East is East at the Theatre

L-R Pauline McLynn (Ella Khan) &  Sally Bankes (Antie Annie) - East is East UK Tour - Photo By Marc Brenner  (474)

Last night I had the pleasure in seeing East is East at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley whilst on its UK tour. Currently starring Simon Nagra and  Pauline McLynn (known for playing Mrs Doyle in Father Ted amongst other award winning roles)

For those of you that haven’t seen the film this is a story written by Ayub Khan Din set in 1971 in Salford about a family headed by George, a Pakastani immigrant who is married to an English woman, Ella, played by Pauline McLynn and hosts a family of seven children. The over ruling line of the story is George ‘Gengis’ trying to give his children a Pakastani and Muslim upbringing in the ever changing age of the 70’s in Manchester, anyone who doesn’t comply is ousted and considered ‘dead’ by George. His wife is conflicted between the love and protection of her children and the love for her husband.

The story is a poignant one which must ring true with many families even today still trying to encourage traditional family and religious values and struggling but there is plenty of laughs to be had with the various ‘bastard’ ‘idiot’ ‘stupid’ lines that come from both Ella and George. The siblings are brilliant actors and actresses portraying perfectly the love for their family but the conflicting relationships that the situation brings. Auntie Annie played by Sally Bankes was the jewel in the crown for me, she completely represented the hard up Mancunian persona and with her well timed wit and humour made me warm to her completely.

Highly recommended for some thought provoking points and a good laugh.

Find out more and book here : http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/east-is-east/the-churchill-theatre-bromley/

Subscription Boxes…??

I had a postman’s slip through the door a few weeks ago and as much as its a real hassle to go to the post office to collect things I’m always excited because it feels like a present!
It transpired that it was a KoalaPak…
Whats that you say?? Well, I’ve seen several subscription postal order things pop up on the web recently and must admit to being quite dubious about them, i mean really do you neeeeeed to have a beauty box or a baby box etc through your door every month??

The KoalaPak is one of these monthly subscription boxes but is actually aimed at children aged 3-8 to help aid development in line with EYFS and Key Stage 1 & 2, very useful if you are a stay at home mum with a child not at pre-school, nursery and in addition to your children at school to teach them the lessons needed to aid development.

The Activity:

Let me tell you what was in our box : Make your own garden kit!!!
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As you can see its brightly coloured so Zachy was interested straight away and it had everything you need:

Flower pots and saucers

Stickers to decorate them with

An additional box to put your garden in

Sticky tape to make the box

Lolly Sticks to identify your plants

Cress seeds

Carrot seeds

Compost rounds

Pipette

Paint

Paintbrushes

A garden gnome to decorate

A pinny to decorate

and a list of step by step instructions which includes what EYFS, KS1 and 2 guidelines it follows and what it teaches your little cherub.

Zachary had a great time making his garden and it was lovely for him to have everything at his finger tips. He stuck stickers on his flower pots, planted the compost rounds and sprinkled in the seeds, used the pipettes to water them and painted his gnome. We still have the box to paint and (fingers crossed) the plants to grow so its not all over in one swoop.

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Overview:

I am a convert! I loved the box and the educational value inside it. Zachary thought it was wonderful and he enjoyed making something from start to finish all out of this one little box.

Find out more at www.koalapak.com where you can buy a subscription or send one as a gift.

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Diggerland Review

Located in 4 sites across the UK you can visit Diggerland in Kent, Yorkshire, Devon & Durham. Its the only place where children and adults can ride and drive real diggers!

I must admit having reservations about going to Diggerland, I mean it really is a boys thing isn’t it?!?!

You’ll be pleased to know, it’s not. I loved it!

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Zachy is 4 1/2 and literally didn’t know what to do first. I thought it would be lots of diggers to ‘dig’ on but there are several rides to go on as well. Including Spindizzy, Skyshuttle and Groundshuttle with the latter being my favourite 🙂 (you were thrown around in this one)

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Additionally there are lots of diggers to dig in the ground, trucks, mini landrovers, go karts, mini tractors and a cute Diggerland train.

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Now here come the really scary bit. The kids are actually allowed to drive FULL SIZE dumper trucks, diggers, 4 x 4’s and JCB’s!!

