Phill talked us through his six favourite Wilderness Tracks and regaled us with some great stories about his life and career. An hour very well spent.

By the time Phill had left the stage, the rain had more or less dried up. I found the boys in Cardboardia and we headed over to the Shivelight area, where I had high hopes of finding some chill. Shivelight is where I found my people. It’s a quiet area, tucked away from the hubbub where you can indulge in some yoga, forest bathing, tai chi or all manner of chilled out things.

The tai chi tent was heaving, which was a bit of a shame. Instead I headed to the guided meditation tent with Rachel, and made myself extremely comfortable. I put the headphones on and while a mediation played, I drifted off to a faraway chilled out place in my head. Rachel, being the wonder that she is had booked us both in for a relaxing hand massage afterwards in the Weleda shed. It was a perfect hour and a great way to go into the afternoon.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

Saturday afternoon involved lots of exploring. My son REALLY WANTED to make something in Cardboardia, it was busy and we had to book in, but that was a huge highlight for him. Cardboadia is a new area and was a huge tent where you could go and make cool things out of cardboard for the Cardboardia Parade on the Sunday, more of which later.

After a late lunch, we headed to As The Crow Flies to listen to some Forest Folk Stories from Tom the Tale Teller. While we were under the forest canopy, we explored the area a bit. It’s a great spot for kids especially, what with the Giant Marble Run, Hammer & Chisel and the Shadow Lanterns. There was also a great programme of performers including the inimitable storyteller, Ian Douglas and Professor Pumpernickel, as well as the Ukulele Chorus and a great selection of Campfire Bands and Storytellers.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

As the day turned to evening we all settled around the campfire. At some point throughout the day I’d managed to eat something which disagreed with me, so I retired back to my tent for the evening and the rest of the gang partied into the night. I’m not really sure about what happened while I wasn’t there, I just know that my son came back full of happy and pretty filthy. Thank goodness for the excellent festival shower block nearby.

Sunday morning arrived and I realised the clock was ticking on our festival experience (seriously, these things always need an extra day or something), so we breakfasted and then scampered down to the festival site. We headed to the Elemental area and we were wowed by the Shimmer tree, a sound and light installation where cymbals are turned into speakers and as the wind blows through them, the tree makes a beautiful and haunting noise. I could have sat under there for hours, it was magical.

From there we explored the small but lovely Timber Maze. Ben enjoyed it so much that he wanted to do it again and again, so I left them to chase each other through the maze and found the Seams tent. The tent paid tribute to the coal seams which run underneath the Timber site. Inside you experience a multi-sensory journey inspired by the evocative names and diagrams of the geological seams beneath your feet. Through sound, light and smell you get a feel for underground life and emerge viewing the area in a new light.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

From there we went over to Halcyon Days, an area tailor-made for families. There were circus skills to be tried and enjoyed as well as Maypole dancing, archery; and a whole host of other things. The area we enjoyed the most was Beginners Luck, which was a selection of huge games, like Scrabble, Guess Who, Ludo and Tiddlywinks. It was great fun and we played in there for a good hour or so.

I can’t not mention the food at the festival. Though we were on a budget and catered for ourselves quite a lot, we allowed ourselves a couple of meals and some lovely ice cream from Ginger’s Comfort. They really do make the best ice cream in the world. My lunch on Sunday was a really very excellent vegetarian momo from the Tibetan Kitchen, something I would be very happy to eat over and over again.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

The range of food available was excellent, with really good vegan and vegetarian options. You could eat a different thing for every meal and never get bored. Plus Sunday was roasting and the beer tent on The Common was well stocked with ice cold cans of soft drinks which really hit the spot!

After lunch we wandered back over to the campfire for some more quality time with Ian Douglas and his stories, the boys descended on the nearby Hammer & Chisel and spent a happy hour hammering and sawing. We sat for a while, absolutely transfixed by If The trees Could Talk, a collection of fairy tales written by the LGBT+ community in South Derbyshire. It was incredibly moving and there were very few dry eyes around the campfire at the end. Beautiful stuff.

