Monday, 30 December 2013

Giving Extra to Someone Special...

Illness. It's taken a bit of a hold on my family recently. I wish it would bugger off. It's not welcome. Especially at a time of year when everyone should be together as a family and celebrating. For the first time in a long time I spent Christmas day without 2 very important members of my family as it just wasn't going to be practical or comfortable for them to travel to join everyone due to ill health. The last time I didn't see them on Christmas day was when I was in my twenties and I went off to Thailand on holiday - that was my choice. As a family on Christmas day there is usually a houseful. This was still the case but I thoroughly missed those who couldn't make it. I made sure that I posted photos to Facebook so they could see the day and feel part of it, but it's not the same.

When I was asked if I wanted to take part in the 'Give Extra to Someone Special' campaign I knew that I would choose one close relative to be the recipient of gifts that would be useful to her for her upcoming hospital stay and operation. This lady is very special to me and has always been there for me, all through childhood and is still there for me now when I have children. I bought some luxury toiletries in a new wash bag and a 'hottie'. The wash bag and toiletries can be taken to hospital and I thought the hottie would be useful for when she comes out of hospital and needs to feel cosy and warm. 

I made a surprise visit to give the gifts and they were received well. I just wish I could give the gift of health. If it was within my power that's what I would do, give people a clean bill of health and have Christmas day with them all over again.

Thanks to Halifax for providing the opportunity for me to treat this special person in my family.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Skinted Vs Minted - Aldi Girls Fashion Shoes - Review

This year I got badgered by Isla for a pair of Lelli Kelly Shoes. I only gave in when I was able to get them in the sale for £32, which felt okay considering they usually retailed at £44! She loved those shoes as they had sparkle and she wore them to death until they were worn through. 

I do believe that Lelli Kelly's are overpriced and so when Aldi offered to send me a pair of their version of the most popular fashion shoe I was intrigued. We received them and I could tell the difference. They are clunkier, not quite as finely made, but the important test wasn't what I would think of them, it was what Isla made of them. And the verdict was a thumbs up! She loves the gems and beads they are decorated with. They are slightly too big for her, so they haven't had a wear yet but she is chomping at the bit to strut her stuff in them. We were sent the black version, which if she'd been give the choice I know she would have plumped for the pink - her favourite colour. For my part I actually like the fact they are black because they won't show all the dirt in the way her white Lelli Kelly's did! 

The shoes come in store on the 19th December, and are part of the Aldi Specialbuys range. So when they're gone, they're gone people! I fully intend to go to our local Aldi and try and get the pink pair too because when they only retail at £8.99 per pair you can afford to buy two pairs.

We were sent a pair of shoes in exchange for this review. All opinions are honest and our own.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

My Favourite Festive App

My favourite festive app has to be the the 12 Days of Gifts from iTunes. I join in with it yearly without fail. It's so simple, every day from the 26th December to the 6th January iTunes give you the chance to download a free gift. You have 24 hours to claim the gift before it changes to a new one. Over these 12 days you get the opportunity to get free songs, apps, books, films and games. 

I still have songs and apps now that I downloaded from the 12 Days of Christmas from years back. They're still useful to me and that's what I love. The other thing I think is great is that you can decide daily if you want to download the freebie, if you don't like Coldplay you don't need to download a free copy of their latest song for example. In the 12 days there is something to interest everyone. Not everyone appreciates it but I say, "it's the thought that counts people!". 

Make sure you download 12 Days of Christmas in order to get a few nice freebies from iTunes. 

This is my entry into the Forever Family competition to win an iPad Air.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland at The Polka Theatre - Review

Last weekend I took Isla, my best friend Soula and her son Samuel along to the Polka Theatre in Wimbledon to check out their new production of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Soula is a busy mum like me but when I asked her if she'd write the review of the show, she obliged,as in another life she would have loved to write and with the little spare time she does have she wrote this wonderful piece for I Heart Motherhood! Over to you my lovely.

Having a best friend who runs a successful blog does have its occasional perks; so when she invited my son and I to go and see Alice in Wonderland with her at the Polka Theatre I thought I’d be a mad hatter to turn her down! 

I wasn’t even aware of the Polka Theatre (although later discussions revealed that I had indeed been there with my father as a child many years ago). The theatre is solely aimed at producing and presenting Children’s theatre and to my surprise has been there since 1979 (probably why I can’t remember going as a child)!   Samuel and Isla were born 3 months apart and the two of them are good friends, and their excitement as we walked to the theatre was palpable.  As we entered we gathered in the main foyer where the kids could play with the various toys scattered around, whilst we purchased some snacks for the performance  - from a reasonably priced bar which even served a decent cappuccino!  As we made our way to the main theatre we passed a lovely area filled to the brim with teddy bears, which the children can play with, and enjoyed the nostalgia generated by seeing the more collectible bears displayed in beautifully presented glass cabinets;  remember Super-Ted and Fozzie Bear from the Muppets anyone? Well this is where they are enjoying their retirement!

On to the show… Now I have to hold my hand up here and admit that I have never actually read the original book of Alice in Wonderland and have only seen the rose tinted Disney version – and even that was many years ago.  This meant that as the show began, I was trying to remember what I could about the Disney adaptation – and it ended up being quite different to what was actually portrayed!  The show opens with Alice and her sister stuck indoors on a cold snowy day. Alice is energetic, inquisitive and a total contrast to her older more restrained sister. They bicker and at this point I wasn’t really sure what happened as Alice calls her sister a ‘Pig’ and then suddenly she is falling into Wonderland.  If there was a reference to the rabbit hole I must have blinked and missed it because I remain still unsure of how she actually entered Wonderland!   

