Minnis Bay Brasserie & Gravity Review ~ Olivia-May’s Birthday Week

 

A couple of weeks ago, we celebrated Olivia’s 4th Birthday-and boy, does that girl know how to drag out Birthday celebrations (goodness knows where she gets it from…..)

I’ll attach a vlog I put together over the week, at the end of this blog, but first I wanted to review a couple of places we visited during the celebrations. Continue reading “Minnis Bay Brasserie & Gravity Review ~ Olivia-May’s Birthday Week”

Diggerland Kent-Family Day Out-Review

Diggerland in Rochester, Kent-a fabulous fun day out for all the family!

We visited Diggerland on Saturday (13th May), and, after a really quick, easy journey, arrived at the park as the park was opening.

diggerlanddiggerlandGreeted by the parks mascots, Dotty and Duggy, the children had some cuddles, and we headed off to have a look at what was on offer to do.
Continue reading “Diggerland Kent-Family Day Out-Review”

Kent Life, Maidstone-Review

 

During school holidays and weekends, it’s so easy to get stuck indoors, because you’ve run out of things to do.  You’ve taken the children to everything you know of, and they’re now moaning that they’re bored.

Thankfully, there’s a day out waiting just for you!  Kent Life in Maidstone, is perfect for children of all ages, and for the whole family.

Located just off of the M20 on the outskirts of Maidstone, Kent Life sits in 28 acre grounds.  A real working farm, Kent Life showcases those farm animals, along with some cute fluffy friends in Cuddle Corner, the Big Top tent for shows throughout the day, indoor and outdoor play areas, gardens, a vintage village, food and drink establishments, train and tractor rides, and various events!

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There are picnic areas, which is where we started our day.  After arriving around 11, we decided to get the food out of the way, so we could focus on the rest of our afternoon.  From there we went to the Big Top tent, to watch BubbleJo’s Bubble Show.  The children were allowed out of their seats to play with the incredible amount of bubbles BubbleJo made, and a large amount of audience participation was included, when BubbleJo invited children onto the stage for help.

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From there we decided to take in the 28 acres on offer, and walked around the gardens and farm areas, getting the opportunity to feed some horses and goats.  The lamb feeding was next on our agenda, and, although the amount of people queuing, was larger than the amount of lambs needing feeding, we took great enjoyment in watching them be bottle fed. My children also fell in love with some baby goats, (and I think the feeling was mutual).

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We continued over to Cuddle Corner, where we were shown into a room, and allowed to pet a guinea pig and a rabbit.  The animals were well looked after throughout, and our animal expert guide was friendly and talkative.

 

 

 

 

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The children, after passing it several times throughout our afternoon, were then desperate to have a run about in the outdoors play park area.  With fun activities to do for all different ages, my son immediately threw himself down a slide, while my daughter sat quietly in the sand pit.  With plenty of seating areas for the grown ups, it’s easy to rest your legs while keeping an eye on your little ones.

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We were also excited to go on the Kent Life train, which takes you on a ten minute ride around the park.  After planning to go earlier in the afternoon, but missing the last ride at 1:30, we managed to get on the first one an hour later, and the children enjoyed the bumpy ride, taking in all that we’d done in the afternoon.

Before leaving, the children went back to the baby goat pen to say goodbye to their new little friends, and, as is always the way with children who have enjoyed themselves so much, they didn’t want to leave!

We made so many memories, and the children got to encounter animals we wouldn’t usually get to see.

An incredible day had by all-we will definitely be going back!

Tickets are affordable at £9.95 for adults, £7.95 for children (aged 3-15) and £8.95 for concessions.
There is also the option of a year long membership.  For just £95.00 for a family of two adults and two children-you can visit whenever you fancy an up close and personal day with the animals, and fun filled activities around the park.
For more information on other various membership options-visit the membership page on the Kent Life website here-http://kentlife.org.uk/plan-your-visit/membership/

Throughout the year, there are special events for your family to enjoy-to see more information on what’s coming up at Kent Life, visit the events page here-http://kentlife.org.uk/events/

For all other information, including opening times, and how to get to Kent Life, visit the website here-http://kentlife.org.uk/

 

I was sent a press pass enabling me to visit Kent Life with my family, in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are those of my own.

