49 THINGS TO DO IN MANCHESTER THIS MONTH

49 THINGS TO DO IN MANCHESTER THIS MONTH
40 THINGS TO DO IN MANCHESTER THIS MONTH

10 IDEAS TO KEEP YOU BUSY IN FEBRUARY

10 IDEAS TO KEEP YOU BUSY IN FEBRUARY
10 IDEAS TO KEEP YOU BUSY IN FEBRUARY

HERE AND NOW, THE STEPS MUSICAL

HERE AND NOW, THE STEPS MUSICAL
HERE AND NOW, THE STEPS MUSICAL

48 Things To Do In liverpool this month

48 Things To Do In liverpool this month
48 Things To Do In liverpool this month

A Magical Experience: Reviewing Disney's Aladdin Musical Theatre Show

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Disclosure - We were invited to the press evening of Disney's Aladdin. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Being a massive Disney fan I have had the pleasure of growing up with timeless classics such as Beauty and The Beast, The Lion King and Mary Poppins. I have had the pleasure of watching these amazing tales being brought to life on stage in such a magical way like no other show. Last week I had the honour of visiting Manchester to see another Disney classic being transformed for the stage, Disney's Aladdin. From the opening scene I knew we were in for a magical and musical treat as the show  transported us into a world of magic, romance, and adventure.  

Aladdin is based on the beloved 1992 animated film. The stage adaptation brings to life the vibrant city of Agrabah, filled with captivating characters, stunning visuals, and unforgettable music. Whether you're a lifelong Disney fan or a newcomer to the story, Aladdin promises an evening of entertainment that you won't soon forget.

poster for Disney's Aladdin


A Dazzling Production
From the moment the curtain rises, Aladdin captivates with its breathtaking production design. The set and costumes are a visual feast, rich in colour and detail, reflecting the exotic Agrabah. The bustling marketplace, and the mystical Cave of Wonders are brought to life with elaborate backdrops and innovative staging techniques. The use of special effects, including the iconic flying carpet scene, adds a layer of magic that feels truly Disney.

Unforgettable Performances
The cast of Aladdin shine with their exceptional performances. The title character, Aladdin, played by Gavin Adams is portrayed with a perfect blend of charm and vulnerability, making the audience root for his journey from street rat to prince. It's hard to believe that this is his professional debut! 

Jasmine, played by Desmonda Cathabel portrays the spirited princess well, she has a powerful presence on stage, her independence and strength making her a modern-day heroine.

However, it is the Genie who truly steals the show. Yeukayi Ushe has boundless energy and charisma and delivers a performance that is both hilarious and heartwarming. The Genie’s musical number, "Friend Like Me," is a showstopper, filled with impressive choreography, dazzling effects, and infectious energy that leaves the audience cheering. This scene is by far the best scene I have ever witnessed in a stage show. 

aladdin and Jasmine flying on the magic carpet


Iconic Music and New Additions
The musical retains the beloved songs from the original film, including "A Whole New World," "Prince Ali," and "Friend Like Me," all composed by the legendary Alan Menken. These timeless tunes are brought to life with full orchestral arrangements and powerful vocal performances. Additionally, the stage adaptation introduces new songs that seamlessly blend into the story, enriching the narrative and providing deeper insight into the characters' motivations and emotions.

One standout new song is "Proud of Your Boy," a touching ballad sung by Aladdin that reveals his longing for his late mother’s approval. This addition adds emotional depth to Aladdin’s character and resonates strongly with the audience.

genie from aladdin surrounded by colourful scarves


Choreography and Direction
The choreography in Aladdin is a dazzling display of creativity and precision. Each dance number is meticulously crafted, blending traditional Middle Eastern dance styles with Broadway flair. The ensemble cast performs with infectious enthusiasm, their synchronised movements adding to the vibrant energy of the show.

Director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw masterfully balances the grand spectacle with intimate character moments, ensuring that the show is as emotionally engaging as it is visually stunning. His direction brings out the best in the cast, creating a seamless blend of humour, romance, and adventure.