After our early afternoon chill out in the woods, we set off for the Cardboardia Parade. We didn’t really know what to expect from the parade, but the crowd was split into two rival factions, Miners and Trees. Everyone brought a cardboard weapon they’d made, and other cardboard things were handed out (it was much cooler than it sounds). Led by the brilliant Baghdaddies the parade marched through the site and up the hill where they was a bit of a mock skirmish. It was brilliant, my 8 year old loved it and was really sad when it was over. I think it was one of his highlights.

Family Festival Review: Timber Festival 2019

It was very very hot on the Sunday afternoon; so after the parade we retired to the shade for an ice cream and a little rest. We looked back on all the things we’d seen and done over the weekend; there was so much going on I feel like we missed most of it, but still packed in so much of the good stuff. The boy loved the As the Crow Flies area, Cardboardia and Halcyon Days. I was thrilled to see Phill Jupitus. I loved the music, the meditation, the whole chilled out vibe of the festival. Timber is just three beautiful, chilled out, educational, environmental days in the woods; and I can’t wait for next year!

Sign up to the eNews at www.timberfestival.org.uk to be the first to hear about dates and early bird release tickets for 2020.

We were invited guests of Timber Festival 2019. We were given tickets in exchange for a review, but we paid for everything else while we were there. All images and opinions are our own.

Today I learned a lesson about love…

I was at the gym this morning and something really big happened to me. It’s a bit of a story, a story about love, so pull up a chair and hug your brew.

Monday is the day I usually do two dance classes and a tai chi class. I’d dragged myself to the gym in pain, half way through my first class my back spasmed and my right knee gave out. Being the determined little bunny I am, I cracked on with the class. I might not have jumped, twisted and shimmied like I’d normally do, but I was determined to finish.

After my second dance class there’s a 15 minute pause before tai chi. I usually grab a mat, lie on the floor and stretch my back out for a bit. I did just that and whilst I was full of frustration and anger about hurting myself, despite wanting to pick myself up and go home, something made me stay for the tai chi.

The class began and after about 20 moves my knee made a massive clicking noise and the pain went. My back wasn’t feeling too bad either. I concentrated on the flowing movements and my breath, knowing that this 45 minute class is my one chance this week to empty my mind and quiet the shouting of my inner anxiety voice.

When I’m doing tai chi all I can really do is concentrate on the movements and breathe. About 25 minutes into the class my head emptied and a voice, maybe my inner voice kept telling me I was getting stronger and better, not for anyone, or because of anyone, but because I deserved it. I was doing it just for me, and that made me cry. Fat silent tears ran down my cheeks for several minutes while I held myself in that moment.

Only a very small group of very close people know I’m having a lot of treatment at the moment and going through some things. There have been some incredible people who have been with me throughout. I listed these fine people in my head and I began to cry again.

These people, these good friends who message me and check I’m ok are amazing. Call me soft if you want, but it occurred to me that this is what real love and friendship really is.

I thought about my son, when he was born and I held him, looked into his eyes and fell deeply in love with him. I thought then that I knew what pure love was, I was right, my son taught me a lesson about how to love other people, what unconditional love felt like to give, but I’ve never really been sure that I have ever received that.

My good friends are the ones who cheer for me, lift me, hold my hand, listen to my woes and tell me to get out there and kick some ass. I realised that each of them love me and they love me unconditionally. There’s no expectation that their love and friendship comes at a price. I don’t need to be thinner for them, or fitter, or more well-read; or do the washing up straight after dinner or whatever. They love and care for me exactly as I am.

Sure, I know each one of them probably hopes and wishes that I will find a peace, live pain free, and that I get as fit as I’d like to be; but they don’t need that to be a part of our relationship. I am perfect as I am, to them at least. So I cried all the way home knowing and understanding that for the first time in my life I have recognised that I am loved, and what’s more, I am loved unconditionally.

