Brainiac Live

August 9, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Posted in Days Out | Leave a comment
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Our five year old son, Bear has decided that he wants to be a scientist so next week we’re going to see Brainiac Live – Science Abuse and I think we’re just as excited as he is.

Do not try this at home folks – it’s based on the award winning Sky One TV show it promised loads of jaw dropping experiments and explosions.

So, the show is hitting the stage with a bang – and I’m intruiged to see what the hour will be filled with.  Here’s a little more about the show..

Brainiac Live will bring mischief and mayhem to the West-End for 23 days across an incredible 50 shows during July and August. You can expect to see exploding dustbins, combusting microwaves, Airzooka challenges and lots of messy audience participation. It’s a no-brainer; it is the perfect summer holiday outing for girls and boys alike.


Andy Joyce, No.1 Brainiac and presenter of the show, says “I’m so excited about presenting the show in the West-End after doing over two hundred and fifty performances around the UK and I can’t wait to see the amazement on the children’s faces, when they see our daredevil experiments!”

Since 2008 Brainiac Live! Science Abuse has played to packed houses across the UK in theatres, holiday resorts and Science Festivals, blowing the minds of over 400,000 children and their families. In 2010 the show headlined the Big Bang Fair, the UK’s leading science-engagement event attended by over 55,000 young people and now, as it makes its West-End debut it will have children running back to their science lesson in September with enthusiasm and an eagerness for more explosive knowledge!

Tickets are still available, just Google Brainiac Live. 

We’ll report back!




Review: LegoLand Windsor

June 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm | Posted in Days Out, Reviews | 4 Comments
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We’ve reviewed quite a few family days out over the years, but none quite as exciting as LEGOLAND. For weeks before the trip our four year old was asking how many sleeps to go. By the morning of the trip he was beside himself with excitement. He wasn’t disappointed – and neither were we.

We visited on the opening day of the Duplo Valley Splash Park – and the sun shone hot and beautifully all day for us.


We started at the Star Wars exhibition (at The Beginning) – I confess to not being a fanatic but found the models fascinating – the atmosphere, lighting and sound effects were totally transporting and magical. Within moments of being inside we felt like big kids – husband and I beamed at each other, excited to find out what was around the next corner.

From there, we explored the park and rides. We were lucky to have Q-Bot passes so we didn’t have to queue for any of the rides, although the park wasn’t overly busy either so it would have been ok – if you’re planning to visit, avoid inset days – we went on the last Sunday of half term and it was relatively calm – maybe people assumed it would be manic. Q-Bot isn’t cheap so visit the Q-Bot page to find out more.

Our favourite rides included the Fire Academy (in Traffic) which you pump to move along in your engine to the house and then pump water to put a pretend fire out – it’s a race against each of the other engines. We also loved Laser Raiders (in Kingdom of the Pharaohs) – you travel around in ghost train style carts with laser guns shooting at targets above the skeletons heads. Four year old thought it was amazing – he shot nothing but had no idea and thought it was the best thing ever!

The Pirates of Skeleton Bay show at The Harbour was fantastic – true stuntmen (stunt people?) with flips and jumps off the tallest towers into the water with flames and all sorts – we were all gripped and it was a nice pitstop before lunch. We ate at Burger Ranch – I had a falafel burger which was huge and tasty – enough fuel for the rest of the afternoon and being ruled by our stomachs as a family, we were ready to sit and eat something filling. We did give in and buy one of the kids refillable drinks bottles which was pricy at £7 but we bought it late in the day so didn’t really get to use the refills – I can’t remember if they were free, I think so. There are lots of tea and coffee stops which is really hand.


