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.

Toy Review: Pop Pops Snotz Series 1 from Yulu

AD/Gifted. My son loves collectables. Anything he can collect and then swap with friends in the playground is an absolute dream for him. Over the years we’ve had all kinds of things, but his latest slimy obsession is Pop Pops Snotz.

Pop Pops Snotz are bubbles of green slime (in various shades) which you pop by squashing them with your fist. The bubble bursts and the green snot-like ooze comes out. In some of the snot bubbles you’ll find a small collectable figure, which you can trade with your friends.

Toy Review: Pop Pops Snotz Series 1 from Yulu

These new Pop Pops Snotz come in various different pack sizes –
  • 3 Pack Series 1 Starter Pack
  • 6 Pack Series 1 Starter Pack
  • 12 Pack Series 1 Deluxe Pack

Each pack contains a collectors leaflet and a varying number of collectable figures. There are 60 figures to collect in series 1, so you’ve got to pop a lot of snot bubbles to find all 60 of the collectable gross Snotz characters.

My son absolutely loved popping the bubbles and playing with the slime. There are a couple of things I would do when he is having a popping session.

  • Make sure you do it on a wipe clean surface
  • Have something they can wipe their hands on as they pop
  • Have a bowl or container ready to keep the slime in
  • We also had a container for the empty bubbles

As much fun as the Pop Pops Snotz were, I have a bit of a problem with the waste they made. The bubbles you pop are made of plastic and I’m not sure how recyclable that is, there’s also no pot supplied or available to store the slime in, so ours is in a clean jam jar for now. It’s a great idea, I’m just a bit mindful of the waste aspect and I feel this could have been done better, perhaps with more recyclable or compostable options.

Toy Review: Pop Pops Snotz Series 1 from Yulu

Despite this, my son continues to love Pop Pops Snotz. I’m not sure if it’s the snot popping or the collectable element he likes most. They’re an occasional treat, a slimy, snotty, slightly disgusting occasional treat; perfect for 8 year olds!

You can buy Pop Pops Snotz from a range of retailers and online (affiliate link).

Disclosure: We were sent some Pop Pops Snotz to try in exchange for a blog post. All images and opinions are our own.

15 Fantastic things to do in Blackpool

Living in Manchester and having been a semi regular visitor to Blackpool since I was in a pram, so I like to think I know the town reasonably well. We recently visited the area for a weekend of glamping, so I’ve compiled a list of some good stuff to do in the area.

The Blackpool Tower – the tower is such an iconic place to visit. I always like to race up to the top to see how far I can see. The tower is packed with attractions and things to do, you can happily spend a whole day here.

The Sandcastle Waterpark – don’t forget your trunks! The Sandcastle is a brilliant place to spend the day with the family, riding the slides and splashing about.

Blackpool Tower Dungeon – Not for small children, but if you love being spooked, a visit to the dungeon is a must.

Blackpool SEA LIFE Centre – being beside the sea, this SEA LIFE Centre gives visitors a great, and often hands on idea about the creatures which lurk beneath the waves.

The Ultimate Review Round up of Merlin Attractions in the UK

Madame Tussauds Blackpool – a rainy day activity for sure! Visit all your favourite famous faces, and have a drink in the replica Rovers Return.

The Blackpool Tower Circus – the show changes every year, but it’s always funny, frivolous and fabulous. It’s a brilliant family show in a beautiful theatre.

Coral Island (other arcades are available) – I can never resist a trip to an arcade, it’s a great place to spend up your loose change and win a few prizes with the family.

Blackpool Pleasure Beach – spend a day riding the roller-coasters at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Classic seaside fun!

Blackpool Zoo – one of the best zoos in the UK, Blackpool Zoo has everything from a children’s farm, to elephants and sealions.

Blackpool Rail Trail and Walk – For keen walkers and explorers, the Rail Trail sounds excellent. The Rail Trail begins at Blackpool North station and takes you along the streets lined with local shops, down onto the Promenade and beyond. It’s a great way to explore the area and see things you might usually miss.

Blackpool Comedy Carpet – the comedy carpet is probably my favourite place to visit in Blackpool. It’s 2,200 metres square of comedy quotes from 1000 of our favourite comedians. Every time I visit I seem to find something I’d not seen before. It’s a real treat and is located in front of the Tower on the Promenade.

