Stockeld Park

Stockeld Park has been a favourite of ours, ever since we had our first visit in 2015, when Heidi was just 2. Whilst we go about twice a year, and very little changes, it is always a highlight of the school holiday when we go.  The sad fact is before having a child, I had never even heard about it. However, it is possibly the most famous thing about Wetherby, passing the Whaler and the racecourse!

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Finding Stockeld Park is quite easy although if using Sat Nav, make sure the correct postcode is used. Using the wrong one takes you to a field! There is plenty of free parking and most of the park is flat and easy to walk around (there is a lot of walking!)

When you get into Stockeld Park, it is easy to be a bit underwhelmed. Panic not! There are lots of things hidden away and that is the beauty of this place. You could probably go 5 times and still notice different things.

The Maze

We usually start off in the maze and the idea is to find 6 little attractions/toys and then find the main attraction which leads you to an exit/freedom!

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Find this and you’ve almost escaped!

I am not sure if it is cheating but it is an idea to take a photo of the map on your phone to help. If you have a younger child, you might want to make sure you don’t spend too much time in there. The 2-year-old Heidi  loved the little ornaments and toys, whereas the 6 year old Heidi loves to explore the maze.

The maze takes about 30 minutes and after we usually have a picnic lunch on the main lawn. The lawn is huge and would never get full. On here, there are a few footballs and toys for the older ones to burn a bit of energy. This is actually a really nice touch and the fact that you can bring picnics in helps to manage costs a little.

Playground and other activities

Next to the maze is the farm themed playground, which was just the right size for kids up to about 8. The rides are really well made out of wood and was something a little bit different to the ones you normally see. The slides are a bit quick, although not massive, so be careful!

Also on the main lawn is an air cushion, bouncy castle slide and go kart bikes. This was the only place we encountered queues, even in the middle of the school holidays.  The air cushion is ideal if you have a toddler and it might be an idea for a grown-up to go on as well, especially if the rest of the kids are a bit older. A word of “warning” you can feel as though you are still on there hours after leaving the park!!!

Full of smiles!

The bouncy slide is a bit imposing for me and Heidi and is definitely not one for grown-ups!! The go karts tend to have a queue but it is good fun, especially as there are a few “double” bikes to go on. 

Facilities

When we were doing nappy changing, the facilities were excellent and clean. I did only see 2 changing rooms, but I think there was another in the ladies toilet. Also inside, is a cafe and some indoor softplay activities including a smaller air cushion and a playhouse. This is the only part of Stockeld Park that is indoor and so in wet weather, it will be very busy!

Enchanted Forest

At this point, you probably think that you have seen everything and going into the Enchanted Forest is a bit of a throw-in.  However, this is the star attraction, hidden away within the trees (obviously!). It is about a 2 mile walk with numerous small, quirky attractions. Some are operated by button, others by sensor! There is an influence of music/songs in the attractions, so much so that on the last one, Heidi wanted a “song please” after pressing the button!

Enjoying the spider themed playground

Along the walk are about 6 playgrounds, just in the off chance that the kids have any more energy to burn!! A couple were a bit too big for Heidi when she was 2, but the rest were perfect. The the 6 year old Heidi is suitable for all of them and loves the spider-themed playground towards the end. There is more than enough space for everyone and we spend a good hour and a half going through the forest and it is always was the highlight of the day.

On the original blog post back in 2015, I said that we didn’t do the roller skating (ice skating is on in the winter). Well, roller skating is a main attraction for us now. Heidi struggles massively with it, but gives it a good go! The equipment is free to borrow and non skaters are encouraged to go on in order to help those skating!

Loving the roller skating!!

We still haven’t done the segway scooters, which take you round the inside edge of the Enchanted Forest. For the scooters, the little ones had to be at least 4 to go on with an adult. However, Heidi isn’t really interested in this still. There is a charge for this activity.

Hints and Tips

All in all a brilliant, yet tiring day out. A few tips to help you if you’re planning on going to Stockeld Park:

  • pick a good day weather wise. While there are indoor activities, most of it is outdoor and you want to be able to enjoy it.
  • drink plenty and wear good shoes. There is a lot of walking and while it is flat, you need to be comfortable.
  • avoid the school holiday weekends if possible. While it didn’t feel crowded at all, obviously it is best to go when it is quieter.

All in all, Stockeld Park is a fab day out and one that Heidi requests virtually every school holiday. Stockeld Park do themed Halloween and Christmas events and so it will be good to see what they look like (weather dependant!)

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Ripley Show

We went to the Ripley Show, which is a countryside show/fair held in the grounds of Ripley Castle, Harrogate. It cost £8 per adult and free for toddlers. There are various price points for various ages, young and old. Car parking is free, plentiful and well organised.

The first thing I should point out is that most, if not all, transactions were in cash so don’t rely on the plastic!

