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Monday, 3 June 2019

Take Me Back to the 90's with Walkers

This post is sponsored by Walkers.
Back in the day, before Girls Aloud and Little Mix, a girls-only band had a fair amount of the nation reaching for leopard-print crop tops, getting an edgy tongue piercing, wearing hair in bunches or even reaching for red hair dye (or hair mascara, remember that?). If you don't know who I am talking about, then quite frankly, you must be living under a rock. They are, of course, The Spice Girls. Who are back!

Obviously its never going to be quite the same, but a few bands have done well for themselves despite being a member down...

What 90's nostalgia does it remind me of?

Well, if I wanted to watch The Spice Girls Movie, for example, I had to use a VCR, aka, video player and right at the end of the movie there were advertisements of Spice Girl merchandise so viewers could replicate their look at home.
Sadly for me, these items were deemed too expensive by my mother, so I had to make do with rolling up my tops to create crop tops, and donned the occasional temporary tattoo. I recall even making my own bandeau top with a sewing needle and thread but found it was too narrow!

hair mascara and jelly shoes 90s fashion nostalgia

Hair styling:
Primary school had a talent show, which saw me and 4 other young girls get on the stage dressed up and effectively mime to the track "Wannabe" as we dissolved with shyness. I had red-orange hair mascara streaked through my hair to emulate Ginger Spice and I can still remember how crispy and solid it made my hair.
This also correlated with the time that jelly "high-heels" were in fashion, which again, never cut it with my mother as an inch and a half of heel was too tall, even though my friends had them.
If I remember rightly, my sister preferred being Baby Spice on account of being the youngest, blonde and having a love of pink. My auburn hair meant I couldn't be anyone other than Ginger, and due to our incessant singing and dance choreography at any available time, our Grandpa simply called us The Spice Girls. This continued long after the initial fandom lasted!

I'm not convinced that I could be Walkers Spice Girls Best Ever Fan now, but if Walkers crisps ran the competition back in the 90's then I would have been in the running!

Have you seen the latest Walkers advert? If you were watching Britain's Got Talent on Sunday then you were most likely to catch it but just in case, here it is.

Do you think you could win Walkers' Best Ever Fan Challenge?

Do you have floor to ceiling memorabilia like the super fan in the advert? If only superfan Dev (played by Coventry comedian Guz Khan) had shared their Walker's crisps with the Spice Girls!

Spice Girls surpriise super fan walkers 90s
22 years after their first Walker's ad: Don't celebrate yet Spice Girls! Walker/s crisps are too good to share in exchange for a ticket!


Wednesday, 29 May 2019

A Day of New Discoveries: Bournemouth

Collaboration - the spending money was gifted by, but all views are my own.

We remain so privileged that we live in such a diverse region of the UK. Here on the South Coast of Hampshire, idyllic villages, Portsmouth's Gunwharf Quays, The Isle of Wight and The New Forest are a few examples of what is on offer. Venture a little further west and you will enter Dorset - a staycation hotspot thanks to appeal of the magnificent Jurassic Coastline.
Bournemouth is probably a city which most people know of, especially when the UK has a heatwave as it is typical to see photos of a crammed Bournemouth beach full of sunbathers.

Bournemouth beach

Gardens Bournemouth

Recently we visited Bournemouth to have a family day out. Since we are relatively local, it was an easy destination, otherwise there are a range of hotels in Bournemouth. Last time we visited the Oceanarium which can be found right on the seafront, but this time we decided to try our luck at Mighty Claws crazy golf. All three kids love dinosaurs but had never properly played mini golf before so it was definitely going to be a totally new experience!

Mighty Claws Bournemouth dinosaur

As well as Playgolf in Colchester, Mighty Claws can be found at Playgolf, Bournemouth and if you happen to be in Hampshire, a newly opened Viking's style Mighty Claws can be found in Hedge End. The ginormous volcano and Tyranossaurus Rex were clear to see from the moment we parked the car which certainly excited the children.

Volcano mini gold Mighty Claws Bournemouth

Mighty Claws mini golf Bournemouth

Our age of children ranged from a very confident 2 and a half year, almost 5 year  old and a 7 year old. We had a few "Freyja advantages" whereby she picked up the ball and dropped it in the hole, but for the most part, the children decided to use the golf put as they saw fit which included weilding it croquet style to dribbling the ball hockey-stick style. I reckon that 8 years of age could be the best age to get the most out of the Mighty Claws experience if you really want to experience the competitive element of mini golf. It definitely was fun to be surrounded by some giant animatronic dinosaurs and play mini golf through stalactite caves. I imagine the atmosphere would be even better at early evening with the volcano lights on.

