Matilda the Musical Tour Around the UK

Roald Dahl wrote the book Matilda which was adapted into a film by Danny DeVito. However, it is the musical which is proving to be the most popular version. Tim Minchin wrote the songs, and Dennis Kelly adapted the book. In 2018 you don’t need to live in London to see it, as there is going to be a Matilda the Musical Tour!

Matilda the Musical, Matilda the Musical tour

Matilda the Musical tour takes in a handful of venues, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for more.

ATG Theatre Card and Groups members can buy advance tickets now. Tickets are released to the general public today on the 26th April.

Matilda is based on Roald Dahl’s much loved book, adapted by Dennis Kelly and with original songs by Tim Minchin. Matilda The Musical is the story of an extraordinary little girl who, armed with a vivid imagination and a sharp mind, dares to take a stand and change her own destiny.

Winner of over 85 international awards, including 16 for Best Musical, Matilda the Musical continues to delight audiences in London, Australia and on tour around the USA.

‘BELIEVE THE HYPE’
New York Post

‘EASILY THE STANDOUT MUSICAL OF THE DECADE’
Sunday Times

The Matilda the Musical Tour will visit the following venues :

Sunderland Empire
8 May – 2 June 2018

Milton Keynes Theatre
5 June – 30 June 2018

Manchester Palace Theatre
18 September – 24 November 2018

Follow this link to book tickets! (Affiliate link)
For more information head here to find out more about the Matilda the Musical Tour.
We still haven’t seen Matilda, it has been on our to-do list for a long time. The musical is still running in the West End and is popular. I’ve found that tickets sell way up-front for the good seats – you’re often looking to book at least six months in advance! Nonetheless, we will be going to see it at some point.
This post contains an affiliate link. 

Then there’s the jetlag.

Jetlag, welcome, old friend. Jetlag sucks. Your body is somewhere in the middle of somewhere else and you just want to do what you need to do. But you can’t because right when you’d happily sit up chatting with others your body is telling you it needs to sleep.

jetlag eye mask

Jetlag. It’s unavoidable, if someone has a miracle cure which works for me then please tell me it. So we’re seven hours ahead of the UK. I’m also a bad sleeper. I picked up some Boots Herbal Sleeping tablets in the hope it might help and I think it has a bit – it gets me to sleep, but doesn’t keep me asleep.

So the times of your flights come into it as well. Usually when we fly to Australia I’ll book tickets for the evening, which means we arrive very early morning in Australia (like 2am) or late in the evening (10pm). Neither really works as I can’t sleep at that point – it’s still only early evening in my body.

Add a seven year old into that mix and it’s fun… no, not really.

This time we flew at 9am in the morning, doing the longest leg from around 1pm to 10pm. So by the time we had landed in Singapore H hadn’t slept, none of us had. She was shattered but had watched several movies in the process.

Fortunately in Singapore there are plenty of seats you can crash out in near your connecting departure gate, so we did just that. Even an hour’s sleep can help.

By the time we boarded our flight to Australia it was 9am in Singapore, but midnight our time. So now the trick is to sleep but not for long as by the time you end up in Perth (same timezone as Singapore) it’s going to be 2pm. You don’t really want to be sleeping in the afternoon, it’ll mess up your sleeping pattern. Quick naps should be okay though…

Apart from if your child is sick, then you’re a walking zombiefield traveller. Jetlag was rubbing its hands with glee by then.

Getting out of Perth Airport at 2pm in the afternoon took us 20 minutes. It was so fast! Probably helped by the fact Shaun and H have Australian passports.

When we got to Toodyay H crashed – no food, just sleep. It had been a hard, long journey. But she slept, and hasn’t woken in the night since (three nights in, so far so good). I think she might have adjusted. Doing the daytime flight seems to be a better option than the others.

When they introduce non-stop flights to Perth later this year I’m definitely considering it. A daytime flight with no stops… could be one of the best flights we have!

As for Shaun and I, we keep waking up, but now on Sunday we slept through from 10pm to 7am which is a better sleep than I’d get a home. The Boots herbal sleeping tablets are working, getting me properly off to sleep. I’m getting more Vitamin D out here which might be helping my dodgy sleep patterns too.

While I don’t think the jetlag has completely gone, it is definitely the best it has ever been travelling here. We’re only seven hours ahead (rather than Sydney or Melbourne who are 11 hours), but it’s still enough it takes some adjustment.

