Celebrating the Taste of Christmas with AEG

It’s always exciting when the festive season begins. It seems to get earlier and earlier…. our tree and decorations went up towards the end of November and I’m not in the slightest bit sorry! Time goes by so fast these days and the kids absolutely love the lead up to Christmas so my thoughts are.. let’s make the most of it and enjoy it for as long as we can! (It was also our only free weekend for a while so had to really!)

I love all the Christmas foods. Those delightfully packaged party foods and the fun festive cakes… it all looks so inviting! I start buying it as soon as I see it all in the shops!

I don’t consider myself to be a very good cook but when I have the time, it’s lovely and satisfying to make something really good, fresh from scratch! Wish I made the effort to make new things more…. I tend to make the same meals over and over, in rotation, because I always feel I’m too busy to spend hours in the kitchen trying out new recipes. The kids usually don’t like whatever I’ve created anyway when I have made the effort… so it’s often pointless!

That’s why when I received an invite to the AEG Taste of Xmas event with Currys PC World, I was very excited! It was taking place at The Cookery in Hoddesdon and we were going to make some Christmas treats and eat lots more! I was hoping to pick up plenty of hints and tips about Christmas cooking to put into practice at home this year!

aeg taste of xmas christmas cooking

The Cookery is a fantastic, purpose built cookery school in Hertfordshire which you can book for individual or group cookery lessons, parties or work do’s.. they even do kids cookery lessons! It’s also open as a coffee shop during the day and days when there are no events planned. It’s a gorgeous space, not too big or clinical as industrial kitchen areas can sometimes be, but very welcoming and cosy.

the cookery hoddesdon aeg teaste of xmas christmas food

The most striking feature of the space was the wall of AEG ovens! There were LOADS…. all looking very sleek and modern. Each one seemed different to the next, with different features within to provide the best environment for cooking up the most delicious feasts! When I walked in, seeing all the Christmas decorations and smelling all those delicious aromas from the food that was already in the ovens… I knew I was going to have a fab day!

aeg ovens taste of xmas christmas food

aeg

aeg taste of xmas christmas cookery mummy matters

After a glass of prosecco (don’t mind if I do!) and some chit chat with Sabina here from Mummy Matters, the owner of The Cookery and our host for the day, Simon Atkins came over to mingle with everyone before announcing what we were going to doing! Simon has always loved food and started baking at the age of 14. Over the years he has worked with some great people and he has always had a burning desire to open a cookery school to allow the ordinary person to come in, learn and enjoy, and also to take away skills that will help them, their families and could very well be passed down through their children.

aeg taste of xmas Christmas the cookery

First up, we would be making a Vegetable Wellington! Simon gave us a demonstration and was very technically informative, explaining exactly how to put it together step by step. The vegetables were already pre soaked so the main thing to worry about was the filo pastry… eek!

vegetable wellington cooking

So off we went to our designated work stations, put on our aprons and, in my case, attempted to put together our starters!

aeg taste of xmas

aeg taste of xmas food vegetable wellington

I have to admit to finding the filo pastry tricky to work with as it dries very quickly and flakes off all over the place! Luckily Simon was on hand to give me some reassurance that this was fine, then it was oven time! The AEG ovens are really quite something, there’s the Steamboost.. did you know that steaming your roast meat improves flavour and texture while preserving crispiness – turning every meal into a masterpiece? There’s the Sensecook Ovens that understand how to cook your meal to perfection… how YOU like it! A bit clever me thinks! Or how about the Surroundcook? No need to turn around your dishes anymore! Or maybe you’d like a combination of all three? It’s a whole new world of supersonic cooking.

aeg ovens cooking

Here’s my finished vegetable wellington which I have to say was absolutely delicious…. I barely had enough time to photograph it.. I couldn’t wait to eat it! Served with a flavourful jus made from red wine, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and butter. Mmmm!

aeg taste of xmas food christmas

While the wellington was cooking, we were treated to another demonstration by Angela Vescuso, who has a wealth of experience which she brings to The Cookery School. She talked us through making the perfect pastry! For mince pies!

the cookery school aeg

Some tips included adding salt.. this balances out the flavours; using strong flour for dusting your work surfaces when rolling as it doesn’t clump as much; not adding too much flour to the surface as this causes the pastry to become too dry and split! Once the pastry has been chilling in the fridge for a while, leave it rise to room temperature before rolling. About 3mm is a good thickness and don’t over fill your mince pies!

