Yorkshire Sculpture Park – 27/5/2016

I know that I am not artistic and not particularly cultural but having seen the publicity regarding the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and the KAWS exhibit, we finally made our way down to Bretton to see what the fuss was about!

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Part of the KAWS exhibit

We didn’t particularly plan the trip well, which meant a lot of walking and a lot of piggy-backs, so if you want to avoid that, definitely park in the main entrance car park!! We parked in the “Country Park” car park and while the walk through the parkland was lovely, if you’re not up for a 3 mile round trip walk, go in the main entrance!!

I think that it is pretty much impossible to see all the exhibits in one go, even without children in tow and so we focused on the outdoor KAWS work, which were very popular and you had to wait your turn to have a photo with them (hint – it is virtually impossible to have a proper selfie with a giant sculpture!)

Likewise, it is difficult, but not impossible to go with a pushchair/pram.  As it is all outdoors, you need the weather and paths to be dry – certainly not the best place to be muddy and wet with a toddler or baby!!  The changing facilities in the cafe were pretty good, although the signage wasn’t brilliant, but once you find the main car park, there are enough buildings/people around to ask.

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KAWS Selfie!!

So in terms of the KAWS exhibits themselves, they are quite imposing, but also quite fun to look at. A nervous toddler might be scared.  However, we had a great time looking and pretending to be them as well!

A couple of the more hidden areas which caught the eye as well were the musical installations near the main entrance. If no-one is using them as you pass, you would never know they are there but they are absolutely brilliant and very interactive compared to some of the others (even though they look so appealing to be climbed upon!).

The other one to get big belly laughs from Heidi was the installation with the sinks, toilets, baths hanging 8ft in the air. In the eyes of a toilet training toddler, this was hilarious and she took great joy in running between the various parts of the exhibit and wanting to be lifted up to see what were in the sinks etc!! (I forgot to take pictures of these – d’oh!)

I have seen comments online regarding the price of car parking – £8 for more than 2 hours (which you will need). Yes, in itself, it is expensive, but instead consider it an admission fee which covers everyone in the car, as the park itself is free. You can bring your own food in as well and so you can have a picnic in the sun and enjoy some artwork for £8 for the day, which isn’t that bad all in all.

All in all, we had a good morning out in the sunshine, although the fresh air didn’t bring about an afternoon nap, which meant that I had an “interesting” afternoon!!

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Top 5 Parks in Yorkshire

Now that summer is apparently here, I thought that it would be good to share some thoughts as to some of the best parks we have come across in the region.

Yes, some can be a bit bare and a bit run down, but there are a few diamonds out there and allow for a lovely way to spend an hour or so in the sunshine.

Wilton Park – WF17 8NN

A (very) local one to me with a standard playground at one end, but when the cafe opens at the other end, there is a boatload of outdoor toys to play with for the children. In between is a lake where on weekends you can watch model boat enthusiasts navigate their boats on the water.

On weekends there is usually an ice cream van and a land train and as the cafe has recently been renovated, the facilities are top notch. If you fancy the half mile walk up a big hill through the woods, there is Bagshaw Museum (free) which will entertain for an hour.

A word of warning, the hill is very steep and not the easiest for little legs or pushing a pushchair (I know from personal experience!) Parking can get problematic at weekends and so you’re best using the car park at the “playground” end as it is easier to park in there although getting back out to the busy Bradford Road is often a challenge!

Valley Gardens, Harrogate – HG1 2SZ

This is probably one of the best pure playgrounds in Yorkshire, with relatively new and diverse equipment and enough to go round as well. Perhaps more suited to school age children, there is plenty of space within the playground and the gardens themselves to allow children to run free.

Parking tends to be an issue as it is pretty much in the centre of Harrogate. When we went, the toilets were closed but when the kiosk is open, you can play crazy golf and there is an open paddling pool for the summer months.

We tend to park in the centre of Harrogate and walk to the gardens. On the way back, stop off for a bun or two before heading back home! I would recommend the world famous Betty’s tea room, although may not be the best with a toddler!

