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Here’s One We Made Earlier.

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Are you sitting comfortably? Then we will begin.

Once upon a time over ninety years ago someone in BBC Birmingham stumbled upon an idea to fill an empty hour of radio with a children’s story the whole family could enjoy. This continued until 1964 and was a much loved favourite with families across Britain gathering together to listen shortly before bedtime.

With the progress of technology and the invention and increase in population of television the BBC wanted to make shows which did not talk down to children while at the same time not scaring them, which educated them and which provided them with new experiences and entertainment.

Ninety years later it is doing just that, with medical programs such as Operation Ouch, wild life show Deadly 60, My Life which educates on the lifes of other children across the UK living different lifestyles whether through disability, religion or lifestyle and the infamous Newsround which never fails to tackle the big news issues of the day in a way children can understand and process.

Who can forget Blue Peter? How many of you have insisted Mum empty the rest of the washing liquid into a cup or pot so you can have the bottle for some Blue Peter inspired invention or craft? Of course they too have tackled some tough issues and raised wonderful amounts of money for charities across the world using everything from scrap metal, stamps and aluminium cans.

The exhibition is childhood. It has something for everyone, you will find yourself screeching to the children about Gordon the Gopher, Basil Brush, Bagpuss and the epic for the time Grange Hill much to their amusement or even Watch With Mother characters such as Andy Pandy and Muffin the Mule for the older amongst us while the Teletubbies, Strange Hill High and Wolf Blood and the brand new Furchester Hotel with Elmo and the Cookie Monster will entertain the children.

Of course things have moved on and children these days have access to all kinds of technology, with this the BBC have adapted with online games, twitter feed and even apps, in fact a new big brother to the CBeebies app for CBBC app is coming very soon!

Children’s TV has also hit a new target, parents and preschoolers in their droves turn out to see live shows of their favourite character and special appearances of Mr Tumble and Mr Bloom are usually a mob of people.

It is not hard to see why despite the invention of many new children’s channels BBC channels CBBC and CBeebies are still the channel of choice.

Here’s One We Made Earlier

THE STORY OF BBC CHILDREN’S BROADCASTING; PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE.

Sat 19 July – Sun 12 October at The Lowry Theatre FREE. Open daily until 5pm.

http://www.thelowry.com/event/heres-one-we-made-earlier

 

 

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Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain

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Reviewed for Mumsnet Local.

It is no secret that I love Horrible Histories, after seeing the Horrible Science tour some years ago by the Birmingham Stage Company and witnessing small children shouting back chemical compounds and scientific answers within minutes because it had been made FUN I am of the firm opinion of marching on Gove and asking them to take over the science and history elements of the curriculum, so it was with much excitement in our house when we were invited to attend the new Horrible Histories Barmy Britain Tour.

Sometimes it is a risk to attempt to translate a television show to stage especially one so popular as the Horrible Histories tv series. It is also some feat to cover from Boudicca, the vikings and Henry the Eighth through to World War One in a two hour period and keep the attention of an audience from small children to adults but you know what Barmy Britain does it.

The show provides just enough of the gore, toilet humour and scares that children love without being too scary while bringing the stories of the old into the present through a modern take with presentations such as Who wants to blow up Parliment? A Guy Fawkes take on Who wants to be a millionaire, the hanging of the cast of ‘The Only Way is Essex’ and the no likey no lighty Take Me Out show for Edward 1. The Gory song of the Edinburgh body snatchers Burke and Hare will never allow me to listen to the Postman Pat song the same again!

With rapping and breakdancing Queens, Salford City Council traffic wardens and a smattering of jokes for the adult audience expect the excited screams of small children, much laughter and singing and audience participation from adults and children alike.

The falling of poppies was a sombre yet utterly beautiful moment magnified through the use of 3d and you could have heard a pin drop in an audience of mostly children who had been previously screaming and shouting throughout.

The show runs for almost two hours with a cast of four who are incredible.

Horrible Histories Barmy Britain continues its tour at the Lowry until this evening and then continues across the UK, Check the website for details.

http://www.barmybritain.com/tour/#/tour

 

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Legoland Disovery Centre Manchester

Reviewed for Mumsnet Local.

