Category Archives: Manchester

Review: Treetop Adventure Golf, Manchester

Last week Treetop Adventure Golf opened at The Printworks in Manchester. Being keen adventure golfers, we went along to check it out.

The Printworks is an entertainment centre in Manchester, near Victoria Train Station. We go to The Printworks quite a lot, there’s a cinema there and lots of bars and restaurants. The addition of the Treetop Adventure Golf is the icing on the cake for us; an afternoon playing adventure golf is an afternoon well spent as far as we are concerned.

Review: Treetop Adventure Golf, Manchester

The new Treetop Adventure Golf is located on the second floor of The Printworks and whilst it is tucked away around the back, it’s well signposted. There are two adventure golf courses to play and it costs £9.50 per person to play a round, or £31.50 for a family of four. Some discounts and reductions are available, but you can check the current prices here.

Treetop Adventure Golf is aimed at all kinds of people, from families, friends and students. During the day when we went there were mostly families playing; but late at night I suspect it attracts a different crowd.

Review: Treetop Adventure Golf, Manchester

There are two courses to choose from – Tropical Trail or Ancient Explorer. In the interests of thoroughness (and because we were having a really good time) we played both courses.

We began with the Tropical Trail, it’s a lush 18 hole adventure golf course which takes around 30-40 minutes to complete. Each hole is well thought out, with bunkers and obstacles to contend with. There are also interesting things, like talking toucans and trees which comment on the quality of your golfing. It’s compact but well done. The boys absolutely loved it, especially when they got a hole in one; someone comes round with stickers so you can show off your golfing prowess.

Once we’d finished the first course, you can play the “19th hole”. If you hit the ball at the target you get a free round of golf, though that’s only for the successful player. My son won another round, so we decided to try the Ancient Explorer course while we were there.

Review: Treetop Adventure Golf, Manchester

Although we all really enjoyed the Tropical Trail course, the Ancient Explorer was our favourite of the two. The obstacles were a bit more challenging and it felt a bit like Indiana Jones golf, and who wouldn’t enjoy that?

The new Treetop Adventure Golf at The Printworks is brilliant fun. It’s well thought out, there’s a good bar where you can get drinks, snacks and small meals and it’s really family friendly. The boys absolutely loved it and they’re very keen to go back. I liked that it was indoors and warm, which makes a big difference at this time of year. If I could change anything, I’d add a par for each hole so you know how well, or not so well you’re doing.

Review: Treetop Adventure Golf, Manchester

It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d do with the boys on a weekend, or with friends or work colleagues on a night out. I think it’s a great addition to The Printworks.

For more information about Treetop Adventure Golf at The Printworks, Manchester, visit their website.

We were invited to play a round of golf in exchange for this blog post. All images and opinions are our own.

Crafternoon Tea at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House

Here in Manchester we are lucky enough to have a large number of historic buildings and houses. Hidden in plain sight on one of the busiest roads leading to the city centre is Elizabeth Gaskell’s House. The house is the former home of the famous author and her family. Her novels include Mary Barton, Cranford, North and South, Ruth and Wives and Daughters. I went along to enjoy a “crafternoon tea” session in the Servant’s Hall. Craft, tea, cake and a beautiful historic house – what’s not to like?

Crafternoon Tea at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, Manchester

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House have been running Crafternoon Tea sessions for the last few months. I’ve really wanted to go to them but I was a bit worried that my sewing skills were not good enough; but I need not have worried. I went along to try my hand at some Victorian Crazy Patchwork; a craft I’ve never heard of  before but one which is ideal for people like me who have fairly basic sewing skills.

The Crafternoon Tea sessions are run by talented volunteers. The Victorian Crazy Patchwork class was run by Margot, a very experienced and helpful teacher who provided everything we needed to create our own crazy patchwork. Margot began by talking us through, step by step through the process. One of the best things about Victorian Crazy Patchwork is if your sewing isn’t especially neat, it doesn’t matter because the stitching is covered by the fabric, making it ideal for beginners.