The Canterbury Tales-Medieval Story Telling-Review

On Saturday (8th April) myself  and Kye took a short train ride into the City of Canterbury.
As someone who is in the city each week for press nights at the Marlowe Theatre, I know the town well-but I’m ashamed to say I’ve never taken Kye to The Canterbury Tales.  I went as a child with the school I attended-but in all honesty, could only remember snippets of that.

So when we got the opportunity to visit on Saturday, and have the additional pleasure of attending the Medieval activities in the Canterbury Tales Gardens, we jumped at the chance.
For those that haven’t visited this attraction before, or, like  me, have visited so long ago that they’ve forgotten what it’s all about, here’s a little background information for you!

The Canterbury Tales, tell stories from Geoffrey Chaucer’s well known and loved tales from his book, of the same name, ‘The Canterbury Tales’. Canterbury
Journeying back in time to discover Chaucer’s famous tales, you get to join a costumed character, recreating the pilgrimage from London to Canterbury.
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Myself and Kye were then given hand held live audio guides, which differ if you have an adult’s one or a child’s one (the story is a little more “refined” for the little one’s ears).
The tour took around 40 minutes, all floors are level for easy access, and the next room you need to visit each time, lights up, making sure you don’t wander into the wrong place, when the costumed character leaves you with your audio guide.

The audio tours are available in multiple languages, and are narrated by famous voices, including Robert Powell and Prunella Scales!

Towards the end , you are joined by another costumed guide, who ends the tour at a reconstruction of the shrine of Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral.

There is also a  gift shop before you leave the attraction, with a variety of merchandise at a variety of prices.

The story is humorous; Kye found the whole tour hilarious, and had great fun pointing out each lit up character and their funny looks on the way round.

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Following our tour, we walked around the building to the gardens to take part in the Medieval Story Telling event.  We were met by a really lovely medieval guide, who firstly explained to Kye the activities he could take part in.
He began with Knight School, where he trained to be a knight.  Kitted up with a shield and sword, our guide taught him how to strike and defend, culminating on him being knighted as “Sir Kye” at the end.

 
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Following Knight School, he tried his hand at a little Herbology.  I, the patient, had to choose my medieval ailment from a basket, and Kye’s job was to find the correct herbs from the herb garden.
He had great fun reading out the various herb names, and eradicated my ‘Inability to Sleep’ with his Valerian and Chamomile herbal cures.

 

 

Finally we made our way to the Story Tent, where our guide read him ‘Tales of Beadle of the Bard’ (Harry Potter fans will know this one well), and two other (less serious) stories.Canterbury

There was also May Pole Dancing on offer, but Kye wasn’t keen on that idea, and, after the best part of an hour spent in the Medieval Garden, we thanked our guide (who was pretty awesome actually), and made our way out.

Kye couldn’t stop talking about the great time he’d had, the whole way home.   His favourite part was the Knight School (obviously).

When something like this attraction, with its educational and fun elements, is right on your doorstep, there really isn’t any reason not to give it a go!
Prices are affordable too-at only £9.95 for adults, £7.95 for children (aged 5-15), and £8.95 for concessions.

The Medieval Story Telling event, is still running, until this Friday (14th April) and is open from 11am-3pm each day.
If you can’t make this event, there will be a Mystical Beasts themed Medieval Story Garden on the 1st May (2017), and to coincide with the next half term, a Magical Patterns themed Event between Saturday 27th May and Sunday 4th June (again between 11am-3pm each day.

More information on these events and the Canterbury Tales tour, including opening times and how to find the attraction are available over at http://www.canterburytales.org.uk.

 

I was given free entry for myself and my son in exchange for an honest review.  Any thoughts and opinions are those of my own.

