Mumaleary's Blog

Cheaper than therapy

Get set for Geronimo 2016!!!

 

GERONIMO 2016.png

I’m so excited. And I just can’t hide it. Don’t panic, I’m not about to lose control but I definitely like it! GERONIMO IS BACK for 2016- Hooray!

Last year we were lucky enough to be invited to be one of the official bloggers at the first Geronimo festival at Tatton Park. We had an absolutely brilliant day and I know that lots of you did too. Due to last years success the festival has expanded and the fab festival will now book end May with a weekend at Harewood House, Leeds on 1-2nd May and then, at the end of the month Geronimo will be back at Tatton Park. That’s the bank holiday entertainment sorted then!

Wondering what’s in store to entertain your brood? Geronimo is aimed at families with kids of 12 and under and focuses on family time and imaginative play in beautiful surroundings.

Last year the 3ft and Under Zone was a real winner for us- there were chilled out tents for feeding, changing and just letting the little ones catch their breath- it was really well thought out! Not surprising given the event organiser is a dad of 7!! This year the little ones can enjoy a fun class with Tumble Tots, take a ride on a balance bike or take a dance lesson with baby ballet. For the tiny tots, simply chill out in the baby yoga tent. Bliss! 

 

 

geronimo bethan

Happiness! 

Now the girls have found their feet and are certainly getting way more daring and adventurous I fear the calm of the baby zone will be lost on us but that’s ok- there’s loads more to look forward to…

There is an incredible array of different zones and activities but here’s the top 5 of what we’re most looking forward to this time around:

  1. The Adrenaline Zone will challenge even the bravest adventurers with tree climbing, den making and a thrilling zip line that will reach speeds of up to 60KPH! For those who like things a little less fast paced, there are fencing and archery taster lessons and Parkour sessions where Geronimites can learn how to jump and roll like a Pro.
  2. The girls were absolutely in awe when we took them to a circus last year in New Brighton so I know that the Circus Zone will be a hit- there’s a breathtaking aerial trapeze show and the chance to give plate spinning and stilt walking a go…Plate spinning is basically a metaphor for my life so I should have that one nailed in no time! This zone also includes a full circus show and Circus fudge will also be performing his show from Glastonbury festival – don’t miss it!
  3. Bethan asked me today when she could go on the telly to do some cooking, talking and singing so I am sure we’ll be spending some of our day in the Theatre Zone, with Pocket Story Theatre – winner of the primary times children’s choice awards at the Edinburgh Fringe. Fabularium is the most eccentric of travelling shows and Les Enfants Terrible present the Imaginary Menagerie; travel with Dr Longitude as he regales you with his strange stories and takes about his travels….I just hope they can get a word in when ours are there!
  4. Drums make me happy- I was reminded of that during last weeks Winter 10km so I can almost guarantee that I’ll be doing some embarrassing mum dancing in the Library Zone where we can join in some Bollywood dance classes or shake our booty at Zumba or enjoy a gigantic drumming session. I will be trying to beat a hasty exit before the Frozen singalong though. So. Over. It!!
  5. Last year we loved taking a load off and getting involved with the cooking and Creation Station workshops and I am sure we’ll be all over the Funky Junk Zone.  this time around also. The girls are all about card making, cutting and sticking and any sort of making at the moment and when you add hair braiding, face painting and fairy making workshops into the mix this has got ‘coffee break’ written all over it for me and Mr L!

 

Aside from all of that they’ve brought back the big guns in terms of kids entertainment…Mr Bloom, Andy Day, Alex Winters and Cook and Line from Swashbuckle will be around for daily meet and greets, appearances of the main stage and lots of fun, songs and silly slapstick comedy you know that you’ll be laughing along as much as the kids! 

bloom

Totally mixing with the A List. Bloom = BOOM

The countdown is on! 

See you there- keep your eyes peeled for our competition.

Geronimo Bar

Just in case you’re still on the fence! 

Muma.

XxxX

 

Tickets are on sale NOW priced from £18.50pp.  A ticket for Geronimo Harewood also includes access to Below Stairs of the House.

 

 

 

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The Learys do Legoland…

It’s no secret that family Leary love Lego.

Mr L and I both had it as children. I loved following the pictures to create a house or car or throwing away the instruction booklets and free styling something fantastic and I have fond memories of building things with my dad in comfortable silence.
Basically, it’s the perfect toy; it’s robust, doesn’t age, doesn’t break, doesn’t need batteries, can be played with by anyone of any age or sex and the only limit is your imagination. The only negative is how much it kills your feet if you accidentally step on a piece. No major surprise that the word Lego translates as ‘ Play Well’.

Knowing all of this it made perfect sense for us to take the girls to Legoland and frankly, I was as excited as they were!
Now, I have realised of late that blogging and reviewing products is turning me into a miserable old hag. The sort of person that instead of taking the positives out of a situation casts a critical eye and looks for things to whinge about lest I should be accused of not telling the full story. It isn’t a quality I like- I tell the girls that no one likes whingers and I certainly need to take some of that advice myself.
However, I know you do appreciate honesty, so here, for your reading pleasure is our lowdown on Legoland Windsor.LLW%20Resort%20Logo%20Large
Read the rest of this entry »

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Disney on Ice…The Real Review!!

Following on from Friday’s apocalyptic melt down from both little cherubs post the Disney on Ice extravaganza I have relaxed, rebooted and am now able to tell you all about it.
You should know that I will be totally glossing over the aftermath and will be painting us as the quintessential perfect family. Please allow me to reimagine the day with a rose tinted hue!
I should also point out that it is far easier for me to write this from the comfort of Virgin first class as I travel down to London for a day of hen fun. I’d be just as happy to spend the whole day on the train reading, writing and chilling on my lonesome but a gals got to do what a gals got to do. Champagne cocktails here I come, unaccompanied mum alert, it could get messy!

