For an alternative Easter present, consider a Beaker
Creatures Reactor Pod for your child!! We were gifted* a Beaker Creatures
Reactor Pod for the purpose of this review, and you can read about it below.
How do Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods work?
You need a bowl of water and lots of towels (trust me on
this one!). Simply place the egg into the water and watch it dissolve. After a
few minutes, you’ll end up with a toy within a small, waterproof plastic egg.
Open the egg, and voila, you have your toy!!
The children loved the colour and the fizz of the egg as
well as getting a toy at the end. They especially enjoyed the purple water, playing
with the dissolvable egg and crunching with their fingers. They continued
playing with the toy in the water which I though was a great sensory experience
but it got a bit messy for the grown-ups (hence the need for towels)!!
What do you get with a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod?
Within the box, you get a mini creature, a poster with
some facts and a classification card on which monster could be in your pod.
How many Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods are there?
Within Series 1, there are 30 to collect! If truth be
told, you might be fed up sooner than the children if you try to collect all
From what age are Beaker Creatures Reactor Pods suitable?
The recommended age is 5+ although younger children will
enjoy the fizz and the colour of the product, there is a choking hazard. As
such, children under 3 years are probably best staying away from the toy or
being closely monitored.
How much does a Beaker Creatures Reactor Pod cost?
They are currently £4 and can be purchased from Learning Resources here:
* Whilst the product was gifted, no attempt was made to
influence this review. Also, no money was given for this review.
Ok, it might be a bit strange me doing a blog post about
a shop. However, M&M’s World is such a cool shop, I feel as though it needs
a writing about!
What is at M&M’s World?
M&M’s World is a shop over 4 floors full of everything related to M&M’s. From socks to tablewear, T-shirts to personalised M&M’s, it has everything that you could imagine. The store is bright and colourful, with upbeat music being played throughout, it is a really positive experience going there.
M&M guest appearance!
Why is M&M’s World more than just a shop?
There are loads of photo opportunities here for young and old alike. From M&M’s cars, to M&M’s mimicking the legendary Beatles image of them crossing the road, as well as random M&M characters showing up for photos, there is more to do than just shop.
M&M’s as the Beatles
Heidi’s favourite activity in the store was doing the mood personality test. Whilst it did show that she did indeed have a personality, it did differ each time she did it, therefore, it could be a sign of temperamental teenage years to come!!
M&M’s World personality test!
Our magical M&M’s World experience
The main reason for writing this was when we visited M&M’s World in February 2019, we were approached by Philip-Alexander, who worked in their marketing department. I think that this was because Heidi was wearing a cool M&M’s T-shirt bought on a previous visit!!
We were asked a few questions about various products, price points and generally, whether we liked the in-store experience. It only took 5-10 minutes, but he was really friendly throughout. Then, the magic!! Heidi was allowed to get some free sweets from the shop! She was over the moon with excitement and it really topped off our Friday evening.
There’s even cars at M&S’s World!
Then, Heidi got talking to some more members of staff, who again were oh so friendly. Heidi was telling them about the questionnaire that we had done and our plans in London for the weekend. Heidi then sweet-talked them (excuse the pun!) into giving her some more chocolate! It just shows how nice the staff are!
Santa in M&M’s form!
Where is M&M’s World?
M&M’s World is in the heart of Leicester Square and so it is central to a lot of things in London. You can easily spend an hour here, even without buying anything!! However, if you time it right, there is a musical display directly outside the store (look up!) which is lovely to watch and hear.
Even though I have written about loads of different places in Leeds, I have not done a “Best Place in Leeds” blog post before. As a result, here are a few things which are some age appropriate selections for you!
Best Place in Leeds for Crawlers
Boomchikkaboom hosts one-off events all over West
Yorkshire, but quite a few are held in Leeds, with most being in Mothercare at
the Crown Point Shopping Centre. You have to pre-book (and make sure you do
well in advance) but their Mini Raves are a mix of upbeat music, dancing and
songs which brilliant for smaller children who love sensory overload!
