Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Roll Up! Roll Up! There's a Swashbuckling Circus Ahoy!

We are so lucky to have the historical Hippodrome Circus local to us and on Sunday 17th April we were fortunate to be able to go to the final performance of their Easter "Pirate's Live" circus, which ran from 25th March to 17th April.
The Hippodrome was built in 1903 by George Gilbert, legendary Circus showman and is Britain's ONLY surviving total circus building. It is situated on St George's Road, running parallel to Marine Parade, just behind the Flamingo and Circus Circus (surprise!) arcades. 
Parking is limited along the road side but there is more roadside parking within walking distance which after 6pm is free to park (daytime charges do apply.)
The building is striking, with original features inside and out, stain glass leaded windows and domed turrets stand high above you as you enter the building. 
Georgian Hippodrome
The circus is owned and run by the Jay family and Jack Jay stars as one of the main characters in the Pirates Live show, alongside hysterically funny Johnny Mac!
As you enter the Hippodrome through the wooden doors at the front of the building you enter into a small lobby area which filters you through past refreshment stalls on either side, these sell an array of drinks and sweet treats to tempt you as well as light up swords and flashing wands which are always popular with children. Prices are reasonable and what you would expect to pay whilst watching a show. Upstairs there is also a licensed bar.

Little has changed as you can see in this 2009 photo
We ushered the girls through and turned left to use the toilets before the show. As you enter the ladies toilets you notice the use of reds and golds, traditional colours in circuses and the walls and doors are covered in printed circus posters from over the years. These caused a long discussion with the girls as they are always fascinated by the animals in the posters and I enjoyed reminiscing about the tigers and monkeys I saw as a child in this very circus. Of course, these are no longer used in shows today but it did bring back memories of visiting there with my grandfather.
The circus has a museum which you access via the backstage area and is housed in the old performing animal quarters (the smell is definitely still there!) There is a small additional cost for this. 

The Hippodrome also boasts of their unique water spectacular which sees the floor dropping to reveal a pool in which synchronised swimmers perform. There are only 3 of these water features worldwide!

from Tripadvisor
This is the third year that Pirate's has returns to the Hippodrome and it has been a hit each year, with fun and excitement, and every year adding a different spin on the storyline.

We returned to the main foyer and went through to the ring. As you go through you see the circle of seating spreading out either of side you and encompassing the ring, The seating goes up steeply which makes viewing clear from all rows and everyone gets to enjoy a great show. For Pirates Live the ring is staged with the drop floor down creating a lagoon, edged with decking and at the back a large replica of a pirate ship. Behind the obvious chlorine smell I am sure I could still detect a hint of the circus from my younger days; the animals, just a yearning memory perhaps but it always makes me smile. 

The show started and it followed a simple storyline of "Good Pirate" Captain Jack Hawkeye and funny but ever the calamity Pirate Johnny who find themselves up against Jack's long lost brother, the "Bad Pirate" Captain Blackheart with his band of villainous pirates!
Blackheart is seeking out the towns Fountain of Youth and Jack and Johnny must do everything they can to stop him.

The storyline is filled with performers; from tantalising firebreathing where you could feel the heat emulating from the stage and the act involved buring ropes, blowing and swallowing fire (not to be copied at home kids!)

The traditional African Acrobats added an energetic and fun element and this quartet performed limbo under fire, somersaults and balancing acrobatics.

Gymnast enthusiast Emily especially enjoyed the balancing and aerial acts and some parts she was actually holding her breath!

Whilst Chris and Mollie's favourite part was the "Rum Rhyme" skit. They just couldn't stop laughing! 

The story (like all the best ones) ends with Blackheart getting his comeuppance and being made to walk the plank! And lots of cheers from the audience. 

After the finale of music and dance with the entire cast of performers (cue lots of hand clapping in time to the music which always gives a great feeling to the end of a live performance) the children were invited down to the ring to meet Captain Jack and Pirate Johnny and to snap a photo with them. Our two were keen to get down there and happily posed "Arrrgh!"