Ripley Show is split into 2 sections either side of the lake. The fair side was more “toddler friendly” as the animals were smaller and you could get up close to them. At the heart of the show is the judging of various animals, crafts and other activities. As such, it isn’t a traditional “farm” day out. However, this only adds to the experience of seeing how animals adapt and react to different scenarios.

Speaking of animals on the far side, there were pigs and sheep, along with ferret racing and exhibition

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Perhaps the highlight was the sheep shearing show which was highly entertaining and well worth staying for. For the little ones, you are best getting to the front as the crowds do flock to it. However, because of the outdoor nature of the show, there will always be space.

On the near side of the lake are stalls (numerous and diverse), a cow tent which is exactly how it sounds as well, as well as 4 show rings where the horses seemingly were. There was also a show jumping ground and a dog activity track and there was plenty of activities to watch for the little ones. In some of the tents were some of the entries into the vegetables and crafts competition:

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As Ripley Show is an outdoor event, if it is raining, you are in trouble and so an advance check on the weather is needed! I didn’t see any baby changing facilities so if you need to, take a towel to act as a changing mat! We took a pram because of the size of the grounds and it is difficult for the little ones to walk the large distances. However, some of the terrain is difficult simply because the fields are seemingly used for farming the rest of the year, so it is good exercise! You can also bring dogs (on a lead) so that adds to the atmosphere as well!

Ripley Show is (apparently) a scaled down version of the Yorkshire Show. However, that is a complement as it is excellent value for money and it has everything that you want/expect form such an event. While not marketed for young families specifically, it is pretty much ideal if your little ones are into animals. If not, and they don’t like the Great Outdoors, it won’t be for you!

We have put Ripley Show on our list to visit again next year, so long as the weather is good!!

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Manor Heath Park – Halifax

With only a morning of pleasant weather to play around with on a July Sunday morning, we made our way to Manor Heath park in Halifax, which is about a mile from The Shay.

Manor Heath Park

Free on street parking is plentiful and the park itself is quite sizeable to walk round, if your heart desires. We were drawn by the wet play area and made sure we took a spare set of clothes for Heidi which was a great idea! The wet play area has a small amount of sand and it is just about enough for the little ones and the wet play area is a series of taps and troughs taking the water within the play area. It is good enough to keep the little ones occupied for 15-20 minutes, by which time, the cold water will start having an effect!

We then moved onto the playground which was about twice the size as a standard playground. As such, there was nothing at such a level where a toddler couldn’t go on. The exception to this was a high slide, which is probably for kids aged 8+ but there are a couple of other slides for the smaller ones. The equipment was safe and clean and in good condition. We spent about 30 minutes here before the clouds started formed and we decided to keep on moving. However, we could have stayed another 30 minutes.T

Tropical Centre

We then went into the Manor Heath Park tropical centre. This was the only part which cost us (£1 each, under 5’s are free). It is billed as a butterfly house, but there were no butterflies! However, there were plenty of fish and tropical plants! However, the best part was seeing the terrapins on the path as we walked round. There were so settled that they let Heidi lie down next to them and let her stroke their shells! She was absolutely made up with it!

As you can expect, it is quite hot in there and as it is all flat, try and leave your pushchair in the reception area. This is particularly true as the paths are narrow and they tend to get in the way! We spent about 15 minutes in there which felt about right. There is also a garden which won’t be much interest to the little ones!

There is a cafe on site which seems to have good reviews and there are toilets (20p each). They weren’t the cleanest so if it is dry, you might be best to do a nappy change in the park! All in all, a good morning out and really good value for money!!

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Standedge Tunnel (25/7/2015)

Firstly, apologies for not updating the blog for quite a while. Sometimes real life gets in the way of having fun but seeing as though I have a sleeping toddler before 9pm, I thought that I would give a review on today’s trip to Standedge Tunnel Country Fair.

Standedge is just outside Marsden, which is a 20 minute drive west of Huddersfield and while there is a quicker way over the country roads near Slaithwaite and Golcar, anyone prone of car sickness should go on the A62!

We parked at Marsden train station  (free!) and had the option of either walking along the canal to the Fair (15 minutes), getting a free minibus or getting a water taxi (£1 single for adults, 50p for children). We took the option of walking going to the Fair and getting the water taxi back. The walk was quite easy as it was flat and while the water taxi was nice, it was no quicker and as it only seats 12, if there is a long queue, you will be waiting for a long time!

The main attraction is the boat trip into the tunnel (£4.50 for adults) but it was probably not the most exciting for a 2 year old toddler! We didn’t go on it this time, simply because there was loads more stuff to do!

There were 2 sets of stalls to entertain the visitors. The outdoor stalls had tractors that kids (big and little!) can sit on and farm animals for petting (piglets, donkey, kid goats, lambs, rabbits etc) and these were the stars of the show for Heidi! Also outside were a selection of food stalls and a hook a duck stall!