Pride and Prejudice at The Marlowe Theatre-Review

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Last night, I was invited to the press night for Pride and Prejudice at the Marlowe Theatre.  Originally a Regent’s Park open air theatre play, the show has three weeks left of its tour, playing another four days in Canterbury, before moving on to Liverpool, Newcastle and Cardiff. Tickets are available here for The Marlowe Theatre and here for the other venues and dates.

As a 30 year old woman, who grew up reading the book, watching every screen adaptation of this reputable Jane Austen novel, and dreaming of meeting my own Mr Darcy, I knew I’d enjoy watching this stage version.
What I hadn’t bargained on, was just how much I’d enjoy it.

 

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Upon entering the grand auditorium of the Marlowe Theatre, the audience were met with a large structure on the stage.
From the very first scene, we were enlightened to what the structure was; a rotating scene changing creation, that enabled different scenes of the play to be altered without having to change an entire stage of props.
Cast members regularly stayed in the background, changing the few props at the back half of the stage, while main cast members kept the audience captivated with their clear and precise dialogue.

Acoustically, this dialogue is obviously helped by the Marlowe’s beautiful auditorium, but the cast themselves played a massive part in getting the audience to absorb the recitation of this well known story.

Moving on to the cast, the focus is immediately on Mrs  Bennet, played by the always resplendent Felicity Montagu.  Felicity brings out every ounce of drama and self absorbed hilarity, Mrs Bennett radiates.

Her relationship with poor Mr Bennet, played by TV legend Matthew Kelly, is acted perfectly; their tumultuous marriage, and his tolerance and desperation of her dramatics are constantly evident.  Felicity and Matthew, have a near perfect comedic timing, making the audience question whether there are two better people to work alongside each other in these two roles.

Their daughters, Mary, Jane, Kitty, Lydia, and Elizabeth, played by Leigh Quinn, Hollie Edwin, Anna Crichlow, Mari Izzard and Tafline Steen, play their individual characters with ease.

Mary and Kitty, even with their smaller roles, still have great humorous lines (and looks) throughout, and the wild child Lydia, easily shocked the audience, with her sudden change of character when she married the equally wild Mr Wickham, played by Daniel Abbott.

Daniel plays the role of Mr Wickham in the charming way the character is portrayed in the original text.  A charm that Mr Darcy definitely doesn’t have.
It is no wonder In that case, why we saw Jane initially assume she had stronger feelings for Mr Wickham.

Jane and Elizabeth are the closest of the sisters-both living for each others happiness, and their devotion to one another is a constant throughout the play.

When Jane finally becomes betrothed to Mr Bingley, the gracious contentment Elizabeth has for her sisters good fortune is played out beautifully, and, throughout the play, Mr Bingley, played by Jordan Mifsud, becomes a firm favourite with the audience.
His alternative methods of thought, and the excitement he has during every task he undertakes makes him effortlessly endearing.

Tafline, who plays Elizabeth could not be more perfect for her role.  Her quick wit, dry humour, sarcasm and relationship with her family, mirror my own, and, although I cannot hope to have the pure English-rose beauty Tafline possesses, her portrayal of this head strong confident character, is enough to make any independent young lady, look to her as their heroine.

Her strong relationship with her family, does not mirror the initial meeting with Mr Darcy, and their affiliation with one another is constantly turbulent and heated.

Ben who plays Mr Darcy, towers above his cast members, and, with his stern, brooding features, he plays the character with ease and poignancy.

The moment the audience had been waiting for showed us a new side to both characters.  Mr Darcy softened and allowed his love to rule over his terseness,  closely followed by Elizabeth admitting to her own feelings, following the kiss, both of which had the audience gasping and cooing over the romance and beauty of the scene.

Of course, Elizabeth could have had a very different life, had she chosen the interestingly eccentric Mr Collins.
Played by Steven Meo, a massive compliment has to go out to his portrayal of, let’s face it, a complete sleazeball!

For an actor to have the ability to not only make an audience cringe at the dialogue and mannerisms a character has, but to also have an excitement surround them every time they come onto the stage, is a massive talent to have-and his relationship with the unfortunate Charlotte Lucas, played by Francesca Bailey, showed us the awkwardness surrounding a relationship with this man.

