Saturday, 27 May 2017

Working in the garden

Over the last few weeks we have been busy tidying the garden, Mark has created an area for storing the wheelbarrows, wood, empty pots and any bits and pieces that we want to keep but haven't quite got a home for!!

He has built a store for wood with a cover to keep it dry. There is a new fence to separate it from the rest of the garden and I put some plants in it a few weeks ago. It didn't take long for weeds to appear so I spent last Sunday weeding!

We have a bed that is full of lupins which are just starting to flower now, we have lost a few plants over the winter so I need to buy a couple of new plants to replace them.

We have decided to create a new patio area next to the raised beds so I have been tackling the weeds today. I managed to clear a lot of them before it started raining so I will finish it tomorrow. 

Mark replaced the rotten trellis with some new fence panels and ran some wires for the honeysuckle to climb up. Hopefully by the end of the weekend we will have cleared everything and will be ready to start looking a flags for the new patio area.

Evening walk

We are planning to climb up Snowdon later this year so have been getting some practice in on the local fells. 

It was a lovely evening and the fells were deserted, the boys decided that it would be fun to both climb up on the trig point, they managed it with a little help from Mark.

Making silage

We have had lovely weather for the last couple of days and it has been perfect for siloing. They cut the grass on Thursday and managed to collect it all by lunchtime today. Luke sat on the stile at the corner of the field to watch them and picked up the grass they had missed, putting it on a different pile so it would be collected. My Grandad would have been proud of him as that's what he used to do!

Friday, 26 May 2017

Bake Off

Luke's school had a cake sale and baking competition at school this week.

William helped Luke bake a chocolate cake and then Luke decorated it with some green and white cake decorations. It looked really good and I asked Luke to bring a piece home but unfortunately it all sold so I didn't get to try a piece! Luke said it was nice as he managed to keep a piece for himself!

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Aldi Cycling Gear Special Buys

This week, on Sunday 21st May Aldi, are launching their latest cycling range. We always look out for their cycling clothes as they are great quality and a fraction of the price of gear from specialist cycling brands. We still wear the jackets and leggings that I bought a couple of years ago and the boys have a couple of tops as well. Considering the number of times they have been worn and washed they are still looking good with plenty more miles of cycling in them. 

The new women's range looks great, I love the berry stripe on the shorts and it goes well with the black. The big advantage of the colour is that no one will "borrow" my cycling gear as it's too girly for William and Mark!! I especially like the bib shorts, I wear my bib tights a lot but they are a bit warm for summer so I will be going to Aldi on Sunday to buy these.

I received the Crane ladies printed cycling shorts and the ladies all weather cycling jacket to try out. The printed 4-way stretch cycling shorts have an elasticated waistband with a drawstring and are very comfortable to wear. The all important Dolomiti seat pad has a perforated gel insert to help absorb the vibration of the road and the shorts are suitable for 4-5 hours' riding which is ample for me. They have reflective details on the leg which I like as we do go out at night on our bikes so these help ensure we are visible to other road users. The shorts are available in M (size 12-14 ) and L (size 16-18) and cost £7.99.

The jacket is available in S,M and L and is perfect for this time of year when you need an extra layer for cool mornings or a lightweight breathable waterproof "just in case". It comes with a handy pouch that you can stuff it into once you are warm which easily fitted into my bike bag. A lightweight 2.5-layer cycling jacket it is windproof, waterproof and breathable and has taped seams and a reflective print. There is a zipped pocket on the back, it isn't huge but will easily fit a phone or snack in it. The elongated back means you don't get that annoying gap between top and bottoms which being tall tends to happen to me a lot. I have worn the jacket on a couple of short rides this week and it is really comfortable to wear, I haven't been able to test it out in the rain yet but I am sure I won't have long to wait! I am confident that it will be fine as my other Aldi jacket is great in the rain so I have no reason to think this will be any different. It costs £19.99 which I think is very reasonable for a jacket.

As well as these clothes there are some other great offers this week that cyclists should be checking out. 

Softshell Cycling Jacket (£16.99) available in black or red for men and or berry for women

Cycling Jersey (£7.99) comes in blue and red colour varieties with a reflective detail.

