Wednesday, 17 October 2018

The Forest of Forgotten Discos! Contact Theatre at Hope Mill Ticket Giveaway

Manchester's Contact Theatre's permanent home on Oxford Road is being transformed, so they are still out and about for their Christmas show, The Forest Of Forgotten Discos!, and it will be performed at the acclaimed Hope Mill Theatre – The Stage’s 2018 Fringe Theatre of the Year.

The Forest Of Forgotten Discos! is a fun, heart-warming story that can be enjoyed by all types of families and anyone aged 5+. We'll be attending to review and I'm really looking forward to it - although excuse me if I don't wear sequins or spandex!


Contact have teamed up with Jackie Hagan to present The Forest of Forgotten Discos! She is a stand up comedian, playwright and theatre maker who creates work that celebrates the experiences of people left out of the mainstream and director Nickie Miles-Wildin had a starring role in the London 2012 Paralympics Opening Ceremony. The Forest of Forgotten Discos! integrates sign language and visual storytelling into all performances. Truly inclusive.

Contact is dusting down its glitter ball to solve the mystery of the year. Everyone in the forest has forgotten about dancing and bright lights and disco. Even Alexa the virtual assistant from the Amazon Rainforest, who normally knows everything, doesn't understand what's happened...

Word Bandit from Drumond Park (age 8+) Review and Giveaway (sent for review).

This month Drumond Park have sent us a copy of Word Bandit to review. Suitable for 2 teams with any number of players, this is a word game which really caught the attention of my 8 year old. Recommended for age 8+, Word Bandit takes traditional pencil and paper word games and upgrades them, with the addition of a unique one-armed bandit.


There is very little plastic packaging, no assembly, no batteries and you can have the box open and be playing in under 5 minutes. Set up takes no time at all, even before first play you only have to add the sticker to the bandit front. Entirely Christmas morning-friendly.


Word Bandit is a fast-paced word game where players have to make words and initials using a selection of letters given to them at random by the Word Bandit machine. The machine is well made and works perfectly. It's a little light, so you do have to hold it still as you pull the arm.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Rainbow Rush Family Game Review Age 8+ (Sent by Big Potato Games)

My next review for Big Potato Games is Rainbow Rush, which is suitable for anyone 8+. This is a really fast-paced game for 2 or more players. The winner is the first to collect a rainbow of colours, but it's not as sweet and innocent as it sounds - this is fairly frantic!


No wasteful packaging and everything is stored in a neat little specially shaped box, ideal for storage and transportation, which you keep in sight during play to remind players of the rainbow order.

Inside the box are 2 packs of cards (hard and easy), 7 coloured stacks made up of 10 blocks and instructions. Set up takes no time at all and nor does learning the rules - Christmas morning-friendly.


The Grumpy Gnome's Garden by Della Jane Hales Children's Book Review

The Grumpy Gnome's Garden by Dell's Jayne Hales is my latest review for Matador Books. A more traditional children's tale, it stars The Grumpy Gnome and his housemate, The Little Fairy.

Although The Grumpy Gnome's Garden is suitable for independent readers aged around 6+, I actually think this book works better for reading together and is ideal for bedtime with younger children who enjoy fairy stories.


The author wanted to encourage children to see the enjoyment and reward that comes with gardening, and the friends build a beautiful garden together. They grow flowers and vegetables and herbs, and working together as a team create something very special to them both, which also benefits the animals, birds and insects.

Monday, 15 October 2018

October #TBCSmiles 50 Months

It seems weird posting the smiles today because my Social Media feed is absolutely full of candles for a wave of light to remember babies who didn't have the chance to grow up. Today's collection of smiles are dedicated to everyone who ever lost a child, however small your child was.

The pumpkins are just starting to creep in, the nights are drawing darker and Autumn is here. It's my favourite season. I don't see it as an end, I see it as a necessary change, everything hibernating and buckling down for the Winter. I love the colours on the trees and snuggling up under blankets indoors while the wind blows. Movie nights are so much better when it's already dark outside and my youngest sleeps before 11pm....