15 Fantastic things to do in Blackpool

Blackpool Lifeboat Station – The Lifeboat Station is on the Central Promenade. It’s one of only two RNLI stations to house three inshore lifeboats – an Atlantic 85 and two D class lifeboats. There’s a visitors centre and shop and a visit to the lifeboat station is a great place to learn more about this lifesaving charity.

Blackpool Illuminations – Were you even brought up in the north if you didn’t go and see the illuminations. Bigger, brighter and better each year, the illuminations are a solid tradition.

Heritage Tram Tours  – take a ride along the world famous tramway aboard a piece of moving history! It’s a fun way to see the sights aboard one of their vintage trams.

Marton Mere Nature Reserve – a short drive from the town, but a must for nature lovers, Marton Mere Nature Reserve. There’s an otter enclosure, pond dipping zone, an inspirational eco-garden and the opportunity to enjoy close-up encounters with around 100 species of international water-birds as they swim, feed and wander in wetlands custom-designed to mimic their natural homes.

Blackpool is so much more than these 15 attractions and things to do I’ve picked out. Have I missed any must see things? Please comment below to add to the list!

15 Fantastic things to do in Blackpool

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

AD – Press Trip. Regular readers will know that I love a good glamp. I grew up holidaying under canvas, but times have changed and I like sleeping in a proper bed and not living in fear of the tent collapsing in the night (which seemed to happen with alarming regularity when I was a child). Over the weekend the boys and I headed an hour from home, to the comfort of Stanley Villa Farm Camping, just outside Blackpool.

Stanley Villa Farm Camping is a really sweet site. Located next to its own fishing lake, there are 24 pods on site. The pods are nicely spaced apart and are dotted around the edge of a field. Naturally all the children on site meet in the middle and all play together, which was brilliant for my only child. It never takes him long to make friends and before we’d unpacked the car he was running around with his new chums.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

We were met by Alex, the owner who showed us to our pod and made sure we had everything we needed. The pod itself contains two comfortable single beds. We brought our own air bed and if you move the beds there’s room for a double airbed. Plenty of room for two adults and two children. Each pod has its own outdoor fire pit and you can buy in optional extras, like camping chairs, or a firewood package, or fairy lights. They’ve thought of everything.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

On site there’s a games room overlooking the lake. It’s a wooden lodge which had a comfortable room to hang out and play games in. There’s also a kitchen area where you can make hot drinks and light snacks, tea and coffee are provided free of charge, which is nice. There are also several bathrooms with showers; they’re warm and clean and a welcome change from some of the campsite facilities I’ve been familiar with over the years.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

The fishing lake is a lovely thing to be near. The lake is well stocked with trout and we enjoyed evening strolls around it. There was lots of wildlife to be seen if you’re looking in the right places. We spotted swans and their cygnets, geese, ducks, moorhens and even a hedgehog. I went for a walk at dusk and I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of bats too!

The pod is basic, but it doesn’t feel like you are roughing it. You do need to take your own bedding and towels, and the other things you might need, like camping chairs. We took a cool box and couple of disposable BBQs and cooked sausages for our tea. The pods are light and bright, with big windows at the back. There are blinds too, so you can shut out the light. The fresh air and exercise meant we all slept like a dream.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

We’ve glamped in lots of different places, this was our first pod and I was worried that it would be chilly at night. I had nothing to worry about; it was so cosy that I slept on top of my covers (even though there was wind and rain outside).

Besides the games room there’s lots for kids to do; there’s a Mini Play-Pod with an assortment of toys including footballs, swing balls; badminton rackets and a host of board games in the main lodge for when the weather isn’t so nice.

In terms of location, it’s 15 minutes drive from Blackpool and nestled in a really good spot for exploring Lancashire. While we were there we drove to Lytham St Annes for a look around the shops. It’s full of really good old fashioned shops, which I loved. We also drove over to the Forest of Bowland for a walk and lunch at the Inn at Whitewell; a real treat!

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

It costs from £49 to hire a pod for a night and it’s a really chilled out place to stay. We thought it would be ideal if you’re visiting the bright lights of Blackpool but don’t fancy staying in a hotel or B&B. For us it was just a great spot to chill out. We didn’t have grand plans to go to the Pleasure Beach or stroll along the prom; just getting away from home for a couple of nights and switching off from everything at home did us the power of good.

We would absolutely stay at Stanley Villa Farm Camping again. Small but perfectly formed, with all the comforts of home and with the cosiest of cosy pods. The location was great and we had a very warm welcome and a great stay.