How to Deal with a Sick Child on a Flight

Obviously if you’re on a flight this isn’t going to be much help unless it’s one with Wifi on board (these things do exist. Something like $15 for 3 hours. Considering what we pay each month this felt quite reasonable) But anyway, the last thing you’ll do while on a flight is to go to the internet to find out how to deal with a sick child on a flight. So…

How to deal with a sick child on a flight. You don’t run to the toilets, barging past the queues, a la “make way, make way, lady with a baby” scene in Grease. Mainly because a lot of people in the queue might not speak English so just think you’re a bit rude.

Besides, once said child is in one of those tiny toilet compartments, there’s barely room for you as well. It just does not work.

However, said tiny toilet compartments do have a plentiful supply of sick bags in them. You just need know where to look. I did as I’m nosey. I always open all available drawers to find out what’s in there for my first visit on the flight. So do that, then you’ll know.

So I grabbed a load of bags and ushered H back to her seat. She felt a bit odd sitting waiting to be sick, but then it’s a far more pleasant experience than sitting over a toilet on a plane. Trust me on this.

With the sick bag positioned right under her chin to catch drips, we were left waiting. And waiting. And a bit longer than that.

Suddenly….

“uuurrgh I’m going to be sick” she said as she then promptly almost filled an entire bag. It’s important to know that each bag has a tear-off strip on it which needs doing before it can be used. Everything was well contained, none of the projectile variety.

It’s at this point it’s handy if there are two of you travelling with your child who is vomiting into the aforementioned bag. That way, the other parent can help with the switch. Unless he’s asleep, that is.

I found that hitting him in an urgent manner on the arm and saying “WAKE UP SHE IS BEING SICK” works well. Shaun jumped into responsible parent mode and got the next bag ready, which again H filled.

At this point an airline steward came along and realised what was up. I asked how to deal with a sick child on a flight, and what he would recommend (while holding two sealed sickbags, my seatbelt fortunately not fastened as that could have been awkward). He offered to make H a ginger tea – which is exactly the right thing. She needed fluids and ginger is a good thing. So he went off and did that while I headed back to the toilets clutching two paper bags full of sick.

“MAKE WAY I HAVE SICK” I said pretty clearly while holding the two bags in front of me the same way I would have with a dirty nappy. This worked. They live in the toilet bins. So fold them up well at the ends because.. well, urgh if you don’t.

After that H was much better. We think it was probably a mixture of not sleeping and the bumpy ride across to Australia. Let’s face it, you have your own tv which has Harry Potter, The Trolls, Moana, Sing and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – you’re not going to want to sleep. Oh, and the fact Singapore Airlines feed you a LOT of food.

Once we landed she had colour back in her cheeks, although was ready to sleep and pretty much did. The following day she was fine again.

So let that be a vague lesson in how to deal with a sick child on a flight. It involves queue barging, paper bags, sealing the bags securely, talking to the airline staff and helping your child not be too distressed. It also helps a lot to have some wipes in your hand luggage. Never assume the days of wet wipes are gone once your child reaches a certain age.

Singapore Airlines also had some mouthwash in each toilet which you dispense into a cup for a good swish. I recommend it after you’ve finished the ginger tea, mind. It’s a bit of a taste clash otherwise.

view from the plane, How to Deal with a Sick Child on a Flight

Seven Year Olds and Long Haul Flights

Seven year olds and long haul flights are a much easier thing to deal with than say, a one and a half year old. Or a five year old. We have this happening this week, so I thought it worthy of a blog post.

YUUtuu Spluush Bag, Seven Year Olds and Long Haul FlightsSeven year olds and long haul flights involve careful planning. We have a bag – the Yuutuu bag we reviewed back in 2014. We used it last year when we went to the Netherlands too.

It has a lot of room and it’s very sturdy. It is also cabin bag sized.

So what’s inside?

These days H is more likely to stay awake for as long as possible. I think she might make it to Singapore without any sleep as most of our flight is through the day. This means she’ll be watching films.

However, the first leg of the journey is to Germany. I doubt we’ll have any televisions on the back of our seats, so we need to keep her occupied (if there’s time). So we have one of the Parragon Art Therapy Disney colouring books handy which fits perfectly into the Yuutuu bag. Add some pencils and bingo.

Disney Art Therapy Colouring Books, Seven Year Olds and Long Haul Flights

As well as this she may want to play a game. While I love in-flight entertainment and the wide variety on offer, it’s nice to have other things to do. Thanks to being so small Dobble is coming with us. It has proved to be a hit and one of the games we play a lot. Because it comes in just a tin it packs down small enough to take up very little space.

dobble tin, Seven Year Olds and Long Haul Flights

Finally, H will need something to read. I suggested she starts ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ by Judith Kerr which she got for Christmas. It has plenty of text so isn’t the easiest of reads (nor is the subject matter really). I thought it might give her something to read which she hasn’t really covered yet.

