Variety is the Spice of My Life

Reflecting on my previous blog post about the places where I’m asked to perform, I pondered on the events I’ll be performing at this summer. It’s not all birthday parties, thankfully, because variety really is the spice of life.

This was the feedback I received after performing at Drayton’s village fete last year:  “Magic Peter’s magic shows wowed all the families at our village fete, and his balloon models were so popular he could have stayed til midnight making them for everyone. We can’t wait to have him back next year. A big thank you Magic Peter from us all at Drayton School PTA.” Laura Billington.

And, true to her word, Laura has asked me back to perform at Drayton’s fete again this year, on Saturday 15 June, between 2 and 4pm.  It even made the Oxford Mail online newspaper!

Later in the summer I’ll be making another return visit, this time to the Green Meadows Music Festival near Peterborough.

I had a great time last year, despite the rain, and I think we’re all hoping for a sunny weekend this year.

And then, at the end of summer, I’ll be at the Moreton in Marsh Show – ‘Farming, Food & Family Fun’.  I believe I’m in the third category!

It would be great to see some of you at these or any of the other public events I’m performing at this summer, but there are other events that are by invitation only, I’m afraid.  For example, I’ll be at corporate family days for BJSS and Oxford Nanopore Technologies in June and July, and at The Queen’s College Summer Garden Party in Oxford, also in July.  At all these events, I’ll be putting on family magic shows for children and their parents, and in between I’ll be twisting balloons into dogs and swords and dinosaurs and hats and who knows what else!

And I’ll be performing for end of term parties at the UK Defence Academy in Shrivenham and a number of nurseries and pre-schools in July.  And before I’ve finished those shows, I’ll be planning my new Christmas show for the end of the year.

Do you have an event for families and children?  If so, let me know – I’d love to help.

Village fetes, music festivals, county shows, corporate family days, school  shows and Christmas – looking at my diary, I’m amazed I can fit in those birthday parties I mentioned at the beginning of this blog.  Hopefully the warm weather this week has been the start of summer.  Whatever you’re doing, I hope you’ll be having as much fun as me – because I’ll be having bags of fun with my audiences around Oxfordshire and beyond.

All at Sea at Easter

I’ve performed indoors.  I’ve performed outdoors.  I’ve even performed on a moving double-decker bus.  But this Easter was the first time I performed at sea, when I spent 11 days performing on Brittany Ferries’ Mont St Michel travelling between Portsmouth and Caen three times a day.

It was an exciting (and challenging) experience: three brand new audiences each day, with no idea who would be boarding, how many would be on board, and – slightly scarily – how many would speak English.  My schoolboy French wasn’t much good even when I was at school, and it’s a heck of a lot worse these days.

But we managed to make ourselves understood. I was able to perform some of my tricks in English and French, and I learned some new French words for popular balloon models, such as épée for sword and singe for monkey.  Speaking of balloons, I calculated I made 1500 balloon models in the 11 days at sea. In fact, they were so popular that the crew ran out of balloons  on the day before I left!

Despite the differences between these shows and my usual work, it was thoroughly enjoyable and very satisfying.  Living out of a suitcase wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be, and my crew cabin was small but very comfortable. I worked with some amazing people (who spend a lot more time working afloat than I did), and we had loads of fun keeping the passengers entertained.  I even submitted to dressing up when we all went on a pirate treasure hunt!

I met some amazing people. There was the group of cyclists riding from Cardiff to Paris, raising £22,000 for their local hospital.  And I won’t quickly forget the group travelling from Cern Abbas to CERN Geneva. I managed to make the balloon model of the Cern Abbas Man they asked for, but no, I didn’t take a photo!  Sorry.

And, of course, I met the star of the ship, Pierre le Bear. Thankfully, I wasn’t asked to dress up as Pierre.

So, looking back, I’m really pleased I was booked to perform at sea.  I missed my family’s Easter celebrations, but I’ve added ‘at sea’ to the list of venues where I can perform.  I wonder what’s next?  Do you have a challenging venue or a challenging show for me?  I’m happy to discuss anything.

Au revoir for now.

A Ferry Nice Booking

Three weeks today I will be aboard the Mont St Michel at the start of an 11-day run performing for passengers travelling between Portsmouth and Caen, including those travelling over the Easter weekend.  This will be my first time performing at sea – in fact it will be the first time I have been to sea since I left school – and it I’m looking forward to it with a mixture of excitement and mild concern.