Here are mine pre cooking…… I was rather pleased with them!

aeg taste of xmas mince pies christmas

So we made the starter and dessert, all that was left was the mains. This was already prepared for us by the team at The Cookery so our job here was to EAT it! It’s a tough job I know 😉 Simon shared with us some more of his wealth of knowledge about cooking meat to perfection before retrieving the meats, beef and turkey, from the ovens which were cooked to perfection I might add. He then carved them up for us as we went round with our plates, like being at a Carvery!

aeg christmas dinner food the cookery hoddesdon

christmas dinner

It was all absolutely delicious! I love Christmas dinner, I really look forward to it! This year we will be going to my mother in laws as we have done for the past few years. My plate is usually overflowing and it’s the one day a year I think we can all just pig out…. and eat all day! I drive up to my Dad’s for the week after Christmas to see in the new year with him and we have a second Christmas dinner there! Love it!

Sitting down to a full on Christmas dinner in November, some of which I made myself, in this lovely setting with a lovely bunch of people, really did kick the festive season off in the best possible way! I had a fantastic time and would recommend The Cookery to anyone! I’d love to try out one of their one day courses at some point in the future… maybe take along the kids as they would really enjoy it too!

Thank you to everyone at AEG And Curry’s PC World for a wonderful day!

aeg

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

A Great Day Out at Waddesdon Manor

Last Sunday, knowing the weather was going to be great, we wanted to have a day out as a family so I took the opportunity to suggest Waddesden Manor in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. It’s somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for ages as I’d heard fantastic things, but just hadn’t got round to going!

It looks absolutely, stunningly beautiful doesn’t it?

waddesdon manor

I’m fascinated by these old Country Mansions and the fact that they was once someone’s home blows my mind! Waddesdon Manor was built by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild between 1874 and 1883 to display his collection of arts and to entertain his family friends and the fashionable world.

Opened to the public in 1959, Waddesdon Manor is still managed by the Rothschild Foundation, a family charitable trust, on behalf of the National Trust, who took over ownership in 1957. It’s home to the Rothschild Collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts.

I hadn’t showed any photo’s of Waddesdon Manor to the children, so on the journey there they were trying to guess which house it was! I couldn’t wait to see their faces when they actually caught glimpse of it for real….. although, even when we turned into the driveway there was still no sign of the house!

Obviously to maintain the beauty of the enormous parkland surrounding Waddesdon Manor, the car park is situated a good 15 minute walk from the house. It can’t be seen. You can walk if you like but there’s also a very frequent FREE shuttle bus service that takes you all the way. We took the bus!

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Catching glimpse of the house for the very first time truly catches your breath. It’s the most stunning house I have ever seen, and I’ve been to lots of mansion houses before. It’s probably even more beautiful than any palace owned by the Royal family…. I haven’t seen them all so hazarding a guess there, but I think you get the picture!

After stepping off the bus at the house, we hovered around for a while, taking in the house and all it’s glory from the bottom of the path. My children liked the fountain, which they threw coins into to make a wish!

waddesdon manor

There’s lots to see and do at Waddeson Manor so my advice would be to plan your day. Their website is great and gives tips on what to do as a family or if you prefer some of the other attractions, like the special exhibitions!

You can walk around the grounds of Waddesdon Manor for free, but there is an entrance fee for the beautiful gardens, which also gives you access to most of the other attractions such as the Aviary, the Woodland play area, the Wine Cellars and the Restaurants and the Shops!

