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Christmas At Dunham Massey

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We love a Christmas light trail and have been lucky to visit a variety of light trails across the country. Our love for lights all began with the original light trail, Blackpool Illuminations which I’ve visited since I was very little. Now Christmas light trails have become more and more popular and it’s now a tradition of ours to visit a light trail or two every year. We’ve just experienced our first Christmas trail of 2023 and it’s one of our favourites. Christmas at Dunham Massey always gets us in the Christmassy mood and this years trail did not disappoint. 

christmas at Dunham Massey sign

Reindeer lights

What To Expect at Dunham Massey, Altrincham WA14 4SJ

'A new after-dark illuminated trail through festive gardens. Firmly positioned as a must-see trail within the UK’s Christmas calendar, the gardens at the National Trust’s Dunham Massey shimmer with over a million twinkling lights as seasonal sounds fill the air with festive fun.'

Dunham Massey lights

'Look forward to some time together with friends and family as you discover sparkling tunnels of light and dancing lakeside reflections, then walk under giant baubles and beneath glistening trees drenched in jewel-like colour. For a moment of reflection pause at mesmerising flickering flames in the fire garden, gaze at the larger-than-life illuminations and, to make a moment to remember, don’t forget to glimpse Father Christmas along the way.'

light trail at Dunham Massey


Selected dates from Friday 17th November to 31st December 2023 - 4:30 to 8:15pm (time slots may vary by date)

light trail at Dunham Massey

How Much?

Tickets are £19 for adults and £12.50 for children for off peak tickets. Standard tickets are £22.50 and Children are £14.50. Peak tickets are £24.50 and children £17. Family tickets are available and carers go free. 

light trail at Dunham Massey

How Long Does The Trail Last?

The trail is approximately one mile long. I think how long you visit depends on each individual family or group. We like to take our time, stop and look at all the lights and then stop half way round for a drink and maybe toast a marshmallow. 

hot chocolate at Dunham Massey

Can I Purchase Food and Drink?

Yes, food and drink and fairground rides are available onsite. Food and drink can be found at the beginning and end of the trail, with additional refreshments at around the midway point. Separate charges apply for all food, drink and rides.

Christmas light trail at Dunham Massey

What Should I Wear?

The event takes place entirely outdoors and appropriate clothing and footwear is essential.

Christmas light trail at Dunham Massey

Is There Parking?

Car parking is available onsite but must be pre-booked at the time of ticket purchase. Parking is free for National Trust members with a valid membership card when pre-booked. Parking is available at an additional charge for non-National Trust members.

Goodnight sign

Our Thoughts

This was our third year visiting the trail and for us each year it just gets better and better. This year was the first time we visited just John and I as we usually visit with the boys but they couldn’t make it this year. It was definitely a different experience just the two of us and although we enjoyed the lights, the ambience and being able to go at a much slower pace we did miss the boys more than we thought we would. Visiting a Christmas light trail is perfect for a family night out. 


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Messi Kids Menu At Hard Rock Cafe

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Disclosure - We were invited to Hard Rock Cafe to sample the Messi Kids Menu. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

We love going out for food as a family and whilst we have a few favourite restaurants we are always keen to try new restaurants especially if they have a special offer or a a new menu to try. Last weekend we headed to Manchester's Hard Rock Cafe for the first time so little J could sample the Messi Kids Menu. As we have never been to a Hard Rock Cafe before we didn't know what to expect but little J was beyond excited as soon as we mentioned the chance to sample a Messi burger. 

boy looking at a burger

Hard Rock Cafe, The Printworks, Manchester, Manchester M4 2BS

Messi Kids Menu

Taste greatness with the NEW Messi Kids menu featuring the Messi X Burger and the Messi Golden Chicken Sandwich along with a complimentary mini golden football toy, a collectable poster & activity sheet with every meal!

The menu has so much choice available for kids and is designed for those 12 and under. The Messi Kids menu was separate to the main menu and gave little J the chance to browse the menu and pick his meal. There are 9 meals for children to choose from  not including plant based options. There is so much variety so even the fussiest of eaters should find something they like. 

messi kids menu

The main two options are 

Messi’s X Burger
A burger topped with white cheddar cheese, garlic aioli and served with seasoned fries.