To find out more about Stanley Villa Farm Camping, visit their website.

stanley villa

Disclosure: We were invited guests of Stanley Villa Farm Camping, all images and opinions are our own.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

Over half term we went glamping for a couple of days in North Yorkshire. It was a blissful few days and we were blown away by the natural beauty of the area. We were keen to take in as much of nature’s beauty as we could, so we hopped in the car and drove to Aysgarth Falls.

Aysgarth Falls are in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and are a set of three magnificent waterfalls on the River Ure. The falls cascade over the series of broad limestone steps which are divided into three stages; Upper Force, Middle Force and Lower Force. We didn’t really know what to expect as we’d just seen them listed as a nice walk in the glamping site welcome booklet; so we laced up our walking boots, set the sat nav and drove there.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

We were unsure where to park; so we drove through the village and up to a cafe and car park over the top of the falls. There is a car park which overlooks St Andrew’s Church, a Grade II listed parish church which is known for its unusually large churchyard. The church has a number of fittings that were rescued from Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When we arrived there was a public event on at the church, but we were keen to see the falls so we didn’t go in.

We walked down the road to the top of the falls; the pavement really narrows off here, so if you have small children it’s worth keeping them close. Crossing the bridge over the River Ure, you can find a footpath which is you turn left takes you to the Upper Force; turn right and you find the official car park, a visitors centre and tea room, and the path to the middle and lower falls.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

We took the path to the Upper Force, a couple of minutes walk and the path opens up to a beautiful sight. When it’s been raining the falls thunder with cascading water; but it had been fairly dry recently, so it lacked the promised power. It was however still very lovely. These are the only falls you can paddle in; and families were walking across the shallows in wellies or bare feet.

The Upper Force are a fine spot for a picnic too. I’d popped to a bakery in Bedale on the way, so we had a selection of sandwiches and baked goods to tuck into. Disappointingly not everyone tidies up after themselves, so there was a bit of litter about, which was a shame considering the amount of natural beauty we were surrounded by.

After our picnic, we walked up river a little. It was very peaceful and away from the paddling families there were birds and insects and peace. Plus a chance to skim stones on the glassy river and so much beauty.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

We decided that we would walk down and see the middle and lower falls. We weren’t sure how long it would take, but we were in no rush. Following the footpath, we passed the visitors centre, crossed a road and entered the woodland through a gate. The walk through the woods is well signposted, with a nice path which is suitable for buggies. Wheelchair users will find accessing some areas a bit tricky though as there are some steps.

We walked down to the lower falls first, figuring we would catch the middle falls on the way back. This turned out to be a great idea. We followed the footpath down towards the bottom; there was a viewing platform where you can get great views of the lower force. Further along you can get closer to the falls, but the stone is uneven and I didn’t want to risk a fall. The boys scampered around with confidence though. To return to the path, you can either go back the way you came or climb a flight of steps. It’s quicker to climb the steps if you are able.

Returning to the path, you head back the way you came; after a few minutes walk you will find the middle force, which again is down a set of steps to the viewing platform. If you don’t want to tackle the steps, you can still get a fine view from the footpath.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

There are benches and places to rest along the footpath. Once you’ve done the walk, you have earned the right to tea and cake at the tea shop at the Visitors Centre. The Visitors Centre itself is well worth a visit. There are displays and information about the geology of the falls and surrounding area; as well as information about the wildlife of the area.

The walk is a fairly easy one. My 8 year old didn’t complain and enjoyed the woodland walk and seeing Aysgarth Falls. It was fine for me too, though I was cautious walking over the stone near the falls. We all loved visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the UK.

For more information, visit the Aysgarth Falls National Park Centre website.

Days Out: Aysgarth Falls, North Yorkshire

Anxiety, bravery and becoming bold again

I’ve had what can only be described as a bit of a nightmare of a week. Well the last month or so has been pretty nightmarish, but still, here I am. I lost a friend, a good friend. A good man died and left a hole in my life which will probably always be there. As a result two things happened. I found out who my friends were and those friends have been exceptionally kind and supportive. The second thing that happened was I realised how brave I can be.

What my life has lacked in recent years is bravery. I get called brave all the time. I have chronic pain and people tell me that living with it is an act of bravery, it’s not, not really. I don’t really have any other options, live with it or not live and that’s no choice at all. What it has done is made my life small. I exist within a tiny set of parameters and over the years this has made my life smaller than it should be. I don’t travel much these days, I hardly socialise, I have a set routine and a small life.