Sadly Pirates has finished for this year but don't fret their Summer Spectacular will be here before you know it! AND the Hippodrome now also offers VIP seats, at just £10 extra per person, this includes:
  • Dedicated VIP seats
  • VIP access – no Queuing!
  • Dedicated VIP door collection
  • Signed programme by all the Artistes
  • Free popcorn or pick n mix before the show
  • Free light up souvenir for each child
  • Pre show bar bubbly or choice of wine beer or soft drink delivered to your seat
  • Interval drinks, a drink or ice cream delivered to your seats
  • Free admission and personal guided tour of the circus museum for all after the show.
To book your VIP tickets please call the box office on 01493 844172
With tickets (see prices here by clicking on the link then scrolling down to prices) available to book NOW we cannot wait. 

Mollie just happened to notice that the show starts on 13th July (her 10th birthday!!!!! So she's now dropping hints for us to go) and it runs through till 18th September.

To find out more information visit their website or checkout their facebook page.
Thanks to the Hippodrome for great entertainment and a laughter filled evening. 


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

80's Night at The Cliff Hotel Gorleston

We were recently looking for a fun night out for a friend's birthday. Wanting to keep local but after something more than a pub crawl. Then Chris mentioned that there was an 80's Night at The Cliff Hotel, Gorleston. I have previously blogged about The Cliff and you can find out more information about the hotel and its facilities on their website. 

So the night was set, March 12th at 7.30pm, 80's Night with Electro Band and DJ, you may know him ;). 
Tickets cost £8 per person and were available to pre book. They also offered a package deal which cost £40 per person* and included overnight stay, entrance ticket, a smokin' cocktail and breakfast (*based on 2 people sharing)

Tickets sold out quickly.

The night started with resident DJ playing some of the popular hits of the 80's and really built up an atmosphere. Drinks are reasonably priced and the bar offers a full range of wines, soft drinks, beers/larger/ciders and (my favourite) cocktails! Plus the usual spirits.
At 9pm the Electro Band started up. They are a 4 piece band plus Robotic performer. I wasn't sure whether he was real or not at first and he was certainly a talking point!

As a group of 15 women (on the wrong side of 30 [cough40cough]) we had previously decided to dress up in 80's gear - the brighter the better! And it certainly proved for fun getting ready, lots of hairspray and back combing! There were a few others dressed similarly but most people were wearing usual going out wear.

The band had a short break halfway through their set and the DJ took control of the music again. Then the band were back to play more Electro 80's (I must admit I didn't know many of the songs bet it didn't stop me dancing and enjoying it.) Once the band finished the DJ was back for the final half an hour and the night ended with a packed dance floor.

The atmosphere remained great, we didn't see any hassle and everyone was there for the same reason - a good time! 

We are definitely on the look out for future events which you can find by clicking on the link, there's certainly a lot coming up so there will be something for everyone! We are booked in for the Whitney Houston and Luther Vandross night,  Saturday 9th July 2016 @ 7.00pm

£26.95 per person – includes two course meal, entertainment & after party disco until midnight, we are taking along some friends withus who are visiting for the night, cannot wait!



Saturday, 16 April 2016

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

What's for dinner?

As always we are trying to eat more healthy and lose some weight so we are always on the look out for a tasty new recipe that we can make for the whole family to enjoy.
This week we found a recipe called "Pizza Chicken", sceptical as to how it is healthy being pizza I was intrigued to read further.
The meal is made with simple ingredients and the "pizza" element comes from the flavourings that are added.


Fresh chicken breasts (one per person)
A few slices of chorizo/salami/pepperoni to top the dish
A small chorizo sausage cut into small pieces.
1 tbs of oregano
Pinch of salt
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Grated Mozzarella
A splash of olive oil

Serve with:

Garlic Bread
Fresh vegetables (we opted for this to keep it healthy, having fresh broccoli and green beans)

What to do:

1. Pre heat the oven at 170C

2. Then heat a large pan with a splash of olive oil, once hot sear the chicken breasts on either side. They don't need to be cooked through as they will be cooked in the oven.
3. Remove the chicken and place in an oven proof dish. Over the top of this sprinkle the chopped chorizo.

4. Next open the tinned tomatoes and pour into a bowl, add the herbs and salt and mix through thoroughly. Pour this over the chicken and chorizo.

