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  • Press Image from Little Gift Theatre show for children a man standing in front of lots of suitcases

    Theatre Review: Little Gift – M6 Theatre at Birmingham REP

    This is a press review of the 11.30am performance of Little Gift at The Birmingham REP on 23 February 2019.

    If you read my February children’s theatre post, you’ll know I was particularly excited about seeing Little Gift, the latest touring production from M6 Theatre, performed by Guy Hargreaves, someone I’d had the privilege of working with many years ago through the National Youth Theatre. Sometimes, I can get an idea in my head of what a theatre production might be like before I go (rightly or wrongly), and it can often set me up for a fall – anticipating the show to be one thing, when the reality is quite different. Not this time. read more

    Aged 2+, Culture, Days Out, Parenting, Reviews
    / February 24, 2019
  • Image by Matt Austin

    Theatre Review: Kite – The Wrong Crowd at Warwick Arts Centre

    When I heard about The Wrong Crowd‘s production Kite, I loved the idea of a theatre show for children without words. Some of my favourite productions I’ve seen aimed at younger audiences have had little language – so I know the idea works well. Sadly, Pickle and I weren’t able to attend this particular run at Warwick Arts Centre, but my two foster brothers and my Dad were. They joined a varied audience ranging upwards from about four years old on Monday 18 February, and I caught up with them afterwards to hear all about it.

    My foster brothers are aged twelve and ten, and it sounds like they were completely won over by the performance. In typical pre-teen grumpiness, the youngest wasn’t sure what to expect and trudged into the Arts Centre determined that he wasn’t going to like it… but when I spoke to him about it afterwards, you’d have never have guessed he had any kind of reservations! read more

    Culture, Days Out, Parenting, Reviews
    / February 19, 2019
  • Lessons Learned from How to Train Your Dragon

    This post contains items that have been sent for review.

    Now that Pickle is of an age where he will happily cosy up and watch a film (especially if there’s popcorn), I’ve loved the excuse to watch all my family favourites without the guilt of feeling like I probably should be watching something a little more hard hitting. read more

    Parenting, Reviews
    / February 17, 2019
  • Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent at Hogsdown Farm Gloucestershire over bank holiday weekend

    Did we choose the right tent?

    Almost a year ago now, we bought our first proper tent. Before then, we’d made do with little pup tents – which are fine for the odd night away or a weekend in the summer, but not practical when camping as a family and for longer periods. We excitedly went along to the Caravan and Camping Show at the NEC and came home with our Kampa Paloma 5 Air tent.

    Kampa Paloma 5 Air Tent

    Finding the Paloma 5 Air tent felt like we’d stumbled upon the perfect tent for us. On paper, it ticked all the boxes we could have hoped for, and it was just on the cusp of our budget. read more

    Aged 2+, Camping, Countryside, Parenting, Reviews
    / January 5, 2019
  • Little Angel Theatre's Sleepyhead - Dada attempting to put Baby to sleep

    Theatre Review: Sleepyhead – Little Angel Theatre at mac birmingham

    I’m sure I’ve written before about the special place in my heart reserved for mac (Midlands Arts Centre). It was where I worked my first arts job after graduating, and I spent a very happy year there – even if the commute killed off two cars (the stop/start traffic through Kings Heath is not kind on old knackered bangers). They have some of the best family programming in the region, and it’s always a delight to visit the arts centre as a family.

    This week, we bundled up warm and braved the traffic to watch one of mac’s two children’s Christmas offering’s this season: Little Angel Theatre’s Sleepyhead. After loving Little Angel Theatre’s Me last year, I knew we’d be in for a treat and I wasn’t wrong. Sleepyhead follows the night-time antics of Baby, who successfully brushes off all of Dada’s attempts to get them to sleep and has a magical midnight adventure instead.

    Mix in some magic, a pinch of circus and a large dollop of silliness and you have the recipe for a little adventure with a lot of laughs!

    Little Angel Theatre’s productions are masterclasses of puppeteering, with each little detail carefully contributing to gorgeously realistic movement: a perfect example is the small up-and-down movement of Baby, curled up hiding on the carpet, the talented performer quite literally breathing life into the performance. It’s these details that create characters everyone in the audience could relate to – the parents laughing along at the baby’s antics and seeing themselves reflected in the playful bumblings of Dada. I’m sure I speak on behalf of most parents whose children struggle to get to sleep that seeing Dada try all his tricks (magical or not!) raised a chuckle or two of recognition. As different as all our parenting styles are, there are some things that I’m sure we all do from time to time… and falling asleep whilst putting our children to sleep must be one of those parenting levellers, a real rite of passage.

    This playful production kept Pickle captivated throughout (without me having to resort to snacks to keep him sat still – which says a lot). I hope I always remember how lovely it was to snuggle up to each other whilst sat on the front row. It was beautiful to hear him properly giggling at the action, finding such joy in the slapstick humour. It’s been quite a few months since his last theatre visit, and his speech has come on such a long way during that time. I absolutely loved chatting to him about the show afterwards – he loved reminding me that the Baby did a big poo (!!!), and he babbled away telling Little Pickle’s Dad all about how the Baby wanted cake and thought carrots were ‘yak’ once we got home.

    The production is aimed at 2-5 year olds, and our audience certainly had children from both ends of that range – with giggles and squeals of delight coming from them all! We had a lovely school group in our performance which really added to an excited and energetic atmosphere which I’m sure also helped contribute towards the merriment. I’d wholeheartedly recommend Sleepyhead, and strongly encourage you to book tickets if you’re looking for a special pre-Christmas family treat.

