Tag Archives: Manchester

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

Now that spring has sprung, the fine weather is making us want to go outside and be in the great outdoors a little more. We don’t mind getting a little adventurous either, so I’ve put together a list of some of the most exciting places for outdoor adventure in Manchester.

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

Debdale Outdoor Centre, Gorton is a huge outdoor activity centre run by Manchester City Council. It has an exciting range of activities to try, and something for almost everyone. There’s everything from dinghy sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and kayaking; power-boating, rock climbing, abseiling, hill walking, gorge scrambling and orienteering.

Venture Out are based in the grounds of Burnage Rugby Club, on the banks of the Mersey in Heaton Mersey, this adventurous holiday club really makes the most if its location. With activities each week that are a mixture of team building, nature handicrafts, outdoor sports, bushcraft, forest school, nature games, canoe trips, there are lots to do for adventurous kids to get stuck into.

Carrington Riding Centre is based just a few miles south west of Manchester in the Mersey valley green belt. Their facilities include one indoor school and four, all-weather, rubber surfaced outdoor floodlit menages with viewing facilities and fully stocked café. During school holidays they offer a range of activities for both children and adults 

Go Ape! Rivington near Bolton is just the place to explore the forest canopy on an exciting treetop rope course. There’s also a thrilling 200 metre long zip wire over the edge of the Rivington reservoir.

Helly Hansen Watersports Centre in Salford Quays is the ultimate urban watersports venue. Choose from a wide range of activities and courses including; sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, climbing, raft-building, bell-boating, wake-boarding, Open Water Swimming, power-boating. It’s a cracking venue and great for all the family!

Treasure Trails – for outdoor adventures as a more sedate pace, Treasure Trails maps are available to download. There are all kinds of trails and a large number around Manchester. It’s a great way to find hidden gems wherever you are.

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

Treetop Trek is in Heaton Park, Manchester and is an aerial adventure completely encased in nets. Visitors aged 3+ can bounce, run, jump and slide in complete safety without the need for a harness. You can read a review here.

We Are Adventurers! Chorlton is a forest school where you can go for holiday clubs or parties. We’ve been several times for parties and woodland adventures. It’s brilliant fun and we all absolutely loved it. You can read our write up here.

Trafford Watersports Centre in Sale Water Park, offers water sports taster sessions where you can try kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing or sailing. Book for lessons or hire kayaks, canoes and katakanus. If you don’t fancy getting wet, there are lovely walks around Sale Water park to be had, as well as fishing, bird watching or other activities.

Geocaching is where a container holding a number of items is hidden at a particular location for GPS users to find. Coordinates are posted on the Internet and geocachers have to seek out the item. It’s great fun and great for all the family. If you want to get involved, google Geocaching in your area.

Those are ten great places to go outdoors in Greater Manchester, lots of different things to do for people of all abilities and fitness levels. What are you waiting for? Go forth and adventure!

If you enjoyed this, you might want to check out these 20 family walks in Manchester.

10 places for Outdoor Adventure in Manchester

21 Places to Craft with kids in Manchester

Children love doing crafts, but it can sometimes be a messy business. We do quite a lot of crafts at home, but sometimes it’s nice to go somewhere else to do a craft; especially if it’s a craft beyond your own skill as a crafty parent; even better, someone else gets to do the tidying up! I’ve picked out 21 places to craft with kids in Manchester; there are probably many, many more, so if I’ve missed any, please do comment below.

21 Places to Craft with kids in Manchester

21 Places to Craft with kids in Manchester

Crafts and Makes, Didsbury – this is my local craft place. They have crafts to do with kids every day, plus special workshops for children and adults. It’s a lovely place to spend an hour or two with the kids and they do all the tidying up too!

Minikin Emporium, Sale – I love this place. We’ve been going since my boy was a baby and we’ve made so many lovely things there. They also do imprint jewellery, which is such a lovely memento.

The Art Garden at The Haworth, Accrington – The Art Garden is a craft cafe based in The Haworth Art Gallery in Accrington. It’s the most wonderful place, with lots going on for crafty types of all ages; but their messy and sensory play is brilliant fun!

Emily’s Paint A Pot – located in Manchester’s Arndale Centre, Emily’s Paint A Pot is a lovely place to drop in to spend an hour or two decorating pots together.