{Brief aside; due to the abysmal WiFi on Virgins trains I was not able to post this yesterday as planned; I know many of you will have waited in for it!! }

Anyway, back to Disney on Ice;

Disney on Ice Echo Arena, Disney on Ice review,
On Friday night, as I relaxed in the bath with Sandi Toksvig; not the actual person, that would be both cramped and awkward; she is merely one of the writers of Good Housekeeping (Yes I do read it, my mum passes on her copy to me each month in the vain hope I will transform via osmosis!) I was reassured to discover that she shares my frustrations about Disney Princesses; they all get rescued by fellas and then, quick as a flash, get an incredible frock and go on to live ‘happily ever after’ but, they do it with such a bloody annoyingly brilliant sound track and amazing animation that it’s tricky not to get swept along.

I held off for as long as I could but we are now fully paid up members of the Dinsey fan club so, when I got the email telling me that Disney on Ice was coming to The Echo Arena, I put aside all of my feminist frustrations and booked. It was expensive at £40 each (3 seats between 4 as the little little is 2) but it was their Christmas present.

It was worth every penny. I loved it. Grandma loved it.

We all loved it.

There was no weak link. It was fantastic from start to finish. In the words of Anna (she needs no introduction)

It is amazing!!!

When the dates were announced initially I missed out on tickets so, when an additional date was added I was on it like a car bonnet and as a result we had the best seats in the house. Literally, we were floor level, front row. Get them if you can.

Only the best will do!!  Front Row Baby!!

Only the best will do!!
Front Row Baby!!

DOI Audience

Mickey and Minnie introduced all of the acts and every single one was fabulous. The dancers really engaged with the children and the big littles arms must have ached from the pointing and waving.

DOI Mickey and Minnie

First up were Anastasia and Dresilla from Cinderella, followed by The Little Mermaid.  We’ve never seen the film but the performance was incredible. When Ariel traded her voice for some legs she left the ice and gave a serious display of acrobatics whilst suspended by a rope. Amazing. I know I am over using the term btw!

After a short intermission Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy were back to get us all in the mood for the next acts;

One of our favourite Disney films is Beauty and the Beast and we can regularly be found singing along to Be Our Guest in the car.
The girls eyes were nearly as big as the plates when Mrs Potts and Chip came out. We booed Gaston, cheered Belle and laughed at Lumiere and Cogsworth. Apologies for the lack of imagery but it is tough to balance a toddler, point, clap and film simultaneously!

There were scenes from Tangled- including Maximus- an actual (obviously not ACTUAL but you get my drift)

Image courtesy of my friend Fi!! Thanks Mate ;-)

Image courtesy of my friend Fi!!
Thanks Mate 😉

then the finale was…Frozen (obv!)

The rink was transformed into a winter wonderland with snow falling from the ceiling  and when Sven and Christophe came on we were all enthralled.

Prince Hans lost his footing which frankly could be karma but he carried on seamlessly. All of the performances were really brilliant and, as Grandma so eloquently pointed out there were many pert posteriors to admire! There really is something for everyone.

I realise that by booking this we are on a slippery slope, I will be keeping my eyes peeled for other events like this, I have already booked tickets for Ben and Holly and I can not wait until they are old enough for festivals and the theatre proper!!!

In May we are off to Geronimo Festival at Tatton Park (keep your eyes peeled for a ticket give away soon) and in August hope to head to either Lollibop or The Just So Festival so, with that in mind here’s my top tips for making sure you don’t miss out on the hottest tickets in town and don’t feel fleeced when you go.

1) Sign up to the mailing list for your local theatres, arenas etc and you’ll get priority booking and will be the first to know when new acts are announced.

2) When Aunties, Uncles, Grandmas, Grandads and God Parents ask what to get the children for birthdays, Easter, Christmas, consider asking for tickets to the next event they’d enjoy. They might even offer to take them…

3) Get a loyalty card such as the ATG theatre card and save on all the booking fees. If you go to more than one or two performances a year it is well worth it.

4) Take your own snacks. Do not try to justify the £7 it costs for a drink because you get to keep the cup. £4 for candy floss with a cardboard Olaf head?!

5) Blindfold your kids on entry and exit to add to the occasion. A happy side effect of this game is that they won’t see all of the stuff that they are selling; no one needs to spunk £10 on a cup, a swirly light thing or plastic horse. You really don’t.
A double bonus here is the money you save on tat is money you can spend on the next years tickets plus, you’ll save on Big Yellow Storage fees in later years 😉

Have you been to Disney this weekend? I’d love to know what you thought…

Have a wonderful week.

Muma.

XxxX

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Life is like a toilet roll…Make some memories

As children, my sister and I spent almost all of our holidays on our Grandpa’s farm in South Wales.

The afternoon that school broke up for the holidays we were bundled up into the old orange Cortina and we were off. Off for weeks of lambing, hay making, den building, water walking, welsh cake making, village fate attending brilliance that was our childhood. I loved it. My heart will always belong to our farm and those treasured early years.

A big part of those holidays was visiting my mums cousins and Aunties who without fail would force feed us apple tart and tell us how much we’d grown and how time flew. I had absolutely no concept of how true this was and they clearly had no idea how boring it was to constantly hear that same sentence but they, like me now were simply unable to not mention the passing of time and how quickly it really does go.

