Friday, 21 September 2018

Blood Brothers Review



A What's Good To Do Review

On Monday night we went to Preston Guild Hall to review Blood Brothers for the What's Good to Do website. We had a fantastic night out and the musical was brilliant, even Mark, who is not a fan of musicals was impressed!

Blood Brothers, written by Willy Russell, tells the story of twins Mickey and Eddie who are separated at birth. Eddie lives a life of privilege with the wealthy Lyons family whilst Mickey stays with his birth mother, Mrs Johnstone, in the slums of Liverpool, eventually taking to a life of crime. The musical tells the story of how they came to be separated, of Mrs Johnstone’s feelings of guilt and how despite not knowing of the other’s existence their paths manage to cross repeatedly becoming best friends, blood brothers, without ever knowing the truth. Eventually they both fall for the same girl leading to tragedy and the truth is uncovered.

Presented by a narrator, the opening scene shows the two brothers dead on the stage with their mother crying over them, he then goes on to present the story and explain what terrible events have brought about this ending. Throughout the musical the narrator talks to the audience but also questions the morality of what the characters are doing, he is always there in the background, watching events unfold almost on our behalf. This works really well and ties the story together. 

Sean Jones as Mickey and Mark Hutchinson as Eddie were cast brilliantly as the two brothers, playing carefree children aged 7 “but nearly 8” through teenage years, taking their first steps into adulthood and finally as adults now having to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. In particular Sean’s depiction of young man struggling with mental health problems really changed the mood of the story and heightened the tension on stage.
The star of the show though has to be Linzi Hateley as Mrs. Johnstone, the struggling single mother of 7 children who makes the horrendous decision to give away one of her babies so that she can afford to feed the others. Almost always on stage she wonderfully shows the agonies of her decision and the love for her children. This acting ability on top of her amazing singing voice makes her a real star.

The stage was transformed into a typical Liverpudlian street scene with a view of the famous Liver Building in the background. It looked effective and was quickly adapted to reflect the different locations in the story.  
Despite tackling the very serious issues of class, poverty and mental health there was plenty of humour and we found ourselves on a rollercoaster of emotions, laughing one minute and almost crying the next.

The musical took place in a packed Charter Theatre which is a great venue with comfortable seating and a good view of the stage. The Guild Hall complex has a range of bars and restaurants available for those wanting to make a night of it and parking is available in the recently modernised multi storey car park which adjoins the Guild Hall.


This was the first time I’ve seen Blood Brothers and I have to say, in my opinion, it is one of the best musicals I have ever seen. Along with a good storyline and catchy songs it also has drama, excitement, humour and is such a good night out. The musical was 3 hours long including the interval and the time seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. The show is on in Preston until the end of the week and then continues its tour of the UK until December. I’d definitely recommend a visit especially if you’ve never seen it before.



We received frr tickets for the purpose of this review.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Snowdon


A couple of years ago Mark's Mum said she had always wanted to climb Snowdon, Mark has been up a few times but I hadn't so we said that we would go with them and make a weekend of it. We did lots of practicing, walking on the local fells to get fit and I am really glad we made the time to fit in all the fell walks as it really did make a difference. Mark's friend has climbed Snowdon a lot so Mark asked him which was the best route to take and we chose a quieter route setting off from Rhyd Ddu station. We arrived just before 9am and although the car park was filling up we managed to find a space. 







Even at 9am it was lovely and warm and the forecast was perfect all day so we left the water proofs in the car, slapped on the sun lotion and set off.






The views on the walk were amazing, Snowdonia is such a lovely area and I never tire of the scenery.

Most of the walk was on tracks but there were a couple of scrambles which Luke enjoyed.






It was a very nice walk to the top, it took us about 3.5 hours but we did stop a lot to look at the views and have a drink. It was so hot we needed to make sure we stayed hydrated! 





As we approached the summit you could see the other paths leading to the top and we couldn't believe the number of people who were on the tracks. We had only met a few people on our route and all of a sudden there were people everywhere! When we reached the very top it was even worse because the train had just arrived and there were hundreds of people sat chatting and eating lunch. I really didn't like the top at all, there were just too many people about and after eating our lunch we quickly set off again. 





The descent took much longer as it was so hot and there were a lot more people about. As soon as we left the top the cloud rose again and we had brilliant blue sky for the rest of the day. We had a really nice day and it was good to spend time together. We finished the day with a nice meal at a pub and are planning to try Ben Nevis next!












Friday, 18 May 2018

Mountain Biking

We are so lucky living in the North West, we have lots of fantastic roads and tracks to cycle on and the scenery is amazing. We first started mountain biking many years ago before we were married and when the boys were old enough to ride their own bikes we started taking them too. 



William started with a couple of second hand bikes which were perfect for him to start on and once William had outgrown them Luke inherited them. A couple of years ago we decided that it was time Luke had a new bike so we went to Halfords and bought Luke his current mountain bike which is a Boardman mountain bike. We were very impressed with the staff who measured him for the bike as they actually knew a lot about bikes, unlike many staff we have come across in other shops we have visited! I always take Mark with me when we are looking at bikes as he is the expert in our family but a lot of people starting off in mountain biking don't have that knowledge and we were really impressed with the service at Halfords.



