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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Over the last few weeks I’ve been studiously jotting down some fun things to do in Manchester over the summer 2017 holidays. My list seems to go on forever, so it’s time I wrote it down properly and shared it with you, dear reader. As ever, if you have any more suggestions for summer fun, please comment below!
A Summer of Victorian Entertainment for Children and Families at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
Elizabeth Gaskell’s House is throwing open its doors this summer to the world of the Victorian children at play. Every Wednesday in the summer holidays, a range of activities will take visitors back in time to when the Gaskell’s daughters would have played in the House. Highlights include circus skills, Victorian theatre and costumed actors with a Victorian craft to take home for each child.
There’s so much going on at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House this summer, visit their website for more information and to pre-book for special events
intu Trafford Centre turns fairy tale dreams into reality with Princess-Sing-Alongs
A whole host of beautiful princesses from fairy tales are set to descend on intu Trafford Centre this summer. Every Tuesday join one of their Princess-Sing-Alongs. Wannabe Princesses (and Princes) are invited to join a host of beautiful princesses for a sing-along in the Main Dome of the centre every Tuesday at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm.
Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Snow White will be performing at the centre, welcoming fans with the chance to sing along to their hearts’ content.
Manchester BookBench Trail
Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust have joined forces with Wild in Art to bring their iconic BookBench sculptures to Manchester. The BookBenches will be displayed in cultural hubs, leisure and shopping centres across Manchester. Families will be able to discover the BookBenches by following a trail and complete quizzes and activities as they so do. Many of the venues will host reading-themed events throughout summer 2017.
The Lowry, Salford Quays
This August The Lowry hosts an incredible selection of family shows. In the Quays theatre they have a month long run of Room on the Broom (Tue 1 – Sun 27 Aug), the well-loved classic The Jungle Book (Tue 29 Aug – Sat 2 Sept), and in the Lyric theatre you’ll find the kooky clan from The Addams Family (Tue 29 Aug – Sat 9 Sept).
The Lowry will also open its doors on Sat 5 August from 10am until 4pm for a summer 2017 Open Day, with free activities that enable visitors of all ages to explore the venue in a completely new way.
Digital Skills for all the family in Cheshire!
Drop in and get making at these free and family friendly hands on workshops at different Cheshire East libraries across the borough. Choose from – Animations in Minecraft, Build an Infrared Detector Circuit, Interactive LED art and PatternBeats.
Not forgetting “Crewecraft” – a festival of all things Minecraft in Crewe – join one of five public interactive sessions where you can build a part of Crewe’s heritage.
Kids aged 7-14 years can book a place on on one the Food Sorcery Kids’ Cookery Camps this summer. The workshops help kids gain the confidence, skills and independence they need to get cooking.
Chef Jason gets the kids prepping, cooking and eating tasty, nutritious food in a fun and friendly environment. He teaches timing and safety in the kitchen and encourages creativity with flavours. The menus will vary, but there is always be a vegetarian option available and special diets can be catered for if discussed in advance.
For more information, visit the Food Sorcery website.
Summer at the Museum of Science and Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry is always a hive of activity over the summer. This year is no exception – there’s plenty to keep your family occupied! From cheering your team on at the Science Showdown, to getting your game face on at Power Up! What about tinkerering and creating at MakeFest too? With their special events and exhibitions; as well as the usual halls of fun and a steam engine ride – they’ve got everything you need for a fun-filled, family day out.
These are just a few of the many, many things to do in Manchester over the summer. You can catch up on our plans for the summer holiday on our summer bucket list. But if you have any other suggestions for things to do, please comment in the box below!
Over the Bank Holiday weekend I went along to the opening of the new Silentnight flagship showroom at Barton Square in the intu Trafford Centre near Manchester. Sleeping or thinking about sleeping is one of my favourite things to do, I was keen to have a look around and have a bounce on some of their beds.
The new store is home to Silentnight’s award-winning products, with more than 30 beds and mattresses showcased across two floors. On display is the Silentnight Signature Collection, featuring a choice of comfort options including the brand’s award-winning eco comfort products, its exclusive Geltex technology and a premium naturals range. There is also a wide selection of sleep accessories including Silentnight duvets, pillows and bedding.
