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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.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

When Bad Things Happen to Good Houses

We are currently in the midst of doing up our house, hence the radio silence*. It is no easy feat having three children sleeping downstairs, bunk beds and all. Somehow we are managing, and looking forward to the renovation completion.

As I spent quite a lot of time in silence removing woodchip wallpaper from our hallway, staircase, landing and two bedrooms, I wondered to myself what other horror stories could other people have?
For what is it worth, despite woodchip being declared 'the devil', the majority of ours came off relatively easily with only a score with a scraper. Pulling huge strips off was immensly satisfying. When sheets pulled out wall plugs too, it was like a giant pore cleansing nose strip!

woodchip wallpaper image search yes it is still available to purchase
Roll up, roll up, buy your light minimising wallpaper here!

Apart from the atrocity of woodchip wallpaper, we also discovered another 'Bodge It Yourself - job; in the living room. We wanted to see whether the floorboards were in good nick (note to self, it is a Victorian midterrace, none of it will be!), so we rolled up the carpet in the bay window to find...

a kitchen cabinet door
...which matched the present at the time kitchen

So, I am not the only one to be amazed with what some people are capable of in order to create a facade in their own home. I mean, it is obviously fine to do so, but some choices such as the aforementioned just makes the mind boggle! No photos mind, so you can use your own imagination (and recoil in horror).

 A Beautiful Mind tells me that her husband's friend said he could install their new toilet, and put a CORK plinth underneath it which her 4 year old boy peed over all the time and it STANK!

Mummy and the Chunks found a door that led to nowhere behind 5 layers of wallpaper in what they thought was an ordinary wall!

All About Mummy's house is covered in devils grade ceiling artex. Whoever did it must have been on something. Every room, except the downstairs loo which escaped somehow...

Mama Mighall's loft is 'boarded out' with old doors. No idea how the old man that used to live there got them up there!

When we moved into our house now it was utterly beautiful, all freshly renovated and we thought. One day after the en-suite bulbs kept blowing I got my dad round to investigate. Eventually he discovered that the entire wirings of our bathroom electric were all screwed up into a Tesco carrier bag and placed under the floorboards, amongst the (leaky) plumbing too! We are lucky to have got out alive!! - Five Little Doves

when DIY ends in an interesting result

Our kitchen and living room used to be open plan and it was blocked up before we moved in. Only they left the kitchen light in the middle of the living room!
There were random light switches everywhere that did absolutely nothing. It needed a whole rewire. Good job my partner is an electrician. - To Aufinity and Beyond

Our house is a new build and so we were so thrilled when we moved in as everything was new. However the people who worked on the first set of houses in our area hadn't done the best job. Firstly, we had no TV signal for months and eventually discovered the TV wire had just been curled up and placed behind the socket unconnected. Secondly, our bathroom was having issues and we discovered that it only had 2 beams supporting the whole thing. Thirdly, we had no washing machine plug for about a year, and eventually discovered it was hidden in the back of the kitchen cupboard! - The Parenting Trials

Me, Him, the dog and a baby tells me that the previous owners of their 1900 Victorian house took out any period feature. They even sanded the original floor in the hallway with hand-painted pattern around the edge. They also painted everything, including bathroom tiles and kitchen cupboards in white emulsion.

Tiny Tripping reflects in horror - OMG. When we were doing the nursery we found that when we peeled off the wallpaper there was more wallpaper and under that we found that the plaster had blown and rather than fix it the render had been STICKY-TAPED back on. Load of fun at 8 months pregnant.

Twinderelmo had a filthy stained patch of carpet where the previous owner must have stood to do their fake tan. A large rug had disguised it for the purpose of the house viewings. Grim!

Do you have any corkers? (Hopefully you aren't guilty of one)
Let me know!
*Backdated post, its been hectic!

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Supermarine Woolston

Last Thursday, I visited Supermarine Woolston for the first time with the Southampton Bloggers for an evening of chat, Cosmos and, of course, pizza.
Let me tell you all about it...

The Interiors & History
Wooden panelling in the darkest, richest blue (Hague Blue?) illuminated by tripod lights and industrial looking hardware throughout. Ginormous pasta processors stand sentinel beside blue patterned tiles

Supermarine takes its name from one of Woolston's biggest employers in the mid 1900's: a seaplane development and production company that went on to develop the Supermarine Spitfire.
I appreciated the huge aerial prints of the area and dedications to military personnel which can be found on the walls. 

A decorative mosaic woodfire stove takes the centrepiece within the kitchen of Supermarine

Pots of fresh basil and fresh flowers decorated the marble look tables.

Channelling hygge with candlelight and a Cosmopolitan

The Food
 One of the starters included the creamiest torn mozzarella with fresh sliced tomato, basil leaves and a balsamic glaze.

Supermarine's new menu features woodfired pizza which creates an incredible aroma. No 360 degree round pizzas to be found here. 

It was a first for me to have a pizza with fresh avocado on top and it was delicious!

The chocolate pizza was to die for. I will definitely be replicating this for my own family using a dairy free chocolate spread and tonnes of strawberries as my daughter Lily can't get enough!

I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at Supermarine with the Southampton Bloggers, thank you to Supermarine for having us and to Alice Spake for organising the evening. I would absolutely recommend a visit to Supermarine, it won't disappoint.
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