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Wowcher gets high with Virgin at Bristol International Balloon Festival!

Friday AM Flight - View

Nestled in the rolling Somerset countryside, every year the picturesque Ashton Court plays host to The Bristol International Balloon Festival – Europe’s largest hot air balloon event. And this year, a few Wowcher elves were lucky enough to be among the visitors!

This year’s festival, the 37th annual event, proved to be a record-breaking spectacular, with around 500,000 turning out across four days to see seven mass ascents up into the sun-kissed skyline. We’re told that thanks to the glorious weather, it was in fact the first time in the festival’s history that all seven scheduled flights were able to go ahead. Just goes to show you can always count on the great British summertime – perfect weather conditions at just the 37th time of asking…

But these brave Wowcher elves weren’t just spectators – oh no, this year we got the chance to slip the surly bonds of earth and take to the skies for real! After all, what better way to drink in the breathtaking British countryside than in a hot air balloon?

At first, the thought of being suspended hundreds of feet above the earth in a basket, was, well, a wee bit unnerving. But speaking to our pilot, Virgin Balloon Flights’ very-own Mark Simmons, our, shall we say, anxieties were quickly allayed. A veteran of the skies, having flown all over the world (once with Richard Branson himself), Mark said the event was one of his favourite places to fly. And if he can be trusted to ferry around one of the world’s most beloved billionaires, we knew we must be in pretty good hands.

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With typical Virgin panache, our balloon was of course among the most spectacular sights at the fiesta. Ascending alongside other balloons of all shapes and sizes, the iconic red balloon you’ve likely seen a hundred times gliding across the skyline must have looked pretty cool from down below. Other balloons at the fiesta included none other than a giant Minion (those things are everywhere nowadays) and even the event’s famous Power Ranger balloons. As much as children at the event may have been thrilled to see the Despicable Me franchise’s favourite sidekick ascend, it’s nothing compared to our thrill at seeing some genuine Mighty Morphin’ heroes take to the skies. Naturally, the theme song was stuck in our head for the rest of the day. Not quite the soundtrack to stunning aerial views of the countryside we had in mind at the beginning of the day, but never mind, eh?

View of Bristol

Speaking of children, the fiesta also featured a very special guest – Peppa Pig! Joining the team at the Virgin Balloons exhibitors stand, everybody’s favourite cheeky piggy was on hand for photo opportunities and was even handing out hot air balloon goodie bags to her fans. Speaking to Peppa herself, we enquired if she’d be getting up in an air balloon on the day. She replied “When pigs fly!” much to our confusion. Only kidding, although she did say, “it’s snout my style”. Kidding again. Peppa in fact used to have a fear of flying, she’s cured now though…

Peppa pig

Nothing less than an unforgettable day of high-flying fun and spectacular views, a flight with Virgin Balloons is really something you have to experience first-hand to believe. If you haven’t booked with Wowcher yet, now’s a good time – you don’t want this experience to fly straight over your head!

Rock n’ Roll Cricket: The NatWest T20 Blast

I tend to think that cricket is the greatest thing that God ever created on earth – certainly greater than sex, although sex isn’t too bad either” – Harold Pinter

When it comes to the UK’s favourite summer sport, we all have our preconceptions. For you, cricket might conjure up images of neatly creased and ironed white kit, dappled sunlight on freshly cut grass, a rosy red ball to match the ruddy cheeks of the players, and the familiar thud of leather on willow. You might think of a gentle summer’s day enjoyed in leisurely style, as spectators and players alike break for tea to tuck into cucumber sandwiches and real ale. Well, prepare to have your notions of sleepy, boring cricket smashed. The grand old sport has entered the 21st century with an explosive short-form game known as Twenty20. And what with Wowcher offering tickets to see the Birmingham Bears in action, we thought we’d help you swot up on just what you’re missing!

Fun for all the family
As with everything, cricket moved with the times to appeal to younger audiences. Twenty20 cricket offers an evening or afternoon (of manageable length – no three-to-five day marathons here!) that is exciting and fun for everyone aged 1-101. Certainly no longer the preserve of foppish posh boys with bouncy hair, Twenty20 matches showcase just how fun the sport can be, offering great quality entertainment for all the family at an affordable price.

cricket3 Read more

Wowcher Does a Cocktail Making Class @ Dice Bar

cocktail3
We sent Emily to Dice Bar for a marvellous cocktail making class, where she learnt how to mix, shake and stir like a master…

Though I thoroughly (and I mean thoroughly) enjoy drinking them, the klutz in me has ensured I steer clear of actually making cocktails at all costs. Tragically, I lack the coordination and flair needed to successfully create such tasty, beautiful beverages – or so I thought!