The mezzanine floor showcases “Studio by Silentnight”, a collection of contemporary bedframes and cleverly rolled and boxed mattresses. The new Silentnight flagship showroom has everything you need to help your family get a good night’s sleep; from cot and children’s mattresses, through to premium adult mattresses. Not forgetting a new range of stylish sprung pet beds.
Silentnight also offer sleep consultations with one of their in-store sleep experts. Where you can try out a range of different mattress styles to find out what works for you, all with the guidance from an in-house sleep expert. The sleep consultations are bookable in advance and there is no hard sell. I spoke to sleep expert and Retail Support Executive, Tim Higgins who gave me the run down on how to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep expert and Retail Support Executive, Tim Higgins
Tim’s tips for sleep filled nights –
Start winding down for bed in the early evening
Make your room as dark as possible, close curtains and blinds
Declutter your room, make it only for sleeping
Open a window or put a fan on, you sleep better in a slightly cooler room
Blue lights from alarm clocks are terrible for disturbing sleep, remove them from your bedroom or cover them up
Don’t sleep with your phone or tablet in the room
The new Silentnight flagship showroom was opened by star of Location, Location, Location Phil Spencer, who I managed to grab for a quick chat.
I asked Phil for some tips on selling your home, other than trying to keep your house neat and tidy. He said, “most of us move home when we run out of space. When you run out of space it’s usually really obvious. Make it look like you’ve got plenty of room, not too many personal items, clean the windows, maximise the light and don’t over-stuff cupboards because people will open them.”
Phil travels a lot when he’s filming and has a fairly fixed bedtime routine when he’s travelling. He told me “The filming day is quite intense and afterwards I want to have some peace and quiet. I answer emails, order room service, watch some telly. Then I’ll phone home and go to bed as early as I can. I always travel with ear-plugs and an eye mask, I like it to be really dark and quiet when I’m trying to sleep.”
He was as lovely as he seems on TV. He has inspired me to declutter my bedroom and sort out my cupboards! Phil is currently filming the next series of Location, Location, Location.
If you’re thinking of buying a new bed or mattress then I think it’s worth visiting the new Silentnight flagship showroom. With so many different mattresses and beds to try; plus sleep-experts who won’t give you the hard sell and lots of discounts in-store; it’s a good place to find out what you want and what you need to get a good night’s sleep.
The new Silentnight showroom is open now at Barton Square in the intu Trafford Centre. For more information about the new showroom visit www.silentnight.co.uk/
The February half term is almost upon us (ours is 20-24 Feb 2017). I’m starting to plan some activities to keep me and the small boy busy. In Manchester there is so much to do, but here are five things to do in Manchester over February half term which have tickled my fancy.
Steam, Sweat & Spinners at MSI
Over February half term, experience the sights, smells and sounds of steam with thunderous steam engines demonstrations at the Museum of Science and Industry. Discover the steamy side of Victorian Manchester with Steam, Sweat and Spinners. Find out about the hard work and sweat which went into working in a mill and get hands on with our Goo in the Loo workshop.
Join in with the Cotton Mill Circus story time. Work in a factory by day and circus by night and make your very own stories and tales with the magic lanterns workshop. Strike a pose in the Victorian photo booth or gather round the old Joanna for a good old-fashioned sing-along. Plus ride the 1830 Express find out how Manchester changed the world via an exploding balloon and a flying beach ball. There’s also a Victorian-style funfair in the upper yard – see the world from the top of the Big Wheel, win at Hook-a-Duck, and ride a magical carousel horse.
The Waterside Arts Centre in Sale (very near the tram stop) is one of my favourite places to visit with the boy. It’s easy for non-driving me to get to, it’s small but perfectly formed and they always have an interesting selection of things going on, from theatre, live music, workshops, films, comedy and much more. It’s all on their website.
Enjoy the timeless tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice on 17th February, brought to life with an irresistible blend of music, puppetry and storytelling. Or young ones might like Lolly Pops and Circus Props on Sunday 19th February, listen to the exciting stories of Lolly – as she runs away from the circus to embark on new adventures in the big world.