Despite my small life, over the last few months I’ve been getting fitter and stronger. My pain, whilst still there every day seems less than it was, though sometimes it still overwhelms me. I know my limits, but I’m beginning to push them a little and that feels good.

This week I put on my best brave face and went to a funeral with some friends in deepest darkest Yorkshire. The funeral was especially hard, but one of the things that stressed me out the most was getting there.

Trundling off into another county by myself, whilst not a big deal for most people was a pretty big deal for me. I have a lot of anxiety about travel, catching trains, getting to places on time. Have I bought the right ticket? Am I going to the right place? I check and check again and panic. I flap like nothing else over solo travel, even getting a bus into town involves a small amount of swallowing down some stress and getting on with it.

So I conquered that. I got from Manchester to Leeds to meet my friend. I got the right train with the right ticket and did ok. I got home ok too. I nailed it. I found a bit of my brave heart and did it. But where do I go now with this bravery?

I admit, part of it is bravery, but a big part of it is confidence. Somewhere along the line my confidence got crushed and turned my world small. So what’s next for me? Another train journey to a new place next week, yes, doing it. Taking up Tai Chi, yes, doing that too. Maybe travels further afield too? Who knows.

I have lots of lovely friends and I need to see them more, not just the ones who live within a mile of my house, but the ones who live five miles away, or 50 miles away, or even 150 miles away. I need to stop being alone so much and I need to spend time with the people who love me, the ones who I laugh with, the ones who I cry with, the ones who are friends without agenda.

So that’s my mid-year resolution to myself. Be brave. Be braver. Be a better friend. I’ll take my tiny coal of courage and confidence and run with it, make it bigger, make it bolder and the rest will come. I’m tired of living under a cloud of anxiety. I’m tired of drowning under a rising tide of panic. I’m tired of living this small life, so I’m not going to do it anymore.

My friend who died, he wouldn’t want me to live this small life. I know if he could read this he would be messaging me to say go for it, be brave, be bold, just bloody do it.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

AD/Press Trip. Last year we well and truly discovered the joy of glamping. We trotted off to the Lake District for a weekend in a Yurt and we fell hard for the homely charms which glamping offered. Keen to have another lovely few days under canvas, over half term we stayed at Camp Katur in North Yorkshire for a couple of days.

Camp Katur is located on the Camp Hill Estate in Bedale, North Yorkshire. It’s home to Camp Hill House, an 18th century mansion house with a large estate. Nestled in a field tucked away in woodland is Camp Katur Glamping Village. Within the village there are a number of different glamping options; you can stay in bell tents, hobbit pods, a geodome, teepees, safari tents, amongst other options. We stayed in one of the larger safari tents which had its own private bathroom, which was nice.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Arriving at Camp Katur early afternoon, we checked in and walked through the woods and across a lovely meadowy field to our home for the next two nights. We were staying in Afia, a tent which came with a comfy sofa, a woodburner, gas stove, running water and beds for up to 8 people. There was also a private bathroom in a shed, a roomy veranda, a brick BBQ and peace. So much peace.

I really loved having our own en suite shed. It had a cute tin bucket sink, a proper toilet and a shower. It was clean and it was ours. I don’t mind shared facilities, but having your own really feels like a bit of luxury in the woods.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

There is no electricity; so the heating is from your woodburner and your lights are from torches, candles and little strings of battery powered fairy lights which are dotted around the place. There were plenty of candles supplied and once you’d lit all the lanterns it was really cosy.

The safari tent really was a little spot of luxury in the woods. There were three bedrooms, a kitchen area, dining table and chairs and a huge leather sofa. Lots of outdoor seating, and of course the en suite shed. It was everything you could want. Perfect for a big family or a group of friends. We loved it.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Although there are a number of tents and pods dotted around the place, there is plenty of room between them and honestly we didn’t hear a peep from anyone else the whole time we were there. There were other families there and most of the kids congregated in the long grass in the middle of the field, playing games and chasing each other, which was great for our boy who quickly made friends and disappeared for hours, only returning for juice and snacks.

The glamping village itself is well thought out. There’s a small shed shop with limited opening hours; though soon after we arrived one of the lovely wardens came over to check everything was ok and to ask if we needed anything from the shop –  we did, we got a couple of disposable barbecues.

