Monday 31 July 2017

Panto On the Pier Blackpool - The Wizard of Oz

Who loves a good Panto??? I do!! (Raises hand) 

Well Im about to tell you all about one that I went to see last wednesday at the North Pier Theatre in Blackpool. 

We were invited to come and see the show by the wonderful Reece Sibbald who plays the Scarecrow for the sixth time in this fantastic show. 

So on the afternoon of Wednesday the 26th we jumped in the car excitedly and we were Off to see the Wizard! I wasn't too sure on what Lily would make of the pantomime. It was her first one. But understanding the concept of what a show is, she was very excited to be going to see one. 

We arrived at the pier, the sun was shinning and we headed to the end of the pier for the 7pm show. 

We got there a little earlier and were shown into the Theatre at 6.15pm. That did mean we had to wait a whole 45 min before the show, and Lily did get a little bored but it meant we got first choices of where we wanted to sit. We sat somewhere between the front and the middle of the theatre. We had a great view of the stage. The Theatre does fill up quick so a early arrival is definitely recommended. 

The Panto started with a great welcome from Reece Sibbald who was the scarecrow. He got the crowd involved from the start of the show and really captured everyones attention. There was already laughter in the audience as he started to make jokes that were funny for the children but also the adults. 

Then it was time to introduce some of the other cast of the Wizard of Oz and get started with the show.  

The performers all looked great in there costumes and all put lots of enthusiasm into keeping up their character. The stage was colourful and backdrops wonderfully designed and perfectly fitting for the wizard of oz. It all looked fantastic and you could tell that all the the children in the audience were really enjoying the show. 
Dorothy was delightful, the Tin Man entertaining and the Cowardly Lion was giggle worthy and made me smile as his legs trembled in fear. The good witch had such an amazing dress on and looked beautiful and the Wizard himself was such a character and did his performance so well.

I also must mention the large group of young children who all played the Munchkins. Watching them really took me back to my childhood when I used to be up on stage singing and dancing in the local panto. I think it is lovely to still involve a large group of children in a panto and they all did such a good job.

There was lots of singing and dancing and Lily really loved this part to the pantomime and danced a long. All the way through jokes were made by funny man Reece and he had me and the audience laughing the entire way through. In fact at one point he actually made me have tears of laughter. Everytime he was on stage he kept the panto lively and really captured my attention.
They stuck to the storyline great but they did add in lots of other silly parts that just got everyone giggling. There were times in the show where you could not tell if it was meant to happen. For example the scarecrow at one point slipping to the floor. But thats the great thing about a pantomime, things like that actually make the performance better to watch.

One of the best things about pantomimes are that they aren't something you have to sit there quietly watching. They got the audience involved with the classic lines like "he's behind you" and got the witch arguing with the audience with "yes I am" and "oh no your not". I am very glad that I didn't choose the front of the theatre as there was plenty of times where the audience got... well, Lets say some nice surprises!

The witch played a really good witch. She had one of those witchy voices. You know ones where they go right through you because they are THAT witchy. She sure could do a good cackle to! The only thing I would say about the parts where the witch comes on is that there was to much smoke. It made it hard to see what was going on on stage at times and also was making my mum cough a little. I think its great for dramatic effects but as the witch comes on stage a lot during the performance I think it was a little too much. 

Over all the show was fantastic and me and my family really enjoyed it. Lily enjoyed most parts although got a little scared each time it went dark. But that could not be helped as the sets on stage needed to be changed. 

After the show I got a chance to meet some of the performers and got this brilliant photograph of me with the scarecrow and dorothy.

It wasn't to many moments after that photograph was taken that the sky went dark and some real Wizard of Oz action took place with a storm coming over us. It did leave me laughing at the thought that the Theatre had planned the storm for the special effects! 

We had such a great evening and it is something I would definetly take Lily back again to see when she is a little older.

