Around the World in 80 Days at the Cadogan Hall

Last Saturday myself and the kiddies headed to the theatre again, one of our favourite past times, this time to see Around the World in 80 Days!

Around the world in 80 days theatre

We were slightly out of our usual West End area for this one as it was showing at the Cadogan Hall in Sloane Square, in the heart of Chelsea! I haven’t been to this theatre before so it was lovely to go somewhere a bit different and I absolutely love Sloane Square…. suffice to say we had a good wander round the area afterwards, checking out the beautiful streets and cafe’s as well as having a nosy in the designer shops!

Cadogan Hall itself is a relatively small theatre and is home to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It’s a renowned music venue and like many of London’s theatres, is steeped in history!

Cadogan hall

around the world in 80 days cadogan hall kids

We were all very excited to see Around the World in 80 Days. It’s not our usual musical theatre type of production but it really appealed to me as it sounded like a great adventure to be taken on with my children and the reviews were fantastic!

My children, who weren’t familiar with the story beforehand, were drawn in right from the start and the show moved along at very fast pace, keeping their attention fully fixated!

We are immediately introduced to the mysterious and fabulously wealthy Phileas Fogg, who wagers his life’s fortune that he can circumnavigate the globe in just 80 days. We are then joined by his loyal valet, Passepartout, as they voyage from the misty alleys of Victorian London to the exotic subcontinent and the Wild West in a race against the clock.

around the world in 80 days

An ensemble cast of 8 play over 125 characters in an imaginative and physically inventive high-spirited escapade including six trains, five boats, four fights, three dances, two circus acts and an elephant!

We were amazed by the imaginative way in which the story was told…. the race against time was captured perfectly as the actors rushed around from one scene to another. My daughter loved the boat scenes which were cleverly depicted simply by holding some railings and swaying from side to side… so simple but yet so effective and very funny!

Andrew Pollard (Phileas Fogg), Michael Hugo (Passepatout), Kirsten Foster (Mrs Aouda) & Pushpinder Chani (Mr Naidu). Credit - An

In one scene, which had the audience in stitches, the chairs and table had to be held as the boat was in ‘rough seas’ and this became hilarious as they then couldn’t be let go of.. the table didn’t even have legs! At one point a couple of kids from the audience were summoned onto the stage to hold on to the table and chairs which again was so comical!

Around The World in 80 Days. Dennis Herdman (Inspector Fix). Credit - Andrew Billington

The 8 actors I have to say were incredible, each so perfect in every role and so believable! The wonderfully straight laced Phileas Fogg was complimented perfectly by the absolute star of the show in our opinion…. his sidekick Passepartout, played by Michael Hugo… who was genius! I read somewhere he’s like a cross between Lee Evans and Norman Wisdom which sums him up perfectly. He had that slapstick, visual humour that really drew the audience in! As did the character of Mr. Fix… the bumbling Police Office baddie who I would liken to a pantomime villain! He popped up in the audience here and there too which my children loved!

Dennis Herdman (Inspector Fix), Michael Hugo (Passepartout), Kirsten Foster (Mrs Aouda) & Andrew Pollard (Phileas Fogg). Credit

The production takes us around the world in the Victorian era, taking in Egypt, India, Hong Kong and America and it’s a fascinating journey. You really do get a sense of the culture as you pass through each one! It was great for my children to see this and gain some knowledge of how travelling was done before the era of travelling everywhere by plane!

The stand out moments for us were the very clever passport and money throwing scenes…. and the fighting scenes…. both done with such imagination and brilliance. I would love everyone to go and watch this show just to witness those!

My children absolutely loved it. They got excited, they laughed, they booed and clapped…

.. it’s definitely one of the best family shows we’ve seen! So full of energy and entertainment.

This New Vic Theatre’s celebrated production of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days adapted by Laura Eason and directed by Theresa Heskins has been showing at Cadogan Hall for 5 weeks, it will be closing on 2nd September to embark on a major six month tour. 

It was first premiered at the New Vic Theatre in 2013 followed by a successful season at the Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester in 2014. This production has been nominated for both the UK Theatre Awards ‘Best New Production’ and the Manchester Theatre Awards ‘Best Show for Children and Families’. I can certainly see why!