If you want to go inside the house itself, you will have to add on another ticket. I would wholeheartedly suggest doing this as it IS worth it. The house is vast, you could easily spend half your day slowly walking around. It holds so many of the Rothchilds’ extensive art and antique collection and every room is exquisite. Again, if you are thinking of visiting, you need to book a time slot, check the website to ensure the house is open on the day you want to go too. Sometimes it’s closed and only the gardens are accessible. Some people just prefer to look around the gardens anyway.

Seeing inside the house and all it’s treasures was top of my list, so after a slow walk up the long path and admiring the splendour of the French Renaissance châteaux style architecture, we ventured inside!

waddesdon manor house

waddesdon manor architecture

The below photo shows the outside of the beautiful spiral staircase that runs up inside the house. You can walk up this staircase, complete with rich red carpet, during the tour!

waddesdon manor architecture

You are free to wander around the house in your own time. There are certain routes you should take if you want to ensure you see all the rooms and don’t miss any. Guides are on hand to help you along and talk to you about the rooms and answer any questions, if you need them. You can also hire headsets for the audio guide, or you can download this from itunes before you visit.

The first room we entered literally took my breath away! A Dining Room fit for a princess! Honestly, mind blown at the beauty of this extravagant but ever so pretty room. Take a look for yourself on this little video….

I could’ve stood in this room for hours, just taking in it’s beauty and imaging myself sitting down for dinner at that gorgeous table!

The children were given a little view finder on the way in, a kind of game to spot things in the rooms. This is a great idea to keep them occupied, just in case they get a little bored! My children enjoyed this immensely and it really made the tour fun for them!

waddesdon manor

Walking around the rooms, each one as interesting and beautiful as the last, I found myself completely captivated. Trying to guess what each room was used for as there seemed to be endless drawing rooms! Luckily there are clever, informative cards that tells you exactly what the room’s purpose was and indeed what treasures it beholds!

Waddesdon is famous for its collection of French 18th-century decorative arts and 17th- and 18th-century paintings. This is still being updated to this day by the Rothchilds’. Includes world-class objects carefully chosen for their beauty, craftsmanship and historical interest.

waddesdon manor paintings

waddesdon manor art collections

There are interactive areas on the house tour too… my children loved tapping on the screens to find out more information and look at other interesting features of the rooms!

waddesdon manor

waddesdon manor

Loved the bedrooms! The height of the rooms to accommodate such extravagant furnishings!

waddesdon manor bedroom

There were also some contemporary furnishings. I fell in love with this chandelier…. if you look closely you will see it’s made up of broken crockery.. cups, plates, knives and forks! Fabulous isn’t it?

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At the moment there’s a couple of exhibitions going on inside the house too including the Power & Portraiture Queen Elizabeth 1 display of paintings. This is only on until the end of October though. But there are always so many different events and exhibitions showing at Waddesdon that there’s usually going to be something new for you to see. Keep checking the website to see what’s coming up!

After our tour of the house we headed out to the Woodland Play Area. It’s fantastic and kids can really let their hair down here. There’s the adventure playground on different levels, areas to climb trees and build dens, the kids were happy exploring the different levels and could’ve spent hours here!

waddesdon manor woodland play area

We headed to the Stables Courtyard afterwards which is just by the Woodland Play Area… so a perfect place to sit down and relax either outdoors, or inside in the Stables Cafe, the ice cream parlour and coffee shop! We headed inside to grab a snack and to get warm! Well, for me to get warm, the kids were all hot a sweaty from running around outside for so long!

There’s a good menu in here if you want something substantial to eat and the kids menu is great! We just opted for snacks and I ordered a cream tea… lovely!

stables cafe at waddesdon manor

cream tea at waddesdon manor

We stayed right until it was closing time and caught the last shuttle bus back to the car park! We had a great day out at Waddesdon Manor although we certainly didn’t get to see and do all that it has to offer! But then that gives us an excuse to go back very soon and finish where we left off! I want to see the beautiful gardens at the back of the house and visit the wine cellar and Aviary.

