Wednesday 31 December 2014

Ravenglass Railway

A What's Go To Do Review

December has been quite busy for What's Good to Do reviews and we have had quite a few fun reviews to do. The latest one we did was the Ravenglasss railway which was a fun day out, we originally planned to go on my birthday but the forecast was snow so we didn't fancy driving up to the Lakes if the weather was going to be bad bad so we delayed it by a day and had a lovely crisp December day out.

Here is my review - 

We set off for our day out in the Lake District between Christmas and New Year. The day was cold and frosty but clear as we drove north on the M6. Ravenglass is on the west coast of the Lake District and is an area that we don't normally visit so we were looking forward to our trip. Having such a bright clear day meant we had great views of the snow-capped mountains and had a very pleasant drive up. Before we left we checked the website and found that both steam and diesel engines were running, we were aiming to get there for the 11.30 steam train but our sat nav took us via the scenic route - ordinarily this would have been a good idea but given the amount of ice on the roads it did lead to a slight delay, on reaching the top of a hill we decided that we wouldn’t risk driving down the other side which was still in the shade. The single track road was still covered in ice and we didn’t fancy sliding down the hill! We turned round and re-joined the main road and arrived at the car park just as the train left the station. The next train was a diesel train so we opted to wait for the next steam train which gave us time to explore Ravenglass and have some lunch. 

There are the remains of a Roman bathhouse nearby so we took a quick stroll to take a look and then walked back via the beach and returned to the station for some lunch. The station cafe serves a good range of reasonably priced food and drinks, we chose a hot beef sandwich, beans on toast, a baked potato and some soup. Everything was freshly made and tasted delicious. Also available is a range of food and drinks to take away - a good idea on a frosty train ride.
The station itself is very clean and tidy and was very tastefully decorated with Christmas decorations. We last visited about 7 years ago and I remember the station had lovely hanging baskets so they take a lot of pride in the look of the station. The toilets on the station were very clean too. Opening this spring is a new museum area, although this was still a building site when we visited. There is a large car park at the station with parking costing £3 per day. Whilst you can’t consume your own food in the cafe there are plenty of benches dotted around the station for you to sit and eat a picnic. There is also a good playground at the side of the station that will keep children entertained whilst waiting for the train. All the staff we talked to were very helpful and knowledgeable.

Once the train arrived at the platform we chose an open air carriage, most were covered but we wanted the full steam train experience! I did think we might be the only people mad enough to sit outside in the freezing cold but a number of other people sat in the open carriages too. We had wrapped up well with plenty of layers and hats and gloves so the journey wasn’t too cold, although with hindsight a blanket would have kept our legs warm. The 15 inch minimum gauge line winds its way for 7 miles through the beautiful Eskdale valley up to Dalegarth station near Boot. In an area popular with walkers many people choose to take the train one way and walk back or to pick up the train at one of a number of request stops on the route. There is another cafe at Dalegarth so you could break your journey with a drink and snack before returning to Ravenglass. With the weather being so cold a number of passengers bought warm drinks for the return journey. We changed to a covered, heated carriage for the return trip which was warm and comfortable however you do not see as much as you do in the open carriages. There are plenty of sheep in the fields and the scenic mountains in the background and I’m sure that when the weather is warmer you will see plenty more birds and wildlife.

There was a real mix of people on the train, young families, older couples and even a couple of dogs. This really is a day out that appeals to everyone, young or old. We had a great day out and won’t be leaving it as long to visit again.

Sunday 21 December 2014

Christmas Tree

This year we decided to have a real Christmas tree. We have been really busy this December and hadn't got round to buying one so by the time we went this morning all the trees had been reduced by 75%, so we got a really nice tree for an absolute bargain! A few new decorations and it looks amazing!

Sunday 14 December 2014

Snapfish Review

Snapfish is an online photo printing service that in addition to standard prints will produce a wide array of photo gifts. Whilst I was aware of Snapfish we had never used them before so when they asked if we would like to create some Christmas gifts we jumped at the chance.

