24 November 2019

What did we think of the Stranger Things Secret Cinema?

Firstly, I have to say that it was fantastic. We have been to the Secret Cinema editions of Blade Runner and Casino Royale, and hands down this beat them both. This Stranger Things Secret Cinema is running until February 2020, so if you have a chance to go I definitely recommend it.

Secondly, just as a reminder or an introduction to those new to Secret Cinema, the best way to describe it is as an immersive theatrical experience based on a film (or in this case, a TV series). You dress up, wander about a giant set and interact with actors before watching the film. 


secret cinema stranger things outside

couple dressed as 80s rockers at secret cinema


And now, we can get to this spoiler-free review and tips!

The big difference this Secret Cinema edition has with previous runs is that it is based on a TV series and not a film, so the grand finale is not the usual film with live action recreation. 

This time the grand finale is more of a live action than a film. While some highlights of the series are shown on screens, there is a heavy use of actors and live action and the whole grand finale is more theatrical and immersive. It feels much more like entering a theatre show than watching a film, and dare I say it, I actually preferred this format. You certainly got more bang for your buck. 

As for the whole experience and the "world", this too was better than the previous Secret Cinema events we have been to. This time it was more immersive and you actually found the actors and could interact with the whole storyline. Previously, I've felt it was difficult to follow the storyline, if there even was any. This time, we had a mission and we very nearly completed it but unfortunately ran out of time before we got to the secret area. 

Outside the mission there were booths to explore, games to play, shops to buy stuff from, food to eat and drinks to have. There was a lot of interactive things to do, not just watching the occasional live action scenes. And the actors... I had to do a double take on a couple of them as they looked so much like the original actors - Dusty and Aleksei were like exact copies! 

And also, can we talk about how much fun it was to dress up 1980s style! Both me and my husband went as 80s rockers. We didn't need to buy anything for these costumes, except OK, I did get myself some hair chalks to colour my hair with and my husband did buy himself a mullet wig. But other than that, we could adapt old clothes for this. It was great fun!



starcourt mall entrance

wearing a 80s rocker outfit



Now obviously, because this is a spoiler-free review I can't give too much away but if you are going to the event you will be dressed up as an 80s character - such as a rocker, a pop kid, hip hopper and so on. Dress up - people were going really full-on! 

When you enter, you will get given an orientation by your assigned character group. Do not miss this, this will set you on your mission path. Follow closely what you've been told to do, and look for the person you've been told to locate, and they will give you more instructions. I found that it could get a bit busy and you had to queue a bit when waiting to get to do your mission, and how amusing and oh how very British it was as people formed orderly queues everywhere. It got busier towards the end, so if you can, do the mission as your first thing. 

Division of people in different character groups was a great idea - different character groups had slightly different storylines and points of meetings organised for them, and this helped in making it run smoother. While the storylines are slightly different between groups, they all lead to the same thing and in the end, converge to the grand finale at the central area. 

And here are a few of my top tips, spoiler-free too of course. 


Top tips:
  • Bring a pen and a piece of paper. It makes it easier to complete the missions and the actors won't look at you like you are stupid or stoned when you come ask them the same information for the third time after getting an ice cream from Scoops Ahoy and forgetting who said what and where... *This may or may not be based on personal experience*
  • If you complete your mission you get a password for a secret area! We missed this as time ran out, so I'd recommend completing the mission first and after that exploring the area. 
  • Bring sensible shoes, there is going to be a lot of walking back and forth and the final show is 30 minutes of standing. 
  • There were a few shops, which was interesting. There was the usual Secret Cinema shop where you can get Hawkins merchandise, but there was also Coach and MAC. They were doing make-up demos at MAC (so you now know where to go if you didn't have time to do your make-up before the event), and apparently they sell character-specific special edition lipsticks too. 
  • The food is the usual burger, pasta, pizza, fried chicken type, all nice and quite standard - and I hope I don't spoil it too much by saying that the cherry ice cream from Scoops Ahoy was fab. 
  • The final show - it starts in the central area. If you stick close to the dancing stage you get best spots. When you get ushered into the new area, if you can work your way to the middle you get the best views. 
  • If you have mobility issues or are pregnant there is a special area to the right of the performance room. 
  • I'm pretty sure you can't get in once the final performance starts, so don't dillydally anywhere if you want to see it. 
  • I didn't find the final show scary or frightening, but it was exciting for sure. You do get more out of it if you have seen all three seasons of Stranger Things, but you can follow it even if you haven't. 


starcourt mall entrance neon lights

couple wearing 80s rocker outfits for secret cinema



In my opinion, this has been the best Secret Cinema we've been to. The immersive experience was fab - you really felt immersed in the world, and you got to do missions and follow storylines, and it all worked a lot better and smoother than previous events. The final immersive experience was also fantastic. 

And if you want to see what happened in some of the previous events, have a look at my previous reviews of Blade Runner and Casino Royale Secret Cinema events!


Have you been to Secret Cinema?




17 November 2019

20 easy ideas for a creative autumn treasure hunt

Fresh air and outdoor play does wonders for kids. After a good fun play session outdoors they seem to behave better, learn better and sleep better. Personally, I do find it occasionally a bit difficult to motivate my six year old move away from cosy indoors and the screens. Once we are out she is happy to stay out and won't want to come back inside anymore, but it is the getting her out which can be a bit tricky sometimes. That said, I have finally found a way to get her excited about going outdoors, and it is an outdoors treasure hunt!