Today is 7th of February 2015 for crying out loud. It is the opening weekend of another six nations; I have a grown up sister that is growing a little baby…I have grown two little babies myself- how on earth is this possible?!

I’ll tell you how people- you get booked up, year on year without even realising it…

2015, like any other year will have 52 weekends.

Of those 5 have already passed (of those we have had visitors for 3)

Out of the 47 remaining we have firm plans for 22 including 5 weddings, 2 christenings, 2 stags, one hen and a partridge being rescued from a pear tree.

BLOODY HELL!! It’ll be Christmas before we know it…on that note, I’ve already taken the liberty of booking the panto tickets! (yes really)

Happily, I’m a planner- I love having things in the diary and having things to look forward to and following an email today I can now add Geronimo Festival to the list of activities rapidly filling our standard issue Family Organiser Calendar. Family Leary are ambassadors. WHOOP WHOOP!

Geronimo Tatton Park

We were ambassadors for Lollibop last year and loved it so can’t wait to see what the Family Festival of the North has got to offer.

Geronimo will make its debut at Tatton Park in Cheshire over the May Bank Holiday weekend (Sat 23 – Mon 25 May) and is aimed at families of kids aged 2-12. Perfect for both of ours.

The festival director, Simon Goldman is a father of 7.

Lets jut ponder on that for a second shall we…SEVEN. I have 2 and it’s like a daily exercise in dressing octopus’ and herding cats so I am already taking my hat off to him but I digress; he says

With Geronimo, we’ve created a festival that’s going to keep the kids entertained all day long, and create memories that will last a lot longer.

That sounds perfect for me. I don’t do trinkets, I don’t want souvenirs but memories, photos and videos that we can look back on mean the world.

I’m not a total idiot, I know that it is the job of a press release to make things sound amazing but; it sounds AMAZING!!

You can picnic with the Mad Hatter for a start- I know that will be a winner for our two especially since the festival falls on both of their unbirthdays 🙂

Mad hatters tea party

Anyone for a cuppa?!

I reckon we’ll be spending the lions share of our time in the 3ft and under zone and, in homage to my childhood we’ll be taking in the petting zoo; I’m not sure what they’ll make of the camel rides though- watch this space.

Tatton park petting zoo

Baby animals for your littlies to feed and cuddle…I’m not kidding
(see what I’ve done there?!)

There’s craft workshops- another great opportunity to keep glitter out of the home, cookie decorating (when did we stop calling them biscuits?!) a dressing up zone (for the kids) a whole bouncy village and a giant sandpit- Mr Leary will be pleased 😉

I'll look forward to the inevitable rescuefrom the top of this!

I’ll look forward to the inevitable rescue from the top of this!

Much like Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage the Geronostage is where you’ll catch the big hitters like Mr Bloom and CBeebies ‘I Can Cook’ presenter, Katy Ashworth with more acts being announced all the time. I’m keeping everything crossed that the pink pig stays the hell away.

She cooks with kids and looks this clean?! I'm doing the meet and greet- I've got questions that need answering...

She cooks with kids and looks this clean?! I’m doing the meet and greet- I’ve got questions that need answering…

One of our favourite activities at the moment is dancing in the kitchen, on the nursery run frankly anywhere is fair game so I am looking forward to getting down with my badself my toddlers at the Gerono Disco- you never know who you might spot, Knutsford’s jam packed with ‘clebs.

See you there people, life’s like a toilet roll; the closer you get to the end, the quicker it goes so go on, make some memories.

Happy weekend…6/52…

Love Muma.

XxxX

Geronimo_Official-Ambassador_Badge_Simple_Medium

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Wonderful Wirral Women! #WoWiWo

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies; How the devil are you? I am saying ladies specifically because, frankly, without being sexist, I don’t think any of this is of interest to the guys amongst you- you might be required for babysitting though so do take note of the dates!

Can you believe we are slap bang in the middle of May half term and once that’s out of the way we will be rolling down the holiday hill headlong into Summer?! Sounds good hey? I know that daily I am becoming more and more like my mother but, I can’t let this pass without saying;

Oooohhhh; The days are long but the years are short aren’t they?!

Ain’t that the truth.

Over the Bank Holiday family Leary headed over to Farm Feast Festival at Claremont Farm and I was reminded yet again how lucky we are to live in such a gorgeous place; The Wirral. I love it.

We are surrounded by countryside,

We are surrounded by countryside,

we're close to the sea

we’re close to the sea

and the cities

and the cities

and, thanks in no small part to good old Dicky Branson we can still hit the big smoke in under 3 hours- perfect!

Since we came up here to live from Surrey in December 2012 I have been able to see so much more of my friends and family as well as meeting lots of new people which is brilliant. Incidentally, if you’re not familiar with Wirral, I would heartily recommend a visit. There are some lovely places to stay- one of which is on offer on Secret Escapes at the moment!

We all need a bit of this on our life don't we!

We all need a bit of this on our life don’t we!

Life is somewhat different than it was when I was growing up here, my social circle is now more baby groups that bellinis, more potty training than partying and frankly more gross than glamorous and I thought I would try to re-inject something special for all the #WoWiWo, that’s Wonderful Wirral Women to you and I- like it?!

So…with that in mind I have decided to become a little bit PTA, a little bit of a sticky beak, Mrs Mangle neighbour type and arrange some get togethers to help more mums and women in general, take a little bit of time for themselves and to hang out with their mates- see if any of them float your boat and feel free to share!

1) Non-Networking Networking: 

If you have your own business, are looking to set up your own business, change careers or return to work after a break then this night is perfect. On Thursday 10th July from 7:30pm I will be taking over Otto Lounge in Heswall with the lovely Jo from The Womans Org.