If you would like to see this show it will be performed every Wednesday until the 23rd of August. Tickets are priced at £11 each or £27 for a family of 3 or £32 for a family of 4.

Head here to buy your tickets now and don't miss out! Find out more on the Panto At the Pier Facebook Page.

Ever seen this show? Would your children enjoy a show like this? 

Saturday 29 July 2017

The New Tactic Game - Coral Reef + Giveaway

Tactic Games has a new game on its shelf! 

Check out this underwater themed fun game for children aged 4+ and perfect for 2-4 players.

Look for the marine animals shown on the two cards and point them out at the same time! If you do it before the other players, you are rewarded with an animal figurine. Comes with a double-sided game board consisting of giant puzzle pieces which can be put together differently each game. 

This game will be summer fun for all the family, so why not take a look at it here

I have one of these games to giveaway to one lucky winner. 

Enter on the gleam app below for your chance to win and have lots of underwater fun. 

Win Coral Reef from Tactic Games

Friday 28 July 2017

Mummy and Me - July 2017

This month I made a point of asking for my photograph to be taken with Lily. Also this month we managed to get some rare occasions where Lily was actually really happy to have her photograph taken with me. We had a really lovely holiday and lots of moments where we had a lot of fun. Here are some of my favourites. 

Nicola... Life Through My Eyes

Thursday 27 July 2017

Lottie Dolls Rockabilly and Fossil Hunter Review and Giveaway

Lottie is up there as one of my favourite dolls. I am so happy to be able to introduce my daughter to these dolls to be able to show her a positive role model of how a child could be.

This is not my first Lottie Doll review and so you can read my last one on the other dolls I reviewed here

The thing I love the most about Lottie is her child like figure. Based on a body of an 8 year old. It is realistic and natural and does not give children an impression that they need to grow up fast. Like so many other dolls do. 

Lottie dolls are all about recognising how important childhood is and so they base the characters of their dolls on the hobbies and interests of children themselves. Encouraging them to be interested in sports, music, getting outdoors, science and simply just being a child. I love that Lottie really want to promote a child being who ever they want to be and showing them that they can aspire to do the things they want to do. Ballet, Art, Astronomer, but also showing that its absolutely fine to just be a child and do what children do. Jump in muddy puddles, playing out, dressing up. Lottie dolls are a really good role model for children and the perfect doll to become your child's best friend. 

Lottie sent us 2 dolls to review and tell you all about. 

The first is Rockabilly Lottie Doll.

Dressed in her vintage-style jacket and glasses, Lottie heads over to the Victorian Bandstand to listen to live music performances. It’s fun to listen to new bands and musicians, discover different types of music, and let loose and dance. Lottie isn’t the greatest dancer, but she’s happy to do her own thing, and isn’t scared to march to the beat of her own drum, and be herself. After a day of music and laughter, Lottie heads home with a spring in her step.

Another place Rockabilly Lottie loves to go is the arcade! There are always lights flashing, music playing and she can play her favourite retro games. So one day on holiday Lily and I decided to take her to the nearby arcade with us. 

Rockabilly Lottie is so cool. Her outfit is so retro and its really refreshing to see a girls doll wearing blue. I dress Lily in blue a lot as I think it looks really nice. She wears a white t shirt with a music symbol on, a blue and white jacket, a light blue tutu, red, pink and white leggings and blue trainers. Then not forgetting she wears her pink bow to finish it all off. On the back of the jacket it says "Be Bold, Be You" which is a great slogan for children to read. 
Rockabilly Lottie also wears glasses which is also refreshing to see on a doll. They are really cool retro looking red ones that match her outfit so well. I think its great to have a doll with glasses that aren't actual sun glasses. So children with glasses can relate to her. 

The next doll that we got sent was Fossil Hunter. 

Summer holidays and Lottie can’t wait to go to Lincoln Cliff Beach to look for fossils. With her special rock hammer and backpack full of useful gear, Lottie is ready for an adventure at the cliffs by the sea. It is so exciting to think that she might make her own scientific discovery! What will she find? An ammonite? A bone from a plesiosaur? Or maybe even a dinosaur…!