Today has been a real day of days. I’ve acknowledged that all the hard work and pain I’m going through now is just for me and not to please or appease a single other soul, and I’ve realised that I am loved and cared for. These are huge things.

Knowing and understanding that I am loved is really grounding. These are solid foundations I can build on. Today really feels like a massive turning point in my journey back to wellness. I feel full of love and I’m ready to start building on that. Bring it on.

Today I learned a lesson about love...

What my son’s school report doesn’t tell me

I’ve just had a message from school to say that your school report will be coming home tomorrow. This is perhaps my least favourite day of your school year.

I see a child who has made incredible leaps since September. I see a boy who loves reading, and writes me notes about how much he loves me. My boy is someone who skips down the road shouting out his three times table. I see a boy who needs extra help, but tries so hard to help himself.

Your school report will tell me facts, facts that I’m not that interested in really. It will tell me your scores for tests which mean nothing to me, you or your future. It will tell me where you’re expected to be at this age and where you actually are. What it won’t tell me is how happy you are at school. It won’t tell me about the kind things you did to make the new boy feel welcome, or that time you reeled off a huge list of Viking facts the rest of your class, and perhaps even your teacher hadn’t learned about yet.

It won’t uplift and shine a light on the huge efforts you’ve made with your writing this year and how you’ve gone from hating everything about writing to scribbling notes on every available scrap of paper, and sometimes even my walls. Your report won’t tell me about how you’ve grown to love drawing and even got pretty good at it. It won’t tell me about how good you are at swimming and martial arts, or how you are learning to identify all the different trees we pass on our walks.

Your school report will tell me in bald terms how you match up against your peers and where you are lagging behind. There may be passing mention of some of what makes you my bold, brilliant, funny, kind and interested boy, but your school report doesn’t define you to me.

Your school report is largely a time consuming tick box exercise for your teacher. It needs to be done, but its contents are of little or no interest to me. To me you are an individual with a million strengths. You are a unique and wonderful personality. I have no idea where you will go in life, what you will be, even who you will be. All I care about is that you are happy and healthy, that you are kind and you are liked and that you try hard. Not everyone can be good at everything, we’ve got to try a lot of things to find our strengths and you have a great many of those my darling, and most of them won’t be listed in your school report.

I won’t show you the report, it’ll be read and then put in a box for a future us to read. Maybe in ten or twenty years you will find it and read it. I hope when you do you will remember the boy who tried hard above all else and a boy who was happy and loved.

I have spoken to your teachers and met with them regularly. They know and love you as the enthusiastic and interested individual you are. They do know your strengths and your capabilities, they do know the giant leaps you have made this year. But this will not come across in your school report. If you read it, do not take it to heart my dear boy; you are all I could have wished you to be and more. I’d change nothing about you, except your ability to tidy your own room.

Four pieces of paper do not define you to me; they do not define your future or anything of any serious consequence. Keep being brilliant and interested in the world; please keep learning and wanting to learn. Keep trying hard, because that is all I could ever ask of you, my brilliant darling boy.

What my son's school report doesn't tell me

FREE Printable: Dinosaur Reading Log

Help to motivate your little dinosaur fans to read with this handy reading log. Just colour in a cute little dinosaur for every book they read, or for every 20 minutes they read for and reward them with a little treat for completing the sheet!

If you’re the parent of a primary school aged child you will probably be tasked with listening to them read each night. We love listening to our son read and we love reading to him too. We regard it as a special quiet time where we sit together and get transported to another world.

It’s not all sitting on a magic carpet happily listening to a child read. Sometimes it’s a bit harder to get him to read, especially if he’s not interested in the books he’s been sent home with. In those situations we usually promise the reading of a favourite book once the less exciting school reading has been finished. That way we get the best of both worlds.

FREE Printable: Dinosaur Reading LogDownload your FREE Dinosaur Reading Log HERE!