Don’t panic, don’t panic! I am not talking about some serious networking event where you put on a power suit and give a presentation about how you’re going to be the next Bobbi Brown or Jo Malone or Martha Lane-Fox.
 I’m talking about you pondering what you’re looking for out of your job and finding like-minded people who you might be able to link with, drink with and possibly work with in the future. You can come along to meet up with others, chat over a glass of wine about what you do, what you’d like to do and whether you might be able to support each-other by introducing contacts, sharing skills or experience. Don’t be put off if you’re not sure whether you fancy starting out on your own- you can just come for a kid free night with friends- it’s not a high-powered shoulder pad type of affair! More an opportunity to mull over some ideas with friends and acquaintances, hand out business cards if you fancy and speak to  The Women’s Org about how to take things further if you’d like.

“Networking is one of the most effective ways to grow a business, especially if your business is new and not well-known. It helps you to find new clients, suppliers and services and to forge new relationships that strengthen your company and build that essential ‘word of mouth’ about your business.”

I will be circulating a contacts list after the event so, if you want to come just email me the following with NETWORKING as a title:

  • Name
  • Business Name if applicable
  • Website if applicable
  • Social Media Details if applicable

The event will cost £3.50 and payment details will be provided by email.goals

 

2) Christmas Shopping Extravaganza

Yes, that’s right- I am unashamedly using the term extravaganza! This is to help you conjure up ideas of a glorious Festive Shopping trip with Frizz and Friends and Fun!

Meeting at The Devon Doorway, Gayton on Thursday 6th November from 8am you will be treated to a glass of bucks fizz, a delightful Eggs Benedict breakfast and a tea or coffee before being whisked off to The Trafford Centre (leaving at 9:30am) so you can shop sans kids and crowds and ensure that you get your hands on the must have toys and gifts before they all sell out.
We will be leaving the Trafford Centre at 4pm so you can get home in time for the kids bath and bedtime OR to carry on the evening with the food and drink offers available at the Devon Doorway and many of the other restaurants in Heswall. So, book in the childcare and hop aboard the fun bus (actually a comfy executive coach…I’m not as young as I was!)

The event will cost £20 and payment details will be provided by email.

shopping

3) The Fabulous Frost Fair

This is the most exciting of the three events to be perfectly honest and I can not wait!

Over the weekend of November 21st through to 23rd you are cordially invited to step into a beautiful Winter Wonderland at a top secret Wirral Location. Imagine for a minute the chance to browse a fantastic selection of luxury craft stalls choosing bespoke and beautiful gifts that you couldn’t find elsewhere whilst sipping champagne and tasting some gorgeous foods in a stunning setting. There will be demonstrations and workshops as well as the opportunity to book photo shoots to ensure you can send the perfect Christmas cards featuring your gorgeous self/kids/pet.

I can’t say too much more for the moment but, if you are interested in a stall for your business please do email me for more details. Christmas magic

So, there you go, a brief update on why my mind finds it so hard to power down and switch off! It would be absolutely brilliant to see you at any or all of these events- you don’t have to be young, be a mum or be a shopaholic; everyone is very welcome.

Oh and, the beauty of these events is that you can wear this with pride throughout December…

christmas teeshirt

 

Hit me with your emails at thelearys1710@gmail.com and I’ll be in touch!

Muma.

XxxX

 

 

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A trip to the Aquarium (Blue Planet Review)

For those of you that read the blog regularly, you will know that on Friday it was our baby’s first birthday. As Mr L is working away through most of January we didn’t feel we could manage a party (particularly since I haven’t even put the Christmas decorations back in the loft yet…does that mean eternal damnation or just back luck or, more likely, a simple sign of lazyitis?) so we decided instead to take a family trip to The Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port.

Initially I was open mouthed- no, not at the fact that the Aquarium holds an amazing 4,000,000 litres of water (in the principal tank alone) and features a 71-metre (233 ft) underwater tunnel, but at the fact that you had to pay for parking. Pardon me?
I was astounded by this since its location (near Cheshire Oaks outlet village) makes it easiest to visit by car and, though it is accessible by bus, I am sure they are aware most people will drive and take advantage of that. Humph- not a brilliant start!

Admission prices are also steep (£16.00 per adult and £11.75 for 12 and unders) but, kids under 90cm go free and there are a variety of offers online so it is always worth checking that out for savings.

Not actual size. Please do not hold your child up to your computer screen to check whether you'll need to pay

Not actual size. Please do not hold your child up to your computer screen to check whether you’ll need to pay

There is also the option of an annual pass which, in the end is what we plumped for. It offers FREE car parking (should be free anyway but I won’t go on) as well as many other discounts in the cafe, shop etc.

After over coming those two hurdles, we had a brilliant time!

Friday afternoon was the perfect time to visit; obviously, as both our girls are pre-school, it was easy peasy to take them on a week day and it meant that we basically had the run of the whole place so, for a slummy laid back parent, that means that your child can crawl and cruise without fear of being crushed and, you don’t need to battle with a buggy and lifts and the whole bloody palava that is sometimes a day out. Perfect.

 The aquarium is broken up into various sections and the majority of the tanks have viewing windows almost down to the floor which makes it easy for little people (and children) to see what’s going on without you having to bench press them for the afternoon.

Shhh- I'm counting

Shhh- I’m counting

I find fish really mesmerizing and could happily watch them for hours (well- minutes at least) and the girls seemed to feel the same.
Once we got over BG’s attempts to count them all which, when you sort of lose it after number 7, is a bit of a non starter- especially with moving targets; after that, the whole experience was fab with lots of kissing the glass (calm down, I was partly raised on a farm with lots of germs and muck etc and I’ve turned out ok…do not comment on this), pointing, chattering, babbling and giggling which was the whole point really.

