Category Archives: Travel & Days Out

The Autumn Malvern Show

Autumn Show

If you are looking for a great day out, the Autumn Malvern Show on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September is definitely a good bet.

We visited the Spring Show in May and had a fab time, so are really looking forward to visiting what is billed as ‘the ultimate Harvest Festival’ at the Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire. With a feast of activities around food and farming it has something for all ages! Newly introduced for 2016, the dedicated Family Fun Area that will be overflowing with a activities for kids including garden games, circus skills and ‘make-and-take’ craft activities. With kids fully occupied, grown ups can unwind in this area too with a chill out bean bag space. (We will definitely be heading to this part of the show!)



There is also going to be a Forgotten Skills marquee where children can find out more about the trades of yesteryear with a time travelling glimpse into how things were done in the past. There is a strong vintage theme running through the show this autumn too with Anton Du Beke making an appearance in the Vintage Village alongside lots of traditional style fairground rides and amusements.

vintage tea

One of the highlights of the Autumn Show is the UK National Giant Vegetable Championship, which brings bountiful displays of monster marrows, colossal carrots, supersize squashes and much much more. This area of the show is renowned for smashing many world records with three broken last year alone and over 300 entries competing for the highly coveted top accolades.


The Malvern Autumn Show will take place on Saturday 24 September and Sunday 25 September. Tickets are now on sale. Family tickets (2 adults, 3 children aged between 5 – 15 years) are priced at £37 when purchased in advance and £45 on the gate. Individual advanced tickets are priced at £16 for adults and £5 for children and on the gate at £19 for adults and £7 for children. Group and concession tickets are available. 

For information, please visit or call 01684 584924.


Giffords Circus – Fun for a Great Cause



Steven Kaack2Image Courtesy of  Steven Kaak

At the start of the summer we were lucky enough to be invited to attend Giffords Circus Painted Wagon show when they were situated in the beautiful setting of Sudeley Castle.

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Giffords Circus has announced that all proceeds from their closing show this year will be donated Maggie’s Cheltenham. Sales from tickets to the 5pm performance on Sunday 25 September at the circus’ HQ, Fennells Farm, will support the charity close to the circus’ heart. Giffords Circus co-founder, Nell Gifford has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer and has benefited from the support of Maggie’s Cheltenham Cancer Care Centre.



                                                                                               Image courtesy of El Gifford

El GiffordNell Gifford said: “Maggie’s have been hugely beneficial to my journey and the support they offered me at a tough time was invaluable. Cancer is something that touches each and every one of us in some way – almost all of us have a friend or family member or someone we hold dear who’s been treated for the disease. I hope Giffords Circus fans and newcomers alike will be out in force to dig deep and raise a fantastic figure for the charity, ending The Painted Wagon tour on an almighty high.”

Maggie’s Cancer Care offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. Maggie’s Cheltenham Care Centre is found on College Baths Road and is a place with professional staff on hand to offer the support people need. Centres are places to find practical advice about benefits and eating well; places where qualified experts provide emotional support; places to meet other people and places where you can simply sit quietly with a cup of tea.

Giffords Circus wish to champion the work of Maggie’s Cheltenham as a thank you for the support the charity offered Nell Gifford during her treatment for breast cancer. Returning from a sell out stint in London, Giffords Circus’ The Painted Wagon has a few dates left in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, entertaining audiences with this original whip-crackin’ horse-wranglin’ hell-raisin’ Wild West extravaganza.

Andrew Rees

Image courtesy of Andrew Rees

Directed by the critically acclaimed Cal McCrystal, The Painted Wagon invites audiences to a spectacle of eye-catching acrobatics and aerialists from far and distant lands, dancing horses, bounty hunting and gold panning, all to the beat of the “Dodge City” Giffords Circus saloon band.

The Painted Wagon comes to a close in September. Giffords Circus’ charity performance will take place on Sunday 25 September at 5pm at Fennells Farm, Lypiatt, Stroud. Tickets are priced at £22 for adults and £14 for children age 3 – 14; under 3’s go free if sitting on a lap. This includes a hog roast for which donations can be made. All proceeds from this performance go to Maggie’s Cheltenham Cancer Care Centre.

 To book tickets for the remaining dates and the final charity performance, visit or the Box Office on 0845 459 7469.