Our son is very motivated by rewards, it doesn’t have to be big; a sticker or 20p for his jar is very well received. He loves dinosaurs so I devised this dinosaur reading log for him. If he reads for 20 minutes he gets to colour a cartoon dinosaur in. Or if he finishes a book within those 20 minutes he colours one in too.

Once he’s completed a sheet he gets a treat. Again it’s nothing huge; he might get to choose a Netflix film for us to watch with some popcorn, or he might get a trip out to his favourite local museum.

We’ve found that this dinosaur reading log really does help to motivate and encourage him to read. He’s obsessed with anything with dinosaur on, so this reading log is a real winner!

If you enjoyed this, you might also like this simple children’s book review template or this FREE Pokemon Reading Log.

FREE Printable: Dinosaur Reading Log

Win a pair of BBC Earth Blue Planet Plush Toys

AD/Gifted. In 2001 Sir David Attenborough brought us the Blue Planet series. 16 years later in 2017 Blue Planet II hit our screens and it has been credited with highlighting the serious problem of plastics in our oceans and the environmental impact we humans are causing. Blue Planet II was essential viewing for our family, it’s a series which young and old can learn so much from.

After watching and loving Blue Planet II, we made a point of visiting lots of aquariums to find out more about aquatic life. My 8 year old is really quite knowledgeable about marine life, and a lot of that is due to the work of Sir David Attenborough and his Blue Planet team.

BBC Earth Blue Planet Plush Toys

This month sees the launch of the BBC Earth Plush range from Posh Paws. This is a collection of Blue Planet II and Planet Earth II plush toys. They have been made with premium plush fabrics and they are spectacularly detailed. They’re really soft and huggable and we adore them!

The range of BBC Earth plushes includes:
  • 7″ Elephant, Panda, Tiger, Polar Bear, Penguin and Sea Turtle
  • 10″ Blue Planet II characters – Polar Bear, Sea Otter, Shark, Sea Turtle, Octopus and Penguin
  • 10″ Planet Earth II characters – Tiger, Elephant, Lion, Sloth, Panda and Grizzly Bear

BBC Earth Blue Planet Plush Toys

We were sent the Blue Planet II Sea Turtle, Octopus and Penguin to give a home to. The 10″ plush toys are £16.99 each and are so lovely.

First things first, lets take a look at the packaging. As you can imagine, plastic is kept to a minimum. The toys are mounted on a recyclable cardboard base. It’s impressive that the packaging is almost all recyclable and very in keeping with the ethos of the BBC Earth brand.

BBC Earth Blue Planet Plush Toys

There’s also a “Love me for life” tag, reminding people that these aren’t throwaway toys, they’re for life and if you no longer want them you can pass them on to someone who will love them again.

The plushes themselves are suitable from birth, very soft, squishy and cuddly. Each has the BBC Earth logo sewn onto them, a badge of authenticity if you will. Each creature has its own tag with interesting information about that animal. There’s also a QR code you can scan to be shown clips from Blue Planet II or Planet Earth II.

My favourite (because I do love an octopus) is the octopus. It’s got 8 legs which are slightly springy. They’ve been sewn in such a way that you can stretch them out and they spring back. The detail is terrific, the shell on the sea turtle, whilst soft, has a really detailed shell pattern, the eyes and facial features are really lifelike too. The penguin is adorable, he was my son’s favourite. He cuddled him all night and he likes everything about him.

BBC Earth Blue Planet Plush Toys

I think these BBC Earth plushes are fantastic. It’s really nice to see such good quality, true to life soft toys. They would make a great gift for an animal lover, young or old and scanning the QR code is such a good way of learning more about the cuddly creature in your care.

The BBC Earth Blue Planet Plush Toys are available from Waterstones and other retailers.

WIN A BBC Earth 10″ Octopus and Penguin

To be in with a chance to win a BBC Earth 10″ Octopus and Penguin, 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 be sent a 10″ Octopus and Penguin from the BBC Earth range.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 11th August 2019.
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 shared only with Posh Paws who will send the prize to the winner.
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.