A Family-Friendly Extravaganza
It was just John and I who went to see Aladdin however it is perfect for all the family as it offers something for everyone. The humour appeals to both children and adults, with clever jokes and witty references. The story's themes of love, friendship, and self-discovery are universal, resonating with audiences of all ages. The show’s pacing keeps young viewers engaged, while the rich storytelling and intricate production design captivate older theatre-goers.

aladdin rubbing the magic lamp


Book Your Tickets Today
Don't miss your chance to experience the magic of Disney's Aladdin musical theatre show. Perfect for families, couples, and theatre enthusiasts, this production is a dazzling celebration of one of Disney's most beloved stories. Book your tickets today and prepare to be enchanted by the magic of Aladdin!

Manchester Palace Theatre
Wednesday 22 May – Sunday 7 July 2024

Bristol Hippodrome 
Wednesday 10th July – Sunday 11 August 2024

Bradford Alhambra Theatre 
Wednesday 14 August – Sunday 1 September 2024

Southampton Mayflower Theatre
Thursday 5 September – Sunday 29 September 2024

Birmingham Hippodrome 
Wednesday 9 October – Sunday 3 November 2024

Glasgow Theatre Royal 
Wednesday 6 November – Saturday 30 November 2024

Liverpool Empire
Wednesday 11 December 2024 – Friday 5 January 2025

A Must-See Theatrical Experience
Disney's Aladdin musical theatre show is a must-see for anyone who loves magical storytelling, stunning visuals, and memorable music. It captures the essence of the original film while adding new dimensions that enhance the overall experience. From the dazzling production design to the stellar performances, every element of the show contributes to an unforgettable night at the theatre. Whether you're reliving a childhood favourite or discovering Aladdin for the first time, this production promises to transport you to a whole new world of wonder and delight.

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Michelle
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Lounge Luxury for Less: Top Tips for Budget-Friendly Travel Indulgence

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post

Travel days are considered to be the least enjoyable part of holidays. After visiting Disneyland Paris recently I can definitely agree. I do think it depends what time your flight departs especially if its an 'early morning flight'. One thing I have always wanted to do is book an airport lounge. Airport lounges are designed to make travel days pleasant for everyone. Before you rush to claim that access to these areas is costly, we have gathered the top tips to enjoy lounge luxury for less. In this article, you'll learn how to indulge in travel luxuries without breaking the bank. 

boy looking out a plane window


Join Lounge Programmes

We assume you're familiar with subscription services. More and more services follow that formula, and airport lounges are not a stranger to it. On the contrary, it is something that they have been utilising for years now. You can pay an annual flat subscription fee and gain access to an entire network of lounge areas in airports all around the world. Frequent travellers will definitely save money and have more relaxing travel days in this way. 

Become a Registered Frequent Flyer

In addition to the previous tip, airlines offer their own programmes with perks and benefits for travellers who use their services frequently and loyally. Besides the bonus air miles and priority passes, access to all of the airline’s lounge areas in every airport in the world is a common reward to frequent travellers. This means you've found an airline you trust and are satisfied with their services, from booking to flying. 

Buy a Day Pass

What about people who don’t travel that often but want to have a taste of lounge luxury for less? They can have a look at the available day passes. Even if you're unfamiliar with day passes, finding and evaluating affordable airport lounge deals on bookfhr.com is straightforward. Like any other comparison website, you'll find a comprehensive list of lounge offers at your chosen airport. You are provided with information about the services that are included in the specific lounge, for example buffets, internet connection, TV, and so on, so that you can effortlessly discover the lounge that matches your needs and you will have the most fun in. 

Check Your Travel Package

Inclusive holiday deals are still a popular travel choice. People get their money’s worth with package holidays as they not only complete many travel arrangements, such as flights and accommodation, at once but also are protected in case of something going wrong like a flight delay. If you're considering this option, enquire about packages that include airport lounge access. Since it will be part of the package, you will be granted this lounge luxury for less. 

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Michelle
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Top Tips for Planning a Good Birthday for Your Child

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post

Planning your child's birthday can be a challenge. All you want is for them to have fun. To help you on your journey, here are some top tips for planning a good birthday for your child. 

birthday cake


Consider What Your Child Likes 
It is easy to think that a standard birthday party is the best thing to do for your child’s birthday or buy the trending toy. However, you must tune into your child and consider what they like and especially what they don’t like. Some parents make the mistake of making assumptions based on trends or what other children are doing. Make some time to speak to your child to learn more about them and their current interests. Your child's interests will likely change regularly, which can make it difficult to plan. Listen to them, ask questions and even ask them straight up what they want for their birthday. This will make it a lot easier and ensure that you can make your child happy on their special day. 

