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LadyValkyrie

LadyValkyrie

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Hello all, it's been a while. I'm hoping to get some time for some travel and book reviews soon. Things have been taking off with my angel readings and baby keeps me on my toes! Hope you're all well.

Reviews written

since 21/08/2011

40

Natureland Seal Sanctuary, Skegness 11/08/2013

Up close and personal with the seals and penguins - *Update11/8*

Natureland Seal Sanctuary, Skegness *Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* *You may have noticed that I am mostly taking advantage of the Beauty campaign this month. However I thought regular readers would need a break from endless beauty reviews and still have a couple of outstanding travel review ideas from the summer to interweave. As I didn’t intend to leave these so late, apologies in advance for having forgotten some of the details such as exact prices.* For the last two summers we have spent some time with my partner’s family in Lincolnshire, and both years we have had days out in Skegness, as there is plenty there to keep a little boy amused (my son, not my partner)! Most of the attractions to be found at Skeg are standard seaside fare so I will not be writing separate reviews about them, but Natureland Seal Sanctuary stands out to me as something a little bit different and not to be missed. ~*~ SEAFRONT SITUATION ~*~ Natureland is easy to locate being fairly prominent on the north side of Skegness seafront, and is well signposted from the town centre. There are several car parks in the vicinity: we used a large car park on a field at the side of the pier, which I found reasonably priced for all-day parking and which was conveniently in between everywhere on our hit-list that day. From the outside Natureland has enticing pictures of seals and penguins on placards inviting you in, and large picture windows through which you can get a bit of a glimpse of ...

The Runway Visitor Park, Manchester 11/08/2013

Is it a bird? No, it's a plane..& another..& another! -Update11/8

*Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* I have always felt lucky to live in Manchester, such a vibrant place with so much going on, such a rich history, and many interesting places to visit. Manchester Airport is one such destination which is literally half an hour’s drive away from our house. My little boy is currently obsessed with aeroplanes, and so earlier this half-term to give him an incentive to be good and try hard at school, I promised we could go to Manchester Airport in the holidays to watch the planes taking off and landing. When I was growing up, visitors simply went to the airport itself and enjoyed the viewing gallery for those just wishing to watch the planes. This facility was available from the airport’s humble beginnings as “Ringway Airport” in 1938. I have since found this has (quite sensibly) been closed in recent years because of terrorism and the increased threat of having bodies around the airport who don’t intend to travel. When I was looking up Manchester Airport for some information online, I chanced upon the pages about their Runway Visitor Park, which first opened as the “Aviation Viewing Park” in 1992 and was re-named and re-located to accommodate an additional runway in 1997. It’s a little bit out in the sticks surrounded only by main roads and a few houses, so I am not sure how people would approach by public transport, however there are bus services to the airport itself across Greater Manchester ...

Blackpool Zoo, Blackpool 11/08/2013

Blackpool Zoo - Real Animal Magic

Blackpool Zoo, Blackpool *Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* Every school holiday we have at least one “big day out” for my son, and one of his prevailing passions is animals, so his number one choice is often the zoo. While our usual destination is Chester Zoo, this October break we decided on Blackpool Zoo, following a previous positive visit back in February half-term. A magical place on so many levels, I couldn’t wait to write a review showing how this attraction is truly something a little bit different, and still growing and developing in exciting directions. “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals…they are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.” – Henry Beston BLACKPOOL ZOO THEN AND NOW Blackpool Zoo has a fascinating history, and maybe this in part accounts for its unique atmosphere. It was built at Stanley Park at the north end of Blackpool in 1972, following the closure of the old Tower Zoo in 1969 which – some would say cruelly - kept animals confined to tiny quarters due to lack of space. Stanley Park itself was once the site of Blackpool Municipal Airport from 1931, then Stanley Park Aerodrome from 1939-1945 which saw much action during World War Two; some of its hangars have been retained and recycled into zoo buildings, such as the elephant house. Johnny ...