Add to this her neck pillow which squeezes into her backpack, and I think we’re ready…. seven year olds and long haul flights seem quite easy to deal with actually!

Easter Egg Hunts – Where to Go?

It’s almost that time of the year again, Easter. Every year without fail we find ourselves at a National Trust Easter Egg hunt which are all brilliant, and well organised. This year we fancied a change. But where to go?

Easter Egg hunts are starting around now, the start of April. Most run for a few weeks, but please check the links provided for more information.

National Trust and Cadbury Easter Egg Hunts logo

The National Trust Easter Egg hunt are great. They work with Cadbury’s, and usually have some kind of trail around the place you’re visiting. I’ve spotted easy ones for younger children and slightly more complicated ones for the slightly cockier over 7’s (read : H). They’re suitable for all and perfect for glorious sunny days. The eggs are pretty good too!

You can find more information here. There is usually a cost involved on top of your National Trust membership.

[We pay for National Trust membership every year]

hampton court magic garden h on dragon

Historic Royal Palaces have some trails on as well. We’re probably going to do Hampton Court Palace this year, who are doing their trail in conjunction with Lindt. I’m actually wondering if adults can do it too… It is Hampton Court’s first ever Easter trail. I love Hampton Court, and the Magic Garden has reopened for the season as of yesterday (1st April). I can’t think of a better reason to go! The Easter Egg trail is included in your admission price.

[We get free entry to Hampton Court as it is part of the CSSC scheme]

hever castle

Hever Castle has an easter egg hunt, another Lindt one. I don’t think we’ll have time to do this one this year, but having had a day at Hever recently, it would be a wonderful place to wander around in the sun, especially knowing there is Lindt chocolate involved at the end. The Lindt Gold Bunny hunt is free, and they have additional activities available at a cost. Worth looking into anyway!

[We have Historic Houses Association Membership so can enter Hever Castle for free]

Our Summer - Tintagel

English Heritage also have some Easter Activities on – with all sorts of activities. They look pretty awesome, and don’t mention chocolate… Not all English Heritage places are doing it, so please check this link for more information. They also fall around the Easter weekend, rather than the start of April.

[We are English Heritage members via CSSC and the above link is an affiliate link]

Thank Goodness for Dolmio

We’re a busy family. Shaun and I work through the day, H is at school of course and most evenings we have activities. It can get hectic. BritMums and Dolmio sent ingredients to make a midweek meal. So how did it go?

Dolmio is a name which needs no introductions in this house. We tend to use Passata in meals. I felt that Dolmio didn’t offer as much flavour wise, what with the one type of sauce.

How wrong could we be? Dolmio have LOADS of different types of sauce these days. We received some Bolognese sauce and fresh vegetables to make some tasty food.

Dolmio cooking

We received the Dolmio Bolognese sauce, so our first stop was a nice, tasty spaghetti bolognese of course. H turns her nose up at certain vegetables, so I was quite pleased we could get some onions into the sauce at the same time and she scoffed the lot. Now she’s seven, if she’s hungry she eats without thinking. If she knows what’s in there she’ll pick at the food instead.

I quite liked that the Dolmio sauce was quite sweet. Shaun wasn’t as keen so we popped a bit of soy sauce in for him – but that also helped H eat without any bother.

Dolmio chilli baked potato

The following night we went for some chilli with baked potatoes, a nice easy one. After all, baked potatoes are easy to make, you need time.

Other dishes we tried included a mix of vegetables with cous cous. That worked well with the Bolognese sauce and the sweetness. Yum!

I like that once the jar is open you can keep it in the fridge for a few days.

So I was in the supermarket the other day, and it appears Dolmio do at least six different types of sauce these days. They’re not ‘bolognese sauce with extra garlic’ type affairs. With one jar lasting for two meals for us, and needing to make food quickly it’s an ideal solution.

Dolmio spaghetti bolognese

Dolmio Bolognese Original 500g sauce is 100% natural. Each jar contains at least 10 juicy diced tomatoes. As well as this there’s a dollop of tomato puree, half an onion, a tablespoon of sunflower oil, a couple of cloves of garlic, a handful of herbs and more.

A jar provides a family of four with one of their 5-a-day each and that’s before you add any further veg to the meal! For more information visit www.dolmio.co.uk/thankgoodness or if you’re looking for mid-week meal inspiration check out the label on the jars.

This post is an entry for the #Dolmio #ThankGoodness Challenge, sponsored by Dolmio. Thank you!

