Tractor Fest 2018 – Newby Hall

 

Going to a “Tractor Fest” doesn’t immediately jump out as a good way to spend the day with a child, but Tractor Fest at Newby Hall is more than just about tractors!

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Yes, there are tractors – hundreds and hundreds of tractors in fact – and they come from far and wide from all over the country to the event. However, there are all over types of agricultural machinery from motors to plough, diggers to trailers so don’t think that tractors are all that is on offer!!

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In fact, it has more of a feel of a Country Show than a pure “Tractor Fest” as there were shops, food stalls, and children’s activities including the Police Tractor, land train and ride on mini tractors/cars (£3 for 15 minutes). There is also a helter skelter, dodgems and a mini train roundabout.

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There is also the lovely Newby Hall gardens a short walk away from the main festival which is free for Tractor Fest. Here there is a mini train to ride (£2.20 each for a 10 minute ride – brilliant value!) a really good playground and a water/splash area. Because of this, a spare change of clothes is advisable!!

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Just a few things to bear in mind:
– it is an outdoor attraction so you need dry weather!
– it is held in a farmers field and so a sturdy pair of shoes (and pushchair!) are advisable
– the main Tractor Fest doesn’t seem to have baby change facilities and so the best place is in Newby Hall Gardens. Likewise, the best toilets are down there

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The parking is free and plentiful and due to the volume of cars, make sure you make a note of where you parked your car. It is all very organised however, and entry and exit was very efficient. Even though the car park was busy, the event did not feel busy.

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You will see a good number of “farmer” types who come to Tractor Fest for the tractors, but I was pleasantly surprised as to how many young children were there, especially in the Gardens. It shows that there is much more to Tractor Fest than tractors, and the free admission for under 4’s really helps with this!

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We were at Tractor Fest for 4 hours and we had a really good time throughout. The 2 year old (it wasn’t my weekend to have Heidi) fell asleep towards the end through the combination of fresh air, exercise and mental stimulation and that’s not a bad thing at all!!

Hopefully next year, Heidi will have chance to experience the fun (in the sun hopefully!).

Continue reading Tractor Fest 2018 – Newby Hall

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Chester Zoo

As you might have read on a previous blog post, we travelled by National Express to Chester Zoo, and you can read about it here.

Given that Chester Zoo is so far for most, I thought that it would be good idea to come up with some pointers which might help you have a fab visit and hopefully a peaceful journey home with children fast asleep!!

  • Plan what you want to see. The park is so big, you are unlikely to be able to see everything, especially if you have children. As such, plan what you want to see and build the day around that. Either that, or spread the visit over 2 days. There are so many animals to see, from Bats (not suitable for those who don’t like the dark!) to Zebras and Elephants.

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  • Go to the Islands first. This one came from the kind people at Chester Zoo as the boat ride and general attractions in that part of the park gets busier in the afternoon and the last thing you want to do it wait for nearly an hour to go on a boat ride!
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Zebras can be found at the entrance to the Islands
  • Let the kids play! There are decent play areas dotted around and whilst it is easy to want to keep them seeing all the animals, they need a break as well. There is a small water area and so you might want to pack a spare change of clothes (and visit it towards the end of the day!)
  • Consider the refillable drink option. If it is warm, this option will be well worth it, especially as you won’t load your bag up with heavy drinks before setting off. However, I couldn’t find a refill station in The Islands so refill before you head over there.
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Enjoying the refills!
  • Dress as if you’re off on Safari. The park is big and so wear decent shoes and comfortable clothes, especially if it is going to be warm. You probably don’t need to wear the khaki’s, but when in Rome….!! As the park is so big, you might want to see if the old pushchair still works (you can hire stollers, which looked like a good idea at about 3pm!!)
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Hijacking a pushchair! (not really!!)
  • If you’re going to buy a present, don’t wait until the park closes. The queues at the shop at the entrance/exit were huge as the park was closing and so it might be better to visit halfway during the day and drop it off in the car, or visit one further into the park when it comes to leaving the park.