After lunch we visited MiniLand which is just amazing – mini model towns and cities from across the UK, Europe and US made of Lego. The London attractions were stunning, as were the docks and US space centre / NASA areas – you felt like you were getting a true birds eye view of these somewhat classified places you’d never get to visit. We could have wandered around for longer but we were more interested than Bear who was desperate to get to the Splash Park. I went to find a cash machine for ice creams while the boys changed into their swimmers. They didn’t play for long but the sprinklers were a hit and the warm weather enticed more people in to play. It was well supervised and although it looked a little precarious in parts you could see that the surfaces were all non-slip (paranoid parent). I packed my cossie but didn’t feel I was missing out by staying at a safe viewing distance – I’m still covering up the body of a busy mum with a six month old and a chocolate habit.


We also managed to squeeze in a 4D viewing of a Lego Chima movie which was fab – the fire, smoke, rain and snow took us all by surprise and I admit to squealing slightly. Opposite there, in the Exploratorium you can sit and build Lego Heroes which was a great chance to stop and do something quietly for 20 minutes. After that, husband took Bear on the Atlantis Submarine Voyage which sounded amazing and I wished I’d been on it too – a real deep sea adventure complete with sharks.

So as well as a Pirate Boat ride, panning for gold (which you receive a medal for), balloon flights and more, we finished with a quick look around the shop where I secretly got Bear a Lego watch for his fifth birthday, as well as buying myself a bright pink Lego Box for my desk. Well….I still love Lego too.

The service everywhere was really good, everything is really clean, there are plenty of toilets and baby changing facilities – everything is very well planned and laid out. Thumbs up.

All in all we had an incredible day. It’s well worth the trip, the ticket price (maybe not the Q-Bot ticket so pick your day wisely) and I would absolutely guarantee taking home shattered but very happy children. Enjoy.



We were lucky to be given free entry and Q-Bot passes. I stick to the Bloggers with Integrity code to post honest and open reviews which are informative, useful and hopefully inspiring.

Review: Day out at Warwick Castle

June 12, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Days Out, Reviews | Leave a comment
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This Spring we were lucky enough to spend a day at Warwick Castle finding our inner knights and princesses on a chilly but bright day.

We arrived and walked through a medieval village where we talked to knights and learnt about their swords and mallets, much to the delight of our curious four year old who was allowed to hold a sword. We tasted the most delicious peppery cabbage soup, played catch the rat, a giant game of Operation and tried out the stocks.

Warwick 3

On from there we explored the castle confines – we had our baby in the buggy which obviously isn’t suited to the many steps and narrow castle walls so we relaxed with a hot chocolate in the basement cafe whilst the bigger boys went off and had fun. If you do have a baby sling or carrier I’d highly recommend it as even the baby change and toilets are down some steps and not easily accessible.


Next we watched a bird of prey display – the Stellar’s Sea Eagle was an incredible creature and totally mesmerised us all as it flew from the trees to castle walls.


At lunchtime we sat in the castle quod and watched an amazing sword battle – the host/compare was part of that and talked about the history surrounding Warwick – he was very funny, engaging and had all of the children hanging on his every word. It was nearly our favourite part of the day.

warwick 1

We only travelled from Oxford but it was a very cold day and we wanted to head home at a good time – but we were adamant that we wouldn’t miss the fireball trebuchet before we left. This is watched from the grassy hill running down to the river. The huge contraption on the other side of the bank is an amazing site to see. The same narrator talks through the history of its use and how it works before a huge flaming fire ball is launched across the grounds. For adults and children a like it was totally breathtaking. This was by far our favourite part of the day.

Our four year old savoured every moment of our trip – even a walk through the house with it’s treasures – weapons, coins, furniture and a great deal more. I secretly snapped pictures of the wallpapers and curtains being mid way through house renovations – well, a spot of period charm could work well alongside modern retro…. right?!

All in all an amazing day out. Avoid taking the buggy if you can, and if you want to visit the princess tower, make sure to arrive in good time for your slot otherwise they won’t let you in!

Tickets for a family of four cost £80 if you book 7 days in advance. More information about Warwick Castle tickets here. I believe Tesco Clubcard do offers from time to time.