There will be lots of Christmassy events soon and I’ve heard it’s absolutely wonderful at Christmas. There will be markets and lights… can’t wait.

If you’re thinking if visiting, I must make you aware that the house is ‘put to bed’ for the Winter months from the beginning of November. This is to preserve and deep clean. So if it’s the house in particular you want to see from the inside, this won’t be possible until Spring. But there are so many more things to do at Waddesdon, you could still enjoy a whole day out here. Even if it’s just to appreciate the absolute charm and exquisiteness of this fascinating house.

The Lego Ninjago Movie Review and Spinjitsu Masterclass Event with Jade Jones

We love the Lego Movies in our house! That brilliant mix of kiddie and adult humour that ensures us parents are going to thoroughly enjoy it as much as the kids means they are films to watch over and over again as a family! So, as you can imagine, we were very excited about the brand new Warner Bros. film ‘Lego Ninjago’ that’s being released all over the UK this weekend and the fact that we’d been invited to a special event with double Olympic Champion Jade Jones!

Taking place against the iconic backdrop of London’s Tower Bridge, this promotional event was a thrilling morning for everyone and a fun way to whip everyone up into a frenzy ready for the film screening later! There were clips from the film being shown on big screens for all to see, Dick and Dom from childrens’ TV were hosts and the super lovely Jade Jones gave a Spinjitsu materclass and happily chatted to everyone afterwards!

Lego Ninjago event jade jones dick and dom

jade jones lego ninjago spinjitsu

lego ninjago spinjitsu masterclass

All the children had a fantastic time.. I mean, it’s not everyday you get to do something as amazing as this is it? Jade Jones is certainly an inspiration and one who so many of the children who were at the event aspired to be! Little Taekwondo champion wannabe’s meeting their idol and getting some fantastic hints and tips on how to achieve their dreams. This of course was relevant to all the children to remember for which ever path they want to take in life! Plus of course they were taught some impressive moves that they could go away and use in their next battle!

jade jones lego ninjago

Jade posed for this lovely photo with my daughter!

lego ninjago movie

My boys here admiring this amazing Lego construction!

Later on it was time to head over to the lovely Empire Cinema, Haymarket for the UK preview screening of the Lego Ninjago movie and my boys were beside themselves with excitement! They’d been looking forward to it for weeks knew… just knew, because they told me millions of times in the weeks leading up to this, that it was going to be AWESOME!

lego ninjago movie screening review

Film Synopsis: The battle for NINJAGO City calls to action young Master Builder Lloyd, aka the Green Ninja, along with his friends, also secret ninja warriors. Led by Master Wu, as wise-cracking as he is wise, they must defeat the evil warlord Garmadon, who also happens to be Lloyd’s dad. Pitting father against son, the epic showdown tests these fierce but undisciplined modern-day ninjas as they learn to check their egos and pull together to unleash the inner power of Spinjitzu.

Kids are familiar with the Ninjago TV show and the Lego sets that have been around in the shops for years, so this brand new feature film from Warner bros. has been highly anticipated! If your children have been waiting to see it, they won’t be disappointed, and neither will the adults in the family!

The film begins with a little real life scenario starring Jackie Chan, who voices two characters in the film, it then dives into the animation. We are introduced to the secret Ninja’s, who are all school friends, the main one being the ‘Green Ninja’ Lloyd, who is a bit of a loner normally. This is because everyone knows that the evil Lord Garmadon.. the ‘Baddie’ in the film, who is constantly attacking and trying to take over their city, is none other than Lloyds’ estranged Father. Lord Garmadon doesn’t know this though, not initially anyway!

