Day out at New Brighton

New Brighton is about an hour away from where we live. Today we enjoyed a day out at the seaside and New Brighton had all we needed.

The children were desperate to visit the seaside. By this point in the year we have usually visited at least once, but the weather has been so rubbish this year we’ve not even come close to considering. But half-term arrived and the glorious weather seemed to coincide. We had to visit the beach!

We decided to head up to New Brighton rather than sit in traffic on the way into Wales. New Brighton has flaws, but it is a lovely day out. Here’s a quick guide!

Parking
We parked in the Morrisons car park. This was free and there was no time limit. Also, of course, it was handy for Morrisons!

Food
Although there are lots of places to eat (check out the Perch Fish ‘n’ Chip Shop) we usually buy something at Morrisons and take it to the beach.

Toilets
There were toilets at the arcades, Morrisons and in the local cafes.

The Beach
The beach is gorgeous. I love sitting on the beach but looking over and seeing what is going on in Liverpool. We were on the beach near to the Fort Perch Rock and the lighthouse.

Here’s a picture of the inside of Fort Perch Rock!

Ice Cream
There are ice cream vans all over the police, but if you’re prepared to queue, the ice cream at Caffe Cream. Fantastic!

The Arcades
These felt like a covid-breeding ground. There were no restrictions on entry, barely any sanitiser, no one noticeably cleaning anything, hardly anyone wore masks and that’s without the place feeling like it hasn’t been cleaned since the day it opened. I don’t recommend the arcades.

What else is there?
Check out the marine lake, visit the Floral Pavillion Theatre, walk through the Tower Gardens, go bowling, play crazy golf and walk along the promenade.

At the other end of the promenade there seems to be lots of grass where thousands of people seem to spend the day. I don’t know what this is all about. I can’t recommend that.

Astbury Mere

Living in Cheshire means that we are never far from a beautiful place to go for a walk. Yesterday afternoon we went to Astbury Mere in Congleton.

Astbury Mere is a former sand quarry and is now a beautiful nature park. It is great for walks.

The car park was 50p (you need cash). There is a nice looking cafe to buy a drink from. There were loads of parking spaces. The park was well maintained and it felt really loved by everyone who was there.

Back To The Future: The Musical

Back To The Future has always been one of my favourite films! Of course, it’s full of pot holes and strange quirks, but it’s a classic! Over the years there has been talk of a reboot and I’ve not been sure about this. So when it was announced back in May 2019 that they were going to reboot it in the form of a musical, I was really excited. This would be something different!

It was either going to be incredibly brilliant, or incredibly bad. So when I managed to find bargain tickets for just £13 each it was worth a shot.

BTTF: The Musical opened at the Opera House in Manchester about a week ago. We went to watch it last night (what a way to remember the bonus day of 29th Feb!) and I am pleased to say that, not only was it incredibly brilliant, but it exceeded all of my expectations.

The show is more than just a musical. It’s an education in special effects. The things they managed to do with the Delorean were magical.

The show starred Olly Dobson as Marty McFly. He was so believable as the main character that you didn’t notice it was Michael J. Fox. He had the same voice traits as the actor! He was superb!

Roger Bart, who we recognised from loads of different things, was Doc Brown. He was hilarious! A knowing performance, he paid homage to the original performance whilst bringing something new to the character. He managed to include all of the silliness of the movie performance with great singing. He was sensational!

Hugh Coles as George McFly was phenomenal, as was Rosanna Hyland as Lorraine Baines. Aidan Cutler was great as the bully Biff Tannen. The character of Goldie Wilson was expanded for the musical and Cedric Neal was show stealing in the role!

The music was refreshing – funny, sentimental and catchy. But, for me, the best songs came at the end and were the classic songs from the movie – Earth Angel, Johnny B. Goode, The Power Of Love and Back In Time.

I don’t want to spoil the show by telling you what they manage to do with the time travelling car, but it is worth going to watch it just for the last twenty minutes alone!

There are some pictures and a review of the show here.

I sneaked a photo of the cast at the end!
Woah, this is heavy.

The Art of the Brick

Ever since I heard that Nathan Sawaya’s The Art of the Brick Exhibition was coming to Manchester, I have been desperate to go. Today I was in Manchester for a course so was able to visit afterwards.

As a Lego fan I am always in awe of amazing designs. But I am unbelievably impressed with the exhibition. As pieces of Lego the work is impressive. As pieces of art they are fantastic!

The exhibition is at Great Northern Warehouse in Manchester on Deansgate. It’s not cheap to get in. At £14.50 it’s not cheap. I was on my own – in fact I saw two other people in there whilst I was there. If there were others to talk to I think my visit would have been longer. I was there for around 35 minutes.

The exhibition is in Manchester until 20th April and you can find further details and book tickets here.

Yellow
Probably the artist’s most well known piece

Reminding me of my dad

It’s funny how something catches you unexpectedly. There were two pieces that made me thing of my dad. Hands shows a grey sculpture whose hands have disintegrated. This reminds me so much of how my dad lost the feeling in his hands as his condition became worse. The expression and body language of the sculpture was just like him and the way he would look at his hands and the way he couldn’t understand what was wrong…

And Disintegration made me think about how his dementia completely eroded him away. It was actually very moving. I stood and looked at this for ages, thinking about how his life just faded away.

Hands
Disintegration

Board Beans Cafe

We finally got to try to Board Beans Cafe in Northwich today.

The Board Beans Cafe opened in 2019 and we’ve walked past it on many occasions but not actually tried it, for no particular reason. Today we finally did and it was great!

We were there on a Saturday afternoon. It was fairly busy but there was a spare table for us. It seemed like a great way to keep the children busy. We ordered drinks and an ice cream sundae. We were charged £3 per adult to play games – this would cover us for three hours, although we never planned to be there that long.

