A great day out at Beaulieu

A great day out at Beaulieu

Review: Tom Gates Live on Stage!

Review: Tom Gates Live on Stage!

August 3

There’s no mystery as to why we love Scooby Doo!

Who doesn’t love Scooby Doo? Well, it’s no big mystery to me – it’s funny, silly, formulaic and appeals to children and, for reasons of pure nostalgia, their parents.

I grew up watching it and it’s never gone away and seems to be continually being reinvented for new generations.

Now there are new toy versions – and the nice people at Playmobil sent me one of their range – the iconic Mystery Machine – for my children to review.

The set contains three figures: Fred, Daphne and Velma and loads of accessories. The attention to detail is great – including a little magnifying glass, map and a torch.

The Mystery Machine is solidly made and bright and colourful and therefore appealing to kids even if they aren’t that familiar with the show.

My youngest hasn’t really watched the series much but she loves the set – as played with it every day since it arrived so it’s become a firm favourite toy in our house.

It doesn’t matter to my daughter, but if she was a bit older, from a parent’s point of view, it’s a bit annoying when a set like this doesn’t have all the main figures – this one omits Scooby and Shaggy (although this is normal for this kind of branded set and Lego does it all the time, as obviously manufacturers want us to buy more sets!)

That minor gripe aside, it’s a nice addition to our toy cupboard.

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November 1

A great day out at Beaulieu

We had a great day out at The National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. If you’re interested in cars then it’s the place for you, but even if, like me, you only have a passing interest in motor vehicles, you’ll still find plenty to enjoy.

One of the great things about the museum and how it is laid out is your ability to get close up and personal to all the hundreds of rare and historic cars. Despite their value – some must be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds – there’s no great walls of glass keeping you away from them, just polite signs asking you not to touch.

From vintage Bugattis to the good old British Austin Seven and from Formula One racing cars to a Volkswagen Golf (how can a car identical to one that my school friend had as a first car be in a museum – that made me feel very old!)

We went during half-term and there was a fantastic exhibition of the classic 1960s movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Not only have they got the famous car there but they also had one that drives around. They’ve got a whole exhibition of artefacts from the film.

If like me you grew up terrified of the Child Catcher, then you can relive your moment of terror by actually seeing one of the real Child Catcher’s carriages!

We also went on a vintage bus ride, which was great and reminded me of the days when there were such thing as bus conductors – I’m really showing my age here.

One of the highlights of the day was going on the monorail. Built in 1974 and notably opened by The Wombles, who I had to explain to my son, were huge back then, the monorail goes right round the estate and uniquely goes through the exhibition of cars. The doors open at one end and the monorail goes through the cars which you can see if you look over the edge looking at the cars below, before going back out the other end.

We also went to a fabulous exhibition of the Special Operations Executive. Beaulieu was a wartime training base for secret agents who were parachuted into occupied France to – in Churchill’s words – “set Europe ablaze”. What was fascinating amongst the exhibits was a glass display of some of the quirkier secret gadgets such a map hidden in a pen, a radio in a lunchbox and a hacksaw hidden in a brush. Continue reading

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March 28

Review: Tom Gates Live on Stage!

My son loves Liz Pichon’s Tom Gates books so when I heard there was a stage version on tour I knew we’d have to go.

We saw the show at the Kings Theatre in Southsea last night – and wow, what a treat. It brilliantly brings the books to life and was hugely enjoyable.

A very likeable young cast bring the characters to life with energy and panache. Full marks for Matthew Chase as Tom, ably supported by Matthew Gordon, Ashley Cousins, Amy Hargreaves, Daniel Harkin, Alice Redmond, Justin Davies and Ebony Wong.

The fast-paced script by Liz Pichon and director Neal Foster is clever and witty, amusing both young and older alike.

I was looking forward to seeing how they would adapt the author’s highly visual stories for the stage and the answer is – with style and ingenuity. Great work by designer Jackie Trousdale.

I might sound ancient for saying it, but it really is clever what they can do on stage these days and, in the case of this show, they have combined the actors with animation, which was both technically brilliant and highly entertaining.

Composer Mark Flannery’s music is really catchy and fun and all mixed together it’s a perfect feelgood show. It really is a cracking night out for children – and their parents will have a great time too  Just one word of warning though: The show might leave you wanting to eat lots of chips – and biscuits, even fig rolls 

Tom Gates Live on Stage is on in Southsea until Sunday and then continues its tour to theatres across the country. Full list of dates can be found by clicking here.

Steve’s rating: ★★★★★

Category: Reviews