Celebrity performers will create “warmth and laughter” for panto season.

The New Theatre Royal in Lincoln has announced some of the stars of this year’s pantomime this week.

Running from December 3rd, 2019, to January 5th, 2020, the production of Robin Hood will welcome both familiar faces and new celebrities to its Clasketgate stage.

Barney Harwood - Press AnnouncementBarney Harwood returns to the city as the brave hero Robin Hood.  Last year’s Huntsman in Snow White, the winner of a Children’s BAFTA for Best Presenter will be wielding a bow and arrow this time.

Chris Johnson - Press AnnouncementAlso back by popular demand is Chris Johnson who will play Will Scarlet.  CBBC’s “Yonko” has been a regular in both Christmas and Easter pantomimes at the New Theatre Royal since Cinderella in 2017.  Speaking about returning to Lincoln Chris says, “The thought of once again spending my festive season at the New Theatre Royal makes me a very merry man indeed! In fact, I’m all aquiver!”

Melinda Messenger - Press AnnouncementModel and presenter Melinda Messenger is heading the list of new celebrities due to tread the boards.  Performing the role of Fairy Stardust, Messenger says, “Panto is such a great Christmas theatre tradition that the whole family can enjoy, I really love the warmth and laughter it brings to everybody and can’t wait to work with Natalie and the team at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln”.

Zoe Hedge - Press AnnouncementRounding up the star casting is Zoe Hedge as Maid Marian.  Zoe appeared on The Voice UK (2017) as one half of the duo Capital B, who were chosen to be on Sir Tom Jones’s team.

The theatre’s visitors can expect this Christmas season to be full of laughs, boos and audience participation for all the family to enjoy.  Artistic director Natalie Hayes-Cowley says, “Robin Hood will be filled with high energy dance routines, outstanding vocalists, comedy and, of course, added surprises in the script for those stand out wow moments.  Perfect entertainment for all the family this festive season.”

There will be a signed performance on January 3rd at 6pm and a relaxed performance on December 7th at 11am.

Tickets start from £16.50 and can be booked via the box office on 01522 519999 or online at www.newtheatreroyallincoln.co.uk 

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Use express service to make a personal art gallery

The advent of digital photography has meant many of us are more than snap happy with thousands of pictures taking up storage space on our smartphones but often very few of those make it past their virtual existence anymore.

We’re certainly guilty of this, frequently talking about doing something more with the lovely photos we’re lucky to have taken of our three minis that are stored somewhere on a device, backed up on an external hard drive box or floating in the cloud.

We’ve become better at ordering prints in recent months and the minis love going through them and talking about who is in them and what we were getting up to but, whilst these are suitable for photo albums or scrapbooks, our walls are in sore need of updating as our children age much quicker than the artwork representing them is updated.

So when Tesco got in touch asking us to try out their Same Day Canvas Express Service I jumped at the chance – “Order your gifts in the morning and collect after 3pm the same day!”

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We chose one of the pictures Merika Green took of all three minis back in April in Moot Hall near Market Rasen (photos taken on a modern smartphone will be fine too) and did a quick bit of measuring to see what sort of size would fit one of our walls.

“Our gallery canvas prints are printed on Poly-Mix canvas material. To ensure you get the best quality, we use non- fading inks and hand stretch every canvas over a handcrafted wooden frame.”

The online ordering system is very easy to use and offers a range of sizes and shapes from 10×8″ (£28) up to 60×40″ (from £115).

After you choose your size you click on the Personalise button and upload your photograph.   You can then zoom in or out, rotate the image and move it about to sit exactly how you’d like it in the frame.  You can change the orientation of the canvas and choose from four different styles for the edging.  You can even add text in different fonts and colours before clicking on the Add to basket button to order your finalised artwork.

“When you order by noon, canvases including 12×10″, 16×12″, 20×10″, 20×16″, 20×20” and 30×20″ can be collected from store after 3pm! Larger canvas prints or orders shipped to home take approximately 8 days.”

