October Half Term Craft Workshops in Manchester

During October half term the Manchester Craft & Design Centre have teamed up with the Manchester Science Festival to let you get up close and personal with the chemicals, reactions and elements artists use in their art in a series of interactive craft workshops.

From Monday 23rd until Saturday 28 October 2017 the Manchester Craft & Design Centre will throw open the doors to their public workshop for a week of craft workshops and hands-on experiments.See a range of weird, wonderful and fascinating processes in action as artists create everything from jewellery to vessels sculptures and artworks.

You’ll also be invited to get stuck in yourself, getting to grips with craft workshops that’ll show you just how much science underpins everything in the art world. All the craft workshops are free of charge and there’s no booking required.

October Half Term Craft Workshops in Manchester

October Half Term Craft Workshops in Manchester

Monday 23 October, 2-5pm
Be inspired by glassmaker and jeweller Charlotte Verity and use the rare lampworking technique to melt glass to make your own bead to take away.

Tuesday 24 October, 2-5pm
Join artist Nell Smith to experiment with two methods of printmaking. Firstly using a small modern etching press to print a lino illustration and secondly using a 1950s Adana letterpress to overprint lettering.

Wednesday 25 October, 2-5pm
Give pewtersmithing a bash with Ella McIntosh of This Is Pewter. Test the boundaries of pewter by combining textures, pewter (a very soft metal), and the rolling mill to make your own keyring.

Thursday 26 October, 2-5pm
Gemma Scully specialises in water casting. This is heating different metals until they melt and then dropping them into different volumes of water. You’ll be able to try this fun process where the results are different every time.

Friday 27 October, 2-5pm
Learn about the properties of thermoplastics with Julia Roy Williams of Wonderhaus. We’ll be working with heat guns and perspex, learning how to heat and shape plastic to create wearable art jewellery.

Saturday 28 October, 2-5pm
Have a go at plique a jour enamelling with glass artist Helen Tiffany. Have a go at grinding the enamel and filling your own metal charm. Your charm will be fired for you to take away.

October Half Term Craft Workshops in Manchester

The Manchester Craft & Design Centre is located in the heart of Manchester’s creative Northern Quarter. This former Victorian fish and poultry market is home to 18 independent studio shops. Over 30 talented artists and designer-makers are based there and create and sell their handmade work direct to the public.

All of these craft workshops are free of charge and there’s no booking required.

Finding Smiles: Half term & finding my words at last

I’m struggling at the moment. A few close friends have spotted that I’m not my normal self and they’re not wrong. There are a few things going on, nothing significant, but I suspect how I’m feeling right now is part of the grieving process.

It would be easy to say I’m depressed but I don’t think I am. I can still find joy in most things, it just that every time I think about my Dad I burst into tears. Missing him is causing me significant pain, but I guess it will for a while. I’m fine, really I’m fine, I just need more time to come to terms with being without him.

This year I’ve done some brave big step things with my family. We scattered my Dad’s ashes and we’ve cleared his house ready for it to be sold. We talk about him every day to try and make the gap feel more normal, but we all miss him. How could we not?

2017 has brought with it some big, interesting things which have been keeping me busy, which is great. But really when it comes to every day things I’m really struggling to focus and be especially productive.

If you read my blog much you may have noticed that I’m not blogging as often, and when I do I’m not really writing about personal things. I’ve tried a thousand times to write something, but I couldn’t manage anything beyond a paragraph. I’m looking at the 250 words I’ve written so far for this blog post and wondering where they have come from, because so far 2017 has given me no words.

I sat down to put together a blog post, mainly based on photos of what we’ve done over half term, and I’ve found some words at last. At least I know I’ve got some in me now, I hope this has broken my block. Fingers crossed. Anyway, here are a few nice things we did over half term. Thanks for sticking with me and reading my little Sunday night brain dump. 

Finding Smiles: Half term & finding my words at last

We embraced a bit of half term Hygge, baked some biscuits and built a den.

Finding Smiles: Half term & finding my words at last

We went to The Lowry and watched The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show. Thanks to Colette for snapping this lovely picture of me and the boy.