I suppose one of the main attractions of the Blue Planet is the 71 metre underwater tunnel which allows you to see the rays and sharks swimming over head. It is fantastic. On busy days there is a moving walk way to prevent a backlog but, on a weekday afternoon we were able to amble through taking pictures, doubling back and taking as much time as we wanted.

How menacing is this face?  If there hadn't been a thick pain of glass between us I reckon I'd have been the next Steve Irwin

How menacing is this face?
If there hadn’t been a thick pane of glass between us I reckon I’d have been the next Steve Irwin

 It isn’t all about the tunnel though, you can see the fish being fed and, if you are old enough you can head on in and help out which sounds brilliant (in leu of a trip to the Great Barrier Reef of course!)

Stocking up on geeky facts!

Stocking up on geeky facts!

Swimming with the fishes

Swimming with the fishes

Looking a little less threatening.

Looking a little less threatening.

 
There are also crocs, jelly fish, turtles, frogs, spiders and meerkats to spy on.

I imagine with older children and, in sunnier weather, it would be easy to make a real day of it as there is outside space with a ‘Pirate Playground’ and ‘Otter Attraction’ BUT; be prepared, there are extra places to shed cash everywhere, from a Barney ride on car thingy to the vending machines not to mention the gift shop so, make sure you take snacks, drinks and a toy that they haven’t seen for a while, to entertain them as they pass through the gift shop to the playground…no one needs a semi precious stone or a ruler that also flicks around their wrist to make a crap bracelet. they just don’t.

The reason we went for the Annual pass in the end is that you only need to go 3 times in a year to get your money back in terms of on the door ticket prices and it makes you feel less like you need to spend the whole flipping day there. It makes a two-hour mooch more plausible, not excessive.

All in all, a really excellent way to spend an afternoon because there are exhibits to suit people of all ages and levels of interest and understanding.

I am particularly thrilled to have squirreled away a few new geeky animal facts so I am now able to drop bombs like this into conversation…’I mean, yeah, sure a piranha’s average life span is 25 years but, they can live for far longer’.
If you are thinking that this would make me a boring person to invite to a dinner party, you would be totally wrong; I also have facts on any number of other interesting topics such as the history of Neighbours (the soap, not Barb and John) and the people you meet on public transport!

Hope you have a whale of a time.*

XxxxX

*There are no whales at the Blue Planet.

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In the Night Garden.

20130902-223946.jpg

Yesterday we took the toddler, aka Baba A, to see In the Night Garden Live at the Trafford Centre.
Actually, to be more precise, in the John Lewis car park of the Trafford Centre.
It was her birthday treat because we are too mean to have anymore parties this century!
We queued, for a very short time to be fair, in the open air before being led into what is essentially an upside down bouncy castle with a lid, to watch the likes of Makka Pakka, Iggle Piggle and the Tombliboos look for a missing blanket.
20130902-224056.jpg

I’m not sure what to make of ITNG to be honest. Kids seem to love it but I get frustrsted by the proportions which are all over the place. How come Iggle Piggle can fit into the Ninky Nonk when he is clearly twice the size in most of the shots. Annoying.

The stage show that we saw was the Ninky Nonk show in which Iggle Piggle loses his blanket.
Careless.
It includes puppets, green people manipulating them, life sized characters and images projected onto the bouncy castle,roof! Hmmmm.
The press release describes the exact same experience like this…

The characters are brought to life with full-size costumes, enchanting music, magical puppets and spectacular panoramic projections, creating an immersive theatrical experience.

Whoever thought of this programme come cult is absolutely coining it in. Seriously.
The upside down bouncy castle purpose-built, inflatable touring theatre, was full to the brim of other parents and toddlers, either looking for a noose or bouncing and clapping and pointing with glee at the scene before them. You decide which was which.
20130902-224313.jpg

There were 4 performances yesterday and they had been in Manchester for the best part of a week beforehand. I am no mathematician, but with tickets costing approx £20 per head, a capacity of 550 plus the opportunity to buy goodie bags, the worlds worst tasting tea and meet a person dressed as a character, they make around £50k a day. WTF. That is insane.
They have been touring since Easter. Those green puppet handler people have a vey good reason to look so smug whilst their hands are stuck up the ass of a Tombliboo.

I would say that the highlight of my trip was when Mr L said;

Why the fuck are we still labouring under the misapprehension that no one knows where the blanket is.
It’s on the Pinky Ponk.
It’s like Sixth Sense. We all knew Bruce Willis was dead but had to go through the whole film waiting for the big twist. Crap.

When Derek Jacobi’s dulcet tones asked the audience ‘what’s that on the bottom of the Pinky Ponk’

I was tempted to shout out
Is it an up and coming Hollyoaks actor?

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It was never going to be about cutting edge drama but the reason it is so mind bogglingly successful is the fact that the children are mesmerised and genuinely love it. The parents love seeing their child so happy and will part with cash and mental well being to achieve it!
Yep, despite the fact that the toilets are porta loos that are outside, despite the fact that it is seriously expensive for a family ticket, despite the fact that you will be in close quarters with other people’s screaming kids for a couple of hours as well as your own, I would totally recommend In the Night Garden Live and reckon we’ll be taking both girls next time!
What a gluten for punishment I am.

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Race for Life. Race to Live.

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Evening All,

Phew, what a busy few days we’ve had seeing friends and family, playing in paddling pools, going swimming and to fairs and even having a meal out, en mass, without an utter Wailing Cacophony.