5. Add the sliced chorizo to the top and then sprinkle with the mozzarella.

6. Place in the centre of the oven and baked for 45mins.
7. Meanwhile prepare whatever you have chosen to accompany your meal.

8. When ready serve and enjoy!

The Verdict:

We really enjoyed this meal, it was filling and can be adapted to suit your own taste. I wondered how healthy it was due to the chorizo and mozzarella but the amount that each person gets of these ingredients is quite small, everything in moderation!  Preparation took approximately 15 minutes and then 45 minutes to bake in the oven.
It was great that we were able to enjoy this as a whole family, Mollie tucked in straight away! Emily declared that it smells just like pizza. This will definitely be a regular on the Speed dinner table. 

Let us know if you make this and what you thought.



Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Climb Every Mountain Higher.... The girls experience "Clip and Climb"

We've taken our children to soft play, roller skating and trampoline parks but I had never had the chance to take the girls to a climbing area. To be honest I didn't know they existed. Well I knew there were climbing wall centres but this one was quite different. 
Called "Clip and Climb" (as that is literally what you do!) it's based in Concordia Leisure Centre, Cramlington. We were taken by our friends Al and Cat with thier two daughters whilst visiting them in Newcastle during the Easter break. They've shared their thoughts on Clip and Climb over on their blog.


Age       Active N/land
      Full price
Under 8's£6.00£8.00
Leap of faith (purchase during the session)£2.50£2.50
Additional leaps of faith
in same session (purchase during the session)

Opening hours

Monday-Friday (school term time)          4.00pm - 9.30pm (last session 8.00pm)
Monday-Friday (school holiday time)     10.00am - 6.30pm (last session 5.00pm)

Saturday and Sunday                            10.00am - 6.30pm (last session 5.00pm
The centre is currently undergoing some refurb so we were directed to a temporary entrance round the side of the building and as we had pre booked we went straight through to the briefing room. We had a little wait in there whilst everyone booked into our session arrived. It's a basic room with benches along two of the walls, one wall with harnesses and the final wall had a piece of demonstration equipment and a small screen.

Once everyone had arrived (I believe that book up to 25 children per session but cannot find confirmation of this) everyone was asked to take a seat, adults on the benches out of the way and the children invited to sit on the floor at the front. A full debriefing was then given by the girl and she demonstrated how to put on the harness. There were two types and these were then handed out to the children depending on size. Once harnessed up with the help from parents then children were then asked to line up to have it checked (most children did but a few of the adults were pushing their children to the front which was a shame.)

Once checked and everyone was sat down again the girl demonstrated how to the harnesses would be clipped on to the equipment for safety and informed the children what to do when they wanted to start/finish on a particular wall.

Then they were off!

The climbing area itself is new, only opening in January 2016 and is therefore still in really great condition, it's brightly coloured and has a vast variety of walls to climb, each different to the previous. The children can test their resolve and determination across dozens of challenges - reach new heights on the Skyscraper, take the Speed Climbing challenge, tangle themselves in Spaghetti. Dare to tackle the Lightning Crack or race up the stairway to heaven!

The children were allowed to go round the apparatus independently and there are plenty of attendants to clip/unclip them at each wall. Parents were also allowed to walk round the equipment with their children which was nice as some walls weren't visible from the small seating area. That was my only complaint really, because the seating area serves "Clip and Climb" and the soft play area it was quite crowded but we managed without too much bother.

Our girls and their friends had a go on everything (except the "Leap of Fate" which requires additional payment) and enjoyed the different challenges each wall posed. 

Our friends at "Here Come the Hoopers" put together this great video of the action,using hand held and Go Pro footage. 

The session lasted for an hour (after the 20 minute debriefing) which was plenty of time, even though it flew by, as the girls started to get tied by then. Once finished you simply take the harness of and pop it in one of the tubs provided by the exit.

For more information about "Clip and Climb" follow the links to their website or email them on, you can also follow them on facebook.