If you get the chance, do go and see it, with or without the kids… it’s a show anyone and everyone will love so don’t miss out. Please!

Check out the UK Tour Dates below and you can find our more on the 80 Days Live website.

Theatre Royal Plymouth
12 – 16 September
01752 267222
www.theatreroyal.com

New Theatre, Cardiff
19 – 24 September
029 2087 8889
www.newtheatrecardiff.co.uk

Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield
26 – 30 September
0114 249 6000
www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

Salisbury Playhouse
2 – 7 October
01722 320 333
www.salisburyplayhouse.com

Exeter Northcott Theatre
10 – 15 October
01392 726363
www.exeternorthcott.co.uk

Rose Theatre, Kingston
17 – 22 October
020 8174 0090
www.rosetheatrekingston.org

Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
24 – 26 October
024 7652 4524
www.warwickartscentre.co.uk

Liverpool Playhouse
27 – 28 October
0151 709 4776
www.everymanplayhouse.com

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
31 October – 4 November
01483 440000
www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk

Derby Theatre
7 – 12 November
01392 59 39 39
www.derbytheatre.co.uk

Cambridge Arts Theatre
14 – 18 November
01223 503333
www.cambridgeartstheatre.com

Artsdepot, North Finchley
29 November – 3 December
020 8369 5454
www.artsdepot.co.uk

The Lowry, Salford Quays
5 December – 7 January
0843 208 6000
www.thelowry.com/family

Booking fees apply… some tickets are not on sale yet.

Lego Scooby Doo Blow Out Beach Bash Movie at Legoland

We were invited to Legoland Windsor last week to watch the new Warner Bros. Lego Scooby Doo Beach Blowout Movie in their super 4D on site cinema. The movie itself wasn’t in 4D, which I was so happy about as my twins don’t really like the 4D experience… it scares them. So Phew!

We haven’t been to Legoland for years and it was something we definitely wanted to do this summer, which made this invitation all the more special!

I took my twins, my daughter and my daughter’s friend along with me to help with the review ;) We arrived nice and early and after the obligatory Costa we headed round to the screening. All the kids were very excited about seeing the film… the boys more than the girls!

lego scooby doo

Lego Scooby Doo Movie

It was funny seeing the famous Mystery, Inc. gang as Lego! I always find it fascinating how Warner Bros gets this so spot on! They all looked brilliant! The film starts off with the friends heading off to the annual Blowout Beach Bash… a party that promises 3 fun-filled days of summer laughter and enjoyment! But of course, nothing goes THAT smoothly for our favourite gang and it’s not long before some Ghost Pirates roll up, threatening to ruin the good vibes! Scooby and his friends must foil these spooky swashbucklers and save the beach bash once and for all! Do you think they will succeed?

The film is really very good. It’s a brand new original Lego story, full of the usual wit that we have come to expect with all the Lego films! There was the whodoneit aspect that we love Scooby Doo for and of course the loveable Scooby himself!

My boys loved it and were completely engrossed the whole way through!

lego scooby doo movie

The Lego Scooby Doo Blow Out Beach Bash Movie is available now on DVD and on Digital Download. Take a look at the trailer…. it’s a perfect summer movie for the kids to watch over the holidays!

After the film we headed into the park to enjoy everything else Legoland had to offer! One of my twins’ favourite things was seeing all the amazing figures and scupltures that were made out of Lego! They’re not huge theme park fans… I let my daughter and her friend go off on their own with their fast track wrist bands to go on as  many rides as they could, which they did, but my boys gained more pleasure from the simpler side of Legoland. The basics.

There are loads of different areas in the park like the Ninjango World, Heartlake City where the Lego Friends live, there’s the Kingdom of the Pharaohs and Duplo Valley to name a few, but my twins absolutely loved the Imagination Centre where they could build things and explore! They even went on the Skyrider… a little car that travels along an aerial track. It’s slow and easy and gives great views over the park. This is a perfect ride for the very young guests or any child who is a little nervous!