Animatronic dinosaurs Mighty Claws Bournemouth

Stalactite style mini golf cave Mighty Claws Bournemouth

Following our success at Might Claws we continued to Wagamama in Bournemouth.Since it was a day of new experiences, we were fairly limited with restaurant choices, however Wagamama can cater for dairy and gluten intolerance really well. Freyja certainly tucked into her mini paad-thai noodles and Alex tried the cod instead of the usual mini chicken katsu curry. I'm a creature of habit but I tried the beef brisket donburi which I would definitely have again.

Kids mini pad thai Wagamama

Kids crispy cod cubes meal Wagamama Bournemouth

Beef brisket rice donburi Wagamama Bournemouth

 If you find a space at the Pavilion car park you are in the ideal location to reach town, the well-kept aviaries gardens and of course, the beach for an obligatory ice cream plus sand dusting and a go on the 2p machines.

Sandcastles Bournemouth beach family day out

Bournemouth beach family day out ice cream

Bournemouth Beach Dorset coastline family day out

Have you visited Bournemouth lately? Have you enjoyed anything new?

Monday, 17 December 2018

First Time at The Theatre: Puppet Panto!

We were gifted tickets in exchange for this post, all opinions are my own.
Until Saturday 15th December we were yet to experience a theatre trip as a family of five. We haven't even tried watching a movie all together. Anyone with young children know that their attention spans wane over time, plus we'd feel bad if they disturbed other viewers. But, I am pleased to say that our first theatre pantomime experience was a complete success, and I am certain that it was 'Puppet Panto' by the Bridport-based Stuff and Nonsense Theatre Company that made it a memorable family time that we will reflect on fondly.

Puppet Panto Ticket and promotional leaflet

We were kindly sent tickets in exchange for this post and I have to admit that, initially, I did think that perhaps Freyja was too young for it. We were allocated 5 seats right towards the back of Hedge End's The Berry Theatre which were not far away from exits should we needed to have duck out. Thankfully we didn't need to as for the vast majority of time, Freyja (2 years old this Christmas Eve) was transfixed on the lights and sounds and playful puppetry that performers Niki McCretton, Toby Gascoigne and Jenny Harold brought to life. I believe this to be a testament to their hard work and dedication in producing a family friendly panto which will be guaranteed to suit a wide age range of audience, from 1 to 100.

So, what is 'Puppet Panto' all about? Just in case you are planning on seeing it, (it runs until 31st December), I shan't give too much away. Take a look at the company's brief Youtube trailer:

From their press:
When a bunch of puppets try to put on a performance of Snow White, how will they cope when everything starts to go wrong? What will they do to make sure the show can go on?! Join our company of puppets on a bold and hilarious adventure full of mishaps, comedy and song. Can you help them solve their problems and put on a brilliant show?!
PUPPET PANTO is an exciting new co-production for Christmas 2018 between The Point and their @HOME company, Stuff and Nonsense, returning to The Berry Theatre by popular demand following their recent sell-out shows, The Gingerbread Man, The Enormous Turnip and The Little Red Hen.
Stuff & Nonsense make inspiring theatre for bold adventurers, placing children’s creativity at the heart of what they do and enabling adults to become seriously playful. Their energetic, thought-provoking and playfully mischievous productions have been enjoyed by over a quarter of a million people since 2010.
It's a real Christmas treat for all ages of the family! Warning: this show is seriously playful! 

Puppet Panto stage and set The Berry Theatre

For the number of puppets, (which attempt to rejig their performance of Snow White after a series of alterations by a cast member with ominous intentions involving a certain poisoned apple) the three Stuff and Nonsense performers did incredibly well. It was evident that they didn't mind improvising when interacting with audience members; lots of laughter all round with plenty of jubilant clapping (especially from my three children!). 95 mins with a 15 minute interval felt like the perfect duration of panto for our children's age range of essentially 2, 4 and 6 years old. They loved joining in with the booing, clapping and "oh no you're not!" synomynous with traditional pantomime. Lily and Alexander were sitting on the edges of their seats, entranced by the storyline and eager to show me where some woodland puppets were appearing.

The King and The Queen of Puppet Panto
The King and The Queen in their castle, beside the magic mirrors.
Snow White versus the cleaner Puppet Panto The Berry Theatre
Uh oh, could this tussle be a potential problem for Puppet Panto?