Fast paced and full of action and the funny little one liners we’ve become accustomed to with the Lego movies, we were all hooked! My boys were laughing and jumping up and down in their seats at various parts, especially the action bits… simply loving it! I love admiring the actual Lego pieces, the bricks and tiny bits that make up the bigger picture. Even though it’s animation you can totally see that every single part of the scenes are made up of the actual pieces that you would find in the Lego toys! This fascinates me!

There’s a sentimental undertone to the film as Lloyd and his Father have moments where they try to reconcile. Even though this brings a softer side to break up the action, I did feel as though one part in particular towards the end dragged on a bit too long. I found my children to be losing interest a tad and this point and it was unnecessary. A bit too much. But then it was back to the fun which was all was forgotten!

We thoroughly enjoyed this movie and my boys have been raving about it ever since! It was a great day out for us and on the way home on the train my little O was practising some of the Ninja moves he learned at the Spinjitsu Materclass that morning! 😉

Fright Nights at Thorpe Park 2017

thorpe park fright nights

I’ve been going to Thorpe Park’s popular Halloween Fright Nights now with my eldest pretty much every year since he was old enough to go! First time was for his 13th birthday (the recommend age for this event) which happens to fall at this time of year. I took him and some friends and we were hooked from then on!

He will be 19 this year and for him/us it’s a definite must do in the yearly calendar!

As a Thorpe Park Ambassador, I was lucky to attend this years’ press/launch for Fright Nights 2017 and I took my Teen (of course) and his girlfriend along with me! Press nights at Thorpe Park are quite big in the celebrity calendar too so there’s lots of opportunity to spot a famous face! Not that I’m a groupie or anything, but Chris and Olivia from Love island were there and I did get a little bit excited! I know, it’s rather sad for a grown woman but hey, if you watched the smash hit summer TV programme then you’ll understand! If you didn’t, then you’ll probably think I’m mad! But Chris and Olivia were my faves and I just HAD to get a photo with them!

chris and olivia love island thorpe park fright nights 2017

It wasn’t easy though, I did have to stalk them for a while to get this one….. 😉

So what else did we do at the launch apart from chase celebrities round? Well, we soaked up the creepy atmosphere… macabre music is played into the park on Fright Nights and the lights (like this green in the photo above) really create the mood. It’s incredibly eerie.

Running throughout weekends during October, then all week in half term, Fright Nights are especially popular, growing in popularity each year as people get wind of how good it is. The park is open as usual in the morning then around 3pm (12pm midday during half term) as the sun starts going down, the scariness starts. Zombies infiltrate the crowds and the horror mazes open! The roller coasters light up and you can ride them in the dark, which is a whole new experience if you haven’t done that before! The park stays open till 10pm and it seems to get creepier and creepier the later it gets! Are you brave enough to stay?

thorpe park fright nights

First up we headed to one of the rides…. Nemesis! This is one of my favourites, not AS scary as some of the others but one I love going on… we did front row seats too! After that exhilaration we headed to our first maze. There are two brand new mazes this year from The Walking Dead TV series, to coincide with the launch of season 8 on FOX this October, as well as the landmark 100th episode.

We did The Living Nightmare first! I haven’t seen the programme but I’d heard that the inside of the maze looked exactly like The Walking Dead filming sets. You are taken in groups (survivors) around different, blood spattered rooms in the iconic scenes, where you will be on the brink of death at the mercy of the notorious Negan. Thorpe Park have gone all out to ensure fans of the series won’t be disappointed! There is no expense spared in all the mazes and it really does pay off!

There are moments of nervous giggling from the group as well as screams and the covering of eyes as we all huddle around almost clinging to each other as we walk from room to room. There was a little light in this maze, compared to some which are very dark, so we could hold on to the reality slightly that this wasn’t real! Sounds odd I know but the actors throughout the whole park, not just inside the mazes are brilliant and really know how to get under your skin…. with their erratic behaviour, the suspense, the speaking quietly before suddenly stamping and screaming, the hiding, moving suddenly to make you jump out of your skin!