Probably the highlight was seeing the giraffes run for their freshly prepared food, which was pretty special, as well as Heidi playing hide and seek with some animals who thought that it would be a good idea to run in and out of their indoor area!

There are loads of toilets dotted about and they are really well signposted (having had to make a dash following a “I need a wee” call from Heidi!!) and there are enough food outlets around so you won’t go hungry. The BBQ place smelt amazing and that might be the best place to eat (it is near a kids play area!)

Overall, we had a really good time at Chester Zoo, and we were blessed with almost perfect weather conditions. The journey back was very quiet to say the least as we were all a bit tired!!  I do think that if we went back, we would try and go for 2 days and make a weekend of it!!

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PS Does anyone know what these animals are?! They are good at hide and seek!

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Coach Trip …. with National Express

What seems like a really relaxing way to spend a Saturday afternoon with a 4 year old and a 2 year old?? How about travelling across the country to spend the day at Chester Zoo?! (blog post on Chester Zoo can be found here)

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It seemed like a good idea at the time, but with an early start leading to grumpy grown-ups and a new mode of transport leading to overexcited children, it could have been a loooooong day! However, once we all got settled, we had a really comfortable and enjoyable journey to Chester.

So, what did we like about the journey:

Booster Seats – This got a big thumbs up from the little ones, even causing an argument over them!! You cannot book them prior to travel, but the coach going to Chester had 2 available and the one coming back had 1 available and they were very comfortable – apparently!!

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They ended up sat next to each other to compare booster seats

Power sockets – Each pair of seats has a power socket to share between them and so using your phone/tablet is much easier to do. It has a 3 pin plug as opposed to a USB port, so make sure you bring your plug as well as wire!!

Seats – The seats were surprisingly comfortable and not what I was expecting at all. As you can see, they are leather and have a decent amount of legroom.  Each seat has a seatbelt (legally, you must wear the seatbelt) which makes the journey feel even safer.

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Friendly drivers – On the commentary, the driver going to Chester Zoo seemed genuinely excited to be taking a lot of passengers there and he even talked about some of the animals you could see when approaching the coach stop!! We had a folding pushchair with us, and the drivers insisted on putting the luggage into the coach hold – all you have to do is fold it down and they do the rest.

Last and most importantly,

You can sit and interact with your child – Especially being a single parent, when going by car on a  long journey, it is difficult to talk to and interact with your child sat in the back seat. However, as you are sat together on the coach, you can spend some quality time with your little one, have fun, chat, play games and, most importantly, make memories.

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You can’t do this whilst driving!!

All in all, it was a very long and tiring day in the sun and it certainly meant that the little ones had a good night’s sleep!! One thing that would have been really difficult was if we had to change coaches on the way home, but fortunately, due to the number of routes National Express operate, it is more likely than not, there is a direct service to the place you want to go.

Would we go again by National Express? Absolutely, especially when it gives you the chance to explore the country at a reasonable price.

Full Disclaimer: We were offered free travel for the purposes of this post, although no influence has been made to alter the content of the post.


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Bradford Ice Arena

One of my main weaknesses is my lack of co-ordination and balance (I’m 6ft 1in tall and not exactly slim!!) As a result, going ice skating isn’t something that I would normally do, especially given our last visit,  which you can read about here.

However, the lure of Frozen and a kiddie-friend get-together meant that ice skating was going to happen. However, with a new girlfriend (you can read about me dating here) who was eager to get on the ice (or eager to get away from me for an hour!) we joined the rest of the Kiddie Crew for a trip on the ice.

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Not sure the shades were needed!!

Truth be told, I didn’t go on the ice, which meant that I was in peak blogging mode and seeing what would be good for a blog post!! From the outside, Bradford Ice Arena doesn’t look that appealing as it is a few floors up a 1970’s city centre office block and as the lift was broken, taking a pushchair up takes some effort. As the building is quite old, some of the interior is a bit aged, but this is made up by helpful and friendly staff.