Bean & Brush Family Art Cafe, Sale – located in the heart of Sale, Bean and Brush is an interesting Art Cafe where you can try your hand at anything from painting pots to decopatch. The studio is stocked with all manner of pots and projects, so you can let your artistic side run wild. Create unique pieces for yourself or personalised gifts for friends!

21 Places to Craft with kids in Manchester

Pottery Corner, Chorlton – this is a lovely pottery painting place on fashionable beech Road in Chorlton. We’ve been to paint pots and to have our handprints done in clay. They run adult workshops and children’s parties too!

Brooklyn Pottery, Stockport – Pop in for some pottery painting, book a party or just go along for an afternoon with friends or family and paint some pots for friends or family.

Create It! Cheadle – this bright and cheerful craft cafe in Cheadle, offers Paint-a-Pot and decoupage activities for all the family. Whether you fancy a spot of ceramic painting or gluing and sticking with their fantastic Decopatch selection; you’ll find a great range of pottery pieces to paint; from useful items like plates and bowls to fun, decorative pieces like figurines, piggy banks and lanterns!

Kidz Kreationz, Altrincham – With Saturday Art Club and After School Sessions, Kidz Kreationz is the arty place in Altrincham for kids to hang out.

The Star Tree Studio, Littleborough – The Star Tree Studio in Littleborough provides high quality, fun, educational, art, craft & creative activities for children aged 6 months to 12 years old. They organise baby, toddler and preschooler creative classes as well as art and craft birthday parties. It’s a gorgeous place to drop into for a spot of art.

John Rylands Library, Manchester – this historic library runs all kinds of children’s craft activities throughout the year. For something a little different, a visit to John Rylands is a must if you’re in the city centre.

Works of Heart, Bolton – Choose from a great selection of pottery to paint, or book yourself in on a workshop or two. There are always things to do for all ages and abilities at Works of Heart!

Hatworks, Stockport – The Hatworks in Stockport has an ever changing selection of crafts for adults and children. This quirky museum has lots to offer, check out their website before you visit to see what’s on!

A Place to Potter, Heaton Park Garden Centre – The Place to Potter is a cosy and creative hub specialising in pot painting, slime making, bear building and birthday parties! They also host workshops during the school holidays and toddler/pre-school sessions during the week. Check out the website for more info.

Brookside Pottery at Brookside Garden Centre, Poynton – Paint at pot as you watch the steam trains go by. This little pottery painting workshop in Poynton is great for birthday parties and crafty afternoons. Booking advisable!

Bisque and Beyond, DidsburyLocated in the heart of Didsbury village, Bisque and Beyond are a truly independent family owned and run art café offering a wide range of art projects, from paint a pot to decopatch, clay imprints and commissions, belly casts, personalised gifts and beyond!

Ordsall Hall, Salford  – Ordsall Hall in Salford is a great place to visit with kids, and they have lots of things going on, like arts and crafts workshops for adults and children. Have a look on their website to see what’s on.

Elizabeth Gaskell House – from Crafternoon tea for grown ups, to half term craft sessions for kids, there’s always something going on at this beautiful historic house in Manchester.

Whitworth Art Gallery – This wonderful art gallery in Manchester has an ever changing array of events and arts and crafts activities for all the family. For a delightfully different day out, keep an eye on the website for what’s coming up.

Bents Garden Centre – I love Bents, it has a superb craft shop and they do run regular craft activities and workshops for both adults and children alike. Keep an eye on their website for what’s on!

Have I missed anywhere? Is there somewhere near you which hosts family arts and craft activities on a regular basis? Please comment below so I can add them in.

21 Places to Craft with kids in Manchester

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Last week I took some time out, met up with some friends and took a tour of Ordsall Hall in Salford. I’d been once before, during the summer to one of their outdoor theatre events. I’d had a very quick look around, but I knew I had to go back and have a proper look. I was not disappointed.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Ordsall Hall is a Grade 1 listed Tudor manor house which was first recorded in 1177. Since then, it has been home to Medieval and Tudor nobility, butchers, farmers, and Earl, an artist, priests, mill workers, cows and even several ghosts! It has an incredibly rich history and as a result is a fascinating family museum. There are rooms laid out as they would have been many hundreds of years ago, a cafe and some absolutely stunning organic gardens.