Disclosure: We were sent these BBC Earth toys for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Win a copy of The Dinosaur Creativity Book

AD/Gifted. Dinosaurs have always been popular, especially in our house. My 8 year old spends a good chunk of his spare time reading and learning about dinosaurs. The Dinosaur Creativity Book is an activity book entirely devoted to all things dinosaur.

The Dinosaur Creativity Book

The Dinosaur Creativity Book by Penny Worms is suitable for ages 6+, costs £9.99 and is 80 pages of dino fun. Plus two pages of stickers. There is a brilliant glossy gatefold cover where you can create your own dinosaur sticker scenes with some of the 150 stickers included.

The book is  packed full of fun things to do; including a big dino quiz, how to draw dinosaurs, find the fossils, dino dot-to-dot and make your own mobile, plus lots, lots more!

There are so many things to do in this book, my 8 year old loved every page. He loves a good puzzle and a maze, he really liked the quiz and the pages of various dinosaur scales and pattern. There’s lots to go at here and it’s ideal for taking out and about and keeping them entertained during meals out of on holiday, as well as at home. The Dinosaur Creativity Book is a must for all dino fans!

There are several other books in the series from Carlton Books; The Space Creativity Book, The Dragons Creativity Book, The Unicorn Creativity Book and The Princess Creativity Book.

The Dinosaur Creativity Book is published by Carlton Books and costs £9.99. It is available online and from good bookshops.

The Dinosaur Creativity Book

WIN A COPY OF THE Dinosaur Creativity Book

To be in with a chance to win a copy of The Dinosaur Creativity Book, 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 be sent a copy of The Dinosaur Creativity Book.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 21st July 2019.
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 shared only with Carlton Books who will send the prize to the winner.
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.

Disclosure: We were sent a copy of The Dinosaur Creativity Book for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Chronic Pain – How I’m helping myself

I have chronic pain. Every morning I wake up and I have to take painkillers so I can start my day. Alongside the pain I also am pretty numb from the waist down. I work hard to make it look to the outside world that I’m normal. Beyond the occasional hobble or fall I pass for average.

Back in 2013 I had two operations on my back. They were meant to stop me being in so much pain and to give me back some quality of life. They were reasonably successful; but every day I’m in pain and every day I wake up with numb feet and legs. I know that (hopefully far) in my future I’ll need to use a wheelchair, but until then I’m doing what I can’t keep myself on my feet.

Chronic Pain - How I'm helping myself

In September last year I turned 42. I took a look at my life and realised I spent too much time working and not enough time on me. After some serious consideration I joined a gym. This was a huge step for me. I’ve not really exercised since before my operations and although I walk a lot, doing proper exercise is a big deal.

I decided that I was probably horrifically unfit, so I decided to start with swimming and aqua classes. I’m glad I decided to take things easy at first, because starting to exercise again, even gently really hurt. After about four months I was starting to feel stronger and fitter. I’d lost a bit of weight and was ready to dip my toe into some of the classes.

I opted to start with Zumba Gold, this is a really low impact version of Zumba, perfect for people needing low impact exercise. After quite a few Zumba Gold classes, I added Tai Chi and a physio class called Body Maintenance into my weekly gym schedule. I hurt, but I feel great!

Since I’ve started exercising more I’ve lost a decent amount of weight. I’ve dropped a couple of dress sizes and I’m feeling stronger. I’d like to say my pain levels are less; but exercise will always hurt me and I need to manage that by being sensible, resting and taking my tablets like a good girl. I’d rather be active and working to be fitter and stronger than sat in my chair feeling gloomy about it all.

