• Wars of the Roses live at Warwick Castle

  • Film Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Long Haul

  • Book Review: Supertato Run, Veggies, Run! By Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

  • Book Review: King of the Sky Written by Nicola Davies and Illustrated by Laura Carlin

Wars of the Roses live at Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is one of our favourite days out in the UK and we were thrilled to be invited to stay over in a Lodge in the Knights Village so that we could make the most of a visit and enjoy the new Wars of the Roses experience.

When we arrived at Warwick it was really clear and easy to find the Knights Village which has its own parking area. The reception staff were really helpful and although we couldn’t check in immediately as we had arrived quite early, we were given a special code which enabled us to use a secret gate to access the castle without having to walk to the main entrance. This was brilliant.

After a general stroll around the castle we decided to go and see Wars of the Roses live, partly as there are only 2 shows per day and we wanted to maximise our opportunities to see it.

Wars of the Roses Live is set in a specially-constructed riverside arena and is a spectacular show of knightly heroism, all included in  the castle admission at no extra cost. We knew (from having friends who are re-enactors) that the show was staged by a group called The Devils Horsemen who are absolutely without doubt the best at jousting displays and horsemanship of this type in the UK- even appearing in Game of Thrones. So, with that in mind we were all really excited!

The arena holds a crowd of 2,000 and evokes magnificent medieval jousts recorded in historical sources. It really adds to the whole experience. The show uses the key players in the wider Wars of the Roses story with direct links to Warwick Castle include Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick – known as The Kingmaker, who switched sides from York to  Lancaster and imprisoned Edward VI (whom he had helped to ascend the throne) at the castle; and The Kingmaker’s daughter, Anne Neville – born at Warwick – who became Queen of England upon marriage to Richard III. It really is an amazing spectacle, the horses were incredible and some of the stunt riding simply awe-inspiring. We loved it so much we went back and saw it again. Much discussion followed on how much effort it must be to train both horses and riders to do this sort of thing and whether it would be possible to learn quite quickly!

Top tips for watching the show- make sure you get in the queue nice and early to secure yourself a good spot. We made the mistake of standing on the decking and then lots of people stood in front of us, so stand at the front by the fence  especially if you have small children. Also, make sure you’ve all gone to the toilet before you get to the arena, we saw so many people having to leave to take their children to the toilet as there are none nearby.

Without doubt this trip will be one of the highlights of our summer, not only because we really enjoyed our time in the Castle watching the Wars of the Roses, exploring the castle, watching the bird and the Horrible History show and generally just enjoying our time together. The thing which really made it was the chance to stay over in the Knights Village.

Being an archaeologist with children who really like and appreciate a bit of history you can imagine my utter delight at being faced with a medieval style bed (in fact I was so delighted I tweeted it and put it on my private Facebook page to which many of my archaeological friends remarked jealously). The whole experience was utterly fantastic, both luxurious and historic! The beds were comfortable with crisp bed linen and the wet room was as good as i’ve seen in any really top quality hotel.

Have a look at our video (unfortunately my phone ran out of battery half way) but it gives you a good idea:

The other delightful thing about staying over was the ‘all you can eat buffet’ for dinner and breakfast (in a medieval style banqueting hall) followed by the evening entertainment. The kids had a fantastic time after dinner wandering around by the River Avon and learning circus skills, archery and having the opportunity to have their photograph taken with a falcon. It was lovely to see them doing something active and learning new skills.

learning archery

Warwick Castle is one of those places which never fails to delight, it is both historic and entertaining and somehow there is always something new to see and enjoy. There was more than enough this time round to keep us occupied for two whole days which I must admit did surprise me. However, I think one of the nicest things about staying over was not feeling that we had to rush and see everything in a day.

Staying over in the Knights Village is clearly really popular, we spotted several families celebrating birthdays both young and old. Having an experience like this is a brilliant alternative to a soft play party or similar, so I could definitely see why people had opted to do this and my children seemed really keen on the idea for us going forwards. You can choose whether you stay in a tent (prices start at £49.75pppn based on a family of four sharing a Warwick Tent, just a few paces from the new show arena.) or a lodge like we did.

Overall a weekend at Warwick Castle is a great experience, we really made the most of our visit and made some memories we wont forget. However, if you cant stay over its well worth a trip to Warwick Castle just to catch the Wars of the Roses Live which will blow your mind if you like a bit of history and some fabulous horsemanship.

Book now at www.warwick-castle.com for the best price guarantee

Disclaimer: We were given free entry to the castle and free accommodation, however this hasn’t influenced my review- our family loved the whole experience!