Additionally to the above cast members and their incredible acting throughout, a special nod has to go to Kirsty Rider who plays the incredibly desperate Caroline Bingley.
Her affections for Mr Darcy, and her distaste for the Bennett family, are genuinely hilarious.  Even her facial expressions during scenes where she had no dialogue had the audience in hysterics.


It was also a thrill to see Dona Crook As Lady Catherine De Bourgh, and  Charlotte Palmer as Mrs Gardiner.  

Lady Catherine’s stuck up, displeasure towards Elizabeth made her the villain of the play-something Dona revelled in at the end, when she came on to the curtain call jeering the crowd into booing her.

Mrs Gardiner, although the sister of Mrs Bennet, thankfully was anything like her sibling.  Although she is supportive of her sisters self made stresses, she couldn’t be more different in personality.
A sweet lady, who adores her nieces, we can label her the wannabe Cilla Black of Jane Austen novels, in her attempt to make Elizabeth realise her feelings for Mr Darcy, when they visited Pemberley together.
Ending the show was a perfect letter scene, where the characters shared their good fortune with other members of their family.
The movement from the many members of cast, was once again, fluid and faultless, as it had been throughout.

Lights descended from above the stage, the actors took their places for the curtain call, and they were met with an incredible reception of applause (and lots of whooping).

In conclusion, this is one of the best plays I’ve ever seen, and the amazing evening was made complete, when I got to catch up with some of the cast after the show, who were all genuinely lovely.

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Big Thanks to the especially lovely, Ben Dilloway and Tafline Steen (Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet), for indulging me in a photo (for blog purposes obviously!)

The Snowman at The Marlowe Theatre

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Last night I attended the Press Night for the opening of The Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Production of The Snowman at The Marlowe Theatre.

 

For those that don’t know much about The Snowman or for those that have never heard of it, here’s a little synopsis for you of the original book by Raymond Briggs. 

The Boy builds a snowman on a winter’s day.  That night, at the stroke of midnight, The Snowman comes to life. They go around playing with appliances, toys and other things throughout the house, all while keeping quiet enough not to wake the boy’s Mum and Dad.
They then go for a ride on a motorbike where they see many animals.  The engine heat affects the insides of the Snowman’s thighs, and so they find him a freezer to cool off in. Later they take flight, over the ocean.  
They continue through an arctic landscape and land in a snow-covered forest where they join a party of snowmen.
They meet Santa with his reindeer, who gives The Boy a scarf with a snowman pattern.
The morning after they get back, the sun has come out and The Boy wakes up to find The Snowman has melted. The Boy reaches into his pocket and finds The Snowman scarf given to him by Santa.

As a child, I watched this every Christmas-it was a tradition in our house.  Little did I know I’d be reviewing the stage production of it 20 years later.IMG_8743

 

From the second I entered the auditorium, the festive backdrop on the stage already
evoked those Christmas memories, and, with the constant winter snow scenes, the Christmas tree in the house, and  familiar music, I left full of the festivity I had only a month ago.

 

The first half of the show, got off to a slightly slow start, but it can’t have been slow for long, because I don’t remember the point I was suddenly sucked into the festive excitement along with the rest of the audience.

The beautiful carol singers, The Boy building the Snowman (that for a little while had me questioning if it was going to move or not because it had stayed so still for so long)!  The scenery, that seemed to change the entire feel of the stage, with just one simple backdrop screen behind the constant wintry trees, and the props that were changed with ease and speed created perfect festive settings for each scene.

The absolutely awesome boys who play The Boy, had me in awe-the stamina and talent these children have is admirable.

The Snowman himself, was hilarious.  The fact someone can portray humour and emotion while not speaking is incredible, and the ability he had to keep up with all of the dances and dancers around him, dressed in what I can only assume was a ridiculously hot Snowman suit, just shows how talented he is

This does lead me nicely on to the music.  Although compliments go to all dancers and actors, the real emotion is evoked from the power of the music.