While I’m doing all I can to stay on my feet for longer; the reality is that like many people I will in the next decade or so need some aids around the house to help me. My husband does a lot of the bending and lifting around the house. My son helps me with anything I might struggle with, like emptying the washing machine. I already sit down to do most of my food prep and cooking in the kitchen, but grab rails in the bathroom will be useful soon and I’m pretty wobbly on the stairs, so we might need to install a stairlift, or at least give it some serious consideration in years to come.

I feel so much better for joining the gym and generally being more active. It’s good for mind, body and soul and I definitely need a bit of all three. A year ago I would have looked at myself and thought I was not the gym going type. Even when I joined I was fully prepared to hate it; but being there is one of the highlights of my week. I can really tell when I’ve not been for a few days, my mood drops and I feel physically sluggish. I think even though the exercise does make me hurt, generally my underlying pain levels are slightly less. It feels good to be more in control of it, rather than it being in control of me.

This is a collaborative post.

Open Air Theatre at Ordsall Hall, Salford

AD/Complimentary Tickets. Summer to me is picnics in the park, festivals and being outside for as much as I can, weather permitting. I spend so much of the year indoors hunched over a laptop, it seems silly not to spend what I can outside enjoying the fresh air and whatever sunshine Manchester sees fit to provide. With the sunshine starting to put in a more regular appearance; last week I hopped on the tram to Exchange Quay and indulged myself in a bit of open air theatre at Ordsall Hall. I went to see Macbeth performed by Three Inch Fools.

Macbeth was performed in the grounds of this beautiful (I mean really beautiful) Tudor manor house near Media City in Salford. I live in Didsbury, so it’s just a really easy tram ride away for me. There’s also lots of parking on site if you prefer.

Open Air Theatre at Ordsall Hall, Salford

Last year I watched Pride and Prejudice at Ordsall Hall, it was during the heatwave and it was a beautiful evening. This year the weather has been a bit more miss than hit, but on the longest day we were blessed with warm sunshine and a glorious sunset. I was glad I took my big coat though, when the sun tucked itself away behind a building, the temperature quickly dropped.

I arrived and as we had pre-booked a picnic, so I went straight to the cafe to pick up my bag of goodies. An adult picnic bag is £8.95 and contains a sandwich, crisps, a nice drink, a piece of fruit and a slice of homemade cake. You can upgrade your picnic bag with a glass of prosecco for an extra £1. The cafe is lovely and sells very good hot drinks, snacks and cake; so if you’ve missed out on the pre-booked picnic you can also stock up on goodies there.

Open Air Theatre at Ordsall Hall, Salford

As with most open air theatre, you’re best off taking your own camping chair or a good rug to sit on. Most people had their own chairs and I brought mine on the tram, no one stared. I met up with some of my friends who had bagged a spot right next to the stage and we all settled into our chairs, munching on our picnics.

Macbeth was brilliant. The five actors from Three Inch Fools whirled and swirled around the small stage, bringing the story to life and entertaining the crowd. It really was one of the loveliest open air theatre experiences I’ve had. I was glad I got there early and bagged a seat close to the stage; it really made me feel very close to the action.

The atmosphere at these events is great. It’s really chilled out, with the actors sometimes leaping into the audience and in one memorable scene, swigging pimms from the can of an audience member. There’s usually an interval too; a chance to pop to the loo and get a hot drink and a snack if you want; or just to explore Ordsall Hall a bit.

Open Air Theatre at Ordsall Hall, Salford

A visit to the open air theatre is a lovely thing to do with friends or family. It’s a great experience and a slightly more relaxed and casual way of going to the theatre. Ordsall Hall is a really stunning venue and really easy to access too.

Ordsall Hall have a great programme of open air theatre lined up for this summer –
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 21st July
  • Gangsta Granny, 31st July & 27th August
  • The Tempest, 3rd August
  • Much Ado About Nothing, 11th August
  • Wuthering Heights, 15th August

You can find out more about what’s on at Ordsall Hall this summer on their website.

Disclosure: We were given complimentary tickets and a picnic in exchange for this post. All images and opinions are our own.