cocktail1
Off I trotted to Dice Bar in central Croydon to try my hand at cocktail making. I was impressed the moment I stepped inside the modern and stylish bar, but things were only going to get better. Within seconds of sitting down, I was given a shot of Apple Sourz and presented with a dish of curly fries, nachos, deep fried chicken balls and more. This was my sort of evening. I was then handed the drinks menu to peruse so I could pick which two cocktails I wanted to make. Porn Star Martini? Long Island Iced Tea? Bahama Mama? Piña Colada? The choice was almost enough to send someone as indecisive as me over the edge, but I eventually plumped for the Mojito and Strawberry Daiquiri, whilst my guest for the evening opted for the Mai Tai and Amaretto Sour. After a chat with the friendly mixologist it was time to get down to business, so I tentatively ventured around the other side of the bar and hoped for the best.

cocktail2
I needn’t have worried as the mixologist had the patience of a saint, taking me through the process step by step. So with a little lime juice, a lot of rum, some soda water, sprigs of mint and a hell of a lot of shaking, my Mojito was ready! I became further acquainted with the cocktail shaker when making my Strawberry Daiquiri (topped off with an orange lolly pop), and then it was time to sit back and enjoy my creations as I watched my companion attempt an Amaretto Sour. Whilst slurping down our cocktails (which were delicious, if I do say so myself), we played a game of ‘guess the vodka flavour’ with our mixologist. The flavours ranged from honey and jalapeño to chocolate raspberry and coconut. Delish! After we ensured there wasn’t a drop left in our glasses, it was sadly time to head home. I’d learned two things that evening at Dice Bar. Firstly, it’s a fantastic bar with even better drinks and staff, and secondly, I am, as it turns out, a cocktail-making extraordinaire.

To try a cocktail making class for yourself at a great price, keep an eye on Wowcher.co.uk!

Please note – all deals featured may not be live

Wowcher Does On The List!


Fancy hitting the hottest show in town without having to worry about whether or not your name’s on the list? We know we do. So, we decided to check out OTL (On the List, darling) and have a peek at their exclusive online subscription – the service where for the price of an annual fee you can help yourself to tickets to some of London’s biggest and brightest events at the best locations. Theatre, comedy clubs, gigs, you name it baby! Having donned our shades, put our purses away and perfected our best ‘I’m on the list’ drawl, we decided to give the celeb lifestyle a go…

Comedy
Fan of funny? Course you are. Well, except when you’re stood outside a Soho club without a ticket and are forced to a) accept defeat and trudge home dejected or b) accept defeat and check out the dodgy pub round the corner. Well, that’s where OTL had us covered. We headed down, grabbed ourselves a couple of tickets with no fuss and plonked our bums down for a night of laugh out loud entertainment!

Theatre
The fanciest of all things to do in London town, we figured we’d have to up our game if we were going to blend in with our next fancy crowd of culture vultures. So, with our best tea-drinking pinkies flexed and our tiny posh binocular things hand-bagged we decided to go West with a board-treading thespian extravaganza. In amongst the dancing, prancing and stunning mise-en-scène in the third act, we felt we felt a profound cultural awakening wash over us, imbuing our very souls with an insatiable and mystical wonder for the arts. Shame they didn’t sell popcorn, though.

Gigs
Perhaps a sweat-drenched, raucous gig is more our cup of tea (three sugars, love), so we figured why not? Thanks to OTL, we rocked up in the rider (or took the tube, whatever), resisted the temptation to nonchalantly purr ‘we’re with the band’ and strolled in. It was an experience euphoric enough to stop us from wondering: ‘is that warm beer that’s just been chucked at the back of my head or something else?’ To put it simply, it was great. You know how Kate Moss probably feels when she strides casually into a music venue like the biggest superstar this end of the catwalk? Well, we’d have to say it was the closest to that feeling we could get. Except better – we didn’t have to go in on Pete Doherty’s pasty, unwashed arm, for one.

Where and what were these exclusive events you ask? Well if you knew that, you’d be as big an A-lister as we are. You’ll just have to check out OTL’s exclusive membership for yourself…

Please note – deals featured may not be live.

Wowcher Does a Vintage Photoshoot @ Belgravia Studios, Victoria

In search of a quirky new look, my friend and I ditched our usual work attire in favour of 1950s glamour and a whole load of scarlet lippie! On arrival at Belgravia Studios in Victoria, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect – would we suit our retro makeover? How would we take to life in front of the camera? Luckily we had no reason to worry, as we were greeted with a glass of bubbly on arrival (the best way to be greeted, in our opinion!) and introduced to our hair and makeup stylist for the day. We were given the opportunity to request a specific look or style, but we decided to let our stylists take creative control – a short while (and lashings of eyeliner) later, we were rocking a look Marilyn Monroe herself would have been proud of! With glossy red lips, smoky black eyes, victory rolls and curly locks, we were feeling fabulous and beginning to wish we’d been born fifty years before our time! Read more

Wowcher Does Old Macdonald’s Farm

An on that farm he had a...HORSE
The summer holidays may be coming to a close, but there’s always time for a fun family day out! Like the children’s nursery rhyme, which no doubt is going round and round in your head as you read this, Old MacDonald sure does have a farm. It’s based in Brentwood (yes, home of TOWIE), just off the M25, so, with one excited 5-year-old, a car full of snacks and our wowchers in hand, we headed over there to see what all the fuss is about.