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

We visited Riverhill Himalayan Gardens for the first time, not sure what to expect. It recently opened for the season and looked like there was plenty to do.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is near Sevenoaks. If you were to look on a map, it’s close to Knole, the National Trust place. They’re no more than ten minutes apart. To be honest, I thought we’d get through Riverhill in an hour or so and end up going there. How wrong was I?

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens has LOADS to do. It was a glorious, sunny day. When you have sunshine, gardens to wander around and some quirky sculptures around it, it makes for an interesting afternoon.

As Historic Houses Association members our entry was free.

We headed towards the Explorers Escarpment and Adventure Playground where there were climbing frames and slides suitable for young children but also ideal for H. It was the kind of area we could leave her unsupervised (as in, sitting at the back of the playground while she explores) and know she was safe as there was only one entrance in there.

Afterwards we headed up the hill towards the Himalayan Hedge Maze. We’re a maze-loving family, and this one was different – and not as easy as it looks. It seems to be new so wasn’t that high, which meant we could all try different routes and still see each other. H may have cheated….

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

We headed back down the hill towards the main gardens where there is a water feature plus fountains (which weren’t working) – it was a lovely place to sit and have a moment of calm.

A quick visit to the cafe for sandwiches and in H’s case a Yeti Food Pack and we headed back out to the Woodland Trail. There was a reason for this.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens - yeti

From 2pm-4pm there’s a yeti in the woods! It’s someone dressed up but seeing how the kids flock around him it works a treat. At first we headed up a hill where H found a den built into the ground. She has a love of picking up sticks (which we then leave behind) and managed plenty today.

The yeti was pretty easy to find. Riverhill Himalayan Gardens also publicise it well so you know when it’s happening – and it’s well signposted. He keeps silent, so H went finding sticks to build a den, handing them over. We stood back and watched.

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens

After that we had a walk around the Woodland Trail to a bigger field with views all over Kent. There was a giant pebble which H sat on, with two windsocks that were gigantic pairs of hands dancing in the breeze like Kate Bush doing Wuthering Heights.

A walk down the hill and we were back to the maze. H and Shaun had another go while I sat directing from the hill!

Another play in the play area, and we decided to head home. We had spent four and a half hours there!

Riverhill Himalayan Gardens is great fun, there are buggy accessible routes and plenty to hunt around for. It feels like the kind of place we would go back to several times. Their website is here. We also did some Mothers Day crafts which I’ve stolen the idea for Brownies for next year – we had a brilliant time!

ForTheGirl – Girlguiding’s New Campaign

Girlguiding recently launched the campaign ForTheGirl.

ForTheGirl is on YouTube and was shown in cinemas at the Girlguiding Screening of Beauty and the Beast recently.

If you have never been a part of Girlguiding you might not know what it’s all about.

If you were a part of Girlguiding years ago you might think it’s all about loving God and worshipping the Queen.

Things have changed.

Girlguiding has changed.

We still sing the same song at the start (it did change a few years ago) but Girlguiding is different.

Which is where Forthegirl comes in.

Girlguiding to me is recognising each girl is different. Each girl has strengths that others don’t. It’s about inspiring girls to do good things, to be the best they can be. To have fun. To work through their Brownie Adventures and have them come to me telling me they have done some badges on their own.

I want to inspire the girls we work with, and for them to make me proud because they’ve done it on their own. Every time a girl comes to me and says they’ve done a badge I’m delighted.

Which I’d say is the message in ForTheGirl. There’s so much more though.

I want each girl to do their best and have a brilliant time.

Having said that, getting 30 girls aged 7, 8 and 9 to listen can be difficult. But then it’s also challenging fun for the majority of the time too. I come out of a meeting buzzing with ideas for the next one. Hearing their voices and ideas is inspiring and gives us ideas in return.

I want to work with 30 confident girls who can turn around and say “this girl can”.

Because that’s it. We’re ForTheGirl. Each girl deserves a voice and to be heard.

I like to think Girlguiding is doing that.

Later this year Girlguiding is going to be doing a campaign to take on more volunteers as leaders. I made the step up last year after helping at Rainbows for two years. We all make a difference.

Read more at Girlguiding.

Training to be a Leader in Girlguiding

I made the decision in September that I would start my training to be a leader in Girlguiding. It was a fairly easy one to make – I had helped out at H’s Rainbows for a couple of years and was a Brownie and a Guide when I was young, so I knew what it was all about.

So what exactly does the training involve?