Camp Katur also has a BBQ Grill Cabin you can hire and an Eco Spa which I walked past lustfully several times. Next time we visit, I am totally booking that out for a few hours. In the Eco Spa there’s a sauna, a hot tub, a little zen garden and some chairs to recline on. Elsewhere there’s a huge adventure playground for kids, a swing park and you can book yourself on quad biking sessions, a high ropes course, segway rides and footgolf. There’s so much going on, but it’s so peaceful you’d never know unless your sought it out.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Our nights in the safari tent was really cosy. As the sun set we would move inside, light the woodburner, snuggle under blankets and read to each other by candlelight. The beds inside the tent were real beds, with proper memory-foam mattresses. We filled hot water bottles and snuggled down to sleep, and sleep we did. We occasionally heard the screech of an owl in the woods; but they were two of the best nights sleep I’d had in a long while.

Whilst there’s lots to do on site, we had plans to explore the area a bit. There are lots of local attractions and thing to do, but we fancied a walk and some scenery, so we visited Aysgarth Falls, about an hours drive away. It was well worth the drive, we took a picnic and had a good walk. We stopped in Bedale on the way home to buy some provisions for the night. Bedale is a really lovely market town which a great butchers, bakers, a couple of small supermarkets and a really good chip shop.

There’s plenty of civilisation nearby; but camped out on the edge of the woods, looking out over a meadowy field, you could well be in the middle of nowhere. Camp Katur is a magical site. There’s plenty to do, buckets of peace and quiet and the time and the space to rest and wind down for a few days. Wind down we did. We read books; walked, talked, breathed in the fresh air; we played cards, reconnected and fell back in love with our family again. Simplicity does that.

Find out more about Camp Katur by clicking here. For more information about glamping in the UK, visit the Campsites.co.uk website.

 

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Disclosure: We were invited guests of Camp Katur, all images an opinions are our own. Camp Katur hosted our stay and Campsites.co.uk only helped to arrange the visit.

Review: Nova Trainers from Hotter Shoes

AD/Gifted. Last week two things happened. Firstly my favourite pair of trainers fell apart; then I got an email from Hotter Shoes to say I’d won a pair of shoes at the Blog On Conference and would I like to visit my local Hotter store and pick out a pair. This is a classic case of the universe taking away with one hand, and giving something better with the other. “Yes”, nice Hotter lady, “I would indeed like to pick out a new pair of shoes”. So off we went to Bury near Manchester on a new shoe mission.

I visited the Hotter store during their “Fit Fortnight” (13th to 27th May); two weeks designed to help their customers find perfectly fitting shoes by measuring their feet and providing expert advice. Hotter shoes come in sizes 3 to 9 with some half sizes and extra width fitting options; so they’re pretty sure they can find the best Hotter shoe for you.

Nova Trainers from Hotter Shoes

We arrived bright and early as the Bury store was opening and we were welcomed in. They boys, whose main role was to sit quietly and grunt appreciation at my feet made themselves comfortable on the sofa and I explained my needs to the lovely shop assistants.

“I need some new trainers, my old ones have died”, said I, and I was pointed in the direction of the Hotter trainers. There were lots of different styles to choose from. I am heavily sold on the Hotter trainers which come with a memory-foam insole. My dodgy back prefers the cushioning and can really tell the difference between walks I’ve had wearing Hotter trainers and walks I’ve had with normal trainers. Thankfully they have pretty much rolled the memory-foam insole out throughout their range.

Nova Trainers from Hotter Shoes

I have recently had my feet measured by Hotter, so I knew I was a 6.5, but preferred the 7 because my toes enjoy some wriggle room. I picked out a few different styles to try on and so began my brief modelling career. The boys grunted appreciatively in all the right places, but I ended up plumping for the Hotter Nova, one of the cheaper options. Not because of the price, or especially the style, but because they were by far the most comfortable.

The Nova Trainers are described as everyday active trainers, which seem just the thing for me. I wear special dance trainers for my dance classes down the gym, but I walk miles everyday with the dog, and to and from school; so everyday active trainers are exactly what I needed.

The Nova Trainers are so comfortable, they’re like walking on air. They fit well and hug my foot well in all the right places. I opted for the navy blue colour which I thought was a really smart option and would look great with jeans. The Nova also come in Pebble Grey and Mauve Multi. They do look great with jeans, don’t they? They cost £59 and I reckon I’ll be buying another pair because my back is really enjoying me wearing them.

Nova Trainers from Hotter Shoes

Hotter have recently launched the Hotter App which is free to download. You can use it to create wish-lists, see how other people style their shoes and access exclusive discounts and sales.