Boomchikkaboom take some brilliant pictures and share on Facebook
Boomchikkaboom also do messy play sessions for the
younger kids, but during school holidays, they do sessions specifically for
school aged children as well.
Loving a Boomchikkaboom rave!
You can read a full blog post on Boomchikkaboom here.
Best Place in Leeds for Pre-Schoolers
If your child is into creative play and imagination, the
Rainbow Factory based in Farsley will be absolutely perfect. Keep your eye out
for their special events during certain weekends and school holidays. However, during term-time, they have specific
sessions for pre-schoolers.
We are HUGE fans of the Rainbow Factory and whilst it can
seem a bit strange concept, the work that they do really does bring children out
of their shell and boost their imagination. If your child is a bit shy, it does
help to join in the sessions, but you’ll enjoy it just as much as your little
Kids are free to be as creative as possible at the Rainbow Factory
Opened in 2017, the Leeds Urban Bike Park is a really
safe space for children (and grown-ups) to ride their bike. Set on the old
council golf course in Middleton, it is a free venue where there are trails for
cyclists of all ages to explore. The site is completely vehicle free which
means that riders are so much safer than on the roads and your child can ride,
and develop accordingly.
One of the trails at the Leeds Urban Bike Park
There are even bumpy trails for young and old to
experience proper BMX-ing, which I am reliably told is a “pump track” (who
Best Place in Leeds for Older Children
The Royal Armouries is a free attraction at the south
east of the City Centre which gives an insight into the history of battles
through the ages. Some of the artefacts are a reminder as to how deadly war can
be, but it can act as a thought provoking visit for the older children. It
would work really well if your child was into history and/or was learning about
a relevant topic in school.
Exhibit at Royal Armouries
To make the trip more of an experience, get the free
water taxi from Granary Wharf (near the train station) to the Armouries. You get to see parts of Leeds which you would
never see before although the queues can be big on hot summer weekends. If you have not done it before, it is worth
You can read a full blog post on the Royal Armouries here.
Best Place in Leeds for Adults
Why should the children get all the fun?! Hotel Chocolat,
just off Boar Lane, do chocolate making sessions for children and adults.
Whilst there is some learning about the science behind chocolate, there is also
the opportunity to decorate chocolate. You also get a decent discount in the
shop at the end of the session, which is ideal if you’re going to do a bulk buy
purchase at Easter or Christmas!!
Welcome to the Hotel Chocolat!
You do have to book well in advance for this. However, if
you know you’re going to be child free, you’re probably counting down the days
You can read a full blog post on Hotel Chocolat here.
All in all, there are loads of things to do in this
brilliant city. I’d love to hear what your recommendations are, which will
probably lead to a follow-up blog post!!
It might seem strange to do a blog post on a family blog
about a bar, but Belowzero Ice Bar is a bit different. We went in February
2019, and as we loved it so much, I had to write about it.
What is Belowzero Ice Bar?
In its simpliest form, Belowzero Ice Bar is just a bar.
It serves drinks and music is played. However, as the name suggests, the
temperature is around -5oC and so it is a really “cool” experience
(ok, I’ll stop with the puns!). You are given Eskimo coats to wear to keep you
warm, and special gloves to wear. It doesn’t
feel too cold to be honest, and quite refreshing if it is a warm day in
Fancy ice sculpture!
The Ice Bar is decorated with ice sculptures with a different theme every few months, so in some respects, every visit will be slightly different. There are ice-free places to sit down (you wouldn’t want a wet bum!) but generally you’ll want to look around all the ice sculptures.
The bar isn’t especially large, which makes it feel
intimate, but not busy, especially as too many people will make the ice melt!
You are advised to book in advance, which helps manage numbers I imagine.
What does Belowzero Ice Bar serve?
Belowzero Ice Bar serve a range of cocktails and
mocktails. I am not much of a drinker, but the mocktails were enjoyed by Heidi
and myself! The best thing is that the drinks are served in ice!! As a result,
you need your special gloves to be able to hold onto the “glass”!!
I can confirm that it is possible to break an ice glass,
as they can be quite slippery!
Yes, these are made of ice!
Is Belowzero Ice Bar child friendly?