The longest part of the process for us was choosing the photo and size but if you are more decisive than us (which wouldn’t be particularly difficult) then it will be even quicker for you.  But if you absolutely can’t decide on just one photo, then you could always make a collage or use the heart shape template designs instead.  And I love the store’s suggestion of scanning in your child’s own artwork to display in proper art gallery style.

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To find out if there’s a photo store near you pop your postcode in here:  Photo store locator

Sadly there isn’t one in Lincoln so we opted for delivery instead which is also quite speedy – an estimated two to three days, longer over weekends and Bank Holidays, I ordered over a weekend and received our 20×16″ in four days.

If you are as pleased with the quality of your final product as we are then you might want to consider not trying to get your little ones to pose with it for the sake of another photo.  Fortunately the canvas is quite sturdy and survived the experience but you’re probably all more sensible than that anyway…

Now the only thing stopping the photo taking “pride of place” in our home is Daddy Malpi getting his tool box out!

Click here to find out more about Tesco’s canvas printing.

Snow White’s strong performances are on trend

SnowWith the opening few minutes featuring a unicorn fairy and a song from The Greatest Showman, New Theatre Royal pantomime audiences will quickly be assured that the show they are about to see is very on trend.

Topical references are littered throughout the production of Snow White including birds that deliver Twitter messages, an X-Factor scene, a sly reference to O2’s recent connectivity issues and an audience-pleasing wrecking ball entrance in the style of Miley Cyrus.

The minis were guests of the city’s theatre for Saturday morning’s performance of the fairytale that included all the traditional elements of such a seasonal show too.

Boasting an all-star cast with X Factor and Celebrity Big Brother star Amelia Lily as the Unicorn Fairy and Prank Patrol presenter Barney Harwood as the Huntsman, we were delighted that CBCC’s Christopher Johnson was returning to the venue as Muddles having enjoyed his performance in the similar role in last year’s pantomime.

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The role of the mystical Magic Mirror was undertaken by a different person or people each time it appeared in an ingenious way to introduce even more, both national and local, famous faces.

SW2Those of us who wouldn’t necessarily recognise the actors from their previous CV entries because our televisions are still stuck firmly on CBeebies can rest assured that each actor throws themselves into their latest stage role with great energy, encouraging as much audience interaction as possible.

And Paige Cook certainly played her part of the Wicked Queen with appropriate venom as my three year old hasn’t stopped telling me how naughty she was and that she needed to go to jail ever since seeing the show.

And there are plenty of other wow moments too – from the dwarfs arrival on a train to the tune of “Hi Ho” Silver Lining, to an aerial silk dancer, to an impressive rendition of What is this Feeling? from the musical Wicked.

SW1We enjoyed the show even more than last year’s production of Aladdin even before we actually ended up in it.  With a couple of children at the last minute thinking better of going up on stage to sing with Muddles, Mummy Malpi enthusiastically volunteered her three year old who was equally keen to take the spotlight.  What Mummy Malpi hadn’t realised is that this year a parent had to go on stage with their child too!  Fortunately for me Muddles was very kind and I’m sure most eyes would have been on Willow, who had borrowed her friend’s Snow White dress to wear for the occasion, and her fellow child volunteer as they confidently joined in with a rendition of 2018’s viral song Baby Shark.

With a narrative that relies on it’s female lead being kind hearted to a fault and being saved by a true love’s kiss, it’s difficult to see how it can be easily updated to portray a  stronger modern woman but a slight twist in the story’s final proposition even ticked that box.

Visitors to Clasketgate’s theatre can be sure of rousing entertainment and a great start to their seasonal celebrations.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs continues at the New Theatre Royal in Lincoln until January 6th.  Find out more here: www.newtheatreroyallincoln.co.uk or call 01522 519999. 

Where to go to deliver your wish lists

Christmas 2018

IMG_1834Oh my goodness, how the year has flown!  I usually manage to post my where to meet the man in red list in November but the chances to sit with my laptop for any length of time in recent weeks have been few and far between.

