Leeds Dad starts dating again!!

In what is possibly the best timed blog post ever, given that it is being published on Valentine’s Day, I thought that I would write about my first proper date since my separation almost 4 years ago.

** Full disclosure – this has been shared with the (un)lucky lady before publishing **

It all happened by accident really. I wasn’t looking for romance, I was quite happy with Heidi and work and plodding on through life. Then, I received a random, yet nice message on the blog and we started messaging and after a while, we decided to meet – oh my word, I was going to meet a single woman for a date!!!

What started out as innocent, playful conversation suddenly turned real!! What would I wear, where about we meet, what day would we meet?? Worst of all, what on earth would I say?!?! How long can you string out “Hi, I’m a single dad, an accountant and I am a geeky blogger”?!

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However, I knew that I had to meet her. For far too long, I have been in my shell, played it extremely safe, and not been my own person – so I went for it.

The day of us meeting, I was a nervous wreck. People at work were amazing and while they playfully took the mick out of me, they also helped me so much. However, I didn’t eat after lunch (we were due to meet at 6.30pm) because I was so nervous and I went straight from work so I didn’t have to think about what clothes to wear!!

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I thought that I would feel guilty – as if I was cheating on Heidi. However, nothing would ever take my attention and devotion away from her. Going on a date wouldn’t change that. It would just allow me to be me again, even if it was just for one evening.

However, the one evening has turned into a few weeks now – so the first date must have gone well!! We talked for 4 hours – I was STARVING at the end once the butterflies died down. There were small bouts of awkwardness (how do you say goodbye on a first date?!) but the conversation flowed, without any assistance of alcohol and half an hour after we said goodbye, we both said that we wanted to meet up again!!

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Who knows where this will end up, but if you’re a single parent reading this thinking about getting on the dating game again – go for it!! Your children will always come first – a few dates will never change that – but it might help bring a smile to your face when times are tough and it will help you feel like you are an adult, rather than just a parent.

It is scary, but if a socially awkward geeky accountant can, anyone can!!


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Hollywood Bowl – Bradford

We were invited for the PR Launch of the refurbished Hollywood Bowl in Bradford and whilst the evening was geared towards the adult end of the market, there is plenty for families to enjoy. As such, here are 5 reasons to go:

Easy Access

If you park on Level 4 of the adjacent car park, you’re on the same level as Hollywood Bowl. This, coupled with a 100 yard walk, means it is ideal for families. There is step free access throughout so the venue is open for all. Follow the signs for Bradford Leisure Exchange (BD1 5LD)

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Step free access throughout

Bowling Shoes are not needed

If you’re in flat shoes, you don’t need to get changed! Obviously if you actually like the shoes, you can wear some, but you don’t need to!

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Bowling shoes never go out of fashion!

It looks cool

As some of the photos hopefully show, the lanes do look really cool and a little bit different to the old bowling lanes from the 1990’s

It is family friendly

There are bowling ramps between every 2 lanes and because it has just been refurbished, the toilets are of a decent size in case you’re still going into the toilets with a little one. They offer a host service to the lanes and as such, they can bring drinks/food to the lane for you so you don’t have to stop the game.

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Nacho, Nacho man!!

There is more than just bowling

There is a Diner for snack meals and drinks as well as arcade machines to play on.  The arcade machines are split into 2 sections – one where you play for fun and one where you play for tickets which you can collect to get prizes

You can find more about the Bradford venue here https://www.hollywoodbowl.co.uk/our-centres/bradford  If you like the venue, they also do children’s birthday parties. Having seen the party area, it is a little bit more secluded than the rest of the attraction, so it might be worth a visit if you’re planning a party!


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Breaking Bad (News) to Children

Breaking bad news to a young child is never easy and sadly it was something that I had to do quite recently. However, I never really planned or thought how to do it. That’s not a brilliant idea and so I thought that it might be a good idea to write down a couple of things that might help.

Plan

As awful as it sounds, plan what you’re going to say. It will take the emotion out of your voice and make sure you give a clear message that your little one can understand

Get down to their level

It is best to meet them eye to eye so they are not daunted and you are in a brilliant position for the instant cuddle that they will need

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Don’t rush

The tears may only last a minute, they may last a day. Crying is so important to let the child let their emotions out and it is important to encourage them to cry

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Happy distraction

If you know the news will be taken badly by your little one, no amount of hugs or anything will make things better. However, a little something just to take their mind off things will help. Usually half an hour after the news breaking is a time to assess the situation and they might welcome a little break. However, don’t force it.