Aldi’s Child and Adult Helmets (£9.99)

Rechargeable Bike Light Set (£9.99) with built in 5x 0.5W super bright white and red  SMD LEDS

Premium Floor Pump (£14.99) 11 bar gauge (160psl), twisted lock and a choice of carpet or rubber options

Disclaimer - I received the jacket and shorts for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are my own.

The Wedding Singer - Manchester Opera House

On Monday evening we attended the opening night of The Wedding Singer At Manchester Opera House to review the show for What's Good To Do 

Based on the 1998 film of the same name the musical is about Robbie Hart, a wedding singer, whose heart is broken after being jilted at the altar by his fiance Linda. He befriends waitress Julia who asks him to sing at her upcoming wedding. As Robbie spends more time with Julia, he begins to fall in love and must somehow win her heart.

Set in 1985 the show uses just about every 80’s cliche you can think of from the huge mobile phones, jump suits complete with shoulder pads and Glen as the shiny suited, womanising Wall Street trader. Particularly effective in setting the scene was the use of 80’s film trailers before the show started which got the audience in the mood for the nostalgia ahead. 

I haven't seen the original film but I am told it is full of chart hits from the 80’s. Unfortunately the musical version doesn't have these popular songs but does have original songs brilliantly written by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. Whilst these were great and fitted the story perfectly, it did mean that the show lacked that “sing along” dimension that audiences love. I really enjoyed the song “Single” in the second act, not only were the lyrics funny but the visual comedy of the men all standing at the bar was hilarious.

X Factor star Cassie Compton played waitress Julia Sullivan with Jon Robyns playing the title role of Robbie, the wedding singer. Cassie’s beautiful voice filled the theatre giving, for me, the performance of the night.Tara Verloop’s performance as Julia’s best friend Holly came a close second. We also enjoyed Ray Quinn’s portrayal of Glen Gulia, a stereotypical 80’s yuppie bringing a slightly darker edge to the story. The rest of the large cast were also very talented with Hi- Di-Hi star Ruth Madoc especially well received by the audience.

A musical about a wedding singer was bound to include lots of wedding parties and this gave director and choreographer Nick Winston the chance to make the most of the talented cast. We really enjoyed the high energy, sometimes raunchy, dance numbers, the whole cast were fantastic and seemed to be really enjoying themselves on stage.

We drove to the Opera House, which is easy to find on the western edge of Manchester city centre. Like many others we parked at the nearby modern Spinningfields multi-story carpark which costs £7.50 if you arrive after 6pm. 

Full of dance, music and comedy it is a brilliant night out and is showing at Manchester until the 20th May with the national tour until October.

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

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Evening Walk

Mark and Luke have been away this weekend on a Scout expedition so after William had finished his revision we went for a walk up Parliick and Fairsnape. It was a lovely evening and we only saw three other people whilst we were there which was quite surprising as when I went up Parlick with Luke and Mark on Wednesday evening there were lots of people around, William said everyone must have been watching the Eurovision song competition! We had a good natter and put the world to rights whilst we were walking, it was nice to spend some time with William on his own and have time to chat.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Turning Tears Into Smiles with Elastoplast

I have always been a firm believer that children should spend a lot of time outdoors, growing up on a farm we were always outdoors, helping Mum and Dad or playing on the farm. As a Cub Scout leader I have always encouraged the Cubs to do lots of outdoor activities and when boys and girls are playing outsides there are always a couple of cuts and grazed knees to deal with. With my own children a kiss from me or their Dad was generally enough to calm them down and Luke would always insist on a plaster because he didn't like the sight of blood. I soon learnt that it was very useful to keep a few plasters in my bag as he would cry until his cut was covered. It's perhaps a good job these Elastoplast Star Wars plasters weren't available when he was younger or he would have found even more reasons to need a plaster!

With the Cubs I find one of the best ways to turn tears into smiles is distraction, telling off the stone that tripped them up or the branch that scratched can generally raise a smile, even from a very upset child. 

I don't generally give the Cubs sweets however when we are outdoors on a walk or on camp it is always useful to have some sweets just in case someone falls as it can help distract them from the injury and they are soon off playing again.

These Star Wars and Frozen plasters are great and are bound to cheer up an injured child, they will be perfect to keep in my first aid box ready for any minor cuts and scrapes.

Elastoplast has been around since 1924 and is sold in six countries across the world: Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Since its founding, Elastoplast products have been renowned internationally for their quality. 