We have, however, actually made it to a grotto ourselves this year, unlike 2017 where the emphasis was on making sure Faith recovered from her heart surgery.  We chose Brigg Garden Centre’s Santa experience which the minis enjoyed.

We went early due to Daddy Malpi being away for one December weekend and the following one being taken up by celebrating Willow’s birthday and we didn’t plan ahead enough to have booked a later December date.  Next year we may well be prompted to book further ahead so that certain minis don’t end up as disappointed that Christmas was still a few weeks away!

 

If you’re still looking for somewhere to take your excited little ones so they can deliver their wish lists to Father Christmas in person then here are a few ideas in and around Lincolnshire.

As always, live events can be subject to last minute changes and selling out so be sure to check booking details before you travel and before making any promises to mini ones.  If you know of one we’ve missed, then please email hello@theminimalpi.co.uk with the link and I’ll be happy to add it or let us know where you’d recommend in the comments below.

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December 7th & 8th:
Santa Shoots, England’s Finest Photography, Grantham

December 7th, 8th, 14th, 15th:
Fillingham Trees, near Gainsborough

December 8th & 9th:
Santa Paws festive fun for four-legged friends, Sherwood Forest

December 8th & 15th:
Breakfast with Santa, Uncle Henry’s, Grayingham near Gainsborough

December 9th:
Admiral Rodney Hotel, Horncastle
Wyndham Park, Grantham

December 10th:
Moorland, Lincoln

December 13th & 20th:
Supper with Santa, Oldrids, Boston

December 14th:
Sutton on Sea Christmas Festival

December 15th:
Bluebell Wood Goats and Farm Shop, Nettleham
Breakfast with Santa, Adam’s Bay, Gainsborough

December 15th & 16th:
Breakfast with Santa, Natural World Centre, Whisby Nature Park

December 15th, 16th, 22nd, 23rd:
Breakfast with Santa, Windmill Farm, Lincoln

December 15th & 22nd:
Breakfast with Santa, Downtown, Boston

December 15th-23rd:
Lincoln Castle

December 16th:
Lincoln Santa Fun Run & Walk (not a grotto but you’ll definitely see one or two Santas!)

December 20th:
Lincoln Toy Library

December 23rd & 24th:
Trinity Arts Centre, Gainsborough

December weekends:
Pescod Square, Boston

Various dates throughout December:
Ark Wildlife Park, Stickney
Baytree Garden Centre, near Spalding
Belton House, near Grantham – FULLY BOOKED
Brigg Garden Centre
Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway
Doddington Hall – SOLD OUT
Downtown, Grantham
Fair Gardens, Kirton in Lindsey
Fun Farm, North Hykeham
Hildreds Shopping Centre, Skegness
Hykeham Lions
Johnsons Garden Centre, Boston
Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue Santa Sleigh Tour, countywide
Lincolnshire Wildlife Park, Friskney
Lincolnshire Wolds Railway – FULLY BOOKED
Oldrids, Scunthorpe
Oliver Boat Trips, Lincoln
Pink Pig Farm, near Scunthorpe
Rand Farm Park, near Market Rasen
Rufford Abbey Country Park, Nottinghamshire
Sundown Adventureland, near Retford
Waterside Shopping Centre, Lincoln
Whisby Garden Centre Animal Park and Playbarn, Whisby near Lincoln
White Post Farm, Farnsfield

Me Becoming Mum

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

069A0820With the arrival of December the 1st hundreds of children will have been eagerly tearing open little cardboard doors anticipating the treat behind them whether sweet or otherwise.

Not so our mini ones however as they’re having to wait until Daddy Malpi comes back from watching the snooker in York with their Advent calendars in hand as a surprise gift on his return.

069A0834Our countdown to Christmas actually started very early this year however as the minis had the honour of being models for England’s Finest Photography and being the first to try out their seasonal set for 2018.

It was our first visit to the Grantham studio but I have a feeling it won’t be our last.