Sunday, 14 October 2018

October Event Round up for Families in Manchester and NorthWest UK

The half term break is almost upon us and as usual there is plenty going on to entertain families in the Manchester and North West areas. Here is a round up of what's happening over the next 2 or 3 weeks - don't forget your local library and museum!


Guess How Much I Love You
Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre

Tue 16 and Wed 17 October
Selladoor Family and ABA International Touring UK bring this much-loved classic children’s book to the stage. Join Little and Big Nutbrown Hare as they settle down after a bedtime story and re-awaken to discover the delights and colours of each season, as they compete to measure their love for each other in this timeless loveable story.
Explore this playful story of love and nature as it unfolds on stage through puppets, live music and interactive play for children aged 3 and up.

Tue 16th October 1.30pm & 4.30pm, Wednesday 17th October 11am & 1.30pm
Tickets: Adults: £13.50, Children: £12.50, Family Ticket: £45

To book tickets please call 0844 888 4411* or go online at www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk * or in person at The Epstein Theatre Box Office from 12pm - 6pm Monday - Saturday.
*Subject to booking fee. All prices include a £1 per ticket venue restoration levy


Manchester Folk Festival
HOME, Manchester

18-21 October
Manchester Folk Festival takes place including events at HOME which will be of interest to audiences of all ages. Far too much to list and ticket prices vary, so find out more on the Manchester Folk Festival website, but including...

Sat 20 October
Family Song-Writing Workshop hosted by Manchester Sings -  on the theme of Manchester. What does the city mean to you? Whether you were born here or have made Manchester your home, the aim is to come up with a series of songs which pay tribute to our city. No musical or song-writing experience is necessary! This event starts at 3.30pm and is suitable for everyone aged nine upwards. £6.60 Per Person, book on the Home Manchester website.



Ascarium
Sea Life, Trafford Centre, Manchester

20th October – 4th November
Sea Life will be transformed into an Ascarium, with lots of special activities to help discover the spooky creatures that lurk beneath the waves, plus find the missing magic ingredients around SEA LIFE to help the Sea witch cast her spell and claim your reward!

Meet the Merwitch in her lair
Find the missing ingredients
Help cast the magic spell
Take part in our creepy creature twister game
Watch our spooky pumpkin show
Claim your FREE SEA LIFE reusable cup
Remember your visit with our fang-tastic photo boards

This event is included in the standard admission price and single attraction tickets start at £11.95 per child - combi tickets with LEGOLAND Discovery Centre are better value. Book online to guarantee entry and find out more on the Sea Life Events page.


Brick Or Treat
LEGOLAND Discovery Centre, Trafford Centre, Manchester

20thOctober – 4thNovember
Get into the Halloween spirit with our Brick or Treat event! Always fun - we've been many times.

Featuring some fun spook-tacular activities such as:
Creepy creations – Add your creation to our LEGO® pumpkin patch
‘Scarevenger’ hunt
Spooky stop motion animation
Meet and greet with our new Halloween character mascot!
Scarily themed mini land
Limited Edition pop-badges and factory bricks whilst stocks last
Not only that but all little Vampires go free! - All kids who come down to this event in Halloween costume will gain free entry into the attraction! Please note; 1 free child per paying adult.

