A ‘Wicked’ evening with Luke – Courtesy of BoxOffice.co.uk

The other week, myself and Luke were extremely lucky to be able to go and see Wicked thanks to the wonderful people at BoxOffice.co.uk.

We were offered two tickets for a Wednesday evening performance so I asked Luke if he wanted to go and he couldn’t get on his broomstick quick enough! Luke has wanted to see Wicked for ages but because Daddy isn’t a huge fan of musicals (unlike mummy!) we rarely get to go. It was the perfect excuse for a mummy/eldest son night out, just the two of us.

I have been lucky enough to see it once before, I went with a group of friends as part of my Hen-Do, but I was a complete idiot and forgot my glasses meaning I couldn’t see very much! Haha! I could still listen though and the sounds the cast and orchestra make are simply unforgettable.

This time, I made sure my glasses were on my face and me and Luke set off for London.

Wicked is on at the Apollo Victoria Theatre. It’s really easy to get to from Victoria train station (it’s literally opposite the entrance/exit to the station) and even me with my TERRIBLE sense of direction managed to get us there without getting lost.

Wicked at the Apollo Victoria

We found a Nando’s nearby for a quick bite to eat and spent some time chatting to each other without being interrupted by anyone else for a change which was a real novelty!

At 7pm, we left the restaurant to go and find the rep from BoxOffice.co.uk to get our tickets. This was really straight forwards, they were stood just outside the main entrance steps so we got our tickets and after a quick bag check, we were in. The show has been on at the theatre since September 2006 (now in it’s 11th year which is incredible for a show!) and it still pulls in huge crowds for every performance. Once you’ve seen it, you’ll understand why!

The theatre foyer and stairwells are decked out like they’re part of the show, black, mirrored glass, green, it looks like you’re in the emerald city! Luke couldn’t believe his eyes…

Wicked London Foyer

We got some popcorn and a drink and then we went off to find our seats. Luke loved sitting in his seat and looking around the theatre. There really is something magical about theatres and the mechanical dragon that sits above the stage for the duration of the show was a real marvel to look at whilst waiting for the show to begin.

 Wicked London

Wicked is about the real story behind the Wicked Witch of the West, because there are always two sides to every story…

The information on the Official Wicked website says;

IF YOU THINK YOU KNOW THE
WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST, THINK AGAIN…

When Dorothy famously triumphed over the Wicked Witch, we only ever heard one side of the story. Gregory Maguire‘s acclaimed 1995 novel, ‘Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West’, re-imagines the Land of Oz, creating a parallel universe to the familiar story written by L. Frank Baum and first published as ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ in 1900.

Wicked tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two young women who first meet as sorcery students at Shiz University: the blonde and very popular Glinda and a misunderstood green girl named Elphaba. Following an encounter with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, their friendship reaches a crossroads and their lives take very different paths. Glinda’s unflinching desire for popularity sees her seduced by power while Elphaba’s determination to remain true to herself, and to those around her, will have unexpected and shocking consequences for her future. Their extraordinary adventures in Oz will ultimately see them fulfil their destinies as Glinda The Good and the Wicked Witch of the West.

Acclaimed as “one of the West End’s true modern classics” (Metro), and already the 15th longest running show in London theatre history, Wicked has show-stopping songs by Academy Award® winner Stephen Schwartz and is adapted for the stage by Winnie Holzman (My So Called Life).

Wicked is a three-time winner of the WhatsOnStage Award for ‘Best West End Show’ and a two-time winner of the Olivier Audience Award.  

Wicked is suitable for a general audience. As a guide to parents and guardians, it is recommended for ages 7+

Myself and Luke cannot recommend this show enough. The songs, the staging, the costumes, the acting, everything about it is, well, Wicked!

Thank you BoxOffice.co.uk for the unforgettable experience. We had a truly wonderful evening.

Wicked London

Don’t forget to check out BoxOffice.co.uk to look for your theatre tickets.
Disclosure: I was gifted two tickets for Wicked on a designated evening performance in return for this review.



Did someone say Cake?! (Review of Cake app which will change the way you pay for dinner!)

