Saturday, 18 May 2019

Wallace and Gromit's Musical Marvels

Last night we went to see Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels at Blackpool Pleasure Beach - The Arena. In this new show Wallace is preparing to perform his musical masterpiece "My Concerto in Ee Lad" with help from his faithful canine companion Gromit......what could possibly go wrong?!

This great show features new animations as well as the Picture House Orchestra who were all dressed in a variety of costumes, all with a Wallace and Gromit theme. We thought they all looked fantastic and it really helped add atmosphere to the show. I really wasn't sure whether it would appeal to younger children, orchestras aren't everyone's cup of tea but this show works remarkably well because presenter Matthew Sharp ties it all together and brings plenty of humour to the show. We first see him on the screen, having overslept and late for his starring role and then he appears in the centre aisle, running up to the stage ready to start.   

I especially liked the mix of animation, music and on stage performance, it kept everyone entertained which is really important when you have lots of children in the audience. After the orchestra had played the theme tune to The Wrong Trousers we were also treated to a fantastic performance of Bohemian Rhapsody which everyone loved. 

Next clips from the Wallace and Gromit films were shown, highlighting the scrapes that the two had got in to over the years and also Wallace's various love interests. These films were accompanied by the orchestra playing perfectly in time with the action on screen and effectively setting the scene without the need for words. 

Matthew was great at keeping the show moving and keeping it interesting for children. He introduced all the instruments in the orchestra and we heard each section play alone as well as in a group which I thought was a good way of introducing the instruments to a younger audience.

After a short interval everyone returned to the stage and The Wrong Trousers was played. The orchestra continued to accompany the film and again conductor Simon kept the orchestra perfectly in time with the film.

We had a cracking night out and would recommend that you see the show in one of the venues on the tour. It has finished in Blackpool but there are shows every week until the 9th June and four shows in Edinburgh on the 15th and 16th August. The full list of tours dates are available here.

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

Fell walking and backpacking

We have been doing lots of walking over the last few weeks and are currently averaging about 60 miles a month. Most of these walks are in the evenings and we are enjoying the lighter nights. Most of the time it is just myself and Mark but Luke joined us over the bank holiday weekend when we went backpacking and camping. Mark and Luke had been planning it for a while and I really had no intention of joining them but in the end I was persuaded and enjoyed it more than I expected. The last time I went backpacking I hated it, which is why I haven't done it since but this time the weather was much better and I had a better rucksack so it was actually fun! The first day of the walk was fine but the second day was very hard work as the hill was very steep but we persevered and with the help of lucozade and glucose tablets we finally made it to the top! 

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels

We are really looking forward to seeing Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels when it visits Blackpool in May as part of the UK tour. 

In Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels Wallace prepares to perform his musical masterpiece "My Concerto in Ee Lad" with help from his faithful canine companion Gromit…what could possibly go wrong?! This interactive experience features specially created animations as well as live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from the Picture House Orchestra and presenter Matthew Sharp. And if that wasn’t enough, for the first time ever, you can also enjoy the Academy Award® winning Wallace & Gromit film The Wrong Trousers with live orchestral accompaniment.

It sounds fantastic and I am sure we will have a great time. The tour starts on the 15th May in Beaconsfield and the final show is in Glasgow on the 9th June. Have a look at the full tour dates on the Wallace & Gromit Musical Marvels website where you can click on the venue to take you to the booking page. Tickets are selling fast so it is worth booking soon.

I went to the same school as Nick Park and it was always said that Wallace was based on one of the English teachers. Whether this is true or not I don't know but this particular teacher always wore a tank top and was quite a character!

Monday, 22 April 2019

Simply Swim

William is going to the World Scout Jamboree in America this summer and with less than 100 days to go we have started thinking about the kit he will need to take with him. The site in West Virginia looks amazing with and there will be lots of water activities on the various lakes on the site so when I was offered the chance to review some swimwear from the Simply Swim website I looked at swimming shorts for William straight away. 

Simply Swim have a great choice of swimwear and the website is really easy to use. There is a lot of choice but you can easily filter by department, brand, size, colour etc making your final decision much easier. There is a handy size guide which I found useful as sizes do tend to vary on different brands. I knew better than to choose shorts for William, gone are the days when I could buy his clothes and he would wear them! He had a look on the website and chose two pairs of Speedo swimming shorts which will be really practical for camp. The shorts arrived quickly and were well packaged in a plastic bag that easily fitted through the letterbox.

The first pair he chose were the Speedo Gingham Check Leisure 16 inch watershort which have a tailored finish and look quite stylish. They have two front pockets and a button down back pocket and are made from polyester. The fabric uses an environmentally friendly dying method that results in less water, energy and chemical usage, as well as colour that is more resistant to fading. I hate faded swimming costumes/shorts and end up replacing them frequently so I will be keen to see how well these last.

William has tried them on and said they fit well and feel very comfortable. I have had a look at the stitching and they are very well made with no loose threads (another pet hate of mine!) and they will be perfect for the Jamboree.

