Sea Stars at the National Sealife Centre, Birmingham

A brand new attraction called Sea Stars at the National Sealife Centre, Birmingham opened this Easter and my family popped along to meet the new nautical recruits. We were expecting a brilliant day out (who doesn’t love seeing wondrous sea creatures) but did the new exhibit and the centre as a whole live up to our expectations?vintage lobster dress

I actually had the perfect outfit lined up for my trip, this is a 1960s vintage Lobster and Crab dress with matching jacket! Unfortunately the weather was conspiring against us, it rained cats and dogs (or starfish and seahorse) the wind was intense and our sat nav basically lied. Thankfully the Sealife Centre is well signposted and we got there in the end. The centre is entirely indoors (and safe from the rain!) with a walkway design, which means you never feel crowded or hemmed in no matter how many people appear to be there.

penguins

These extremely cute penguins greet you as soon as you walk in. I could write a whole post just about these guys but they weren’t the ‘stars’ we came to see that day.sealifehellos

Along the walkway we met some exceedingly friendly fish and shrimp who posed when I pointed my camera in their direction. They were probably saying something akin to ‘No pictures!’ or maybe they just love the limelight. Although this little fellow in the next picture definitely looked nervous! scared fish

About half way round the centre you come to the brand new Sea Stars exhibit and it’s wonderful! Starfish have an enduring appeal all of their own, their shape and style sets them apart from other aquatic creatures. While their slow movement gives them the appearance of a laidback and likable nature. But little did we know they came in so many sizes and varieties! Here you can get up close and personal with some of the more unusual kinds. Pop your head inside a bubble to see starfish from a brand new perspective.sealife bubble

We marvelled at this fashion conscious fellow with his funky red spikes.funky starfishstarfish2

And if you ever wondered what a starfish feels like to touch (rubber if you ask me) you can even stroke one in a small pool.starfishmeet

If you thought starfish were small, then it’s time to think again, we met the ultimate King of the Starfish! I never dreamt they could grow so large. Giant starfish

There were many more varieties who resembled suns, sponges and much more! Information points were dotted around the animals and if you weren’t a fan of starfish before I can guarantee you will be by the time you leave, or at the very least you’ll have a whole new respect for them.

Just after Sea Stars we spied some amazing jelly fish floating about in their tanks. Considering the sting these chaps can inflict they really are very graceful.jellysealife

Extremely playful rays (I love those guys!).sealiferay

The cutest frog ever!

 

tiny frog

The Sealife Centre even have otters (who were fast asleep) but given that they were sleeping in the most adorable way I think we can forgive them taking a morning nap.

sleepy otter

Of course there’s also the famous sea tunnel where the public walk through a humongous tank filled with sharks, rays, fish and even a giant turtle.sealifetunnel

 

seatunnel

If I had to sum up a visit to the National Sealife Centre and what you should expect I would say this:
 
Take a camera (but no flash please, we don’t want to scare anyone) and expect to spend a good part of your day going ‘Ooooh, aaaaahhhh’ and pointing like a toddler at everything and anything. Give yourself time to enjoy the exhibits and read the information available (I’m very bad at this, I tend to skip about in sheer delight at the animals). Despite being a busy weekend I found the keepers and staff to be enthusiastic and helpful, we appreciated their work which meant we could meet these wondrous creatures from the deep.
 
We hope we can go back soon and watch some of the animals for feeding time or other displays, but I’d definitely recommend a visit. I don’t think this one is just for the kids either, adults are equally pleased by the displays. Of course that means I’ll have to find a new sea themed outfit….
 
For now I’ll leave you with a short video showing some of the fun we had 

Play At Brewers Fayre – Castlewood (Derbyshire) Review

Play at Brewers FayreLast weekend my family and friends were invited along to the Castlewood Brewers Fayre located in Derbyshire to test out their brand new Beano themed play area for ‘Play at Brewers Fayre’. As every parent will know soft play centres can often end up being a bit of a love/hate day-out. Of course your kids love them, but if the centre is unclean or unsupervised they can be a real let down. Did we love the new area at Brewers Fayre? Read on to find out!

IMG_1453First impressions

The play area is bright, clean and surprisingly roomy (I could stand up straight inside and I’m reasonably tall). My friend also pointed out that the flooring was both clean and sensible so you didn’t mind mooching around in just your socks. The staff were very attentive keeping things spick and span, I saw them out with a cordless vacuum on a couple of occasions.

faceyBut is it fun?