We also ventured over to the Atlantis Submarine ride which was truly amazing! Even I loved this! You all get on and it lowers into water, taking you on a magical underwater adventure. There are lots of fish and even sharks to spot!

The ‘show’ at Legoland was another highlight! This one was The Pirates of Skeleton Bay and had some super stunts in! Like this one below… that tower was incredibly high! There was also fire and jet skis and plenty of action!

We did so much and it was great to spend some time with fellow bloggers Katy from Modern Mummy and Kate from Life Daily…. we did some rides together including The Heartlake City Express! Perfect for a group selfie ;)

Photo credit: Katy from Modern Mummy!

bloggers legoland

There really is so much to see and do at Legoland, we didn’t manage to get everywhere and now it’s left us wanting so much more. The ideal would be to have an overnight stay in one of the themed onsite hotels which look so cool! Definitely something to look into for the future!

We had the best time! Exhausted when we got home but full of happiness! Thanks Warner bros and Legoland for a wonderful day!

twins legoland

It’s Vac-Man – A Review!

Everyone knows about Stretch Armstrong don’t they? That toy man who you could stretch out? He’s a bit retro as he was around when I was a kid… my brother had one in the late 70’s and into early 80’s! But Stretch has made a comeback in recent years for this generation to enjoy! He has proved incredibly popular and so the makers, Character, have added new toys to the range including Stretch Armstrong’s arch nemesis Vac-Man!

new vac man

All the toys have been given a facelift and update for the 21st Century, but they are still the nostalgic toys that everyone knows and loves.

My twin boys were so excited to have Vac-Man delivered to us for a review! We have Stretch Armstrong already who they enjoy playing with so they couldn’t wait to see what Vac-man was like! Even though he has lots of similarities to Stretch in terms of size and the ability to be pulled and stretched to 4 times his original size…….

vac man toy

…. he FEELS very different! Instead of having a soft goey feel to his body like Stretch, he has a knobbly feel with tiny little round pieces inside, but he is still soft! Until you take the air out of him! And that’s the special feature of Vac-Man (hence the name!)….. he comes with a vacuum which you attach to a socket on his head. This enables all the air to be sucked out of him, causing him to go almost rigid!

vac man toy

You can then move him into different positions, as though he has poseable limbs! Also if you stretch him out and then vacuum out the air, he won’t bounce back as soon as you let go of him, like Stretch Armstrong. Vac-Man will stay stretched!

My boys had fun seeing how far he would stretch!

vac man toys

Pump out the air and pull him into any pose you can think of, then simply release the valve and watch him return to his normal state. This was hilarious to my kids, they had Vac-Man posing in all kinds of positions!

All of my kids have enjoyed messing around with him…. and being quite a heavy toy, my older Teen even got involved as he is much stronger and could stretch and pose Vac-Man into even more weird and daft poses… much to the younger ones delight!

There are a few more Stretch toys in the range and my boys definitely want to collect them all… including Octopus and Fetch!

Vac-Man retails at around £29.99 from all good toy retailers and is aimed at kids from 5+… why not check him out, as well as the other toys in the range at Character Online.

The Wind in the Willows – Opening Night in the West End

We were incredibly lucky recently to have bagged an invite to a very exciting event…. it was the opening night of a brand new West End Musical… The Wind in the Willows!

I decided to take my daughter along and we’d been looking forward to it ever since we’d been invited… it was going to be a late finish so I didn’t take my twins along as I was worried about bedtime with school the next day… but after watching it I REALLY wish I’d taken them because it was absolutely brilliant!

We loved it so much and I know my boys would’ve loved it too! But maybe it’s a blessing because this means I will have to go and see it again sometime very soon ;)

When we arrived at The London Palladium, even though I knew it was opening night, I had no idea it was going to be a full on red carpet event! There had been previews all week so I thought maybe all the press would’ve already been… but no.. they were totally out in force! There was a sea of photographers and film crews at one end, with a red carpet walkway at the other where one celebrity after another were stepping out of flash cars, dressed to impress and posing for photo’s! It was all very exciting!

Here’s a video taken from The Wind in the Willows website giving an insight into the magnitude of the event, plus a little glimpse at some of the action from the show….