Chris and Michelle were lovely and patient with all three of our minis – and quick thinking when the need arose! – making sure the experience was enjoyable for them.

Based in The Old Malthouse, the photographers benefit from a number of rooms meaning that not only is there a seasonal studio, there’s also a permanent magical fairyland scene (which is given a layer of frost for fairies visiting during the winter) and a permanent newborn studio that even has a playroom nearby to keep older siblings entertained.

069A0816On December 7th and 8th, children visiting the Lincolnshire Santa set will not only have the opportunity to have their photos taken but they’ll also have the chance to meet the man in red himself at the same time.  If you can’t make those two days or your minis are already handing over their wish lists to Father Christmas elsewhere, then Christmas mini sessions are also available on other dates.  Winter fairy shoots are available to book until February.

For further information visit www.efpics.co.uk, call 01476 577798 or email studio@efpics.co.uk

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How do you celebrate Advent?  Is your calendar full of chocolates or toys?  Do you treat your minis to 24 new books?  Or are you taking part in a reverse Advent calendar?  Let us know in the comments below.

Me Becoming Mum

 

Santa’s Workshop open to new little elves

LFandGFor those of us who won’t have managed to have our entire Christmas list completed, wrapped and delivered, hidden or stored in the larder by the end of November there’s still plenty of opportunity to catch up with our seasonally smug friends.

And what better way to do it than to visit a Christmas fair with lots of opportunity to support scores of local small businesses, all with their own unique offering, all assembled in one place?

Lincolnshire Food & Gift is returning to the Lincolnshire Showground on December 1st and 2nd and will host 150 exhibitor stands.  Entry is £5 in advance or £6 on the gate and, not only is entry free for accompanied under 16s, but there’s also a lot of activities on offer designed to keep the shopping experience festive for them too.

Craft making at the Lincolnshire Food and Gift FairYounger visitors will be able to “get hands on with Christmas craft making, exciting storytelling and seasonal baking”.

Lincolnshire Showground CEO Jayne Southall says, “Entertaining the little ones over the festive period can often leave families feeling light on cash which is why the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair is offering a fun free day out for children under 16, when attending with a full paying adult.

“The popular Santa’s Workshop area, which returns to the Fair for the third year running, will provide hours of free entertainment for little ones, whilst adult visitors can sample the county’s finest foods, explore the unique handmade gifts on offer and relax with a drink or two!”

Lincs Food and Gift Fair 2The Little Pottery Studio is joining in the fun this year, giving children “the chance to get artistic and have a go at painting their own festive ceramic shapes”.

Studio owner Jemma Stimpson says, “We are really excited to be exhibiting at the Lincolnshire Food & Gift Fair for the first time and even more excited to watch children try their hands at pottery painting, get stuck in and have some fun!  Children will be able to paint and glaze Christmas themed ceramics in our Elf Workshop, decorate their handmade creations with glitter and jewels and then take them home on the same day, ready to hang on the Christmas tree!”

“We’re really looking forward to showing off what we do, whilst helping children with their designs and also explain the process to parents – hopefully people will come back and have another go at our new studio at The Lawns.”

Mini event-goers will also have the chance to get creative with gingerbread decorating with Ticklebelly Lane Bakery, make willow star wands with Lincolnshire Willow and enjoy an extract of the New Theatre Royal’s Christmas pantomime from the stars of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Lincolnshire Food & Gift 2018 is open from 9am to 4pm on the Saturday and Sunday.  Visit www.lincolnshireshowground.co.uk or call 01522 522900 for further information and, if you’re sharing your mini ones’ crafty creations on social media, don’t forget to include #FoodandGift18.