Well… up to now we’ve really just hit the ground running. Our Brown Owl left before Christmas and we agreed to split things three ways. I’ve taken on the accounts which is quite interesting in itself. I had no idea that each member of Girlguiding has a census fee that must be paid each year. Fortunately I got into the system right before it was due.

We’ve had last minute changes of plan, suggestions of things, doing meetings ourselves as Tawny Owl was ill (there are two of us training), and just trying to make things fun.

It was just the other day I realised, every week we look after up to 30 girls. That’s the same as H’s teachers. I’ve always said I could never be a teacher and yet I’ve got the patience for Brownies! Maybe because I was one once. Then again, I went to school…

I’ve attended a training course to learn about planning meetings, and other than that I’ve just gone on what I know. The girls seem to get on the best when they’re writing postcards to Girl Scouts and Brownies around the world – so much so we shifted one badge to a different term and did the World Guiding badge as a lot of it fitted in with what we did on Thinking Day.

What do I get from it? I’m not entirely sure. I enjoy it, and as long as I’m enjoying it I’m content. I like being one of the cogs that makes things flow rather than a leader. I can step up if I need to, but more often than not I’d rather just go with the flow.

Obviously that doesn’t always work in a room full of 7-8-9 year old’s…

The main reason is I want to make a difference. I don’t remember my Brown Owl or any of the other helpers but I remember having a brilliant time at Brownies and Guides – so I want our girls to have fond memories of their time. If I can do that, it’s a result.

I’ve started a new blog which goes into more of the activities we might do or are working on. Girlguiding Activities is its name – nice and simple.

I have no idea how often it will be updated but there are so many ideas out there it’s somewhere to keep my brain calm when I’ve had too many ideas. Which is most of the time…

Sutton Utd v York City

Another bucket list thing ticked off, H has been to watch York City play. Seeing as Sutton United’s ground is two stops on the train for us it was easy to get to as well.

sutton united v york city

York City are my home team. My long-standing support lies with Tottenham, but when you’re up north in the eighties the chances of seeing them are next to non-existent. So I watched York City for many years until I got a paper round and couldn’t go to Saturday games any more.

York have not had the easiest ride. After the eighties wave of excellence we started hovering around the lower end of the league. Occasional moments of excellence, a rivalry with Luton Town of all teams, a few trips to Wembley with accompanying songs and support who never gives up.

H on shaun's shoulders

These last few seasons have been bad. We had a manager who seemed to put out statements about how hopeful he was we’d stay up (when we had lost again), who got replaced a few months ago. Now he’s running the club on a day to day basis. Sigh. Oh, and now York are third from the bottom in the Vanarama League. It’s all looking like we’ll drop to the Vanarama North.

Every point is crucial. So we headed to West Sutton on the train, and took the short walk to the club. This is proper football. Non-segregated around the ground, some seating available in the main stand but everyone mixed together. Very suitable for kids (apart from some songs but it went over their heads and was far enough they couldn’t hear).

Entry cost £15 for Shaun, I had my NUS card so it was £8, and £3 for H. Not cheap, but we’re supporting the football clubs which have no money. (Sutton do have a bit of money after their FA Cup run, but that’s a freak thing and a great thing too that even H might gain as Sutton United run one of her PE classes at school)

For most of the game the York players didn’t look like they knew each other. There were occasional moments but nothing seemed to happen. A couple of late substitutions and being 2-0 down, we started to head towards the exit. But then it happened! We scored! I’d joked as we started to leave “watch this, they’ll get two back now to stop us from leaving” – could it happen?

sutton united v york city

There was no more than two or three minutes left. The goal was by us as we were on the York side (the joys of having a ground you can walk around), and it felt like actually, we could do this. AND WE DID!

2-2 final score. Blimey. Those last ten minutes were worth it. Given York’s usual pattern is to go ahead then concede in the dying minutes, this was what we needed. When Sutton scored their first goal H handed me my vintage York City scarf (well, 1980s one) with a look of sadness, of all hope disappearing. This time H was on Shaun’s shoulders cheering with the biggest smile on her face.

Football at this level is so important. There is very little money – though some players still earn silly money. It isn’t like going to a Tottenham game. H needs to see that this is where it all begins. If you’re lucky a talented player might come through your ranks (though will get pinched by a bigger club). But that player could be your neighbour, your classmate…

We left Gander Green Lane and found a local child-friendly pub in the Robin Hood on West Street, Sutton. It had board games so H set up a chess game, then followed that up with Scrabble while we watched the Lincoln FA Cup game.

We have to keep everything crossed York can get enough points to stay up. A couple of wins could do it, depending on the other results. We don’t have long.

sutton united v york the end