A treasure hunt, or a scavenger hunt if you wish, is a great way to get kids out and about with something to do, and even better if there is a little prize at the end of ticking all the boxes. All you need ahead of going is to grab a piece of paper, a pen and write down some things they have to find on your adventures outdoors. And off you go!

I've shared some of my ideas for a fun scavenger hunt here, with things to find and do while outdoors. There are some fairly simple ones and also more challenging ones where you have to use your imagination and skills. Thanks for the inspiring this post goes to the Wild about Autumn Blogger Challenge created by AliKats Mountain Holidays and Going Wild authors Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield





So here are my 20 easy ideas for an autumnal scavenger hunt!

1. Find a puddle or a pond.
2. Spot a squirrel or another furry animal.
3. Find a stick that looks like a man.
4. Collect five different colour leaves.
5. Poke at a mushroom.
6. Collect a pinecone family.
7. Find an especially shiny conker or an acorn.
8. Discover a bug of some sort.
9. Dig a hole with a stick.
10. Find wild berries.






11. Spot a flock of birds.
12. Find a feather or something a bird would eat.
13. Build a tower with three small rocks.
14. Make a leaf rain (tip: throw them in the air).
15. Kick leaves up, as high as your head.
16. Collects sticks and make a pyramid out of them.
17. Find a face on a tree.
18. Make a face on the ground with leaves, sticks and pinecones.
19. Find a place that would be a perfect home for a fairy.
20. Find a piece of litter and take it to the bin.




I particularly like these nature treasure hunts as they are so easy for the parents. Just a few of these ideas will keep your kid entertained for a while and all you, as a parent, have to do is follow them along and let them blow steam. I noticed that about 5-6 ideas were enough for 30 minutes of outdoor time, and of course once you are out there kids will find lots of other fun things to do and see too. 

I hope there are a few fun ideas to get your kids excited about going outdoors!

Easy imagination-filled ideas for an autumn scavenger hunt - 20 things to do and things to see in autumn, including creative ideas too!

Easy imagination-filled ideas for an autumn scavenger hunt - 20 things to do and things to see in autumn, including creative ideas too!

What would you put on an autumn scavenger hunt list?


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11 November 2019

Delicious recipe for a pork and apple burger from HelloFresh

When HelloFresh got in touch with me and asked me to check the HelloFresh recipe archive and try cooking one of the recipes for my blog, little did I know how difficult the choice would be... Because there is so much to choose from!

Please note that this post is sponsored by HelloFresh. 




I knew what HelloFresh is all about - they make cooking easy by sending you packages of pre-measured ingredients and a recipe card, so all you need to do for a freshly made dinner is to chop and cook. All the mental load taken away, and just the act of cooking is left to you. But what I didn't know is that HelloFresh also share all their recipes on their site. You you can see exactly what you might get in your boxes, or just use the recipes for inspiration.

I chose to do the Pork and Apple Burger with Rosemary Wedges and Rocket Salad as our Sunday dinner. And seriously tasty dinner it was!

And if you want to try this home, you can either check their recipe on their site, or for added ease, I've added it here too.





Ingredients (for four):

Few twigs of rosemary
12 small to medium sized potatoes

2 apples
500g pork mince
20 grams of bread crumbs
2 blocks of cheddar cheese (c. 100g)
4 burger buns
Apple and sage jelly (I used apple and cider sauce this time)

2 tbs honey
Half a lemon
Bag of rocket (c. 150g)

Olive oil
Salt and pepper





Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 220 Celcius. Pick the rosemary leaves from stalks and chop the leaves finely. Chop the potatoes into wedges, roughly your index finger size. Spread on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and the chopped rosemary. Roast in oven 30-35 minutes until golden - turn midway through cooking.

2. Make burger patties next. Peel and grate the apples. Use a tea towel and squeeze out as much of the water out from the apple as you can. Mix the grated apple, pork mince and breadcrumbs in a large bowl, season well with salt and pepper. Make four patties, flatten them out to be a bit bigger than the bun.

3. Heat up olive oil on a medium hot pan. Once the pan is hot, on the patties go. Fry about 5-6 min on both sides, until no longer pink in the middle. I found my burgers took a few extra minutes on both sides, as the quantity of the mince made for quite big patties.

4. As burger patties are cooking, grate the cheese. When burgers are cooked, turn off the heat, gather up cheddar on top of the burgers and cover the pan with a lid. Let cheese melt about 4-5 min.

5. While the cheese is melting, slice up the burger buns and put in the over for about 2-3 minutes. Make the salad. Mix honey, olive oil and the lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Add your rocket.

6. Make the burger! Spread the apple sage jelly / apple sauce on each side of the burger bun. Serve the patties in the bun with the wedges and the salad. I also added some of the salad in the burger, very tasty and the sweetness added nicely to the flavour!

So there we go, pork and apple burgers, a very yummy dinner.






It is well worth checking the HelloFresh recipe archive. I was impressed by the many (oh so many) mouth-watering ideas over there, and thought it was fantastic I could search for all kinds of different types of meal - quick meals, family friendly meals, world cuisines and so on. And as for me, I've already got my heart set for Gnocchi Primavera for a quick mid-week dinner for us all, and I'm sure it'll be just as well received as the burgers we had yesterday!

If you want to test HelloFresh deliveries, HelloFresh has provided a link through which my readers will get £10 off their first box! Check them out here!
A very tasty pork and apple burger served with rosemary wedges and a salad - an easy and delicious recipe from HelloFresh.

A very tasty pork and apple burger served with rosemary wedges and a salad - an easy and delicious recipe from HelloFresh.

What type of burgers do you like the best?


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