Fantasy titles make fantastic festive gifts

Are you splashing out on a book advent calendar and need some suggestions to make up your 24 titles?  Are you following the more frugal four gift rule of want, need, wear and read and would like to make sure each gift is extra special?  Or are you just looking for something easy to wrap?  Here Gill Hart of Lindum Books picks out a few of her fantastical and seasonal favourites that might prove the perfect present if you’re buying for mini ones this year…

OUaWWOnce Upon a Wild Wood – Chris Riddell (Pan Macmillan, HB, £12.99)
Little Green Raincape is on her way to Rapunzel’s party, deep in the wild woods. The way is long and dark, but Green is a smart girl. Smart enough to turn down apples offered by kindly old ladies, smart enough to turn down travel advice from helpful wolves, and above all, smart enough to solve a wealth of classic fairy tale problems – not least mend a lovelorn beast’s broken heart.  Once Upon a Wild Wood is a richly imagined story packed full of familiar fairy tale characters as you’ve never seen them before.  Including Red Riding Hood, Thumbelina, Rapunzel, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, the three bears, the seven dwarfs and many more!  A visual feast on every page, illustrated with warmth and humour and full of witty details to discover – this is ex Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell at his picture book best!

TTPThe Truth Pixie – Matt Haig (Cannongate, HB, £9.99)
Matt Haig has become known as an ambassador for the importance of talking about mental health and this heartwarming story, brilliantly illustrated throughout by Chris Mould, is being called the Reason’s to Stay Alive for seven-year olds.  “Wherever she is, whatever the day, She only has one kind of thing to say. Just as cats go miaow and cows go moo, The Truth Pixie can only say things that are true.”  A very funny and lovable tale of how one special pixie learned to love herself.  The Truth Pixie is an enchanting, rhyming story that will delight younger readers.

TSMMThe Snowman – Michael Morpurgo (Penguin, HB, £12.99)
Michael Morpurgo has re-imagined Raymond Briggs’ classic The Snowman for a new generation of readers.  One December morning, James is thrilled to wake up to see snow falling. He spends the whole day making his perfect snowman; he has coal eyes, an old green hat and scarf and a tangerine nose, just like the snowman from his favourite story.  That night, something magical happens – the Snowman comes to life!  He and James take to the skies on a magical adventure where they meet someone very special.  Inspired by the timeless tale, Michael Morpurgo and illustrator Robin Shaw have created the perfect Christmas story for the whole family.

NSCSNoel Streatfeild’s Christmas Stories – Noel Streatfeild (Little Brown, HB, £12.99)
A captivating collection of festive stories from the author of Ballet Shoes.  There are auditions on stage and antics on ice, trips to the pantomime, holiday adventures, and laughter shared with family and friends.  Originally written for annuals, magazines and the radio from the 1940s-60s, these stories by this much-loved author have never been collected before and are sure to be a hit with readers of all ages.

SWCThe Spiderwick Chronicles: The Completely Fantastical Edition – Tony Diterlizzi & Holly Black (Simon & Schuster, HB, £14.99)
When the Grace children moved into the old, abandoned Spiderwick Mansion, little did they realise that their lives would never be the same again. Having uncovered a fantastical world of sprites, faeries and goblins there’s no turning back. The Ultimate Spiderwick Chronicles features all five of the original books plus great new bonus content!  Discover the three “lost” chapters that were included in the Nestle Cereal Partners cereal boxes, and the special “development” section showing sketches and early drafts. Readers both old and new, young and old will be completely immersed in the world of Spiderwick with this ultimate collection.

BoDPPLa Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One – Philip Pullman (Penguin, PB, £7.99)
Philip Pullman’s prequel to his Dark Materials series is both for fans and those new to Lyra’s world.  Malcolm Polstead’s Oxford life has been one of routine, ordinary even.  He is happiest playing with his daemon, Asta, in their canoe, La Belle Sauvage.  But now as the rain builds, the world around Malcolm and Asta it seems is set to become increasingly far from ordinary.  Finding himself linked to a baby by the name of Lyra Belacqua, Malcolm is forced to undertake the challenge of his life and to make a dangerous journey that will change him and Lyra forever.

For more recommendations from the Lincoln bookseller call 01522 262374 or pop into their store in Bailgate, Lincoln.

For more Christmas gift guides visit www.arepops.com