Rhuddlan Castle, Rhyl 11/08/2013

With Wales in my heart: Almost as old as the rolling hills...

Rhuddlan Castle, Rhyl *Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* ...And just as stirring. By the time I’m done reviewing what my son and I did this summer, you will realise I’ve spent a lot of time in North Wales. Only an hour or so’s drive from the rather less sunny or seasidey Manchester, it seemed the ideal place to escape for some grand days out, since we’ve exhausted the more local options in recent years. I first spotted Rhuddlan Castle on the way home from a visit to Rhyl SeaQuarium (review to follow) and seafront a few weeks ago, with the Welsh dragon flag proudly flying from the parapet and impressive gatehouse towers standing watch over the A525, and promised my son we would return another day, which turned out to be today. I thought I would write a review straight away, partly because it’s fresh in my mind, partly because of the nice little touches that I don’t want to forget before I write, and partly because it truly captivated me. I have loved castles since childhood and am quite exacting about the elements a castle must have for me to fall in love with it, so to say that this castle exceeded all my expectations is a real accolade. Let me give you “the tour”! ~*~ TO THE TOWN GATE ~*~ PERFECT CASTLE CRITERIA 1: THE SETTING 2: THE PRICE Rhuddlan Castle is easy to reach from the main A55 road into Wales from the M56 – it’s as simple as, take a right for the A525 to Rhyl, and when you see the castle on your right, point your car in its ...

Conwy Castle, Conwy 11/08/2013

A Castle For The Historically Curious

Conwy Castle, Conwy *Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* *You may have noticed that I am mostly taking advantage of the Beauty campaign this month. However I thought regular readers would need a break from endless beauty reviews and still have a couple of outstanding travel review ideas from the summer to interweave. As I didn’t intend to leave these so late, apologies in advance if I’ve forgotten some of the finer details. This is also the final instalment of my summer 2011 North Wales explorations, following my reviews of Rhuddlan Castle, Rhyl Seaquarium and the Chainbridge Hotel. * With its beautiful backdrop of Conwy Quay and rolling Welsh hills, Conwy Castle has long been etched in my memory and this summer’s visit with my son was the third time I have darkened its door – in this lifetime, anyway. A quintessential mediaeval castle, it is known for being well-preserved and retaining much of its historical charm, and though it is now essentially a shell with the grass growing where there were once floors and courtyards, I would agree that this gives it a certain superior edge to many surviving fortification ruins which are mere shadows of their former glory. For those who read my recent Rhuddlan Castle review, this will be a rather more impressionistic offering and will not be following the “tour” approach, namely because summer is now receding into a warm but distant glow of less focused memories and I can’t recall that much technical detail ...

Seaquarium, Rhyl 11/08/2013

Small fry but almost-perfectly fishily formed

*Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* My little boy and I tried Rhyl SeaQuarium for the first time during the summer holidays. Two of his favourite days out are aquarium visits and beach visits, so with its location right on Rhyl seafront, it promised to be a perfect place for him. Compared with other aquariums we’re familiar with such as the Blue Planet Aquarium, it was quite small, so I was worried about whether they would be enough to do. I needn’t have worried! ~*~ “VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY”: ABOUT SEAQUARIUM ~*~ SeaQuarium is a chain of aquarium attractions, with current locations in Weston-Super-Mare, Rhyl, and West Midlands Safari Park. Exhibits and facilities vary, and prices vary accordingly – for example, Weston, which doesn’t have a Sea Lion Cove or as many exhibits, is cheaper than Rhyl, particularly for children. From my experience at Rhyl, I would describe SeaQuarium as a sort of rival company to SeaLife Centres, but offering much better value for money. While there is little in the way of conservation news on their website, which I always like to see, it’s apparent from the snippets there that the animals are well cared-for by specialist staff, and certainly the displays at Rhyl are stimulating and educational in terms of conservation. At Rhyl SeaQuarium, entry is priced comparably with other similar attractions at £8.25 per adult and £7.25 per child/concession, with free entry for under-3s and family discount deals ...