Pudsey Park – LS28 7RR

The actual playground is pretty run down and not the best at all. However, the small animal enclosure is a little unusual but nonetheless worth the trip.

There are quite a number of small animals to look at and while you can’t touch them, it is all indoors so you can enjoy in the relative warmth. It is free as well so it is well worth a trip out, even if it is to talk to the birds in the enclosure!!

The park itself is quite large and flat and the paths would be ideal for learner cyclists or scooterists. Free on street parking is available and there are nearby shops as well. Just don’t build up your hopes for the playground…

Manor Heath Park, Halifax – HX3 0EB

A lovely park hidden away even though it is just a mile away from the town centre. Quite a large playground but a large sand/water play area which means that it makes the list. (Make sure you take a spare set of clothes!)

Toilets are not the best but there is a butterfly/tropical enclosure within the park for a bargain price of £1 each. This doesn’t get nearly enough publicity as the larger Tropical World in Leeds and as it is much quieter, Manor Heath is a much more enjoyable experience and much better value for money.

Plenty of free street parking and lots of open grass to play and have a picnic. Also, there are a couple of beautiful gardens as well, just vary it up a little bit, in case the little ones are interested in natural habitat.

Wharfe Meadows Park, Otley – LS21 2BH

Situated next to the River Wharfe this is a large playground with cafe and a short walk into the town. Free street parking is available albeit a squeeze at times, but there are plenty of playground toys to play on, especially for the older children.

As it is so large, there is no fencing surrounding the playground so you need to be careful a little and keep your eye out but the paths are ideal to practice cycling. As it is next to the fast flowing river, there are plenty of ducks there to feed as well!!

The short walk into the town is a must as well, to see life at a somewhat different pace!!

I am sure that there are others that I have missed so feel free to add a comment and I would be more than happy to include it on an update!

Holmfirth Festival of Folk – 8/5/2016

This is an event that we attended in 2015 (link to that event here) and the fact that we came back in 2016 says a lot about it, especially when it is a 45 minute drive there!

We went on the Sunday again this year as Heidi is a huge fan of The Hey Diddles (old review here) but there was more than just their show for the little ones.

Firstly, it is so good to see the town seemingly get together for such an event and it is certainly popular and as a result, car parking can be a bit of a nightmare so if you’re reading this for 2017 (and beyond!) patience and planning the trip is key!

However, as it is busy, it means that there is lots to see, even for younger children. The Saturday schedule had more activities for children with story telling, shows and music which would have entertained and tired out young and old alike and maybe next year, we could make both days.

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2016 Children’s Schedule

Apart from The Hey Diddles, there were activities in the Memorial Gardens, including owls which you could stroke, a maypole demonstration as well as a pirate entertainment show. I certinly realised that trying to explain the whys and wherefores of maypole dancing is remarkably difficult! We were hoping to see the pirate show as well as the Hey Diddles, but the timings clashed somewhat but perhaps this was for the best as Heidi was certainly freaked out by the mock guillotine and her screams drowned out the performance (sorry!)

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However, the main part of the Festival on the Sunday are the folk/morris dancers who are dotted about the village centre. While some of them are “blacked up” (and thanks for the group from Worcestershire for explaining why) and may be scary, the music and dancing will likely entertain the little ones and the crowds show that they entertain the big ones as well.

I realise that I have not specifically written about the main reason we came to the Festival and that is because the Hey Diddles were brilliantly entertaining as always, with some new songs as well. However, if you do see them, if your child wants to get up and dance, let them! If for no other reason than it gives Heidi some company at the front and I won’t be the only nervous parent wondering if their child is going to go onto the stage area!!!! And apologies as well if Heidi was (incorrectly) answering all the questions/clues, she does get a little over excited with the show. In fact, she was crying afterwards because she wanted to stay and help them tidy up afterwards…!