After looking at the website we decided that calendars and a mug would make great Christmas gifts for our family. To create these we found the hardest job was sorting through our many photos and deciding which ones to use! We settled on a theme of “Out and About in 2014” and set to work. Once we had chosen enough pictures the next job was to upload them to the site. Snapfish allows uploads from Facebook, Flickr or straight from your computer and although there is a quick upload option I chose to upload full quality photos instead.

It was easy to browse the website and choose from a large selection of gift products, we chose a simple black background for our calendars, but many more are available. The calendar templates can then be adjusted, calendars can start at any month of the year and therefore are suitable for any time. Each page of the calendar can have one or more photos and can also contain text although we chose not to include text on our calendars. We designed three different calendars, a desk calendar for my desk at work and two kitchen calendars for our family. Mark decided on a photo mug displaying photos of the whole family that he will use at work.

The site works well but I did find having to upload the photos first a bit of a pain. If you are in the habit of printing your digital photos and use Snapfish anyway then this is not a problem but I don’t and so this added another step in the process and made it quite time consuming. 

After ordering it only took a few days for the gifts to arrive and we were really impressed with the quality. The printing is clear, text on the front of the calendar is sharp and the photos high quality. I am sure our families will be impressed with their calendars when they receive them on Christmas day. At £9.99 for the kitchen calendar and £10.99 for the desk calendar they are very reasonably priced and a personalised gift always goes down well with families. The mugs start at £7.99 and with 7 different options to choose from it is easy to create a special gift. 

Snapfish have created a list of their favourite Christmas gift ideas, why don’t you have a look at the list below and create some unique Christmas gifts for your friends and families.

Personalised Calendars
Personalised Mugs
Photo Ornaments
Photo Panels
Folded Greetings Cards
Personalised sets of notecards
Photo Jigsaw Puzzles

Disclaimer - We received a £40 voucher to spend on Christmas gifts for the purpose of this review but all words, opinions and photos are our own.

Luke's Diving Awards

Over the last couple of months Luke has been doing some diving awards at swimming. He has worked very hard and last week he was presented with the badges and certificates.

Review - Aladdin at The Lowther Pavilion, Lytham

I am a reviewer for the What's Good To Do website and when we were asked if we wanted to review Aladdin we jumped at the chance.

So this afternoon with two excited children in the car we set off down the motorway to The Lowther Pavilion, Lytham, to see Aladdin. Luckily it only takes about 25 minutes to get to Lytham as I’m not sure they could have contained their excitement for much longer! 

Aladdin is one of my favourite pantomimes as it has a good strong story and it always keeps everyone’s interest. Having plenty of story to work with means that there is no need for the “padding out” scenes that you sometimes get in pantomimes. This production had all the usual elements that you expect in a pantomime with plenty of “goodies” and the usual “baddie”. Add in plenty of bad jokes, the usual local references and a good dollop of audience participation and we’re all set for a great show. 

As William wasn't that bothered about going we took our 4 year old niece with us as she had never seen a pantomime before. She had a great time and was clapping and joining in with everything. At one point there was a chase scene and the action moved off the stage and into the seating area, Luke and Daisy thought this was really funny especially when we all got showered with water from the water pistol!

The action moves from place to place with a great number of set changes. Some productions try to cope with a smaller number of sets but this was not the case here. There is a scene where Aladdin and Jasmine take to the air on a magic carpet which uses projection to give the illusion of flight this worked very well and had Daisy spellbound.

All the characters were well cast and included Scott Wright from Coronation Street. As you would expect from a panto there was plenty of humour, lots of silliness from Wishee Washee for the younger children and plenty of harmless jokes for the adults that went straight over the children’s heads. 

At the end of the day the real judges of how good a pantomime is are the children and judging by the faces of both our children and the children around us this pantomime was a definite hit. 

The pantomime is on until the 30th December and costs £13 for adults, £11 for children and £12 for concessions and is well worth a visit.

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

Friday 12 December 2014

Christmas Jumper Day

Today was a Christmas Jumper Day at school in aid of the NSPCC. Luke and Ed looked very smart in their jumpers.