Saturday, 26 July 2014

Book Review: The Vintage Summer Wedding by Jenny Oliver

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The Vintage Summer Wedding by Jenny Oliver


This book was chosen as part of my summer of light reading and I downloaded it onto my Kindle (I know, gasp of horror) but the blurb on Amazon took me in and I couldn't help myself.

Anna Whitehall has it all; an enviable job in the capital city, money to burn, and a loving fiancĂ©.  To top it all off, she is planning the wedding of the year to be held at a top London venue and complete with Vera Wang dress.

Unfortunately, when she loses her job unexpectedly she has to return with her fiancĂ© to the village of Nettleton, the hometown she flounced out of at the first opportunity, promising everyone there that she would fulfil her ambition of being a Prima Ballerina on the stage.  Her return means abandoning her previous sophisticated life, taking a job in the dusty old antiques shop and having to face all the people she so ungraciously walked away from all those years before.

Through various experiences in Nettleton, Anna begins to see that she can have all that she wants and more besides, if she can just let go of her past.  This is a real feel good contemporary story about realising that sometimes life doesn't work out quite the way you plan, but that doesn't mean that you can't find real happiness.  

Jenny Oliver sets Anna up to be such a spoiled brat that in the initial chapters I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to continue reading.  She is rude and aggressive but as the story unfolds you begin to learn her journey and the reasons she was brought to this place in her life.

Although the ending is perhaps a little neat and predictable, it doesn't detract from the story at all.  It fits entirely with the feel good element.  The story is snippy and to the point, it moves along at a good pace and you don't get any unnecessary waffle which keeps the book short.  Although there were a few spelling mistakes which I am beginning to realise is usual for e-books but nonetheless a pain, I think this book would be ideal for a summer read.

Have you read anything good lately?  Why not come and link up with my July Book Love Linky.  Would love to see you there.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Moshi Monsters come to the Sea Life Centre, Manchester


We are real fans of Sea Life Centres, having been to Birmingham's a number of times and, more recently, Blackpool for Eli's 3rd birthday so when we were invited to the Sea Life Centre in the Trafford Centre, we were more than happy to oblige.

Naturally, we made the decision to park on the opposite side of the Trafford centre, so we had to enjoy a brisk 15 minute walk/run/drag through the perfume section of Debenhams and then through the main shopping area to get to the correct place!  For future visitors, there is a car park next to the Sea Life Centre and Legoland, make sure you park there.

We arrived, walked in and were handed various activity books which included the normal Sea Life Centre book, a special Moshi Monsters one and a rather fetching pair of Captain hats.


The first room you enter in the Centre is a dark room where you are given a short presentation about Green Sea Turtles.  As we were the only family the guide asked us to sit on the floor and he sat with us, telling us the tale of Ernie the Sea Life Centre's resident Green Sea Turtle.  He was very engaging and we were impressed that he decided to sit and talk with us rather than presenting from the front.  He made it really interactive, asking Meg and Eli questions and high-fiving them when they were right and because of this, the kids were transfixed throughout the whole talk and obviously really enjoyed the little show. After the show we crossed the 'sea' and walked through the next door into the aquarium.

Part of the Moshi Monsters activity book was to find the moshlings who have hidden in various exhibits around the centre and helpfully for little people, Buster Bumblechops is on each exhibit housing a moshling with his telescope, ready to help you spot them.  It was a great way to get the kids looking into the exhibits too, asking questions about things they had spotted which they might otherwise have passed over.



One of the most exciting elements is the tunnel; here you can spot sharks and also Ernie the Green Sea Turtle.  We had lots of fun waiting for him to swim past us with his fishy friends.


We also really enjoyed the interactive rockpool experience, where the kids got to touch a crab.  Again, the member of staff leading the talk was brilliant with the children listening; he was very engaging and happy to answer any questions asked.  I'm fairly sure Meg would have been happy to stay and listen to him for a couple of hours!




Overall we really enjoyed our visit, although it didn't take us too long to walk through, the kids thought it was great and there was plenty to occupy them.  The Centre stays open until 7pm and when we arrived at 5.30pm it was practically empty...I would definitely recommend visiting at a quiet time to really be able to make the most of your visit and enjoy all the exhibits.

At the end, the kids received a Buster Bumblechops Sea Life Conservation Hero Award for discovering all of the hidden moshlings as well as a sticker and a badge.  


Please ignore the little photobomber!

The Moshi Monsters are in Manchester until the 31st August, if you do visit make sure you visit the Moshling Swap Zone where you can exchange up to 6 moshlings.  It is located just before the soft play section.  You can also meet Buster, Katsuma or Poppet at one of the scheduled character meetings.

Disclaimer: We were invited to this event and given entry into the Sea Life Centre, however all thoughts and opinions are our own.