Myself and Mr Knutts don’t get the chance to eat out, just the two of us, all that often anymore. Don’t get me wrong, we are still very lucky and my lovely parents do have the sproglets an awful lot for us so we can get out and about to see friends or make appointments, but 3 kids is hard work for me, let alone my lovely mum and dad, so we try to not take the piddle and we also make the most of any opportunity we get to be ‘kid free’ and just the two of us.

Friday last week was one of those occasions.

We managed to get tickets to go and see the newly reformed, Guns ‘n’ Roses, at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Stadium. I was so bloomin’ excited! I love this band so much but because I was only 7/8 when they toured back in 1991, I have never seen the original lineup. Seen as we had childcare sorted for the day already, we decided to make a day of it, head up to London a little early and grab some food beforehand too. A real treat of a day!

A few days before the gig, I was contacted by a lovely lady called Annie to see if I would like to review a new app called Cake.

What is Cake?

Cake is an app which allows you to find and book a place to eat or drink, setup and see your meal tab in real time and pay for your meal, all in the app. If your friends also have the Cake app, you can all pick up the same tab, and use it to pay your part of it when you are finished meaning no more calling the waiter over to pay and no more awkward scrabbles to split the bill at the end!

The Cake app is summarised below;

1. Plan your night.

Tap explore and check out places nearby.

Use the filter in the top right corner to find something you like.

Hit ‘BOOK’ to request a table.

2. Settle up smartly.

When you’re seated, open a tab and invite anyone who has the app to join your table.

Let your waiter know your tab number

Choose how you want to split your bill

Everyone pays their share

3. Earn credit.

Filter by “Earn CAKE credit”

Browse all the places with great credit offers on

When you pay instantly earn a percentage back when you pay

Spend your credit at any place on CAKE, no restrictions

Even if your fellow diners don’t have the Cake app, you can choose to pay your portion using it and the remainder of the bill can be paid by your friends normally by using their card or cash and calling the waiter over. Simple!


 My experience of using the Cake app

After downloading the app and adding my bank card details onto it, myself and the hubster browsed the app and found somewhere near us to go for lunch. We decided on a lovely looking place that we have walked past once before with the kids but have never been in called, The Rum Kitchen. They have 2/3 restaurants in London but we chose to go to the one just off Carnaby Street in Kingley Court. It’s such a gorgeous little hub of a courtyard with loads of cool places to eat.

Kingley Court, Carnaby

The Rum Kitchen, Kingley Court, London

You simply hit ‘book’ once you have found somewhere to eat or, if you haven’t made a booking, just head on in, get seated by a waiter as you normally do and inform them when you place your order that you’ll be paying with Cake. You then give them your tab number that the app generates and they sync your order up to the app from their till.

We were shown to our table upon arrival and we sat and browsed the menu. It’s all Jamaican inspired food at The Rum Kitchen so if Jerk spice is your thing, you’ll love this place! The cocktail list was pretty exciting too. Chris chose a Dark and Stormy (a strong rum and ginger concoction which was punchy but yummy) and I had a Rumbustion which was Pineapple, rum and coconut milk. It was almost like a dessert! Really delicious and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

the Rum Kitchen cocktail

After quite a long wait (30 minutes even to take drinks orders – this was the only let down) we placed our food order and I told the waiter I was going to be paying using the Cake app. He knew what it was, said that was fine and placed our order. I was expecting to then see the order/tab appear on my app but it didn’t. I thought it was a bit odd, it just said ‘pending’ so I left it and assumed it would appear soon.

We ate our lunch, which was really delicious; sweet potato fries, chilli fries, spicy chicken burgers, spicy squid, jerk chicken wings…utter gluttony but we were making the most of things!

I checked the app again but the tab still hadn’t appeared. We had finished our meal so I called the waiter over and asked if we could settle the bill. I reminded him then that I was going to be paying with the Cake app and he remembered and within 2 minutes the tab was in the app on my phone. I could see everything we had ordered, check it and pay for it in an instant. I had kindly been given £40 credit in my app so I used this to pay for a portion of the meal and then I selected to use my card in the app to pay for the remainder. I was also able to add a tip in the app too. The app then informed me I had earned £5.45 in credit which I could use when I next eat using the app. Winner!