Crafternoon Tea at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, Manchester

Victorian Crazy Patchwork, Margot explained, was a style of patchwork which fine Victorian ladies would do to occupy themselves. They usually used scraps of silk from old dresses or from dressmaking to create colourful patchworks. I remember my husband’s Grandma having what I now know to be a Victorian Crazy Patchwork cushion.

Margot gave us all a pack including a template, a piece of calico and a notebook we could cover with our patchwork. There was a large bag of silk pieces on the table and we all selected a few pieces for our patchwork. We cut out our hexagon shaped centre pieces and stitched them onto our calico; then we cut pieces of contrasting silk and stitched them on. Sewing them so the stitches are underneath (this is hard to explain but hopefully you can get the idea from the photo below).

Crafternoon Tea at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, Manchester

Around half way through the session we stopped and made our way into the tea room for a pot of tea and a slice of really good cake. The tea room is a lovely airy space with the original stone floors from Elizabeth Gaskell’s days at the house. It was the hottest day of the year so far and it was the perfect place for some cool respite from the temperature outside.

Crafternoon Tea at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, Manchester

After we’d been fueled by tea and cake, we returned to the Servants Hall to carry on with our crazy patchwork. It soon became clear that despite my best efforts, I wouldn’t be able to finish it in the two and a half hour craft session. Thankfully Margot let me take everything I needed to finish it at home. In fairness, it was ambitious of me to try to finish within the time. But I left armed with the skills and knowledge to finish off my work at home.

The Crafternoon Tea at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House costs £19 and includes everything you need to create your craft as well as a hot drink and cake. Keep an eye on their website for more craft and literary events. I do know they have a few limited places left on their Crochet Afghan Squares Crafternoon Tea on 17th May and Paisley Woodblock Printing Crafternoon Tea on 21st June 2018.

Crafternoon Tea at Elizabeth Gaskell's House, Manchester

My not quite finished Victorian Crazy Patchwork.

I had the most lovely relaxing afternoon. Even though I went by myself, the rest of the crafters around the table were all very nice and chatty. It was lovely to switch off and concentrate on sewing the patchwork and enjoy the peaceful and historic surroundings of Elizabeth Gaskell’s House.

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is located at 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester, M13 9LW

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester is one of our nearest Merlin attractions. We like to visit a few times a year, but we’ve not been since they refurbished last year. We’d heard that over Easter they’d launched a new Space Mission area and we were very keen to check it out. Plus there was the relatively new Ninjago area which we still hadn’t seen. Over the Easter break we swung by for an afternoon of Legoland fun!

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

We were pretty impressed with the new layout of Legoland Discovery Centre. The cafe area had been tucked away in a colourful room of its own, most of the old favourites were still there. Mini-land had been improved with the Manchester bit looking more Mancunian than before. I especially liked the new Lego Media City building and the working tram trundling about.

As we rounded the corner to get into the main area, the boy spotted the huge Ninjago area straight away. There are a few Ninja training zones where lively kids can burn off some energy, so he dabbled a bit there, striking Ninja poses and generally getting stuck in. There’s a soft play area/temple and he disappeared in there for ten minutes, returning to us with a big smile on his face. There’s also a moving climbing wall which had quite a long queue, so we might have a go another time.

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

Obviously apart from the awesome soft play temple, his highlights from that area were the huge Ninjago figures made of Lego and the free building area where he just let his imagination run wild. It’s excellent, really excellent. If you like Ninjago, you’ll love this. It’s perfectly thought out.

Time was ticking and we needed to go and check out the new Space Mission area. It’s a reasonably small space compared to the Ninjago area, but they’ve really packed everything in. You can build and launch your own Lego rocket, or drive remote control buggies and explore the surface of the Lego planet. There’s an animation desk where you can create your own Lego animations and lots more.

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

I especially liked the space shuttle which takes off every five minutes. The level of detail is pretty awesome. We spent quite a lot of time looking at everything and exploring the area. The boy really liked the control desk and anything where he can just build Lego is always a hit.