Finding Smiles: Half term & finding my words at last

We did some crafting.

Finding Smiles: Half term & finding my words at last

We just chilled out at home, sheltering from Storm Doris and eating spaghetti.

Finding Smiles: Half term & finding my words at last

And on Saturday we met the Smurfs. We are now quite obsessed with these little blue chaps and we’re looking forward to seeing the film when it’s released in March.

We had a pretty laid back week, but I think it did us all a bit of good and helped us find some of our smiles. What did you do over half term?

Family things to do – Half Term Hygge

The February half term is upon us and despite a gloriously spring like weekend, day one has been wet and cold. We had a quick trip to the park with friends this morning, but the afternoon demanded a bit of warm cosiness and gentle fun. Thankfully Plusnet had sent us a box of Hygge style activities for such an occasion, so we got to work on creating a bit of Half Term Hygge at home.

Hygge is something which comes from Denmark. It means creating a nice, cosy atmosphere and enjoying the simple things in life with the good people around you.

Our Half Term Hygge box contained a lovely assortment of Hygge style goodies and inspiration including –

• Decorations including fairy lights and instructions for building a cosy fort
• Hot Chocolate & marshmallows
• A recipe card for Snobrod (Danish butter biscuits) 
• Family film night poster and popcorn

February Half Term Hygge activities

It’s got winter stamped all over it. For me that might mean a nice cup of coffee and a good book in front of the fire. For children that probably doesn’t cut it. Armed with our Plusnet Hygge box, we whipped up a batch of delicious Danish butter biscuits and while they were in the oven we made a cosy den.

February Half Term Hygge activities

This wasn’t any old den, it was filled with cushions, cosy blankets and finished with a string of fairy lights. So good was this den that he spent the afternoon in there reclining, colouring in and watching cartoons on his tablet. 

February Half Term Hygge activities

I was very impressed with the Danish butter biscuits too. It’s a really easy recipe. He loved helping out and we will be making these again very soon. Be warned though, they are too good and as a result they didn’t last very long!

February Half Term Hygge activities

The boy is very sold on Hygge. I can see us having a few more afternoons like this over half term. Who doesn’t love a blanket fort, a mug of hot chocolate and a cosy afternoon of loveliness? 

February Half Term Hygge activities

Thank you to Plusnet for our Half Term Hygge box. You can find out more about Half Term Hygge on Twitter by searching the #HalfTermHygge hashtag. You can find our more about creating some half term hygge of your own on the Plusnet website.

Are you planning any lovely half term hygge activities?

Family friendly fun at The Printworks Manchester

Filling the days during half term and the long summer holidays with interesting a varied things to do can be a bit of a hassle. It’s nice to punctuate our afternoons at home and visits to the local park with some proper trips out. The Printworks in Manchester invited the small boy and a friend to spend some time there this half term, taking in a movie, going for lunch together and generally hanging out and having fun.

We were at the 10.10am showing of Thomas & Friends: The Great Race and the cinema was largely empty, we sat in the premier seats which were red leather and very comfortable. Lots of leg room and space to stretch out if you need to. Off-peak tickets are a reasonable £4.50 for adults and £4 for children, so it’s not quite as bank breaking as my local cinema.

The Printworks

We’d booked in at the Odeon cinema to see Thomas & Friends: The Great Race. The boys are both big Thomas fans and we (Tobi’s mum Sarah and I) were a little worried that it might be a bit young for them, but this was perfectly pitched. Both boys sat beautifully throughout the film, quietly munching through little bags of popcorn and this gentle story of those really useful engines kept them very happily entertained. They both gave Thomas & Friends: The Great Race the double thumbs up at the end!

Thomas & Friends: The Great Race is a must if you’re a little Thomas fan, full of excitement and adventure, the film tells the story of the preparations on Sodor for The Great Race and how our plucky hero Thomas saves the day in more ways than one. The film introduced a whole raft of international engines including a charming Indian tank engine called Ashima. There might have been something in my eye at the end. I’m such a sap!