 

I’m not 100% sure that is how the app should have worked, I think the waiter should have enabled me to see the tab in my app for the duration of the meal so that if we had someone else with us who wanted to leave before we did, they could have paid their portion of the bill without having to call the waiter over. This is absolutely not a reflection on the app but on the staff at The Rum Kitchen –  I suppose it was an easy mistake to make and it didn’t really affect our meal but I was left a bit confused because it wasn’t working as I had expected.

That said, using the Cake app was brilliant and I would absolutely use it again. Some places you can choose to eat at in the app earn you rewards and cashback so you can then earn credit and use that to pay for a future meal. I think that is a great idea and would certainly mean I consider using the app again and again, especially if I ate out in London on a regular basis.


 There are a huge amount of places available to eat and drink in the app. If you have location services on your phone turned on, the app will find the places nearest to you that allow you to pay with Cake – this makes the whole process of finding somewhere to go really easy.

You can find out more about the Cake app by visiting their website or by heading to the app store to download the Cake app!

I would honestly recommend the app to anyone who eats out a lot, it’s a great way of earning rewards as you eat and it just takes all the stress away at the end of the meal. No waiting for the chip and pin machine, no scrabbling for cash, it doesn’t even matter if you’ve forgotten your wallet because your card is safely linked up to the app! I think it’s truly brilliant – thanks very much to the guys at Cake for letting me review it. I am now a Cake convert!

Oh, and Guns ‘n’ Roses blew my mind. A night I’ll treasure forever.


 Disclosure: I was gifted £40 credit in order to review the Cake app. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



Learning to Ride the Lightening – #SurfsUp2 Screening (with Sony Pics at Home)

We were lucky enough to be invited yesterday to Sony’s Head Office in London for a screening of Surf’s Up 2, which is released on DVD today (Monday 20th March 2017). The boys had been so excited about it for ages (not only seeing the film but getting to go into the big city for the day) and thankfully, they weren’t left disappointed! We had a wonderful day and the movie was brilliant.

Upon arriving at the venue, we were treated so some tea, coffee and cakes – this literally made the boys life. I think Zak was a little too excited however, because he came back to the sofa we were sat on with 2 chocolate chip muffins, 3 biscuits, 2 cookies and a pastry all for himself. Amazingly, he did eat them all, the little piglet!

After some breakfast, we then went down to the rather suave screening room in the basement and settled down (in some VERY comfy seats) for the movie. Seeing the boys faces as the curtains pulled back to reveal the screen was just priceless, they thought it was the most wonderful thing ever.

They sat and watched the film without fidgeting (a miracle where Zak is concerned) and were completely engrossed for the duration.

Afterwards, we went to a lounge area to do some lunch, to do some surfing related crafts and the boys also got to have a go on a surfing simulator. They were pretty good at it – and I made sure I wore a dress so I didn’t need to embarrass myself on it! Haha!

In the movie, the characters learn to “Ride the Lightening”, which means surf during a lightening storm. Luke and Zak loved having a go at pretending they were doing the same and they have already asked if we can get some Surf Boards next time we go on holiday!


So, what’s the film about?

Cody Maverick, hungry for a new challenge, convinces an infamous big wave riding crew known as The
Hang 5, voiced by WWE Superstars John Cena®, Undertaker®, Triple H®, Paige™ and Mr. McMahon® to let him join them on their journey to a mysterious surf spot known as The Trenches, where legend has it, they’ll find the biggest waves in the world. Cody soon discovers that the life he left behind might be more heroic than what any death-defying wave has to offer.
Without giving the entire film away, I will just say that the film covered some important life lessons such as teamwork, not giving up, taking care of those you love and humility. Despite the film being voiced by WWE wrestlers, there is no violence in it and it’s actually a really uplifting film. Both my lads gave it 5 out of 5!
Zak’s favourite charater was Cody, the main penguin in the film. He is the character that goes on the biggest journey during the film and he’s probably the most relatable character for the kids. He’s learning, finding his way and has big dreams and ambitions.
Luke’s favourite character was JC, one of the Hang 5 and who was voiced by the wrestler, John Cena. He is humble, realistic, brave and experienced. Luke thought he looked super cool too!
If your kids like adventure films,  mixed with humour and cool characters, we would highly recommend Surf’s Up 2, Wavemania.
Surf’s up 2 is out on DVD today and the disc includes bonus features such as;
Bloopers!
“Behind the Mic: Hanging with the Dream Team”
“Chicken Joe’s Extreme Slaughter Island Tour”
“How to Draw Your Favorite Characters with Henry Yu”
“Inside the Music with Composer Toby Chu”
SURF’S UP 2: WAVEMANIA is rated PG has a run time of approximately 1 hour 21 minutes.
You can buy the DVD online, in stores across the UK and on Amazon at a cost of approximately £7.99