Living half an hour from Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester, we really ought to visit a little more often. We’ve got Merlin Annual Passes, so it’s no bother to pop in for a quick hour of Lego fun, or a bit longer if we have the time.

If you’re local we can totally recommend the new Space Mission area and the Ninjago area is fantastic. Everything else has been spruced up for 2018 too.

New Space Mission at Legoland Discovery Centre Manchester

For more information about Legoland Discovery Centre and Merlin Annual Passes, visit their website.

Disclosure: We are Merlin Annual Pass Ambassadors this year. All images and opinions are our own.

What’s on in Manchester this Easter?

The two week Easter break is looming ever closer and the “fancy a playdate?” texts are flying thick and fast. Two weeks is a lot of time to fill; my son needs to relax and chill out after a busy term, but he also wants and needs to do some fun things too. I’ve picked out some fun and interesting things to do in and around Manchester over Easter 2018.

Easter Egg Hunts

Local Easter Egg Hunts are being advertised all over Facebook. It’s well work keeping an eye out for what’s on local to you, but I’ve spotted they’re happening at Abney Hall in Cheadle, Didsbury Park, Wythenshawe Park, Heaton Park and lots more locations.

What's on in Manchester this Easter?

Elizabeth Gaskell House

Visit Elizabeth Gaskell House this Easter for some springtime fun. With Easter egg trails, Easter crafts, visits from our Victorian servants, and more throughout the Easter holidays.

The House is open from 11-3pm on Easter Sunday and on Wednesdays and Sundays throughout the Easter school holidays. For more information about what’s on and when, visit their website.

Museum of Science and Industry

There’s always so much going on at the Museum of Science and Industry, you could go at any time and find lots of things of interest. For space fans, they’ve got some real treats in store this Easter.

Space, the final frontier, is waiting to be explored this Easter holiday with activities and shows packed with more fun than an astronaut’s freeze-dried dinner. Families can make their own space mission patch, race DIY space rovers, and help decide which is the best space invention. Plus they can take a (virtual) trip from the International Space Station to Earth with everyone’s favourite spaceman, Tim Peake, in Space Descent VR. Then see his actual Soyuz capsule and spacesuit up close in the superstar display. And don’t miss the Soyuz demonstration to find out more about how Tim came home. With all this and more, any visit is bound to be ‘out of this world’.

Tim Peake science

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale

We always try to take a trip to the theatre during school holidays, so I’ve already booked tickets to go and see The Sagas of Noggin the Nog at Waterside Arts in Sale. They always have an interesting programme of shows and events on for all the family.

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog (on Tuesday 3 April at 14:30) is based on the original stories and films by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. A company of rather English Vikings tells a story in live action, with puppetry, live music and projection of clips from the original films in this delightfully different theatre show for families and Noggin the Nog fans. The show consists of two 35-minute stories with an interval in the middle.

On Easter Saturday catch a new spin on the classic tale – Red Riding Hood. Robyn starts to read the classic fairy tale and, frustrated with the story, she begins to tell her own version, featuring her beloved wolf at its heart and told from his perspective. He’s not big, bad or scary – he’s an all-round nice guy. And Red Riding Hood is not what she seems. The play is suitable for ages 7 and above and there are performances at 11:30 and 14:30.

intu Trafford Centre

The intu Trafford Centre has so much going on this Easter, it’s impossible to fit it all into a couple of paragraphs. As well as LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE, there are lots of events for Easter 2018 in store.

There’s the Sylvanian Families Town Roadshow will take place at intu Trafford Centre from 10am to 5pm on Saturday 31st March. The character performances will be staged on lower Peel Avenue. Sylvanian Families fans and fashion lovers alike will love this free family event featuring the world’s smallest catwalk on Saturday 31 March. Throughout the day, children can watch their favourite characters singing and dancing or pose for photographs with them between the shows.