    Sleepyhead runs at mac Birmingham until Sun 2 December 2018, with two performances a day (one in the morning, and one in the afternoon to help you choose whichever best fits in with naptime!). There is also a relaxed performance on Friday 30 November 2018, with BSL interpretation. Tickets cost from £9.50, and in my opinion, are worth every single penny. For more information and to book tickets, take a look at the mac Birmingham website.

    Disclaimer: we were invited to this production of Sleepyhead for press review purposes. All opinions and views remain my own.

    Culture, Reviews
    / November 23, 2018
  • Gutterhead board game, with a glass of wine

    A Games Night Special: Gutterhead

    Before I go any further… let me preface this with a big NSFW (which means: Not Safe For Work). In other words, I like to think this blog of mine is fairly typically PG, but you might not want to read this one out to your Grandmother. I’ll leave a lot to your imagination, but this one’s definitely a post for those of you who enjoy a dirty joke and, as Little Pickle’s Dad would put it, a little bit of smut or toilet humour. I know, what did I tell you? It really is something a bit different from me today!

    We’re big fans of board games in this house, so when we were offered the chance to test out a new board game, strictly for adults, I knew it was the perfect excuse to invite friends over, have a few beers and give ourselves a much needed giggle. I’d heard that the game, Gutterhead, was like the illegitimate love-child of Cards Against Humanity and Pictionary, and quite frankly, I can’t think of a more perfect description. In fact, there’s probably not much more I’d need to tell you other than that for you to get a really good gist of what’s involved.

    What does the game include? A board game, with a snake like trail of spaces winding it’s way over it, four playing pieces (in the shape of different colour turd piles), five sets of cards (categorised by Person/Place, Object, Action, Feeling/Sensation and Naughty or Nice), two wipe-clean whiteboards and four wipeable pens. The colour scheme is dark, deep and cheeky. It definitely has a grown-up feel to it. This isn’t something a five year old would get excited over.

    The aim of the game is simple: get your poop pile across the board quickest, by earning yourself a dice roll for each time you manage to correctly guess the dirty word (whether that’s through drawing or miming) before your opposing team. The words themselves? Vary. Some are pretty tame (unless there’s a secondary meaning I’m not sassy enough to be aware of?) but others definitely gave a bit of colour to my cheeks.

    With a glass of wine in hand, I definitely became a bit more relaxed and open as the game went on. And I surprised myself with the extent of my… knowledge? I’m not one for ‘sexy slang’ (and by ‘sexy slang’ I mean… the kinds of words and meanings that belong in the Urban Dictionary!) so I wasn’t sure I’d know what half the words even meant. Thankfully, the cards do include a little one liner underneath to help shed any light on the terms that you may have not come across. I tell you, it’s an education.

    I took a few photos whilst we played, but… I’m not sure I can share most of them here. I’d had a couple of glasses of wine when I took the pictures and at the time, I thought I could get away with it… but in the sober writing of this post, I’m just not sure I want to subject you to some of the more intimate doodles and phallic scenes! As LPD succinctly put it ‘it’s not really on brand, is it?’, but there are a couple that I do feel give you a bit of a gentler idea!

    This was LPD’s depiction of ‘gangster’ and my drawing of ‘bat shit crazy.’ See, they’re not all rude enough to make you blush.

    The game is fun, quick and you’ll definitely end the game feeling like you know your team mates or opponents a little bit more intimately than you did before. Be warned: there are some cards that require you to mime (but you get a choice of three, so you can choose whichever one you’re most comfortable with!). When it was my turn, I chose spanking and snorting cocaine, although I had the options of diarrhea, giving birth or deep throating(!!!). And, if you’re reading this Dad, of course I don’t know what that means…

    You might want to make sure you have some wipes to hand (to give the white boards a clean) or have some scrap paper to hand if that’s your preference, as there’s nothing that comes with the game to fulfill that purpose.

    There’s lot of cliches about parenting that are 100% true: always being tired, children grow so fast, and life turns completely upside down. But there’s one cliche that hasn’t rang true for us, and so I’m here to tell you – parenthood does not mean you have to wave goodbye to your social life. It just… kind of… rotates on an axis a little bit.

    Can we go out for a drink at the drop of a hat? No. Will you find us downing shots in a club every Friday night? No. But do we still see our friends? Yes, absolutely. It might take more planning, it may have to booked in a diary weeks in advance, but my goodness, do I appreciate those evenings, or afternoons spent with friends more than ever. These days, we’ve swapped the beer mats for our customised coasters at home, swanky interiors for the comforts of our lounge, but we’ve not compromised on the fun or the laughter. Especially when board games are involved.

    With a game like Gutterhead, you’ll feel like you’ve reclaimed a little bit of your youth back. A complete flashback to those high school titters in the back of the classroom. And definitely a way to easily forget the troubles of the day.

    The Details

    You can buy the game from Amazon* or direct from the gamemakers website: It retails at £29.99 (correct at the time of publication) and is strictly for 18years+, with groups of four to sixteen players. There’s also an Expansion Pack* you can buy, so don’t worry about getting too familiar with the terms in this set – they have even more on offer to tickle your fancy.

    Disclaimer: we were kindly sent Gutterhead in exchange for writing a review giving our honest thoughts and feedback. All content, opinions and ideas remain my own. This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to buy, the price you pay will not be altered but I will receive a small financial referral fee.

    Lifestyle, Reviews
    / October 23, 2018