Monday 27 January 2014

Tidying up

This morning I decided it was time to pack away the wooden train-set. Over the last 12 year we have accumulated quite a selection of track and bridges however the farm has taken over and the train set is no longer played with. When the boys were younger the track took over the playroom and we used to love making new tracks and seeing if we could incorporate every piece of track and bridge in the layout however it has been on the shelf for a long time now and the time had come to put it away. There is a huge collection of trains with a good number of ones from the Thomas the Tank Engine series. We also have a set of Bob the Builder characters that go on the tracks that William collected when he was younger. There is a mixture of Brio, Early Learning Centre and Tesco sets which have been accumulated over the years at birthday's, Christmas and special treats for being good and each piece has it's own tale to tell.

It was quite sad putting it all away for the last time and also quite a challenge getting it all to fit in the three storage boxes I had decided to use. Eventually, after a lot of juggling with bridges I managed to get everything to fit and the lids to close! 

As the train set has been part of our lives for so long I am not getting rid of it, instead I am putting it upstairs and keeping it for when the boys have their own children and then we can all play with it again. I am sure their children will have just as much fun playing with it as they have.

Hobson's Choice, Bolton Octagon

I am a reviewer for the What's Good to Do website and we especially enjoy going to the theatre and doing theatre reviews. Last Friday on a very cold and wet night we set off to The Octagon Theatre in Bolton to see Hobson's Choice.

This was our first trip to Bolton and The Octagon Theatre and we only missed one turning which meant we had a short tour round the one way system! Once we were back where we started we found the theatre fairly easily. There was plenty of parking in the adjacent multi storey car park and parking was just £2 when you pay in the theatre. The theatre itself was slightly unusual in that the small central stage is completely surrounded by seating.  The layout of the theatre means that set changes are trickier and therefore the play was split into 3 acts with two intervals to enable the set to be altered. The addition of a second interval works well with this being a long play, about 3 hours including the intervals.
Hobson’s Choice by Harold Brighouse tells the story of a Salford boot maker, Henry Hobson and his three daughters, Maggie, Alice and Vickey. Eldest daughter Maggie, after being told by her father that she was an old maid and too old to marry, decided to take matters into her own hands and marry the working class shoe maker Willie Mossop. This comes as a great surprise to Willie who already has a girlfriend, Maggie does not let this stop her and before we know it Maggie and Willie are married. Maggie then arranges marriages for her two sisters and her father is left to run the shop alone. Without his daughters providing free labour Henry spends more and more time in the local public house. After only a year his business is in tatters and Henry is suffering from ill health and he is forced to turn to Maggie for help.
Maggie, Willie and Henry are played magnificently well by Natalie Grady, Michael Shelford and Maxwell Hutcheon. Whilst all 12 members of the cast were excellent for me Michael Shelford deserves special mention as his portrayal of Willie Mossop was outstanding. The transformation from humble boot maker to middle class business man was depicted well throughout. There was a visible chemistry between Maggie and Willie which kept the audience engaged throughout.
There was plenty of Northern humour throughout the play which meant that the 3 hours flew by. This was an excellent performance and one we would certainly recommend.

The show started on the 23rd January and is on until Saturday 22 February

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

Tuesday 14 January 2014


William is a keen baker and is always trying out new recipes. When we were in Harrogate at the end of December I spotted a Lakeland store and had to go in for a browse. Lakeland sell lots of amazing products and as it was just after Christmas there was a sale on so I had a good browse. I ended up with a bag of reduced items and one of them was this doughnut tray. We had talked about making doughnuts the week before so it was the perfect present for William.

After a couple of false starts, due to out of date yeast and then not warming the milk which meant the dough didn't rise we had a quick trip to Sainsburys to buy new yeast and then we were ready to go again!

The dough was left to rise in a warm place.

It was quite tricky fitting the dough into the tray and we need to work on keeping the doughnuts the same size!

To cook the doughnuts we heated oil in a pan and checked the temperature with Mark's new sugar thermometer.

Unfortunately William forgot to take any pictures of the finished doughnuts but they tasted delicious and as he had made plenty we shared them out with the neighbours who all thought they were tasty too.