Mont St Michel, part of the Brittany Ferries fleet

Concern because I need to do some serious planning for what to take and what to leave at home.  Space will be limited, so I don’t have the luxury of taking my biggest props.  And my audience will be a mix of British and French passengers, and my French is limited to say the least, so the routines I perform will need to be very visual, with a minimum of talking.

I won’t be able to pop home for a replacement prop or some more supplies, either, so I need to be sure that when I snap my cases shut and set off for Portsmouth that I have enough of everything I’ll need, including those things that get used up during shows, like balloons, sweets, etc.  So lots to think about over the next three weeks.

I’m booked to perform two shows a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, so they’re keeping me busy while I’m on board.  Sadly it means I have had to turn down a lot of enquiries for the two weekends I’ll be away, but this was an opportunity and an experience too good to miss.  But you never know; I may not enjoy a life on the ocean, so whether I’ll want to do this on a regular basis remains to be seen.

Anyway, if you’re travelling to France between 11 and 22 April and will be aboard the Mont St Michel, come and say hi.  It’ll be great to see you.  If not, you can follow my adventure on my Facebook and Twitter pages, and I’ll post another blog or two here to keep you up to date.

Now, where did I leave my pirate costume?

New and Improved

It;s been a while since I blogged.  So hi, how are you?  I hope you had a great Christmas.  Magic Peter had his busiest Christmas ever, and it was great to see so many happy smiling children  in the run-up to the big day.

So how’s 2019 treating you?  For me, the new year seems to have started as the previous year finished, with a very full diary and lots of happy children.  And now, here we are at half-term in February, and next week sees my fourth year performing at Millets Farm Centre at Frilford.  I always enjoy performing at Millets, and just as in the past three years, I have a brand new act for this year’s shows, with brand new tricks and routines.

I’m also launching a new and improved Magic Wand Kit at Millets this year.

Just like my previous wand kits, the new version contains a genuine magic wand charged with woofle dust. Inside, as well as tricks you can perform with the wand itself, you’ll now find two new tricks to learn at home and amaze your friends and family with.

And on the back cover there’s now a colouring competition.  Colour your own picture of Magic Peter and email it in to be entered in a new monthly competition.  Each month one entry will be chosen at random, and that lucky person will receive a FANTASTIC magic set of their own to start them on the road to creating their own magic act.

With the arrival of the new Magic Wand Kit, I’ve taken to opportunity to update my party bags, too.  Now they include a wand kit, an activity sheet and a stacking colouring pencil to use with it, an emoji balloon, a bag of Haribo sweets, a box of chocolate Smarties, and some of the ‘magic’ touchable bubbles that I use at the start of every party.  That’s seven items in each party bag for just £2.50.

My party bags are included in my All-inclusive Party Package, but you can have them as an additional extra to any booking you make, saving you the effort and expense of putting together your own party bags.  But the real advantage is that you  don’t have any waste – you only pay for what you need.

As always, with the start of each new year, I look back at what I’ve been doing and do what I can to make it even better, so I hope you like the new wand kits and party bags, and I hope you have your tickets to come along and see my new act at Millets Farm next week.

And perhaps I’ll see you at your own party sometime in 2019.  More new soon.

The Days are Getting Shorter. And the Months?

This was a popular meme around Halloween.  As Halloween ends, Christmas begins.  Well, for children’s entertainers, that’s pretty much true.  Last Sunday, I finished my last Halloween show of 2018 and packed away my props for the year. And on Monday I dived into the Magic Room and took out the props I’ll be using for my Christmas shows.

And not before time.  My last Halloween show was on 4 November; my first Christmas show is on 1 December.  Just 26 days to rehearse and refine my Magic of Christmas 2018 show.  Are the months getting shorter?

Each year I put together a brand new Christmas show.  I’m not one to roll out the same old tricks year after year.  So this year’s show will be entirely different from last year’s – and the year before’s.  This year’s show will feature the North Pole (yes, the real North Pole, I promise!), Santa’s official Naughty or Nice List, an idea for magically recycling Christmas wrapping paper, Santa’s elves, the ‘Elf Transporter’ and Tommy the Toucan, who’s invited his family over for Christmas.

