Alpamare Waterpark

The Alpamare Waterpark opened its doors in the summer of 2016 and given that we are regular travellers to the North Yorkshire Coast (Here is a link to all the posts made about the area  https://leedsdad.com/category/north-yorks-coast/ ) we finally went down on May Day weekend to see what it was actually like.

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Alpamare has 2 outdoor, heated swimming pools (one of which is an Iodine pool, which apparently is really good for you – who knew?!) one indoor swimming area, which doubles up as a wave pool, 4 big slides, as well as a toddler wet play area with slide. Also inside is a restaurant and throughout are sun loungers in case you have had enough of the swimming.

 

The “wet side” is entirely cashless so as you go in, you get a wristband which you can use to use a locker and pay for your food/drinks. All you have to do is settle the bill at the end of the session. This means you don’t have to worry about having a £1 coin, and it is really easy to use.

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Decent sized locker

As you would expect, the changing rooms are really clean and modern, as are the lockers. One really good thing is the fact it is really warm throughout and so you don’t feel as though you’re going to freeze when you finish swimming and get changed! They enforce a strict “no outdoor shoes” policy, which was really good to see – even the electrician fixing an outside bulb up a ladder had to have shoe covers on!!

As the slides are only for those 6 and over, those with little ones are obviously limited in what they can do (5’s and under are free however) but despite that, we were in there for 4 ½ hours!! The wave machine comes on every half an hour and so I thought that would be our main attraction, but it was the heated outdoor pools which were the big pull for Heidi!

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Happy swimmer!

The pools are toasty warm and the patterns of bubbles means that it is such a relaxing experience. Because of the way that the pools are designed, you can’t jump in, which might limit some play for the little ones, but it just gives some scope for imaginative play instead. (we played mermaids for over an hour!!) However, the main reason for these pools is for a relaxing experience – Heidi was enamoured by the warmth of the pools that she seemingly spent an hour floating on her back saying how lovely and relaxing it was – and I had to agree!!

 

In terms of food, the menu is what you would expect at an attraction like this – Hot Dog and chips (pictured) was £4.50, and the drink was just under £2. They do children’s lunch boxes, but to be honest, the better value might be a pizza or similar.

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Dinner!

A couple of good things about eating there is the view (pictured below) but also the fact that you can pop to the lockers for your towel and because it is so comfortably warm, you don’t need to get dressed.

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View from the restaurant (not a prison!)

Now, the elephant in the room – the price. If you’ve done any type of research on Alpamare, you’ll know that there are complaints about the price. £19 an adult is expensive (you have to pay even if you’re just going to watch) but you’re not going to your local council swimming pool – this is different. You can’t swim lengths at Alpamare and you can’t swim outside in a heated pool at the council swimming pool.

 

If £19 each (small reductions for children aged 6+) for 4 hours entertainment is above your price point, that is fine and I completely understand. However, this isn’t about swimming; this is about relaxation for some and the slides and excitement for others. Compare the adult price to Blizzard Beach in Florida (£50-ish) and Sea Life Centre (£18) and it doesn’t look too bad then. Also, there is plenty of free parking on site.

(Full disclosure: I received a free ticket for this blog post, but my views are my own)

However, I am sure that we will come back again, even before Heidi is old enough to go on the slides!!


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Teddy Bears Picnic

While I have written about the Scarborough Spa Orchestra in a generic way previously in this post I realise that I haven’t done a proper write up. However, as we had a long weekend on the North Yorks Coast last weekend, we took in the first Teddy Bears Concert of the summer season.

Throughout writing this, I am thinking “Why does no-one else do this type of event?”

The event is relatively simple: A professional orchestra plays a series of songs for an hour and a half with a bit of interaction and education for the children and everyone goes away happy. It is not massively complex, but it works and it is perhaps the highlight of the summer for me.

Firstly, it is a proper concert, witnessed by the number of adults without children enjoying the music – therefore the quality is obviously there (note, I am in no way a music aficionado). However, some of the songs are “child friendly” – for example, tunes from the Wizard of Oz were played.

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Preparations taking place

However, unlike other concerts, the children are encouraged to get up, sit as close to the stage as they want, dance, clap and enjoy the music in any way they want. There are generally a couple of marching songs which gets the children active, as well as instruments being shared out in the second half of the show.

The glamorous (and I am putting this because my disguise is blown and she knows who I am!) Kathy is the compère and she is excellent at describing the instruments of the orchestra for the children, as well as playing conductor, in trying to get the children to play slow/fast as well as stop. It is really something to see, as well as the “calming down” song towards the end where magically the children are all settled for a relaxing piece of formal music.

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The Playlist

It doesn’t sound too complex (I am sure it is hard work behind the scenes), but “Why does no-one else do this type of event?”

It falls right for us to get to the first show of the season (every Monday in July and August at 11am) and it has become a bit of a tradition, which is really nice. It appears as though Yorkshire Coast Radio have the similar tradition as we have bumped into DJ Dex for the last couple of years!!

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Heidi with DJ Dex!