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The 4th Hey Diddle

Oh, and we managed to meet Snow White too (and if you want to meet her or any of her friends, do a Facebook search for ‘Friendly Fairytales’.

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Heidi and Snow White

Finally, in terms of child friendliness, as the pavements are narrow and crowded, it is difficult to take a pram, although you might need it for the storage space etc and for baby changing, we have found that the toilets upstairs in the Market Hall are the best ones to use, although there may well be some others dotted around.

See you next year!!!

#YorkshireFamily with Yorkshire Tots

http://inkymiss.blogspot.co.uk

Meanwood Valley Urban Farm – 7/5/2016

So spring has finally sprung and leapt into summer and with a free Saturday morning, we thought that enjoy the sunshine and fresh air and make our way to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm, for a Teddy and Friends Adventure.

As we have been to Meanwood Valley a few times, it is probably a good start to talk about the farm itself first.  The farm is not massive and with a toddler, it will probably take an hour to go round. As you can imagine, it is pretty much all outdoors so you need to be prepared to the weather and as some of the paths on the outer fields are grassy and hilly so taking a pushchair can be difficult. However, there is enough to see without going to these parts.

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Sheep!

The farm is a charity and so there isn’t the same mindset as some attractions, which can be seen by the low prices that it charges for entry, but there is a shop and cafe to allow you to financially support the farm if you are able to.

In terms of animals, there are the “Old McDonald” type of animals – pigs, sheep, cows, chickens etc, and if you go at the right time of year, you’ll see the lamb enclosure and be able to get really close to them. Unfortunately, I was unable to get good pictures of the lambs due to Heidi wanting to play Hook-a-duck (not a real duck!)

I don’t think we have had to use the changing facilities, but we have used the cafe and it is quite child friendly and would have no problem going there if I wasn’t taking Heidi!  There are plenty of hand washing stations as well, which is obviously very important when dealing with animals.

However, the real reason we went on this occasion was the Teddy and Friends Adventure, which was planned, organised and run by some Leeds Beckett Entertainment Management students (Anna Bowlt, Molly More, Olivia Griffiths and Orli Lewis). We didn’t really know what to expect that the adventure trail sounded cryptically interesting, and there were less cryptic activites including arts and crafts, face painting and penalty shoot out competition.

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The flyer as seen on Twitter

We paid our money and given an activity booklet with a crossword in it, and the farm was littered with questions to fill the crossword.  The questions were at a good level so that a 2 year old could answer them verbally, but an older child would be able to answer and write the answers in the crossword (confession, I had to google one of the questions!) and the questions were all farm/animal based.

The activity booklet also had an anagram puzzle to work out the name of the bear. The farm was again littered with random letters and they made up a name. This one was good so that the children could practice the letters and the adults could spend a few minutes trying to work out the answer! I am getting Heidi interested in letter now and it might have been good to see the letter shown in both upper and lower case, but that is a minor thing that 2 weeks ago, I would never have thought about!

There was no map or plan to follow, but the farm isn’t big enough to go too far wrong. There were bear paws printed along the way so you knew where you were going. It also led to an inspired bit of parenting, with me leading Heidi in singing “We’re going on a Bear Hunt”, probably to the annoyance of everyone enjoying a quiet Saturday morning!!

After completing the trail, we had a go at the “Guess the Name of the Teddy” game, as well as having a go at the Hook-a-Duck where we won some lollies! Because Heidi has a crazy fascination for face painting, we headed inside to get her face painted – the excellent result you can see below!

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Heidi Tiger!

Actually, it was really good that we headed in as in here was a beautiful cake stall, although after the lollies, we avoided more sugar, as well as a tombola and arts and crafts table.  The reason why I said it was good that we headed in was that there was so many helpers (clearly wearing Leeds Beckett hoodies!) and it was so good to see pretty much one-to-one interaction on the crafts table, which is perfect. Obviously, I don’t know how things went in the afternoon, but as we came and went, the car park was full and so it was clear that the event was well supported by the public, although it didn’t feel busy, or crammed.