I have to admit to being a little star struck, especially when we saw the writer of the show, Julian Fellowes, who created and wrote the whole Downton Abbey sensation! He was literally standing in front of me at one point. I would’ve loved a ‘selfie’ with him, along with each and every one of the guests, but luckily I had my very sensible daughter with me to reign me in a bit!

In the row directly behind us in the auditorium was actor Kevin Kennedy, who played Curly Watts in Coronation Street back in the day! He was with his wife and daughters and they were all super lovely, chatting to us before the show started. I’d wanted to buy some chocolate for my daughter but the kiosk had closed, so Kevin offered up some of the chocolate his kids had. So generous and sweet!

It was a full house by the time the show was about to start and we absolutely couldn’t wait!

the wind in the willows

Right from the start you warm to the characters. We are first introduced to Mole (Craig Mather) and Ratty (Simon Lipkin) who have a very cute friendship. Mole wants to go off and explore the forest but he is rather naive so Ratty reluctantly offers to go with him! Then we meet Mrs Otter, played by the wonderful Denise Welsh, who is always looking for her wayward daughter! Denise keeps her lovely North East twang for this role and she was definitely one of the standout performers for me! Toad (Rufus Hound) explodes into the stage in true Toad’s extravagant fashion… I think he was everyone’s favourite.. funny, larger than life and colourful. Gary Wilmot as Badger was wonderful… he is a musical theatre legend! But I have to admit to being completely drawn into the character of baddie Chief Weasel played by the brilliant Neil McDermott…. I couldn’t take my eyes off him! His portrayal was flawless…. sneaky and naughty… his facial expressions, singing and dancing were absolutely on point! Loved him!

the wind in the willows london palladium

The Wind in the Willows is a riotous comedy which follows the impulsive Mr Toad whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious trouble. With his beloved home under threat from the notorious Chief Weasel and his gang of sinister Wild Wooders, Toad must attempt a daring escape leading to a series of misadventures and a heroic battle to recapture Toad Hall.

Featuring eye-poppingly beautiful design, exuberant choreography and a gloriously British score, The Wind in the Willows brings an explosion of anarchy, humour and heart to the famous London Palladium!

the wind in the willows musical

the wind in the willows london palladium

the wind in the willows

The Wind in the Willows is only running for a short time so please make sure you catch it over the summer. It’s a perfect show for families and children will absolutely love it!

To find out more visit the website for tickets!

 

The Lego Batman DVD & Toys Launch Party

A little while ago we headed into London early on a Saturday morning for a very special event! My kids like a lie in at the weekend so if they say they’re up for getting up early, then it must be for something REALLY good!

The Oxo Tower on the South Bank was the exact location…. the weather was beautiful and no matter how many times we’ve hung out on the South Bank, we still love to just admire the views!

South Bank London

The launch party was with non other than Warner Bros. and Lego, to celebrate the release of the Lego Batman moDVD. We saw the Lego Batman Movie at the cinema and absolutely loved it, it’s absolutely brilliant. So this was very exciting! We also got a sneaky peak at the brand new Lego Batman toys to accompany the release!

There are big toys and figures, as well as amazing new costumes!

lego batman toys

The Lego Batman building sets are just stunning, as you would expect! Some were all laid out on a table and my twins were admiring them closely! Some of their favourites being…

The Two Face Double Demolition set…

lego batman movie toys

lego batman toys

The Batwing….

lego batman toys

lego batman

And the Ultimate Batmobile….

There was lots of fun to be had at the launch party. Games, dressing up and meeting some characters from the movie! Hook a duck proved fun AND productive…. my kids won lots of Lego goodies which meant of course they wanted to go back for more…..

hook a duck

Rubbing shoulders with Batman and Batgirl…..

And enjoying lots of yummy food, including ice cream!

We had a great morning, the kids thoroughly enjoyed themselves and were very lucky to receive a goodie bag upon leaving which included some more Lego Batman sets AND the DVD! Awesome!

Thank you so much Warner Bros and Lego :)

A Fantastic London Day Out with AttractionTix

Living so close to London we visit frequently.

I love it!

