Museum of Science and Industry – (MOSI)

Planning this post in my head was difficult and I questioned whether or not to write it. This is because MOSI wasn’t particularly suited to us at this point.

There wasn’t anything particularly bad about it. It was just more focused for adults and older children, rather than inquisitive toddlers. And that is not a bad thing, it just doesn’t fit in with us at this time!!!

So, quickly going through the downsides, they include:

  • poor signage
  • the museum being in 4 separate buildings
  • the exhibits not being particularly hands-on

Also, parking is a problem as street parking outside is only for 2 hours and probably won’t be long enough (which is a good thing as there is plenty to see!)

Now that I have got that out of my system, I can talk about the positives from a toddlers perspective. There is a brilliant exhibit next to the restaurant which is hands-on and practical and lots of fun for young and old alike. It is full of little puzzles, interactive science experiments and various other bits and pieces like that.

While the little ones will enjoy playing, it is possible to explain the science as well behind it all which is what going to the museum is all about. Our favourite was the experiment dropping the ball into the different surfaces and predicting how high they would bounce. It is quite dark in there, so pictures are not easy to take!

In terms of the other good aspects of MOSI, the cafe serves excellent pizza and the gift shop is to die for. I could have spent all day in there!! While it was not particularly for toddlers, we did spend 3 hours in there. As such, it certainly wasn’t a wasted trip!

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For toddlers, MOSI isn’t in the same league as the National Media Museum or the Railway Museum. Perhaps it isn’t supposed to be. The focus is on industry, which isn’t as exciting for toddlers as opposed to science and things going “bang” or “pop”!!!

However, there is a place in the world for MOSI, especially if your child is learning about local (to Manchester) history or the Industrial Revolution. We are not in that place yet, but when we are, we know that we’ll be able to get a lot of knowledge out of our visit there.


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Ten Things about being a Single Parent

So after reading about Seeing Rainbow’s blog post about being a single parent (which you can read here) I thought that I would do my own “Ten Things about being a Single Parent” – maybe from a dad’s perspective. This is where writing the blog acts as therapy!

1. It is the best job in the world

I think that is the quite self explanatory and goes without saying really, regardless if you a single parent or not. However, it still needs saying 😊

2. It is the most tiring job in the world

Again, every parent comes across this. However, when you work full time and come home from work and have to do everything on an evening without the support of anyone, that is the time when it is tough.

3. Where is the manual?

Again, one for all parents I think!!

4. Toilet problems

As a single dad of a girl, I have the decision about which toilets to use for her. Generally we use the men’s and hope/pray that it is quiet in there for everyone’s benefit, but ideally, we try to use the separate disabled toilet block. This way we don’t run the risk of having embarrassing toddler comments and there is enough room for me to go as well – normal cubicles are not big enough for 2 (and associated bags!)

When we were still in nappies, nappy changing facilities were sparse in men’s changing rooms, however, we only had one time where we had particular problems.

5. Nothing is ever perfect

It is a perfect storm of doing the best for your own child AND doing your best for someone else’s child. Generally the two are different even though the child is the same…

6. Stress levels rise beyond belief

Linked to the one above. However, with the stresses of looking after a child come the stresses of the fallout from a failed relationship and all that brings to the table

7. It’s like being a big kid

Going out and about and seeing the world through the eyes of a child is a wonderful thing. Make the most of it. It is special.

Being in control and being able to choose what to do and where to go is also very empowering!!

8. People want to help

Generally it is shop assistants and the more elderly members of society who want to help when out and about. If you get the offer for help, it will save you the little bit of energy you might need later on!!

Also, don’t be shy about saying you’re a single parent. Because we go to the same places/people and it came up in conversation, these places/people are more open to helping and even asking “How are you getting on?” – that little question means a heck of a lot and so if you know of a single parent, ask them. It will mean the world.

9. I am not daddy day care

I know it is a bit old fashioned but still…!!! The number of people who still say it and I really feel like saying back to them:

“Yes I am looking after my child. It is called being a parent. I also work full time and have her every moment that is available. I am not doing this because mum wants some time to herself, I am doing this because it is what a parent is all about”

Rant over…

10. I have my best friend

The bond between a child and parent is special. The bond between a child and a single parent is even more so, because you are close knit team:
You laugh at silly things.
The pair for you go through the down times together because there is no-one else to turn to.
You are stronger for it
You get your best friend in the world

Whilst I have written about “Ten Things about being a Single Parent”, I am sure that there are more. Please feel free to add some into the comments section!