Talk afterwards

Emotions will be running wild at the time and things won’t sink in properly. However, it is always useful to ask the child if they want to know anything about the situation when the emotions have settled down a little.

Hopefully you’ll never need this blog post, but if you do, I hope it helps. If you have any other hints or tips, please put them in the comment section below.


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Hints and Tips for Family Proceedings Court

If you’re going down the road of going down to family court, for whatever reason, then these handy tips will help with the process:

Take Legal Advice with You

Yes, it is expensive, but they are the experts and with their help, they will guide you through the process and put you in the best position to make sure you aren’t disadvantaged throughout the process.

Take a book

There is a lot of waiting around, with the solicitors carrying messages between their clients, which seems to take an age. As such, you may be in a room on your own for quite some time. As a result, take something to occupy the time and the mind. There is only so much time you can spend on social media, not telling people where you are and how it is going!!

Keep calm

There are lots of emotions going around at this time, but for the process to go as smoothly as possible, you need to keep calm. Yes, it is easier said than done, but you make the best decisions with a clear head. Maybe make that book a self-help book in how to keep calm!

Be careful what you bring

When going into family court, you have to go through the same security checks as if going on an aeroplane. As such, you can’t bring drinks in, and oversized items such as umbrellas are not allowed as they could be used as a weapon (as sad as it sounds!)

If you’re not sure, ask!!

There is a lot of legal language that goes on, especially when you’re in front of the judge towards the end of the proceedings. As a result, make sure you ask for any clarification that is needed. You’re probably paying a lot of the privilege and so you need to know what is being said!!

What happens in family court, stays in family court

Yes, it is the first rule of “Family Court” – don’t broadcast it on Facebook as it happens, don’t slag off the other person, the judge or your solicitor. Act with class and dignity.

I’m more than happy to talk with anyone who is going to go down this process, so feel free to contact me using the details below:


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Wagamama – White Rose Shopping Centre

We were invited along to Wagamama at the White Rose Shopping Centre, Leeds, to taste some of their new menu and write about my experience in eating there with a 4 year old!!

Firstly, the restaurant is pretty much open plan and so there are lots of things for the little ones to watch before the food arrives. This, coupled with the free (and fast) Wi-fi throughout the White Rose Centre and the children’s placemat and crayons mean that it shouldn’t be difficult to keep the children entertained before or after eating, which is always a problem!!

 

In terms of the children’s menu, there are no starters on the menu, but from the adult menu, the pork ribs went down quite well, as they are tangy rather than spicy.

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Pork Ribs in Korean barbecue sauce

We also went for the wok friend greens starter and these were very juicy and refreshing, but there are a couple of parts which have a soy sauce taste and so you might need to be careful.

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Wok Fried Greens (broccoli and bok choi)

However, the children don’t really need a starter as their main course is HUGE!!! We shared a chicken noodles meal and a cod balls meal between us and we struggled to finish them!

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soba noodles with grilled chicken with carrots, sweetcorn, cucumber and amai sauce

There were no overpowering flavours, which is ideal for a young palette, but, the fish cod meal came with a side of curry sauce, which meant that you could spice it up if you wanted and you could experiment, which is the perfect thing about going to somewhere a bit more adventurous for the little ones.

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Cod cubes in crispy panko breadcrumbs with sticky white rice, sweetcorn, carrots and cucumber

Both meals came with large portions of vegetables and they were fresh, crisp and juicy. However, sweetcorn is very difficult to eat with chopsticks!! The rice was surprisingly a bit easier to eat.

However, the little ones have an advantage as Wagamama’s provide child-friendly chopsticks which can be customised into characters – additional points if you find a more creative name than my lame attempts of “Snappy” and “Choppy”!! There is traditional cutlery available as well, both for adults and children!

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Practising with traditional chopsticks!

Somehow we found room for dessert, and I couldn’t get near the children’s ice cream, so it must have been very good! The chocolate layer cake was wonderful – I just wish I had a little bit more room for it!

 

In terms of other facilities, there are high chairs available and the toilets are individual cubicles and are decently sized so parent and child can go in together comfortably (major plus for single parents!). We went at 5pm on a Friday and about half of the groups had a child aged under 8 and so it is somewhere where you can happily take your child and they will have a freshly cooked, healthy meal.