I never cease to be amazed at the beauty of the whole City. No matter how many times I walk along the Thames or drive past the Houses of Parliament, or scurry along the little side streets in the West End…. it can still take my breath away. There’s something truly magical at every turn.

I’ve visited many of London’s attractions too but I don’t think I take time out to do this enough, so when AttractionTix got in touch recently to ask if we wanted a day out visiting some… of course we jumped at the chance!

They were offering an amazing day out for us by the South Bank. AttraxtionTix supply tickets for the best attractions, theme parks and tours all over the world and offer UK exclusive packages that you can’t get at the attractions themselves! They will also offer in-depth guides and essential information that will help you to perfect your holiday plans, with a choice in how you pay and how you’ll receive your tickets. They also have a UK call centre, which is always helpful!

First up, a visit to Sealife to check out the brand new Ocean Invaders Jellyfish experience! We were so excited about this. My younger three children have never been can you believe?

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

The Jellyfish area is a brand new part of the Sealife attraction and is visually stunning! It’s a little bit dark like being under the water I guess, and lit up beautifully with gorgeous colours, showing off the pretty Jellyfish.

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

There are different zones as you wander around the Jellyfish experience, which is the largest in the UK here at Sealife London. You can learn all about their life cycles and the different types… the good ones and the bad ones! Did you know they’re older than any of our ancient reptiles?

There’s also lots of interactive areas, as you would expect at Sealife.

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

Sealife london ocean invaders jellyfish

My children loved this Jellyfish game played out on the giant screen! There’s lots of hands on buttons to play with and holes to poke their hands in… always a big hit with kids, and simply gorgeous tanks of these truly beautiful creatures bobbing around!

The ocean Invaders Jellyfish exhibition is fascinating and a wonderful treat for all the family.

Sealife has so much more to offer too…. even though you could spend hours gazing at the Jellyfish.. we loved the huge tanks with the sharks and giant turtles in…

sharks sealife

…as well as the colder, icy area where there are lots of cute penguins. This was a very popular area and very busy… lots of eager children with faces pressed up against the glass to watch the penguins waddling around or swimming in the water! There are many feeding times throughout the day at Sealife for a number of the creatures so be sure to catch those.

sealife london penguins

We could’ve stayed in Sealife all day. We arrived when it first opened as we were treated to a special Bloggers Breakfast, but I think this is probably the best time to arrive because it was quiet. It started to get very busy as the morning wore on.

After Sealife, we headed out to lunch before meeting back up for a River Cruise! We joined the London Eye River Cruises for a gorgeous, relaxing journey up and down the Thames, taking in the best views in town!

river cruise the thames

A River Cruise is really a great way to see the sights! Not only is it incredibly relaxing and fun, but also very informative. There’s a live, commentary along the way that’s interesting and at times, very funny! It’s also inexpensive from as little as £11 for an adult.

Last but not least, we headed to Shreks Adventure! This is something we’ve wanted to do for ages. Sadly no photo’s were allowed to be taken but I can assure you it’s very good fun!

I was a little apprehensive as it says the recommended age is 6yrs old as may not be suitable for younger or sensitive children. My twins’ are 7 but they are very sensitive so I wasn’t sure they would like it. They don’t really like the element of surprise and Shreks Adventure had this in abundance!

The tour itself takes you on a journey through Shreks world, with real life actors taking on some of the famous roles from the films. There’s a 4D wrap around cinema screen which looked amazing, my daughter said it was, but my twins didn’t want to go in that so they were taken round the back to watch the short film on a normal TV. Then the adventure jumped from room to room, with some of the eager children being chosen to carry out tasks, which they loved!

There are some dark rooms and jumps and bangs along the way, but my twins settled into it and by the end they were really enjoying themselves!

Now they know what to expect, I think we will have to visit again to get the most out of it!

At the end there were a series of zones dedicated to some of the other famous Dreamworks animations!

shreks adventure

We had such a fun filled day out… made even more great by the wonderful company we were in. The lovely Emily from Family Four Fun and Emma from The Joy of Five – both with their families, joined us for all the action! My feet were literally dropping off by the end and the kids were suitably shattered, falling asleep on the train home!