This was perfect to take on our holidays with us as we were heading to Dorset where one of the first ever female fossil hunters made her discoveries. Lily and I decided to take her to the pebble beach and to the rock pools to see what we could find. 

Fossil Hunter Lottie is dressed in a blue top with a fossil on it, a green sleeveless jacket, some brown shorts with pockets, stripy socks and brown boots. She also comes with a brown hat. She comes with many accessories which include a brown backpack, which you can actually place things inside, tools, fossils, and some fact sheets all about her idol Mary Anning who was the fossil hunter I mentioned earlier. 

Fossil Hunter is cool but in a compleatly different way to Rockabilly Lottie. I love the fact that she has an interest that is outdoors and relating to science. Her fashion sense shows that girls don't always have to dress girly and girls can be just as adventurous as boys when it comes to climbing around rock pools to hunt for fossils. 

Lily really enjoyed playing with these dolls over the holiday and taking them out with her on trips out. She would talk to them, brush their hair and sit them next to her as she enjoyed her holiday activities. There is definetly a possibility that they could become Lily's best friends. 

I must also mention that the quality of these dolls are brilliant. I have noticed that their hair stays quite neat and doesn't easily knot. The arms and legs are made from a great quality plastic which means that the legs can be bent at the knee's for Lottie to sit down, and the head of the doll is very strong and can't be squished like some dolls heads can be. All the clothing is made in such detail and is a really good quality material that most definetly is going to last.

I can not recommend these dolls enough. They retail at £18.99 and there is such a variety of dolls to choose from. 

Head to the Lottie Website to see more dolls and buy your very own. 

If you are a big fan of these dolls. You can now Enter below to win one. Lottie are giving away one doll to one lucky winner. You get to choose between Rockabilly and Fossil Hunter.
Enter on the Gleam app below for your chance to win. 

Win 1 Lottie Doll

Wednesday 26 July 2017

Microwave Recipes - Roasted Stuffed Peppers

I tend to find that the hours in the day go by really fast and that finding time to cook can generally be really hard. I really want to be able to eat interesting foods but be able to make them quickly so I can get back to attending to my daughter and spending quality time with her. Thats where the wonderful idea of microwave dishes come in very handy. 

They are something I never thought of doing. But as soon as I saw them I thought, these are the kind of dishes for me.

I decided to try to make Roasted Stuffed Peppers by using just my microwave oven. 

You can make these in lots of different styles and you can vary it up each time by adding new ingredients to make new flavours. You can also change up the colours of peppers you use. This time I used red peppers. 

Here are the ingredients you will need. 
  • 3 Bell Peppers 
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 2 Garlic Cloves 
  • 150g Long grain rice
  • 450ml Vegetable Stock 
  • 1 bunch Spring Onions
  • 50g Pine nuts
  • 100g Cherry Tomatoes 
  • 100g Mozzarella 
  • 100g Gorgonzola 
  • Handful Fresh Herbs

The first thing you need to do is cut the tops from the peppers, empty the seeds and give them a good wash. Then place them to the side. Then crush your garlic and add that and the olive oil to a oven dish or microwavable bowl. This is also where you add your pine nuts, but I don't actually like pine nuts so I left this part out. I gave it a good mix and then put it into the microwave on normal high setting for 2 minutes. While it is in, boil your kettle ready to make the stock. 

Add 450ml of water to a vegetable stock cube and then add the 150g of long grain rice, add your garlic, oil and pine nut mix. Then cover your bowl up and place this back into your microwave on high for 12 minutes. While this is on, cut up your herbs, tomatoes, spring onions and your cheeses. I could not get gorgonzola cheese from my local store so I bought a blue cheese instead which the shop keeper said was quite simular. 

