Treasure Island – Pirates arrive at the Birmingham Rep

Firstly, I’d like to point out that this was not quite what I expected when I arrived at the Birmingham Rep to review this year’s seasonal offering, Treasure Island. I was expecting a rip roaring yarn featuring cartoon pirates, a stage glistening with gold and treasure and ‘x’ marks the spot. In short, I was expecting a panto version of the Robert Louis Stephenson classic. What I actually got was a deliciously dark pirate and treasure story, with a healthy smattering of girl power that the Spice Girls themselves would’ve been proud of. In short, it’s a real festive treat, albeit one with not a hint of Christmas.

Treasure Island by Bryony Lavery, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 25 Nov 2016 - 7 Jan 2017. Cast: Pete Ashmore; Greg Coulson; Andrea Davy; Anni Domingo; Ru Hamilton; Dave Fishley; Michael Hodgson; Kaitlin Howard; Sian Howard; Andrew Langtree; Sarah Middleton; Tonderai Munyevv; Suzanne Nixon; Daniel Norford; Dan Poole; Thomas Pickles; Nicholas Prasad; Barnaby Southgate. Directed by Phillip Breen. Designed by Mark Bailey.

Photo credit: Pete Le May.

If you love the original story, all the elements all there. We have the Admiral Benbow Inn as our starting point, A trio of pirates arriving at the Inn all looking for the same thing, Captain Flint’s treasure, the local Doctor finds the map showing the treasure is on an island, and with the local Squire and the Innkeeper’s granddaughter Jim Hawkins, decides to find the treasure, enlisting a local captain with a ship, the Hispanola. But the rest of the crew they enlist are of a decidedly shadowy nature, and what of the ship’s one legged cook, Long John Silver? It seems the crew may be intent on taking that treasure for themselves.

Treasure Island by Bryony Lavery, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 25 Nov 2016 - 7 Jan 2017. Cast: Pete Ashmore; Greg Coulson; Andrea Davy; Anni Domingo; Ru Hamilton; Dave Fishley; Michael Hodgson; Kaitlin Howard; Sian Howard; Andrew Langtree; Sarah Middleton; Tonderai Munyevv; Suzanne Nixon; Daniel Norford; Dan Poole; Thomas Pickles; Nicholas Prasad; Barnaby Southgate. Directed by Phillip Breen. Designed by Mark Bailey.

Treasure Island by Bryony Lavery,

Photo credit: Pete Le May.

The whole cast is uniformly excellent, with Sarah Middleton excelling as a bright and feisty Jim (who just happens to be a girl in this version.). She is perfect foil for the menacing, but still quite charming and likeable Long John Silver (Michael Hodgson) who you sort of feel should get a break from the idiots who surround him. Sian Howard is also great as Dr Livesey, another strong female role and the moral conscience of the play. Comedy interludes are provided by the Squire Trelawney, played by Tonderai Munyevu as an 18th century drama queen to hilarious effect. Dave Fishley is another high point in his playing of poor Grey, a person who is always around, but is never noticed.

Treasure Island by Bryony Lavery, The Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 25 Nov 2016 - 7 Jan 2017. Cast: Pete Ashmore; Greg Coulson; Andrea Davy; Anni Domingo; Ru Hamilton; Dave Fishley; Michael Hodgson; Kaitlin Howard; Sian Howard; Andrew Langtree; Sarah Middleton; Tonderai Munyevv; Suzanne Nixon; Daniel Norford; Dan Poole; Thomas Pickles; Nicholas Prasad; Barnaby Southgate. Directed by Phillip Breen. Designed by Mark Bailey.

Photo credit: Pete Le May.

The set is brilliant in that you are truly transported to the deck of the Hispanola, complete with rigging and ships stores. The music is traditional in terms of sea shanties and pirate songs and adds to the atmosphere of dangerous doings at sea. With this version of Treasure Island, Bryony Lavery has created a real alternative to Christmas glitter and sparkle. Grab a jug of grog and enjoy!

Birmingham Repertory Theatre Company
Click here for ticket information.

Great Gifts for Grandparents this Christmas

With less than a month to go until Christmas is here for another year, you’re probably making your way through your gift list as we speak, getting all kinds of presents that your loved ones have always wanted.

Our Grandmas and Granddads are really special people who have been there for the family throughout the years. This year, why not treat them to a present they will really appreciate?

