Win: Best British Crafter 2014

Can you win ‘Best British Crafter’ 2014?

Crafty Magpie are looking for this year’s ‘Best British Crafter’. Between 12th April and 3rd May crafters will be able to enter their business into a fun competition which will also help to raise money for charity. Instead of paying an entry fee to Crafty Magpie, Dreams Come True (a registered charity) who help grant the wishes of terminally and seriously ill children will receive the entry fee via Crafty Magpie’s Just Giving fundraising page. Entrants are required to donate a minimum of £2.

Between 4th May and 18th May a panel of judges will narrow down the entrants to a selection of finalists – with the winner being voted for by the public between 19th May and 9th June.

The judges are:

1. Sarah from Crafty Magpie – An online marketplace for British crafters and designers to sell their handmade creations.

2. Anna from the Professional Crafter’s Guild – encouraging crafters to share their crafting skills.

3. Louise from The Homemade Fairy Godmother – A Facebook networking page for crafters

The winner will be announced on 10th June and they will be able to proudly display a custom made badge on their website.

For more details and to enter please visit: http://www.craftymagpie.co.uk/competitions/best-british-crafter/

Contact: competitions@craftymagpie.co.uk

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Tamagotchi Friends Party

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Tamagotchi Friends from Bandai are digital little friends. They can grow from a baby to adult. The way they grow and develop will all depend on how well they are taken care of. The digital buddies need to be fed when hungry, given medicine when sick, potty trained, bathed and played with. The better care you take of your little friend, the more Gotchi points will be earned.
The new Tamagotchi friends feature a bump function. This works by connecting with other Tamagotchis and then sending text messages.
The virtual Tamagotchi friends provide literally weeks if not months of fun.

We were contacted by Bandai and asked if we would like to host a Tamagotchi themed Easter Party. Of course we said yes and we were able to host it on a date of our choice too. It was a sheer coincidence that Ryan’s birthday also fell right near Easter (April 16). As I had not made any huge birthday plans I decided to combine the two, rather than having two parties.
A large party box arrived. It was full of both Tamagotchi and Easter themed goodies.

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There were 4 Tamagotchi friends in the box with different patterns. Tamagotchi scribble pads, crayons, glue sticks, colour sheets, posters, lots of other craft pieces, mini chocolate eggs and sweets. Just perfect for our party.
Six children came and stayed (including my 3) and a few other children bobbed in and out throughout the day. I made some sandwiches and put a few other nibbles out. As it was also Ryan’s birthday his presents and cards were out too.

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We played a few party games in which two of the Tamagotchis were given as prizes. Ryan and Jordanna had one each too.

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It was a really hot day, the sun was shining and it was hard to keep all the kids in when they wanted be out. I therefore decided to take some craft supplies outside. Jordanna and her friend took to egg decorating. We were sent lots of colouring sheets too.

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Of course the food and treats went down well and I think we will be eating the mini chocolate eggs for a long time as we have a huge bowl full.

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Ryan enjoyed his presents too and we had a great party thanks to Bandai.

The Tamagotchi Friends are currently on offer for a special Easter price of just £20. That’s a saving of £5. The Tamagotchi friends can be purchased from Toy r Us, The Entertainer and other toy stores.
To find out more visit Tamagotchi Friends

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Gousto subscription

Gousto is the latest food subscription service which I have had the pleasure of sampling recently.
Gousto is a food/recipe service. It works by going to their website Gousto UK, signing up and then choosing 3 delicious recipes from a selection of ten. The recipes include both meat and fish dishes along with a selection of vegetarian options too. There is a choice of meals for 2 or 4 people.
Once chosen. Everything you need to create the recipes, plus instruction cards is delivered by courier to your home. The meat and fish items are carefully packed in ice to keep them fresh on their journey.
Gousto was launched by two friends and started at a market stall. It has quickly evolved into a whole team of people.
The aims of the Gousto subscription is to save both time and money trying to shop around got ingredients and trying to decide what to make. Gousto ingredients are sourced straight from the farm and the fruit and vegetables are organic. Gousto boxes are full of delicious ingredients from farmers
to natural methods meaning the fruit and vegetables are free from chemicals and additives.
Gousto is also a great way to try different foods and recipes.
Gousto boxes can be purchased on a weekly basis or however often you wish and the subscription can be stopped or paused at any time.
The subscription for 2 people is approximately £42. This includes delivery and would probably cost much more if you went to a supermarket and got the same ingredients.