Messi’s Golden Chicken Sandwich
A crispy chicken fillet, topped with marinara, mozzarella cheese, garlic aioli and served with seasoned fries. 

Both looked amazing but if you don't fancy either of them you can head to the Headliners or Remix options.

Bacon Cheeseburger
Hot Dog 
Chicken Tenders 
Mac & Cheese 

Chicken Breast
Grilled chicken breast served with vegetables

Twisted ‘N Tasty Cavatappi Pasta
Twisted cavatappi pasta topped with marinara sauce and served with vegetables

Grilled Chicken House Salad
Mixed fresh greens with diced chicken, Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses

leo messi burger

Little J went for a Messi's Golden Chicken sandwich with fries and he was not disappointed. It was presented really well with a Messi flag stuck in the top of the burger and it looked delicious. 

The portion size was perfect for little J (he is 10) with just enough fries. If you would prefer another side other than fries you can choose fresh fruit, mashed potato or veggies.

The meal comes with a choice of soft drink and also the option to buy an 'Encore' of a hot fudge sundae for £1.75. You can also upgrade from a soft drink to milkshake also for £1.75. 

boy completing an activity sheet

If that's not enough the menu also doubles as an activity sheet for the kids to complete while they wait and then opens in to a poster plus they can collect a mini football on the way out which was the best thing ever according to little J. 

The Messi Kids Menu is currently priced at £11.75 which includes meal, drink, activity sheet, poster and mini football. 

I think the collaboration between Hard Rock Cafe and Leo Messi is perfect for little ones who love football, Leo Messi or just great tasting food. 

As I said earlier we have never dined at a Hard Rock Cafe but I feel now that we really have missed out. Our closest is Manchester which opened in 2000 however Hard Rock Cafe's have been preparing world-famous legendary burgers, smokehouse specialities, flavourful Salads and mouth-watering desserts for a lot longer and they are all over the world. 

memorabilia in hard rock cafe

I usually get a feeling when entering a new restaurant and when we arrived we were all really impressed with the layout and the ambience. There was a lovely vibe and as it is open plan over 3 floors it's lovely and bright. What we didn't expect was the memorabilia. The memorabilia is displayed on the walls and there is so much to see. We could have spent all afternoon looking at all the different pieces. 

Although this was our first visit it definitely won't be our last. I would be keen to try out their holiday menu and also they have a lovely event of Breakfast with Santa too however I think little J wants to head back so he can try the Messi X Burger next.

Have you visited a Hard Rock Cafe before?

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Halloween Lakeside Light Trail Review

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Disclosure - We were invited to enjoy the trail for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own.

Last week we visited our very first Halloween Light Trail. We have done lots of light trails over the years around Christmas time but we have never done a spooky one before. We were all really excited as we do like a light trail, we had no idea what to expect we just knew to wrap up warm and prepared for a spooky walk. 

lights projecting across a lake

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Supporting A Child's Emotional Literacy With Mighty Cards

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Disclosure - I have previously collaborated with Mighty Cards. This post was last updated October 2023 

We are now heading in to the final year of primary school and whilst little J is showing no signs of anxiety or nervousness, I know this year will be tough on him for many reasons. Firstly the last year of primary means the end to everything he has known for the past 7 years. He will be split up from his friends as they head to different secondary schools, preparing and revising for KS2 SATS will also be a tough time as no one likes exams. Supporting a child's emotional literacy is very important and I am going to try everything I can to keep him as calm and stress free as possible. 

Mighty Cards

When we were recently sent a set of Mighty Cards, I knew that these may be what I had been looking for. The cards which are designed for ages 4-11, provide effective and engaging strategies to help children manage their feelings and emotions. The pack consists of 36 cards which are divided in to 3 types of activities.

There are a wide range of emotions that we experience every day including happy, sad, excited, worried, embarrassed and anxious. Sometimes these may be difficult to deal with so having some simple strategies to follow can really help deal with those tricky feelings. 

The cards are really simple to use and understand, and for us we have been taking the time to choose a card just before dinner to help us enjoy our evening a little better and then before bed to help us feel rested and content. 

Mighty Cards


Breathing strategies to calm your body and focus on your mind.

A sample of a Breathe Card is Finger Breathing.

Use a finger from your right hand to gently trace up and down the fingers on your left hand.

