Thursday, 31 December 2015
The farm has stables, grazing fields, the campsite, with a play area and mud kitchen for the kids, and a games barn with skittles, pool and table tennis. All set amongst beautiful views ...
Wednesday, 9 December 2015
Elves wanted is a different format to last year as its more of a show where last year was story telling and interactivity. This year sees Santa's best teacher elf, Marte, training us humans to help Santa deliver presents because the elves have all come down with 'elf chicken pox'! Marte is assisted by bumbling elf Arthur who always seems to get it wrong, but tries hard anway.
Elf college shows us how to sort the letter, speak reindeer, deliver gifts and much more.
Peanut and The Golden Child loved the show and enjoyed being assistants through out the show. Peanut was chosen to read a letter and The Golden Child helped 'deliver' the gifts. Termite (at 2yrs old) I think was a little too young for this format and ended up restless.
There are plenty of opportunities for assistants and answering questions, and the sleigh riding lesson involves everyone, some giggles for the children and laughs for the adults make this an enjoyable hour.
After the show children are encouraged to design toys and see santa to recieve a lovely book.'How Santa Really Works'
This would be the only area I could suggest some improvement , the queue was quite large so we waited until all the other children had been seen but Santa was being hurried along (as the next show was starting soon) and so the kids managed to miss out on their graduation certificates and only breifly managed a picture before we were asked to clear the room. I wonder if it may have been better to take all the childrens names first so santa could call them one at a time, giving all the kids a chance to colour in and chat to the elves instead of queueing?
Overall my biggest two enjoyed their experience and the book is lovely and has been read many times this week with much joy, I think this format may be most suitable for children age 3 and over and at £8 per child (for the event only) the day works out quite expensive for our family, but is on par with some of the smaller Christmas Shows or events that we see through the season. The price tag is reasonable considering the quality of book that you get but it would be nice to get entry to the rest of the attraction included or even discounted when booking for this.
We combined our trip with a visit to Ouseburn Farm to see the animals, wander the garden and enjoy some Christmas treats in the cafe to make the most of our time in Ouseburn Valley.
Monday, 7 December 2015
This year sees The 150th anniversary of The Customs House and also the 150th birthday of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. So what else would The Customs House Team choose as this years Panto? Not an obvious choice BUT a familiar story for audiences both young and old.
Now then if you (like us) have been to The Panto here before you will know its a familiar format, introduction to the characters, a bit of song and dance, a bit slapstick, some cheesy jokes and witty one liners, some drama, a happy ending and the big finale. This year is much the same, there's lots of fun with strong musical performances by The Knave of Hearts (Afnan Iftikar) and The Queen of Hearts (Anne Marie Owens) a bit of magic, and lovely dance performances from South Tyneside Dance Workshop
The kids loved The White Rabbit (Luke Maddison) and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee (Craig Richardson and Gareth Hunter) and the audience loved panto regular Steven Lee Hamilton as the Mad Hatter, Ray Spencer in a Princess Leia costume had the house in stitches accompany that with some rather slim fitting storm trooper outfits, yoda and a giant pizza the audience were well set up for some good old fashioned 'he's behind you' 'oh yes we did' fun.
The most obvious thing about this panto for me is how much the audience love it. Ray Spencer is welcomed with heartfelt warmth when he makes his first appearance and he can do no wrong for the audience. You know when you go to a local amateur panto and the sets are wobbly and the costumes are a bit worse for wear but the audience loves it so much that none of that matters and you come out feeling happy and uplifted? Well that's the warmth you feel at The Customs House at Panto time. Add that to absolutely fantastic set design and outstanding lavish costumes you have a recipe for success. It's really is the Panto with the big heart, all the warmth and joy of a local show with the benefit of and amazing professional cast, super sets and gorgeous costumes!
You should take yourself along if you can get tickets and let yourself be carried away with the delight of the audience and I bet even the most hardened heart will be melted and join in.
Just as a little request though, switch your phone off, just for these two hours, look up and enjoy every moment, don't spoil it for your fellow audience members and for the cast by checking Facebook in view of everyone!