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My box was just bursting with great ingredients. I chose 2 meat recipes and one fish.
My box arrived early morning and I did not waste any time in preparing the first one for my lunch. There is no set order which the recipes need to be made in, but a guide comes with the box advising you of when the recipes should be made by.

Recipe 1
My first recipe is Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Salad with fresh herbs. This is dish is certainly not something that I would of considered making myself. It looks complicated with all the different ingredients but it is infact very easy. The only thing I had to cook was the chicken; which needed boiling (something I have not done before). The dish really just involved chopping up a few ingredients like I would for a salad and then tossing everything together. It made a great lunch. There was plenty of ingredients. The meal was for 2 people but I could of very easily made enough for 3 or even 4. The noodles are very filling. I love the fact that I know exactly what went into this meal. All fresh ingredients.

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Recipe 2
Second to cook is a lovely and rather unusual Honey-Soy salmon with Wasabi mash. I enjoy fish dishes and love salmon. I don’t make it often as I’m not big on handling it and also it gets quite boring if eaten alone. This recipe gives the salmon a whole new flavour.
To make this dish I had to chop up courgettes which were later lightly fried. Peel, chop and mash potatoes. Cook salmon in oven and make an easy honey marinade. A pot of wasabi was included too. I know from past experience how strong this stuff is so I only added a very tiny amount to my dish.
Once again. Another great healthy lunch time treat.

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Recipe 3
My third and final recipe delight was Pork tenderloin tagliatelle. The meal required a pork tenderloin joint, mushrooms, pasta and a few other ingredients. The method involved searing the pork before oven roasting and chopping an onion, mushrooms, herbs and garlic. A sauce was made using a stock cube and cream and blended with the ingredients and pasta. This was probably my favourite dish out of the 3. The sauce had a delicious rich mushroom flavour and the pork was just right. Hard to believe I made this myself.

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I enjoyed making meals with Gousto. I can now keep the recipe cards and remake them all if I wish.

Very Lazy easy cooking range

When I first heard there was a company called Very Lazy I was quite curious as to what they were or why they would be called such a name.
Very Lazy is not really that lazy at all. Instead they are a hard working company bringing easy and useful ingredients for people like myself (who is a little lazy) to make delicious and very easy meals.
“Very Lazy peels, chops, slices and dices the very best ingredients, then captures them in all their tasty glory – in handy jars or tubes.”

Preparing food can sometimes be a daunting task. There’s chopping, peeling, slicing, dicing , handling the food and the mess with peel and juices. It’s all time consuming. Very Lazy removes this hard work, saving people who but their products time and effort and more reason to enjoy the finished product.

The Very Lazy range includes a selection of jars and squeezy sauces in tubes. Inside them is a selection of either chopped ingredients, cooking concentrates, paste ingredients and speciality ingredients. I have been sent a selection of the products and I am enjoying using and making some interesting dishes.

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The products I have are.
*Coconut Masala Curry
*Piri Piri Chillis with oil
*Garlic Paste
*Lemongrass paste
*Crushed garlic with oil

The first product I used was the Very lazy coconut masala. The jar contains enough sauce to serve four and all I needed was some chicken and a tin of coconut milk.

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The curry dish only took 15 minutes to make. It was a really mild dish, even Jordanna and Izebella enjoyed it. Most curry dishes (even those from jars) take much longer to make or require more ingredients. This was so simple and easy that even a teenager could probably make it. The recipe was on the pack under a label. I did have to scan a barcode tho and I’m thinking it may have been better to just put the recipe on as not everyone has a code scanner. However I didn’t really need the recipe as it’s just a case of adding everything together and cooking.

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I also added a little w to my curry just to give it a little extra flavour. 1 teaspoon of the lemongrass paste is equivalent to 1 stick of lemongrass.
I have never used Lemongrass before and had no idea what it was until now.

The Garlic Paste comes in a squeezy tube. One teaspoon is equivalent to one clove of garlic.

20140409-214048.jpg This stuff is seriously strong. When I removed the foil cap I could instantly smell it.
This garlic paste is superb for making home made garlic bread/butter. All you do is mix some with butter in a bowl and apply it to a part sliced ciabatta loaf, then bake. It may be a good idea to open a door or window whilst baking as my kitchen really smelt of garlic on first go, I may have made it slightly stronger than I should of done. It tasted delicious anyway and better than a shop bought one. At least I thought so anyway.