On Friday 30 and Saturday 31 March, Selfridge’s will be hosting an Easter Eggstravaganza for children ages 3 – 10 years old. There will be eggciting games, a delicious breakfast and the annual Selfridges’ Easter Egg Hunt.  For more information and tickets visit – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/easter-eggstravaganza-selfridges-trafford-tickets-43445533761

Plus John Lewis have a whole range of events on in store. In the toy section on Friday 30th, Saturday 31st and Monday 2nd April you can join in with story time; colouring for fun and Easter card making.

What's on in Manchester this Easter? Easter Eggs

Dobbies Garden Centre

I love a nice family breakfast at Easter, just before the onslaught of chocolate eggs!  Why not head down to your local Dobbies Garden Centre for a Family Easter Bunny Breakfast? Enjoy a delicious breakfast; then afterwards children will get to meet the Easter Bunny and receive a free Lindt chocolate bunny to take home and enjoy. These breakfasts are available from Friday 30th March until 2nd April and are £8.95 per child and £4.95 per adult. For more information, visit their website.

Have I missed anything? What will you be doing during Easter 2018?

There’s more to The Printworks than meets the eye!

Living and working in Manchester, I am spoilt for choice for places to hang out for an afternoon or evening. The Printworks has long been a place we visit as a family, usually to go to the cinema and then for lunch afterwards. Last week I went along to The Printworks to hang out for the afternoon with some friends and discovered there’s more to The Printworks than meets the eye.

There's more to The Printworks than meets the eye!

My first stop was a sauna and a swim at Nuffield Health at The Printworks. I’d always known there was a gym somewhere inside, but I hadn’t really thought about where it was in the building. You hop in the lift and go up to the first floor and you’re met with a huge, beautiful state of the art gym.

I was given a quick tour of the facilities, then I took myself off for a swim. The pool is a good sized 20 metre long pool with a jacuzzi, sauna and steam. I bashed out 30 lengths (that’s 600 metres fact fans!) and enjoyed the fabulous view across the city centre. I then went for a well earned sauna and a steam, grabbed a shower, got dressed and headed off into The Printworks to see what else was on offer.

The Printworks is mostly known for the wide variety of bars and restaurants it houses. I have a few favourites I always go to when I visit, but it’s always good to expand your horizons.

I went to Waxy O’Connor’s for a post-gym drink. Waxy O’Connor’s is an Irish themed bar and if you walk downstairs there’s a huge bar area with lots of tables. They do food too, and I was tempted, but I stuck to my Black Velvet cocktail and was later joined by my friends. By this time it was 5pm and the bar was starting to fill up with people popping in for an after work drink with their colleagues and friends.

There's more to The Printworks than meets the eye!

We could have picked anywhere in The Printworks to carry on with our evening; but we headed to Wagamama for a steaming bowl of ramen. Then off to Hard Rock Cafe for a few cocktails and a good old gossip.

There’s something for everyone at The Printworks; whether you’re taking the kids to the cinema and for a bite to eat afterwards, painting the town red or if you’re in search of a workout and a pool with a view; The Printworks has it all!

For more information about what’s on at The Printworks visit their website.

I was offered a free swim and a cocktail when I visited The Printworks. I was not asked to write this blog post.

5 places to take Science mad kids in the North West

As the parent of a science mad child, we seem to spend a lot of our free time in science museums and visitors centres getting hands on with the sciences. As a result we’ve had some brilliant days out in our hometown of Manchester and across the North West. Today I’m sharing with you five of our favourite places to visit in the North West for science mad kids.

Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

I can’t even contemplate writing about science in the north without mentioning the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry. It’s a huge and iconic site, you can pop in for a quick hour or very easily spend a whole day exploring, learning and getting hands on. They have a wide range of permanent and temporary exhibits as well as lots of hands on things to do.

Tim Peake science

As I write this they have Tim Peak’s Spacecraft on display as a temporary exhibit as well as the vast number of permanent displays including the Power Hall, Air and Space Hall, Textiles Gallery, Revolution Manchester and explore some artifacts from the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. Take a ride on one on the working steam trains along the track at the museum.