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If that wasn’t enough there is a soft play, bouncy castle, and a nice climbbing frame/ slide etc to play on.

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Overview

Forgive me for the amount of pictures but it really is good to see all the different rides and trucks to drive. Zachy absolutely adored it with the key phrase of the day being ‘This is soooo awesome mummy, i want to stay here forever!’

You can visit Diggerland for parties and have the use of a private room with lunch. You can book additional ‘experiences’ (additional costs apply) including JCB experiences, formula JCB racing, dumper truck racing and monster digger experiences.

The get the most out of the day your little one needs to be over 90 cms high. Those under this height are free of charge.

Although it is quite dear in my opinion it’s no more so than other theme parks and with it being a smaller park and with not as long wait time for rides its a definite contender if you decide to visit a theme park as it will keep you busy all day without feeling rushed.

Zachy”s official rating: 9/10

Find out more and book your tickets here: http://www.diggerland.com/

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Top Hat The Musical Review

I had the pleasure of going to see the triple Olivier award winning show Top Hat at The Churchill Theatre in Bromley this week.

I adore musicals and this really doesn’t fail to impress with some truly amazing costumes (apparantly in excess of 200!), sets, dancing and singing.

Top Hat tells the story of Broadway sensation Jerry Travers who dances his way across Europe to win the heart of society girl Dale Tremont. Played by Alan Burkitt and Charlotte Gooch respectively, these two were paired beautifully and were superb.

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The script is witty and had me laughing out loud throughout the performance, watch out for the hilarious butler, Bates played by John Conroy and Alberto Beddini played by Sebastien Torkia who remind me strongly of Manwell from Fawlty Towers. The songs include Cheek to Cheek, Top Hat, White Tie & Tails, Let’s Face the Music & Dance and Puttin’ on the Ritz and had me singing along all through the show!

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There were many times when I wanted to jump up and dance along. I really can’t tell you how magical the whole night was in words, I was really stunned at the quality of acting, stunning dancing and brilliant set changes.

This is not to be missed, wherever and whenever you have the chance to see it.

Time for tea in Chislehurst

So I love finding hidden gems in our local community and recently I happened to find another one!

I don’t know about you but I love a little bit of pampering and lets be honest most of the time we deserve it 🙂 I found out the Bulls Head in Chislehurst have gone through an amaze balls transformation in their old drab dining area. It is now B E A U tiful!

I went along to check out the launch of the new dining area out the back of the pub and we were treated to cocktails and cake – what a perfect combo?

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The Night

On the night we indulged in beautiful and gorgeous cakes plus lovely gin and tonics courtesy of sip-smith gin, martin millers gin and fever tree tonic. This is the best tonic ever, for those of you that think I’m talking rubbish because its all about the gin – trust me – its not. Fever tree really does mean you can taste your gin as the quinine (the strong taste you have in a g&t) isn’t as strong as in a normal tonic water. It actually compliments the gin as opposed to over powering it.

I tested a elder flower tonic water form Fever tree which went perfectly with my martin millers gin and a normal fever tree tonic that went beautifully with my sip-smiths gin. Thank you fever tree 🙂

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Additionally there was a great mixologist who had made some cocktails that I normally wouldn’t of chosen due to the whisky content but they were amazing also. I’ll include these in a later post about different cocktails so keep your eyes posted!

Overview

Anyway, I digress, the new room at the back of the pub is stunningly gorgeous. It is spot on trend shabby chic, vintage and bright due to the gorgeous skylight and all the windows looking out on to the garden. It offers a calm and trendy spot to indulge in afternoon tea. Yes, they are offering a local afternoon tea – no more trekking up to London! I totally will be taking Mummy there for a girly catch up with a cheeky glass of fizz.

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If you don’t fancy afternoon tea this room is also used as the restaurant for dinner of which the menu is diverse. I sampled the cheese fondue which included brie, camembert and blue cheese with bread, calamari which was fantastically fresh and olives with mozzarella but there is a ‘proper’ evening menu to choose from too.

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If you really feel like indulging yourself the Bull also hosts a hotel, the biggest suite is absolutely amazing with a four poster bed, seating area, bathroom with roll top bath, twin basins and double shower. The perfect place for a local romantic get away.