Snow White and the Woodland Cottage The Berry Theatre
Snow White hiding within a tree beside the woodland cottage
A Magic mirror Snow White Puppet Panto
An example of a Magic Mirror creature

Snow White and the poisoned apple Puppet Panto The Berry Theatre
Is it too late? Snow White has taken a bite of the poisoned apple!
(I found The King and his knight Clod Monty Pythonesque)
We were thrilled to be able to go backstage following their opening performance which was very clearly a huge success as it was a full house. Niki kindly showed us Lily and Alex's choice of puppets from the panto, namely the trio of travelling mice who sell a variety of wares including potions to turn you into a duck...and worse. It was a great opportunity to get up close to the set; it was incredible to see some of the very narrow spaces which the puppeteers have to contort themselves into!
The travelling mice Puppet Panto The Berry Theatre
One of Lily's favourite puppets - Emmental the mouse.
Lily and one of the mice Puppet Panto The Berry Theatre
Alex with one of the Puppet Panto mice The Berry Theatre
Alexander with one of the mice which have brilliant names - Emmental, Cheesyface and Manchego!

All in all, if you appreciate a spot of slapstick humour and a playful, interactive storyline, then this is an ideal improvisation puppet pantomime for you, no matter what your age.
Where? The Berry Theatre, Hedge End, Hampshire
When? Until 31st December 2018
How Much? Full price: £11.00 Over 60: £9.00 Student: £9.00 Under 16 years: £9.00
Duration? 95 minutes with 15 minute interval
Lily getting to grips with one of the puppets, and meeting The King and Niki

Puppets by Lily and Alex Puppet Panto

Rob having a go, Puppet Panto
Rob having a go - he tells the kids amazing made up stories with a variety of voices so perhaps he needs to add puppets to his repertoire 
 Many thanks to A Load of Stuff and Nonsense theatre company and The Berry Theatre, and of course Alice of Southampton Bloggers for this opportunity. We had a fabulous time which was the highlight of an exceptionally rainy December Saturday. We can't recommend Puppet Panto highly enough - we would absolutely watch any other productions made by the team too.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Christmas at Beaulieu

*My family and I were invited to experience the opening night of Christmas at Beaulieu. All opinions are my own.

It is December already so let the festivities begin! Although, this year I have (unusually for me) felt quite christmassy even in November. This is all due to our wonderful visit to the location of the Beaulieu estate and National Motor Museum, as this year, for the first time, Beaulieu offers a spectacular light trail that will delight you every step. Book your visit to Christmas at Beaulieu now to enjoy this experience yourself - it runs until Christmas Eve. 

Keep warm with a drink at the bar at Christmas at Beaulieu

Christmas at Beaulieu family fun on the traditional carousel

With the children snuggled up in warm hats and scarves, Christmas jumper and a Mother Christmas outfit, we began the trail - not before enjoying the carousel of course. The beginning of the trail has a bar, a burger stall, sweet shop and a hot chocolate station, to name a few stalls, so as you can imagine, it smells pretty divine! Within the trail itself, a Marshmallowist gourmet marshmallow stall can be found to further satisfy your sweet tooth, scenting the air with fireside treats.

Christmas at Beaulieu Cathedral of Light
Christmas at Beaulieu offers over 11 individual installations and one of them is the 200ft long Cathedral of Light with 30,000 bus lights.

First, you walk through an illuminated archway canopy, aptly named 'The Tunnel of Light" which felt very majestic and almost cathedral like. I felt like a bride walking up the aisle, especially with the classical music being played!
The one mile after-dark light trail continues to the scented fire garden within the grounds of the medieval abbey ruins. The flickering flames of the Christmas tree had us all captivated as the orange and red glow appeared to ignite the ancient 13th century abbey walls.

Christmas at Beaulieu Fire Garden abbey grounds
Beaulieu Abbey, in the grounds of the attraction, is the ideal setting for the Fire Garden - an atmospheric installation with over 180 flickering torches which will use as many as 5,132 individually hand-crafted candles by Christmas.

From there we bumped into a special visitor who was aboard Beaulieu's vintage red double decker bus and the children enjoyed a good rendition of "Jingle Bells".

Christmas at Beaulieu veteran bus

Following the veteran bus, you'll walk through a pathway adorned by green glowing christmas trees to discover a Lewis Carroll inspired fixture and a very special wishing tree from which you can hang your own wish. You'll walk beneath another canopy of tiny fairy lights, guarded by sentinel Nutcrackers, to be greeted by a brilliant light show to music highlighting the facade of the Montagu family home. This looked particularly spectacular with the full moon in view.