It is as child friendly as a bar without a beer garden
can be! As you are only in for 40 minutes, and people are there for the
experience, rather than get drunk, then there is little chance of people
misbehaving. Also, there is the usual security, to make sure no-one goes in
However, there are rules on under 18’s. They only allow
under 18’s in up to 18.30 Monday to Saturday and all day Sunday. Children 8 and
under are free to enter.
Having a mocktail!
I never felt that it was not safe or not appropriate for
Heidi to be there.
How much does Belowzero Ice Bar cost?
There are various ticket packages, but the tickets come
with a drink included. There is a family ticket, which covers 2 adults and 2
children or 1 adult and 3 children. We found this to be cheaper than buying the
drink for Heidi separately. However,
your circumstances may mean it is cheaper to buy any under 8’s a drink
Whereabouts is Belowzero Ice Bar?
Belowzero Ice Bar is located between Oxford Circus and
Piccadilly Circus, quite close to Hamleys. It is hidden away in the Heddon
Street Food Quarter, just off Regent Street. As such, give yourself a bit of
time to find it, especially as you don’t want to be late!!
Yes, it is in London!
Heidi absolutely loved Belowzero Ice Bar, and it was
something completely different. Yes, it is expensive and as such, it is a bit
of a one-off. However, if your child is mature enough, it is a wonderful
experience to have.
Opened in 1996, the Royal Armouries is one of the jewels
in the crown of Leeds. I remember when it was opened, how it was such a big
thing for Leeds to have such a national treasure. However, being from Leeds,
perhaps it is taken for granted somewhat.
We have visited the Royal Armouries a couple of times now
and felt that it needed a blog post doing!!
What is at the Royal Armouries?
The Royal Armouries is the home of arms and armour from
all over the world, both historical and modern day, held over 5 floors.
I am in no way an expert in any of these areas, and so
I’ll let the pictures to the talking, but as you can see, there are lots of
artefacts to view.
The most visual displays, particularly for younger
children, are the animal exhibits, showing how animals were used in battles.
Depending on the age of your child, they may just see them as dressed up
animals, which isn’t a bad thing at all!!
There are talks and demonstrations as well throughout the
day, and on the top floor, there is a paid-for activity, using a cross-bow to
shoot balls. We didn’t have chance to give it a go, but it did look fun and
decent value for money (2019 price: £3 for 8 balls)
The Royal Armouries also do special events as well,
particularly in the summer and bank holidays, so keep an eye out for upcoming
events, especially as they tend to get quite busy!
Is Royal Armouries child friendly?
It depends on how old your child is. If your child understands war and has a historical understanding of certain events, then the Royal Armouries will be very, very educational. However, if your child is more hands-on or doesn’t understand the concept of war, then the attraction may not be for them.
However, there is lots of space for children to explore
and as such, they can find what appeals to them.
There are really good baby changing facilities, with
separate toilet facilities, was well as changing facilities in the men’s
Is the Royal Armouries just about War?
Pretty much. However, there is a small “Peace” section
hidden away on one of the upper floors. Whilst it is important to know about
the past, it would have been good to see how we can avoid wars going forward.
It’s not all about war
How can I get to the Royal Armouries?
Probably the best way to get to the Royal Armouries is
via the free water taxi service from Granary Wharf. It gives a view of Leeds
that you wouldn’t normally see and is very interesting. There can often be a
large queue in summer, but if you can take the trip, do so.
There is a large multi-story car park about 300 yards
away, which charges city centre prices (understandably), but is very
Perhaps the best way would be to get a bus/coach into the
bus station and do the 10 minute walk down. This is especially true if you have
To read about our experience of getting a National Express coach, check out this blog post.
How much is admission to the Royal Armouries?
Entry into the Royal Armouries is free. There are places to make a donation throughout, as it is a registered charity.
The Royal Armouries may not be ideal for your child,
depending on their age and level of understanding. However, it is a national
treasure and its quality is amazing. With everything undercover and free entry,
it is well worth a trip and see for yourself!
“The Sun: Living with our Star” is the Science Museum’s
latest “paid for” exhibit, running from 6th October 2018 to 6th
May 2019. We were invited along to check out the exhibit, for the purposes of
the blog post.