Hopefully this kind of event will happen again at some point as it was really good way to spend the morning, and clearly it brought many more people into a hidden Leeds attraction with really good ethics – a win-win for all concerned!!

#YorkshireFamily with Yorkshire Tots

The Fairy Garden – 4/5/2016

Whilst spending the Bank Holiday Weekend in Filey and the North Yorkshire Coast, we were looking for something a bit different specifically for Heidi and we stumbled upon the Fairy Garden via Tripadvisor and thought that we would give it a go!

In the main, the Fairy Garden is a cafe, but it is much more than that. While it is not big, it is absolutely crammed with quirky decorations and ornaments and gives the little ones plenty to look at and explore while the older ones have a nice cup of tea.

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As you approach down the country lane running alongside a caravan park, you do wonder if you have gone wrong somewhat, but you eventually come to a huge door, welcoming you to the Fairy Garden. As the name suggests, it is completely outside apart from a couple of little covered tables/snugs and the central grass area has toadstool themed seats and tables. Along the edge of the grass are hundreds of fairy related ornaments, some of which you can see throughout this blog post, but all of which are cute beyond belief.

As there is enough space, the little ones can roam around and investigate and play while everyone else can relax and there is a box of books (all fairy related of course!) for the children to read, which is such a nice touch and helps keep the children entertained. For those who are regular readers of the blog, you’ll know about my adoration of The Rainbow Factory (latest review here) and it feels as though it is their little sister,  both full of all the imagination and magic, but the Fairy Garden is just on a smaller scale.

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Take a book and read!

In terms of the food and drinks themselves (after all, it is a cafe!), sadly, we had to down ours quite quickly as it was starting to rain – one of the downsides of it being outdoors! However, the cakes looked lovely and someone was taking food away, so as a cafe, it must be of a good quality. The food is cooked in a modified trailer, so you do get that street food vibe to it, which is obviously cool.

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As I said, it isn’t huge and I don’t think that there are toilet facilities, and you can’t really spend more than an hour there, but if you’re wanting a break from the beach, or somewhere to go for a bacon butty breakfast, this needs to be your cafe of choice – it certainly is for us now!!

PS How is it only ranked number 22 out of 65 restaurants in Filey?!

Toilet Training – (part 3)

This has turned into a fortnightly update on the potty training saga and it appears as though we have turned a corner!

Part 1 can be found here and part 2 can be found here.

So, somewhat remarkably, Heidi has been dry for the last week or so. Not quite sure how, and not quite so sure why, but it has happening! Heidi has been dry overnight for quite some time and now it is working during the day.

The main reason for this post is to talk about public toilets and how impractical they are for toilet training. Firstly, I think that it is pretty much awkward for everyone seeing a dad bringing his 2 year old daughter into the gents. For this reason I try to use the disabled toilets, although for most, you need a special key to get into them (quite rightly too…)

Secondly, the space in the cubicle is very much limited and trying to fit a toddler and an adult into that space is very difficult! Previously, Heidi was seemingly claustrophobic and thankfully, that has passed. However, practicalities remain and I end up leaving the door open, but crouching in front to make sure all is well…the glamorous side of parenting!

So Heidi has been out of day time pull ups for a week now and we went on our first test this weekend, going on a mini break with a 2 hour drive (to Filey for my UK based readers). All in all, it went very well. Going, we stopped off as planned for a quick snack and timed it well so it was very smooth and was pretty much perfect.

On the way back, we didn’t have a break planned, as I was hoping that she was going to have a nap, but I got the “I need a wee” call after 90 minutes. As a result, I pulled into a residential street and used the potty on the pavement! Classy, I know but I wasn’t exactly sure what else to do! Any ideas are gratefully received!

Having said that, given that it was our first big challenge without pull ups, things went really well. Looking back at the previous posts in this series, I realise how far we have gone and now I am wondering if I will ever need to buy nappies ever again…!!