 

Film Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: the Long Haul

This weekend we went to an advance screening of the latest chapter in the Dairy of a Wimpy Kid franchise. This was hotly anticipated in our house because my kids absolutely love the other films and the books are some of the few which my reluctant reader loves. You can go along this weekend and see it as it opens in cinemas on 20th May.

In this film the Heffley family go on a road trip to his grandma’s 90th birthday party and a few things happen along the way.

One of the things which the children were worried about was whether or not a new cast would work. Greg from the other films is just more likeable somehow and the rest of the cast dont have the same chemistry as the cast from the other films. I liked Alicia Silverstones’s mum who frankly reminded me of someone I know, she even has the same glasses. However, on re-watching a bit of the first film in the franchise I can see that this cast just haven’t captured the essence of the books at all.

My daughter (8) pointed out to me that Rowley doesn’t feature really at all in this film. This is a massive shame as he does feature so heavily in the books and she would have liked to have seen more of him.

Greg is asked for a selfie thanks to his ‘diaper hands’ fame

In terms of the storyline, I enjoyed it and thought there were some laugh out loud moments. The rest of the family not so much, I think its because I haven’t read the books or really watched the other films so for me its quite a stand alone movie. A bit like National Lampoon but without the chemistry, or the 1980’s.

Its hard to review a film which is such an iconic part of a franchise and is an entirely new cast because it is never going to live up to the original. One the one hand, it wasn’t the best film i’ve watched this year, however it did have me laughing out loud at several points. On the other hand, the kids who are massive fans thought it was ok, but didn’t live up to the books and the casting didn’t quite match their expectations. As a result I’d suggest that this is a wet Sunday afternoon sort of film, its not offensive (apart from the scene with the fairground ride and sick incident which nearly caused my daughter to leave the cinema) but its not something to rush and see with high expectations.

My last thought- how did I get so old that Alicia Silverstone is now playing a mum to teenagers?

Learn to draw like Jeff Kinney:

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Book Review: Supertato Run, Veggies, Run! By Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet

Every pre-schoolers favourite super hero Supertato returns with another adventure. This time its Sports Day in the supermarket and all the veggies are in training. However, there is a new competitor on the block determined to win all the prizes.

My five year old LOVES Supertato and he was thrilled to read this new story featuring The Evil Pea. Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet’s books are always laugh out loud for both adults and kids and this one is no exception. It really made us all laugh and was just a joy to read at bedtime with its bright illustrations.

If there isn’t already a category of ‘feel good books for kids’ out there, then one should be created for Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet’s books. I always turn to No-Bot or Supertato if one of the kids has had a hard day and they never fail to lift the mood in the house.

Find out more here.

Book Review: King of the Sky Written by Nicola Davies and Illustrated by Laura Carlin

King of the Sky is an Amnesty International endorsed picture book about a young boy who has started a life in a new county and feel alone and lost. The boy makes friends with Mr Evans an old man who races pigeons and they build a friendship over a shared interest in the birds and one in particular who they call King of the Sky.

This is one of those books which works on many different levels which means its an enjoyable read for your little five year old and your 10 year old. With migration and ideas behind what is meant by home so high on the agenda at the moment its a good book to read with your children. For us this came at a good time as my eldest is acutely aware of migration because he has recently made friends with a few new children who are just starting to learn English. I think it has helped him to understand how these children may feel and it has helped me to discuss the situation with him.

Nicola Davies always writes in a thought provoking manner but for us it was the illustrations that really made this such  a powerful book. Each page is a piece of art in itself and that encourages you to spend some time reflecting upon what you’ve read.

I like this book a lot, it hit a nerve at the right time and its just filled with depth which is rare for a picture book.

Book Review: The Bad Bunnies Magic Show by Mini Grey

Mini Grey produces my husband Daddacool’s favourite children’s books. He has read Three by The Sea to the children more times than they could remember and Traction Man is one of my daughters favourite books.

Personally I think that with the creation of Mr Abra and Mr Cadabra Mini Grey has upped her game yet again. These Bad Bunnies are brilliant and my kids loved them. My 10 year old thought that this was a really engaging picture book, he loved the graphics and the ways the flaps worked to imitate actual magic tricks. Its such a great idea and has inspired him to try to create his own version of a magic book.

The thing which we all loved about this book was that you could actually through the text and images and the way that the flaps worked, build into reading it a bit of showmanship and drama. It became a little performance which everyone could enjoy. We’ve read it several times and the eldest children have taken it in turns to perform it.

We are really looking forward to seeing what else the Bad Bunnies get up to next! If you’d like to find out more  have a look here.