For older kids, who fancy a spot of CSIing this half term. Join experienced and professional forensic scientists in Forensic Science in Action. This is suitable for ages 7-11 and is on Monday 13th February, from 10am to 3pm. You bring the packed lunch and see if you can solve the crime!
Mini movie fans have two great films to choose from on Monday 20th February, with Shaun the Sheep Movie and Flushed Away. Not to mention Puppet Masters Return with Aardman Studios, running until April 1st. This fantastic exhibition is packed full of original props, puppets and production artwork from many of Aardman’s most famous films and characters. Entry is free.
Half term cooking kids club at intu Trafford Centre
The intu Trafford Centre is running daily cookery events for children during February Half Term. With different activities such as crepe stations, banoffee pie making, mocktail classes and gyozo-making sessions taking place at intu Trafford Centre every day, there’s lots to keep the kids occupied.
With most of the activities taking place from 12-5pm outside Topshop, Upper Regent Crescent – it’s worth checking out the website to see what’s available and when. In addition to the food and craft activities, there are limited places on these free restaurant based cooking classes. Book a place and learn to cook Wagamama, Tampopo or Coast to Coast
All of the activities are free for all the family and are open to all ages. Visit www.intu.co.uk/TraffordCentre to find details of what’s on and opening hours.
Stockport Hat Museum
One place I’ve been meaning to visit for ages is the Stockport Hat Museum. It’s very much on the agenda this half term. The Hat Museum is an award winning museum with two floors of interactive exhibits, taking you on a journey through the history of Stockport’s once thriving hatting industry.
The museum is home to a recreated hat factory with 20 fully restored working Victorian-style machines. Not to mention a fantastic collection of over 400 hats from around the world. Over February Half Term try your hand at a different craft each day, including felt making, decoupage and easy lino print. Suitable for ages 7+. Booking essential.
On a fine day the boy and I love a visit to Media City. It’s easy to get to on the tram and there’s so much to do there. From shopping in the Lowry Outlet, popping over the bridge to the Imperial War Museum North, exploring the Blue Peter Garden, watching a show at The Lowry or going for lunch somewhere.
This February Half Term we will be heading over to Media City for the day, having some lunch, doing a spot of shopping and then going to The Lowry to watch The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show which will be on from Wednesday 22nd to Saturday 25 February.
Media City and Salford Quays is a great place to visit. It’s largely traffic free so there’s plenty of space for the kids to run about and burn off some energy. There are more places to eat than I can count, and there are lots of interesting places to visit and things to do. My two favourites are The Lowry and IWM North, check them out, you won’t regret it.
Over the weekend we popped to the Trafford Centre to run a few pre-Christmas family errands. I sent my husband in to do battle with the hordes of shoppers and I took the small boy for a look around SEA LIFE Manchester, a calm oasis in a sea of Christmas chaos.
We arrived very early and we were the first people through the door. We had our Merlin passes scanned and we headed off to explore. We are regulars at SEA LIFE Manchester, and we always enjoy our visits. The boy loved being first in and it seemed like we had the place to ourselves (we didn’t, other people were a couple of minutes behind us).
We quickly sought out some of our favourite sea creatures. I love the jellyfish and we spent some time changing the coloured lights in their tank and seeing how different they looked in the different lights. I also love the stingrays, they glide so gracefully through the water, they’re really calming to watch.
The boy is a big fan of the turtles, so we watched them swim in their tanks and learning more about them. He’s also very keen on seahorses and “Nemo fish”. Although he’s not keen on touching, we did spend quite a lot of time in the rockpool area. The staff were very helpful and told us all about the sea creatures which live in the tank. Some of which we might find in a rockpool in the UK.
We had a lovely explore of SEA LIFE Manchester, it felt so peaceful and it’s the perfect antidote to the busyness of Christmas. We’d spent an hour or so peacefully chatting about all of the creatures. We learned a little more about them and wondered what they’d be having for their Christmas dinner.
I can absolutely recommend SEA LIFE Manchester if you want to do something with your family this Christmas that isn’t full of flashing lights and fake snow. It was an absolutely delightful way to spend the morning.