Find The Perfect Gift 
Gifts play a key part of a birthday for children, so you must find the perfect gift. It is important to know as a parent that money shouldn’t matter. What matters is the gift itself. It can be very difficult with parents earning different money and having different values. Children don’t quite understand and it can be difficult when children are getting different valued presents for their birthday, and can leave your children asking for more or higher ticket items. It can be a good idea to speak to your children about money and gifts. It is also helpful to get personal and specific when it comes to gifts. This means that when your child opens the gift, they will be too excited about the present because it is something of interest to them, so the value of it does not matter. Think about their interests. For example, if your child enjoys football, then you may like to get them a mystery shirt in a box

Plan Something Fun
When you have considered what your child likes and does not like, you can use this information to plan something fun. For your child, this might be a themed birthday party where you invite all their friends and have a day of activities and games. For other children, this might be their worst nightmare. This is why you must do some digging and fact-finding first. The last thing you want to do is surprise your child with something they don’t want to do. If your child does not want a birthday party, then you may choose to set something more low-key up. This might be an experience day doing something they enjoy, for example, at a football stadium tour, with a mountain bike or at a science museum. Do some research on what your child enjoys and see what you can plan around it. 

Your child's birthday should be special. You don’t need loads of money to make it fun, you just need to know what your child likes and you can go from there. Follow these top tips to help you. 

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Michelle
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2:22 A Ghost Story - A Hauntingly Good Time

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Disclosure - We were invited along to the press night of 2:22 A Ghost Story

I have always enjoyed going to the theatre and I have mentioned before that although I love musicals we have been exploring different types of shows over the past few years including The Mouse Trap, Wish You Were Dead and Murder In The Dark. They have really opened our eyes to what the theatre can offer and we have really enjoyed the suspense these type of shows create. We recently went to see 2:22 A Ghost Story and had no idea what to expect as we try to avoid any reviews. If you do like to know a little about a show before watching then keep reading our review of 2:22 A Ghost Story at The Lowry.

a man holding up a 2:22 A ghost story theatre programme


Plot and Setting
Set in a modern-day home that feels both familiar and unsettlingly isolated, 2:22 A Ghost Story centres around Jenny and her husband Sam, who have recently moved into a new house. Jenny is convinced that the house is haunted, hearing strange noises every night at 2:22 AM. Sam, a skeptic, dismisses her fears as mere imagination. The tension between belief and skepticism is a central theme of the play.

One night the couple invites their friends Lauren and Ben over for dinner, the conversation inevitably turns to the paranormal. What begins as a casual evening of drinks and debates soon descends into a night of fear and revelation. The play's real-time format keeps the audience on edge, counting down to the 2:22 moment, building anticipation with every tick of the clock.

Characters and Performances
The strength of 2:22 A Ghost Story lies in its characters and the actors' performances. Jenny portrayed by Fiona Wade has a raw vulnerability that makes her fears more realistic. As a new mum it would be easy for the audience to assume she is suffering from lack of sleep however her terrified belief is compelling and believable.

Sam portrayed by George Rainsford is a rational thinker, everything can be explained and does make a good argument when trying to figure out exactly what is happening.  

Lauren and Ben, the couple’s friends, add layers of complexity to the narrative. Lauren portrayed by Vera Chok is more open to the supernatural and acts as an intermediary, bridging the gap between Jenny and Sam's polar beliefs. Ben portrayed by Jay McGuiness has his own experiences with the supernatural and does everything he can to prove Jenny is right. 

The dynamics between these four characters are electric, with sharp, witty dialogue that keeps the audience engaged. The actors' chemistry ensures that each emotional beat hits with full force, making their fear and tension feel immediate and real.

the stage setting for 2:22 A Ghost Story


Direction and Atmosphere
Under the deft direction of Matthew Dunster, the play’s atmosphere is one of constant unease. The set design is brilliantly claustrophobic, with shadows and dim lighting creating a sense of impending dread. Every creak and groan of the house is amplified, turning the setting into a character in its own right.

Sound plays a crucial role in building tension. The use of silence, punctuated by sudden, jarring noises, keeps the audience on edge. The countdown to 2:22 AM is particularly effective, with each passing minute heightening the sense of impending doom.