This event is included in the standard admission price. Book online to guarantee entry. Find out more on the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Events page



Spooky Southport

Saturday 20 October to Sunday 28 October
From spooktacular Halloween events to scarecrow festivals and autumnal welly walks, there’s an array of exciting activities to keep everyone entertained! Way too much to list here, so these are just a couple of the things on offer:

Thursday 25 – Sunday 28 October.
Annual Halloween Festival, Little monsters will be spoiled for choice with all kinds of Halloween happenings including, a Haunted Maze in the Town Hall Gardens, a visit from a Ghostly Pirate Crew on Chapel Street and a ghoulish Fancy Dress Trick or Treat Trail. And for the first time two giant Dragons will swoop and soar through the streets to the sounds of original songs, breathing smoke as they go.
For full event details and timings visit: www.spookysouthport.com

Saturday 20 – Wednesday 31 October
Super Spooky Scarecrow Festival featuring an array of locally created creepy characters that line the street to both frighten and delight the crowds!  You can even take part in a scary scarecrow making workshop on Saturday 20 October.

Thursday 25 October
Crafty’s Halloween Spooktacular at The Atkinson - the golden pumpkin, the biggest Halloween party in town and trick or treating are just some of the ingredients of this brand new family fun show.
Tickets can be booked at: www.theatkinson.co.uk

 For further information and to plan your half term visit: www.VisitSouthport.com



Beauty and the Beast
St Helens Theatre Royal

Saturday 20 – Sunday 28 October
Regal Entertainments are bringing their enchanting panto to audiences in St Helen's, starring Channel 5 Milkshake’s Kiera-Nicole Brennan.
This family friendly pantomime that tells the timeless story of Belle – the beautiful young woman who falls in love with the most unexpected of princes, who has been cursed to look like a hideous beast. Will the beast learn to love and be loved? Will the spell be broken in time for all to live happily ever after?

Times: Daily 1pm / Fri – Sun 1pm & 5pm, Tickets From £12*
*All prices are inclusive of a £1 per seat booking fee. On-line bookings are subject to an additional 50p per seat on-line processing fee.

For more information, please visit: www.sthelenstheatreroyal.com



Z-access
Z-Arts, Hulme, Manchester

Sunday 21 October, 10am-2pm.
Z-Access Free Family Fun Day
Specially designed for children and families with disabilities or additional requirements. Accessible creative activities including arts and crafts, music, drama and dance. Resources available to families on the day include a BSL interpreter, a sensory space, a quiet space, and a visual menu in Z-café.

Z-access is a free event, but booking is required to ensure Z-arts can make the day enjoyable for everyone. All those who book in advance will be sent a pre-event email which will include a map and social story of the day ahead.

Complementing the day will be a relaxed 11am performance of children's theatre show A Square World, which is all about changing the world so it is accessible for everyone to enjoy! Presented by Daryl Beeton and non-verbal. (Tickets are £6 - £9)

A Square World (Sunday 21 October) When the daily routine of three friends’ lives suddenly changes, they discover with a little fun and some mayhem how to adapt their world so they can keep playing together. Set to an original commissioned soundtrack, Daryl Beeton’s A Square World is an honest, touching and quirky story for ages 3 – 6 years looking at the unfairness of being left out in a world designed for everyone else but yourself.

Adrift (Tuesday 23 October) A poignant and important play from acclaimed children’s theatre company Action Transport Theatre and writer Beverley Hancock-Smith, Adrift tells the story of two children adrift at sea fleeing conflict, a heart-warming and touching celebration of the resilience and imagination of childhood for ages 8+ and their families.

Plink and Boo (Thursday 25 October) Some might be Plink, and others are Boo. Why does it matter, what’s the to-do? The topsy turvy world of Plink and Boo welcomes ages 2 – 5 years and their grown-ups. Using acrobatics, live music and mountains of toys, Plink and Boo is an interactive adventure exploring what happens when people don’t fit into boxes (even if it is the neatest place to put them).

For more information or to book tickets for Z-access or A Square World, please pop into Z-
arts in Hulme, go online z-arts.org or call Z-arts Box Office on 0161 232 6089.