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The Crushed garlic with oil could also be used to make garlic butter. It is also really useful for recipes which require “a clove of crushed garlic” the problem with this ingredient in recipes is that you can never just purchase one clove, you have to purchase the whole thing with several cloves. Then it needs peeling and chopping which I find quite difficult to crush it down so much that it resembles a paste. The cloves are quite small and fiddly and I find I end up with chunks of garlic in my dish. Very Lazy Crushed garlic solves the crushed garlic problems. It’s already peeled and crushed and preserved in oil. All ready to simply spoon out and add to a dish. Easy peasy.

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I have yet to try the Piri Piri Chillies with oil I don’t want to open the jar until I use it’s. I imagine it will be very very strong given the fact that just one teaspoon of this stuff is like one Piri Piri chilli. I do enjoy my Piri Piri chicken, so will be making some very soon.

The Very Lazy products will last up to four weeks once opened and stored in a refrigerator. There are many other products to choose from including other garlic varieties, ginger, chillies and many more. The full range can be viewed at Very Lazy and the products can be bought in supermarkets including Ocado, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrissons, and Sainsburys.

iball4 and the Isis Adventure

Sonic Games UK sells mind bending puzzles. Many of which are extremely difficult to crack or solve. Their selection of tricky but beautiful puzzles include the well known Isis which comes in different versions and an array of rather spectacular designs and shapes. The Isis, should one manage to eventually crack one, will contain a special key and code which will lead to a prize. These puzzles are designed for serious puzzle solvers. They are engineered with precision and perfect structure.Yes they can seem pricey to buy but i guess when you look at just how stunning and complex they are, not too mention the possibilty of a great prize then its easy to understand the price tag. Solving them is extremely difficult. They are known as the worlds most difficult puzzle.
The Isis puzzle was created by Andrew Reeves who also runs the Sonic Games company. Along with the beautiful puzzles comes a book called The Isis adventure.

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This book takes you on a journey into the mind of the author, explaining how the Isis came about. The first chapter gives a brief explanation of who Andrew Reeves is and his childhood. It goes into detail to describe Andrews passion and keen interest in puzzles and his fascination with Egyptian Pyramids and Egyptian civilisation. The Isis puzzles began as a website called the Isis adventure.
Chapter 3 of the book is all about how the “Isis puzzle” itself came about. The design, the theories, materials and how it got the name Isis. Isis is infact a goddess with mystical powers.
From then on the book goes into depth, describing with detail how the Isis business bloomed and descriptions of other puzzles in the Isis collections, the prizes and much more. There is even help along the way on how to solve some of the puzzles.
I don’t own an Isis myself but I found the book a rather exciting read. Lots of mystical elements and it never seems to get boring. It’s rather intriguing and a little addictive once I started reading.

Apparently I am told that this book contains four hidden codes in it’s pages that require deciphering. What and where are the codes you may ask? Well I have absolutely no idea and if I did I wouldn’t tell ha.
I am not too sure at the time of writing this, if the codes have been solved, but there is a hefty prize awarded to the first 4 adventurers to solve this.
The book is hard backed with a stunning gold trim effect. It can be purchased directly from Sonic games for £20.

iball4

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The iball4 is a rather addictive little game. It’s hard to put done once used to it. It’s basically a green ball with buttons and lights. There are 3 different games which involve light sequences. The object of the games is speed and memory.

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The 3 games are
Light Speed – turn out the lights as fast as you can in 60 seconds.
Follow the lights – memorize as many lights in the correct order.
Beat the sequence – predict the colour sequences in 60 seconds.
The games can be changed by pressing two of the buttons. Inside the ball are ingenious electronics which include a timer and high score keeper via a LED display. If a mistake is made, red lights come on and it’s a case of starting over again.
The puzzle games may sound easy but they are not. Following the lights or remembering a sequence can get very confusing especially if playing for a while. The lights can start to make everything quite distorted after a long time of playing.

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The Iball4 also came with it own prize which involved entrants uploading videos of their puzzle solving to YOU TUBE. I guess lots of practice will eventually get me to be a lot faster.
The puzzle can be played by anyone aged 6 and over. It can also be played by up to 4 players making it a good thing for families.
To learn more about the iball4 and to watch a video about it, visit the iball4 website

As a child I was also fascinated by puzzles such as these and still am.Unfortunately it seems I’m probably not the best at solving them.