Now I'm off to find out whether we 
have anything like this near us



Sunday, 10 April 2016

Whodunnit? Our Murder Mystery Trail around Newcastle

Whilst visiting friends from "Here Come The Hoopers" in Newcastle we embarked on a Treasure Trail around the Banks of the Tyne. These trail packs are available online for purchase and cost just £6.99 with £1.49 p&p for 1-3 trials (no additional charges for download and home printing other than the initial purchase cost) The pack comes with a booklet which contains information on what to do and where you should start. It gives an approximate duration (this one said 2.5 hours, it took us slightly longer at 3 hours.) and other useful bits of information you may need. This booklet is then inserted into a card sleeve and is packaged in a clear wallet to protect it until you go on your trail.

We started of at The Baltic Centre and began following the clues and solving the riddles. The children (aged 5-9 years) were excited to rush about finding the land markings to solve the clues and took turns in ticking off the answers.

The back page of the booklet had pictures with names or numbers which each clue related to. As you follow the Trail route and you solve the sneaky clues set on existing buildings, permanent features and monuments to eliminate the suspects to discover whodunnit? (think Cludo!) Some of the clues were easy to spot whereas others proved much more tricky! 
Al and Cat struggle to find a hidden clue!
Which we eventually found through the trees!
The answers were cleverly linked to the history and heritage of the area and encourages the participants to acknowledge their surroundings and to also enjoy the stunning views of the route, with historical landmarks and buildings. (They also lent opportunity for some lovely photos!)

The trail took us all over the area, up and down steps and slopes, although we are all able bodied the route may prove more difficult for some so worth investigating this before you purchase. The route is approximately 2 miles long so make sure you are wearing suitable footwear and perhaps you might want to take some refreshments with you (we just nipped in shops/cafes for drinks when we needed them.)

Don't worry if you get stuck as there is a text messaging service available to help you out, we didn't need this so I can't comment on this but nice to know there's back up if needed!

We finished off finding the last clue inside The Sage, I won't spoil it for you by saying where or who the culprit was as I sure you're wanting to find that out yourself. 

We were all glad for a sit down afterwards!
We've since found out that there are trials available for our local area, infact there are over 1000 available on the Treasure Trails website to either order for delivery or to download for fun that day, so make sure you check out what trails are near you. We are going to be purchasing some local ones soon and cannot wait to explore our area in a fun way and to introduce friends to the trails too.

Treasure Trails also has a facebook page which will give more information so make sure you follow them and take a look.

Thanks for reading and happy trailing!


Friday, 8 April 2016

The Storyteller - Do You Have a Story to Tell?

Have you ever listened to story?
A story that totally enraptures you?
One where you daren't even breathe in case you miss something?

If you've ever heard The Storyteller Chris Bostock then you can answer yes to all these questions. We had the privilege to go and watch him this week at The Mezzanine, Northern Stage, Newcastle. Tickets cost £4 per person and he can be found performing there each month.

In the beginning....

When we arrived at The Mezzanine, The Storyteller was there to greet the children in, making himself familiar and encouraging the children to head for the toilet before going through to the performance room. The room itself was set out simply, a few rows of comfortable chairs for the adults and the children invited to take a seat on the glittery carpet at the front. Chris sat himself at the front and it made for a cosy story time. The children aged between 3-10 years old.

Once upon a time...

The session ran for approximately an hour, with Chris telling three different stories each taken from traditional tales. He didn't need to rely on a book or a variety of props, he simply used his linguistic skills to entice the listeners.
Before he started he drew the children's attention by using two small bells to see if they were listening, those who were would be able to hear the bells jingle, those who weren't would hear silence. Fortunately for us we could all hear the jingles so it was time to start.

Chris Bostock has a pure gift of Storytelling, he entertains and excites the senses whilst encouraging the listeners to enjoy the stories in their purest of forms, the imagination. 
He had a beautiful use of expression and facial gestures so the children knew which character he was being. 

Between the first and second stories he had the children search the room for photos of houses; bug homes, rabbit warrens, wooden huts, town houses and many more right up to a palace! The children sorted these into small and large houses and then took their seats.
This helped to settle the children again for the next story and get rid of the wriggles.

Long, long ago...

Chris has a good understanding of the curriculum and encouraged the children in different ways to enhance the session, he had them closing their eyes, imagining, joining in and predicting, all valued skills for children to learn, which I guess is why so many schools have him visit.

Carruck, Carruck, Cassinda, Cassinda.
Carruck, Carruck, Cassinda, Ha ha...