Each time you trace up a finger, take a slow deep breath in through your nose. Each time you trace down a finger, slowly release your breath through your mouth. 

Once you have traced the fingers on one hand, swap hands and repeat. 

Mighty Cards


Physical exercises to help relieve tension in your body.

A sample of a Move Card is Wall Push.

Stand in front of a wall and place your arms out in front of you so your hands are touching the wall. 

When you are ready, try with all your strength to push the wall over. Count for 10 seconds, pushing hard. Then shake your arms and legs gently to release the tension in your body. 

Repeat 3 times. 

Mighty Cards


Creative activities to build a sense of calm and control. 

A sample of a Create Card is Calm Poster.

Write the word CALM on paper in big writing. Colour and decorate the page using your favourite colours and stickers. 

As you are colouring and decorating, imagine that you are filling yourself with calmness and joy.

Place your CALM poster somewhere where you can see it often. 

How you use the cards is down to your own personal choice however even though they are designed with children in mind we have all been using the cards and after just a few days we have already felt the benefit. 

Mighty Cards

Dr Gail Sinitsky is a child psychologist and founder of Young & Mighty and has been working with children and families for over 15 years, providing assessment and therapy, in schools and NHS clinics. As part of her work, she specialises in designing and delivering highly successful workshops and groups for children experiencing 'tricky emotions', low self-esteem, trauma, and relational difficulties. 

If you would like to know more about Dr Gail and Young and Mighty you can visit the website.

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The Crown Jewels Review

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Disclosure - We were invited to The Crown Jewels in return for this post. All thoughts and opinions are own. This post contains affiliate links. 

When it comes to visiting the theatre my views and preference of shows has definitely changed. I would always book to see the big productions such as Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Grease. I think because I loved musicals so much these where the obvious choices. However I am really enjoying all type of theatre at the moment and I have really been looking forward to the new play The Crown Jewels. 

the crown jewels cast

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Annie The Musical Review

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Disclosure - We were invited to see Annie the Musical for the purpose of this post. All thoughts and opinions are our own. This post contains affiliate links. 

I have always loved musicals ever since I was a little girl. I grew up watching musicals such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Calamity Jane and The King and I. However one of my favourite was Annie. I watched it several times a week and would practice the dance routines in our living room. I must have drove my parents mad. A few years ago I went to the theatre to watch Annie the Musical. I was blown away. Everything about the show was fantastic from start to finish so when we got the chance to see the show again we jumped at the chance. 

annie the musical poster

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Game Over Escape Room - Squid Game Review

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Disclosure - We were invited along to Game Over to try out the Squid Game Escape Room. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 

If you are a regular reader you know we absolutely love Escape Rooms. We have quite a few Escape Rooms in Liverpool all offering a great experience and perfect for visiting as a family, with friends or as a couple. Up until recently it's always been a thing John and I did together, however little J is now very keen to take part and has been joining in with us. Even as a three we still have a 100% escape record and we were hoping that would continue when we tried a new venue Game Over

game over escape room logo
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What To Expect At Flip Out Liverpool

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As we can't always rely on the weather we always try to head to an indoor play area when it's raining as little J always has energy to burn. We find a few hours is just enough to let him run, bounce, play and explore. He definitely has his favourite indoor play areas however he is always keen to try new play areas that pop up. We are already a fan of Flip Out Aintree so was looking forward to visiting its new indoor play area Flip Out Liverpool. 

flip out liverpool entrance

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Walk Amongst The Monkeys At Monkey Forest, Trentham

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Even though we live in the North West we seem to spend a lot of time round the Midlands and the South. We love traveling and exploring new cities and attractions. This Summer we spent a lot of time in Stoke and Stafford area visiting Alton Towers, Trentham Gardens and the Monkey Forest. We had heard great reviews and it's somewhere we have planned to visit over the years but never got round to it. I'm so glad we managed to fit it in this Summer as it's a great family day out. 

monkey lying on a tree trunk

What To Expect at Monkey Forest, Trentham Estate, Stone Rd, Tittensor, Stoke-on-Trent ST12 9HR

The forest boasts that it is the only place in the whole of the UK where you can walk amongst 140 Barbary Macaque monkeys. The monkeys live in large groups and we saw this on our visit. They have their own tress and areas and don't seem to cross over to other areas. Within some of the areas there is up to 6 generations co-existing and we were able to see some baby monkeys on our visit.

monkeys in forest

monkey on grass

Can You Really Walk Amongst The Monkeys?