Inside were a few other stalls selling clothing and other such items, as well as a free face painter. The face painter was fab, not only because the painting was good, but knowing that a 2 year old would not sit still for long and knew a quick design would be best! Oh, and the paint comes off at the end of the day! 🙂 also inside was an indoor play area which was small, but big enough for chhildren up to 6 or so to spend 15 minutes to burn off some energy!

Outside was an outdoor playground for the older children and the now famous Hey Diddles, who did 2 shows! I have written in the past about them, and it was so good that Heidi remembered them from the last time we saw them, which makes the effort worth it! Even better that they remembered her (or are good fibbers!) They were as good as ever and the main reason we came along!

The crowds got bigger during the day, which is really good to see as it is a free event in its second year and I am sure if the crowds are as good for the Sunday (weather permitting) it will be held next year as well.

All in all, it was a lovely 4 hours spent in a beautiful part of the world and I am sure that we will be back at sometime, even if there isn’t an event on, as it is so idyllic!

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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!

Baby Rave North

The usual weekend preview is to follow, but tomorrow is an event that I wish that I could go to with H and that is “Rave in the Park” in Charlie Cake, Armley, Leeds, LS12 3RP, held by Baby Rave North (http://www.babyravenorth.co.uk – Facebook/Twitter as well) at 10.30am and 1pm. The event is free and the weather looks to be set fair so there is no excuse not to go…

As my colleagues at work can attest, I am a fully fledged Baby Raver with H.  We have been to about 6 events in various locations and while it sounds a bit strange, the concept really works.

If you have never been, it is an upbeat baby/toddler session to upbeat songs and adults and toddlers are encouraged to dance and sing along. While some of the songs are classic nursery rhymes, some are call and response which is good fun, and the best part of it (for the kids at least) is the environment in which is is held. The room is dark with bright disco lights and this creates sensory overload for the youngsters (clearly not applicable for the outdoor event!) One problem with the dark room and bright lights is that is is a nightmare for taking decent photos!!

 

You are best advised to book ahead and the session lasts for just under an hour, which is a good length of time for the little ones. When I took H for the first time, she was so exhausted afterwards, she slept for 3 hours straight in the middle of the day, which shows how it stimulates the kids.

As I said, we have been to about 6 events, a few have been held in Mothercare at the Crown Point Shopping Centre, which is an ideal location, but the best one was a free Hip Hop event held in November time at Leeds City Museum. As it was a Saturday afternoon, we took the grandparents down as well to see the event and they loved it too, and by doing that, it gave them the confidence to go to these types of things if H wanted to go at a time when I couldn’t go. Also, by Leeds City Museum opening their doors at the event, we have found it to be a hidden gem in the city (more on a future blog post!). There are numerous different events from the mini-baby raves to the Christmas raves and the themes of the raves seem to change quite often, which keeps things fresh.

Sometimes when you go to these events, you wonder if the little ones actually enjoy it and for Baby Rave, I certainly know that H loves it. I know this because whenever she sees her disco ball, she tries to put it on (NOT advisable for kids to play with plugs!) and wants the lights turning off so we can have a DIY baby rave while she dances around. Granted, it is nowhere near as good as the real thing, but what can you do?!

Anyway, put Baby Rave North on your to-do list, regardless if you have a 3 month old or a 3 year old – you won’t regret it!!

I say Boom-chic-a-boom…..

The Hey Diddles!

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This Easter weekend, the Hey Diddles will be performing at Holmfirth Civic Hall (Saturday at 2pm) and I urge everyone with a child under the age of 8 to go and see them!

I went to see them with H at their Christmas show in Moldgreen in December 2014 and they were brilliant! By this point, you should have googled them, but if not, they are a 3 piece group (Sunny, Sky and Poppy) who are dressed in the appropriate colours who entertain the audience for an hour singing songs while working their way through a story.

They give everything on stage and get the audience into the spirit of the show. The kids love it, with the older ones dancing at the front, getting into the spirit of the show. H was just short of 18 months old and was just walking and so she enjoyed exploring the seating area before the concert but after that she was sat on my knee fixated on the performance. She loved it! We bought the CD and while there is a Xmas theme, the songs are of good sound quality and are still played in the car now!

Update: December 2015 – we have been to see them on many, many more occasions and what I mentioned before still rings true, perhaps even more so!

A couple of recent memories are when we were buying the tickets for the 2015 show in Holmfirth Tourist Information centre was, without prompting, Heidi said “I love Poppy, I love Skye, I love Sunny” when I asked the cashier for some tickets!

Also, one evening trying to get Heidi to sleep (late!) and she crawled to lay on top of me and started singing “Shake, Shake, Shake your sillies out”!!

I think she is a bit addicted!

For a good, innocent, well priced afternoon out, go to see the Hey Diddles! If you have a younger one, get there earlier and get to the front. Also, bring your autograph book as they do a meet and greet afterwards (not sure if they do selfies with you!) and prepare yourself for the discussion on the way home, “Who is you favourite Diddle?”