What is “The Sun: Living with our Star” Exhibit?
“The Sun: Living with our Star” takes visitors on a
journey through time with human’s relationship with the Sun. Starting from 3,000 year old artefacts all
the way through to modern day science and its effect on civilisation, you
realise how important the Sun is to us, as well as how much we still don’t know
The exhibit, in true Science Museum style, also focused
on how the sun can create power. There was an excellent little game to get
children to think about reflecting light to create power.
Also, it looks at future problems caused by the sun,
namely solar storms, and there was an excellent quiz for everyone to learn
about what we would need in the case of a solar storm.
Doing the Solar Storm quiz
For me, the best part was seeing a hi-resolution video of
the sun, and marvelling about how much activity occurs. Seeing it relatively
close up meant that you see things that you never see before.
High-Res image of the Sun
Is “The Sun: Living with our Star” child appropriate?
Yes! There is nothing scary about the exhibit and so
nervous children will be fine! There are
enough exhibits that the little ones can touch and play with for them to be
Perhaps the part that the children liked the most was the
mock beach, as it also doubled up as a little playground as well!
In terms of learning, the children found learning about
sundials to be particularly interesting. I think that it was because it was
quite visual, as well as the fact that they don’t see sundials very often.
Learning about sundials
How much does “The Sun: Living with our Star” cost?
The best part about this exhibit is that children under
16 are free! The pricing structure is:
Children (under 16) Free
What else is there to do at the Science Museum?
There is the fabulous Wonderlab on the top floor. You can read about Wonderlab in this blogpost. Also, the Science Museum has a whole host of free galleries to view as well and you can quite easily spend all day at the Science Museum.
If you’re looking for a good photo opportunity, there is
a section towards the middle depicting the Sun’s ray. The provides excellent
lighting for photos, especially with the cut out holes at the back!
I love this photo!!
Whilst we received free entry into “The Sun: Living with
our Star”, this did not influence any opinion of the blog post.
Across the UK, Wallace & Gromit’s Musical
Marvels is appearing in theatres and concert halls for special orchestral
performances which are sure to entertain the whole family.
What will happen at Wallace & Gromit’s Musical
The interactive experience features specially created
animations as well as a live orchestral accompaniment, from the Picture House
Orchestra. This is then followed by a screening of “The Wrong Trousers”, with
the soundtrack performed by the orchestra.
(c) and TM Aardman/W&G Ltd. All rights reserved.
How Long does Wallace & Gromit’s Musical
The first half is an energetic, interactive
dialogue between Wallace, Gromit and the live orchestra. This last for about 35
minutes. The second part is a screening of The Wrong Trousers, with live
orchestra, which lasts for 30 minutes. There is a 20 minute interval, so overall,
it lasts 85 minutes-ish.
Is Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels
Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels is aimed for
children aged 3+, so you know that it’s going to be a bright, breezy and lively
Is there a preview for Wallace & Gromit’s
Check out this video below:
Wallace & Gromit's Musical Marvels - YouTube
Where can we watch Wallace & Gromit’s Musical
There are numerous dates up and down the country,
and they are listed below:
We have been to Shrek’s Adventure a couple of times now
and given that the new “How to Train Your Dragon” exhibit is now open, I
thought that I would write about it.
What is Shrek’s Adventure?!
I am not sure that there is anything similar to Shrek’s
Adventure in Central London! Shrek’s Adventure is a walking tour through the
story of Shrek, where you spend 5 minutes or so in each scene before carrying
on the story. Each scene is led by a character in the story and generally
something magical happens in each one, be it a witch appearing from nowhere or
a toilet exploding!
After the introduction from Fiona (from Shrek) you go
into a stationary bus and have an immersive 4D ride where you take in the
sights of the world before crashing on top of a witch or two! It is very
immersive and as such, it can be overwhelming for younger children. However, it
is really good to watch and so if your little one can be brave, then they will
After you have completed the show, there is a nice little
break-out area, where the children can wind down. There are a few photo
opportunities with still characters from the show and allow them to be kids
The new “How to Train Your Dragon” exhibit
When we went in February 2019, they had just opened a new
exhibit from “How to Train Your Dragon” which will be popular with the younger
For me, my favourite memory is when Cinderella tried to
get me to go out with her!! No, I’m not kidding! However, Heidi got really
upset that someone was going to take me away from her, she got really upset! It
was very cute indeed!!