Legoland Discovery Centre lies in the Trafford Centre Manchester in its larger Barton Square, obviously much smaller than its Windsor counterpart it still has a large selection of rides, workshops and activities including Forest Persuits Car ride, Merlins Apprentice, a Lazer shoot em up train ride and a 4d cinema as well as the usual bricks building, car testing and master builder workshop areas. Since our last visit the venue has installed free wifi which is a big plus if your children are older and do not need you to constantly hover.

On arrival we joined the prebooked line, there are two lines which feed into one entrance and four tills inside, a certain number from each queue are let through each time. I would estimate we waited around 20 minutes in the queue before we reached the till area due to the amount in the queue in front of us and the waiting for the previous factory tour to finish, we arrived quite early and it can get much busier later in the day. The Queues are regulary big enough to reach outside but luckily it was sunny and dry so not a problem.

Once inside we reached the factory tour, a brief and interactive explanation of how lego is made, ‘Professor Brick’ was enthusiastic, and actively encouraged children and adults alike to participate, children are given roles to ‘help fix the machines and get the lego factory working again’ each child is given a certificate and a small brick as a reward.

You then feed into the main section and a mini land of Lego city buildings.

Kingdom Quest

A lazer ride with carridges where you have to shoot the baddies and rescue the princess, the children both enjoyed this.

Lego 4d Cinema

The show we watched was Chima, the children loved the special effects and we did not have to queue long to get in, the show malfunctioned and basically set all the special effects off while we were there sending fake ice onto the audience for a few minutes but the engineer came quickly, it was well handled and the children thought this was brilliant!

Fire Academy

A large soft place structure with slides, ball pools and climbing equipment, seperate area for toddlers and smaller children.

Forest Persuits

A push the peddle and go car ride following a track through the ‘forest’. Be aware although the Forest Persuit looks like a small childrens ride it actually has a height minimum on it and children must be 1 metre and 4 years old to ride.

Lego Racers

A large area where children can build their own cars and test their speed and durability on various ramps and race tracks, the children enjoyed this very much and there were plenty of wheels and frames available.

Master Builders

Children can work with a master builder to learn how to build a special item, the master builder was patient and encouraging and took time to help the children who were struggling to keep up. You can purchase the kit afterwards from the shop for around £3 but this will be a pre made item, you cannot purchase the actual item your child has built.

Merlins Apprentice

The member of staff on the ride was wonderful, very enthusiastic and making silly noises and voices to keep the children entertained. The ride is a flying machine where you can go as high as you can peddle. The faster you peddle the higher you go.

Olivia’s House

Lots of pink lego and a karaoke machine!

Cafe

A selection of hot and cold sandwiches, drinks and snacks, childrens sandwich packs can be purchased and include a sandwich, drink, crisp and a piece of fruit. Cost £4.50 each. Not a huge selection and we stuggled to find somewhere to sit when it was busy.

All in all the Discovery Centre is a good place to spend a few hours on a rainy day especially if you can get one of the many special offers or online prices.

If you have smaller children I would recommend you go during term time when it is quieter as it can get very busy. The centre has lifts and baby changing available.

There is a large and well stocked Lego shop at the exit and photo opportunity points throughout. Birthday parties are also available.

Prices

Adults and Children Walk Up £16.95

Online Price £9.95

http://www.legolanddiscoverycentre.co.uk/manchester/

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Scooby Doo Live – The Mystery of the Pyramid – Lowry Theatre, Salford Quays

Reviewed for Mumsnet Local.

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Scooby Doo Live – The Mystery of the Pyramid

There was a time when theatre was only for grown ups, a place of serious plays and adults dressed in their finest but in the last few years a new niche of the market has opened and guess what? Children love theatre, they adore the colour, sounds and fun of seeing their favourite characters brought to life.

Scooby Doo The Mystery of the Pyramid explodes on to the stage with a burst of colour and dance as everybody’s favourites  Scooby Doo, Shaggy, Fred, Velma and Daphne set out to aid Otto and solve the mystery of Pharaoh Hatchepsout’s Pyramid in their trusty campervan the Mystery Machine. The characters of the show, which has been on our screens from the 1960’s, transfer perfectly to the stage, something that some character shows fail to do showing that our favourite dog Scooby can stand the test of time.

With the perfect slapstick comedy children adore and catchy tunes which all the family will go home singing, add in a dust of audience participation and you have the magic of watching your children staring in awe as the real Scooby Doo appears before them them with just enough peril to capture and maintain their attention. Its nice to see that in this age of technology there is still room for children to be children and a lovely way to spend some quality family time.