More than 200 tried and tested products and innovations are sold around the world under the brand names Hansaplast, Elastoplast and Curitas. Apart from plasters and wound dressings, their product range includes well-tried as well as original products that offer relief from foot problems, sport injuries, pains and strains.

This post is an entry for the BritMums #TearsintoSmiles Challenge, sponsored by Elastoplast. I received the plasters for the purpose of this blog post.

Harlech Beach

When we were in Wales last weekend we went to the beach at Harlech,  it was a bit breezy so it wasn't busy and we had a lovely walk collecting shells and playing in the sand.

The Ffestiniog Railway

Last weekend we had a lovely weekend in Wales, breaking from tradition we stayed in Porthmadog rather than Harlech which made a nice change. Whenever we go to Wales we take a trip on the Ffestiniog Railway and usually start from Ffestiniog but as we were staying in Porthmadog it made more sense to walk to the station and do our trip in reverse!

The Ffestiniog Railway is the world's oldest narrow gauge railway with almost 200 years of history. The trip is 13½-mile long starting from the harbour in Porthmadog to the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. 

We first took the boys on the train when Luke was about 2 and we have been almost every year since. I did wonder whether the boys would be fed up of doing the same journey but they both agreed it was now a family tradition and they love going on the train.

Usually we sit in one of the open carriages so we can enjoy the scenery however there were no open carriages on the train. We asked one of the staff who said they only use the open carriages in the summer when the weather is better so we had to make do with a normal carriage. 

Another part of our tradition is that we buy a sandwich from Jessie's sandwich shop and then eat it in the park before catching the train back to Ffestiniog. Originally we thought we would buy them on the way to the station and then eat them in Ffestionog but when we looked at the timetable there was either a 15 minutes stop there or a couple of hours. We decided to take the earlier train which brought us back to Porthmadog at 12.45 so we bought the sandwiches on the way back which was much easier and meant we didn't need to take a box to put them in on the journey.

We had a lovely time and will be back again next year!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Arckit Kickstarter Campaign

Arckit launches Kickstarter that allows anyone to build a dream city

Arckit, the multi-award winning architectural model building kit that launched in 2014, is back on the scene with their first ever Kickstarter campaign. On 10 May, designers and model lovers will have early access to 12 new kits, which Arckit has developed to inspire the next generation of architects and visionary urban planners.  

For the first time ever, Arckit Cityscape and Arckit Masterplan give anyone complete control to build their very own dream city from scratch. From developing suburban neighbourhoods to downtown skyscrapers, city parks to piazzas, now designers of all ages can experience what it’s like to be a real architect or city planner. Arckit allows you to create your very own miniature model worlds complete with subtle colours and graphics – then stand back to marvel at a true 3D perspective of your masterpiece.

The ultimate in minimalist and ‘museum-worthy’ architectural kits, Arckit is perfect for literally anyone who is mesmerised by architecture and models – from budding creators and regular users through to designers and professionals. If you’ve ever walked around a city and looked up in amazement, if you are transfixed by maps and top-down games or just love the look of stunning architectural models then Arckit takes this experience to a whole new level.

The new products include eight versions of Arckit Cityscape, each with unique components inspired by iconic styles of world architecture in a choice of white or colours. More experienced makers can also choose from Cityscape XL, Cityscape XXL, Masterplan and Masterplan Pro for even more building opportunities and professional-level models. All of the products are compatible with each other, giving users the flexibility to turn a thriving city centre into a sprawling metropolis.

The first kits will launch exclusively on Kickstarter from 10 May 2017. Retail prices for the Arckit Cityscape series start from €24.99 and Masterplan starts from €139. Special ‘early bird’ discounts will include a limited offer of €19 for Cityscape and bundle deals with further discounts for those who want to create more ambitious builds or use Arckit within a group setting.

Damien Murtagh, founder of the startup Arckit says: “We launched our original Arckit back in 2014 as a revolutionary alternative to the traditional architects’ model. Our patented system won us multiple awards and is stocked globally in prestigious retailers and design museums such as Harrods London, Barnes & Noble across the US, Brown Thomas Dublin, Hamleys Singapore, The Smithsonian & Guggenheim museums NY and many other stores worldwide. Arckit is also used in schools and universities for teaching STEM education. Now we want to open up architecture to everyone and change the way people think about their built environments.”