Total Bliss at Cowley Manor C-Side Spa

December has been a buy old month, a family trip to London , a new job and saying goodbye to my 30’s has left me feeling pretty dazed and exhausted. A Spa Day at Cowley Manor’s C-Side Spa was precisely what the doctor ordered. A few hours on my own, being pampered in luxurious surroundings is something that I don’t get to experience too often so my plan was to savour every minute.

From the moment you pull up the drive at Cowley Manor it starts to feel festive, with an amazing light display around the hedges and the house. You feel a bit like Alice whisked away to an enchanted Christmas Wonderland.

The Spa is set away from the main house and is incredibly modern in design compared to the rest of the surroundings, but like everything else at Cowley Manor, this eclectic approach makes it seem even more of a unique place. Think 1960’s Bond villain lair meets noughties design elements and you get the mix.

Cowley manor

The spa has both an indoor and outdoor pool (but this being December I chickened out of taking a dip outdoors, but others were) with the temperature inside so warm and cosy that I nearly fell asleep before my treatment I was so relaxed.

Cowley Manor swimming

All the treatments at the  C-Side Spa use products from Green & Spring which I am slightly obsessed with since our first stay at Cowley Manor a while back. My treatment was the signature Green and Spring Facial which takes about an hour.

Designed to repair and rejuvenate, the facial begins with a process of intense cleansing to stimulate and increase blood supply to the skin. This is followed by an energising scrub and secondary exfoliation with the unique Green & Spring Gentle Face Refiner which scavenges dead skin cells and brightens. Soothing local honey and skin-clarifying milk are massaged into the skin with a hot, herbal compress filled with lavender, calendula and wheatgerm to heal and remove toxins. A deep, toning and nourishing face massage is given followed by application of an antioxidant face mask to help heal, nourish and repair leaving the skin glowing and youthful.

Cowley manor Spa

Before your treatment starts you are offered a menu of the music you would like to listen to. It is these little touches that make the whole experience of visiting the C-Side Spa a really magical experience.

I have recently been reading Finding Your Way in a Wild New World by Dr Martha Beck  (Martha is Oprah’s Life Coach) Martha Beck

Finding Your Way in a Wild New World reveals a remarkable path to the most important discovery you can make: the knowledge of what you should be doing with your one wild and precious life. It’s the thing that so fulfills you that, if you knew what it was, you’d run straight toward it through brambles and fire. Martha guides you to find out how you got to where you are now and what you should do next, with clear instructions on tapping into the deep, wordless knowledge you carry in your body and soul.

This book is a fascinating read and I have been trying hard to ‘quiet my mind’ and be less verbal, which is much harder than it sounds! My day at Cowley Manor’s C-Side Spa certainly helped me to relax and achieve a sense of peace and calm I haven’t experienced for such a long time. By the end of my day at C-Side Spa the only thought I was having was trying to work out when I could come back next……


Family Weekend in London – part2

Last week I wrote about our family weekend in London, staying at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington and enjoying great things to do with 2 for 1 offers using The Entertainer app.

 Read Part 1 here

On the Sunday we borrowed Micro Scooters from the hotel and spent some time scooting around Kensington gardens. I haven’t been on a scooter since I was about 8 years old so this provided much hilarity for Ed and G. We also visited the Diana Memorial Playground which was just as amazing as ever, a truly magical place for children in the heart of the capital.

IMG_1369 After building up an appetite in Kensington Gardens we  met up with some friends for an early supper. Our friends live near The City so using The Entertainer app we looked for restaurants with offers near to them. We chose to go to Belgo in Holborn (about to undergo a major refurb) as I can remember reading once that they had a great menu for children.


G absolutely loves mussels since our holiday to the Ile D’Oleron  so anywhere with them on the menu is always going to be popular. The food at Belgo was superb and a big hit with the 5 and 3 year old of our party. They also have a great range of beers for the grown ups too (but be warned an awful lot of them are very boozy!) The 2 for 1 offer with the app meant we received one main course free when we used the code and paid for one.

Using the app was really easy, you simply look up the offer you would like to use, input your unique code (that you create when you purchase the app) then hand it over to the vendor who has their own key. These two codes then generate the code for the vendor needs to apply the deals to your bill. A meal for 6 of us (4 adults, 2 children) with two courses and drinks came in at £80 which we all agreed was superb value for such an excellent meal. The next time we are in town we will definitely be going back to Belgo.