Sometimes with the music, your child might just “get it”. At the concert last week, Little Clockwork Fairy was played, and Heidi got “it”. She interpreted the music into a story and was very upset when the music (and fairy!) stopped. We then had to look in Scarborough for a wind up fairy!!! Hearing Heidi talk about that made me realise that going to these concerts really does help her develop, although you may not see it straight away.

In terms of practicalities, it is a long concert and so if the little ones are flagging a bit, don’t force them to stay (£3.50 a ticket means it is excellent value for money) and food seems to help them concentrate, so bring a picnic (and teddy!) to keep them going, although there is a cafe there as well. They try to hold the concert in the Sun Court, which is outside and as the name suggests, a bit of a sun trap, so if the forecast looks good, pack the suncream and lots of fluids. However, if it is raining, they will take the concert indoors, so you don’t need to worry about it being cancelled. You can pay on the door as well, but for the Christmas concert, that is really busy so I would suggest ordering online for those.

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Fully prepared with sunglasses and Elmo!

In terms of baby changing facilities, there aren’t that many available, but there are loads of toilets dotted about, so if there is a queue, the helpful (and yes, they are helpful!) staff will point you in the right direction. Given the Spa’s location, parking is an issue. If you’re spending the rest of the day on the front, you might as well bite the bullet and pay for the day long parking just outside the Spa. However, previously we have parked on the cliff top (free!) and walked down, which is lovely if tiring and then get the cliff lift up afterwards.

As I mentioned earlier, there are multiple concerts in the summer season, but they are all different songs so no two concerts will be the same. Also, whether your child is 3 months, 3 years or 13 years, they will get lots out of it, just in different ways (and yes, there are lots of small babies there!) which underlines how good this concert is and I ask myself again, “Why does no-one else do this type of event?”. I just need to find some more days off for us to go again this summer!

 


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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?!

Bridlington Animal Park – 27/3/2016

As I have written here, we spent our Easter weekend over on the North Yorkshire Coast and on Easter Sunday, we returned to Bridlington Animal Park having gone there last summer.

Finding the park is quite easy because of the decent road signs but as you enter the car park, the animal park is at the back of an old fashioned factory outlet store, which is a bit strange! Even stranger is the wooden mock-up play shop and a couple of other wooden houses for the kids to play in. Very basic, but they are free for the children to run and play in so no harm done and actually, we spent 15 minutes playing in them!

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The free play area outside the animal park

The park itself is quite small and probably takes just over an hour to get round, but there are activities throughout the day which are the main attraction so check the website for details to get your timing right.

As it is an animal park, it can get quite muddy so don’t wear anything too nice and as the park isn’t too big, I would try and leave the buggy in the car, especially as the paths aren’t completely flat (and dirty wheels are a pain to deal with when putting the buggy back in the car!)

In terms of animals, there are pigs, meerkats, owls, sheep and a few others. However, our favourites are the wallabies, especially when you get to feed them! They are so gentle and well behaved and they are just the right height for toddlers to feed them. There is no time limit to feed them and so it is a nice relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the experience and was the main reason we returned. They are also very photogenic!

We went round the rest of the park, whilst also playing in the open play area, which would have been much more pleasurable had it been warmer! In the rest of the park, you can feed the animals using feed bought at the entrance. I decided against this, fearing that I didn’t have enough pairs of hands to keep a toddler under control and carrying animal feed, but I wish that I had done now!

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Alpaca not happy we didn’t have food for him!

We finished the park and headed back for the next activity which was reptile handling! There were 2 snakes and a lizard and the handlers were really, really good at allowing everyone to have a go and more importantly, making sure that the animals were not distressed!

Entry to the park is less than £5 per person and so it is good value for money and one good thing is that you can go and come back throughout the day, so you can pop out for lunch or shopping and take in the other activities later on. There is a cafe in the factory outlet (with ice cream!) although we didn’t check out the toilet facilities either time we went.

The staff are also really friendly (I think it is a family run attraction) and that really shows in the friendly manner that the staff have, especially with the children. As a result, I’m sure that we will be back on one of our many trips to the North Yorkshire Coast at some point later this summer!

#YorkshireFamily with Yorkshire Tots

Jim of the Garden – 26/03/2016

Our regular Easter getaway is to Scarborough/Filey and this Easter was no different. Good weather was interrupted by bad weather (I am currently writing this at 5am with the sound on torrential rain all around!) but on Easter Saturday morning, we went to Scarborough to see “Jim of the Garden”, a performance at the Stephen Joseph Theatre.

The theatre is in the centre on Scarborough and while parking can be somewhat difficult, it is in no way impossible, even with a toddler. Don’t let the exterior of the theatre deceive either, while the exterior is aged, inside the facilities are what you would expect.

The show is targeted for children up to the age of 7 and this feels about right, as they all found their way to the front to sit on the cushions, beanbags and blankets at the front as the parents/carers sat at the back and side. The parents who were nervous about their child ruining the show were closest to their child! (I have spoken about our first “theatre” trip to the Rainbow Factory here – where I had the same worries!)

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Before the show

Without wanting to give any spoilers away, the performance is about 30 minutes long and involves songs, dancing and mass audience interaction. This breaks it up for the little ones so that they are not sat down for more than a few minutes at a time, and it works really well.  Heidi fondly remembered the “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” song, for the rest of the day, which was hilarious, although oh so simple.