The Printworks

After the film we spotted that The Printworks had set up a number of giant games to play with, so with a bit of time to kill before we went for lunch, we got stuck in. Ben was immediately drawn to the giant Lego bricks and eventually had to be forcibly parted from them. Tobi went in and played Connect 4, Snakes & Ladders and finished off with an epic game of Draughts. The giant games were brilliant, both boys loved them and it burnt off a little bit of energy before lunch.

There are so many family friendly restaurants to choose from at The Printworks, but we opted to try the all you can eat world buffet at Peachy Keens. The Monday-Friday lunchtime price is very reasonable at £8.99 per adult and £4.49 per child plus drinks.

Peachy Keens is up some stairs near the Hard Rock end of the building, climb the stairs or go up in the lift and you find a very unpromising looking grey door at the top, I did have to look around to check I was going the right way. Beyond the door opens up into an all you can eat paradise with food from all over the world to choose from.

The Printworks

We were shown to a table and ordered drinks and we set the boys up with their starter snacks. There were lots of colourful and fresh salad dishes to choose from as well as spring rolls, samosas, chicken, ribs and other nibbles. We loaded up our plates and got stuck in. The food was fresh and hot, and lots to choose from, so however fussy you or your kids are they’re bound to find something tasty for them.

Moving onto the main course you could choose from Chinese, Indian, Thai, English food, Italian pasta and pizza. There are several stations set up where you can have a meal prepared to your specifications made in front of you, and there are row after row of ready prepared meals to help yourself to as well as a fresh bread station (try the garlic naan, you won’t be sorry).

I headed to the pasta station with Ben and watched as the chef made him a fresh dish of penne with pesto and cream for his lunch. I fancied something a little spicier so I opted for noodles with a vegetable Thai green curry which was delicious. It had a kick but it didn’t blow my head off, something I appreciated and I’d definitely have this again. I liked the fact that all the food was labelled so you knew what you were having and all the veggie options were clearly labelled too.

The Printworks

Tobi went for pizza with a side of veg and Sarah had a selection of the Chinese dishes available on the day. We all enjoyed our lunch mains and it was time for pudding. Being lactose intolerant pudding is an increasingly depressing thing for me, but there were a few options open to me so I managed a sweet nibble and that was enough.

The boys went for ice cream with sauce and sweets with marshmallows smothered in chocolate from the chocolate fountain. Sarah chose a small selection of the little puds and declared the passion-fruit mousse delicious.

The Printworks

I liked Peachy Keens, the staff were helpful and very chatty with the boys, it was as clean as a whistle and I liked the really big range of foods available, even on a fairly quiet Tuesday lunchtime, though it had filled up by the time we came to leave.

We’d all thoroughly enjoyed our day out at The Printworks. The cinema was a real treat and the boys were brilliant, they loved the games although that was a one off, and the all you can eat meal at Peachy Keens was a lot of fun and excellent family for money, especially on family days out. It’s definitely a day out we’ll be repeating again. Dinner and a movie, you can’t beat it!

We were treated to our day at The Printworks in return for this review. All images and opinions are our own.

Easter at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre & SEA LIFE Manchester

If you’re looking for some Easter fun for all the family this coming half term, families can have the ultimate fun day in Manchester at not one, but two fantastic attractions this Easter! LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE Manchester have a fun-filled week planned, with lots of exciting activities and a taste of some brand new additions at the attractions to show off.

LEGO fans will soon get a fresh fix of their favourite heroes as this Easter “The LEGO Movie 4D, A New Adventure”, a brand new 4D attraction, re-unites the characters from the original movie at LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester from Saturday 12th March.

The riotous, action-packed plot sees Emmet, Wyldstyle, Unikitty, Benny and MetalBeard receive a mysterious invitation leading them to a new theme park, bearing a suspicious resemblance to LEGOLAND. But all is not as it seems as the heroes are once again thrust into the middle of an evil secret plot masterminded by a totally new character, the scheming Risky Business. The larger-than-life experience will sweep the audience right into the action as the gang hurtle through a fast paced adventure featuring some very special theme park attractions, from Unikitty’s cute and colourful ‘Wainbow Wubble World’ to Wyldstyle’s ‘Super Cycle Mega Ride’ and MetalBeard’s ‘Pirate Plunder Danger Cave’. It’s up to Emmet and Wyldstyle, enlisting the Master Builder skills of the audience, to try and save the day.

