THE Netherlands National Circus, at Middlebrook this week, gave us a great afternoon out. Our party included a 40-something mum, who had memories of circuses in the 1970s and '80s, and two eight-year-olds, who had to be wrenched away from their games consoles but soon realised they were in for a treat.

On a cold February afternoon the big top was surprisingly warm. After an introduction to the artists who emerged surprisingly from below a large white sheet, the action began with a trapeze artist, Miss Caroline. She managed to combine glamour with astounding feats.

Angelo the Clown made his first of many comical appearances.

As the age-old tradition demands, he blurred the boundary between the performers and audience with hilarious success. The audience loved his fake tears which soaked them.

The Cretzu Troupe were magnificent and the audience inside the big top held its breadth as they defied gravity. The occasional misses made it all the more exciting.

The Jackson Family were mesmerising as they clambered onto ever small bikes.

The Desiree Chavez hand balancing display was also marvellous. The strength and agility of the artists was spell-binding.

The Circus Princess brought a new dimension to whirling the hoola hoops and at one point was hoisted off the ground while whirling her hoops.

The costumes were glamorous and sparkling - everything you would expect from a traditional circus.

The fun was accompanied by large clouds of blue candy floss, small children dancing in the aisles and older children not used to such razzmatazz and physical prowess trying not to be too impressed , but failing, as we all whooped ad clapped. We all appreciated a great afternoon's entertainment.

The finale included a nice touch of all the artists carrying their national flags - which included the UK, continental nations and the United States.

Robbie MacDonald Catherine Fleming