BBC Good Food Show ~ NEC, Birmingham

The BBC Good Food Show has been on my radar for years so to be able to experience the Winter Good Food Show has been a dream come true. With top Chefs like Mary Berry, James Martin and Michael Roux Jr. displaying their culinary talents in the Big Kitchen and a whole host of action on the smaller stages, combined with the opportunity to attend workshops – it couldn’t have been a better way to begin rounding off my reviewing calendar. Plenty of food and drink too, samples at every turn and bargains galore which is a perfect Christmas shopping option too.

Television Presenter; Chris Bavin was on hand on the Seasonal Kitchen stage to talk us through the various recipes that might be useful during the festive season.

The Winter Kitchen was also a fun place to be, seating capacity was just right for the numbers in attendance and the well placed screens

There was a Pop up restaurant for anyone wishing to wine and dine in style – it was set up beautifully, looked exceptionally inviting and might be on my wish list of things to do next year!

Book signings from a few of the culinary guests were a particular feature occurring frequently throughout the show. Any of those fabulous books would have been an ideal Christmas gift.

Skills School places need to be booked as soon as possible as they sell out but they look well worth attending. Sourdough Masterclass with Denise Tollyfield and Knife Skills were on offer.

The Good Food Show offers a unique shopping experience with sweet and savoury food as well as alcoholic and non-alcoholic refreshments all available to sample and purchase. A big shout out must go to the gluten free sponge cakes from Sponge – they were like a drop of heaven, so delicious and spectacularly presented in gorgeous boxes. We also enjoyed gingerbread mallows, massive crisps (the chilli flavour were a particular favourite) and fudge.

My team and I can hardly wait for the summer edition of the show, my 4 year old son got as much out of it as we did – he especially loved the Haribo from Chris Bavin!

 

 

 

 

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MCM Comic Con ~ Birmingham, NEC

Tis the season! Autumn geek heaven for my family and I…

Which basically means photographs with awesome cosplays, hearing amazing panel talks with stars of the small and big screen, plenty of gaming opportunities and of course that all important C word… Crimes of Griswald? No, CHRISTMAS. If Santa should be directed anywhere to fulfill my Christmas wish list, it’s Comic Con. Mission completed!

This time we mixed it up a bit, spending Saturday being led by our 4 year old, doing what he wanted to do and the Sunday enjoying the convention the way we wanted to – as much as the 4 year old would allow!

MCM know how to do a large-scale Comic Con and the Cosplayers were out in force, we felt under-dressed for not being in costume. So many fandoms represented by attendees, the atmosphere was buzzing and footfall appeared to be on the up.

Here are 4 year old Connor’s highlights of the Saturday:

  • The Grinch ~ The Grinch is on trend again this festive season with the new animated movie having landed on the big screen. I was already a fan of the original film starring the incomparable Jim Carrey, however the smallest member of our family is now taking an active interest in the character. You can imagine his excitement when early in his comic con experience he was confronted with a giant snow globe featuring the miserly green creature! The queues were never too long for this festive treat which meant we were clambering in beside the Grinch and getting covered in snowflake-like paper on both days of the con. Great fun!
  • SPIDERMAN! ~ suspended from the ceiling and hanging upside down. Not the real thing but close enough and a feature which held Connor’s interest and helped him to know where about in the hall he was too.
  • Storm Troopers ~ we always have to make a beeline for UK Garrison if their members are not already marching towards us. Connor’s main request of the weekend was that he saw and high fived the Storm Troopers and located Chewbacca. His wishes were granted and the traditions of MCM Comic Con were upheld!
  • Super Mario ~ Nintendo were a prominent feature in the gaming areas and extremely attractive to our young lad, especially given that he’s newly discovered the Wii.
  • TOYS ~ the temptation to pick up everything in sight and within reach at the numerous stalls was almost too much for a 4 year old convention attendee to cope with! Overwhelmed sums it up and had we not already got Christmas covered, we could have easily done ALL the Christmas shopping in that hall and had a very happy believer on Christmas morning after Santa had done his job.