Easter at Legoland Manchester

Fans will love the chance to immerse themselves in The LEGO Movie world in a totally new way with 4D elements such as wind, water, smoke and special lighting effects bringing the story to life.

Enjoy the most amazing city in the world, the brand new play area, City Builder. Visitors can create cities and buildings in the most unique city that can be imagined. From the creativity of countless budding architects will flourish the most beautiful and imaginative buildings and stories. Girls and boys can meet the heroes of City and the girlfriends of Heart Lake City, and they’ll see everything from huge skyscrapers to cosy family houses all made from LEGO.

Visitors can also lose themselves in 1.5 million LEGO bricks and explore the wonders of MINILAND, have an adventurous ride in LEGO City Forest Pursuit, try dodging the lasers in LEGO Ninjago Laser Training Camp, play in the soft play area at the LEGO Construction Site and much more.

If that wasn’t enough, visitors should prepare to be amazed by the brand new exhibition Octopus Hideout just next door at SEA LIFE Manchester, which gives guests a unique opportunity to come face to sucker with one of the oceans most intelligent creatures.

Meet the star of Octopus Hideout, Hank, the Giant Pacific Octopus that has eight arms, blue blood, three hearts and can grow up to a jaw-dropping five metres in length and weigh up to 50 kilograms! One of the biggest octopus species in the world, Giant Pacific Octopuses can solve mazes, blend into their environment and even open jars.

Easter at Legoland Manchester

Families will also not want to miss the jet-propelled, gas-fuelled prehistoric nautilus, a primitive octopus in a spiral shell, the cuttlefish, a captivating type of mollusc which can change colour to give itself the perfect camouflage against any background, or the teeny tiny Atlantic Long Arm Octopus, a small sea creature with arms longer than its 90 millimetre body!

SEA LIFE Manchester is also home to an incredible array of sea creatures from all over the planet, including family favourite Ernie, the Giant Green Sea Turtle, captivating seahorses, colourful clownfish, Black Tip Reef Sharks, rays and more.

How to have a bath

If you have children it can be difficult to get half an hour of alone time. Having a bath is a great way of relaxing, enjoying some quiet time and having a good wash. Here are my top tips for having a bath during half term.

How NOT to have a bath

Picture the scene, it’s half term, you have a lively three year old and two small dogs, you fancy a quick bath, because you’re worth it.

1. Run the bath, add your favourite bath oil or bubble bath, create a relaxing bathing ambience.
2. Put the TV on in the bedroom, supply the small boy with juice and a snack, all seems well so leave them to it.
3. Get into bath and allow the warm water to lap over you, breathe in the aromas from your expensive bath oil, relax.
4. Realise that you’ve forgotten to shut the door.
5. Moments later the small boy and two small dogs wander in. Chaos ensues.
6. Forget how to relax as the small boy bellows “CAN I HELP WASH YOUR BOOBS PLEASE”. Die a little inside as you explain that your boobs don’t need cleaning.
7. Repeat the phrase “no you can’t get in the bath with me” seven times before he just climbs in the bath with you. Die a little more inside.
8. Give up trying to shave your legs and resign yourself to being half smooth goddess and half yeti.
9. Give up on your half an hour of me time. Get out and leave the small boy to enjoy your delicious bath with expensive bath oils.
10. Finish washing your hair in the sink. Voila!

How to have a bath

1. Run the bath, add your favourite bath oil or bubble bath, create a relaxing bathing ambience.
2. Put the TV on in the bedroom, supply the small boy with juice and a snack, all seems well so leave them to it.
3. Firmly shut the bathroom door, locking it if possible.
4. Get into bath and allow the warm water to lap over you, breathe in the aromas from your expensive bath oil, relax.
5. Emerge from the bath scrubbed, shaved, invigorated and beautiful.

Guess which kind of bath I’ve just had.

How to have a bath