Alice’s indecision about whether she should drink the potion labelled ‘drink me’ had the audience laughing, and the way she moved her body to represent shrinking and growing, was clever enough that my 4 year old understood what was being portrayed.   The show goes on to accurately portray the chapters in the book (something I have learnt now having investigated the original story)  and Alice progresses through her journey in Wonderland meeting varied and interesting characters along the way.   The scene that introduces the duchess, her cook and the Cheshire cat is noisy and bewildering, with lots of shrieking and sneezing, and banging, amidst a smoky haze – and quite frankly is completely bizarre to those unfamiliar with the book.  

The fearsome Queen of hearts was played brilliantly and her frequent cries of ‘off with their head’ kept the audience amused before we observed the most entertaining game of croquet I’ve ever seen! As Alice’s journey through Wonderland comes to an end, and she herself almost becomes a victim of the queen’s ruthless rein, we breathe a sigh of relief when she is transported safely back to her home, just as she had left it – with head firmly attached to her body!

I thought the small team involved in the production do an amazing job – not only portraying all the main characters between them, but also managing all of the props and stage rotations.  The entire cast is played out by just 6 people, with some playing up to 5 characters each!  The costume changes were so quick it was hard to believe the same person had just been playing something else.  They were all great but of course I think it’s the Queen who steals the show.

Samuel enjoyed it although I think a lot of it went over his head (to be fair he is only 4 and the production is aimed at children aged 6 and over so he was probably a bit too young really).  That said, he and Isla were completely gripped throughout and both had a thoroughly good time. 

All in all I thought it was a clever production and well worth seeing. The Polka theatre in itself is a lovely venue and worth a visit even if you are not taking in a show – they even do children’s tea parties there which I imagine are a nice way to celebrate a birthday if you live in the local area. Thanks to Sharon for inviting Samuel & I to Alice in Wonderland and for introducing me to the Polka Theatre – I will be returning… and to make up for my ignorance I promise to also read the original Alice's Adventures in Wonderland  by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (more commonly known as Lewis Carroll)!

Thanks Soula for writing a brilliant review! All I have to add is that I thoroughly enjoyed it too and the only thing that Isla was aggrieved about was that Alice retained her head! When her head was on the block she groaned audibly, to which I asked her what was wrong and she sighed and said she thought she would see her head come off….not sure what to make of that, she's not usually such a lover of gore… 

Alice in Wonderland is on at The Polka Theatre until 15th February 2014 and tickets are available here and by calling the theatre on 020 8543 4888. If you're looking for any other shows the kids will love then you should also check out our review of another Polka Theatre show Gorilla.

Thanks to the Polka theatre for inviting us to see Alice in Wonderland. We received 4 tickets in exchange for this review. All opinions and views are our own.

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Snow Gorilla this Christmas at The Rose Theatre - Review

On Monday night I popped along to Kingston to see a fantastic family circus themed show at The Rose Theatre. I can safely say that The Snow Gorilla will wow the kids this Christmas! I wasn't sure what to expect before we went along, I purposely hadn't looked into the show too closely as I didn't want to have any expectations. Any expectations that I did have were exceeded though as the show just kept giving. 

The Snow Gorilla is set in a travelling circus, Circus Marigny where the Ring Mistress, Fanny Marigny is struggling to keep the circus going due to dwindling funds and a thief in their midst. Along comes Sunny, a runaway looking for adventure and that's definitely what he gets, along with a romantic dalliance with the ring mistresses daughter Chloe. He discovers The Mighty Gor hidden in a cage in the circus and strikes up a beautiful friendship with him. Sunny unwittingly becomes the suspected thief within the circus, but between him and Gor they trap the real criminal and restore happiness to all. 

What is brilliant about this show is throughout the story the audience gets to see all the circus acts as they practise for their performance, so we were treated to African acrobats, Flamenco dancers, a contortionist, a juggler and an aerial act. My favourite were the African acrobats, they had such energy, the musicians that played along to their act really got the audience into it. They were massively entertaining, showing skill and humour every time they appeared. I also thought the aerial act was amazing, but just a word of warning if you're in the stalls downstairs at the back you may struggle to see them as they are high up. I craned my neck to make sure I saw all of their daring act. 

Now I have to mention how brilliant the Gorilla is! He is voiced by Brian Blessed who is someone I absolutely love. I couldn't imagine anyone else voicing him now to be honest. Then the look of Gor is amazing. You can't appreciate how clever the costume is until you read about how the costume was made for the man inside to wear it and how he has to use buttons and levers within the suit in order to animate Gor's face and make movements. The way he moved around the stage was so real to a Gorilla, he shuffled around on his knuckles, he rose up in anger and his face had such expression.

The entire cast are fantastic and you can tell that they have a great chemistry. The singing is good, I particularly liked Chloe and was lucky enough to get a snap of her before the show when the cast were circulating amongst the crowd in the foyer. There is a baddie in the show and he got great pantomime treatment from the audience with lots of booing and hissing when he appeared. 

This show has everything for everyone, great songs, spectacular performances from circus acts, to a show stopping singing Gorilla, a pantomime feel to it and an engaging story. We didn't take the children as it was an evening performance but I wouldn't hesitate to go back with them as I know they would love it. 

The Snow Gorilla runs until the 5th January 2014 and tickets are on sale now. For more information about the show visit or call the Box office on 0844 4482 1556.

We were given 2 tickets to see The Snow Gorilla in exchange for this review. Thanks for inviting us!