When you first enter the grounds, you’re greeted with the sight of the stunning Tudor manor house. There are quatrefoils (the white motif which looks like four circles overlapping) covering much of the exterior and lots of ancient carvings in the woodwork. The detail carries on inside.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

From the reception area, you walk into the impressive Great Hall, which is a glorious space. The walls are covered with original wooden paneling, the windows include a stunning oriel window which dates from around 1600. There are also two huge but relatively modern windows which were installed in 1897 by the then owner, Earl Edgerton of Tatton.

From the Great Hall, you can explore the Star Chamber, a bedroom with an intricately carved four poster bed and a ceiling covered in brass stars. The bed itself was the wedding bed of Sir John Radclyffe.  The room is quite lovely and thanks to the guides, we learned that the marks on the fireplace were where previous inhabitants had sharpened their swords.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Upstairs we were led into the Solar Room which would have been where the lady of the house slept and spent her day. As the name suggests, the room is really light and bright. There’s another four poster bed and a wardrobe full of period costume, which visitors are encouraged to try on. This room is very hands on and children especially are encouraged to explore.

Upstairs from the Solar Room what is known as the Coat of Arms Room; this is because there is a huge stone coat of arms above the fireplace. The room was originally where the wet nurse would have slept. Again, it’s a lovely light room which they’ve decorated with wallpaper recreated from a scrap they found when they were renovating the hall. Every room is heaving with history.

Along the corridor from the Solar Room is the Italian Plaster Room. This is not open to the public, but it had a glass door so you can look inside. The room is named for it’s ornate Italian plaster ceiling which dates from around 1380. The impressive geometric plaster ceiling is the work of Venetian artists and it’s incredibly beautiful.

From there we made our way to the kitchens which were constructed in around 1600. The kitchens feature recreations of the cooking implements and the food they would have prepared and eaten. This was an especially interesting part of the building because I’m interested in the history of food.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Climbing the staircase near the kitchens, you make your way to the attic where the servants would have slept. There’s a noticeable change in the temperature and quality of the original construction. There are two large-ish attic spaces, each with a small fireplace in. They most likely slept dormitory style and would have had very little personal space or privacy.

There are a number of permanent and temporary exhibitions on at Ordsall Hall. It’s well worth visiting the The Frederic Shields Gallery upstairs which has a number of interactive exhibits about the hall, its history and the surrounding area.

Outside there are formal gardens which looked neat and tidy in February, but back in the summer they were lush and very beautiful. There’s a small orchard; a WW1 garden and a lovely lush lawn which is where their outdoor theatre shows are performed.

Ordsall Hall have a full progamme of events for all ages, and regularly run guided tours of the house (£3.50 per person). You can explore by yourself, but going on the guided tour gives you so much more information and insight than you would normally. I found out so much more from the tour guides than I ever would have by just mooching around by myself.

I’m a massive fan of small hidden gems like Ordsall Hall. It’s surrounded by modern houses. If you’ve never visited before, the sight of this Tudor manor house in the middle of a fairly normal looking housing estate in Salford takes your breath away.

It’s also incredibly easy to get to on public transport. I got the tram to Exchange Quay and it’s less than five minutes walk from there. The hall and the grounds are free to visit, and it’s a real treasure. They do rely on donations, so I made sure to put some money in the donations box.

I am wowed by Ordsall Hall. I’m going back over half term with my son to take part in some activities and give him the tour. He’s already excited about the prospect of encountering one of the resident ghosts!

For more information about Ordsall Hall, visit their website.

Days Out: Taking a tour of Ordsall Hall, Salford

Disclosure: Ordsall Hall is free to visit. I have not been compensated for this post; I’ve only written about it because it’s an incredible place to visit. I’m a big history lover. If you love history, you need to visit. It’s free.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

Over the years we’ve tried all kinds of veg box schemes. We’ve tried those recipe boxes and we’ve had a milkman, then no milkman because the local diary closed, now we have another milkman because another dairy opened. Getting food delivered to the door isn’t just convenient, with the Creamline Best of Local Box scheme, you can get brilliant locally produced food from independent producers delivered to your door.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

I live in South Manchester and I was asked to give the Best of local Box a try. Where I can I do try to shop local, and I buy directly from a number of the Best of Local suppliers on a regular basis. I knew that the contents of the box would be of a really high standard, but would it be more expensive?

The Creamline website it really simple to use. Just browse and add to your basket the products you want delivered, choose your delivery day, pay and then wait for the knock on the door.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

I had a good look and what was on offer, then meal planned around that. I was excited that there was a baker, something we don’t really have locally anymore; so I did go a bit wild when ordering bakery products.