If your feet like being comfortable in nice shoes, you should check out Hotter Shoes online, or visit your nearest Hotter Store.

Disclosure: I was given a pair of Nova trainers in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are my own.

Five Family Festivals for Summer 2019

AD/ Summer is coming and festival season will very soon be upon us. We love nothing more than packing up for the weekend and heading off to a festival somewhere. Immersing ourselves in music, theatre, arts and culture of all kinds is just a brilliant way to spend a family weekend. I’ve picked out five family festivals for summer 2019.

Timber Festival – 5th, 6th and 7th July, National Forest at Feanedock

The 2018 Timber Festival was really special. There was a huge moon in the woods, amazing music, storytelling around the campfire. The boy went on adventures, climbed trees, built a den, explored and grew in so many ways. It was an experience we are very keen to repeat, so we’re going again this year.

What to expect at Timber Festival 2019

The festival programme has just been released and it looks fantastic. There’s something for everyone, I’m especially looking forward to slipping into a hot tub in the woods, then checking out the willow maze, the woodland cinema, some of the great music and woodland crafts going on. My son will love stories by the campfire, foraging for food and just generally kicking back and enjoying some time off grid in the woods. You can read our full preview here.

Bluedot Festival – 18th – 21st July, Jodrell Bank, Cheshire

Bluedot is an awesome four-day spectacular combining music, science, cosmic culture and more beneath the Lovell Telescope. The headliners include Kraftwerk 3-D, New Order and Hot Chip, ground-breaking sets from the Grammy-nominated likes of Jon Hopkins and Tokimonsta, science and culture talks from Liz Bonnin, Helen Pankhurst, Jim Al-Khalili and Tom Shakespeare, and much more. As well as top-notch music, there are all kinds of brilliant family things to do. You can find the full line up here.

Deer Shed Festival, 26th, 27th & 28th July, North Yorkshire

I know several people who go to Deer Shed every year and absolutely rave about it. Deer Shed is three days of family friendly music, comedy, sports, arts and science in North Yorkshire. It’s almost sold out for this year, but you can find more information here, and maybe bag the last remaining tickets!

Making Marvellous Memories at Just So Festival 2018

Just So Festival – 16th, 17th & 18th August, Rode Hall Estate, Cheshire

We’ve been Just So enthusiasts for as long as we can remember and this year sees the Wild Rumpus team celebrate their 10th Just So Festival. Just So is an incredibly special place, it’s a really laid back, brilliant family festival, with so much going on for all ages.

There’s always too much going on to cram into three days, but there are a few completely unmissable things, such as; Hope and Social, Bushcraft in the Spellbound Forest, The Moth Hotel, Circus Skills, Family Yoga, the Rowing Boats, Bollywood Dancing, David Gibb, Ghost Caribou, Bubble Hour, Midnight Feast, Ministry of Games and the biggest ever game of Pass the Parcel! You can read our full preview here.

Lakes Alive – 6th – 8th September, Kendal

Lakes Alive is a free annual festival centered around Kendal in the Lake District. We went along for the day last year and we were astounded at the amount of free events available during the festival. This year’s Lakes Alive promises to be a weekend of amazing installations, vibrant illuminations, intimate performances and digital delights. If you’re in the area, do make a point of going along. You can read our review of last year’s festival here.

Days Out: Exploring the Lakes Alive Festival

What family festivals will you be going to this summer? I’d love to hear where you’re off to, please do comment below!

Disclosure: I have included some festivals we will be going to where we have been given complimentary tickets in exchange for a review. 

Five Family Festivals for Summer 2019

Book Review: The Dragons Creativity Book

AD/Gifted. Dragons are enjoying something of a surge in popularity in recent years. From Game of Thrones to Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon, dragons are everywhere. The Dragons Creativity Book is an activity book entirely devoted to all things dragon.

Beware of creatures with glistening scales, with fire on their breath and poisonous tails. Many such creatures can be found in this book, so be brave, open up and take a look!

The Dragons Creativity Book

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

The book is  packed full of fun things to do; make a knight’s sword, decorate some dragon eggs and create a potion to make dragons friendlier. There are dragon model pieces to put together, pull-out decorated dragon scale art paper and all kinds of great ideas for craft projects; plus colouring pages and puzzles.

The Dragons Creativity Book

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 drawing in the castle windows and decorating the dragon eggs. 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 Dragons Creativity Book is a must for brave dragon hunters!

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

The Dragons Creativity Book

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

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