Unlike the nursery rhyme, however, this award-winning farm not only has cows, pigs and sheep, but a whole host of unusual animals, such as alpacas, a wallaby and even some reindeer! Much to the amusement of our little boy, the farm has a “traffic light” system, whereby a red label means you can’t touch or feed the animals, amber means you can touch with caution, and green means you can touch and feed them. Off he went, shouting out the colours excitedly as we explored the pens, pointing out the animals he recognised such as guinea pigs, rabbits and even an owl or two.

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O

As soon as we turned the corner and saw the giant inflatable bouncy slides, trampolines, and tractor ride, his eyes widened even further and he was off again. A particular favourite was the helter-skelter, where the kids form an “orderly queue”, collect a sack and then climb the stairs to face the swirly slide at the top. Plus, he also loved the Wacky Worm Roller Coaster and the Happy Horses Pony Adventure Ride! And don’t fret – even if the weather is grey and miserable, your kids won’t be when they see the indoor Battle Barn, with a colourful soft play area full of slides, ropes and bridges, plus brilliant ball games to keep them entertained for hours. It’s right next to the restaurant, so mums and dads will be happy too.

And on that farm he had some...RIDES.

And on that farm he had some…RIDES.

Open until November, and then again for the Christmas holidays, Old MacDonald’s Farm is enjoyable for little kids, big kids (and even kids of the goat variety) and you can rest assured that the activities are well-maintained and manned where necessary for ultimate safety too.

The only way is Old MacDonald’s Farm! So look out for tickets here!

Wowcher Does Celebrity Planet’s Jack The Ripper Tour

East London hasn’t always been flooded with fixie bikes, craft ale-dipped ironic beards and vegan cafes, you know. It was once a much more sinister place…

Once upon a time the East End was in fact full of what historians now officially term ‘dodgy geezers’. Now we’re not just referring to loveable rogues in the mould of Del Boy, the Kray Twins or even Harry Redknapp. No, east London in fact has a rich and particularly fiendish history of full blown naughty goings on. None more infamous than Jack the Ripper. Undeterred by the thought of being caught by the ghoulies, we decided to check out the Celebrity Planet’s Ripper Walk to get closer to the capital’s most gory mystery… Read more

Great Scot!


On the 18th September, Scotland will cast their votes on whether they want to grab Alex Salmond’s jam-covered carrot or remain in the sweaty arms of David Cameron. Here at Wowcher we don’t judge, if you sell your vote on eBay, we don’t mind. We love Scotland and we just want her to be happy.

We’re not gonna lie, when Alan Hansen left Match of the Day, we lost something we never thought we had. The word ‘diabolical’ would never be so beautifully uttered by anyone else, certainly not by Shearer or Lawrenson. In the words of Joni Mitchell, ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ so let’s celebrate Scotland in all its tartan wonder, whether or not they decide to go independent on September 18th.

Apart from feral goats in the highlands and news stories about men with their heads stuck in bins, Scotland is to be loved for many reasons. If you’re not sure why then thistle clear things up: Read more

Wowcher Does Deena Kakaya’s Vegetarian Cookery Class

Give us a fancy food gadget and something strange happens: optimism bubbles, eyes glaze and suddenly even the most challenging of culinary creations seems nothing more than child’s play. Blanching? No problem. Fricassee? Idiot-proof. Steep? Hit me. And yet before you can say al dente, you’ve flambéed your worktop, blitzed your apron and swapped sugar for salt in your gluten-free, vegan-friendly, zero carb cake mix. So this week we decided to ditch the space-age processors for a back-to-basics cookery class…  Read more

Keep The Kids Busy This Summer!

summerfamily

Back in our day (sigh), you could give kids a bucket and a stick and they’d happily spend hours re-enacting a jousting competition in the street. These days, if you give them a bucket and a stick, they’ll either cry or work themselves in a frenzy looking for the ‘ON’ button. Hopscotch and British Bulldog have been replaced by Playstations and iPads, and with such a surplus of interactive entertainment, there’s even more pressure on adults to be creative and amuse their little ones this summer holiday. One solution is to lock them in their bedroom with a laptop, give them the Wi-Fi password, slide snacks under the door every few hours and only open the bedroom door at the start of September when term begins. Although tempting, we think we’ve come up with a series of slightly more humane ways to entertain the kids this summer… Read more