What’s on at SEA LIFE Manchester this Christmas?
This Christmas at SEA LIFE Manchester, guests can take part in a festive fish hunt. Come face to fin with a Snow Flake Eel, Humbug Fish, Angel Fish, Star Fish and even a Turkey Fish!
Excitingly, during the evenings of 17th, 18th, 22nd and 23rd December, visitors can see beautiful diving mermaids in the tropical ocean tank. The Mermaids will grace the water in a spectacular dive with the sharks and Ernie, the giant green sea turtle.
Find out more about what’s on this Christmas on the SEA LIFE Manchester website.
I am 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.
Recently one thousand families were put to the test at SEA LIFE Manchester to see how many of 10 fishy facts they were given during their visit they could remember.
Apparently the average score was only 5 correct questions out of 10, with mums and dads out-performing their children by a narrow margin of just 2%.
During the summer school holidays, SEA LIFE are hosting Finding Dory trails and events at all their UK SEA LIFE centres. They thought it would be interesting to see how their visitors compare to Dory when it comes to remembering things.
Apparently the results were quite surprising, and seem to suggest that we can all can be a little forgetful from time to time.
Some of the simple facts and statistics that SEA LIFE Manchester visitors struggled to remember were:
There are seven species of sea turtle in the world’s oceans
The Emperor Penguin is the largest penguin
The most common octopus in UK waters is the Lesser Octopus
What is interesting about the survey is that the facts people remembered best were the ones about the harm humans are doing to our oceans and their inhabitants. Most could remember that an estimated 70 million sharks are being killed every year for their fins, or as bycatch for example.
It is encouraging that important conservation messages like this are filtering through and helping to raise awareness and support for marine conservation, something that popular films like Finding Dory will also help to do.
SEA LIFE’s themed event is running at the 12 UK centres until September 11th, and includes a trail inspired by Hank the cantankerous octopus – one of Finding Dory’s central characters.
For further information or to pre-book tickets online before your visit please go to www.visitsealife.com/manchester. Reduced prices are available for tickets booked in advance.
As a food blogger I’m always really interested to try new things and explore cuisines from all over the world. I love Thai, Japanese and Chinese food, but I’ve not as yet tried Korean food before. Last week I visited Wokooshii to try their Korean and Japanese food and ended up having one of the most exciting, interesting and delicious experiences of my food blogging career to date.
We were invited to Wokooshii by Gerry Yeung OBE, the founder of Manchester’s famous Yang Sing Chinese restaurant to sample the menu at his latest venture, Wokooshii which serves Japanese and Korean cuisine. Wokooshii is the only family run independent restaurant in the Trafford Centre, which does set it apart from the identikit chains in there.
Our genial host Gerry welcomed us and we sat down for a chat over a drink. I fancied a beer and Gerry suggested I try the Asahi Dry Black Beer which was a revelation, it was an unusual dark lager style beer which went incredibly well with the food and is something I’ll be looking out for again.
We chatted with Gerry and he suggested he order from the menu for us. Taking into account our likes and dislikes, he ordered a selection of some of the most interesting food I’ve had in a long time. The menu itself is a colourful picture based menu, which I personally liked. I find it useful to see pictures of some of the more unfamiliar dishes before ordering them.
To start Gerry ordered seaweed, (but not as we know it) fresh seaweed with beansprouts with a Japanese vinegar dressing; kimchi – the Korean national dish made from spicy fermented cabbage and a taster sample of the Korean sashimi tuna salad.
The fresh seaweed was delicious and much healthier than its deep fried cousin. It smelt and tasted of the sea and was delicate and flavoursome. Kimchi is something of a favourite of mine and I’ve had it many times before. The Wokooshii kimchi was excellent and packed a real punch. The Korean sashimi tuna salad is one of Gerry’s favourites and is a delicately flavoured dish of thinly sliced raw tuna, iceberg lettuce and leek with a dressing of Japanese chilli, sugar, vinegar and sesame oil, the tuna salad was a real highlight.