In terms of a plot, I am not really sure, as in part because the songs and dancing broke the plot up and this isn’t a bad thing at all, and there is enough in the performance for adults to get lost in the production, rather than following it through. There is certainly enough for the adults to be entertained with – especially the Lady Gaga cover which was absolutely amazing!

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Play in progress…

There seemed to be 30-40 children there and I am not sure many more could fit it, so it might be an idea to buy in advance for the final performance (23rd April 2016 – 10.30am.  However, it was Easter weekend when we went, which might have brought in more people. For £3 each, you’re not going to find much better value for money for a live performance.

In terms of the venue, as Heidi is toilet training, we had to play the game of getting a 2 year old girl in a male toilet cubicle, which is always an adventure. Fortunately, the toilets were clean/modern which helps. One thing to note is that the baby changing facilities are on the second floor, which was cordoned off (presumably because there were no activities happening on that floor). As a result, if you need baby changing, you might need to ask for assistance.

With all that being said, we will keep an eye out for future child friendly shows at the Stephen Joseph Theatre for when we are making our regular trips over to the North Yorkshire Coast!

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Happy theatre goers!

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside…. – Scarborough Edition!

As the temperatures begin to warm up, it is time to start heading to the coast! There is a wealth of things to do on the North Yorks Coast and having thought about this post for a few days, I would be doing it a disservice to try and fit it all in one blog post, so I have decided to concentrate on Scarborough today.

The inspiration for the blog post was that on Tuesday, me and Heidi spent a daddy-daughter day in Scarborough and we both had a wonderful, if exhausting time! Having got parked up at 11, we left at 4 and by 4.01, Heidi was asleep on the way home!

First things first – Scarborough is a nightmare to get to on a summer weekend. The A64 is a slow road after York and so it may be best to go on the M62 to Goole and go up through Howden and Driffield. Take plenty of entertainment for both the big and little ones!!

If you have never been to Scarborough, the sand beach is probably half a mile long from end to end and even at high tide, there is beach available to go on. The town is just above the resort area (South Bay) and accessible via the steep hills/lift cars (approx £1 single). About half a mile away from South Bay is North Bay and while it is possible to walk between the two, it can be tiring.

There are a number of must-dos which have been particular highlights for me and H

South Bay

Scarborough Spa Orchestra – http://www.scarboroughspa.co.uk/orchestra-welcome

During the summer period (July and August) the orchestra do a Monday morning performance called ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ which is aimed at toddlers and young children, but I am amazed at the number of adults without children who turn up. It is quite interactive and a different set is played each week. As the show is aimed towards the little ones, singing, dancing and clapping is encouraged! It is only £3.50 each and lasts for 90 minutes and is brilliant entertainment. I have already booked the first and last shows of the season off work so we can attend. The show is held outdoors (in good weather) so hat and suncream are necessities. Also, they did a Christmas show which was absolutely brilliant!

Fish and Chips

The south bay is filled with fish and chip restaurants, ice cream stalls and arcades. Probably the best one is the Fish Pan on the front (it has a blue front) and the prices are reasonable to sit down and eat and they welcome babies and toddlers. When I went, they didn’t have a changing table, which proved to be a problem. Perhaps a bigger problem is the seagulls on the front, as they are quite large and vicious and they are prone to attack for food, so it is probably best to eat in a restaurant or have someone ready to chase them away. In terms of ice creams, the favourite is the Harbour Bar, where they do lovely ice creams and milkshakes, all set in a 1960’s diner setting. (http://theharbourbar.co.uk/)

North Bay

Sea Life Centre – https://www.visitsealife.com/scarborough/

Full disclosure – we haven’t been here yet, but from the outside, it looks like a good half-day activity and something a little bit different to the usual seaside activities. However, check for 2 for 1 deals or early booking deals.

Peasholm Park – http://www.peasholmpark.com/

Peasholm Park is on the north bay and as part of the park, there is a boating lake as well as miniature golf and on certain weekends, there are events on, in particular dragon boats! It is a really good place to stroll around with the pushchair, as well as being a good place to let your toddler toddle towards the end of the day when it is a bit quieter, although beware of the big ducks and swans!!

Openair Theatre

Across from Peasholm Park is the openair theatre, where they get a number of good acts during the summer season. However, there is also a miniature railway where big and little ones alike can go and have a ride.

Scarborough Cricket Ground

One more for dads rather than tots, but the Scarborough Festival occurs usually in August where Yorkshire CCC play a County Championship game at the cosy ground. The crowds are good so you may have to get tickets beforehand.

Out of town

Mini Monsterz – http://www.minimonsterz.co.uk/

This indoor play area is a bit of a hidden gem, located in an industrial estate in Cayton. The play area is fantastic (I am becoming quite an expert!) and one good thing is that they don’t allow the place to get too full, so everyone has a table and there is enough space in the play area. It is a little bit pricey, especially as they charge for adults, but it is worth the money and the food is good also. They have a similar complex in Whitby, which is just as good (and a bit quieter). As a result, I would head there early in the day and stay for lunch!