The show finishes, as always, with racing snowmen – and why not!  From beginning to end, it is full of the elements of a fantastic Christmas – Santa, Rudolph, the North Pole, elves, Christmas trees, snowmen – everything to get the kids in the festive spirit.

My diary is pretty full.  The last week of school is booked solid with school shows, but I do still have spaces for shows on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 December.  So if you still haven’t booked your entertainment or if your entertainer has let you down (sadly, as in all industries, we do have our cowboys), drop me an email or give me a call and I’ll do my best to squeeze you in.

I may not post a blog again before Christmas – it’ll be a busy few weeks – so can I thank everyone who has asked me to perform for them.  I’ve had a fantastic year, and I’ve had huge amounts of fun performing for you.  And if I don’t speak to you before, can I wish you, your family and friends a very merry Christmas and a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Does Balloon Modelling Harm the Environment?

Like many people, I’m concerned about the environment, and I’ve been asked whether balloons are putting our environment at risk.

Certainly printed birthday balloons made of plastic and foil and usually filled with helium are as damaging as any other product made from these materials, but I only use Qualatex balloons made from 100% natural latex – not plastic or foil.

Latex is collected by cutting the tree’s bark, then catching the latex in a cup, not from cutting down the tree, so Qualatex balloons are not contributing to deforestation: in fact, they are giving latex farmers a good living from a naturally renewable source.

Qualatex balloons are 100% biodegradable and decompose as fast as an oak leaf in the forest! So although there may be a short-term litter problem, they are not causing a long-term environmental headache, And when I make balloon models, whether indoors or outdoors, I do my damnedest to pick up all my litter – latex and anything else I’ve dropped – and take it home and dispose of it responsibly. As I’m sure we all do, right?

So if you book me to make balloon models at your event, you needn’t worry about creating environmental issues – unless, of course, you count accidentally bursting balloons as noise pollution!

Making YOUR Child the Star

First there was The Big Fish Race.  I ended each party with this game, where the birthday child raced his or her fish against three grown-ups to see who would win the Star Prize!  (Spoiler Alert: The game is actually a magic trick, and despite the fact that the child can choose any coloured fish, and that two independent adults shuffle the cards, the child ALWAYS wins, guaranteed!) It’s a wonderful way to end a party, with the birthday child being the star of the show, all their friends cheering on their fish, beating the grown-ups  and winning a special prize as well.

Next came The Space Race, with the child racing their rocket against the grown-ups’ to win a race across the universe.

Then came The Wacky Winter Race.  Crazy snowmen on skis racing to the North Pole.  And each time, the child beats the grown-ups and wins a special prize at the end of the party.  This one is GREAT for Christmas parties.

Then last year I invested in The Spooky Race: witches on broomsticks in a race across a very spooky landscape.

And now comes The Super Hero Race.  Four super heroes race across the city to save mankind. And d’ya know what?  The birthday child’s super hero always wins. A really super hero!

Why am I telling you all this?  Well, a number of reasons, really.

The first is to say that if you book me for your child’s party, he or she will be the star of the show.  The Race Games are just one of the ways I’ll make your son or daughter feel special on her special day – like these twins playing The Big Fish Race recently.

And because I have a number of different versions already, I can adapt my show to your party.  I always try to personalise the content of my show to the birthday child’s interests.  Last weekend it was a young man who loved Spiderman, so of course we played The Super Hero Race game, and low and behold he won a special Spiderman prize at the end of the show.

I do the same at Halloween and at Christmas. At these times of year I design special shows to match the seasonal celebrations.  At Halloween I produce a show full of creepy crawlies, monsters, ghosts and ghouls.  And each year I develop a new Christmas show with Santa and Rudolph, presents and snowmen, so The Wacky Winter Race is an ideal climax to Christmas parties, as you can see below.

The fact is, that with enough notice and for a small fee, I can make a race game to precisely match the theme of your son or daughter’s birthday party.  You want racing unicorns? You’ve got it!  Racing cars? No problem! Racing princesses? You’re on.

The more notice you give me, the more chance I have to make your party unique, but even at short notice I will always do my best to personalise my show to your child and to your party.  If you’re planning something special, why not drop me a line and ask me what I can do?  I’ll be more than happy to help.