Here’s my order for my first box…

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

The meat products are what I usually buy from the butchers who supply Creamline anyway. The meat were the most expensive part of my order; we ate some straight away and I put the rest in the freezer for another day. I always think it’s better to buy good quality meat and eat a little less of it, than cheap, low quality meat.

The bread, rolls and bakes were incredibly quality. I’m so used to bland supermarket bread that just some toast made with the bloomer was a real treat. If you order the Best of Local Box, them it’s well worth stocking up on this gorgeous bread. I can also highly (HIGHLY) recommend the millionaires flapjack, which was superb.

The fruit and veg come daily from Manchester’s Smithfield Market. It was as fresh as could be. The watermelon lasted for ages and made one boy very happy (watermelon is his favourite thing).

I really loved my Creamline Best of Local Box. I knew everything was made within a few miles of my home, by local people who really care about the quality of what they produce. It’s exactly the kind of thing I would order and will order in the future.

Review: Creamline Best of Local Box delivered to your door

I think that sometimes when you order a food box, you’re not really sure where the food has come from and what kind of quality it will be. I already shop with a number of the shops who supply the Creamline Best of Local boxes; so it’s just a more convenient way for me to shop, without the bother of carrying it home. It’s delivered to my door, well packed, free of charge and by a cheery person.

The box is no more expensive that going from local shop to local shop. It’s great quality and I feel like I’m still doing my “shop local” bit to help my high street.

They’ve even got a discount code on their website right now if you want to try it out for yourself!

For more information about the Best of Local Box, visit the Creamline website.

We reviewed the Creamline fruit and veg box a few years ago, you can read about that here.

Disclosure: I was given a Creamline Best of Local box for review purposes. All images and opinions are my own.

20 family friendly walks around Manchester

At this time of year, there’s something really nice about wrapping the family up and going for a winter walk. Being stuck in the house all day is a recipe for boredom and I know if I don’t get my lot out at least once over the weekend, chaos will ensue. Finding family friendly walks isn’t always easy, but where is good to go and easy to get to from Manchester?

Having a dog means we are out a few times a day in the park or down by the river anyway, but packing a flask and some treats, clambering in the car and setting off to explore somewhere a little bit further afield can be a fun but budget day out. If you’ve got buggies to contend with too, finding good paths to push a pram along can make all the difference on a country walk.

20 family friendly walks around Manchester

With the help of some other Manchester based bloggers, I’ve gathered a list of good family walks in and around Manchester, each with a little write up or review, so you know just what to expect when you’re planning your walk. Some of them are in and around National Trust properties, so if you’ve got a membership card, it’s worth checking and taking it with you.

20 family friendly walks around Manchester

Abney Hall – a lovely little walk, pond dipping optional. Cafe and free parking.

Alderley Edge – magical walks, huge views across Cheshire and beyond and a little bit of folklore and magic too!

Boggart Hole Clough – is a large woodland and urban country park in Blackley, Manchester

Clayton Vale –  is a natural wildlife habitat and a Local Nature Reserve.

Clifton Country Park – is a local nature reserve in the Irwell Valley at Clifton. Home to a fairytale trail!

Delamere Forest – managed by the Forestry Commission, there are recreational trails, a visitors centre and a cafe. There’s a nearby train station too.

Dovestones Reservoir – is on the very edge of the Peak District National Park and it a gorgeous place to walk with the family.

Dunham Massey – deer park, house and gardens. Lovely flat paths and lots to explore (National Trust).

Etherow Country Park – boating late, flat paths, cafe and good family walks to be had.

Fletcher Moss Park, Didsbury – woodland walks, a botanical garden, a nature reserve, a great cafe and walks by the river. What more do you need?

Jumbles Country Park – reservoir, wooded walking paths, a cafe and year-round fishing.

Lyme Park – (National Trust) deer park, hall, mill and a brilliant playground, miles of walks and a cafe!

Lyme Park 20 family friendly walks around Manchester

Macclesfield Forest – lovely woodland walks with views to match!

Rode Hall – snowdrop walks, bluebell walks and a regular farmers market, plus the best cafe ever!

Sandstone Trail, Cheshire – one of the most popular long distance walks in the North West.

Speke Hall – (National Trust) a Tudor manor house with a maze, woodland walk and gardens to explore.

Tandle Hill Country Park – is a large country park with woodland areas, sweepings views and a countryside centre.