When your rice is ready, allow it to cool slightly before you mix in all your ingredients. Season this well and then give it a good stir. At this point it should look colourful and tasty and don't be afraid to give it a little try. It should taste really good to. You are now ready to spoon this mixture into the peppers. Press it right in as you do as depending on the size of your peppers, there is a lot of rice mixture. I actually had quite a bit left over after I had filled my peppers.
The peppers now need to be placed closely toggether in an oven proof dish. Or on a plate as I found out works perfectly fine to. My oven dish would not fit into my microwave and I need to buy a smaller one. This is where the settings on your microwave are important. 

Set at - Convection 200oc, Plus Grill 2, Plus Low Microwave and cook for 10-12 minutes. 

If all goes to plan, after the 12 minutes your peppers should come out looking really delicious. You will be able to see that the pepper is soft and cooked and that the rice and cheese has gone slightly crusty on the top. They will also smell amazing!

These can be cut in half and shared as a lovely starter dish between 6 people. Or you can do what me and my partner did and make a main meal out of them. We had one and a half each and paired it with some potatoes. We also used the left over mixture as a little extra on the side. 

This recipe takes around 20 - 25 minutes cooking time and prep takes as long as it takes you to cut things up. Which for me is a while. I think next time I make these I will be a lot faster and as easy as this recipe was to make. It will be a lot easier the second time as always. 

Here are the pictures of our meal.

Would you give this recipe a try? 

Have you ever used a microwave for cooking before? 

(This is a Sponsored Post)  

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Puppy Surprise Review

Although Lily is actually scared of dogs, she really loves toy ones. Im really hoping that her playing with toy ones will help her overcome her fear. So when I got the chance to review Puppy Surprise from Flair I jumped at it. 

Puppy Surprise is a soft loveable, huggable mummy dog that has a surprise number of puppies in her tummy. 

It comes in a delightful shaped box that looks just like a pet carrier. Lily was really excited to see the dog in the box and also that it had a cute little puppy sat by its side. She spotted the hole in the box and pressed the puppy and it makes cute little barking noises. 

Its really easy to remove from the box and so Lily had the dog in her arms in no time. She gave it really big hugs and said "so cute" when she held the puppy in her hands. She was delighted with her new toy and fell in love with the dog and her puppy straight away. Little did she know that there was a very special surprise to come. 

The mummy dog is really cuddly and her white fur is really soft. She comes with a really attractive pink sparkly dog collar and and a pretty bow in her hair. The purple hair is made so it is brushable. Although no brush is supplied with the toy. That was not a major problem for us as we have already got toy brushes that Lily can use. The mummy dog has a really sparkly nose too which Lily loved. The puppy has a really silky soft body and a hard head. It is really easy to press its belly and make it bark which is a great factor for small children with not much strength to do so. 

I then asked Lily if she would like some more puppies? She got excited and said yes and looked around for them. I said to her that they were in the mummies belly and turned the doggy over to reveal a opening which is fastened by velcro. Lily soon got the idea that she could open the dog up and she started to pull out puppies. She was so excited that there was more than one in there and started to count them and was shocked saying "oh theres more". Each puppy surprise comes with a different amount of puppies. There may be 3 in there or 4 or even 5. We got 3 puppies inside our doggy which made 4 with the one that was already out of the tummy.

Lily has loved playing with this dog and her puppies. Some toys Lily plays with to begin with and then doesn't touch for a while but she has not let go of this since we received it. She has been taking such good care of her dog and puppies and it has been really good for encouraging her to learn how to nurture. You can buy refill puppy packs which also come with a surprise element and this is something I may consider due to Lily loving this toy so much. Its great that you can expand on this toy by buying more puppies. 

The target age for this toy is 3-6. Lily is only 2 and a half but I find this toy perfect for her age. I would highly recommend this toy as something your child will love and treasure. It retails at £27.99 and you can buy it from Smyths Toy Store.  We were sent a doggy from series 5 of the Puppy Surpise Collection but series 8 is now out and available. 