It’s such a great day out, slap-bang in the heart of Manchester City Centre. Find out what’s on at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry on their website.

Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, Widness

The Catalyst Science Discovery Centre is the only museum in the UK which explores the science and technology behind the chemical industry. Packed with lots of hands-on exhibits, activities and demonstrations it’s one of our favourite places to visit with our son. They have an ever-changing programme of hands on exhibits as well as a fabulous observatory, a “Scientrific” Gallery and the Alchemy Theatre & Catalytic Discovery Lab.

It’s a brilliant science-packed place to visit, we love it there! For more information about the Catalyst Science Discovery Centre, visit their website.

Jodrell Bank Observatory, Cheshire

Most people will recognise the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire as the place where Stargazing Live is filmed. Jodrell Bank is owned and run by the University of Manchester and it is the home of the Lovell Telescope, the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. It is open to the public and has a lovely new visitors centre as well as fantastic hands-on exhibits and gardens to explore, as well as the chance to have a look at the Lovell Telescope up close and personal.

You can read about our visit to Jodrell Bank Observatory here. For more information about Jodrell Bank Observatory visit their website.

Jodrell Bank science

Spaceport Planetarium, Wallasey

Spaceport is small, but well worth a visit if you’re in the area. With its focus on space and space travel, this attraction is suited to visitors aged 7+. Visitors learn about space as they walk through different themed galleries, which all have a variety of interactive and audio-visual exhibits, the highlight of which is a visit to the brilliant Spacedome planetarium itself.

Read this review of Spaceport Planetarium from Mini Travellers.

For more information, visit the Spacedome Planetarium website.

Manchester Museum

Manchester Museum is such an iconic place to visit for Mancunian children. It has so many interesting things to explore and is packed full of science exhibits. There are lots of natural history exhibits, plus geology, archaeology, botany and Earth sciences to go and see. The big draws for us are Stan the reproduction cast of a fossilised Tyrannosaurus rex and upstairs the frog filled Vivarium, home to a large collection of endangered Costa Rican Frogs.

We visit Manchester Museum with almost alarming regularity. It’s a brilliant place to spend a few hours exploring and learning about all kinds of things.

For more information about Manchester Museum, visit their website.

There are so many fantastic places to visit in the North West. Where are your favourite places to take the kids to learn about science?

5 places to take Science mad kids in the North West

Winter in Abney Hall. PLUS Save Abney Cafe!

Abney Hall in Cheadle is one of my favourite places to visit. It’s a little gem, tucked away and hidden from those not in the know. It is popular with families and dog walkers and I’ve been going there since I was a baby. It’s one of our most lovely green spaces locally, it’s a wildlife haven, it’s fabulous for families and dog walkers, and is home to a little gem – The Abney Cafe.

Winter in Abney Hall. PLUS Save Abney Cafe!

I grew up pond dipping and climbing trees there. I swam in the stream, played pooh-sticks on the bridge, and my son does the same things I did and he loves it there too. I’ve visited the pet cemetery and wondered about the lives of the horses, dogs and cats buried there, obviously adored by their owners who lived in Abney Hall years ago. I think Abney Hall is now offices, but it’s still a beautiful building in equally lovely grounds.

Winter in Abney Hall. PLUS Save Abney Cafe!

We visit Abney Hall regularly. I sometimes slip in and take the long route home after I’ve been in Cheadle. If I’m by myself I’ll stop for a brew and a bite to eat. If we’re walking the dog we’ll stop at the cafe for some refreshment. It’s the only cafe in a park I’ve ever been to where the dogs have a whole exciting field to run about on while you drink your coffee and have a sit down.

It is a great cafe. It’s an oasis and a community hub for locals in search of a hot cuppa. The welcome is warm and everyone is friendly. A stop at Abney Cafe is something I look forward to on our walks there. It’s the warm, welcoming heart of the park and Abney Hall will be much poorer if it loses the cafe.

