Disney on Ice at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Disney on Ice at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Donald with their faithful helpers!

Oh. My. Goodness. If you had been a fly on the wall in our house over the last few weeks, you would have heard not a single sentence from my girl in the middle, that didn’t include the words ‘Disney On Ice and the Magical Kingdom’. The excitement has been building to a fever pitch and I’m quite sure that not a jot of work was done in Dosbarth Matholwch today either by her, or by her two friends who were coming along with her, apologies to their class teacher!

Though her and her friends were lucky enough to go to the Disney on Ice show last year, they didn’t really know what to expect. This time around, the memories of last year’s trip only added to the excitement, to the point that I was quite relieved when the lights went down and a hush finally descended on them and the rest of the auditorium,  chock full of mini Elsas and Annas, in honour of the fact that the cast of Frozen would be making an appearance!

But before the rink was transformed into Arendelle, there was plenty of magic to entertain us, with Mickey and Minnie introducing the show, helped out by my childhood favourites Goofy and Donald Duck. First up was a comic turn from the ones that we all love to hate, the Ugly Sisters, swiftly followed by a fantastic display by the cast of The Little Mermaid, including some very impressive (and frankly terrifying!) aerial stunts by Ariel herself. The various  sea creatures from the story made for a veritable explosion of colour on the ice, as they swirled and whirled around under the guidance of Sebastian the lobster. There was so much energy in this part of the show that it almost felt like a finale!

Disney on Ice at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Sebastian, Ariel and the rest of the Under the Sea crew

Scenes from Tangled (or Rapunzel, as us oldies will insist on calling it!) followed, including the handsome Flynn and his horse – now, if you thought skating on two legs was tricky enough, try skating on two legs while holding on to someone else’s backside and inside a pantomime horse!! Truly impressive stuff with which to end the first half!

After a brief interval, we all took our seats again for a lovely romp through Beauty and the Beast, with Belle being persuaded by Mr Chips and pals not to desert the horribly disfigured Beast – who of course transforms into the handsome Prince in a puff of smoke once he receive’s true love’s kiss. Aaaah!

No sooner had the girls finished cheering for Belle and Beast’s happy ending, than Kristoff and Sven (yep, that’s another poor skater bent double hanging on to someone else’s bottom!) made a rock star entrance with Anna and Olaf hot on their heels. This was the moment everyone had been waiting for and it definitely didn’t disappoint, with a sing-and-skate through of all the Frozen favourites, supported by a word perfect audience, right through to the final, heartfelt rendition of ‘Let It Go’.

Disney on Ice at the Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
Elsa and Anna

Once again, Disney on Ice did what Disney does so well – fairytales, magic, colourful characters, catchy tunes – with the added bonus of awesome antics on skates. It’s on in Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena until Sunday 3rd May, followed by a stint in Nottingham and Leeds, after which the forty-three talented skaters are I hope having a well deserved rest!

**Thank you to Feld Entertainment who kindly provided our tickets in exchange for a preview/review of the show**

The big red car – a cautionary tale

Well. This week we have finally said goodbye to our big red car.  We bought it just before our bonus baby was born, because we couldn’t fit three car seats (or the mountains of crap that come with three kids for that matter) in our old one. Because  the car came with the baby, so to speak, I was a bit sad for about 8 seconds. Or maybe three. Which is frankly, more than that poxy car deserved.

I cannot tell you how much stress the car has caused us over the last 18 months – in fact there is still an empty bit of worry space in my mind because I can’t quite get used to the fact that the ‘what shall we do about the big red car’ question no longer needs to be answered!

It’s a long, sad tale, starting with the engine light coming on at the beginning of 2014. The fault could have been due to one of two issues, (remember that sentence, it’s important), but eventually we found a garage that specialised in ancient Seats and they managed to figure out the problem – with a repair estimate of £1500 – £2000.  OUCHY.  At that point we talked about buying a new car but because of the (now VERY imminent) loft conversion, we decided that as we wouldn’t want to spend more than £2k on a ‘new’ car, we might as well cough up the repair bill and keep the big red car on the road for a few more years.


Anyway, that’s what we did. Repair done, bish bash bosh. MWHAHAHAHA.

We picked the car up and as it was also due new tyres, popped it into Kwik Fit safe in the knowledge that once they were done, we wouldn’t have to spend any more cash on it for a while. Phew! We may have even discussed treating ourselves to a takeaway curry in celebration, until we received a phone call ‘Did you know your handbrake is not connected up properly, your front left thingy is broken, two suspension wotsits are falling apart and the camshaft is, er, shafted. I’m not sure that those were the exact words, because all I heard was how much it would cost to put it all right….nearly as much as we had already spent. Obviously the first question we asked was ‘why didn’t the really expensive ancient-Seat-specialist-garage spot all this’ though apparently it was because they had to strip the engine from the top to repair it, whereas all this stuff was going wrong underneath, where they’d not looked…FFS. Best cancel the curry then. And ALL THE CURRIES for the next year or so.