What element of Puppy Surprise would your child like? 

Saturday 22 July 2017

The Rodwell Trail Weymouth

Walking is one of my favourite things to and since having Lily I have always encouraged her to come on walks with me and taken her to new places. She seems to really enjoy walking too.

While we was in Weymouth on holiday we decided we would go for a walk called the Rodwell Trail. The Rodwell Trail is a 3.5k walk which leads out to Sandsfoot caste. It used to be a railway line and is now disused and the train tracks have been removed and a path put in its place. But you can still tell that it used to be a railway line by some of the things you can spot around. 

Lily and I set off on the monday morning along with my mum and dad. The start of the walk is very normal and there isn't much to see, but it is very peaceful and you are surrounded by tree's which is nice. 

Soon you come up to a massive tunnel. Lily was a little daunted by the tunnel as it was a lot darker than the bright sunny path but she eventually walked in holding onto her Nan's hand and when she was in the tunnel realised that it wasn't that bad. Its quite cool being in the tunnel and you can just picture a train traveling through there in the past. It made a great echo noise as we shouted out words which Lily thought was great. 

When you carry on walking a long the road you come to your first platform. At first you wouldn't recognise it as a platform as its quite overgrown and it just looks like a wall but when you stop to look you can see the shape of it being a platform. The railway would have been used at times during the war and you can just imagine soldier's waiting there about to board their train.

As you carry on along the walk there is lots to see. There are sign posts as you go along and some have animals carved in, pictures of castles carved in and one had Henry Viii carved into it. Reason for those carvings would be because you are heading towards Sandsfoot castle which was built by Henry Viii. There are also signposts which you can look at to see what birds you may find flying around and what other animals may be hidden in the woodlands that around it. You very soon come up to a bridge that is built with a nice old red brick. Lily and her Nan decided to hide behind one of the posts of that bridge and jump out and say BOO! 
As you carry on a little further you walk through some tree's that compleatly hang over the path. Suddently the path is really dark and only parts that are lit are the parts where there is a break in the tree's and the light is shinning through. It almost feels like you are in some sort of deep woodland. Soon you get to the next platform which says Sandsfoot Castle.

Soon you have a choice to go either to Sandsfoot castle by taking a little path off the trail or carry on a little further which brings you out to view Portland. It is such a nice view and one time me and my dad carried along it and ended up down by the sea where we went on a little adventure. This time we decided we would head to Sandsfoot Castle and so took the little path towards it.

We had a little break here as Sandsfoot Castle sits in a really pretty garden with a cafe. We all got some drinks and Lily had a biscuit which she really enjoyed. The gardens are beautiful and really well maintained, there is a really pretty pond with water lillies floating on it and also some palm tree's which Lily liked. 

As soon as Lily saw the castle she was super excited! She loves castles, especially as she see's one in her favourite show Ben and Holly. She ran to the castle really fast and just before she went inside I got her to show me how excited she was to see the castle. As you can see from the photographs the castle is a slight ruin now and is very old. It was built by Henry Viii as a guard castle to guard that particular shore of England. I really do love how its sits so strongly still and having it in the gardens really makes it stand out.

You can go in the castle and walk around it. It would have been 3 levels and you can see where the basement level would have been. You can look out of what would have been the windows and see the beautiful harbour of Portland. Which is one of the things it would have been built to protect. Lily really enjoyed running around the inside of the castle. 

Overall this walk is a really nice walk and I really enjoyed it. There are so many nice walks in weymouth but this one is really interesting and really different to the others. Its a really nice walk to get away from busy streets and just be surrounded by nature. The castle is a really great place to end up at too. After such a nice long walk its great to stop and have a drink at the cafe and then what an exciting end to a walk to be greeted by such an amazing castle.
We can't wait until we visit Weymouth again and hopefully re take this walk. 

Would you enjoy a walk like this? 

Country Kids