For the future of our theatre buildings the introduction of childrens theatre can only be a positive, if we can get children in to the theatres at four we can hope they still have their love of theatre as an adults too.

Scooby Doo continues on a UK Tour, see the official website for details http://www.scoobydoo-live.com/scoobydoo-buy-tickets.html

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Walter Under the Bridge by Dion Child and Graeme Bowen – Book Review

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Everybody knows that trolls live under bridges but have you ever seen one? Well now is your chance!

Walter Under the Bridge is a delightful story of a little troll who needs to find a new home after the big bad mean trolls force him out of his home (and we hope they get their comeuppance!). Packing up his coins and waving a sad goodbye to his many friends he sets off on an adventure to find a new place to stay.

Fearing he would never find a new home he walks for days without a backward glance before stumbling on the the wonderful Chester a real life American cocker spaniel who leads him to a place to stay and new friendships are forever forged.

The illustrations in this book are wonderful, the level of peril is pitched perfectly. What makes the story so magical is its link to real life, Whitney Bridge is a real life 18th Century toll bridge in Hereford owned by Maggie Taylor and Grahame Penny, what better magic than a place you can actually visit and bring the story to life (and even get a sticker to say you have met Walter!)

My children adored this book, they particularly enjoyed the activity and colour sheet and loved the idea that 50p from each book purchased would go to helping dogs in real life (donation goes to the Dogs Trust) and are now most desperate to take a trip to Whitney Bridge to meet Chester and see if they just might spy a little troll and his friends curled up under a bridge.

http://www.whitneybridge.co.uk/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Walter-Under-Bridge-Dion-Child/dp/0992654211

 

 

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Ho Ho Ho

Its that time of year again and children everywhere will be preparing their lists for Santa! Luckily for parents there are many ways to contact the man himself these days!

Normal Post

Yes Royal Mail can still get letters to Santa through the normal post system.

To ensure Santa receives your letter on time please can you send to the following address:

Santa/Father Christmas,
Santa’s Grotto,
Reindeerland,
XM4 5HQ

Santa will respond to as many letters as possible, in between getting the sleigh ready for the long journey on Christmas Eve.
To receive your card back from Santa, please make sure you write to him using the correct address on a stamped envelope. Don’t forget Santa needs to know your full name and address to reply.
Santa is happy to receive your cards and letters now but because of a very busy Xmas ahead could you please write to him by no later than Friday 6th December.

For the more internet savvy!

If you’d rather email Santa, look no further than these websites,

http://emailsanta.com

http://www.email-santa.co.uk

http://www.the-north-pole.com/santamail.shtml

For a free and magical personalised video which will make sure even the most sceptical amongst you believe.

http://www.portablenorthpole.com/home

Track Santa and the Reindeer right from the take off at NORAD.

NORAD starts a countdown on 1st Dec

And there you have it, keep in touch with Santa this year in all kinds of ways and add that little bit of extra magic into Christmas.

SANTA

 

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Manchester Cruises

Reviewed for Mumsnet

I must admit when we were invited to go on a cruise in Salford I was a bit mystified, while I was aware in days gone by the quays near Trafford were a vital part of daily life and manufacturing I had no idea you could book a boat trip now.
The trip lasted around forty five minutes leaving Europe’s latest waterfront redevelopment at Media City and sailing past the Lowry Art Gallery, Lowry Retail Outlet, Old Trafford home to Manchester United Football Club, Mode Wheel Lock of the Manchester Ship Canal and MediaCityUK new home to the BBC and ITV. Along the journey there is a commentary of the fascinating history and sights to be seen both connected to its industrial history and the modern venues and attractions there now.

There are comfortable indoor and outdoor areas to sit and toilet facilities on board. There is also a bar selling drinks and snack from coffee and tea to juice, biscuits and cakes. What really made our trip though was the Manchester Cruise crew, we descended on mass as part of a larger group trip with several very excited and overtired children of various ages who had been up rather late the night before.

The crew were fantastic bringing the children drinks and keeping them entertained, even blowing up balloons and drawing faces and animals for them which went down a treat! It was a lovely way to spend a sunny day and definitely something we would do again. The company also offers evening and party cruises with alcohol available bar and special occasions. See website for prices and special offers. http://www.manchestercruises.com/