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To fin out more and book your romantic get away/afternoon tea or just to go and have a drink in the lovely garden (that does have an outside bar) visit their website now.

 

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Would you consider the theatre for a night out?

Are you an avid theatre goer?

I must admit the truth and tell you I haven’t been to a proper grown up play for aaaaaaaaaaaages.

I did take Z to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea last summer as part of the Kids Week in the West End where kids go free and both he and I loved it.

Living in Bromley we have The Churchill Theatre on our doorstep and I don’t know about you but I wasn’t aware of all the fab plays they have there across this year which span from musicals to stand up to intense intellectual productions.

Talking of intense productions. I had the honour of attending the premier (at The Churchill!) of The History Boys by Alan Bennett, voted ‘the nations favorite play’ last year and winning endless awards it was one I was excited to see.History Boys-202

Overview

For those of you don’t know The History Boys is a comic drama which covers the summer after A-Levels where a group of boys stay on in the classroom to be preened for Oxbridge exams. It’s set in the 80’s and some may find it a little on or behind the line as it represents what happened in certain schools and places in that time period where headteachers may of turned a blind eye….

It’s a thoughtful story of the time which covers comradery, not only with the boys but with their teachers, and gives you an insight into intellectual learning where it meant more to teach life than just a curriculum.

The director Kate Saxon notes, ‘the play does not present realism…their take on sexuality too liberal for the time. There is no bullying in the group…by freeing itself of realism the play is able to take a microcosm of the time and place and allow us to see relevancies that stretch far beyond it.’

Atmosphere

The theatre was packed! Considering it was a Monday evening this wasn’t something I expected and the bar was buzzy in the interval. It may not be something you immediately think of for a night out but an early dinner, good play, few drinks before, in the interval and after it offers it all really!

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It had me listening intently at times, honestly, trying to keep up, it had me feeling sad and feeling happy. Evoking emotions like a rollercoaster and it made me realise that a lot of the olden days in teaching had a magical quality to them regarding the passion of old school teachers. The team of school boys bounced off one another easily and the play ran through perfectly. Hector (played by Richard Prior) managed to endear himself to me even though he was the one person acting inappropriately…

As is quoted again by the director ‘Bennet helps us along; the lessons are far reaching. Not only do they cover life, love and death, the extra-curricular lessons are equally enlightening.’

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The History Boys runs until Saturday 2nd May at The Churchill Theatre. Find out more and book your tickets here PLUS quote ‘HISTORYPACKAGE’ and receive a Band A seat, program and drink for £25.

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Champagne Afternoon Tea Anyone?

Days out for Mummy & Daddy are important now and again to help you reconnect with your partner and remember that you do have your own personalities.

Recently the other half and I had a gorgeous day out at Vertigo 42 in London. It was a christmas present bought for us by the ‘kids’ (very generously 🙂 )

Food

Lovely range of sandwiches including salmon, ham and cucumber.

Two cakes each, one a chocolate caramel and the other a lush passion fruit number.

A scone with clotted cream and jam.

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Drinks

A glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne and some Earl Grey for me.

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Overview

A circular venue with AMAZING 360 views of London, we were lucky with a spectacularly sunny Spring day so you could see for miles. The staff were attentive but not intrusive. One tip I received from my Mum who had been the week before was to ask for your tea when they deliver your champagne so you have it with your food.

This was bought on a voucher offer and for £30 for two was stunning value. Afterwards a wander round the City and a couple of drinks in Leaden hall Market which was bustling with the after work crew made it a lovely day out.

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A Day Out with Thomas

Always looking for ideas of kids days out?

Recently we visited Thomas, yes, the one and only, Tank Engine.

There was a lot of anticipation of the big event so we were up and out early doors. We attended the event at Kirklees Light Railway in Yorkshire as we were visiting family in the area at the time and were very lucky they had discovered it was on the same weekend.

Activities

On arrival there was lots going on:

Platform rides on your favorites including Mavis, Toby the Tram and Thomas

(a quick back and forth out of the platform and back again).

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Face Painting in an old train carriage

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Donkey Riding

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plus a bouncy castle and activity centres that offered the chance for children to colour in pictures and make crafts!