My other favourite part is the Sleeping Beauty section,
which provided hours of entertainment in the days/weeks to follow. However, I
won’t give the secret away.
You may have seen that that photos on here are
professional and don’t contain Heidi or myself. That is because you’re gently
told at the beginning that you aren’t allowed to take photos. Whilst that’s bad
for blogging, it does mean that the experience is authentic and flows better.
There are a couple of photo opportunities at the start
which you can buy, as well as one at the end with Shrek himself, which is free.
However, the memories from Shrek’s Adventure will just have to be that –
Meeting Shrek himself afterward
This is a difficult one to answer as it depends on your
child. There are scary parts, which means that more nervous children will find
it a challenge. But then there are some really funny parts, which all children
Heidi was aged 4 when we went and she loved most of it
except the Pinocchio and jail scenes. As such, you might want to give extra big
cuddles during those parts.
As it is a walking show, there is naturally walking.
However, it is all flat, inside and generally walking 20 yards or so before
stopping for the next section. There aren’t many opportunities to sit down,
therefore a 3 year old might struggle towards the end.
You can get a teddy version at the shop afterwards!
Grab a bargain!
As with most Merlin Attractions, there is often a deal to
be had. If you want to do the Sealife Centre and, say, the London Eye (which
are pretty much next-door) then there is a decent saving in buying your tickets
together. Also, there for often 2-for-1
offers run by travel companies and various household consumer brands.
Shrek’s Adventure is one of the things in London that you have to do at least once. As it is located on the South Bank opposite Westminster, its location is ideal and as it is indoor, can be a suitable “wet weather” activity. We have done it twice now and loved it each time and I’m sure that we will do it again in the future.
A cold, wet late January weekend took us to Abbey House
Museum in Leeds. Heidi had been with school a couple of weeks before and so was
enthusiastic to go back and show what she enjoyed!
What is at Abbey House Museum?
Abbey House Museum has 2 floors full of historic
exhibits. The ground floor has a Victorian street/village with houses, shops,
and a school to look in. Think of it as an indoor, smaller version of Beamish.
There is nothing to “do” in the village except look around, but it is very
interesting to look around.
Upstairs are more modern exhibits, which change over
time. In late January 2019, there was an historical toy exhibit, which the
child loved to look around. There was also the “Danger Zone” exhibit, which highlighted
household items through the last 200 years which were dangerouss. There were
also exhibits as how those dangers were managed and how we prevent danger in
What did the children enjoy?
The children loved the space to run out in the Victorian
street and I would like to think that they learned a little too!! They also liked the dressing up section as
part of the “Danger Zone” section. They
also enjoyed the toy section, especially with the chance to play with a couple
of the toys.
It might sound daft, but because Abbey House Museum isn’t
too big, it meant that they were able to enjoy it all, rather than be too tired
There is also the chance to dress up!
The free playground next to the car park was also a
chance for the children to get some fresh air and tire themselves out a little
What did the children not enjoy?
The fact that a lot of the toys were on display, but not
able to be played with, didn’t go down well! Also, a lot of the displays are
perhaps for older children/adults, so they didn’t get as much out of it as
other visitors would do.
What are the facilities like?
The toilets are really good and roomy, which is perfect
for talking a child. Abbey House Museum also has a cafe, but it’s safe to say
that the children were far too excited to go in there. However, the food looked
There are lifts to all floors, so if you want to take a
pushchair, you can. However, as the Vicotrian street is cobbled, then it is a
bit tricky. Abbey House Museum isn’t took big, therefore you might be able to
get away with not taking one.
How do I get to Abbey House Museum?
Abbey House Museum is located opposite Kirkstall Abbey
and there is a free car park just over the road. As Kirstall Abbey is popular
in the summer, then car parking could be a problem. However, in late January,
it was fine!