I have to admit that my eyes were opened at how a restaurant famed for its spices could adapt for the younger taste buds and Wagamama’s did it very well and I’m sure that we would visit again, in no small part, because of the excellent way the staff treat the little ones.


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Fairfax House, York

We were invited to visit the Georgian Fairfax House nestled in York City Centre and had a wonderful time exploring a hidden gem in the city.

Essentially Fairfax House is a Georgian House that time forgot and it has been lovingly maintained and preserved by the staff and group of volunteers that help run the house.

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Inside, your self-guided tour takes you through the various rooms of the house to see how the Georgians of a certain “class” lived at that time. There are helpful information notes throughout the house to help you learn more about the house and the time.

However, the star of the show was the children’s guidebook which followed the path of the house mouse, Gregory, throughout the house and helped point out particular things of interest to children and ask them questions/activities. This comes as part of the child’s admission and really does help children be enthused about the venue. (Adults without children would also find it useful!)

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Gregory the mouse (on the right!)

The attraction is essentially a piece of history and so there is very little that the children can touch and so it might not be suitable for children of a certain age. Also, as the house is from the Georgian times, pushchairs have to be left at Reception.

Besides Gregory, the house mouse, the other star of the show were the volunteers/staff who were based in each room. They were really enthusiastic about the house and were willing to spend a lot of time talking to everyone (both young and old) about the house and the particular nuances of the house. This will also help the littler ones  maintain interest and learn as they go round.

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There are loads of Christmas events going on in the house, including mince pies and story telling, which can be found here: http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk/whats-on/

All in all, we spent about an hour at Fairfax House and as it is situated in the city centre, it means you could make a day of it and couple it up with a visit to Jorvik, which is about 100 yards away, or a trip to the barbican theatre, which is 5 minutes walk away.

As at December 2017, the ticket prices are:

Adult: £7.50

Concession: £6.00 (applies to over 60s and students)

Children: £3.00 (over 6 and under 16) and include the Townhouse Mouse Trail or Townhouse Mouse Quest.

Family ticket: £17.50 (2 adults and up to 3 children)

and you can visit as many times as you like in a 12 month period – bargain!!! (Taken from http://www.fairfaxhouse.co.uk)

If you visit, please leave a comment telling me how many clocks you found, I lost count at 15!!!!

As photos are not allowed in Fairfax House, they have kindly allowed me permission to use some of theirs for this post 🙂


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Scrooge’s Christmas Carol – Rainbow Factory

“Scrooge’s Christmas Carol” is the Rainbow Factory’s third Christmas Show and we have been privileged enough to see all three and the performances have been outstanding each and every year.

Without giving too much away of the story (after all, adults are meant to enjoy it as well as the kids!) why should you choose to see this show over any of the others in the area?

  • The performance is accessible to all. The children sit on cushions on the floor and can move and wiggle as much as they like. No need for binoculars or climb a mountain of stairs to get to your seat. You are so close you can touch the actors and have photos taken afterwards.
  • It is made for children. It is “only” 40 minutes long which means younger children can enjoy it wouldn’t being bribed to stay still/quiet and there is childish humour involved.
  • It is also for adults. This performance has more quick witted puns than the previous shows and so you will enjoy it as a show in it’s own right.
  • It is cheap! Tickets are only £6 each and with money tight at Christmas, it is so much better value than some of the bigger theatres in the region who seem to charge a small fortune for the Christmas pantomime. (parking is free as well!)
  • The staff and performers are wonderful, genuine people. Rainbow Factory is almost our second home and without them, Heidi would not have developed as she has done. The Rainbow Factory is a small, local business and they put so much in so it is only right to support them in whatever way possible.

So what about the actual show? Well, as you would expect, it is fast paced, but probably unlike any version of the story you have seen enacted before, with the use of puppets, songs and various other effects (not wanting to spoil the surprise at the end!)

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There is a slightly scary part 10 minutes in with a ghost, which is quickly forgotten about but something just to bear in mind.

However, the most upsetting part was with about 10 minutes to go, Heidi asked if it was nearly the end, because she didn’t want it to end at all!! Only bribery stopped a minor meltdown!!

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This blog post could best to summarised by Scrooge himself when he said “Christmas is about grabbing as much joy as you possibly can” – and he is correct. As such, one of the best ways of doing that this Christmas is to go and see this show!!

And because you’ve made it so far, here is a sneak peek of the show…


DISCLOSURE: We received 2 tickets for this show, although there was no influence on this post.


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