Our Thoughts
2:22 A Ghost Story explores the human need to make sense of the inexplicable. Jenny’s insistence on the house being haunted stems from a deeper need for answers, a way to rationalise her fears and anxieties. Sam’s refusal to believe is equally telling, a defence mechanism against the chaos that accepting the supernatural would bring into his orderly world.

The play is a masterful blend of psychological drama and supernatural thriller. It captivates with its well-drawn characters, sharp dialogue, and relentless tension. The play doesn’t just scare; it provokes thought, challenging the audience to question their own beliefs about the unknown.

Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, “2:22 A Ghost Story” will leave you questioning what you think you know and looking over your shoulder long after the final curtain falls. It’s a hauntingly good time that is not to be missed.


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Michelle
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The Ultimate Bedroom Renovation Checklist

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Disclosure - This is a collaborative post 

Transforming your bedroom into the sumptuous sanctuary of your dreams? A little preparation and planning go a long way towards pulling off the picture-perfect renovation you envision.

woman lying on a bed looking at a book
Colour schemes. 
Scrolling through the million-pound houses on Rightmove or Zoopla will easily lead you to a few exciting colour schemes. Another great way to find colour inspiration is interior design magazines – the best photos usually make their way to print rather than online.  

Stuck? You can't go wrong with these classics:
  • Midnight blue, white, and natural brown. 
  • Green, pink, and yellow. 
  • Monochrome. 
  • Soft pink, white, and light grey. 

Interior designs
Mid-century modern, minimalist, Scandinavian, and boho are the most popular bedroom interior designs in 2024. Getting the look starts with your bed frame. This should set the scene for your style and create a focal point that draws the eye. 

Classic sleigh beds are wonderful for adding luxury to your space, or you can keep it light and airy with a metal bed. Need storage? Check out ottoman beds

ottoman bed


Pictured: Aspire Chesterfield 4FT 6 Double Sleigh Bed Frame. Priced £493 (Save £405 on RRP) Available from Bedstar.

Schedule Contractors Well In Advance 
Building work is a nightmare when you can't find contractors to work around each other, so contact your tradespeople 4-6 months ahead of your target start date to lock in everyone from builders and electricians to plasterers, plumbers, and decorators. 

Good tradespeople are easy to find by asking neighbours and family for recommendations, or you can use Google to find local services.  

Meticulous Planning And Sourcing 
Trying to plan a room refresh on the fly all but guarantees missed details and oversights. Have every component nailed down with an itemised shopping list covering everything from room dimensions and paint samples to furnishings, light fixtures, tiles and more. 
Gather catalogues, browse showrooms, and source samples in advance so you are prepared for the eleventh hour.

a childs bed with three drawers


Pictured: Bedmr Quest Childrens Wooden 3 Drawer Bed – White. Priced £350 (Save £48 on RRP) Available from Bedstar.

Stay One Step Ahead With Furniture 
With that sprawling master bed as your stylish centrepiece, you'll want its replacement sourced and sized well beforehand to prevent delays. Prioritise ordering your dream mattress and bed frame early, especially for made-to-order or custom pieces, subject to manufacturing lead times. 

Don't leave this critical decision as an afterthought!

a bed in an adults bedroom


Pictured: Birlea Bedroom Furniture and Bed. Available from Bedstar.

Don't Skimp On Premium Lighting
Define practical task zones like vanities with surgical-level illumination, then craft an indulgent lounging area with soft, inviting layers of ambient and accent lighting. Explore statement fixtures like Sputnik chandeliers, sculptural sconces, and colour-changing lamps to give your bedroom a curated appearance. 

Consider Window Treatments
Will the room need black-out curtains, casual Roman shades, or a blend allowing seamless light control? Measure twice to ensure a precise fit. 

Custom window treatments can command up to a 6-week lead time, and you don't want to be left in the cold (or blazing sun) while you await completion.

Account For Tech Installations
Is this a prime opportunity to embrace smart tech like app-controlled split air conditioning, wireless audio-visuals, or home automation solutions? If so, loop in the relevant experts early to map out cabling routes and infrastructure housing correctly.

TV beds are an excellent way to save space in your media setup, with high-end models like the Star TV Edge boasting a 5.1.2 surround sound system. 

Tv bed in an adults bedroom


Pictured: Voice Activated 4FT 6 Double TV Bed - Velluto Graphite. Priced £878 (Save £520 on RRP) Available from Bedstar.