Winter in Abney Hall. PLUS Save Abney Cafe!

Sadly it seems this small community cafe is one of the smaller victims of Carillion going bust. The cafe owners were renegotiating their lease when the firm went bust; left in limbo Stockport Council called time on their lease and they have until 1st March to clear out.

When I visited earlier today, Steve the owner was prepared for the fight. I chatted to him over a coffee and a steady stream of visitors came in for a coffee and to talk to him about what could be done to save Abney Cafe.

If you want to help save Abney Cafe and this important community hub, please email Councillor Sheila Bailey.

You can also give the Cafe Facebook page a like and keep up to date with cafe news there. There will be a gathering of support at 11am on Sunday 18th February. Bring along the whole family and your dogs to show your support!

Winter in Abney Hall. PLUS Save Abney Cafe!

Thank you for reading!

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

The February half term this year is a tricky one, it’s not the same across Greater Manchester, with some schools having half term the week of the 12th and others having the week of the 19th. Whenever your kids are off, here are 10 things to do in Manchester over the February half term.

Elizabeth Gaskell House, 84 Plymouth Grove, Manchester, M13 9LW

Pay a visit to this beautiful historical house in Manchester and take the opportunity to join visual artist Rose Miller for textile-based craft activities in the Servants’ Hall from 1-3pm on 21st February. The usual admission applies (under 16s free) plus £1 for children taking part in the craft activity. There’s no need to book – just turn up. See the website for more information.

Museum of Science and Industry, Liverpool Road, Manchester

There’s always so much going on at the Museum of Science and Industry, this February half term is no different – there’s Experitots, Robots, Pi: Building the World, Project Doomsday: The Intelligent Machine Chapter, Space Descent VR with Tim Peake, Changing Places, Creating Spaces, Destination Stations, Circuit City, plus their fabulous permanent collections and daily Explainer shows!

For more information about what’s on and when, visit the MSI website www.msimanchester.org.uk.

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

The Lowry, Pier 8, The Quays, Salford M50 3AZ

Hot foot it to The Lowry on Saturday 17th February and take part in their Dance: Sampled Festival. Visitors to the festival will be able to watch some of the biggest names in the dance business and also take part in a variety of free workshops including Hip Hop, Lindy Hop, Tap, Salsa and Flamenco.

Activities are free but visitors will need to book places on the workshops in advance, with a limited amount of tickets available on the day. Tickets are available online now.

Greater Manchester Police Museum, 57A Newton Street, Manchester

A few years ago we visited the GMP Museum and we had a fantastic time. There are two special open days running at the museum over half term. Visit between 10.30am and 3.30pm on Tuesday 20th February and Thursday 22nd February and meet officers. Plus see what equipment they use and take a tour of the museum. It’s a great day out and an excellent chance to visit this fascinating museum.

Z-arts Manchester, 335 Stretford Rd, Manchester

With a family fun day, two fantastic theatre shows and an art and architecture project, Z-arts has a fun-filled half-term week for families to enjoy! Join them for a fabulous Chinese New Year Family Fun Day on Saturday 17 Feb, 10.30am – 1.30pm, admission is free.

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

Z-arts have two shows on over half term – both look well worth a watch. There’s Snow Mouse from Wednesday 21 – Sunday 25 Feb, 10am, 1pm, 3pm, suitable for ages up to 4 years. Tickets are £6 – £9 and are available from the website. There’s also Where’s My Igloo Gone? On Sunday 25 Feb, 11.30am & 2.30pm and suitable for ages 5+. Tickets are also £6-£9 and available on the website.

Manchester Giants Basketball Camp, Astley Sports Village

Sporty kids of all ages have the chance to learn some tricks at the Manchester Giants basketball Camp on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd February. For just £10 per session, kids can get expert coaching and meet some of the Manchester Giants professional players. For more information and to book, visit the Manchester Giants website.