If you’ve been to a Magic Peter party and seen the Big Race Games in action, post a comment and let everyone know how loudly the kids cheered on the birthday child and how excited her or she was at beating the grown-ups and winning the star prize.

Check back for more blogs soon.

More Than Just Birthday Parties

It’s been a while since I posted a blog entry, so my apologies for that, but it’s been a busy time here at Magic HQ. It struck me that many people will think of a children or family magician as someone just for birthday parties.  Far from it, as the past few weeks – and some varied bookings – will demonstrate.

First off, and for the third year running, I’ll be back at Millets Farm Centre for nine shows over the February school half-term week. Three shows a day at 10.30am, 1.00pm and 3.00pm on Tuesday 13, Wednesday 14 and Thursday 15 February.

As always, when I return to Millets, this is a brand new show full of brand new tricks – but sadly the same old jokes!  Some shows are already sold out, so check here to book your seats at one of the remaining shows while there’s still time.

Then, on  Sunday 6 May, I’ll performing at the Abingdon Air and Country Show at Dalton Barracks, near Abingdon.  As well as performing a number of magic shows, I’ll be making balloon models while the flying displays are going on overhead.

This’ll be like coming home for me. My late father was a parachute training instructor at the base when it was known as RAF Abingdon, so I know the airfield pretty well and remember many RAF open days from my youth.

Staying with the RAF, I’ll be performing magic and making balloon models at RAF Brize Norton on Saturday 30 June to celebrate Armed Forces Day, and I’ll be providing similar attractions at a number of village and school fetes throughout the summer. I have a couple of bookings to entertain the children at weddings, too, so together with the ‘bread and butter’ birthday party bookings, I’ll be criss-crossing Oxfordshire this summer.

Finally,  on Sunday 12 August, I’ll be performing at the Green Meadows Festival in the grounds of Elton Hall near Peterborough. I’m looking forward to this booking; as a keen music fan, the idea of being paid to be at a music festival just goes to remind me what a fabulous job I have.

So don’t imagine for one moment that Oxfordshire’s Magical Children’s Entertainer is only for birthday parties.  I can, do, and will perform at any event where children get together for fun and laughter.  To book me for your event, contact me now before the gaps in my diary are filled.

I hope to see you somewhere on my travels this spring and summer.  Fingers crossed for some sunny days.

I Had a Great Time

I love my job.

It would be very easy to turn up, do the show, take the money, go home.

But that’s not how I do things. I like to get to know my hosts.  True, I have bills to pay and this is how I make my living, so the money is important.  But the reason I enjoy my job is that I meet such wonderful people.  Like George: a quiet boy, and such a lovely young man.  He was a real pleasure to be with today, and comments like this from George’s parents are what really make my job so fulfilling:

“Thanks so much for all your hard work. You do a great job! George and all of his friends had a wonderful time. He’s usually such a shy boy so it was lovely to see him letting himself go when he was up with you.”

If it was just about paying the bills, I would indeed just turn up, do the show, take the money, go home. But I cared about George.  A birthday is a big day in the life of a child.  With all his friends there, he wants his party to be a GREAT party.  So do his parents.

So do I.

I care about all the Georges, and the Miahs and Zaks and Scarlets and Angels and Paightons (to name just my most recent parties).  I want their parties to be their best days of the year. And, frankly, if they’re having fun, I’m having fun.

I’m really privileged to have such a great job.

Thank you, George (and Miah and Zak and Scarlet and Angel and Paighton) and everyone else for inviting me to your parties.  I had a great time.

A New, Responsive Web Site

Well, after one or two hiccups over the weekend that took Magic Peter off the World Wide Web for a couple of days, he’s back … and with a brand new web site.  (But you know that – you’re reading this on the new web site.)

So what’s new? Well, it’s written to be responsive on any platform.

“In English?”


It means it will resize itself to fit your computer, tablet or smartphone (see photo).

Which means you can read and see all of the website, whether you’re using a laptop (as I most often do), a tablet (as my wife does) or a phone (as many people do in this up-to-the-minute, on-the-move, I-need-it-now world we live in).

Making it this flexible does means it has to be slightly simpler, but as I get to grips with the new software it’s written in, I hope to make it slightly more adventurous.  Watch this space.