Today I completed the Race for Life with my mum and my sister in celebration of my mums recovery and to support and spur on my cousin and brother in law who are currently fighting cancer as hard as they possibly can.

It was absolutely heartwarming to see women of all ages, shapes and fitness levels with their own motivations written on the back of their tee shirts.

For my Mum

For my Sister

For my Husband/Dad/Friend…

For Me

There were pictures, stories of loss, stories of triumph and lots of women being cheered on loud and proud by friends, family and several dressed up dogs!

I didn’t take my girls this year but I certainly will do next time. So many children were running, walking, dancing and being pushed by mums, nans and aunties and they had their own tee shirts and motivations. Seeing things like

For my Grandpa

For my Best Friend

For my Nana

Written in childish lettering puts a lump in the throat like nothing else.

It must have been so tough for the families to break the news that someone they love was poorly or had passed away but what I observed today seemed to be an opportunity to say Thank-you or We Miss You and We Love you and We are fighting with you and for you as much as we can. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Allowing children the opportunity to do this too is hard and brave and probably very right.
Children are clever, they pick up on emotions and when things are not quite right for one reason and another.
This blog details brilliantly how hard it is for children to cope with loss but that does not necessarily mean that we should always totally shield them from it.
Perhaps allowing them to see that illness, difficulties, hurt and grief can be dealt with with positivity, love, togetherness and honesty is a good thing.

I am learning so much from being a mum. Caitlin Moran puts it brilliantly in her book Being A Woman. Read it, asap. I have a massive girl crush on her (and Liza Tarbuck actually- filthy laugh, but I digress!) I imagine I will bore you with some life lessons in the weeks to come but For now I think I will leave you all with these pearls of wisdom.

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”

― Henry James

And finally…

“If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn . . .
If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight . . .
If a child lives with fear, he learns to be apprehensive . . .
If a child lives with pity, he learns to feel sorry for himself . . .
If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy . . .
If a child lives with jealousy, he learns to feel envy . . .
If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty …

BUT

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient . . .
If a child lives with encouragement, he learns to be confident . . .
If a child lives with praise, he learns to be appreciative . . .
If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love . .
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves..
If a child lives with honesty, he learns what truth is . . .
If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice . . .
If children live with recognition, they learn to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn to be generous.
If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith in himself and those about him . . .
If a child lives with friendliness, he learns the world is a nice place in which to live . . .”

― Dorothy Law Nolte, Children Learn What They Live:

Have a lovely week peeps, we are off to the zoo tomorrow with one of my bestest friends are her babies. Eeek. Can’t wait.

Lots of love.
XxxxX

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May Day. May Day

And so to the end of another Bank holiday week end.
The May bank holiday week end is possibly the time of year where the difference between the haves and have nots is at its most stark and here’s why!

The Bank Holiday of the have nots…

Friday after work drinks gets a bit messy even though you promised yourself it would only be a quickie after your ‘Thursday is the new Friday’ drinks and subsequent hang over.
Saturday morning doesn’t exist for you- why would it, so you get out of bed with the sole purpose of getting a paper and having endless cups of tea accompanied by bacon sandwiches and a nice bit of Danny Baker on the radio (probably on catch up because it starts at 9!)
You actually read the paper- in amiable silence, occasionally mentioning a news story to your other half who makes a sort of interested noise.
Mid afternoon you might amble to the shops without the hindrance of buggies, babies and bawling. Casually browse around as many shops as you wish looking for clothes for your forth coming holiday- it’s long haul.
Go home via the pub where you check over your purchases, shandy in hand.
Obviously it is sunny.
Depending upon how you feel, you either luxuriate in the bath and then get ready to go out OR, luxuriate in the bath and get ready to stay in. Ether way this will happen in your own good time.

Repeat the above for Sunday and Monday with a sprinkling of friends, meals out and disposable income.

The Bank Holiday of the haves.

Friday after work drinks get a bit messy even though you promised yourself it would only be a quickie having checked your bank balance and pass out situation with the other half.
The arrival of the week end proper is heralded by the sound of your off spring crying sometime circa 4:03am.
Get up in a hungover haze (because you can no longer hold even a minuscule amount of alcohol) and attempt to settle baby back to sleep to no avail so you are downstairs feeding by 4:30.
Get marooned just out of reach of the TV remote so you are stuck watching advertorials of ‘Tap Out Extreme Fitness Craze’ which only serves to remind you exactly how blancmange like your stomach now is and how little time you have to solve this issue.
Around lunch time (actually 7:30am) your other child and husband join you downstairs.
Attempt to plan the day around who will take which child swimming, who will pack the bag, who will have the luxury of a shower.
Because all of this happens to a background of crying it sounds as though you are shouting at each other and the temperature in the room drops by 10*C.
Decamp to swimming lessons and think murderous thoughts about the cost and the fact that they are called lessons when what you are actually doing is singing in a warm pool with your feet on the floor whilst pacifying a crying child (don’t worry, it is your child!).
Repeat for child B.
Feel so god damn knackered that you actually cry.
Feel so god damn unattractive that you actually cry.
Count down the minutes until bedtime (for you and the children).

To kill some time you head to the supermarket- this is clearly where you now buy your clothes for finance and convenience reasons. Feel harassed and frazzled.

To kill some more time you head to Homebase and look at the garden furniture. Realise that the likelihood of you getting the opportunity to sit on said furniture is minuscule and you may as well have strapped your money to a firework.