 Disclosure: We were invited to a screening of Surf’s Up 2 by Sony Pics at Home. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.
Thank you to DnA PR and Sony Pics at Home for inviting us!



Half Term Day out Idea – with The RAF Museum, London

With Half Term looming on the horizon for all of us (HURRAH!) we will all be looking forward to no school runs, hopefully a little lazy day thrown in there (everyone loves a cheeky PJ day now and then) and ideas for a few days out to keep the little pickles entertained.

Finding things to do can often be stressful, expensive and dependent on decent weather, so why not consider going somewhere that is none of those things?

Why not try The RAF Museum, London?

We haven’t been ourselves as a family yet but it is up there on my ‘to do’ list. I think now the boys are a bit older and have some concept of and interest  in aviation (the middle one who is 7 is currently learning about Concorde so he is aeroplane mad at the moment!), the world wars and their impact on the world and engineering, it is certainly a place we are going to end up very soon.


Getting there…

The museum has a car park but this is currently unavailable due to it being resurfaced (correct as of February 2017 – please check their website for updates on these works) but don’t let this put you off! It’s extremely easy to get to via public transport so if you’re within firing distance of London (we are very lucky where we live and can be in the city within 30 minutes) do not rule out a trip here.

Have a watch of the below video to see a mum and her kiddies going there on public transport to see simple it is:

If you are getting there from Waterloo you just need to hop on the underground there, get on the Northern Line heading NORTH and stay on it until you’re at Colindale Station. It’s 16 stops down but no changing! Perfect! It is a journey time of 34 minutes from Waterloo to Colindale. Once at Colindale, exit the station (there is only one exit at this station) and turn left. Walk straight along the road for about 10 minutes – you will need to cross a roundabout and stay on the right hand side of the road as the pavement runs out on the left after the roundabout. The RAF Museum is on the right hand side of the road.

 For other stations and routes, use TFL’s route-planner.


 What is there to do at the Museum?

There really is so much to see and do at the RAF Museum, and best of all, entry is entirely FREE!

You can easily have a full day out here, not just a couple of hours, so bring a packed lunch or make use of the museums cafe which serves hot and cold food/cakes/drinks and snacks.

There are various exhibitions open all year round, Chinook helicopters, WW1 exhibitions, loads of buttons for the kids to push and even an air traffic control display. My kids would absolutely love that part of it. It’s an educational place to visit but also full of interesting things for the kids to touch, investigate and learn about so it’s sure to be a place to keep everyone happy.

There is an Airfix make and take craft activity on there for February 2017 half term (13th-17th Feb) which costs £3.00 per person and is suitable for ages 8+. You can find out more about this here – unleash your inner child folks! Who doesn’t love a bit of retro Airfix crafting!?

If you have an autistic child, or know someone who does, the RAF Museum has a specially adapted trail for you to enjoy so everyone can be included in the day out which I think is wonderful. You can find more information on this here.

There is a 4D cinema experience there showing various ‘films’ (all of which are between 5 and 10 minutes long) which do cost extra but would be a worthwhile addition to the day. Become a Red Arrows Pilot, fly in a B17 as you embark on a mission or take part in a WW1 Dogfight! Tickets are £5 each for this or £16 for a family of 4.

There are also 2 flight simulators which are £3 per person, however the rides are only suitable for people of 3ft 6 and 3ft 11 or over so do bare this in mind.

For opening times, please check the museums website.

So, what are you waiting for? Getting planning your half term fun and help support our museums by paying them a visit!