We visited on a press trip and did not pay for our tickets. I pledge to only post honest and open reviews which are accurate and useful.


We’re off to Wood Festival!

May 10, 2013 at 8:32 pm | Posted in Days Out | Leave a comment
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Next weekend an amazing three day spectacle in the Chiltern Hills takes place – we’ve not been before and we can’t wait for it – it’s Wood Festival!

We were given a tip off that this family festival shouldn’t be missed so we’re going to spend the day there next Saturday and we’ll be praying to the god of good weather the day before for bright, glorious sunshine.

Nick Cope, the musician (formerly of The Candyskins) is a massive favourite of ours and somewhat of an idol to our four year old, so we won’t miss that!  Think Blur for kids – his tunes are addictively catchy and will have any child mesmerised.


As well as a really exciting musical line up, there are loads of workshops for adults and kids.  We definitely want to find time for willow lantern making and hula hooping!

We’ve always said we’ll start taking the boys to festivals, and wish we had done so sooner – so Wood Festival will be the first of many for our four year old and five month old.  I think this one will be more tie-dye t-shirts rather than glow sticks at the ready.  Bring it on!

Find out more on the Wood Festival website as well as their Facebook page and Twitter stream.

Walking with Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular

May 2, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Posted in Days Out | Leave a comment
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We’re getting so excited – this Saturday we’re off to see Walking with Dinosaurs, The Arena Spectacular at Wembley!  I’ve got high hopes, because our four year old thinks he’s going to see REAL dinosaurs – I’m not worried though, I think he’s going to be amazed.


A bit about the show…

After a worldwide tour seen by over 7 million people in 206 cities, the stunning theatrical event WALKING WITH DINOSAURS – The Arena Spectacular is back!

Internationally renowned designers have worked with scientists to create 20 life-size dinosaurs, including the terror of the ancient terrain, Tyrannosaurus rex! Be amazed and thrilled as the greatest creatures ever to walk the earth return before your eyes.

t’s a dazzling £10,000,000 arena spectacle of unprecedented size and quality set to captivate young and old alike. Marvel at the story of their 200 million year domination of life on earth.Watch them walkHear the roar. Be there as they fight for survival and supremacy. From the ripple of their skin to the glint in their eye, you will know the dinosaurs really are back!

Show facts:

  • The show has conducted1,746 performances in 206 cities across the globe
  • Over 7.3 million people have seen the show since it started
  • It takes a team of 3 people to operate 1 dinosaur
  • Each large dinosaur weighs approximately 1.6 tons
  • 27 trucks (each 73 feet in length) are needed to move the production

Ticket Prices

London (O2 and Wembley)

  • £29 (2nd Price)
  • £39 (1st Price)
  • £49 (Premium seats)

Outside of London

  • £25 (2nd Price)
  • £35 (1st Price)
  • £45 (Premium seats)

We can’t wait! Make sure to visit the Dinosaurs Live website for loads more information.

Don’t forget to check out the Dinosaurs Live Facebook page and Twitter stream.

This is a sponsored post.  We are being given tickets for the show and are extremely grateful.  I stick to the bloggers with integrity code to only post honest and open reviews.

Review: Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park

September 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Posted in Days Out | Leave a comment
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A few weeks ago we headed for a day out to Peppa Pig World at Paultons Park in the New Forest.

We chose a hot Saturday in August and in hindsight a cooler weekday may have been a better choice for the general mood of excitable children and the length of the queues.

Despite that, we didn’t wait long for some attractions, and the busiest were around a half hour wait, with each one being well worth the short delay.  Seeing the faces of a three and a four year old meeting the characters they’ve grown up loving was priceless.

Everything was nice and close together so we hopped from one ride to the next.  We packed a picnic and ate by the rides on the picnic benches and had ice creams whilst queuing for a ride after lunch.  I was pleasantly surprised that they were only about £1.50 each from Miss Rabbit’s Ice Cream Parlour, not overpriced as refreshments often are at theme parks.

