Monday 17 December 2018

Dick Whittington Pantomime - Lighthouse Poole - Review

We have been taking the children to the local pantomime at the Lighthouse for the last few years and always had a really fun time. The productions seem to get better and better and this year was no exception!

Dick Whittington was written and directed by Peter Duncan and Chris Jarvis - Chris also plays the role of Dick. Parents with kids a certain age will no doubt be very familiar with Chris from his CBeebies shows! He's definitely one of our favourite CBeebies stars and we knew we'd be in for a treat with him involved.

I have to admit I wasn't familiar with the story of Dick Whittington - we all know that he goes to London in search of fame and fortune but that was about the limit of my knowledge! I was looking forward to seeing how the story would come to life...and were the streets really paved with gold?

The story of Dick Whittington begins with Fairy Bow Bells and a bang and the energy, laughter and entertainment didn't let up through out the whole show! Chris Jarvis makes a brilliant Dick, he is instantly likable and the crowd really get on his side. His sidekick Tommy the cat was fantastically played by Sammy Phillips - she might not have had a speaking part but she certainly captivated the audience with her facial expressions and movement!

Allo Allo favourite Richard Gibson is back on stage playing the lovable, but dippy Alderman Fitzwarren while his daughter Alice, and future Mrs Whittington is played very well by Katie Arundell.

Panto wouldn't be panto without a dame to bring the comedy and this year Dame Dolly Donuts (played by Dereck Walker) had the audience in fits of laughter with her cheeky innuendos and dazzling outfits!

The stars of the show for me though were the rats. We know there are lots of rats in London but I have never seen one in a leather jacket until now!! Led by King Rat (and expertly played by Craig Rhys-Barlow), they were brilliant villains and had Elliot booing and hissing at the stage!

It was a fantastic production and the cast and crew worked their socks off to entertain us. From the sets, to the costumes, to the music, to the local jokes, even the Baby Shark underwater scene, there was something for everyone! My favourite part was the 12 Days of Christmas musical number - it was fast, bonkers and I will never be able hear the original in the same way ;)

The panto finished with a big old singalong to Abba which had the audience on their feet and it's safe to say, we were thoroughly entertained!

You can catch Dick Whittington at the Lighthouse until 31st December - for more info and to book tickets click HERE

Thursday 13 December 2018

Santa & The Elves Christmas Experience - Winchester Science Centre

If you're looking for a slightly different Father Christmas experience, then the Winchester Science Centre might be the place for you. Mixing a classic children's story with crazy science experiments, an elf led craft activity, a Christmas planetarium show plus a chance to meet Santa himself, this is a festive day out like no other!

We've not been to the science centre before so when we were invited down for the day, it was a big "yes please!" from all the family. We arrived just after 10.30 and as soon as the children saw all the exhibits, they were off! The brilliant thing about the science centre is that everything is interactive and children are actively encouraged to take part!

Elliot, at 6 is the perfect age and understood most of the exhibits with a little help from Daddy. He was very interested in the colon cafe exhibit where we picked a food and then found out how it worked through our body. Typical 6 year old, anything to do with farts and poo and he's happy!

Even Erin enjoyed taking part and exploring the exhibits - she may not have understood the science behind things but she certainly had fun pressing buttons and watching her big brother.

The Science of Sport zone was a big hit - you could test your reaction time, your flexability and your ability to balance. The family enjoyed racing against each other on the track!

The Christmas experience is split into two events - the first of these for us was a science show led by elves followed by a meeting with Father Christmas. I wasn't really sure what to expect having never experienced science with elves before! After our names had been ticked off the Elf list, we were led into a darkened room and the children were instructed to sit at the front on benches while the adults could take the seats behind.

The science show was inspired by Jack and the Beanstalk and the elves tested out different forces to see how Jack could reach the top of the beanstalk. The elves were very enthusiastic and really captured the attention of the children in the audience. It was also really interesting and I definitely learnt a few things!

We were then led into a room that had been decorated like the giants castle with a big seat at the end next to a huge Christmas tree. There were rows of tables and benches and everyone was invited to sit down. The children were all given a little present which was something they could open and do there and then.

Whilst this was happening, Father Christmas arrived and each family could go up and meet him. The children were then given another little present, these ones were age appropriate - Erin got a little book and Elliot a mini wooden jenga game. The adults also got a mince pie!

I thought this Father Christmas experience made a nice change from the usual ones where you go into a grotto etc. Erin is really wary of Father Christmas and because this was more relaxed and not in a small dark room/grotto, she didn't seem quite as scared! (She still wouldn't go near him but she didn't cry so that was a start!)

After meeting Santa we were free to leave the giant's castle. We had a bit of time before our next Christmas event in the Planetarium so we decided to have some lunch in the Hub Cafe. It did seem quite busy but there was plenty of tables and lots of staff working on the tills so we didn't have to queue for long. There were plenty of options for lunch including sandwiches, paninis and jacket potatos and the prices weren't too bad.

After lunch we headed over to the Planetarium where we were about to watch Reindeer Round-Up which is included in the price of the Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience. The children have never been in a planetarium before and Elliot was fascinated by the seats which were off course quite flat so you can enjoy the show above you!