Bump into someone you used to go to school with, they are with their kids too. Note that they are looking absolutely knackered with sunken eyes and a vacant expression. They are wearing clothes just like yours (bought in a supermarket) and are peppered with baby sick.
Go over to say something along the lines of ‘Jesus Christ you look rough’ and realise you are in fact in the Mirror department.

Head home for bathtime and further renditions of Incey Wincey Spider and The Wheels on the Bus.

Repeat as above for next 18 years (obv not the bath stuff- that would be weird).

Good night all.

XxxX

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I heart Heswall!! (Part 1)

Evening dudes!

Can I just start by saying What a totally gorgeous few days we have had. I am loving being out in the sunshine.

I have had a really lovely day today, apart from an horrific moment where I cracked open my bottle of Coke only to find that I had bought Vanilla Coke in error. Gutted. (You know when your mouth is expecting to taste one thing and gets something totally different? Sad times indeed.) Anyway, I digress…
I popped into Heswall today to run a couple of errands (further evidence that i am, infact 100- who says errands these days?!) I mean annoying, time consuming, little jobs which btw I couldn’t even complete. Thanks HSBC.

So, I went round a couple of shops and just felt so chuffed to be home again. Having lived away for 14 years I expected it to take more getting used to than it has. I have fallen back into life here so easily and I LOVE IT.

so- for your reading pleasure, here is my little list of:

Things to do, shops to visit, food to eat (or avoid) in Heswall for people like me*

* 30 something, pretty, charismatic and engaging mothers who enjoy irony and sarcastic wit.

This isn’t exhaustive because that would be far too boring, plus, I don’t have experience of everywhere in Heswall so, I am just mentioning things that I think are worth a visit- of course- if you want me to talk about your shop, your business, your whatever it is you do- please let me know, I am happy to give you my opinion but- if your place is pants, it might not be pretty!

Activities:

Rhyme Time :
If the idea of singing in a circle with other, previously intelligent and interesting women is not your cup of tea then avoid Rhyme Time at Heswall Library on a Friday at 10:30.
If however you looking silly is less important to you than your ankle biter having fun , for free, even during school holidays, then this is ideal.
It gets pretty busy so I try to arrive in good time (fail to prepare and all that…) they usually put out toys and instruments. Breast feeding is welcome (obviously only of your kids- no weird stuff allowed; as far as I know)
The mums are friendly and some go for coffee afterwards- if you are cool enough you might get the nod!
Parking is easy behind library (pay and display) or it is a short walk from the bus station.
The library has a good selection of childrens books, DVD’s and audio books and is a good source of information on what’s going on in the area generally. (Not better than MumaLeary though-clearly!)

Church Mice at The Methodist Church is a cute little activity group which includes a song, bible story, a craft activity and brilliantly a slice of toast and cup of tea or coffee. It obviously won’t suit you if you’re not into the man upstairs as it is clearly a Christian group but I liked it. Not too long and costs £1.50, I think.
Friday 10.00-10.30 so you might wonder whether it is worth all the effort it takes to get out of the door for 30 minutes but tea, toast and conversation with actual adults isn’t to be sniffed at!

I go to a lovely playgroup on a Tuesday at The United Reform Church, next to Tescos. There is a good range of toys including cars, trikes etc. a little side room for babies and a craft activity is offered each week too. Average age I reckon is 2-2 1/2. Run by a lovely lady called Lorna McCloud but there is a waiting list so you’ll need to give her a callor see if you can come as a visitor one week and put your name down then.
There is tea and toast for parents/carers and juice or water and toast for the toddlers which is eaten as a group about an hour into the session.
After food there is a sing song which does include one or two songs about God but there is nothing overbearing.
I might like this group more because my mates go but, how are you going to make friends if you don’t get yourself out there?

I have heard about Baby Tiddlers and Little Fishers which is in St Peters Church Hall, Lower Heswall but have never been. The venue is really nice and new and I am a real sucker for the gorgeous view from the churchyard but that is by the by.
Any who- times are Tuesday 2:30-3:00 and Wednesday 2:00-2:30. £1.50. Let me know if you go and have any feedback.

The Puddydale:
Pretty crap. I saw a child being pushed on a swing the other day by a nan (or mum that has had a very very tough paper round) who had a fag hanging out of her mouth and wasn’t even bothering to take it out to exhale! Despite this she was pushing so half heartedly she was only using one hand. Class.
Serves a purpose I suppose.

Shops:

Linghams:

Linghams, Linghams, Linghams- I have long loved your extensive selection of books. I love the fact that you are a fantastic, independent book shop laughing in the face of Amazon.
I love that you have a fantastic selection of picture books, early readers and games for children and are actually happy to have children in your shop.
There is story time on a Saturday 11am and also various evening with authors. They also have their own book club.
I do not love the coffee shop. 😦
I ventured in for tea and cake whilst having a rare hour to myself and had the driest coffee and walnut cake in the world. Ever. Gutted. Now as you may know, I am no Custom Cupcakes but I don’t sell my cakes. The tea was ok but the experience I had envisaged went something like this; I find an amazing book, go and find a nice quiet, comfy chair, wait for someone to take my order in a timely- not rushy, way and then am served a lovely mug of tea and slice of fresh, moist, yummy cake which requires a fork because the frosting is a little sticky.
Reality- ordered at the counter as no one noticed me (can you imagine!) received an average/insipid cup of tea- you know the type which is sort of see through at the edges and a dry slice of cake which was more akin to an old ryvita. Sad times indeed.
Despite this, I heartily recommend Linghams, it is a Heswall institution. The staff are helpful and you can order any books through them, they’ll call when it arrives and I never want it to close. They had a little carol concert last Christmas. Too cute!
I went in there last week with the double buggy (obviously kids too- I haven’t totally lost it yet). Baby A had a little go in the toy boat thing, fell out, wailed her head off and totally ruined the calm ambience of the place. Despite this, the staff were very patient as I knocked into the shelves in my haste to get out. Infact, they held the door open for me!!
Linghams has been voted the best independent bookshop in the NorthWest for the 2nd year running so it might just be me with cake issues. Another plus- it is licenced. Who doesn’t love a beer and a book.

