The Best Start Show

The Best Start Logo 1

This post was inspired by a tweet I saw from The Best Start twitter account (@thebeststart) announcing their 2015 show in Halifax (The Shay Stadium)  and I had not realised that it was a year since I went with H and given the impact it had on the last 12 months, I had to talk about it.

Rewind 12 months ago – H was 15 months old and we spent the weekend going for a walk to the park on a Saturday and then spending Sunday going somewhere. We didn’t have any particular plans and we didn’t go to any classes or groups or anything really as there is very little on a Saturday/Sunday for working parents. However, as a result of going to the show, we picked up a leaflet and saw that one of the exhibitors had a class on a Saturday relatively near – fast forward 12 months and H has come on so much as a result of the classes, she has got the best friend in the world and I have other ‘mum and dad’ friends to talk to and share the parenting experience and these classes are the highlight of the week.

I would not have got this if I hadn’t “plucked up the courage” to go to the Best Start Show. I use that phrase because going into an exhibition as a single dad, carrying a child is a bit unusual! There are either mums carrying/pushing children, mums/dads to be or mums and dads with children – which is what you would expect and so it feels a bit strange (NB – these are internally generated feelings, everyone was lovely there!). Anyway, part 1 of this post is to encourage everyone, regardless of circumstances, to go to this event (or similar) it might just be the best thing you ever did!

Part 2 is actually talking/explaining about the exhibition. There are about 20 stands in a banqueting suite, and apparently, there is a breakout area for specific talks although we never got to that stage, so it isn’t massive, but certainly not tiny. My advice would be the following:

  • Listen to  your child. This is much easier if they aren’t yet born!! You may find talking to a stall holder very interesting, but if your child wants feeding etc, you might be best to have a few minutes out.
  • Don’t take a pram/pushchair if possible. The venue does get busy and unless you are an expert driver with the patience of a saint, please think about leaving it in the car. Obviously needs must, but think about it!
  • Have a plan. Do you want to hear about weening, or take part in a demonstration class or have your childs photo taken etc? There are big queues for some things therefore discuss what you want before you go
  • Talk!! The stallholders won’t bite! They obviously want to sell their products, but they are a wonderful resource to tap into, even if you are not specifically interested in their product
  • Get leaflets. Tied into the one above, if you can’t talk to a stallholder because of a queue, get a leaflet. they can help you later on, when you get home and have time to digest it all

As I say, going to this event was a turning point for me and I hope that a few people have similar success stories from it going forward because it is a wonderful event and hopefully in the future it will go from strength to strength, even though I know in the next year or so, me and H will be too old for it!!!

For details of the event go to: http://thebeststart.co.uk/live/

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Dinosaur Discovery Park (12/9/2015 )

** This attraction is now closed **

On a wet Saturday afternoon, we made our way to Dinosaur Discovery Park, in Horbury Bridge, near Wakefield (WF4 5PT) for an hour of dinosaur excitement.

Before you head off, check the opening times as it isn’t generally open during the week in term time (http://www.dinosaurdiscoverypark.co.uk/) Also, do a Google street view check as to where the place is, as it is hidden away behind a cafe. I made this mistake and had 20 minutes of driving round the same quarter mile stretch of road!!

So, entry is generally £4 each and in the venue is about 10 realistic (from what I imagine given that I am not a dinosaur expert!) dinosaurs which move either my sensor or by you controlling the levers.

The ones with sensors were really good and you can tell that love and effort were put into them all and the ones with levers were perfect for the little ones. Caution, they are a bit scary so if your child is a bit nervous, this may not be the one for you…

The best bit was the dressing up outfits (think Rod Hull and Emu). There was a toddler sized one and an adult sized one and as we had the place to ourselves, we wandered about pretending to be dinosaurs!

The best bit for older kids would be the maze…I don’t want to give any tricks away but this can be quite scary but really fun for those in and out of the maze! It is pitch black and so we used a torch to navigate round as the dark would have been too much for H… Please tell the members of staff if you are going into the maze and are quite nervous…trust me!

There is also a sandpit where you can dig for fossils. This would be good for older kids, but we were having fun dressing as dinosaurs!

If you look on their Facebook page, you will see questionable reviews… if you want to spend all day at an attraction, this won’t be for you. However, if you want to spend an hour going somewhere a bit quirky, seeing something a bit different, and maybe learning something if your child is interested, then it is worth a visit.

It is, however, a little bit surreal for the want of a better word. The dinosaurs are clearly painstakingly built and are deserving of a better location and overall attraction. As the dinosaurs are just placed in a warehouse, there is no underlying activity for the little ones to keep them hooked.

As for the topless caveman and cave woman – while historically accurate (I think…) perhaps not appropriate for a supposedly child friendly attraction. It is in the middle of the attraction so you can’t miss it either – great!

As someone said, you can spend £2 on a 2 minute fairground ride and not bat an eyelid, and in comparison, this is decent value for money. The only way independent outlets like this will survive and grow and get better is if we support them. This stuck with me as the place was empty on a Saturday afternoon… However, I am not overly surprised that it was empty.

In terms of other practicalities, it is completely indoors, flat and so there is no need for a pushchair if your child can walk and actually it is a perfect place for them to toddle about if it is quiet as there is space and it isn’t too big (probably the size of a 5 a side football pitch)

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