Asides from the delectable chocolate box and something boozy for them to enjoy, Ability Superstore have offered up some of their favourite gift ideas for grandparents this Christmas. Read on to find some fantastic suggestions that your grandparents can enjoy throughout the festive season and all through the year, too.

Something to remember the past….

I don’t know about you, but I’m often amazed by some of the stories that my grandparents have to tell me about their past. The older generation have been through all kinds of historic events which they are proud to have been a part of. This Christmas, why not get them a piece of memorabilia from key parts of their lives that they look back on with a smile?

Alternatively, you could create a photo album full of memories that you have shared with them. A talking photo album offers the ultimate reminiscent experience. On each of its 20 pages you can record your own voice clip, to discuss the memories you’ve presented within each photograph. You can be sure to put a smile on your grandparent’s face as you look back and listen to some of your times together.

Enjoyable experiences to share together…

Speaking of memories together, why not get them a gift that allows you to create even more? There’s a wealth of experience gifts on offer that can give you and your grandparents even more quality time together.

Whether it’s a luxury afternoon tea or spa day with your grandma, or even a round of golf or a distillery tour with your granddad, think about what they enjoy and spend some time enjoying it together.

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Support and stability for independent living…

As we get older, we tend to find it a little more difficult to move about as we once did, thanks to those pesky bones, joints and muscles. There are plenty of mobility aids available that can help your grandparents to continue enjoying their independent living, so why not give them a supportive gift this Christmas?

Rollators are fantastic mobility aids that offer support as well as storage and comfort! Try to go for one that offers a seat for when they fancy a break from walking. It should also have plenty of storage to put their bags in, so they can keep both their arms free for walking.

Alternatively, a simple walking stick would suffice. They come in a variety of materials and some are even adjustable so both your grandma and granddad could use one! Some are even patterned for adding style, such as this floral walking stick that’s perfect for the glamorous gran.

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Home comforts for those chilly evenings…

We all love to get cosy and comfy during the winter evenings, whether it’s wrapping up in a fluffy dressing gown or sitting by a wood burning fire. Everyone appreciates some cosy knits for Christmas, especially our older relatives who feel the cold a little more than we do.

On top of the thick slipper socks and wooly hats, why not get your grandparents the gift of added relaxation? This heated foot warmer has an added foot massager, that along with the temperature, can be controlled by the user. There’s also this heated lap blanket to keep them warm in the living room whilst relaxing watching some TV or reading a book.

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If you’ve found an amazing Christmas gift for your grandparents, tell us all about them!

Travelling to Mauritius with kids – what to expect

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Christmas will soon be upon us, but with that comes the prospect of a New Year, turning our minds once again to holidays and getaways. You only need to pick up a copy of the Christmas edition of the Radio Times, and then turn to the middle section, to realise that once people have got Christmas out of the way, they need something to look forward to during the rest of the long, cold Winter’s Days.

With Brexit effecting the pound and the rate you get in Euros, more and more families are starting to look further afield when it comes to holidays, and Mauritius is one of those destinations that are becoming very popular due to the sandy beaches, amazing weather and laid back atmosphere, but it is also a very good destination if you are traveling with children.

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Mauritius is a French speaking island nation in the Indian Ocean off the Southeast coast of Africa.  It is a touch of heaven here on Earth, with white sandy beaches and the warm ocean and a landscape of lagoons, reefs, rainforests, waterfalls and exotic wildlife – Mauritius was the home of the Dodo! But if you thought that this sounded a little too much like paradise to think of taking the kids there, you would be wrong, it also has an array of exciting activities that make it the perfect holiday destination for families.

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Most of the bigger hotels have kids clubs and activities with dedicated staff, but if you like your family holidays to be more hands on, Mauritius is the perfect place to really enjoy that quality time. Dolphin watching activities are popular and totally enchanting, with dolphins loving the warm Mauritian waters, coming in to the bay to play in the morning sunshine.

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Dolphins are not the only animals you can enjoy in Mauritius. You can enjoy the opportunity to feed giraffes, to meet 100 year old tortoises and beautiful Macaws, there is even a pink pigeon that is very rare, but you might just be lucky. Then there is the chance to walk with lions, a once in a life time experience that allows you to really get close to nature.

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And then there are the museums. With Mauritius being the ancient home of the Dodo, the famous flightless bird that gave us the saying ‘as dead as a dodo’, a visit to the National History museum to see the bones of the poor thing is a must. There is also a navel museum that will keep any of your little pirates happy.

Beautiful scenery, great weather and fabulous beaches, Mauritius really does have it all…and a little bit more.