Here are the highlights from a 39 year old and 46 year old who are old enough to know better but would rather not(!):

  • Talks/Panels ~ so many to choose from and plenty of different stages with something going on over the weekend. We particularly enjoyed listening to and learning from the talented artist, Mark Kistler who taught us how to draw a cartoon fish. On the main stage there was a Star Wars panel and the wonderful Mary McDonnell was also a star feature.
  • Cosplay ~ there seemed to be an increased number of costumed attendees and the sheer attention to detail that goes in to some of the cosplays is nothing short of incredible. There are some super-talented super-fans out there.
  • Props ~ props from our favourite movies and television shows are always a winner and you can always rely on UK Garrison to recreate memories from Star Wars. The Cybermen were also fascinating to look at, that’s the closest I’ll ever be getting to one at any rate!
  • Christmas Shopping ~ my husband pretty much got Christmas wrapped up for me – everything on my wish list was on display at the wide range of stalls and all budgets were catered for too. From commercial to rarer items, if you have a Christmas list from a geek, Comic Con is the place to shop at.

Do you want to see what all the buzz is about? Then why not check out MCM’s website and book tickets for one of their many awesome events next year: MCM Comic Con

 

 

 

Brick Live! ~ NEC, Birmingham

Lego has been a firm favourite of mine since I was 4 or 5 years old, probably – although it wasn’t entirely clear who loved building with the popular blocks more – me or my dad! With a son now aged 4 (almost 5 years old) who is already interested in the many movies Lego have released and has jumped headlong into building Lego houses, Brick Live! seemed like the ideal opportunity to fuel the passion and be a big kid myself, not that I need an excuse…

The NEC played host to the event and it’s taken place over four days 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th November.  We attended on the opening day and the highlights of the day were plentiful. It’s the perfect family day out and a fantastic indoor event to take the kids to during half term holidays too.

Here are a few of the features we loved:

Lego Statues

The giant Lego statues were more of a fascination for me than my youngster, however he was particularly taken with the witch, given that we have just celebrated Halloween she was a draw for his eager eyes! I personally adored the Mystical Creatures feature and thought the Cyclops in particular was inspired. It only goes to show that the builds you can make with Lego bricks are limitless.

Have a go….

Lego pits were situated all over the hall and they were in regular use by all of the small guests who thought nothing or launching themselves in to the bricks (even though all of us parents know what it’s like to accidentally step on an offending piece of Lego!!). Duplo was available too for the less dexterous and little fingered enthusiast as well as larger rubber bricks which were fun for all. The more seasoned builders could avail themselves of the various stations situated around the venue and leave their makes out for all to see. There were some amazing quick makes to be seen, there are some very talented young builders around!

Robot Wars

Who doesn’t love robot wars? We see a lot of battles at Comic Con when MCM visit the NEC and it’s always a marvel to see, when the robots have been built with Lego it’s all the more exciting. There’s good sized arena for the audience to sit and watch too.

Aim high

Have your kids tried a climbing wall before? If not there’s a chance to do just that and everybody taking up the challenge looked like they were loving it. What a brilliant idea.

Meet Friends

Lego Friends are the new-ish addition to the Lego family and four talented young ladies represented the popular characters superbly in the Lego Friends section of the show. Offering a dance demo then opening the floor to their young fans, the girls led the throng of wannabe dancers who joined in. My little boy thought it was amazing and it was one of his personal highlights. The final tune they danced to, from Disney’s Zootropolis summed up what I felt was the ethos of the show, ‘try everything’ and Brick Live! has plenty of chances for everybody to try everything. The photo opportunity with the girls afterwards didn’t go amiss either.

Game on!

Do you enjoy gaming AND Lego? Consoles were available for anyone who fancied a break from hands on building and the Super Mario Party stand seemed to be the place to be.

Save your pennies up

There’s plenty of merchandise to buy and having an event so close to Christmas means that it’s tempting to make a few festive purchases as gifts (especially while your kids’ backs are turned!). Lego has never been an inexpensive hobby of course, so it’s worth saving those pennies if you fancy treating yourself or your loved ones! It’s worth checking out the exhibition prices applied to some of the sets if you’re in the market to add to your collection or someone else’s.

As the queues outside the Lego store in London’s Leicester Square go to prove, Lego never loses its place in the hearts of small and big kids alike – so Brick Live! is an innovative idea which attracts all age groups and we’ll be very excitedly anticipating a return visit in the future. Everything is awesome!

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