There is a big indoor play centre and the children would have happily played on the slides and soft play frames for hours.  We had to drag them away for more rides.  Remember to bring socks if you want to play inside!

We didn’t explore any of Paultons Park and still managed to spend most of a day at the park, there’s lots to do and if we had older children we would have ventured towards some of the bigger rides outside Peppa Pig World but for three/four-year olds this was perfect.

We missed the penguin show but that was a nice addition to the park and we still watched them swimming around for a little while.

Park Entrance isn’t cheap – if your children are under 1m they’re free and can go on everything, but adults are £24 each.  For a family of four with children over 1m, the cost is £24 each, so £96 in total.  Book in advance and save £3 per ticket, or opt for a family of four ticket in advance for £80 saving £12.  Visit the tickets page on the Peppa Pig World website for more details.

There are options for food and drink such as Daddy Pig’s Big Tummy Cafe, but we enjoyed taking a picnic.

Peppa’s Big Balloon Ride, Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip and Grandpa Pig’s Little Train  the other Peppa Pig rides were all really popular.  We missed out on George’s Dinosaur Adventure but that looked fab.

Well worth a visit, go mid-week if you can with pre-schoolers and look out for special offers for tickets.

We visited Peppa Pig World on a press trip, we paid for our tickets but are awaiting reimbursement.  I stick to the bloggers with integrity code to post honest, open reviews.

The Summer Experience at Mercedes-Benz World

August 15, 2012 at 9:31 am | Posted in Days Out | 1 Comment
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If you’ve run out of things to do with the family this summer holiday, and especially if you have any car freaks in the family, the summer experience at Mercedes-Benz World could be worth a trip.

Located in Weybridge, Surrey, just off junction 10 of the M25, mum, dad, the kids, grandma, can all get behind the wheel of a Mercedes at their Surrey racetrack.

There are Little Learners mini electric Mercedes-Benz rides for smaller children (£5), kids driving experiences (over 1.5m tall), 4×4’s, AMG’s, track displays from The Silver Arrows Display Team, a safety simulator, wet skid circle and a 3D film.

Visitors can also race against 13 times Grand Prix winner David Coulthard in a virtual versus reality SLS AMG challenge with specially designed PlayStation 3 Gran Turismo® 5 game pods.

The brand’s powerful involvement in motor sport is brought to life in an exhibition that brings visitors even closer to Formula 1™.  At the heart is the View Suspended II display from MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula 1 Team – showing 3200 precision engineered components from a modern day Formula 1™ car meticulously suspended to reveal the cars form but through its inner-most secrets.

It’s on until September 2nd and entry is free.  There are exhilarating Hot Lap passenger rides available for £15 too. Find out more on the Mercedes-Benz website or by by calling 0870 400 4000.

The new Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience Centre at Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire is also now open and provides another legendary destination for anyone over 1.5 metres tall to experience the freedom of driving.

This is a sponsored post.  I stick to the bloggers with integrity code to only share content I feel is interesting, useful or fun and deserves a space on my blog.

Will you be staying out of London during the Olympics?

July 25, 2012 at 9:42 am | Posted in Daily Life, Days Out | 2 Comments
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I’m debating the point still.  But the overriding advice to me seems to be, steer clear.

Which is a real shame – a once in a lifetime, international sporting event, held in our capital city, and for anyone who doesn’t have tickets, you’re pretty much better off staying well away.

The advice on the security risks surrounding the games are enough to scare you away.  The transport system, the Olympic sites and key tourist attractions sadly all pose a huge terrorism risks.  Being in the vicinity full stop is a worry but taking a child into London is maybe just too much to contemplate.  Just getting stuck on a crowded tube if the weather stays this way is enough to put me off.

I think the culture minister was right to say stop moaning, enjoy London 2012 – we are a lot of moaning lumps, it’s an exciting time.  But being in London amongst the chaos may just not be worth the hassle.