We were able to spend some quality time together during our family weekend in London, catching up with friends and family and creating some amazing memories. We were able to pack so much in and save money too, which is always a bonus. So are next issue is when can we fit in our next weekend away?

Family Weekend in London – part 1

We spent this weekend in London enjoying my prize from the blog post I wrote back in April on A Day Enjoying London Life. Our prize was a 2 night stay in an Executive Room at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

The hotel was fabulous and we were treated like royalty! We were upgraded to a suite with the most fantastic views over Kensington Garden (which my iPhone could not do justice through the glass). We had so much space that we each had our own little living area. The view was mesmerising and we all just sat for ages watching the coming and goings of life in Kensington Gardens.

Royal Garden Hotel suite

Kensington, London

Kensington, London


One of the really special touches from The Royal Garden Hotel is their children’s rucksack that is packed with goodies. G was thrilled with his and we had to take it all over town with us!

Whilst we were in London we took the opportunity to try out the new ENTERTAINER London app which is being launched in 2016 but has a selection of the buy one get one free offers that the app will be packed with in 2016.

We chose an Open Top vintage bus Christmas Lights tour with Premium Tours who were offering a 2 for 1 ticket price with the ENTERTAINER London. Although we know London pretty well (I lived there in the late 90’s) we had never done one of these tours and thought it would be a fun way to take in the Christmas Lights. the tour was extremely informative and we found out loads of really interesting facts about London, the famous sights and some of the less famous but equally fascinating sites.

IMG_1315 - Copy IMG_1318 - Copy

A few of the pictures from the tour…….

London eye Premium tours

London at night, Thames

Oxford Circus Xmas LightsLondon lights

untitled (25 of 25) London lights


App logo JPGThe ENTERTAINER London 2016 – – is a new app featuring over 900 Buy One Get One Free offers for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, attractions and spas across the capital. Whilst my nightclub days in the big smoke are well and truly behind me the rest of the offers certainly piqued my interest.

Although the app may seem to be for those living and working in the city, The ENTERTAINER London can bring a ton of savings to those visiting the capital too, especially families. (Check out my post on money saving ideas for enjoying London life here)

TOP 20 Merchants

With a one off payment of £40, the ENTERTAINER London 2016 is valid for one calendar year with no weekend exclusions.

Over 50 of the available buy-one-get-one-free offers on the new app have an estimated savings value that is higher than the cost of the app itself, so it is pretty easy to make your money back by redeeming just one or two offers.

London App Face

We trialled some of the features of the app this weekend and have to say that from the two offers we selected we already saved the price of the app itself. (My next post is going to be about the fab time we had whilst in London this weekend.)


The app offers customers a location-based search to find the best deals close to them and a savings calculator that shows how much cash has been saved throughout the year.

the ENTERTAINER London 2016 product is available to download from the App Store, Google Play and Samsung Apps.

Another great part to purchasing the ENTERTAINER London 2016 is that you will receive a free copy of the ENTERTAINER Travel, which features over 300 ‘Buy One Room Night, Get One Free’ offers in hotels including Fairmont, InterContinental, Shangri-La, Hyatt, Radisson, Sofitel and Sheraton throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia & Indian Ocean and North America. These are all redeemable through the same app.

With each offer being Buy One Get One Free, the app is a real money saver so you can enjoy spending time with friends and family making your cash go a lot further during your time in the city.

The ENTERTAINER London 2016 is available to download for free from the App Store, Google Play and Samsung Apps websites now. For further information please visit

(DISCLAIMER; We have been gifted a subscription to the app)


Being born a Brummie – Birmingham an Evolving City

December 2015 sees me turn 40, eeek. I arrived here 40 years ago on December 10th at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.  Although my parents were living in Cheltenham at the time my Dad had insisted his first born arrive in Birmingham so the story goes that my parents decamped to my Grandfather’s house in Birmingham.

Birmingham, UK - January 30, 2013 - Night scene in downtown Birmingham, UK on January 30, 2012 with the parish church St. George in the Bullring and the Selfridges Department Store.

Birmingham, UK – January 30, 2013 – Night scene in downtown Birmingham, UK on January 30, 2012 with the parish church St. George in the Bullring and the Selfridges Department Store.

This picture of the 22 Bus evokes so may memories for me of growing up in Birmingham!

no 22

When I was 9 years old I moved to Birmingham, living in Harborne and started going to school in Edgbaston. I would say this was when I became a ‘proper Brummie’. Growing up I have always loved history and one of my favourite books to look at my Grandpa John’s house was a book full of old pictures of Birmingham.

