The Innocents by Francesca Segal

Cover of

I picked this up on the strength of it’s winning the Costa first novel award and was a bit disappointed in the rather pedestrian beginning with Adam getting slightly cold feet about marrying his long term girlfriend Rachel. It develops into a really interesting story though and it didn’t really cover the ground I was expecting it to though it does make for a good look at the North London Jewish community. The writing is good and it’s very quoteworthy. I enjoyed it.

I’m quite surprised, reading other Goodreads reviews after finishing the book, to find it is a reworking of an Edith Wharton novel. I will have to have a read of that sometime. I’m unsure what to make of this fact without knowing the original work. Certainly this was worth reading in it’s own right though.

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a kindle eBook.

Legoland Discovery Centre Revisited

I wrote up our visit to the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester after we visited when it first opened in 2010. We recently revisited and I thought it was worth making an updated post.

We visited with our now 8-year old daughter and took a friend along with her this time.

Lego Ninjago

Not that much has changed since the first visit really, but enough that I’m feeling better able to recommend it as a good day out.

Two new rides have been built since we first visited:

Merlin’s Apprentice – Seemed to be a long queue for a short ride. A carousel where you pedal to get your car to go up in the air. It’s set up for two children or an adult and a child to ride in each car. From memory the children had to be over 1.2m to ride by themselves. In case you don’t have enough adults to go with smaller children the Lego staff were around to act as chaperones. Which I’m sure is a lovely job to have but it’s a bit annoying when only 12 people can ride at once and a couple of them are staff each time. And there is no way for adults to ride without children. Since the two children with us wanted to ride together, the adults couldn’t ride, which isn’t really a problem – it’s a kids day out after all – but when you are being charged the same entry fee for adults as children it would be nice to have a bit more fun!

Forest Pursuit I

Forest Pursuit – Drive a pedal car and get a driving licence is pretty much a Lego standard ride and it is the latest to come to Manchester. The kids enjoyed it but had to buy their photo licences at the end (at Windsor they got a card licence free) and the £8 fee seemed a bit steep although having two children for the day meant they could take advantage of a 2 for £10 deal. I got very annoyed having to wait around to buy the licences though as the desk was unstaffed and the ride staff didn’t want to help. Our 8 year olds were under the 1.5m height limit but this was being strictly enforced and some older children were being turned away disappointed.

The third ride is the Kingdom Quest ride – exactly as it was before except this time the staff did explain the guns to us. (And I won :))

Most other things were as they were before. We noticed improvements at the Fire Academy playgym which was staffed and being queued for – though the queue was being jumped so it could have been better organised still. We got a table in the cafe without a problem, though it was busy. Miniland seemed better maintained than before and the new Star Wars displays were nice. The “girls” Lego area (I will restrain myself from giving my full not very complimentary opinion on “girls” Lego here!) has changed to the new “Friends” brand and seemed to have some kind of not-working very well karaoke going on, we didn’t investigate. Oh, and the 4D cinema had a new film about Lego’s new Legends of Chima range which the kids enjoyed – I was pleased they weren’t playing the same films as three years ago although I didn’t think this was as good as the ones we had seen before.

Last time we were out within a couple of hours so this time with the extra rides I had allowed for about three hours before they were bored. We spent most of our time queuing and riding and we left after about four hours having not really got onto building any Lego yet! Don’t worry, they went home with plenty from the shop!

All in all it was a better experience than the first time, although it was busier and we spent more time queuing. We could have spent longer there. It still seems quite expensive, even at online pre-booked ticket prices. Do pre-book still, we had to queue for 10 minutes or so with pre-booked tickets, it was an hour or more without.

Legoland claim the centre is suitable for 3-10 year olds and I think that’s about right – if I get round to it I’ll probably take Miranda, aged 8, back for a last visit in the next 18 months or so, much beyond that and it would only be worth visiting with younger visitors in tow as she’d be too tall to do everything. I fancy another dive into the big Lego car making box….

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Cover of

I loved this. The tale of Ursula Todd, who repeatedly dies and gets to live bits of her life over again to get them ‘right’. The first half is totally glorious. Fabulous storytelling. Halfway through I realised it was going to be near impossible for Atkinson to pull off a perfect ending to this and I wondered how on earth she was going to manage it. I didn’t think the end was as good as some of what came before it but I can’t work out how it could have been better. Just go and read it already and see what you think!

More information about this book can be found on goodreads.
This was a kindle eBook.