The postcode to find Abbey House Museum is LS5 3EH.
Is Abbey House Museum good value for money?
We paid £11 for a family ticket (as at January 2019)
which covers 2 adults and 2 children. We spent about an hour and a half running
about and trying to do our best to get the children to learn. As a result, it
is one of the better value for money places in the region.
All in all, Abbey House Museum is a lovely hidden gem in
Leeds. It doesn’t get the publicity of the other Leeds museums, but if youre
wanting to go somewhere for a couple of hours, and want your child to learn,
then this could be a place for you to go.
Over the last couple of months, we have discovered
another hidden gem of the amazing creative scene in Leeds – Anything Could
Happen. Before Heidi came along, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t into creative
arts, but after going to the Rainbow Factory for the past few years, my eyes
have been opened to a whole new world!!
Well, anything (obviously!!)
On a serious note, there are two adult (I was going to say grown-up, but they have to be a bit childish!) performers on stage, loosely controlled by the fabulous stage director, Carla. They start off with an idea, and then get ideas from the children in the audience. The children then develop the story as it goes, with random ideas being thrown in from all the children. After the story has reached a somewhat natural conclusion, which often resulted from mild chaos, the stage is reset and a new idea kicks off more carnage!!
As Anything Could Happen takes place in a real-life,
intimate theatre, the children get experience of a professional environment and
as they sit on the floor of the stage, they feel part of the action.
Every child is asked to input into the performance over
the hour and a bit it is on, and whilst Heidi can feel a bit lost in the number
of children and ideas, it does help her understand sharing (does that count as
a swear word?!) and being patient.
There is very few opportunities for the children to be on
stage themselves, so if you’re looking for a stage school this isn’t for you.
However, think of it as giving your child the chance for a front row seat to a
brilliant comedy show that they can help create.
However, if your child does go up on stage, get your
cameras out, as it is a brilliant memory to have. In January, Heidi was “interviewed”
on stage and pretended to explain why crocodiles were coming into houses
through toilets. Yes, you did read that right! The best thing was that the
atmosphere was so supportive that she was able to go out of her comfort zone
and do it!
What age is appropriate?
This is a difficult one, but I wouldn’t expect a child
younger than 5 would be able to concentrate for the whole show. It is quite fast
paced, but so is the humour and so younger children might not get the jokes.
Also, as the children tend to sit at the front amongst
themselves (but not every child does) younger children might feel a little
overwhelmed by it all.
How do you prepare?
It might sound a really daft thing to say, but don’t wear
too many clothes!! Anything Could Happen takes place in a real theatre, and as
such, all the stage lights are on. This means that it does get warm quickly and
whilst it never gets uncomfortable, you won’t need a thick jumper on!!
Apart from that, you can encourage your child to be
creative in play, but generally, they will become immersed in the experience
and develop as they take part.
What Do Adults do?
It sounds strange, but there is very little to do for the
adults! You sit back in the audience and enjoy the show. It is that simple!!!
I do think that the adults enjoy the show just as much as
the children, and because the humour is so quick and well put together, there
is a layer of comedy that is just for adults!
What about First Timers?
This is a note of caution. Regardless of how confident or
old your child is, they are likely to be unsure about Anything Could Happen
during the first visit. This is because it is quite intense on their sensors –
lights, visual and oral comedy, a different environment etc. My advice would be
to go with how they feel and perhaps take some sweets with you to relax them.
However, after the first visit, you’ll have made up your
mind whether it is right for your child and so don’t let their first impression
put you off coming back. Heidi was restless during her first visit, but I knew
she would enjoy it, and on the morning of the second show, she woke up with a
huge smile, realising that it was Anything Could Happen Day!!
Heidi being interviewed on stage about crocodiles
Finding Anything Could Happen has been amazing and has sparked Heidi’s creativity at home even more. However, with these kinds of activities, it is the people running it that make it so special. Without their creativity, passion and a little bit of silliness, the children would not benefit and enjoy the shows. I really hope that Heidi will enjoy the shows for a long time, as I know she will learn so much from them!