See Concorde at The Runway Visitor Park, Manchester Airport

This February half term, families are in for a real treat at The Runway Visitor Park at Manchester Airport. The Runway Visitor Park are hosting two days where families can book a tour of one of the most iconic airplanes ever to take to the skies – Concorde!

The viewing park is a great day out anyway, but the chance to tour Concorde is a treat and a half. The 20-minute tours will take place on February 14th and February 21st at various times throughout the day. Tickets can be booked online and cost £5 per person.

Stars of the Sea at SEA LIFE Manchester, intu Trafford Centre

SEA LIFE Manchester is probably one of our favourite places to visit and this February half term they’re pulling out all the stops! There’s a new ‘Stars of the Sea’ experience filled with with hands-on activities, games, displays and fishy facts. The event will showcase SEA LIFE’s superstar creatures; from turtles to octopuses.  Children can also take part in SEA LIFE’s new giant sea discoveries game; navigating through a life-size version of ‘Stars and Ladders’ to solve puzzles with fishy clues to jump ahead and foil their foes to win a ‘Stars of the Sea’ certificate.

Running from 10th to 25th February, all activities are included in the standard admission price, but pre-booking through the SEA LIFE website is advised.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, intu Trafford Centre

Celebrate 60 years of LEGO at Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester. Collect pop badges; learn how to create stop motion animations using Lego Minifigures and bricks and complete a scavenger hunt in Miniland to win a prize. Visitors over half term can join in a Cool Creations competition – what can you build with just 60 bricks?

Running from 10th to 25th February, all activities are included in the standard admission price, but pre-booking through the Legoland Discovery Centre website is advised.

Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, Greater Manchester

The Chit Chat Chalk Show is a magical chalky adventure! Kiko is a confused young girl, struggling to understand how she feels about the strange new world she lives in. With her new friends, she embarks upon a quest to discover the mixture of emotions and colours that make her unique. The story dances, draws and giggles its way through from beginning to end. It’s sure to put a smile on faces, young and old!

Suitable for ages 3-8 years, showing on Tuesday 13 February 11.30am and 2pm. More information and tickets are available from watersidearts.org.

10 February Half Term Things to do in Manchester

There’s plenty to keep families busy over the February half term, what will you be doing?

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

I don’t know about you, but Sunday evenings are Blue Planet time in our house. We all snuggle on the sofa and spend an hour being wowed by the wonders of the deep. With SEA LIFE Manchester virtually on our doorstep, we decided to take a trip and discover some of the amazing creatures who live in our oceans.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

SEA LIFE Manchester is our nearest SEA LIFE Centre and as such we tend to go there quite a lot. It’s great to spend a couple of fairly chilled hours there. We’ve met most of the creatures in the centre before, but this time there had been a couple of changes.

I have my own favourites, namely the jellyfish, this time they were much smaller, so I think these were new to the centre. It was quite interesting to see their relatively small bodies floating and undulating in the water.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

Te other big change was that Ernie, the huge green sea turtle has found himself a lady friend – Cammie. I think the hope is that they will find love and produce some baby turtles of their own.

Despite us being regular visitors to SEA LIFE Manchester, we did manage to experience a few things we’d never seen or done before. The boy felt brave enough to touch a starfish in the Rockpool Zone. Then I put my hand in to say hello to a shrimp. I was told the shrimp would nibble my fingers, taking away dead skin and it found a nice meal and gave my finger a bit of a tug I wasn’t expecting. I may have squealed in a most unnecessary way.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

We also spent quite a lot of time talking to some of the Jurassic Rangers who were on hand to talk about fossils and show off some specimens. The boy is a massive dinosaur fan, so this was a bit of a treat for him.

Best of all, towards the end of the day we managed to catch the Ray Talk. We watched them being fed while a very knowledgeable man told us all about them. There are three species of ray at SEA LIFE Manchester including the lovely Blue Spotted Stingrays. The Ray Talk is well worth catching if you’re interested in these graceful creatures.