The second pair he chose were the Speedo Solid Leisure navy shorts. These are a comfortable loose fitting swimming short, ideal for leisure swimming which will be perfect for the water activities on the Jamboree.

These shorts have an elasticated waist with drawstring and again have two front pockets and a rear one. The rear pocket is secured with velcro and again they are very well made.
William wore these to go swimming this weekend and said they are comfortable to wear and dried quickly.

William already has goggles but when I was looking at Simply Swim's website I noticed they have a good range of Speedo Goggles and with prices starting at £11 there is something to suit every budget.

If you are looking for swimwear then the Simply Swim website is a great place to start, there is a huge choice and something for everyone whether it is swimwear for holidays or swimwear for keener swimmers.

Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post with Simply Swim, I was gifted the swimming shorts in order to give an honest review. All words and opinions are our own.

The Monsal Trail

We spent a lovely few days in Derbyshire at the start of the Easter holidays. The weather was glorious and we did lots of walking and cycling. We were staying close to the Monsal Trail which is a cycling/walking route along the former Midland Railway line. The trail is 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, Chee Dale and Coombs Road at Bakewell.

The route takes you through the original railway tunnels and it is a really spectacular ride, the scenery is beautiful and the tunnels add to the fun.

As it is a disused railway line it is relatively flat so is perfect for children and there were plenty on the trail on the day we went. I do suspect that in the height of the season it does get very busy, we went mid week and there were lots of people walking and cycling.

There are a number of information boards dotted along the route which were interesting to read and told you a little of the history of the route.

When we reached Bakewell we rode into the town to find a nice spot to have lunch and also take the opportunity to try one of the famous Bakewell puddings! We found a nice bench by the river and sat watching the ducks whilst we ate our picnic.

On the way back we stopped for a well deserved ice cream before tackling the steep climb back up to the main road and our caravan site.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Quick Tasty Beef Stew

These days it is rare that I leave work before 6pm so I need quick tasty meals so that we get tea at a reasonable time.

I grew up on a farm so we have always eaten a lot of beef and this quick beef stew is one of our favourite meals. I always make double the quantities, using 2lb of steak and then freeze half so that we can have a quick meal on another night.


1lb frying steak cut into strips/pieces
1 tablespoon oil
25g butter
25g plain flour
Half a pint of beef stock
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly
200g sliced mushrooms

To make the stew you fry the steak in the butter and oil until cooked, add the flour and stir until the juices start to thicken.

Add the stock, stirring until thickened and then add the worcestershire sauce and redcurrant jelly.

Finally add the mushrooms and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

This dish is so easy to make and tastes delicious. I usually serve it with carrots, cauliflower and broccoli and baked potato but it also goes well with mash or new potatoes. 

Beef is a great dish to cook for my family as beef is naturally rich in protein and is a source of iron which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue. Beef provides eight essential vitamins and minerals that support good health and well being.

This post is an entry for the #MeatMatters Challenge, sponsored by Simply Beef and Lamb' Learn more about the benefits of cooking and eating beef and lamb along with recipes ideas and inspiration here

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Snowy Walk

Since Mark was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes we have really upped our walking and have been going up on the fells a few times a week, day or night! I love walking in the dark as it is so peaceful and we rarely see anyone else.

Today we saw more people than we have all year, I think the snow had brought them all out as there were lots of families with sledges. 

We have been up a few times in the snow this year but this was the first time we have been up in daylight and it looked magical on the top where the snow was quite deep.  

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Winter skincare

I have had eczema all of my life and most of the time I manage to keep it under control. I do find that it tends to flare up in winter so I always make sure I moisturise a lot, especially when my skin has been wet. I have tried lots of different products over the years but when I heard that BritMums had a new challenge with Aquaphor by Eucerin I was really interested as it isn't a brand I have tried before. The eczema on my feet is especially bad at the minute so it was perfect timing when my tube of Aquaphor arrived. 

Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm is a real multi-purpose product, as well as using it on my feet I have been using it as a lip balm, for smoothing my cuticles, a hand cream and for protecting my face when I am outside on the fells and working in the garden. Formulated with only seven ingredients it is gentle enough to be used on irritated and sensitive skin. It works by creating a breathable, protective barrier, alowing oxygen and water vapour to circulate to and from the skin, allowing skin to breathe and strengthen its natural barrier function. The Eucerin Aquaphor formula was first introduced in America back in 1925 and has been a household staple ever since.

Over the years I have found that regular application of moisurisers really helps to keep my eczema under control and I have been keeping my Aquaphor in my bag so I can use it whenever I need to.

I have been using the balm on my feet in the morning and evening for the last 2 weeks and I am really pleased at how much better my feet now look. Now I have got into the habit of using it I will continue as I am so impressed with the results. It has calmed the redness and at this years Christmas party I will be able to wear a nice pair of strappy sandals, rather than my normal black tights and shoes that I wear to hide my feet.

This post is an entry for the BritMums #MyAquaphor Challenge, sponsored by Eucerin. Discover the benefits of Eucerin at

Disclosure: We were sent a tube of Eucerin Aquaphor to try. All opinions are our own.