QED children’s publishings

We all love brand new books in our house. The newness of how they feel and the shine and the smell. Books are a very important source of education for children of all ages. Unfortunately with the growing age of technology and tablets, less children seen to be reading enough.
QED publishing sells a whole host of great books for children. The age range starts with babies and toddler age 0-2 years and goes right up to books for teenagers.
A lovely selection of children’s books arrived at our door and kids are really enjoying reading them.

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My little book of Space. The “my little book” is a range on it’s own. There are four titles to choose from and they are aimed at 5 years and over. I knew Ryan would love this as he has some obsession with science and space. The book provides interesting facts about space such what the Sun is and a page by page guide to all the planets. Ryan also found lots of interesting stuff on astronauts and rockets with a useful glossary at the back. This book will certainly help with any Space themed work or school projects.
The book is hard backed and costs approximately £7.99.

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I love hugs & kisses
What a sweet little book this is. It is written by Camilla de la Bédoyère. It’s aimed at children 3 and over but I have found Izebella loves to be read it. The books pages feature lots of adorable animals with their young babies. It explains in very easy big text the way each animal looks after their young. There is lots of useful facts telling us how many babies each animal has in a year. It’s pretty good for youngsters learning animal names too.
This book costs just £5.99

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Biography: Isaac Newton
QED publishing has lots of biography books to pick from. Ryan also loves his history and Geography and basically just learning. The biographies are available with six different very famous historical figures. Ryan has the Isaac Newton biography. Before receiving the book I don’t think he knew who Isaac Newton was or what he did. The biography contains inspiring details about Newtons life exploring his inventions and key achievements. The book comes highly illustrated with images and photographs throughout. The ideal age for the biographies is 9 and over which suits Ryan perfectly. Again these biographies would provide great assistance for school work.

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I love dogs & puppies
This book is Jordannas favourite and she has read it over and over. The book explores 50 popular dog breeds and shows images of a different breed on every page. With the images come a brief but interesting explanation of each breed. The text includes where the breed first originated from, how big they can grow and the dogs temperament.
It’s a lovely guide which helps children identify different breeds. It may also help a family choose the perfect pooch for their family pet.
Aimed at 5 years and over. The book features a flexi cover and costs £8.99. Similar books are available for cat breeds, horses and baby animals.

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Well my kids seem to be busy like bees with their new books.
If you want to purchase any of the above books or view other titles. Head to QED publishing

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Competition & review: When Angus met Alvin

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When Angus met Alvin is the title of a fun children’s book from book publishers Frances Lincoln.
The book is hard backed and written by Sue Pickford.
It tells the story of a funny little alien named Angus. Angus was sat quietly in his garden, when a strange spaceship crashed on his lawn. Out jumps another alien named Alvin who turns Angus’s world upside down. The story tells the adventures and things these two totally different aliens get up to.

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The book has lots of colourful quirky illustrations throughout and contains large text which is very easy for young children to read. Jordanna being 6 had no problems reading this book.

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The book contains several new fun imaginative words too, such as Gruntazorg and banamaz but again Jordanna did not struggle to read.
The story makes a great bedtime read.

Frances Lincoln sell a variety of great children’s books. I will be posting more reviews soon for other titles.

COMPETITION
Frances Lincoln are giving away a copy of “When Angus met Alvin worth £11.99.
To be in with a chance of winning this fun book, just follow these steps.

1) follow my blog. Either by email, twitter, Facebook or Bloglovin (you will find relevant buttons in my side bar or below)

2) tweet about this competition (hit the twitter share button below) for extra entries use the other share buttons too.

3) Think about books, films, tv shows and comment below to say who your favourite alien is.

(T&CS: competition will end on April 30. One winner will be notified by email. UK entrants only please)

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com

Legoland Discovery Centre & Sealife Manchester

Last weekend we took a lovely trip to the attractions at the Trafford Centre in Manchester.
Both attractions are located in Barton Square in what can only be described as the outside part of the Trafford Centre and the same place where you can find Santa at Christmas time. Both attractions are clearly signposted throughout the Trafford Centre.

LEGOLAND DISCOVERY CENTRE
Ryan had been asking me to take him here for a long time. Like any boy he loves his bricks and Lego.
The queues for this attraction do get very long. Luckily we had fast tickets but it’s probably a good idea to her there as early as possible as the queue was really long.
After checking in, we arrived in a room which resembled a small version of a Santas workshop with lots of brightly coloured strange machines. We were awaiting the arrival of Mr Brick and whilst waiting there were a few activity stations dotted about for kids to play on.