Halloween Family Events
intu Trafford Centre

Thursday 25 October 10am- 2 pm and Friday 26 October 10am-2pm
The annual intu Trick or Treat family event in partnership with our stores and restaurants.
Get your fancy dress outfits at the ready and descend upon the centre in hunt for goodies.
Little Trick or Treaters can pick up their free special bucket from the customer services desk and then scour the centre for specially decorated pumpkins in spooky windows... if you're lucky these will be traded for some sweet treats!
Please note, there are a limited amount of Halloween buckets so they will be given out on a first come first served basis and you must be signed up to our family club to take part.

Saturday 27 & Sunday 28 October
To celebrate the return of the hit musical Wicked to Manchester this Christmas at the Palace Theatre, join us on  to experience the magic of the show with exclusive free performances of some of the most spellbinding songs on the main stage in The Orient.
There will be two shows on Saturday 27 October at 4pm & 5pm and three shows on Sunday 28 October 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.
And from Sunday 28 October until 17 November, 3 of the iconic costumes will be on display in the Main Dome.
Wicked flies back to Palace Theatre Manchester 4 Dec – 5 Jan.

Find out more on the Trafford Centre Events page


Spooky Screenings
Victoria Baths, Manchester 

Thursday 25, Friday 26 & Saturday 27 October

The Village Screen Pop up Cinema is bringing the ultimate Halloween movie experience to Manchester’s Victoria Baths with screenings of Jaws, The Lost Boys and The Witches.

Screenings are all held in the stunning Gala Pool of this iconic Edwardian Grade II* listed building. Fancy dress is actively encouraged, with autumnal food, drink and live DJs all combining to create a spook-tacular party atmosphere!

Thursday 25 October: Jaws – doors open at 18:30, screening at 20:30. 16+ only.
Friday 26 October: The Lost Boys – doors open at 18:30, screening at 20:30. 16+ only.
Saturday 27 October: The Witches – doors open at 16:30, screening at 18:30. Suitable for all ages.

Bookings can be made at www.thevillagegreenevents.co. Tickets £10-£15per person. Online booking fees apply



Snazaroo Halloween Book Reading Event
Waterstones, Manchester Deansgate

Saturday 27th October
11am – 4pm
Snazaroo will be transforming Waterstones into a Halloween haven where little ones will be able to listen to classic children’s Halloween stories and have their faces painted by Snazaroo’s dedicated team of face painters. The face painters will be able to share hints and tips so you can easily re-create the look on Halloween night too.
There will be regular storytime throughout the day as follows:
11am – Funnybones
12pm – A Werewolf Named Oliver James
1pm – Winnie the Witch
2pm – Bedtime for Monsters
3pm – Spider Sandwiches
4pm – Hortense and Shadow

The event is FREE and first come, first served. Tickets can be booked via Eventbrite, Halloween at Waterstones.



Storyhouse, Chester
The Gruffalo’s Child Live

Tuesday 30 October, and on Wednesday 31 October
No Gruffalo should ever set foot in the deep dark wood…so join The Gruffalo’s Child on her adventurous mission in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the much-loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler.
This musical adaptation of the popular children’s book guarantees entertainment for all ages. Songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged 3 upwards and their grown-ups, in the hugely popular show that’s toured Britain and the world.

Tuesday 30 October 2018 at 2pm
Wednesday 31 October 2018 at 11am and 2pm

Tickets: £14 (each ticket is subject to a £1.50 booking fee)             

Suitable for youngsters aged 3 upwards
Duration approximately 55 minutes (no interval)

Book tickets Online at www.storyhouse.com, By Phone 01244 409 113 or in person

Further Afield (Over the border)



Sea Creatures Tour
Harrogate Convention Centre

30th October 2018 – 28th November 2018

The groundbreaking Sea Creatures exhibition which, in a UK first, allows visitors to explore life beneath the ocean, by viewing incredible cross-sections of REAL animals including ethically-sourced whales, penguins and Great White Sharks plus show-stopping centrepiece, 3 tonne Hai Hai the Minke whale - the first ocean mammal to undergo the complex plastination process developed by Gunther von Hagens in 1997, with the process taking 23 months and costing over one million pounds to complete. Sea Creatures is an interactive and immersive exhibition that takes you on a deep dive into the anatomy of some of the ocean’s most iconic marine species.