Tuesday, 25 April 2017


Bluebells are one of my favourite flowers and I have seen plenty when we have been out on our bikes this weekend. They look lovely against the green grass and have a beautiful fragrance. These at Brock Bottoms were just starting to come out and will look amazing in the next week or so.

St George's Day Parade

The boys looked very smart on Sunday for St George's Day parade.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

ELO Experience - Preston Guild Hall

On Friday night we ventured into Preston to see The ELO Experience at Preston Guild Hall. We are both fans of ELO and were looking forward to the show.

A What's Good To Do Review

Since Simon Rigby took over Preston Guild Hall a significant amount of money has been spent and the once tired Guild Hall Arcade is looking fantastic and vibrant again. The addition of excellent restaurants and bars has transformed the Guild Hall Arcade and means you can make a night of a theatre trip.  There are ambitious plans to elevate the complex back to its previous former glory and the planned new bowling complex will be a great addition to the venue. Looking at their website there is an exciting programme of events this summer and we are looking forward to seeing more shows this year.  

We arrived promptly and found our seats which is more than can be said for a lot of people. We couldn't believe the number of latecomers that came in and it did become quite annoying after a bit. Two ladies came and sat in front of us, they should have been a few rows forward but because they were late and it would have meant disrupting a whole row they came and sat on the seats in front of us. We have been going to shows for many years and I have to say these were the two worst audience members we have ever had the misfortune to sit behind. They just couldn't sit still and it was unbelievable how many times one lady took her jacket on and off. They disappeared off to the bar a couple of times and there was also a mini drama when one of them couldn't find her phone. Whilst it didn't spoil the night they were incredibly irritating and had no consideration at all for other members of the audience.

The ELO Experience have been touring for 11 years and they put on an amazing performance, playing plenty of old favourites as well as some lesser known tracks from the 1977 “Out of the Blue” double album. Opening to the distinctive ELO sound of Cellos and Violins, the ELO Experience took to the stage with “All Over the World.” My feet started tapping at the start of this song and didn’t stop all night!

The ELO Experience is fronted by lead vocalist Andy Louis who does a great impersonation of Jeff Lynne in both his voice and the trademark hair! Andy is joined at the front of stage by lead guitarist Jan Christiansen and Bass player Pete Smith. Liz Stacey on violin leads the string section consisting of herself and two cellists. Musical director Steve Hemsley plays the all important keyboards and backing vocals and Tony Lawson completes the band on drums and percussion.
The whole band really seemed to be enjoying themselves on stage - especially the two cellists but it was Liz Stacey’s performance on her blue violin that really stood out, the audience really responding to each of her solos. Much of the time the band went straight from one number to the next but occasionally Andy took a few moments to talk to the audience and added a touch of friendly humour to the night. He also encouraged audience participation even including singing along to the French lyrics in “Hold on Tight”.

The sound and lighting, including video projection, was great, nothing too fancy but perfectly complementing the performance. The opportunity for the audience to purchase blue glow sticks in the interval added to the atmosphere and looked quite stunning in the second half of the show.

Fans don’t just want a “Greatest Hits” show so this performance included some of the album tracks from the hugely successful 1977 double album “Out of The Blue” as well as our favourites Xanadu, Roll Over Beethoven, Evil Woman and The Last Train To London which changed its destination to Preston to the delight of the audience!

The band are currently touring until November so there is plenty of opportunity for fans old and new to share the ELO Experience. We had a great night out and would thoroughly recommend the show.

Disclaimer - we received free tickets for the purpose of this review but all words and opinions are our own

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Painting the fence

It was lovely and warm this morning so Mark decided it was time the fence was painted. Luke got his overalls on and started spraying the fence and Mark painted the top bits that were difficult to do with the sprayer. It's amazing how much better it looks with a new coat of paint.


Last weekend William was helping at Cub camp so once he had finished work we drove up to Silverdale and dropped him off at Silverhelme campsite. It was a nice day so we went for a walk to Arnside Tower and Jenny Brown's Point.

Mark helped Luke with the map reading and we found a little cafe close to Arnside Tower where Luke had an ice cream and me and Mark had a lovely home-made cake.

When we reached Jenny Brown's Point the sea was in so we made our way across the rocks and eventually arrived back at Silverhelme. We had a really nice afternoon and we both said we should go to Silverdale more often as there are some lovely walks around the area.

Friday, 7 April 2017