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After a few minutes wait Mr a Brick arrived and gave us a demonstration of how Lego bricks are made. Jordanna even got to help out and special bricks were given out.
Next onto the Kingdom Quest Laser Ride. It’s like a ghost train where we sit in a car and go round in the dark. Instead of ghosts and monsters we shoot at lasers with guns to get points.

20140412-143535.jpg. Even the young ones can go on this. I was a little unsure about taking Izebella on but she was fine and loved it.

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After our exciting laser ride we walked through a large room full of magnificent attractions made of Lego (MINILAND). These mini attractions are quite spectacular and it’s hard to believe they are created from Lego.

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We then walked through to what appears to be the Main hall in the discovery centre. This is a huge room with a soft play area, Lego play stations, and a few fun rides: all of which are included in the ticket price. There are no extra charges. There is even an area where children can have their face painted for free and several rooms where certain talks and activities happen at certain times of the day. Kids can even get up and do Karaoke or sit down and draw if they wish. Everything is provided and there is so much to do.

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Ryan and Jordanna loved all the rides which they went on over and over again. Jordanna had her face painted and Izebella happily sat in a pit of Lego and refused to come out.

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A cafe can also be found in the main area. A selection of sandwiches, snacks and drinks are available. Like most attraction food outlets it can be a little pricey and especially with 3 children. However we don’t get to go out often so I didn’t mind too much. The children’s lunch boxes cost £4.50 each and consist of a sandwich of choice, drink, fruit and crisps.

The 4D cinema hosts regular shows and fits a fair few people in. You are given special glasses and the show lasts about 20 minutes with various fun effects including water, air and snow. You may get wet depending on where you sit.
The newest attraction is Ninjago Laser training camp which we found at the very end. This attraction consists of various degrees of laser wire difficulties which kids will have lots of fun getting under or over, and all in the dark too.

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We all really enjoyed the Legoland Discovery Centre. We were not expecting so much in one place and think we were there for 2-3 hours.
On the way out there is a shop for souvenirs. Various professional family photographs are taken throughout the attraction which can be purchased at the end.

Visit Legoland Manchester for more information.

Sealife Manchester
After our Lego Discoveryland trip, it was time for our second attraction. Sealife is right opposite Discoveryland and combined tickets can be purchased to allow you to visit both.
Sealife is an amazing underwater world with all sorts of amazing sea creatures.
When we entered we were given a short talk on turtles and there was this fascinating globe light which just seemed to be bobbing around on it’s own

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Then onto some very magically looking aquariums containing a varying array of beautiful marine life. Many of them very bright and colourful. Different fish, sponge and sea anemone.

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Some of these fish were very very big.
I spotted an amazing colourful tank which had round domed glass and it almost looked like the fish were in 3D.
The underwater tunnel is a great experience. It’s a tunnel you walk through and the fish and sharks are all around and above you. It’s great looking up and spotting a shark or turtle above our heads.
Throughout the day there are are certain times: several talks or feeding shows.
For £60 you can even get in with the marine life on a Sea Trek five experience. This is something I would love to do in the future.
For now Ryan and Jordanna were happy getting as close as they could in the various interactive tanks.

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Sealife Manchester boasts over 5000 different marine creatures including seahorses, jellyfish, octopus, turtles and sharks. There is also a small play area and a interactive rock pool where crabs and starfish can be touched. The whole walk around takes about an hour and is truly and wonderful and educational experience for all.

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More information can be found at Sealife Manchester

Combination tickets for both Lego Discovery and Sealife start at £19 online. Special promotions can be found at certain times of the year.
If visiting during Easter holidays you should try and get there as early as possible to avoid large queues or pre book your tickets to get in the priority queue.

Legoland discovery opens at 9am-7pm with last admission at 5pm daily.
Sealife opens 10am-7pm, last admission 6pm.

We had a very enjoyable day out. Kids loved both attractions. Izebella surprisingly stayed awake throughout the whole day. She didn’t want to miss a thing and finally fell asleep on the bus home.
If you live in the North West, this would make a great day out. There are many bus services running to and from the Trafford Centre from numerous locations. The Trafford Centre itself is of course an amazing place for shopping too if your not too worn out by these two fabulous attractions.

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