Thanks to a great face-painter, my tiger, menace and ninja were straight in to test out the play equipment. There was a slide, tunnels, swings, rolls, cars and more, so the kids were thoroughly entertained. In fact they thought the equipment was so good that they’ve asked me every day since if we can go back! They even managed to meet Denis and Gnasher. I believe the cost to use this equipment is £3 per 90mins which seems like a fairly good deal, especially as parents can sit (or even eat) on the side lines while their little angels are having fun.IMG_1459

How about food?

The food on offer at Brewers Fayre is fairly typical for a chain restaurant. Along with the new play area there is now a Beano themed kids menu which got a thumbs up from my three. They tested out:

The Cod-Apult

Load up with crispy cod bites, chips, peas and ketchup.

The Big, Bad Dog

Hotdog, chips, ketchup and mini corn on the cob. Get your gnashers around that!

The Menace Burger

Beef burger with ketchup, coleslaw and chips.

Cookie Double Dare

A cool layer of ice cream sandwiched between two cookies.

Tricky Minnie Doughnuts

Lip-smacking mini doughnuts.

 

Plus unlimited soft drinks (this caused a lot of excitement).

The only complaint I heard was that the Cookie Double Dare dessert had rather small cookies.

IMG_1437So would we recommend a visit?

For families with kids it’s often hard to find a restaurant that can cater to the needs of everyone without testing the patience of the adults or boring the kids. Play at Brewers Fayre does a fine job of keeping everyone happy and well fed. We would definitely go back, in fact the kids have asked if they can have their birthday party there, which says it all I think.

For more Information

Visit Brewers Fayre online to find your nearest restaurant.

Thomas Tale of the Brave DVD Review & competition!

Thomas&Friends_TOTB_art

Thomas the tank engine is a beautiful blue steam engine which recalls Britain’s mastery of the rails and the age of steam. My whole family has grown up with him through his books, toys and TV shows. Now my own children enjoy watching his antics (now CGI based rather than animated) and own a huge collection of Thomas trains. Despite this we have never visited Thomas Land at Drayton Manor before, so when we were asked along to a special screening of Thomas’s brand new movie we just couldn’t say no! So today I am bringing you our Thomas Tale of the Brave DVD review and over the next few days I’ll pop up a post about all the fun we had at Thomas Land.

TOTB movie still

The films begins with a terrible storm which causes a landslide at the Sodor China Clay Pits. Thomas notices some strange footprints, but who could they belong too!? The engines of Sodor are divided in opinion on whether there is a real live monster stalking the rails of Sodor but one thing’s for sure it’s going to take one brave engine to solve this mystery!TOTB movie still 3

The movie also introduces some brand new trains to the Thomas world including Gator, Marion, Timothy and Reg. Without revealing too much of the story and giving away the mystery here is what my kids thought of the film.TOTB movie still 2

Engine N – I loved it, I like James best, he’s funny and naughty.

Conductor G – It was really exciting, I particularly like Thomas, he’s always been my favourite!

Driver I – I thought the film was brilliant and my favourite part was when Thomas meets Marion the digging train, she talks a lot and made me laugh.IMG_9964

From a parents point of view all three kids were transfixed for the full hour and entered into a state of blissful silence, you can’t really ask for more.

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There have also been some new toys released to coincide with the movie including Marion, Timothy, Gator and Scrap Heap Monster trains and a new Take-N-Play Roaring Dino Run set including Thomas.IMG_9956

Competition

Thomas&Friends _TOTB DVD artwork

To be in with a chance of winning your own copy of Tale of the Brave on DVD enter my brand new competition!

How To Enter

Entering couldn’t be simpler, just pop over to the Angel Eden Blog Facebook page and hit ‘like’ then either click the widget below or the ‘Competition’ tab on the Facebook page to register your entry.

For extra entries either:

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The competition will end at midnight on 20th September 2014 (UK residents only please).

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Make sure you leave me a way to contact you should you win.  Good Luck!

DVD Details

Release date:                    1 September 2014

RRP:                                     £12.99

Running time:                  68 minutes

Find out more about Thomas on the Thomas & Friends website www.thomasandfriends.com. You can keep track of all the latest Thomas & Friends news on Twitter and Facebook.