Friday, 4 December 2015
'Join Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion this Christmas for a brand new re-twisted production of the classic children’s story. Expect magic, mayhem and new music in this festive treat for adventurers aged 7+ (and their families)'
And so we did indeed join them, this year we were a party of 2 adults a 5 and a 7 year old, I was nervous how The Golden Child at age 5 would find it all but Peanut has talked about this for months so I was sure she would be fine. I'm not a huge Oz fan so have only seen the movie a couple of times and my kids haven't seen it at all (sorry sorry I'm a bad mammy) but I did think this was a very brave choice on Northern Stages part, after all Wizard of Oz has a huge and devoted following of fans, so to create a 're twisted ' version of the story for the stage could have been a big risk.
I'm pleased to say it wasn't! The story doesnt follow the movie exactly but does stay mostly true to the original. There are new twists on old characters and also some new characters too. Tessa Parr plays Dorothy with a quirky edge and not a touch of gingham or 'girly' attire She does however portray kindness courage and encouragement for those in need. We loved Alice Blundell's healthy hippy version of Glinda and even more so her puppetteering of Winkie Slave. Carl Kennedy gave a perfectly humourous and witty
Tin Man, I mean Nick Chopper
and Micheal Blair drew me in to his love struck Lion character very well indeed. With a very convincing sometimes funny and sometimes scary Wicked Witch, Zoe Lambert had the crowd suitably on edge especially towards the end.
There were points when my Golden Child was afraid, especially at the half tiger half bear creature sent by the Wicked Witch to stop Dorothy and her gang. The kids didn't quite get all the humour (But I don't think they were meant too)but they did laugh and cheer and enjoy the show. The army of mice were favourites with the kids but I have to say the humour of mice pulling mouse poo amunition from their pants was a little lost on me!
My favourite parts of the show were the amazingly clever sets and props, the beautifully designed costumes and the music!
Performed by Jeremy Bradfield (who also plays The Wizard) the music is all performed in a tiny cubible on stage and its amazing to watch him create fabulous tunes and sounds with many many instruments! The kids loved Winkie and honestly I think the grown ups all found him (it?) rather endearing too.
I could wax lyrial about all the things we loved, like the supporting parts cleverly performed by the ensemble, the funny lovely munchkins, the brilliant Direction from Mark Calvert but I don't want to give too much away. Let me tell you the show is cleverly written, brilliantly designed and performed fantastically. Its entertaining, scary, funny and uplifting all at once. Its great value for money and you should definitely go see it. The show runs until 2nd January 2016 with tickets starting at £14.50 And you can book tickets online or by calling the box office on 0191 2305151
Follow the Monkeyfooted Mummy
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
Oh my oh my how can I have a 7 year old child? How is that possible? I know I ask every year how can you possibly still be growing older when I feel like you are still my cheeky confident little toddler running all over and ruling the world. But man alive how quickly life goes, and you are growing up so fast.
My utter little perfectionist, so full of determination that everything you do (apart from tidying your room!) should be 100% right and perfect and how you take it seriously when it isnt. I promise I try every day to see how important it is to you to be perfect all the time but you should know that to me you are, have and always and will always be utter perfection. It matters not a jot if you get 1 or 10 questions right in your maths or spelling I know you have a fabulous brain a kind heart, a creative mind and the kindness of a million people. You see you are the most amazing 7 year old in the world and I love how you care about everyone, how you want to show people how much you care about them, how you watch out for other and hate to see unkindness.
You are brave and strong and willing to try anything after a little bit of observation time, sometimes you feel unsure with things like climbing or slides or rides but a little bit of time to observe normally sees you push yourself to try.
I love how creative you are, writing books, building creations, writing scripts for your shows and drawing and making anything you can with whatever you can get your hand on!
You are a truly amazing little lady and you are still my 'teacher child' the one who helps me learn my way through all the new bits and the one who leads me on to be a better parent. Thankyou for being my brilliant perfect peanut!