The was a huge choice of games. Because we had the children with us we only really focused on the children’s games, but we could see shelf after shelf of more adult games. The website says there are over 350 available!

We played a few games but the children made it a little difficult as they couldn’t agree on games and couldn’t agree on rules! But the staff were really friendly and patient, even explaining the rules for a balance a penguin game!

The food and drinks look great and I’d like to visit again but without the children so that we can play some decent, unusual games. There was one called Cash and Guns which sounded and looked fun on a nearby table!

This is a unique cafe in Northwich and, in fact, unique in the local area – there’s nothing else like it that I’m aware of. It’s well worth a visit if you’re passing.

Museum of Science & Industry

I would give the Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester, a miss at the moment.

We visited on Sunday January 5th 2020 – to be fair, it was the last day of the Christmas holidays. That might explain the poor museum, but I’m not sure.

The Museum is free and it has always been a nice day out. We were keen to take our little boy as this would be his first experience of the museum that he would actually remember. “There are trains, planes and lots of games to play,” we told him.

The main entrance is really impressive. The staff were really polite and friendly. We visited the Experiments part of the museum. This is really interactive and fun and was the most popular part of the museum. Our children loved it, but I couldn’t help but feel that it needed some TLC and investment. It needed a good clean. Many of the exhibits were not looking their best. For instance, there is a bike to ride which lights up a skeleton riding a bike. The skeleton’s leg had fallen off. There was an emphasis on sustainability on some of the activities, which was ironic as the picnic area didn’t offer many facilities in the way of recycling.

The cafes, as we walked past, were really impressive. They are clearly assets and the part of the museum that generates a lot of money. The shop looked great too, but we avoided this – it was January.

The textiles area was very quiet and there wasn’t much going on at all.

There was an exhibition about the sun, but this had a charge to go in, and the children weren’t particularly interested.

There was a science show – this was actually the last day of the show. This was great – our children really enjoyed it. The guy presenting was fun and interesting. It was interactive, funny and the children learned some good facts about the sun.

We went over to the Air and Space Hall. We noticed a sign that said the roof had leaked due to the heavy rain a few weeks ago. This might have explained why many of the planes and vehicles were covered up and why some of the paths were closed.

The 1830 Station and Warehouse were pretty much empty. There was a very old exhibit about connecting Manchester. A few years ago these buildings were thriving.

The Power Hall where the trains were was closed for refurbishment.

I am being harsh as it seems that the museum is undergoing lots of developments which will perhaps make it a better place to visit in the future. But sadly, at the moment, to be honest, it’s not a great day out.

Nativity Rocks!

The poster for the movie doesn’t include most of the key actors. I wonder why?

Yes, it is January. And I’m reviewing a Christmas movie. I know, it is weird.

It was our little boy’s fourth birthday today. Our children are obsessed with all of the Nativity movies every Christmas. Lisa and I adore the first Nativity and the songs at the end – especially Sparkle and Shine! We went to see the musical in 2017. The children love Nativity 2 and Nativity 3. I thought both were pretty poor, but after watching them about twenty times each this Christmas they have grown on me to the point where I, dare I say it, like them…

We missed Nativity Rocks in the cinema but we decided that going to the Kids Club at the Odeon cinema near us (£2.50 a ticket) would be quite good fun. It wasn’t just us – the screen was pretty busy, to be fair.

The trailer

Starring Simon Lipkin, who played Mr Poppy in the musical in 2017, Nativity Rocks was actually brilliant and we didn’t miss the ‘original’ Mr Poppy at all.

It was a real return to form for the film series. The last couple of movies became really silly and, whilst this is totally crackers, it manages to feel just about believable.

We were close to tears a few times thanks to some touching plots and we laughed lots and lots thanks to laughs that appealed to adults as well as jokes that suited the children too!

We will look forward to watching it probably twenty times next Christmas!

Seven Sisters Ice Cream Farm

If you live in Cheshire East and you like ice cream then there is an absolute gem of place to visit.

Seven Sisters Ice Cream Farm is on the A50 between Knutsford and Holmes Chapel. It is near to the Radbroke Barclays Headquarters.

When you arrive at the farm there is plenty of parking for customers. You can visit the calves. Our children love to put hay in the troughs for the calves to enjoy. They also love to jump between the bales!

There is a play area which is very much suited to little ones – tyre-horse swings, stepping stones, scooters, etc. There are some nice tables outside to sit at if it’s nice.

During the summer months you can try the Maize Maze.

But it’s the ice cream at the farm which is delicious! Favourite flavours include cake batter, honeycomb, mint choc chip and activated charcoal!

You can add toppings for a small additional amount.

The waffles and milkshakes are incredible!

We bought an ice cream each and spent less than £7.

You can find the Posh Ice Cream here.

Brereton Heath

So, the theme of our family days out in 2019 is to be fun but cheap.

We have pretty much hibernated this entire school holiday, the children not even getting dressed on some days whilst they snuggled up and watched movies. It was time to get out of the house!

So today we went out for a nice walk at Brereton Heath. On the outskirts of Holmes Chapel, Brereton Heath is a lake around which there is a lovely walk. Lily took her scooter and George took his balance bike. The walk is not at all strenuous but does include some gradients up and down which Lily didn’t always find easy on her scooter. George was fine on his balance bike!

We fed the ducks. Be warned – there are ducks, swans and geese and they all come out of the water and chase you for the food. George and Lily were a bit bewildered by this.

As we visited on a cold January afternoon there was no coffee shop open but we have been before when there is. There is a visitor centre but we didn’t go in. There are toilets but we didn’t use them.

The car park is 80p for an hour or £2 for up to three hours. We were there for an hour and a half.