We went to the Family Session, which is akin to a beginners session and as the weather outside wasn’t great, the place was very busy and there was a big queue to get in. As a result, arrive in plenty of time!!

You need to get your skates on after entering the arena and there is often a queue for that as well, so maybe arrive 30 minutes before the session. At worse, you are sat around watching the session before you.  There are loads of seats (they host ice hockey games there) so no problems on that front!

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The ice is over THERE!!!!

You can hire a penguin or snowman skating aid for a small charge, but they are issued on a first come first served basis and you only have them for an hour (and they enforce that!). To be honest, after an hour, either you’ll have enough confidence to get rid of the aid, or you’ll have given up!!  For more advanced skaters, there are Disco sessions and General skating sessions, but for little ones, the Family sessions are ideal.

There are a good number of friendly marshals on the ice and they are very good in looking after little ones who fall on the ice.

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For an adult and a 4 year old with a penguin aid, it cost £14, which seems like good value for almost 2 hours of fun, especially as it was so much better than last time!!


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Rumpelstiltskin – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

The national performance by the balletLORENT theatre company made its way to the Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield to showcase their latest production – an adaptation of the fairytale of Rumpelstiltskin.

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It’s difficult to write a review of a performance without giving away any particular surprises, especially when the story is well known, so here are a few reasons why you should go to see the performance:

  • It is a professional production. The narrator is from the Game of Thrones, the Artistic Director has an MBE and the composer has worked on Doctor Who – they know what they are doing and it shows in a very polished performance.
  • You don’t have to take the kids! Whilst it is a fairytale storyline, if you’re child free, you will enjoy it just as much as those who take children along!
  • It is just long enough for the kids. The first half is 30 minutes long and the second half is 40 minutes long, with a 20 minute interval. Heidi (aged 4) struggled with the last 5 minutes, but the length was just right.
  • The sheep!! Not wanting to give any surprises, but the acting by the sheep was amazing. I am sure that a few of the audience thought that they were real!!

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The performance is aimed for children 7+ and that feels right as there are a few dark moments in the first half. With Heidi being 4, she struggled in the last 5 minutes of the show (the sugar rush had worn off!), but really understood the storyline, so it depends on the maturity of your child.

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Whilst this is a national production, if you’re going to see it at the Lawrence Batley Theatre and have never been, there is a multi-story car park quite close and as the theatre isn’t huge, it means that the seats generally have good views (and decent legroom!)

Full disclosure: I was provided free tickets for the purposes of this review, but the views are my own and have not been influenced or edited.


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Junior Kitchen – Morley, Leeds

A last minute Heidi Sunday with snow in the air took us to Junior Kitchen in Morley for an impromptu cupcake session. I had been tipped off about Junior Kitchen from a school mum and with the weather looking dodgy, I booked on early in the morning for an afternoon session.

The one thing that struck me as we were in was how fresh, modern and clean the facilities looked. It was bright and funky and just a nice atmosphere to spend time with your child.

Whilst Junior Kitchen do lots of different classes for all sorts of age ranges, we did the cupcake decorating session. The session was £15 (per child!) and lasted around 75 minutes as the very friendly teachers/chefs gave out the icing to help you decorate the cupcakes.

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To start with, we were given set designs to follow, but as we all started to get used to the icing and get a bit more confident, we were given free play to design cupcakes and towards the end, we got butter cream icing to design a few more cupcakes!

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All in all, we got to decorate 14 cupcakes and so you can see, it was tremendous value for money! (Just make sure you have space for the food you bring home!)

Talking to one of the teachers afterwards, they do tailor the session for the age range of the children, but with parental support, you could take a 3 year old to this with no problem. I would say that there is no upper age range as the adults were having just as much fun as the children! The staff are super friendly so if you’re unsure, just ask before you book on.

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The box was completely filled at the end!!

As you can see, we had a brilliant time and as the session also included complimentary tea/coffee/juice, they have really thought of everything.

There are loads of different sessions so there is bound to be something for everyone at some point and I’m sure we will be back to experience more!


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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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