Butchers shop Birmingham Soles

This photo is a picture of my Great Grandfather  (in white ) and my Great-great Grandfather on the doorstep of their butcher’s shop in Birmingham probably taken around 1912.

I have always been really proud to be a Brummie and have grown up in such a vibrant and amazing city. Today when I go back though I feel like a stranger in my Birmingham of the 1990’s as there has been so much redevelopment and change that I haven’t been around to see happen gradually. Travelodge have put together a really comprehensive destination guide to Birmingham on their blog which is really helpful to find some of those off the beaten track gems that I no longer know about!

Another feature on the Travelodge site are some fascinating interactive photographs of Birmingham in a now v then format called EVOLVING CITIES. You can see how familiar Brummie landscapes have changed over time. My favourites are the Jewellery Quarter picture and the Bull Ring Picture. I still can’t get over how the Bull Ring has regenerated and become such a smart shopping destination. When I was a teenager we were allowed into Birmingham as long as we didn’t go to the Bull Ring!

So in the month I turn 40 I am pretty sure that a visit to my home city will be on the cards but let’s not mention The Villa………



Wendy & Peter Pan at The RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon

Wendy & Peter pan RSC

A few weeks ago an email arrived in my inbox with a special offer of £5 tickets to see Wendy & Peter Pan at The Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon. With Ed working most evenings I thought why not take G and do something different on a Friday night, rather than sitting in and watching Coronation Street! (Not that I don’t like Coronation Street but sometimes it is good to shake things up a bit!)

I don’t always appreciate how fortunate we are to live only 30 minutes away from such an amazing place as Stratford-upon-Avon and The RSC. I went a few years ago to see David Tenant in Richard II and promised to myself then that I would try and bring Garth as soon as he was old enough.

audience Wendy & peter panThis was Garth’s first visit to the theatre at night to see a ‘grown up’ production. Ella Hickson has written a play that is packed with girl power. The play is very much Wendy’s story and is a fantastic portray of girls being just as strong and powerful as boys (an maybe a little bit smarter too). This is not a Wendy yearning for Peter Pan to propose, she goes after the fight with Captain Hook herself! She is brave, fearless and clever but sensitive and caring too. If I had a daughter this would be just the role model I would want to choose. Tink (erbell )too is a sassy and quick witted female and Tiger-Lilly shows Wendy how to fight and be brave. Even Mrs Darling is doing her bit for early 20th Century girl power.

Wendy & Peter Pan set The RSC

Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179201Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179262

Captain Hook is menacing without being over the top and frightening and his sidekick Smee had some of the best lines in the play.

Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179294Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179189


Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179194

Wendy _ Peter Pan production photos_ 2015_2015_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_179309


The production was exquisite in every aspect. The set was beautiful, the acing was amazing, the play hit the right note between an adult and child audience. The flying scenes are wonderful with aerial performances from the actors that made it look so easy. From the moment the lights went down Garth was captivated and hardly moved during the performance. At the end he was really upset that it had finished!

Another aspect that made this such a special visit was the friendliness and customer care we received from all the staff at the theatre. They were so knowledgeable about all that The RSC has coming up over the next six months and what they have suitable for children.

Garth has been getting really anxious about performing in his Christmas production at school but came away from the play saying he wanted to be in the theatre when he grows up so he wasn’t going to be worried about the nativity anymore!

A 5* performance that I would recommend to anybody young or old. A wonderful evening that will whisk you away to Neverland from the moments the lights go down.

(images of the production courtesy of The RSC)




Sunday Photo 25.10.15

Geneva, Switzerland

Family Days Out for October Half Term

I can not believe that October half term is already looming. (I know for some of my friends it has already started!) Where does the time go?

If you are looking for some inspiration on places to go or things to get up to The Guardian has today published a fab list of events going on around the country.

bunny light

Here comes the science: family days out for October half-term

Also here is a round up of some of the best places we have visited recently!

Paradise Park Cornwall

Paradise Park in Cornwall

castle play area

Sudeley Castle, Winchcombe

PicMonkey Collage2

Cheap Ideas for Days Out in London


Dinosaur World in Torquay

We are off to Dorset for a few days and staying in the Lyme Regis area. If anyone has any ideas or suggestions on places to go or things to do, would love to hear them.