Yes! I was a little sceptical thinking that you really wouldn't be amongst the monkeys but yes you are. Visitors are free to walk amongst the monkeys on the 3/4 of a mile path through the woodlands whilst the monkeys roam free. You are not allowed to touch or feed the monkeys and we found the monkeys did not come that close to us anyway to be within reach. 

monkey with his head in a feeding bucket

boy looking at a board

How Long Does It Take To Walk Around?

The walk took us just under 1 hour and that included watching the monkey feed talk (which I would highly recommend)  and stopping along the way to see the monkeys up close and taking pictures. However you are free to spend as much time as you like within the monkey area and also re-enter as many times as you like during your visit. There are interactive knowledge boards along the woodland path with lots of information and questions about monkeys and staff on hand to answer any questions.

play area at monkey forest

maze at monkey forest

ice cream at Monkey forest

What Else Can We Do?

The Monkey area is just one section of the Monkey Forest. We enjoyed spending time outside of the monkey area too.

Play Areas

There are different play areas. Each play area had its own unique equipment including monkey bars, basket swings, climbing frames and slides. 

We spent a lot of time in the play area. There was a woodland area which was great for climbing and swinging. It also had picnic benches to sit at whilst the boys played. 

The Banana Cafe

The Banana Cafe serves a selection of both warm and cold meals and snacks for when you’re feeling a bit peckish. Relax on the terrace with an ice cream or cup of coffee. There is plenty of seating available in and around the Banana Cafe with tables and chairs and there is also lots of grass space. There is a menu online and prices where what you would expect from this type of attraction. 

We picked some cakes and a hot drink which were delicious. 

The Jungle Shop

The Jungle Shop is packed full with monkey memorabilia. We headed straight to monkey themed stationary where we picked up a pencil, rubber and pencil sharpener. 

Willow Maze

Designed in the shape of a Barbary Monkey the Willow Maze will keep you and your family entertained as you enter through the mouth and leave through the bum! 

This was lots of fun and you can easily see the end from the beginning however we enjoyed it. You can also see through so no chance of getting stuck. 

monkey fact board

Can You Take Your Own Food?

Yes you can take your own food however you cannot take it in the monkey enclosure. There are plenty of spots to enjoy a picnic and it is recommended to either leave your picnic in the car until after you have seen the monkeys or eat it beforehand. 

We didn't have to pop back the car but if you do you just let the staff know at the entrance and they will stamp your hand which let's them know you are just popping the car. 

monkey forest entrance

How Much Is Car Parking?

Car parking is free and there are plenty of spaces with an overflow car park too. There are disabled bays available too closer to the entrance.

How Accessible Is The Monkey Enclosure?

The 3/4 mile path is suitable for wheelchairs and mobilty scooters however there was a small section that had a very steep slope. We saw a wheelchair struggle on this part of the walk, however there was not much to see here anyway. 

The path isn't one way however people did tend to walk the same way but it wouldn't be a problem if you have a wheelchair or mobility scooter if you needed to turn around. There are wide paths, 

What Are The Opening Times and Prices?

Opening times vary depending on the time of year however it is usually closed from around the beginning of November until February half term.

Ticket prices are cheaper if you buy in advance with adults priced at £10 and children priced at £8. Concessions and over 65's can enter at a reduced rate of £9.50. Carers and under 2's go free. 

You can check out the full opening times calendar and price guide visiting Monkey Forest.

monkey forest

What Else Is Local?

There are quite a few local attractions that you could visit on the same day.

Trentham Gardens

Adjacent to the Monkey Forest, Trentham Gardens offers a stunning landscape with beautiful flower displays, lakes, and gardens. Take a leisurely stroll and soak in the tranquility of this picturesque setting.

Trentham Estate

The Trentham Estate boasts a variety of attractions, including a shopping village, outdoor adventure playground, and a lakeside walk. It's the perfect destination for a day of exploration and relaxation.

We loved our day and I can see us heading back there next year as it was a nice relaxed day out. We loved seeing the Monkeys and little J enjoyed the play area too. 


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