Pennington Flash Country Park, Leigh 11/08/2013

Ticks all my boxes: child, budget and wildlife friendly!

Pennington Flash Country Park, Leigh *Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* As well as getting out and about further afield this summer, budget constraints also meant we spent a fair bit of time getting out and about closer to home. And for us, you can’t get much closer to home than Pennington Flash Country Park. On the outskirts of the small mining town Leigh, which is about ten minutes’ drive from us, Pennington Flash is an oasis of greenery and wildlife within an otherwise industrial landscape. Read on to find out why it ticks all my boxes for a day out! ~*~ A FLASH OF LIGHT ~*~ A flash is a lake caused by mining subsidence; the land where Pennington Flash now gleams and glistens in the sunshine was once an industrial centre and community…who knows what ghostly buildings lurk beneath the surface! The flash itself was created sometime on the cusp of the 19th and 20th century, due to subsidence from nearby Bickershaw Colliery, and a great variety of beautiful wildlife and bird communities grew up around it. I’m sure at the time it was seen as a natural disaster, but now it’s a great escape for locals from town life, a space that stood still in time, and still encourages simple pleasures such as picnicking, walking, cycling, and bird-spotting. It’s a well-loved and well-regarded spot among the local residents, and I always find it incredibly touching that there are hides and benches dedicated to those who have loved the place and passed away, their families ...

The Millennium Ribble Link (UK) 11/08/2013

They say "do something that scares you every day"...

*Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* …And on 11th September this year I did something that scared me enough to last every day for the rest of this year if not more…I went with my partner on the Millennium Ribble Link crossing from Tarleton to Savick Brook. Not that the passage is inherently scary, but if you’re hydrophobic, can’t swim and have only in the last ten years or so become more trusting of boats, trust me, it’s scary. In fact, most boaters my partner has spoken to have felt apprehensive before crossing the link, which is partly why I wanted to write this review, to reassure people. This will be a rather specialist review so if you’re not and don’t know a boater this may never be relevant to you - however hopefully it will at least be an interesting journey. Let’s embark on our voyage… ~*~ WHAT IS THE MILLENNIUM RIBBLE LINK AND WHY IS IT “SCARY”? ~*~ It’s actually a small stretch of canal through an area called Savick Brook near Preston, which was constructed at the turn of the millennium. The purpose of the link is to connect the Lancaster Canal to the Rufford branch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Previous to the building of the link, the Lancaster Canal was isolated other than a perilous tidal approach via the River Lune for traders. The idea for the link had been proposed as early as the 1770s by engineer John Rennie, but never transpired, with other solutions such as the sea-port at Glasson Docks adopted in the ...

Bents Garden Centre, Glazebury 11/08/2013

Here Today, Scone Tomorrow - *Updated 11/8/13*

*Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* Situated in leafy Glazebury on the Cheshire/Lancashire border, Bents Garden Centre attracts custom from all over both counties and even further afield. Named as the UK’s best garden centre in 2009, 2010 and 2011, it is definitely more than just a garden centre – it’s a bona fide tourist attraction with even bigger and better plans for the future. We’re lucky enough to live nearby and visit often… ~*~ “FOR BEAUTIFUL LIVING” ~*~ First and foremost, Bents is a large shop with a curiosity in every corner. The entrance doors lead to a copious cards and gifts section, which includes amongst its wares Yankee candles, books, ornaments, toys and even jewellery. We have always found that it’s a great place to get a gift for that tricky person who already has everything – there are lots of unusual vases, dishes, candles, artwork and ornamental pieces in diverse styles from floral and fragrant, to rustic and rural, to modernist and minimalist, to city chic. For younger children and babies, there are beautiful traditional wooden trains, dolls’ houses and animals, though there probably isn’t much in the way of giftware for older children. My mum especially loves the artificial flowers section because she collects them, so I’m never stuck for something to buy her these days! Gifts can be very expensive, so it’s important to check prices early in the choosing process, with some items in excess of £50, but ...