Teggs Nose Country Park – explore the meadow, moor and woodland areas around the 380m high hill, ideal for walking and cycling.

Werneth Low Country Park – panoramic views are offered from this grassy hilltop, which also features a country park.

Yarrow Valley Country Park – 700 acre parkland with a lake, waterfall, adventure playground, cafe and a visitors centre.

I’ve made a map with every single walk I’ve mentioned above in it, so you can find everything easily. Just click on the map and away you go!

Don’t forget your flask and waterproofs, this is Manchester after all. Where are you going on your next walking adventure?

20 family friendly walks around 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.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

On Tuesday we visited the Grill in the Park restaurant at Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club for dinner. We’d been there last year for breakfast, so we were keen to see what dinner would be like. They’ve just undergone a complete refurb and unveiled their new menu, we were invited along to try the new menu for size.

We were looking forward to a nice quiet date night, some good food and a chance to relax without the demands of a small child. The Grill in the Park restaurant is really cosy, with booths and quiet, intimate corners to dine in. It’s just the place for a quiet dinner for two, a business dinner or for a group of friends.

Breakfast at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

It’s a grill, so steak is high on the agenda. You can smell the steak cooking as you walk in and that is a very good thing. I’m a vegetarian, but the smell of cooking steak is possibly the only think that could turn me.

Executive chef, Tom Gardner has been with Worsley Park since 2014 and has created the new menu giving a twist on the grill menu. The menu looks really well balanced, with more than just a token veggie dish. They’ve invested £16,000 on a new grill, so most dishes have some grilled elements.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

To begin with I opted for the Baby Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Cress Salad (£8) and my companion had the an Seared Scallops with Celeriac Puree, roasted hazelnuts and apple and fennel salad (£14).

I can’t resist roasted beetroot and there were two different kinds on my plate. The salad was well dressed and the half log portion of goats cheese was very generous. The log had been grilled and it had a really delicious char on it, I did find the goats cheese quite hard and I was expecting a softer goats cheese, but I suspect this wouldn’t have grilled quite so well.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

The scallops were a real hit. Three really plump and juicy scallops, well seasoned and nestled on top of some autumnal celeriac puree and alongside a small heap of sweet, crisp salad. It was a highlight.

Onward to the main course, I plumped for the vegetable fajitas (£12) with a side of sweet potato fries (£4). Whilst my better half couldn’t resist a grilled sirloin steak (£27) which comes with tomatoes, watercress, a flat mushroom and a sauce of your choice, he went for port and shallot. He also had a portion of steak cut chips (£4).

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

My vegetable fajitas arrived hot and sizzling in their dish, I’d asked for no mushrooms as I can’t eat them, so my sizzling dish was onions and peppers in a sweet sticky sauce. This came with two toasted wraps and sour cream, guacamole and salsa. This dish had all the potential to be really hearty and lovely, but I was a bit disappointed by it. The wraps were too crispy to roll into fajitas (I think the wraps should be warmed but not crispy) so I ended up using them as crispbreads and scooping the fillings on top.

I loved the onions and peppers, but I think the sauce was just a bit too sweet and after a while that began to cloy. It was so nearly there, if I order them next time I’ll ask for the wraps not to be toasted.

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

My husband’s grilled sirloin steak was a triumph. A thick, juicy steak with well cooked accompaniments. He always has his steak cooked medium-rare and it was perfectly pink with a lovely char. The sauce was rich and he cleaned his plate. The Grill in the Park do steaks very well.

We didn’t have room for pudding, but we forced ourselves. I went for Warm Pecan Pie with caramel ice cream (£5.50) and he had the Lemoncello & Raspberry Semifreddo with raspberry compote and summer berries (£5.50).

Review: The new menu at Grill in the Park, Worsley

Pudding was most definitely a highlight. His semifreddo was creamy and light, the perfect end to a rich meal. My warm pecan pie was something I will think about often in the coming weeks. The pastry was so light, thin and crisp, it was a joy. The pecans were soft, sticky and flavoursome and it was just perfectly put together. Pecan pie is my new favourite thing.

We had a lovely meal in cosy, intimate surroundings. I found fault with a few things, but not enough for me not to return again. We tried some absolutely wonderful dishes that night; but it is worth visiting Grill in the Park for the pecan pie alone! Go on, try it.

The Grill in the Park is at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club, for more information visit their website

We were invited guests of the Grill in the Park at Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club and our meal and drinks were complimentary. All images and opinions are our own.

Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

In August, M&S opened a branch of Marks and Spencer Opticians in their Manchester store. It’s been two years since my last eye test, so I went along to try out their new service. I booked my appointment at M&S Opticians online, which was quick and easy to do, my appointment was confirmed and all I needed to do was turn up on the day.

Since my good friend Claire at She Eats discovered she had a brain tumour during an eye test, it’s been in the back of my mind that I must get mine tested. Thankfully finding a brain tumour is pretty rare, but your eye health is a good indicator of your general health and can flag up conditions you might not have been aware of. Regular eye tests are a good thing, so don’t put them off.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

I went along to Marks and Spencer Opticians in Manchester. It’s located on the first floor next to the cafe. Feeling a bit nervous, I made my way upstairs and booked myself in. I was early so I spent a few minutes checking out the frames and trying a few pairs on.

I was ushered into a room where they did a few tests on me. Danielle was really reassuring and talked me through everything. For the most part all I had to do was sit and look while they blew air onto my eyeballs, took photographs of my retinas and did a test where I had to press a button each time I saw a flashing light in my periphery. It was very thorough.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

After the testing I was taken through to see the optician, Mohammed. He spent some time checking what my prescription was, I don’t think it’s changed much in two years, which is reassuring. He also had another look at my eyes and discovered that there was something a little bit amiss with one of my optic nerves. We had a chat about that and about how much sleep I don’t get. He suggested I use an eye wash a few times a week and he sent me back to the testing room to do a more thorough version of the peripheral vision test.

I was understandably feeling a bit on edge at this point, but everyone was really reassuring and Mohammed the optician spoke to me again afterwards, once he’d checked the results and explained that it was just a small anomaly and wasn’t affecting my eyesight. It’s probably something worth keeping an eye on though.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

It was time to choose my new glasses. I’m a bit funny about my glasses, I like a particular style and round glasses do not suit me. There were hundreds of pairs to choose from, I spent a lot of time looking for what I wanted. I couldn’t find anything which really appealed in the ladies section, so I had a look at the men’s glasses. I was in luck, there were so many of the style I liked in the men’s section.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

Glasses at M&S Opticians start at £40. I chose the “Favian” frames, which are described as “flattering, easy to wear frames – a great choice for men”. These were £80 for the frames and another £30 for the lenses, so just £110 in total. I’ve previously paid A LOT of money for glasses, so I thought £110 was a really, really good price.

Two days later I got the call to collect my new glasses. I was impressed at how quickly they’d come back. I went into town a few days later to go and pick them up and was met by Paul, who took some time to fit my glasses. With them being men’s glasses they were a little loose, so the arms needed to be adjusted to fit me properly. This was done while I waited and I left, happy with my new specs.

Review: Putting Marks and Spencer Opticians to the test

I was really impressed with Marks and Spencer Opticians, they were very thorough and I felt very reassured after my tests. I also thought their prices were very competitive, I couldn’t find any fault with the service I received. I’m absolutely delighted with my new glasses. I think they look great on and they’re really comfortable to wear too.

UPDATE 29/03/2019: Sadly Marks and Spencer Opticians closed all their branches today.

For more information about M&S Opticians, or to book an appointment, visit their website.

I was invited to review Marks and Spencer Opticians and given a pair of glasses in exchange for this review. Nevertheless, all images and opinions are my own.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

We’re currently holidaying in Cornwall, and keen to make the most of our Merlin Annual Passes, this week we had a drive down to Gweek to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary which this year is celebrating 60 years of seal rescue, rehabilitation and release.

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is part of the SEA LIFE group of attractions and set in the picturesque Helford Estuary, by the village of Gweek, in Cornwall. It’s probably the most southerly Merlin attraction in the UK; but well worth remembering to pack your passes for if you have them.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

One of the most exciting reasons to visit the Cornish Seal Sanctuary was that I’d spotted on their website that it was dog friendly. It’s harder than you’d think to find attractions which are genuinely dog friendly, so were delighted to get through the door and see so many happy dogs on days out with their families.