We gritted our teeth and forked out. Again, what a feeling of relief when we got it back, safe in the knowledge that we had now done everything we needed to ensure it would last for a few more years. Sure, it had cost more than we anticipated, but that’s the way it goes, and since we couldn’t have afforded a new car anyway there seemed to be no point over-stressing.

We had ten happy weeks of driving the big red car before the engine light came on again. Remember that bit where I said the original fault could have been due to one of two things? Well, turns out it was actually due to BOTH things. So we had to get the second thing fixed too. The garage didn’t bill us for labour this time (I think they felt sorry for us) but the parts were of course hideously expensive…

Still, surely that should have been THAT?

No. That was very much not THAT. Two months later,  the engine light came on again. I could have cried. I did, a bit. A lot, actually. It turned out that this time, it was a simple thing that had gone wrong. something that would ‘only’ cost a few hundred quid to sort out. Peanuts, given what we’d spent over the previous year.

I was still at this point wringing my hands over all the cash we had spent on this stupid car, and ready to throw yet more at it so that what we’d spent already wasn’t wasted. Luckily (and this happens on VERY RARE OCCASIONS) the Husband had a slightly more rational approach than me. And that is how we came to hand it over to those very nice people at We Buy Any Car Dot Com for two hundred and fifty measly quid.

Of course the irony of this whole sorry saga (and the bit that will stick in my craw till I keel over, probably still muttering curses on all Seats in general) is the fact that we ended up in this dire situation because we were trying to be sensible and save money…. AAARGH!!! Never again! I’m taking this whole experience as a sign that sensible-ness is very much over-rated where cars are concerned…now, where’s that nice Porsche catalogue!

Back on the blog?

Coo-eee! It’s ME!!!! I’ve not been around for a while. Well, I have, obviously, just not around here. I was hanging out at my new secret blog for a while, but to be honest I’m not really feeling at home there – I had thought that blogging anonymously would give the writing a new lease of life but it hasn’t so far!! So here I am again, back at the ranch as it were…

It’s not just the secret blogging (or not) that has been keeping me away from LearnerMother though. For the last few months all my spare time has gone into training for an 18.5 mile trail race – and of course continuing with the Great Pull-up Challenge, which may as well be renamed the Great Pull-up Fail. When I originally posted about learning to do them (and raising money for charity on the process) I thought it would be a matter of simply doing the time, putting in the effort, and hey presto, I would be a pullupper. Boom!

Not so much of the boom. If fact, no boom at all. Not even a little bit.

I’m taking this quite hard! At the risk of sounding cocky, I have never yet been defeated by anything I really, really wanted to do. I might have a small paddy, or possibly a larger one depending on how scared I am (you don’t ever want to be in an airport with me pre-flight!!) but I always do manage to get whatever it is done in the end. Usually by dint of simply getting my head down and plugging away, and not always with grace or any sort of style, but I do get there.

Well, they do say pride comes before a fall…so you can consider me a well and truly Fallen Woman. It’s not all bad – I know I’m getting stronger, and on the pullup machine the number on the assist weight is getting s-l-o-w-l-y smaller. But if I’m honest, it’s a dispiriting journey. I’m sure I will, oe day, manage my 6 pull-ups, but I suspect we might be talking months or possibly years. Gah.

But…BUT….back to the running – get a load of this!!!!


That’s ME that is! Part way round the very hilly 18.5 mile Coastal Challenge. That’s EIGHTEEN AND A HALF MILES, in case you missed it. Oh, and when I said ‘very hilly’, I actually meant as mountainous as it is possible to get, that close to the sea. And guess what? I finished it! And I wasn’t last!!!! In fact I was 46th out of 142 finishers, which I am very proud of indeed. Sure I have a nasty sprain on one of my ankles, not to mention ferocious sun/wind burn on my calves, but I am still well and truly buzzing. I never in a million years thought that I could run for 18.5 miles when I first graced the doors of a gym after twenty years of doing no exercise at all. I’m even (whisper it) thinking that I may try and tackle a marathon next…go me!

Anyway. I only opened up the blog to do a spam clearout (and I only did that to avoid doing the actual work I am supposed to be doing) and suddenly I seem to have written a post. And quite enjoyed writing it too…maybe I’ll try it again one day soon…who knows!