Before the final story Chris ensured that the children were still listening by introducing an unusual mouth instrument, I couldn't tell you what it was as I never seen one before but it made a light vibrating twang. 
Lastly was a traditional tale from Africa which had a beautifully simple bird song which the children were encouraged to join in with whilst making gentle,swooping birds with their hands. The children were happy to join in and enjoyed singing the bird's song. 

And they lived happily ever after...

The children weren't rushed out after the session and Chris was happy to have photo's taken, ensuring one little girl and her school bear had their chance. He also gave out stickers saying "I Have a Story to Tell" to encourage the children to go away and share the stories with friends.

If you get a chance to see The Storyteller then make sure you go, a truly talented narrator who brings stories to life for audiences young and old.
More information on Chris Bostock can be found by visiting his website (coincidently he has previous fame as part of Joboxers and had a hit with Boxerbeat!)
I know I will be contacting him to try and book him for my school, I just hope that he will travel this far! 

Now, go and tell a story.....


Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Movie Time Disney's "Zootropolis" by Emily

Hi Guys, Emily here! 
I wanted to share what I thought about Disney's "Zootropolis" with you. We went to Vue Cinema in Cramlington to see the film with friends. it was on my birthday so I was very excited, I've been wanting to see it for a while. The cinema was quite big and has lots of screens. There's quite a selection of snacks and drinks for sale to. Daddy was pleased because there was lots of parking spaces in front as the cinema is in a big shopping venue, Mummy calls it a Retail Park.

What is the film about?
Zootropolis is about a rabbit called Judy Hopps who really wants to become a police officer. She lives in a small town, There was a big meanie bully fox who laughs at her and teases her, one day he even hurts her badly. But she stood up to the bully and she kept going for her dreams.
Judy Hopps
She was the first ever rabbit police officer. She is sent to Zootropolis, a massive city. She was excited for her first day but was given car warden duties. But she wanted to prove that she was good so she done her very best.
In Zootropolis the animals have learnt to live together without fighting. The predators and the prey are friends. The mayor of the city is a grand lion.

She heard about animals going missing and she promised Mrs Otterman that she would find her husband. Her chief gave her 48hrs to find Mr Otterman or she would lose her job!

Judy conned Nick, a crooked fox into helping her. 
They try to track down the missing otter, Mr Big (who is really a TINY creature) helps them. They find his driver who tells them to be careful of "Night Howlers" but then he suddenly turns wild too and they have to run away and end up finding a hidden hospital where they find all of the missing animals. They have all turned savage and are locked up, I found that bit a little scary. 

Nick Wilde
Then What Happens?
They have a scary time trying to solve the crime and think they have failed. It seems that predators are starting to turn savage again and Judy accidentally says that she thinks it might be part of their biology. It made the animals turn against each other and be scared of each other.

Judy returns home to her small town and works on her family's carrot farm but when there she suddenly links a clue about “Night Howlers” which is another name for a flower which makes the animals behave strangely and she rushes back to Zootropolis to find Nick. 

They then track down a lab where these flower bulbs are being made into a pellet filled with liquid and the animals were being shoot by baddies.
When they try to take the clues back to the police station they run into the Vice mayor (a tiny lamb) Bellwether and it turns out that she is in charge of the baddies!

In the end Bellwether gets caught and the missing animals are made better with a remedy.
Judy tells Nick that he should be a police officer too and he goes on to do his training. He becomes the first ever fox officer and they make a really great team!

What I thought about the film?
I really enjoyed this film even though it was a bit scary in some parts. There was a popstar gazelle in the film which was cool and I think the sloths were the funniest part.

If you want to go and see the film then check out the links for local cinemas in Great Yarmouth and Norwich. 

I really hope that you enjoy the film!

Emily :)

Oh and one more thing...

Did you know that in America the film is called "Zootopia"
There's no real reason that they have changed it in the UK, I found this on the internet...
A spokesman for Disney explained: “In the UK we decided to change the US title (Zootopia) to Zootropolis to merely allow the film to have a unique title that works for UK audiences.”
So if you fancy watching "Zootropolis" in America then you need to look for "Zootopia."

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Tea for Two and Two for Tea....