I challenge anyone not to be slightly unnerved!

There are two mazes from The Walking Dead, the other being Sanctum! Guests can experience a live-action outdoor maze that pays tribute to Terminus, the safe-haven with a twist. Follow in the footsteps of survivors again, experiencing first-hand how to stay alive in the face of several obstacles placed in their paths. The aim is to navigate past the roaming walkers or risk being captured.

Next we went to the maze Platform No 15! I was a little reluctant to go for this one as it was there last year and I didn’t find it very scary. The sets were amazing, as always, but I think it dragged and there wasn’t enough fright factor! However, this has been improved massively for this year with a whole huge new addition towards the end which made it brilliant!

thorpe park fright night 2017 platform 15

Walking along a disused railway line in the woods… yes this maze is partly outside in the trees in the dark, with only a scary station master and the odd ghoul for company… we are led to a deserted, haunted train. From there, we are ushered into a tunnel… pitch black and very narrow, then, all in a line holding onto the shoulders of the person in from of you, we were told to keep walking. Believe me when I say this is pitch black, you literally can’t see the person in front of you. Teen was at the front of the line leading the way! My brave boy! Our line broke up somewhere along the way and I found myself at the back… not a place you want to be… the middle is best where you feel a tad safer…. because we then we had to CRAWL through a small tunnel and of course one of the scary characters crept in behind me and scared me to death!

I was so glad to get out of there I can tell you! It was really good!

I do recommend checking out your map which you’ll be handed upon entry to the park, because once it goes dark, some of the mazes are tucked away and not always obvious to spot. You don’t want to walk around aimlessly back and forth which is very easy to do!

And plan your visit. There are SIX horror mazes in total and the queues do get ridiculously long, so unless you have fast tracks (recommended) then you may want to find the mazes you definitely want to experience the most and queue for those first!

We decided to head to Derren Brown’s Ghost Train next. I know this is here all year long but there have been a lot of changes made to it since I went on it last and I thought, well it IS Fright Night and this IS a scary ride, I wanted to go on it!

ghost train thorpe park fright night

This is the virtual reality ride although there are some action parts to it too. I was nervous about this because in all fairness, I found the first edition scary so I wasn’t sure how I was going to take this! The verdict? It was brilliant! It’s definitely more chilling and realistic than before, needing me to lift the virtual reality headset up once or twice just to make sure I was where I should be haha! The only thing was, it was super hot inside the train carriage and when it was over I felt slightly disorientated. Weird…. maybe it was all part of the game…… The changes were well worth it though and I’m really glad I included this in my visit.

After a couple of roller coasters and the SAW maze, which is here all year round, so realistically it’s best to do this one before all the others open….we were running out of time.

Time certainly does fly…..

We decided we had to make a last ditch run for The Big Top! This was at Thorpe Park last year and by far I found it the most terrifying.

fright nights 2017 thorpe park

There’s complete darkness, there’s strobe lights which blind you and make you unable to adjust to the darkness. In fact these flashing strobes make you completely confused and delirious! The maze itself is made from cages of some sort and it’s VERY difficult to find your way out! Oh and there’s frightening clowns. Lots of them. Trying to get you!

Aargh!

I told my Teen to not let go of me in here as I got separated from him last year for a few moments and it was horrible! Of course this happened again because you literally don’t know where you’re heading at all, there’s left and right turns all over the place and you’re having to feel your way around…. think I grabbed some random couple nearby so I wasn’t alone till Teen located me ha!

That is one maze you really are glad to get out of! Utterly terrifying!

So that was it. Our night was over, unfortunately. We always feel as though we want to do more but we’re hoping to get back for another day before the event finishes on 31st October.

If you’re looking for a mega fun, seasonal day/night out with plenty of thrills, then look no further. I would recommend it to anyone!

You can book online here!

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.

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