The staff were in Thomas uniforms and the Fat Controller was striding around looking stern (which he was – but that’s another story!)

7The main ride runs from Kirklees to Shelby around a 15-20 minute journey. Our train was actually pulled by Douglas rather than Thomas which was a little bit of a disappointment for  our eldest but seen as Thomas was doing a platform ride it was ok and meltdown was narrowly avoided!

Additionally, a note to take heed of,  we went to a ‘light railway’ so the trains and carriages were on the miniature side, this isnt made overly clear on the website although it does mention it.

Their promotional video shows a normal size carriage so make sure you choose the relevant venue if this is the option you would prefer.

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Overall

Zachy enjoyed the day and even his little sister now plays with his trains and picks up his books to read so I would say overall it was a success. Honestly for the cost of the ticket, a lot was included as all the above was at no extra cost and you could easily make it a whole day out with everything on offer.

Each venue offers different activities and different prices so check out their website for more info: http://www.dayoutwiththomas.co.uk/

 

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Family Fever
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Dining out in a Cafe…???

Ever thought about dining out in a cafe??

I’ll be honest, it’s not something I would jump for joy at the thought of. But and that’s a big BUT, I would now!! Well certainly at this little gem!

I visited Marcos of Hayes on a Friday night for an informal get together with the school mums and was pleasantly surprised.

For those of you who aren’t local, Hayes is set just outside Bromley, Kent. It’s villagey and a lovely community to live in, I know I might be biased but there we are. Not so long ago the local cafe changed hands and became Marcos of Hayes. I popped in with my bud Regan from What I Ate Last Night to sample cake and coffee (which was gorgeous by the way!) and met the new owner; Marco (funnily enough!). The cafe has been given a makeover and has the mixture of Italian deli and comfortable coffee shop down to a tee.

Anyway I digress, an added string to the bow was the introduction of evening meals on a Friday and Saturday night and Sunday lunches, obviously on a Sunday! It works on a BYOB basis meaning an evening meal out with friends or the other half doesn’t have to break the bank.

Atmosphere

The cafe is lovely upon an evening, soft lighting, checked table clothes and a mixture of diners. It was relaxed and comfortable, the perfect place for an intimate dinner or casual catch up.

Food

The evening menus are a 3 course set menu priced at £26.95 at the time of my visit.

Starter: Antipasto

Gorgeous olives, sundried tomato’s, cured meats, artichoke, mozzarella and bread.

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Main : Sea Bass

Stuffed with prawns, crab meat and herbs in a tomato sauce, served with vegetables and sauteed potatoesmarco3

Desert : Carrot Cake

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Drink : I took along a bottle of Prosecco that was kept chilled in the fridge.

It was all absolutely beautiful. I could not fault anything and the portions were a perfect size. There is lots more to choose from on the menu that my fellow diners sampled and looked scrumptious but I guess you’ll have to pop along and have a look for yourself 🙂

Overview

If you are looking for a reasonably priced meal in a comfortable and relaxed environment with quality food and ingredients, this is it.

The staff are attentive without being annoying, they readily keep your wine topped up (if you’ve taken it) and the food was served in a timely manner where we didn’t feel rushed.

Would I recommend it? Yes

Would I return? Yes Yes!

Find out more and book on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

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The Little Life of Ickle Pickle

“The Gruffalo said that no gruffalo should. Ever set foot in the deep dark wood.”

We adore the Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s child in our house and read them all the time.

Although I’m at work this half term 😦 After a lot of hint dropping, then blatantly asking in front of Z, kindly Grandma and Grandad took big Z to the Gruffalo’s child trail at Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest in Kent.

I’ve been meaning to go since they did the first round of the Gruffalo last year and meaning to go all winter to the Gruffalo’s Child, with it ending at the end of February I was over the moon that he got to go.

Once you arrive there is an activity pack to buy (only £2) where you have to go and spot the pictures around the trail and write down the letter to spell out the word, a picture to colour in and other fun goodies plus the bestest sticker ever (Z’s words!) He soon ditched his scooter with Grandad in favour of walking around spotting everything and having his picture taken with the big man himself…

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Once I finish work this week we have the Circus to look forward so I look forward to sharing that with you.

What are you up to this half term??

 

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