The exhibition also features unique digital experiences, including an interactive touch table, augmented reality installations, a mini cinema and even a giant ball pit with interactive games that allow children to learn about marine conservation while they play

Tickets £13.52-£19.99 per person. Find out more on the Sea Creatures website.



We didn't receive anything in return for the entries in this post. If you have anything you wish me to include, please contact me by email! 

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Secret Science by Dara O'Briain Children's Book Review Age 9+ (Sent for Review)

Secret Science: The Amazing World Beyond Your Eyes is a new release from Scholastic Books. Written by Stand-up Comedian, Mathematician and Scientist Dara O'Briain, it's like taking a foray through his head as he goes about his every day life, and if you know him from TV like I do, you'll read it entirely in his voice.


Subtitled The Amazing World Beyond Your Eyes, in this book we don't see the world as we would normally, we are shown the science behind everything we take for granted, from sleeping to flying to building sandcastle, and it is fascinating.

Simple Science is full of interesting illustrations by Dan Bramhall and they work perfectly. The whole package is incredibly funny and witty, with plenty of dry humour, but this is also an intelligent book.

Friday, 12 October 2018

MiniMaster Sports Company 1/8th Scale Football Review! Age 8-99+ (Sent for review)

I'm really pleased to bring you this review because MiniMaster Football is an excellently designed product with lots of care and attention and masses of added value. Miniature football you can play indoors, but big enough that you can stand up to play. You control the 1/8th scale footballer as if he's a real player, infinitely adjusting his angle and direction of kick - you can even chip, toe-poke and of course aim.


I first discovered MiniMaster Sports at BlogOn and they gave me a Football Set to bring home and review. Unusually for a family with 5 boys living in Manchester, although we follow football and watch a few matches, we don't have anyone who is footie mad, however everyone loves this!


No waste, very little non-essential or wasteful plastic, no batteries and everything is in a fairly compact box considering the size, which you can store it in afterwards. Christmas-morning and Earth-friendly.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Disney On Ice Presents Dream Big at Manchester Arena 2018 (Review Visit)

Last night we were guests of Feld Entertainment to review Disney On Ice presents Dream Big at Manchester Arena. We all love Disney On Ice and it's always a really good night. Dream Big saw the first appearance by Moana and her sidekick Maui, one of my children's favourite characters, plus classic characters Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, one of my favourites...


Before the show we got to meet and greet with Mickey Mouse, and for the first time in ages my youngest joined in with the photo. Hes not keen on dressed up characters and has avoided them for a while, so it was really brave of him and hopefully a sign of things to come!


We had seats to the right side of the arena and first up was the Fit To Dance warm up, with a host of skaters on the ice in sparkly costumes that were really impressive. They looked great and really had the audience joining in.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

GraviTrax Interactive Ball Track System Review Age 8+ (Sent by Ravensburger)

Ravensburger are well known for puzzles and although it can use some brain-power, GraviTrax is a completely different story. A fantastic and incredibly attractive interactive ball track system, this takes your imagination and engineering skills to new levels. Make coloured metal balls roll, fly, bounce and drop along a pathway of your own creation. You can even race a couple of your friends...


We've been sent the Starter Set which has an rrp of £49.99 and 3 of the Expansion Sets at £9.99rrp each, The Catapult, Magnetic Cannon and Hammer. All of the GraviTrax system is suitable for age 8+. Children younger (5+) will be able to play with it, but are more likely to find construction frustrating.


The GraviTrax Starter Set has an impressive selection of pieces, over 100 in all (listed at the base of the post), including lots of special parts and plenty of pieces to make a proper length of track. There are 6 metal 'Gravity Spheres' or balls included, so even if you lose one under the sofa you won't be devastated.