Chester Zoo, Chester 11/08/2013

Chester Zoo - It's an Education!

Chester Zoo, Chester *Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* Being the mum of a lively five-year-old who is animal-obsessed, I’ve been to Chester Zoo more than most. Only an hour away from us, it’s one of our favourite places for a day out. However there are some potential annoyances that any prospective visitors should know about, especially if travelling a long way. So I thought I would write a review all about what you should expect if you go down to the zoo today… Chester Zoo is a good, wholesome, educational day out for kids from one to ninety-one and beyond. A visit covers more of the National Curriculum than you might at first expect… SCIENCE Of course, the main attraction at Chester Zoo is the animals. There is a good variety of animals including giraffes, zebras, elephants, cheetahs, jaguars, lions, tigers, penguins, otters, rhinoceroses, bears, kangaroos, red pandas, meerkats, mongoose, camels, bats, crocodiles, snakes and lizards, orang-utans, macaques, gibbons, chimpanzees, lemurs and many more besides. There are plenty of information boards in close proximity to most of the animal exhibits, detailing the names, ages and birthplaces of many of the animals. Some exhibits have interesting interactive quizzes and activities for children to do, revealing interesting snippets about, for example, what the animals eat and the climate and vegetation in their countries of origin. The relatively new jaguar house is a particularly fine example, ...

Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester 11/08/2013

Legoland in the city? Rip-off city more like!

Legoland Discovery Centre, Manchester *Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* As my son has been enjoying his Duplo Lego recently, I decided to take him to the Legoland Discovery Centre in The Trafford Centre, Manchester this summer holiday as a treat. Looking at the interactive map on their website it looked like there was plenty to do and that it would therefore be good value for money. Sadly, I was wrong… ~*~ ENTRY, PRICES AND OFFERS ~*~ Legoland DIscovery Centre is located inside The Trafford Centre which is reached directly by bus from Manchester and other local destinations, or by road via the M60 Outer Ring Road around Manchester. As the walk-up price is £4 more than the most expensive standard ticket, I would definitely say booking online the day before you go is the cheapest way. Current prices are listed as £12.00 per person arriving between 10am and 11am, £10.20 per person for those arriving between 11.30am and 3.30pm, and £8.10 per person for those arriving after 4pm. The “per person” means everyone – adults and children except under-2s who go free – and there doesn’t seem to be any thought to concessions. The only offer currently available on tickets is to buy a combi ticket for LDC and Blackpool Sea-Life Centre, which is also an expensive attraction so this may be an idea if you’re in the area for a few days. I know the prices look like fairly standard prices for a tourist/children’s attraction, but actually, there isn’t enough to do to justify these ...

Dover Lock Inn, Manchester 11/08/2013

A pretty nice place for a lock inn!

*Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* The Dover Lock Inn is one of many old public houses which line the country’s waterways – in this case, the Leeds and Liverpool canal where it runs through the small village of Abram in Wigan. My partner lives on a narrowboat so periodically you will probably find canalside pub reviews springing up from me! ~*~ HISTORY ~*~ I’m not sure of the history of Dover Lock Inn because the website doesn’t explain it and there’s no information in the pub itself – whether there was once a lock there intrigues me since the canal narrows right outside the pub as if there may have once been a lock, or a planned lock, which was ultimately not needed. On the back of the pub the sign is half and half: half modern sign, half original sign, another intriguing little hint at the history of the place. Inside, numerous little black and white photographs pepper the walls, which seem to be pictures of the area and canalside in days gone by. Very interesting to look at, and certainly if the place didn’t have a notable history of its own, it is still a landmark on a historical route from the bygone era of the industrial revolution. ~*~ ATMOSPHERE ~*~ We very much felt welcomed in the pub, and the barman even confirmed it was fine for me to park my car on their car park overnight off the main road. They are obviously used to boaters and happy to accommodate them. We weren’t once ignored on approaching the bar and ...

Applewood Farm Pub Restaurant, Manchester 11/08/2013

Desserts to die for - perfect for pudding lovers!

*Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays - hope this is helpful.* As I’m currently on a diet and don’t dare go there, I thought I would reminisce about my mum’s favourite pub restaurant which we have visited on numerous occasions including at the end of the summer holidays. Applewood Farm is part of a family franchise started by Colin and Pauline Moore, originally at Lymewood Farm just up the A580 at Haydock. It’s not a farm at all but built on ex-farmland, situated near the A580 Manchester to Liverpool road (follow the sign for Astley Industrial Estate, then you’ll see it on your right). This popular pub restaurant only opened earlier this year and is already packed out on a daily basis. Let me explain why. ~*~ WHAT AN ATMOSPHERE ~*~ Applewood Farm is equally suitable for couples, families with or without children, and groups of business colleagues. This is because it is split into two areas, one geared specifically at adult customers and one for families with children – so adult visitors are not disturbed by the inevitable noise children make, and parents are not made to feel like their children are showing them up! Conference facilities are also available upstairs but I cannot comment on these as there is no public access. The décor is typical of a family pub, with deep-coloured upholstery and carpets and comfortable wooden furniture including tables for four, larger parties and American diner-style booths for four to five. Large windows let in plenty ...

The Chainbridge Hotel, Llangollen 11/08/2013

With some TLC, this hidden gem could really sparkle

*Placing travel reviews at the top as it's summer holidays, I hope this will be helpful.* The Chainbridge Hotel is literally hidden away in a beautiful green valley so typical of North Wales, in the small village of Berwyn close to Llangollen in Denbighshire. My partner, son, mum, aunt and I (along with most of the wedding party) stayed there overnight last week as my Welsh cousin chose to have her wedding there. The place struck me as half stuck in history and half moving with the times! There were some aspects of it which were delightful, and some aspects of it which really needed an injection of hotel X-factor. Let’s start at the beginning… ~*~ JOURNEYING INTO A TIME WARP ~*~ From the moment we left the house, my aunt’s Sat Nav verdict didn’t bode well. It wanted to send us in circles all around Manchester, where we live. My partner and I eventually insisted on commandeering the Sat Nav and worked out that it was because it didn’t recognise the hotel postcode. Now usually this only happens with new builds where the postcode isn’t fully registered on all the databases yet. However The Chainbridge Hotel has clearly been there for quite some time, though weirdly, nowhere online can I find a date of construction (more about this later). We had to Sat Nav our way to Llangollen, and then ask a local. Even once we got in the vicinity of the hotel it was very much hidden from the road, and required a sharp right turn off the A5, followed by another deadly turn on to the car ...

Everything that starts with N ... 11/08/2013

Nobody expects the Spanish inquisition!

Everything that starts with N ... *As I've been away from Ciao for a bit I thought I would bump this as a bit of a get to know you for anyone who hasn't met me.* However I seem to have found it! As so many people here are new to me since my last incarnation on Ciao, and I’ve been boring you all with neverending travel reviews recently, I thought I would do something a little bit different and find a member challenge to do, witter on about myself a bit and hopefully introduce myself more fully to the community. 1 - First Names: Sharron. Just Sharron. I absolutely hate it, especially the double “r”, which nobody spells right anyway, so I’m not quite sure why my mum and dad bothered. 2 - Pseudo(s)? Some people call me Shar or – though this is dated now as have not used it for some time – Sherry. I also go by Silverla, which I consider to be my spiritual name, when doing angel readings for people. It’s not at all random – it’s a name that came to me in a dream, in which it belonged to an angel, who said I should use it too. My usual handle online is Silverla or, as here, Lady Valkyrie. For those who don’t know, a Valkyrie in Norse mythology is a dark winged creature who assists glorious warriors on their final journey to Valhalla. However I see it more as a dark angel of comfort and quiet strength. 3 - Girl or boy? I’m most definitely a girl – quite a girly girl who likes clothes shopping, make-up and chick flicks, although you will also find me doing outdoorsy things and messing around with guitars. I’m ...
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