RAF Museum London


Over on my Knutty Explorers section of the blog you can find write ups about days out and holidays we have been on. If you’re looking for some inspiration for that next trip away, do head on over and see if I can be of any help.


 Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for the RAF Museum London to promote the museum and travelling there via public transport. All words, thoughts and opinions are my own.



Walking in the footsteps of Wizards – A Harry Potter Bus Tour in London

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”.

Harry Potter.

via GIPHY

This is probably my favourite Harry Potter quote due to how appropriate it is regarding my children. I love them dearly, but they are cheeky little blighters sometimes. ‘Spirited’ is a more pleasant way of saying it isn’t it. Spirited little blighters, there we go.

We were asked the other week, by a lovely lady called Pascaline, if we would like to go on a Harry Potter Bus Tour of London. Pascaline is starting a new business called Culture and Adventure and she runs different tours all over the place. Keep your eyes peeled on her Facebook page for any upcoming events! I was desperate to do it because me and Luke (my eldest) are huge Potter fans, but due to being absolutely useless on the London Underground  by myself, and my kids being ‘spirited’, I have never been brave enough to take them there by myself. Anyway, it was an opportunity too good to miss so I said yes and began frantically swatting up on my underground map like Harry Potter does with his Marauders Map. If only I had broomsticks to get us there rather than Southwest Trains.

The tour lasts approximately 2.5 hours and costs £20 per adult and £15 per child (price correct at time of writing).

The day came for our Harry Potter Bus Tour and it was a glorious winters day. Cold, but sunny, just how I like it. I sorted a bag with some snacks, drinks and tissues – I was able to travel a bit lighter because Mr Knutts had the toddler for me so I could enjoy the day with the older two. No nappies and wipes this time!

We set off for the station, which thankfully is only a 10 minute walk from our house, and excitedly got our train tickets and waited on the platform for our train. The kids still love the novelty of getting a train somewhere and I love seeing their excited little (spirited) faces as they wait, full of anticipation (and mischief).

The train arrives and we hop on, managing to get seats. It’s a miracle! All is well and the boys chat with me and we stare out of the window like excited tourists…

Harry Potter Bus Tour Train

As we near Waterloo, completely out of the blue, my eldest says he doesn’t feel very well. In fact he says, “I feel a bit sick mummy”.

Great.

Bloody great.

“Ok,” I reply, “We are almost at Waterloo, just hold on until then if you can chap”.

Dear god, please don’t let him throw up on the train…

As we get off the train at Waterloo he goes ghostly white and says, “IT’S COMING!”

Action stations!

We sprint over to a bin and he manages to throw up into the bin rather than all over the platform. A minor miracle. However, he then thinks he is finished when he isn’t and throws up again down his front. Kill me now. I tell him not to worry and we will sort it out. We head out of the barriers and go to find the toilets at Waterloo. Being the novice Londoner I am, I don’t realise you have to pay to use the toilets there…and I have no change.

Nooooooooo!

I have an 8 year old lad, threatening to throw up again, who is covered in puke, and no change to get in the poxy toilets.

Thankfully, the lovely toilet attendant saw my quandary (and the 8 year old covered in puke – thankfully his body-warmer was waterproof!) and  let us in for free. I couldn’t thank her enough but she was reluctant to shake my hand when I offered it. Can’t think why? He goes and throws up again whilst I wash his body-warmer and dry it under the hand dryer. Luckily it comes up ok and as Luke appears from the toilet he announces, “I’m all better now! I don’t feel sick anymore! Can we still go on the bus tour?”

Kids.

A mystery to us all.

“Are you sure?” I ask nervously. “I can’t have you being sick on the bus tour…”

“I promise you mummy, I am fine. The sick has all gone now and I feel like eating a McDonalds so I think that means I’m better” he says.

“Right you are then. Off we go!” I say, and so off we trot.

We stop on the Southbank for a little while to have a look about and then continue our walk over Jubilee Bridge towards our bus tour start point near the Sherlock Holmes Pub.  All is still fine and Luke seems to have perked right up.

Thank goodness for that.