Christmas at Beaulieu Palace Performance
A musical installation set to the tune of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" will play over 2,200 times during the course of the event.

Larger than life, gleaming icicles lead you onwards, with white snowflake light displays beside you (which reminded our four year old son of fireworks). The Meadow of Light was probably one of our ultimate highlights of the Christmas at Beaulieu light trail - it certainly had our six year old daughter Lily transfixed. She even spotted a special guest in a tree! Count how many fibre-optic heads there are and watch them change from red to green, to blue and to white.

Fibre Optics Mill Pond Walk Christmas at Beaulieu
Thousands of fibre-optics light up the tree-lined Mill Pond Walk on the banks of the Beaulieu River.

As you wander beneath playful ribbons of colourful light, grand singing Christmas trees herald a festive finale to the trail, but it doesn't have to be the end. I would recommend a cup of hot chocolate before going round again!

The Christmas at Beaulieu light trail is very much a new creative venture and I certainly think it will pay off. I am excited to visit again and in the future.

The Fire Garden Christmas at Beaulieu

You can book your tickets now via the website: Under fives and carers go free but still require a ticket and if you want to visit the motor museum you will require a day ticket too.

Friday, 5 October 2018

6 Year Old's Reaction to New Stop-Motion Show, 'The Hengelings'

The Hengelings new stop-motion kids show blog title

Collaborative post - all opinions are my own or Lily's

My children are now at an age where one children's television channel isn't enough, or doesn't cater for all of their preferences. My eldest, who is 6, enjoys some CBBC, my middle child love 'Booba' on Netflix which I personally find a bit creepy and the toddler, well, she mainly loves turning the TV volume all the way up or completely off!

One thing we can all enjoy has to be stop-motion creations. Wallace and Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, The Clangers, Pingu, etc.

There looks to be a new stop-motion production in the pipeline, specifically produced for children between the ages of 3-7 years and available on YouTube. And it has to be an absolute first as the main characters are the Hengelings, little rock-like creatures which inhabit the world-famous Stonehenge.

Henge - a particular kind of earthwork of the Neolithic period, consisting of a circle of stone or wooden uprights
The Hengeling family new stop-motion show

The Hengelings uses stop-motion puppets and a large model replica of Stonehenge (produced from cut and shaved polystyrene), to indulge a young audience into a world of fantasy, adventure and humour. Each narrative begins with the sun rising over the Neolithic English monument to reveal a small family of stone-like creatures that inhabit the site. By the end of each episode, the sun sets and the creatures return to bed.

The Hengelings are playful, emotive characters who's intent is to maintain an equilibrium of the natural world that they inhabit. The underlying them to all the stories is a positive environmental message told through the mystery of Stonehenge.

Meet the Hengelings

Who are the Hengelings?

In their physical appearance, it could be said that they are a 'chip off the old block'; they remember the standing stone of the English Heritage monument on a miniature scale - supposedly not much taller than a foot in height - so tiny in comparison to the giant stones.
There are four Hengelings in total, Sarcen, the father, Solstice, the other, Lintel, the young girl, and Mortice, the young boy - all names associated with Stonehenge.

Lily's reactions to The Hengelings

The Hengelings communicate without words but use expressive sounds, much like Pingu and Shaun the Sheep. The 'Wise Old Stone', an Easter Island figurine carved into one of the giant standing stones, acts as the narrator and a fifth character and helps the story involving the mythology of Stonehenge flow.

On Friday after school, following Lily's first solo visit to the corner shop to buy herself some sweets, I put the first Henglings teaser video on YouTube for her to watch.

Here is what she thought:
''I really liked the little one, the one with the flower it its hair."
"Their voices were really funny and made me laugh."
"It was really funny when one got hit by a snowball!"
Would you like to - 
learn more about Stonehenge?
Watch more Hengelings?
"Yes, please!"

Here is Lily's disappointed face when she realised the episode had ended:

Disappointed Lily once the Hengelings had finished

Lily's idea for another episode would have to involve the Hengelings playing games, like stone skittles, which I think is a great plan.

It gets a big thumbs up from Lily! Will your kids watch The Hengelings?

Friday, 24 August 2018

Cocktail Table Service at Turtle Bay

Blog header Title Cocktail Table Service at Turtle Bay Southampton cocktails and duck roll photo

As a Southampton resident of 4 years I am still discovering new places whilst developing my local knowledge. I only visited East Park for the first time this month to have a picnic with the Southampton Bloggers beside the Instagram-worthy wisteria. I've clearly been missing out!