Discovering our Blue Planet at SEA LIFE Manchester

The boy went all around SEA LIFE pointing out creatures he’d seen on Blue Planet and telling us a bit more about them. The same is true when we’re watching the TVseries; every so often he pipes up “I’ve seen that at SEA LIFE”!

If you’re a fan of Blue Planet then a visit to your local SEA LIFE Centre is a must. It’s really helped to connect the dots for my son. Seeing things in real life that he’d seen on the TV suddenly made everything extra wonderful and real for him.

Find out more about what’s on this Christmas on the SEA LIFE Manchester website.

 
I’m a Merlin Annual Pass Blogger Ambassador. I was given a Merlin Annual Pass to do this review with my family.  I was not paid to write this post.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park

If the grey weather is getting you down and you’re feeling a little bit bah-humbug about the onset of the festive period; then I can heartily recommend a visit to Tatton Park in Cheshire. Over the weekend we braved the rain and struck out in search of some serious festive fun. Which we found a short drive from our home in South Manchester.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

Tatton Park have pulled out all the stops and thoroughly decked the halls of their beautiful mansion as well as laying on a whole raft of lovely family festive activities this Christmas. When we visited over the weekend we filled a busy afternoon with Christmassy fun and could have stayed for more if it wasn’t closing!

When we arrived we headed straight for the warmth of the mansion. It’s a stunning building on any day of the week, but it’s been beautifully decorated with fresh foliage and greenery, with a series of grand state rooms and servants’ quarters decorated with a 12 Days of Christmas theme. It’s lavishly done, with turtle doves, gold rings, ladies dancing, maids a milking and so on.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

We entered a room filled with the most beautiful Christmas tree and a choir took their place on the staircase and serenaded us with Christmas carols. It was so lovely. We made our way to the servants’ quarters and discovered a very helpful butler in The Still Room who offered us freshly baked flapjack and some history of the house. There was also seasonal crafts for the children to try as well as a wish tree you could write your Christmas wishes on.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

Once we’d finished our tour of the mansion, we wandered into the Christmas craft fair which was on and we managed to pick up a few presents while we were there. We stopped for a quick coffee in The Stableyard cafe and then we wandered down to the farm.

We love the farm at Tatton Park. Whatever time of year you visit there is always something interesting going on in the farmyard. But we weren’t really there to check out the livestock, we were there to meet Father Christmas.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

A visit to Father Christmas at the Farm is something of a tradition for us. We’ve visited Tatton Park a few times before and each year it’s slightly different. This year we were greeted by a brass band heartily playing Christmas carols, which was lovely. We said hello to the donkeys and had a look at the nativity scene. We then wandered past the small fairground attractions and headed straight to say hello to the reindeer, sit in the sleigh and have a look at the two heavy horses in the stable.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

Up the cobbled lane to have a quick look around the Elves Workshop and on to the grotto. It was a cold rainy day, and there was no queue at all, something of a marvellous bonus. We were greeted by a very friendly French plate-spinning elf who entertained us while we had our faces painted.

We were then led down to the grotto to see Father Christmas himself. Ben had a good chat with him about how good he has been this year and what he would like for Christmas. Father Christmas gave him a little present to open on Christmas Day; presumably to save him carrying it on the big night.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

I wanted to show the boys the pigs. We were incredibly lucky to arrive just as Sienna, a Saddleworth sow was giving birth to her piglets. We hung around and watched in awe as the pig gave birth to piglet number 4. It was something incredibly special to watch and a fantastic little biology lesson for the boys.

The Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park 2017

By the time we left the farm darkness was creeping in; so we hot-footed it to the car to head home. Tired, cold but absolutely bursting with festive spirit. It was a fabulous way to start this year’s festivities!

Tickets to Father Christmas at the Farm are £7.00 for adults and £6.50 for children (including a gift). Mansion ticket prices are £10 for adults and £6 for children. Parking is £6 per car.

To find out more information about the full range Christmas events at Tatton Park, including carol concerts and other family acitivites, visit their website

We were invited guests of Tatton Park and we were given complimentary tickets in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.