Design Extras
Finishing touches like plush area rugs, artwork, decorative accessories, and soft furnishings can seriously impact your budget and timeline. Price out favourites as your planning progresses to ensure there are no last-minute bombshells—rugs can be costly, although places like Dunelm Mill and The Range usually have sales all year. 

Hire Professional Cleaners 
Once construction wraps, you might want to bring in an ultra-thorough cleaning crew to handle decontamination and make the space sparkling new again before moving in. 

Alternatively, buy a cheap cylinder vacuum and hoover up all the dust and nasties yourself, leaving your expensive Dyson for less demanding tasks. 


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Michelle
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Understanding The Importance of Building Stronger Employee Relationships

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Did you know that employees spend as much as one-third of their lives at work? Your employees are the heart and soul of your business. That's why strong employee relations, and fostering positive connections within your workforce, are not just a feel-good initiative – they're a strategic investment. A happy and connected team is a productive team. When employees feel valued and supported by their colleagues, they're more engaged, collaborative, and motivated to excel. This leads to improved performance, reduced turnover, and a more positive work environment for everyone.



How do you build stronger employee relationships in your organisation? Is there a way to build better employee connections? 
There are multiple ways to go about building employee relations, but as an HR manager or company owner, you must look beyond conventional HR engagements like workshops and seminars and choose meaningful employee engagement through team-building activities. In this article, we focus on the positive outcomes of building stronger employee-to-employee relationships in your organisation while highlighting initiatives you can take.

Fostering Collaboration
Working together in an organisation brings the constant need for interaction and collaboration between employees. A good collaborative ethic forms the foundation for success, without which your company’s goals can crumble.

A wonderful way to enhance the work relationships between your staff is by engaging in team-building activities. For example, you can get custom Lego sets designed with your company’s logo and tagline and organise a friendly brick-building competition amongst your teams. Alternatively, you could arrange for your team members to lend a helping hand at the nearest animal rescue shelter as a CSR activity.

Enhancing Communication
It is no secret how vital open communication is for the success of any relationship, including office connections. A smooth two-way communication between employees belonging to the same or different teams can build better connections. Without open dialogues between team members,  miscommunication and coordination issues can crop up easily.

Organise events outside of office hours where your employees are more likely to be at ease and have more natural conversations. The positive effect of such after-hours initiatives is improved coordination, workflow and idea-sharing among employees around the workplace. 

Additionally, introducing off-beat activities like playing ‘the telephone game’ also ensures your employees interact with other team members they haven’t before and opens the doors for communication. 

Improved Productivity
Every company forms teams to control and manage various tasks, from finance to sales to HR. For the smooth functioning of any organisation, all teams and their members need to be on the same page when working towards a common objective. However, productivity can take a hit if team members do not feel comfortable with each other.

When team members understand and appreciate each other, they are more motivated. Employees who feel like part of a team are more likely to go the extra mile. They collaborate more effectively, share ideas openly, and tackle challenges head-on. This can then lead to a significant boost in productivity levels, ultimately benefitting your business. 

Connecting Remote Teams
With remote and hybrid working as the new norm across businesses, you’ll benefit greatly from finding ways to connect with employees working from different locations across the globe. You can introduce various activities to foster connections between employees and help remote team members get to know each other better. 

Though you cannot interact with your employees face-to-face, get creative and organise activities such as online gaming and virtual lunches that open the floor to dialogue and interactions.

Despite the distance, you can create a positive work environment and a sense of community for your remote employees.

Build Better Trust
Without strong employee-to-employee relationships, team members cannot build trust and may find it quite difficult to communicate and collaborate on new tasks. Timely intervention is required in bonding team members or your organisation’s goals can be impacted.

This is where team-building activities can help strengthen the trust factor between employees in their work relationships. 

One way is to engage them in an obstacle course, where one team member is blindfolded and has to depend on other teammates for instructions to complete the course. Another activity is to play games like Pictionary where team members rely on each other to win. Through these interactive tasks and games, you can build better coordination and trust among your staff members.

In Summary
Taking a little time to think of out-of-the-box ways to boost better office bonding amongst your employees can go a long way in fostering richer and stronger employee relationships. Your active involvement can also improve employee morale, develop confidence, boost motivation and prevent problems. Strong employee relationships can lead to long-term organisational success.

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Michelle
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