We were heading to the fantastic children’s festival Lollibop in August but we’re likely to head to the Lake District for a long weekend with friends as a far more relaxing alternative.

What do you think? Do you live in London?  Are you going as far as moving out?  Have you cancelled work or personal commitments during the games?

Would be really interested in your thoughts.

Madagascar Live at Chessington World of Adventures

March 24, 2012 at 9:23 am | Posted in Days Out, Reviews | Leave a comment
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Yesterday Bear was lucky enough to take his best girlfriend along to the premier of Madagascar Live, the new stage show of the DreamWorks Animation at Chessington World of Adventures – so us mums tagged along too for an afternoon out.  I’m not sure who enjoyed themselves more – especially finding very summery and subtly alcoholic enough cocktails being handed out on arrival.

You can see the Madagascar Live show at the park with numerous showings during the day when you book Chessington tickets – an adult day ticket costs £39.60 and a child under 12 is £28.80.  You can upgrade to a two-day ticket for £9.60 per person.  This was based on a Saturday price this month.  For about £40 more than tickets for a family of four, you can stay at the safari themed Holiday Inn Park Hotel (£215 for one night with two children age 3-11).  There are also second day free and kids go free offers available.

We were greeted by explorer extraordinaire Sir Arthur and taken to the fantastic outdoor theatre in the heart of the Africa which is also new for 2012.  The stage show launches as part of the park’s 25th anniversary plans and sees all of our favourite characters including Alex, Gloria, King Julian and The Penguins take to the floor to plan Alex a surprise party.  I didn’t spot Marty the Zebra in the performance – he’s my favourite and Melman the giraffe was maybe too tall, so for me the star of this show was King Julian the self-obsessed ring-tailed lemur.  More importantly, the children loved Alex.

It’s an interactive show, with members of the audience invited onto the stage for a limbo competition, lots of songs to stand up and get involved with and two very jolly jungle-gear sporting compares to get everyone moving.  There are also other sarafi-esque girls dotted around the outdoor theatre dancing and general spreading the buzz.  Katy Hill and her incredibly gorgeous family were in the audience having a good time.

So we had two four years olds who were gripped the entire way through, and when the sky filled with streamers for Alex’s surprise party I think they thought this was the pinnacle of their lives.  When confetti fell at the end of the show, my son’s legs became road runner like as he scrambled in excitement to collect some from the floor.  We also got to meet the cast afterwards and have pictures taken which just added to the big eyes and open mouths we followed around for the day.

The show is perfect for children as young as two right up to, well, adult?  I know we enjoyed it.  If you’ve seen the movies and have a soft spot for the characters then you’ll love every moment of it.

Afterwards we were treated to a short drumming workshop with DrumJam.  Everyone was handed a Boom Whacker of assorted colours and sizes to which we all chipped in accordingly to make an amazing ‘booming’ medley of varying notes.  This went down equally as well as the main show.  We were sitting behind Alison Hammond who has far more rhythm than me and provided a good time keeper that I didn’t really manage to fall in with.

Chessington has nine themed lands, more than any park in Europe, and also has a huge zoo with 1000 animals, as well as a sealife centre.

After the show we were treated to dinner back in the hotel, gorgeous food laid on at the end of a very well-behaved queue of press folk outside the dining hall.  Ok, so we maybe weren’t quite as well-behaved; finding ourselves nearer the front than the back seeing as we weren’t staying overnight at the hotel like the other guests and had quite a drive back to Oxford.  I have to leave you with this picture of one of the fruit trees. Eat your heart out Willy Wonka (there was an incredible chocolate fountain for dipping I should add -which also had honeycomb, marshmallows and even fried eggs!).


August 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm | Posted in Days Out, Silent Sunday | 1 Comment
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Do scoot over to the delectable round up of other posts at Mocha Beanie Mummy’s place.

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