The sanctuary is located on the fairly steep side of the Helford Estuary. There is a safari bus to take people from the top to the bottom of the steep hill, but it isn’t by their own admission the most accessible of attractions; though they’ve tried their best and help is always at hand if you need it. Me, being unsteady on my feet took the safari bus option with my son, whilst my husband walked the dog down to the bottom. He beat us there and back both times, but the bus is brilliant for little legs, or unsteady adult ones.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

The Cornish Seal Sanctuary is the first port of call for local seals who have been injured or who are ill. Each year around 50 seals are taken in by the sanctuary and given the care they need to get better. Most go on to be released back into the sea, but some have life changing injuries or conditions which can be best managed at the sanctuary.

At the sanctuary you can find common seals, grey seals, penguins, otters, sea lions as well as ponies, sheep and goats. There is also a rockpool area to explore and a wildlife walk through the woods. There’s a lot of learning to be had, from conservation work, to things we can do at home to help the plant. We found this very interesting and a great talking point.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

The self-led tour begins at the seal rescue hospital. We skipped the hospital as there were no seals in there, which is a good thing and carried to the bottom of the hill where there are a number of different pools; the common seals were in a new-ish looking pool next to the nursery pool which held the youngest pups in the sanctuary.

There were various talks and experiences throughout the day. The feeding sessions seemed to be the most popular; watching the resident seals in the convalescent pool get fed their fishy lunch whilst we were given a talk about the seals and what had happened to bring them to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary was especially interesting. The feeding of the penguins was also great fun.

The woodland walk was a really great addition. There’s a 500 metre walk to Otter Creek, but along the way there are lots of signs with facts and activities on. It’s also great for dogs (on leads) to stretch their legs in the cool shade of the woods.

Days Out: The Cornish Seal Sanctuary in Gweek, Cornwall

There are both permanent and temporary residents in the seal sanctuary, so the number of animals to visit can vary. However it is really well done, there is always a programme of events and a permanent selection of seals, penguins, sea lions and otters to see and learn about. The wildlife walk was great, very informative and a great place for kids to run off a bit of steam.

We were also really impressed with the cafes on site. They were not wildly expensive and we enjoyed a good lunch, though you can take a picnic if you’d prefer.

We had a really enjoyable and informative visit to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. It’s a genuinely dog friendly family attraction in Cornwall which we all really enjoyed visiting.

Find out more about The Cornish Sea Sanctuary by visiting their website.

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

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

Having lived in Manchester all my life, I felt I probably knew most of the hidden gems and worst kept secrets of my city. This week I discovered a Tudor secret, hidden in plain sight, surrounded by modern houses, apartment blocks and industrial buildings – Ordsall Hall is the most stunning Tudor building I’ve ever seen and it’s tucked away near Salford Quays. On Wednesday I took a good friend (an Austen fanatic) to see Pride and Prejudice at Ordsall Hall.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

This summer, Ordsall Hall is hosting a number of outdoor theatre productions and thankfully the weather seems to be behaving itself, so all you need is a folding chair and a cardigan for when the sun goes down. Ordsall Hall provides a wonderful backdrop to productions like Pride and Prejudice. It is incredibly beautiful and it’s worth turning up a little bit early so you can have a look around before the performance begins.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

We arrived a little late due to a confused satnav and a full car park, but we eventually settled down in our camping chairs a few minutes before the performance began. The five actors were mingling and chatting with the audience, which was a nice touch as somehow outdoor theatre seems a little bit more intimate and this made it more so. Heartbreak Productions are experts in outdoor theatre, spending their summer touring up and down the country.

Pride and Prejudice is the incredibly well known tale of the Bennet sisters, a host of charming young bachelors and of course the dashing Mr Darcy. All of the many roles were performed by a troop of just five actors who seamlessly managed to portray this large cast of characters with a simple change in posture or a different hat. It was marvellous, it really was.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

We were gripped by this story, told on a simple stage by very talented actors with the exceptionally lovely backdrop of Ordsall Hall. They had the audience stood up, learning to curtsy and bow, and we learned a simple dance. It was all great fun and I now feel well prepared to enter Georgian polite society.

Experiencing Pride and Prejudice at Ordsall Hall was a wonderful experience. It was a delightful evening of comedy, romance, and some will-they-won’t-they. But we all know they will, eventually.

Review: Pride and Prejudice, Ordsall Hall Salford

Although I’ve seen outdoor plays before, never in such delightful surroundings. There are a number of other plays being performed at Ordsall Hall this summer and they’re well worth taking a look at. There’s something for everyone at Ordsall Hall this summer!

Disclaimer: We were invited guests of Ordsall Hall and we were gifted tickets to see Pride and Prejudice in exchange for this review. All images and opinions are our own.