**Interesting point to note about me**
I will give some things the benefit of the doubt whilst happily ripping something else to shreds. There is little or no logic to my opinion and I reserve the right to change my opinion or ask that you respectfully don’t challenge me on the fact that I might change from one very strong view to an opposing very strong view within days with no apparent reason. It is one of my charming quirks.

Gould’s:
Ideal if, like me you are a total and utter loser and the mere mention of a new term means new pens, pencils, diary etc.
Both of my babies are yet to utter their first actual sentence but I am already excited at the prospect of buying school supplies.
Independent which is nice- probably more expensive as a result and obv you could get similar in Tesco but then, you could also be buying a horse disguised as a fish or something.

DeeFineArts:
It surely goes without saying that both of my children will be naturally gifted and most things (ha ha) If one of their incredible talents is painting then I’ll nip down here to get the frames sorted. 🙂
Does first class framing and also has a gallery upstairs, no lift though.
Has now expanded into mirrors, cards and some jewellery, crafty type stuff (which I might describe as dust catchers but most people would think are lovely) from local artists.
Always has lovely art in the window and there is also a sort of resident artist who works in the shop; Jim Fleming which is charming.

Destination Anywhere:
A brilliant travel agent on Milner road which Mr L and I ventured into with both baby’s in search of a family friendly holiday which wouldn’t make me want to put my own head in an oven.
We were given a really warm welcome, a cuppa and Janet wasn’t pushy at all. We explained what we were looking for from a holiday, gave them a budget and an email address and they found some really really brilliant options for us to chose from.
Nearly didn’t bother to go in as it looks a bit pricey but I would certainly recommend them, particularly if you are looking for something a little different or special.

Anne Margaret’s:
Hum… This is Heswalls version of Willy Wonkas chocolate factory. I don’t mean that it is staffed by Umpa Lumpas, I just mean I have never seen anyone enter or leave- weird.
However, if you are looking for a crynalin nightie that will spontaneously combust if there is too much friction then look no further ;-).

What I think Heswall is lacking, if anyone is interested, is is a Childrens clothes shop (and a fishmongers actually-someone open one please).
Since I have now reduced myself to buying my clothes from Florence and Fred, I have to live out my fashion dreams vicariously through my children.
I met the owners of RudyTudy last week and they sell absolutely gorgeous gorgeous clothes for kids aged 1-12. I am particularly taken with the nautical stuff (and the tutus). Run by two mums who get in the clothes and customise using vintage fabrics. They are on FB and have various pop up events so check them out if you are tired of the generic M&CO outfits (which also have their place) RT is perfect for an outfit that feels a bit more special and unique to you.

Baby Business:
Just up from The Ravenscroft Pub.
Really handy shop which stocks everything that a parent could need including buggies, furniture, toys, the works basically. Give it a go before you traipse over to town.

Eateries:

Isabelle’s:

Just a few doors away from Linghams so my advice is, peruse the shelves, linger in the travel section, buy your book and head for the door! Go to Isabelle’s for some AMAZING scrambled eggs, tea, toast etc.
Slight issue is how busy the place is but, obviously this is just proof that the food is fab. Great selection of teas, coffees, cakes (not ryvita) and, in my experience, good staff.
I have been here both on my own and with the girls and service has been great each time.
On busier days it might be a push with a pram but it is a popular haunt with parents so don’t worry that you won’t be welcome with the staff (I cant control the customers) There is a kids menu too. Its not going to set the world on fire- ham sandwiches etc but you don’t need anything else really. No toys or kids area or anything like that and decor wise it is pretty grown up so you might want to take stuff to keep children occupied and it’d be frowned upon if they were running riot in there.
Freshly made cakes daily which are LUSH. Read the reviews and go.

Could write about Costa here but I won’t. It’s a costa. Everywhere has them.

Archers Ice cream Parlour:
A new establishment just up from the library on the left hand side.
Lovely, lovely, lovely ice cream.
Very accommodating to parents with buggies and didn’t mind when myself and three mums (plus kids) cradled our drinks for far longer than polite and didn’t spend too much. Can eat in, or out and take away.
I will certainly be going back but would worry that I’ll become addicted.
Ideal for the forthcoming wonderful summer we are about to have.

Pizza Express:
Surely this needs no introduction does it?! Crayons for kids, sometimes even balloons and a little paper hat. Well used to serving families so stress is minimal. You’ll get pretty good food which won’t break the bank but it won’t be an experience you’ll reminisce over on the morning of their wedding either.
Does the job nicely. ‘Nuff said.

I have got lots to say on most of the restaurants in Heswall and can only assume that they will be asking me to visit as a mystery diner in the very near future so that they too can benefit from my pearls of wisdom and buck up their ideas.
I won’t include them now as this is mainly for when you are ambling with kids trying to avoid the pre tea melt down and the housework as opposed to when you are ‘out out’ (in the words of the utterly hilarious Mickey Flannigan).

Have just read thIs back and nearly slipped into a coma as it is so long and full of links. Ooh, get me being all techy. Apols!!
If you are still reading- well done you! If you aren’t from Heswall- come up, visit. There’s loads more to do!!! Look. 🙂

Now get outside with a glass of white and enjoy the evening. XxxX

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