Another first was experiencing Turtle Bay Southampton's new table service, again with the lovely Southampton Bloggers. As I walked towards the Guildhall, noticing all the "new"sights of the fountains, parks and the soon to be dismantled Seaside in the Square, I didn't know what to expect. Well, we were well and truly spoiled by the team at Turtle Bay. The staff were enthusiastic about the cocktails and food, explaining what each dish was and what it contained. They clearly know their stuff about the Caribbean menu they offer. And that is what we want to experience as bloggers; as much information as possible to relay to you. If we want to go back for more, then you can be assured that the venue won't disappoint.

So, if you are looking for a venue with a great atmosphere, fantastic and varied Caribbean food, with a multitude of cocktails and shooters then you need look no further. 

Turtle Bay Hot sauce

Turtle Bay Bajan Pepper Sauce
These photos were taken before and after the tables were filled with a variety of Caribbean food and exotic cocktails. If you feel the need for more spice and a bit more of a kick, these hot sauces are available on your table.
Turtle Bay Side Chick Martini
The first cocktail we had the pleasure of enjoying was a delicious Side Chick Martini which had an almost smoothie-like texture. The martini contains vodka, passion fruit, orange juice and vanilla which provides a subtle sweetness which cuts through the fresh tartness of the passion fruit. It is served with a refreshing prosecco side, which in my opinion acted as a palate cleanser. The tall shot glasses aren't necessarily a 'down in one' glass, but provide a good taster.
Turtle Bay food and drink table service
On to the food! But before that, I absolutely love the glass water bottles. I'd like to believe they were full of dark rum at some point. Who knows, they probably were!

Turtle Bay review digging in jerk platter
Bloggers digging in!
Amongst the hugely varied selection of flavourful food, we were served the Just Jerk Platter which included:
Marinated jerk wings, glazed pork ribs, beef patty, jerk chicken flatbread, sweet corn fritters and a super green salad.
Turtle Bay Jerk Platter to share
The Just Jerk Platter: Top left clockwise: Sweetcorn fritters, marinated jerk wings, jerk chicken flatbread, beef patty (turmeric spiced pastry with a lightly Caribbean spiced beef filling and herb mayo), glazed pork ribs and super green salad in the centre.
Turtle Bay Vital Veggie Platter
The Vital Veggie Platter appeals to vegetarians and intuitive eaters alike. The sweetcorn fritters aren't spiced at all so they can provide a welcome break from the heat of the jerk pit grilled mushrooms and peppers with spicy jerk. The crispy okra are delicately flavoured and delicious with the herb mayo. The flatbread is adorned with cubes of halloumi and mango which provide a nice balance between salty and sweet. Served alongside the veggie platter is a super green salad and plantain. Such a delicious sharing platter!

Turtle Bay Duck rolls, halloumi and quinoa
Add to that, duck rolls and a Sunshine Quinoa consisting of quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, fresh pineapple, pomegranate seeds and a citrus lime dressing.
Turtle Bay sweet potato fries, side chick martini
Sweet potato fries, whats not to love!
Turtle Bay Crumbed Halloumi
For the cheese lovers: crumbed halloumi

Turtle Bay KoKo Kolada
Turtle Bay's Koko Kolada - a smooth, sweet tasting drink containing Koko Kanu coconut rum, dark rum, coconut milk and pineapple juice. Suitable for vegans.
Turtle Bay Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri
We had the opportunity to select a drink from the menu to try, so I opted for a cooling frozen strawberry daiquiri which was really refreshing following a very sweet Koko kolada.
Turtle Bay frozen strawberry daiquiri, koko kolada and firewater shooter
To end the evening we were served a Turtle Bay Beach Shooter of our choice. If you don't know what a shooter is, it is basically a mini cocktail sampler, without the kick of a straight-up shot. I chose the Firewater which contains blackberry brandy, rum, falernum (an aromatic Caribbean syrup used in cocktails) and pineapple juice. It did require a quick stir to disturb the phases of liquids, but it tasted amazing!
What a brilliant evening the Southampton Bloggers had at Turtle Bay Southampton. We were overwhelmed with the quality of the food and table service which made the experience exemplary.

You can follow Turtle Bay on Twitter and Turtle Bay Southampton on Instagram

Complimentary meal and cocktails for the purpose of this review; all opinions expressed are my own.
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