Next to the table came a selection of Mandu dumplings, a Korean speciality. I tried the pan fried vegetable dumplings, whilst my companion had the dumplings with pork and cabbage. The dumplings were soft and yielding, mine was packed full of delicately flavoured vegetables and would be something I’d order again and again.
The dishes were coming from the kitchen thick and fast. Cucumber and Japanese radish Maki with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger; king prawn tempura made with the lightest and crispiest tempura ever; Yakitori sirloin beef roll filled with spring onion which looked so good. and prawn yakitori, perfectly cooked prawns with a piquant sauce of onion, butter, chilli and garlic.
Next to the table was something I was especially excited to try – a Korean pancake. It’s a flour and egg pancake packed with healthy vegetables. Traditionally these pancakes are served as an appetiser. It’s a simple dish but utterly delicious. The pancake was crispy on the outside, soft inside and one of my favourite things on the day.
After taking a tour around most of the menu two final dishes were brought to the table, Teppanyaki Aubergine with scallops on the side served with teppanyaki vegetables which were simply cooked and peppery. The aubergine was beautifully cooked, tender and soaking up all the umami flavours in the sauce. The scallops were perfection and the whole dish just sung to me.
The final dish was something I’d never heard of before, a Bimbinbap which is a Korean dish consisting of rice with sautéed vegetables, chilli paste, and seafood or meat, with the addition of a raw or fried egg on the top.
Bimbinbap is served in a piping hot dish fresh from the oven and is finished at the table in front of you. It’s a bit of a showstopper of a meal and I particularly enjoyed the theatre of it being brought sizzling to the table. It comes with a fried egg on top, but you can ask for the raw egg yolk which would be cooked in the heat of the dish anyway. You can choose from the yellow sauce which is made from fermented soya beans, or the red sauce which is the same but with chilli, I went for half and half because a bit of spice in your life does you good!
Watch the Bimbinbap being stirred in the short clip below…
The Bimbinbap is one of the most popular dishes on the menu, it’s a big hot bowl of deliciousness and I especially enjoyed the crispy bits of rice. It’s a theatrical show-off of a dish and I loved it.
During the afternoon we tried so many dishes from the Wokooshii menu it was difficult to pick a favourite. Wokooshii is a mixture of ‘wok’ and the Japanese word for ‘delicious’ and the name describes the food perfectly.
I was blown away by the whole experience, Gerry was the perfect host and took us through the menu, introducing us to new flavours and textures and helping me to learn more about Korean and Japanese cuisine. I wouldn’t hesitate to go again next time I’m at the Trafford Centre, in fact I’ve been dreaming of the teppanyaki aubergine ever since. If you want something delicious and authentic, Wokooshii is well worth a visit.
Wokooshii is at 128 The Orient, Trafford Centre, Manchester, M17 8EH. Visit their website for more information.
We were invited guests of Wokooshii and were not asked to pay for our meal, nevertheless all images and opinions are our own.
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.
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.
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.
February half term is a tough one, the weather is unrelentingly gloomy, and I have no desire at all to stand shivering in the park afternoon after afternoon watching the boy hit muddy puddles with an equally muddy stick. The sensible thing to do is to plan a week of mainly indoor activities, where they can explore, have fun and maybe learn a little something too. SEA LIFE Manchester have launched a new attraction just in time for half term, so we went along to check out the new Octopus Hideout.
We’ve never been to SEA LIFE Manchester before, the small boy loves an aquarium, so he was very much looking forward to his visit. We were in for a real treat, the layout and design of the centre has been incredibly well thought out, with atmospheric lighting and mood music playing throughout, as well as lots of interactive displays so you don’t just feel like you’re looking at things, you’re getting involved too.
We were wowed by the range of aquatic life they’d managed to fit into the aquarium, with sharks, turtles and rays swimming about, as well as more fish than we dared to count. There were weird and wonderful species of fish, most of which were imaginatively displayed in shaped tanks, some of which you could walk under, peep into through portholes, or just stand in awe at the underwater scene in front of you.
The Octopus Hideout is a brand new attraction which was launched just in time for this half term, we met up with Dan the curator who was able to tell us more about the creatures in the new Octopus Hideout. Although technically we were looking at more than just octopus, we were looking at cephalopods.