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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 Yorkshire Coast last weekend, we took in the first Teddy Bears Picnic Concert of the summer season.

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

The Teddy Bears Picnic event is relatively simple. A professional orchestra plays a series of songs for an hour and a half. There is plenty 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.

The Music

Firstly, it is a proper concert, witnessed by the number of adults without children enjoying the music. As a result, 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 involved. As such, they can 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. Also, instruments get shared out in the second half of the show to keep the children involved.

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. She also plays 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

The Teddy Bears Picnic concept doesn’t sound too complex, but “Why does no-one else do this type of event?

The first show of the season tends to fall well for us to get to and it has become a bit of a tradition.  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!

Practicalities

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. The price of £4 a ticket means it is excellent value for money. To help concentration, food seems to help, so bring a picnic (and teddy!)  although there is a cafe there as well. They try to hold the concert in the Sun Court, which is outside and  a bit of a sun trap. As such, 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 for all the Teddy Bears Picnic concerts. However, 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. However, there are loads of toilets dotted about, so if there is a queue, the 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. This is a lovely but tiring walk down, but best to then get the cliff lift up afterwards.

Effect on Children

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.

As I mentioned earlier, there are multiple concerts in the summer season. However, they are all different songs so no two concerts will be the same. Also, regardless of your child’s age, they will get lots out of it, just in different ways. 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!

UPDATE: The Teddy Bears Picnic shows are now every Tuesday in July and August.


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Gullivers World

As part of daddy/daughter week together, I wanted to go somewhere different, somewhere child friendly but also big. Therefore, I chose Gullivers World over the other side of the hills, in Warrington.

I chose this as it is a theme park just for children, particularly focused on the younger children. As such, it would be something completely different to what we have in Yorkshire. Lightwater Valley and Flamingo Land are more adult oriented and Sundown is somewhere we have been to already (and really enjoyed!)

Practicalities

After negotiating the M62/M60 for the second time in a week (see Play Factor-e post here) we arrived. One good thing is that the price is height dependent for the child. If they are under 90 cm, they won’t be able to go on many rides, but they will be free. Heidi is around 1m and while she cost the same as me (£17) she could go on virtually all the rides. However, I had to go on some with her (what a hardship!)

The park itself is really flat and pushchair friendly. As such, if you’re in half a mind to take a pushchair, do it! There is a lot of walking for little legs! The reason why I mentioned the height/cost is that if you have a 91cm child who hasn’t the best stamina, you might want to consider the value for money.

Rides

The park has loads of rides (too many to count!) included within the cost of admission. As we went during the week in term time, it was nice and quiet and so there were no queues. However, school trips tend to come on Thursdays and Fridays (nice!).

Given the number of rides, you don’t feel as though you have to pressure the little ones to go on everything. Our favourites were the Indiana Jones-type ride (because we got squirted!) the haunted house (this was good as it was busy and you can scare others with a flying toddler!) as well as the numerous car rides.

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Heidi and Gilly!

If I am being honest, by personal favourite was the dodgems. This is because Heidi is now at an age where she is allowed on and can drive them. They don’t go too fast so you don’t need to worry about the potentials of whiplash!!

A couple of other popular attractions included the face painting (£4 a go) but pretty good face painting. However, though the park looked as though it had been invaded by tigers! Also, the goodbye show was absolutely excellent and  innocent fun. It is well worth the stay until the end as it is upbeat and gets the kids dancing.

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Tiger driving a car!

It is a good idea to check out the show timetable when you arrive. We bumped into the clowns leaving their show and so it would have been good to see them in action.

Toilets and Food

In terms of facilities, the baby change facility in the dinosaur section looked pretty good expecially with the dinosaur decor (although no toilet within). There there are also numerous toilets around the park. In terms of food, there are plenty of food stalls and picnic tables in case you want to bring your own food/drink, which we did. There are a few shops dotted around, but by the time we got to the main shop at the entrance/exit we were too tired to shop!

Just a word of warning, the venue is 99% outdoors and so if you have rubbish weather, your day will be rubbish unfortunately!

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If the weather is rubbish, you’ll have to do time in the play jail!

However, our day was excellent and we stayed from 11am to 4.15pm with barely a stop in between. Thanks to my Fitbit, I clocked over 10,000 steps walking 5 miles so bear this in mind when planning footwear! However, this was because we were having such a good time and wanted to go on so many things. If we can get back again in September before the bad weather kicks in, we will do!

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