The bus arrives and it is an old Routemaster. Absolutely glorious. It’s bright red, shiny and completely immaculate. I do love these old buses.

 The boys zoomed up to the top deck and sat right at the front. The had planned to sit here for the last 3 days and thankfully our lovely tour guide Pascaline said it was fine to sit there. She also very kindly gave Luke and Zak a wand each which they treasured for the whole tour and have pride of place in their bedrooms now. Sadly the wands are pretend and don’t magic the kids to sleep nor do they do their homework for them, which is what my eldest had hoped for!

After 10 minutes or so, the bus set off for our first stop. The driver did very well navigating around the narrow streets full of parked cars, I was in awe of his driving skills to be honest! I’d have got road rage at numerous points.

Pascaline spoke to us on a microphone so we could all hear what she was saying, even up on the top deck. She told us some fun Harry Potter facts and gave us clues as to where we were headed. The boys loved guessing what our first stop was going to be.

When we arrived at the destination, we hopped off the Routemaster and congregated by a very large building. We were asked if we knew which place this represented in the movies. Luke shouted out random places, but wasn’t right, and then one of our fellow group members got it right. It was called Scotland Place and it was used as the location where Harry and Mr Weasley entered into a phone box to access the Ministry of Magic in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

 As we were stood listening, Luke said, “I am going to be sick again Mummy!” just completely out of the blue again. He ran off over to the building, yep, the one used in the film, and threw up.

For goodness sake.

Everyone very politely checked if he was ok and Luke said he was and we went back onto the bus again. I was mortified but he assured me he really did feel better this time…so on we went.

Routemaster Bus London Harry Potter

Our next stop was the place called Cecil Court, which was used as inspiration for Diagon Alley.

It was a beautiful little street full of curious little book shops. Had Luke not been telling me he was going to throw up again the whole way down it I might have taken a bit more in. The poor lad. We did see a shop selling some Harry Potter money there which was quite cool.

Cecil Court London

After taking some photos, we hopped back on the bus and went off to see some more of the sights/venues.

I don’t want to give all the stops and venues away in case you want to do the tour yourselves, so I won’t do a stop by stop rundown, but I can assure you it was interesting, fun and  my Potter mad boys LOVED it (yes, despite one of them being very sick).

I do just need to give a  special mention to my favourite stop on the tour however which was Leadenhall Market. This Victorian market has hardly changed since it was built and the grandeur of it is truly something to behold. It’s easy to see why they chose it as a Harry Potter film location when you’re there. I haven’t been to Leadenhall Market before but it is now top of my list for places to return to when I make it back into London. It would be magical anytime of year but seeing it all decked out for Christmas with its beautiful lights and traditional tree was really quite special.

The poor lamb managed to push on but he was sick near the steps of St Paul’s cathedral, in the Tate Modern (we all stopped here to use the facilities), Leadenhall market and again once we were back at our home town station. Needless to say the little chap went to bed once he was in and mummy vowed never to go anywhere with the children on her own again. True story.

The end of the tour was at Kings Cross where we went to see where the ‘entrance’ to platform 9 and 3/4 is. There is nothing there to mark the spot anymore but there is a pretend trolley going into a wall near the entrance to Kings Cross station which you can have your photo taken with. It was originally in the exact spot used in the films on the platform but, due to health and safety, it was moved. Sadly Luke was too poorly to do this bit but we plan to return one day to get a photo.

 I would absolutely recommend this Harry Potter Bus Tour of London. If you’re a fan yourself, or you have older kids who are (I would certainly say this is an age 6+ tour and they will only find it interesting if they have watched all the films) then you’re guaranteed a super day out. The fact the tour is on a bus is fabulous because you get to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time. Doing it by foot on your own would take an entire day and you would get very tired!

Pascaline our guide was nothing but brilliant (especially seen as I had a puking child with me) and I hope her Culture and Adventure tours go from strength to strength.

She is running another tour on Sunday 12th February 2017 and you can book your slot on the Routemaster Bus here

(If you’re unable to book for any reason, please contact Pascaline on: info@cultureandadventure.com)


Disclosure: I was given 3 tickets to attend this Harry Potter Tour in return for this review. All words, thoughts, images and opinions are my own.