It is so much fun being outdoors in our beautiful countryside and you get to see so much more on a bike. I love riding around forest tracks and the boys especially like the downhills. One of the places we go to is Gisburn Forest which is a great place for bikers of all abilities. There are four grades of trail, green which is easy and aimed at beginners as the tracks are wide and fairly flat, the blue trail is slightly harder and for those are a bit more confident mountain biking. Once you have mastered the green and blue trails you can try the red trails for more experienced riders, these trails have challenging climbs and obviously more descents and usually a few obstacles along the way. We tend to stick to the blue and red trails and in some parts I let the boys take the trickier route whilst I take the slower and more scenic route! For the very brave there is a black route which is definitely for the experts! 




We generally take our bikes on holiday with us and Mark always looks at what bike rides we can do whilst we are away. Luke much prefers mountain biking to road biking and will happily ride for miles on the tracks. We usually take plenty of snacks and drinks or a packed lunch if we are going to be away all day. Another essential is spare inner tubes, it is much easier to change an inner tube if you get a puncture rather than having to change a puncture when you are out.






Halfords have a great range of mountain bikes and their adult bikes start from only £99 so there should be a bike to suit everyone's budget. They have also produced a handy beginners guide to mountain biking which is definitely worth a read if you are interested in starting mountain biking. We have so much fun exploring the countryside and it is so much nicer than exercising in a gym so I would recommend that you have a look and get exploring too!






This is a collaborative post

Friday, 11 May 2018

Walking on the fells

In preparation for climbing Snowdon we have been doing lots of walks on the local fells. The weather has been lovely and the views are magnificent. 





Hedgehog




















Last weekend as the weather was so nice we took the opportunity to have a good tidy up in the garden. When Mark was clearing one off the borders he found this hedgehog under a discarded pot.



Saturday, 14 April 2018

Educating Rita



A What's Good To Do Review

Last week we went to see Educating Rita at the Dukes, Lancaster. We love going to The Dukes as it is such a lovely theatre and you are always made to feel very welcome. 

The Dukes are always looking at new ways to bring the arts to Lancaster and Educating Rita is a production co-produced with the New Vic theatre, Newcastle under Lyme. It will be performed there once the run at The Dukes ends and will then go on tour to the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. 

Educating Rita is a play is about Rita, a 26 year old Liverpudlian hairdresser who has spent her life following the crowd. Fed up with her job as a hairdresser and a husband who only wants her to have children she wants more from life so decides to better herself and break free by enrolling on an Open University course in English Literature. The play takes place entirely within the office of her tutor Frank, played by Andrew Pollard, who himself is bored with his life of poetry and academia and is a confirmed alcoholic, taking on the role as tutor to pay for his drink. Rita sees in Frank a part of life that she always knew existed but never had access to, whilst Frank loves the simplicity and innocence of Rita’s views on life.

Lauryn Redding was very well cast, her accent was good and she played her role compellingly as the strong willed Rita against Andrew Pollard’s cynical Frank. The characters had an excellent rapport and Andrew Pollard was convincing as Frank, the alcoholic lecturer stumbling around the stage.

The set was fantastic, transforming the central space into a stereotypical university professor’s study, littered with books and papers and a selection of dog eared furniture hiding Frank’s inexhaustible supply of whisky. The actors used the area well, moving around so that all parts of the audience were able to take in the story. Whilst Frank wore a shabby brown corduroy suit, Rita’s 1980’s outfits changed throughout the show reflecting her increasing confidence and new-found comfort with university life. The 80’s feel was backed up with music from the decade playing in the background between scenes.

Educating Rita is a comedy by British playwright Willy Russell. The stage version debuted in 1980 but the story was made famous in 1983 when Michael Caine and Julie Walters took the lead in a very successful film version of the play. Whilst we have heard of the film neither of us had seen it before but after reading a synopsis on the internet we both decided that it sounded good and were looking forward to a good night out. We were not disappointed at all and really enjoyed this new version directed by the artistic director of The Dukes, Sarah Punshon.


The Dukes have produced yet another winning show, adding a touch of the Duke’s unique magic to a well-known play by one of the great British playwrights.  This show is definitely worth seeing and we can guarantee you will have a fantastic night out.




We received free tickets for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are our own.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Night Hike

On a cold Saturday night when most sensible people are tucked up warm in front of the fire and TV we decided to do a night hike!


It was bitterly cold and blowing a gale but that didn't stop us and we had nice walk on the fells. Unsurprisingly we were the only people up there.


We used to go for a walk in the dark quite regularly however it is a while since we have been up on the fells in the dark. It was very cold but we wrapped up well and had actually got quite a sweat on by the time we reached the top! I love standing at the top and looking at the lights, it is surprisingly easy to get your bearings and you can see quite a distance.