The show takes the audience on a journey through the solar system in search of Rudolph and his furry friends to help save Christmas. I would say it is more aimed at younger children but it only lasts for 30 minutes so older ones shouldn't be too bored. We did enjoy the show however I was a bit confused how it was linked with Jack and The Beanstalk. The presenter told us she was Jack's Mum but it didn't really flow very well and I think it would have been better off as a separate show of it's own. I did read that last year's was presented by an elf and I think this might have been a better option!

After the show we spent some time exploring the lower level of the centre which features even more hands on exhibits including one where we could create a tornado.The children were fascinated with the little big room and could have spent all after in there!

Also located in the lower level is the brand new immersive zone, Explorer:Space. Featuring 20 fantastic modular exhibits, you can learn about meteorites, stardust, robots, atmospheric pressure and even human space flight! Elliot and his Dad are big fans of Kennedy Space Center in Florida so this area was an instant hit with them!

After dragging Elliot away from the space suit, Erin decided it was naptime! My husband sat with her in the cafe whilst Elliot and I did some festive themed crafts on the upper level. There appeared to be several crafts to choose from but it was a bit chaotic with glitter and pompoms everywhere! Elliot wanted to make a snowglobe so he was quite happy mixing the colours to make his unique. I did warn him that mixing the colours might make it look a bit like wee but he seemed quite happy with the colour!

After a quick look in the gift shop we decided to head back to Poole but we had a fantastic day out. The science centre is such a brilliant place and I'm ashamed it's taken us this long to visit!

There is lots going on at the centre throughout December including Storytime with Santa. Aimed at younger visitors, Preschoolers and their families are invited to join Santa and Magnificent (Santa's Master Elf) for a Christmas story read by Santa himself and a live science demonstration from the elves. This lasts for 45 minutes and includes a gift for the child.

Visitors can also experience their favourite Christmas films in the planetarium - these can be enjoyed from as little as £2 per person with General Admission or film-only tickets cost £5.

Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience tickets are £14 per person and must be purchased alongside General Admission - although if you book online at least 3 days in advance you will save 25% on admission.

For more information on tickets, timings or any of the above, please visit:

*Disclaimer - We were invited to Winchester Science Centre in order to conduct an honest review of their Christmas Experience.

Monday 3 December 2018

Meeting Father Christmas at Weymouth SEA LIFE Adventure Park

This weekend we were lucky enough to be one of the very first families to meet Father Christmas at Weymouth Sea Life Adventure Park. We have been visiting the park for many years (I remember going as a child!) but we have never been at Christmas so I was very much looking forward to this! 

Our slot with the big man himself was 4.15pm so we travelled down to Weymouth after lunch so we could spend a bit of time exploring the park. Upon arrival Elliot was given a golden ticket which was a lovely little touch and really added to the magic! 

The park was really quiet when we arrived so it was lovely to be able to take our time seeing the sea creatures. Of course Elliot made a bee line for the rock pools first - he loves this section and spent ages looking into the water and seeing what he could spot. The tide washing in never fails to entertain either! 

After checking out all the creature zones and burning some energy off in the amazing play area, it was time for us to head over to the reindeer stable which is located in the wetlands area. Decked out with hay bales, blankets and twinkly lights, it certainly got us in a festive mood as we waited patiently for the elves. 

We didn't have to wait long, and a friendly elf called Jingle McTinsel came to greet us. There was just time for a quick dance (Elliot asked the elf if he could floss!) and we were then led down the boardwalk towards Father Christmas' cabin in the woods. Along the way we even spotted his reindeers across the wetlands! 

As we made our way through the festive forest, Jingle stopped us by the lantern and told the children to close their eyes and make a christmas wish. And with the help of some elf magic, they had a snowy surprise!! 

Notice Erin making a hasty retreat!
We were then taken inside the cabin where Father Christmas was waiting - and wow, what a Father Christmas he was! Not only did he look the part with his smart red suit and (real!) beard but the way he chatted to Elliot was so lovely. He even sounded like Father Christmas should! 

He invited Elliot to sit down next to him and he spent a great deal of time talking to him about the different time zones and how he manages to get across the world in one night. He asked him if he had a chimney and when Elliot said no, they talked about the magic key and that Elliot needs to leave it out on Christmas Eve (Note to self - order magic key on Amazon!!)

We didn't feel rushed and I think Elliot could have quite happily stayed there for longer talking to him! He even promised to leave Father Christmas a beer on Christmas Eve! 

You may be wondering where Erin was when all this was happening. Well, unfortunately she really isn't a fan of Santa and refused to go near him, or even look at him! I think she did give him a cursory wave as we left but there was no way she was going to sit on his lap ;)

The children were given a special SEA LIFE present from Father Christmas - I won't say what it is as we don't want to ruin the surprise but the presents were age appropriate and got the thumbs up from my two! 

We left the the park wondering if we'd just met the real Father Christmas. I guess we'll never know!

We had a lovely time visiting Father Christmas and his Elves at Weymouth Sea Life Park and it has definitely kicked off our festive season with a smile and a sprinkle of Elf Magic! 

For more information, please visit the Weymouth Sea Life Park website . You can meet Father Christmas from Saturday 8th - Sunday 23rd December and pre-booking is advisable. There will also be a Christmas craft zone and festive drinks available from Caribbean Coffee! 

*Disclaimer - We were invited along to preview Father Christmas in exchange for an honest review. 
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