We spent a beautiful sunny afternoon enjoying High Tea at The Cliff Hotel Gorleston which is set on the cliff tops in Gorleston. A wonderful hotel with bars and
restaurants plus a large function room. The Cliff Hotel has undergone a vast renovation in recent years and is pristine and modern whilst also leaving a sympathetic yearning towards yesteryear.

courtesy of the Cliff Hotel 
Oh I do Like to be Beside the Seaside...

The hotel boasts a spacious and bright garden terrace which overlooks Gorleston's stunning beach. A lovely place to enjoy food, drinks and good company at any time of the year as The Cliff  Hotel has invested in awnings and terraced heaters for your comfort, making this an all year round amenity. There is also a small play area for young children to keep them occupied whilst the adults relax.

courtesy of the Cliff Hotel 
The hotel itself has luxurious rooms, comfortable and stylish which are available to book all year round. 

courtesy of the Cliff Hotel 
Oh I do Like to be Beside the Sea...

Food at the Cliff Hotel is simply delicious, from their bar menu, Sunday carvery, restaurant menu and (in my opinion) best of all their High Tea Experience.

Prices start from £14 per person or £17 per person to include a glass of bubbly (and why not!) Chris treated me as part of our 10th Wedding Anniversary and we were fortunate to have the sun shining on us to.

Upon arrival we were taken through to the Garden Terraced and into the reserved seating section where the tables and chairs were adorned in white linen. Once seated the waiter took our drinks order (we ordered these in addition to our High Tea) and we were served at the table. After we had had a chance to sip our drinks and enjoy the breathtaking scenery the waiter returned with our pot of tea and glasses of bubbly, returning shortly after with our sumptuous platter of sandwiches, scones and cakes.

Food, Glorious Food...

Everything is baked and prepared fresh of the premises and wonderfully presented of white platters. 
Each person gets four sandwiches (if you share nicely!) and these are filled with cheese and pickle, ham and mustard, smoked salmon and a prawn cocktail,

Moving up the platter we found freshly baked scones and cheese tartlets, although these tartlets were small they were one of the most delicious savoury pastries I have tasted! The scones themselves were full of plump raisins and served with Devon clotted cream and Tiptree jam in miniature jars. Plus a dish of crisps.

The uppermost layer on the platter was the fruit flans and macaroons, plus a couple of small dessert sweets. There were two different flans so Chris and I had half of them both and by then I had eaten so much I was fit to burst! 

Where the Brass Band Plays...

I can honestly say this was one of the most delicious High Teas I have ever tried, enhanced by the stunning location and idyllic views, I cannot wait for another opportunity to go again.

The Cliff Hotel also have Afternoon Tea for those with a smaller appetite and gift vouchers are available which we ended up getting for our parents as presents so that they too can go along and enjoy this exquisite delight. 

This year The Cliff Hotel launched their Children's High Tea. Priced at £7 per child and this also included a soft drink.
Children get to enjoy savoy sandwiches, cupcakes, popcorn, lollipops and popping candy.

And why not book something a bit special for a Baby Shower? 
This package includes:
• Private Room Hire of the Cocktail Bar
• A Few baby games
• High Tea served with Savoy sandwiches, fabulous fruit scones with Tiptree jam and Devon clotted cream with fresh patisserie cakes and a glass of pink fizz and a non-alcoholic glass for the Mum to be
£20.00 per person
Add Baby Face Cupcakes – Additional £2.50 per person – 48 hours notice required
Add Bump Cake – Available from £35.00 – 1 week notice required
• Served between 12-6pm daily.
• Minimum numbers of 10 subject to availability
• £5 deposit per person required

Viewable from the terraced is Gorleston's Band Stand and if you are lucky enough your may hear the sounds of a traditional brass band as you enjoy your food.

courtesy of the Cliff Hotel 
I do like to stroll along the Prom, Prom, Prom!

After your visit to The Cliff Hotel you can take a stroll down the steps from the Garden Terraced down to the prom and enjoy more of Gorleston's beautiful seafront and sandy beaches.

courtesy of the Cliff Hotel 
For more information about The Cliff Hotel and what it has to offer then follow the links to visit their website or follow them on Facebook but whatever you do make sure you pay them a visit, I guarantee you'll love it.