Booking a day like this through AttracitonTix is definitely the best way to do it because you have all your tickets before hand, which gives you piece of mind. No worries about being turned away because the attraction has sold out for the day! It also means you can combine any attractions you like to tailor your day to suit your personal tastes!

I love making memories like this for my children. It’s days like these that really stick in their minds forever, to look back on with a huge smile!

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to review the attractions here, but all opinions are honest and words my own.

Emirates Childrens Book Launch

We were recently invited to the Emirates Aviation Experience in Greenwich, to celebrate the launch of the their new book for children, Monkey on a Plane. The invitation also included a wander round the Emirates Experience and a trip on the cable cars so we were very excited about this!

Hosted by the book’s award-winning children’s author and illustrator duo, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, the morning promised to be a fun filled event with exciting activities.

emirates children book monkey on a plane

On arrival to the Emirates Aviation Experience we were treated to some continental breakfast before heading off to hear all about the book! Emirates has launched its first ever children’s book, Monkey on a Plane! which is available now for families to download and read from the Emirates Flight Time Stories website.

It was released on World Book Day as part of the Emirates Flight Time Stories programme, which encourages families to get creative and take inspiration from their holidays, and aims to get people excited about travelling during their story time.

We were lucky enough to have the book read to us by the author and illustrator, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre.

emirates storybook for children

The children were each given a copy of the book and they all followed along with the story with enthusiasm and interest. It was a big hit! Monkey on a Plane is a lovely tale about Enrico the Monkey, who is bored of living in the forest so packs a suitcase to board a plane and embark on adventures all over the world! The illustrations are beautifully bright, fun and colourful!

Philip and Sarah took inspiration for the book from a story written by Maddison Penney, aged four from Dorset, who last year won the opportunity for her idea to be created into a book.

As well as the reading, our children also took part in a fun drawing session, whereby Sarah did a master class with step by step instructions on how to create lead character from the book, Enrico the Monkey. Us parents joined in with this too which was brilliant fun!

Lots more drawing and colouring in happened and everyone got involved! The children received a fab goodie bag to take home with a cute travel cuddly toy companion, complete with blanket and a copy of the book, which was duly signed by the ever so lovely Philip and Sarah!

emirates flight time story

We were then free to explore the Emirates Aviation Experience which was a real treat. I didn’t actually know this was here, even though I’ve been on the amazing cable cars right next door to it! When I heard we would be coming to this event here and would be able to look around, I really didn’t know what to expect. A museum about planes? Well I thought my twin boys might like it but I wasn’t so sure about myself.

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised! It’s an amazing place! Wonderfully high tech and bright inside with interactive aviation displays and life-size aircraft models! It was full of hands on stuff for the kids to mess around with. It’s not very big but we spent rather a long time here…. the children loved it!

From sitting in seats to experience the feel of travelling in an Emirates Aeroplane…..

Emirates aviation experience

… and checking out the amazing video wall displaying an A380 aircraft turnaround and touch screen game! My boys spent literally ages at this part….

emirates aviation experience

…..To playing in this model cockpit. This was fabulous… who wouldn’t want to mess around in here? There were even captains hats to don too but I didn’t manage to get a photo with my boys wearing them!

There’s even a real life Flight Simulator here which can be booked in advance. It’s not suitable for children under the age of 9 but my older teenager would love it so we are going to come back with him next time!

After the event, we were able to visit the Emirates Air Line cable car, to enjoy new views of London with a trip over the Thames. We have done this before and it’s a great experience. Flying over the river, seeing the magnificent Millenium Dome and the Royal Dockyards…. it’s incredibly cheap at just over £3 a ticket and a real novelty thing to do!

Emirates cable cars

We had a great time visiting the Emirates attractions and hearing all about the lovely Monkey on Plane book.

The beautifully illustrated book is also designed to encourage young children to use their own imagination through creative writing and drawing tasks. This includes challenges and tasks for them to complete including dedicated space for them to draw their own monkey and write their own travel-inspired story.

To find out more about Emirates Flight Time Stories, please visit: https://www.emiratesflighttimestories.com/.

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