A busy weekend doesn’t even begin to do it justice. The kids and I are down near Scouse Land visiting my folks for a few weeks as my husband-man is up North on a course training to spend more time away from us; locked up like a sardine with a wee group of equally insane men at the bottom of the sea for weeks on end (think Octonauts for frame of reference).
Whenever we visit my parents we stay a while because the drive down from Scotland is quite a trek and because we often go and see them when Keith gets on a longer job. They are my support network and a big part of my ‘village’, it is just that I happen to live hundreds of miles away from this part of my village.
My folks’ house is filled to the brim (actually over the brim as they build a purpose built shed to house all the garden toys alone) with things for my boy and girl to busy themselves with. My Mum works as the most wonderful teacher you will ever meet Monday – Thursday and then at the weekends she has always planned the most fantastic activities for us all to do and this weekend was no different.
On Saturday morning my folks took Aiden to a local garden centre and play area to give me some snuggle time with Faye for a few hours. They sipped cappuccino’s while Aiden enjoyed being a ‘grown-up’ with his babyccino.
Then we had a super quick (and classic) lunch of cheese and beans on toast in order to get Aiden to nap earlier than usual to be awake in time for our afternoon plans. He normally sleeps about 1.5/2 hours in the afternoon around 1pm – 3pm but in order to get the train onto town he only got 40mins before we had to wake him up. He loves his nap and he was in tears when we woke him. Luckily after a few cuddles and a train journey he was slowely coming round to the idea of being awake.
The Atkinson Art Centre in Southport was where I worked my first ushering job as an eager fourteen year old and it is now one of my favourite places to take my kids when visiting my folks. There is always something on to see or do and this Saturday is was Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2: The Magic Cutlass.
Before having my children I worked in theatre management and theatre was my life so it is safe to say, a trip to the theatre for us is not just a little thing. I LOVE taking my children to see shows and to watch their eyes get wider and wider at that they see and experience. For me, nothing else comes close to it as the perfect form of entertainment.
I have taken my boy to see a fair few theatre shows now, although I must say (I best leave the rant to a seperate post) there are shockingly few theatre shows for under 3’s. I know my boy and I know he actually becomes totally absorbed by theatre and barely moves at all when watching it so he is more than able to attend longer shows designer for older kids. Captain Flinn has a recommended age of 4+ but I was happy to take Aiden along and just cuddle him a bit closer through any ‘scary’ parts.* There was only one ‘scary’ part when we first meet the giant t-Rex but once his Aunty pointed out how funny it looked in a coat, Aiden was fine and talked about the silly coat for the rest of the weekend.
Les Petits are the company behind this wonderful production, and what a wonderful production it is. Some kids theatre can be enjoyed by children but leave the adults feeling that same level of despondent despair that you get from Peppa Pig, but not this show. The writing was great. It is filled with little nods to the adults which is always entertaining. The kids found the narrative hilarious, although Aiden is always so mesmerised that even when audience participation is called for, he sits wide-eyed, soaking it all up.
The plot was simple enough for children to follow but not patronisingly boring. The actors were good. I know that doesn’t sound like a rave review but I mean they were actually good, which if you have seen some children’s theatre you will know is not always a requirement half the time. Plus the whole cast was only four strong and their energy levels were through the roof. Special shout out to the mini cat-inspired Memory monologue by Miss Pie;- the rather masculine, long suffering, school-play director played by the hilarious Patrick Tolan. My Mum very nearly peed her pants at it.
My boy loved everything about the show. My four month old girl could take it or leave it (she nursed and slept through most of it but I wouldn’t hold that against it!) And me? Well I was enthralled. Perhaps I don’t get out as much as I should anymore but it was the best hour and a half I have had all week and I felt so cultured! On a final note, the dramaturgist (sp) in me would also like to point out that the costuming and stage design was genius. Could not fault a single thing. And normally I do! I tip my hat to you Zoe Squire, designer extaordinaire.
Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs is just coming to the end of this run but if you ever get the chance to see one of Les Petits‘ shows, I say jump at it, they are top class not only as children’s theatre but theatre in general.
On Sunday we had a birthday party to attend at The Snow Dome down in Tamworth. It is quite the drive from my folks (about 2 hours) but it was so worth it. My sister, who lives in the area, tells me there is an indoor snow bit all year round but nothing like the Winter Wonderland that we attended and that runs 18th November till 31st December.
The price of the ticket (which I do think is pricey at £13.95 – £17.95 per person for everyone over two years) covers 30 mins snow play, a Santa’s Workshop theatre show, and 30 minutes with the animals, including reindeer.
The Snow bit was by far the best part. It was totally magical and totally manic! Kids, and adults behaving like kids, everywhere. There was proper snow, forests of Christmas trees, and enough sledges and snow tyres (what are they called?) for everyone to have a go and not have to wait.
The theatre show was a bit naff but the kids loved it and I think I was just comparing it to the previous days triumphant mastery. The animals at the end was also a nice touch. I’m not a person who goes to zoo’s and animal events often make me feel uncomfortable but as we do go to farms this was along those lines and for what it is worth, the animals looked well cared for.
There were plenty of bits and bobs like Santa’s boots and snowmen all around to keep you from being bored and the 90 mins flew by. I was actually really pleased when we got to sit down for the show as it meant I got chance to nurse Faye before we were off again. Also it passed the Aiden test as he has already asked to go back.
The weekend has been busy. Really really busy (hence posting this on Monday evening!) but it has been a blast and everyone enjoyed themselves. All the activities we have done have hopefully left their impressions on the children, as they have me. But more important than what we did, we did it with our family, my folks, my sister and her partner, and that is the my favourite part of the weekend.
P.s I have come to the realisation I would like a proper camera from Father Christmas as my phone just can’t cope with the dark! *Keith take note