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I was thrilled to hear prior to this event, that the Howard Blake, who, 34 years ago wrote the original music and lyrics for the to feature film of The Snowman, did the same for this stage production.

Even more thrilling was the opportunity to meet and speak to Howard in person during the interval.  A thoroughly humble and gentle man, he seemed genuinely happy to discuss the show, mentioning that they’ve now done so many shows in this tour so far, Hannah Flynn, who plays Scotty Snowman, has danced as Scotty for 1000 shows!

Obviously, the most famous of all of the music in this show is “Walking In The Air“. There’s just something about that song that gives me goosebumps, and, with the Snowman and The Boy wired up enabling them to fly across the stage, it’s clearly one of the most iconic moments in this production.

Additionally to this part though, there are so many other moments that left me open mouthed.

The various animals, with their beautiful costumes, dancing in perfect synchronisation, the beautiful ballets performed by the Ballerina, the Ice Princess and Jack Frost (who did a beautiful job of being scary-the majority of the children in front of me jumped when he came on).  The timing The Boy had when dancing with his peers, the “dance off” with all the different snowmen, and, let’s face it, the moment Santa came on and brought us so much joy while we watched him dance in front of us.

That same rush of joy we felt, turned to utter heartbreak when we saw The Boy discover his Snowman had melted, and, shortly after, as the last scene concluded, the sheer elation, from, lets face it, more adults than children, at the magical snow that fell around us-making it the perfect way to end this beautiful show.

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I’ve come away from this production, holding dear those festive feelings, that evoked so many of my childhood memories, in the hope they will see me through until next Christmas.

 

 

If you get the opportunity to go and see this-do!  It’s perfect for children and adults of all ages!  The Snowman is on NOW until the 22nd of January at The Marlowe Theatre, and tickets can be found here.

 

 

 

Elf on the Shelf-Day 19

Soooooooo sorry this is such a late one!

After an afternoon consisting of a meeting in Canterbury, Mummy duties back home, then phone calls and rather irritating messages that threw me out this evening, I’m a little behind!!!

As I mentioned, I went to the beautiful town of Canterbury today, for a meeting with a lovely lady called Sarah, who works at the Marlowe Theatre.
I couldn’t resist a sneaky photo of the beautiful building as it came into view when I turned the corner!

 

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Back to this morning……and the children woke to find Jingles and Jangles had left a gingerbread house for them to build!

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Now, as you will see from the video below, I did say about making it once Kye had finishes school.  What I hadn’t planned on was being late home from my meeting, then having other things to do with the children that took priority!

So there’s no photo of a beautifully made gingerbread house tonight-because a) my children don’t make beautiful gingerbread houses anyway, and b) because we haven’t even started to make it!

So here’s the video of the children’s reaction from this morning-do note the unbelievably cute “Thank You’s” from Olivia!!!!


Tomorrow, the plan most definitely is to make the house!!!

And tonight, the elves are leaving Skittles, to make the Skittles Rainbow!!!!!

Come back tomorrow to see how that went (but lets not hold our breaths shall we….)

 

Until tomorrow……….Elf you laterrrrrrr

Elf on the Shelf-Day 14 (and a visit to Santa!)

 

Today was a pretty quick-and-easy ‘treat’ antic, as I had to be out of the house by 6:30 to catch a train this morning (more about that soon-stay tuned!)

 

So Daddy videoed this one, and as you can see, the children are steadily getting more excited (or possibly just losing their minds), every morning that they come down!  (Although as you can see from the end of the video-Kye seemed to think the book left for him was too hard for him to do!)

 

Once I was home from London, we had a quick change out of school clothes etc, and went off to see Santa at Westwood Cross!  The children were SO excited, and had a long chat with him about what they’d like for Christmas!

 

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I feel like we’ve taken the elf thing a little easy the last couple of nights, so tonight’s is going to be a good one (even if I’m on the brink of exhaustion from today)-just wait and see!

 

Until tomorrow…….. keep your elf eyes on my blog!