Cephalopods include octopus, squid, cuttlefish and nautilus, they can change colour, texture and body shape to blend into their surroundings, and if threatened they can squirt a cloud of ink as a smokescreen or decoy. Cephalopods have three hearts and blue blood, and they are thought to be among the most intelligent creatures in the ocean.
We met the Nautilus, a slightly weird looking cephalopod with a hard shell. It can alter its buoyancy by filling its chambers with water. They were quite hypnotic to look at, pulsating and bobbing up and down in the water. Nautilus is an ancient creature which has been around for more than 500 million years. We also met the Common Octopus (called Octopus Prime), as well as the tiny Atlantic Long Arm Octopus and Cuttlefish.
Hank the Giant Pacific Octopus, Photo courtesy of SEA LIFE Manchester
Dan showed us Hank the Giant Pacific Octopus, he explained that octopus were nocturnal and Hank, like me, isn’t great in the mornings. Hank was pretty big, but was fast asleep on a rock, having disguised himself as a rock, so he was grey. Dan told us when they fed him earlier (he enjoys a crab three times a week) he was bright red. Hank was fascinating and we learned a great deal about this mysterious creature.
We took our time looking around everything, paused mid way to let off some steam in the soft play room half way around, had a funny photograph taken, touched a starfish or two and learned all about life under the sea. It beats shivering in the park any day!
To find out more about the Octopus Hideout and to book tickets for this half term and beyond, visit the SEA LIFE Manchester website.
Note: We were invited guests of SEA LIFE Manchester. All opinions are our own.
What to do with a small boy during that terminally long gap between the close of nursery and actual Christmas Day? It’s always harder to try and entertain them in the winter, when you’re naturally less inclined to brave the elements and head to the park for a go on the swings. We were definitely starting to feel a bit cooped up and tempers were already beginning to fray.
Luckily the generous sorts at Carcraft could sense the end of a tether being reached, and were kind enough to send us to Legoland Manchester for an afternoon of small plastic building block shaped joy. Thanks guys.
We’d not been before but it was super-easy to find. Just follow the signs for Barton Square at the Trafford Centre and you can’t miss it. We arrived and were ushered through to have our pictures taken. Splodge was bemused at best and I’d neglected to brush my hair, these were genuinely THE worst pictures ever taken of us, ever. But you know, it still was kinda fun.
We went up in the lift to a room which acted like a holding pen, there were Lego things to see and do while we waited for the “factory tour”. The tour itself was tiny but brilliantly done, scientifically accurate, interactive and enjoyable. At the end we were presented with a special edition brick as a souvenir of the tour. It was a really lovely touch.
We then passed through to the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride which was a journey through a medieval kingdom as a noble knight. Using laser guns you zap the spiders, skeletons and trolls to save the captured Princess. Splodge enjoyed it but didn’t really have a clue what was going on, thus allowing me to massively out-score him in the killing of trolls. Result.
We then toddled through to the main room which held the majority of attractions including the 4D Cinema; Friends Olivia’s House; Forest Pursuit; the much admired Merlin’s Apprentice Ride; the amazing looking Fire Academy; Construction Site and Master Model Builder area.
What with us being vehicle mad, we headed straight for the Lego Racers: Build & Test. We built a couple of cars and set to work racing them down the tracks. Splodge loved the racing more than the building, his little three year old fingers found the Lego bricks a little fiddly. At home we’re still playing with Lego Duplo which he loves. But the racing was a big hit and I could’ve spent ages designing and refining my championship car. Lego isn’t just for kids you know. What? Don’t look at me like that.
We had a look around the rest of the attractions. He was keen to try the Merlin’s Apprentice Ride but he was too little, something we’ll save for next time. He loved the Fire Academy soft play area and was wowed by the Forest Pursuit section.
We’ll definitely be back. It was a great place to while away a wet winters afternoon. There was something fun for everyone and as he grows he will appreciate different areas and activities. Oh, and the big red race car in the shop, brilliant!
Disclaimer: We were given free tickets to review Legoland Manchester by Carcraft but it’s somewhere we’ve been meaning to go to for a little while.