Escape Hunt – Leeds

As we had our first child free weekend since April, we did something a little different and went to the Escape Hunt in Leeds. We didn’t know what to expect when we booked, but we had such an amazing time!!

The Set Up

Escape Hunt is located in The Light entertainment complex on the third floor where the cinemas are. It is a little bit hidden away but this means the waiting area is very calm and relaxing. As you enter, you’re greeted by a member of staff who will take your details and check you in. Then you are free to relax until your game begins.

Here, there is a mini-bar (which only takes cards) but also in the welcome room are mini games such as Jenga, Connect 4 and Draughts. We found this really relaxing and got us nice and chilled out for was about to come!

Concentrating hard!

The Game

We played “Our Finest Hour” which was set in 1942 Germany. One of the key things with escape rooms is that you shouldn’t give away any secrets. As such, trying to write a blog post is rather difficult! However, I think it’s safe to say that you have to solve all the clues within an hour, to save Britain. As a result, there’s absolutely no pressure at all!!!

Apparently, this is the most difficult game room that Escape Hunt has to offer. Given that there was only 2 of us, this made it even more difficult! I would think that it is best with 3 or 4 people in the room, as any more than this and you’ll probably end up falling out and tripping over each other.

As mentioned, this was our first Escape Hunt room and so we did find it very difficult, especially with just two of us.  However, we did learn how the game works as we went along. The Game Master (Mary) was excellent in providing us proper instructions before we started and so we had a good chance of succeeding.

Part of the game…

Escape Hunt Top Tips!

One issue we did have was that my partner is hard of hearing. As such, I had to use the telephone at all times to receive clues from the Game Master. However, once Mary knew about this, she quickly stopped using a telephone and used the speaker system instead and this really helped. It would be best to let the staff know of any disabilities that your team has, so that they can make necessary arrangements.

The Game Master phones through on this

Also, if you’re thinking about inviting older relatives to a game (hint: Christmas presents!), the game isn’t particularly physically strenuous. As a result, if you can stand for an hour you should be able to play the game relatively easily. Once you are enclosed in the room, it didn’t feel that you were trapped at any time. This is especially true as you were in regular contact with the Game Master.

Child Appropriate?

Escape Hunt is targeted for groups of adults as well as for children over the age of 10. This feels just about right. Children younger than 10 would probably lack the concentration and would probably get frustrated at the number of clues that need to be solved.

If you have to take a child in to Escape Hunt, you need to have enough people in the group to interact and involve for child whilst trying to complete the puzzle. As such, I wouldn’t recommend taking a child under the age of 10. However, the fabulous Noel did say that they had younger children in for a birthday party. They also make a really big effort to open the game up to younger children.

The Outcome

So, how did we get on?! Seeing as though we were playing the hardest game, there’s just two of us and one of those was hard of hearing, I feel so he did remarkably well!!

We managed to do with puzzle in 59 minutes and 30 seconds!! One of the great things about Escape Hunt is that they give you a really good debrief afterwards. They tell you what you did well and what you had difficulties with and so you can feel better about things afterwards.

Success!!

One thing to be aware of is that at the end of the game you are probably emotionally drained.  As a result, reserve judgement until the morning after because you’ll either be on a real high, a real low, or mentally exhausted!

The Verdict

Going to Escape Hunt is a real challenge, both in terms of the game but also for relationships of the people you play with! It is quite eye opening as to how you interact with other people and how you learn. It would be a great team building exercise at work and probably something I will talk to my manager at work about!

For a child free evening, Escape Hunt provides something really, really different to anything else out there. Another good thing is the fact it is in Leeds City Centre so you can carry on your evening afterwards. I really hope that we could go back again at some point to play the other games!

Escape Hunt

IMPORTANT! We played the Escape Hunt room free of charge for the purposes of this blog post. However, no attempts have been made to influence this post.

Continue reading Escape Hunt – Leeds

Leeds Golf Centre

I was invited to Leeds Golf Centre in North Leeds to check out their facilities, especially their signature course, Wike Ridge. This was one time when I was “Matthew” and not “dad” and as weird as it sounds, it was a nice change. Anyway, less about me and more about Leeds Golf Centre!

Wike Ridge

The signature course is a fully-fledged championship standard course, ranging from 5472 yards to 6535 yards, depending on tee choice. As a result, it isn’t for complete novices!!

The course is of very high quality, with smooth quick greens and well presented fairways. As you can see, the bunkers are of decent condition (including rake!) which makes you feel as though you’re a professional!

This certainly isn’t a “standard” course with the water hazards and amazing views over North Leeds and the views and walk was almost as good as the course itself!

My personal favourite hole was the 9th. Mainly because it was the hole I got a par on!! Although it is a par 4, you can almost drive the green. I landed the tee shot into the greenside bunker before getting out and two-putting. I felt like I won a title!

What a view!

This was the first time I had played since being a dad (5+ years!) and so the length of the course does take it out of you. As a result, don’t be afraid to call it a day early before it stops being fun!!

One note is that it can be difficult to find the next tee, but the best way is to follow the gravel track following the fairway round. However, after the 1st green, you need to double back on you to the right to get to the 2nd tee!

The facilities

When you enter the Leeds Golf Centre complex, there is a decent sized free car park, and you walk round the back to check-in at the golf shop. Here you can rent a set of clubs, trolley or even a buggy (maybe next time!).

You can buy golf balls and tees too!

Within the clubhouse are changing rooms, a restaurant serving snacks, drinks and meals, as well as toilets. Yes, I am that person who takes pictures of the toilets!

There is also a cafe and toilet at the end of the 9th hole of the Wike Ridge course. Please note that this is the only toilet on the course.

The dress code

This is one thing that can cause issues, especially for newbies to golf courses. There is a specific page on the Leeds Golf Centre website about the dress code and the fact that they are relaxed about things. This is such a good thing! For the Wike Ridge course, they only ask that you don’t wear jeans or tracksuit bottoms, as well as a polo collared shirt.

For the rest of the facilities, there is no dress code at all. Result!

The other activities

As well as the Wike Ridge course, there are other facilities at Leeds Golf Centre to entertain. If a full course isn’t for you and/or you want to bring your child along, the 12 hole, par 3 “The Oaks” course would be ideal for you. There is also the increasingly popular Footgolf, where there are 6 specially designed holes from 39 to 90 yards long. This would be ideal to bring a teenage son who had little interest in golf!

All in all, Leeds Golf Centre has loads on offer, even if you’re not a proficient golfer. The course was busy on a Sunday morning, so make sure you pre-book online. If you’re a solo player, it can be slow at times, but the other players were very good in allowing me to play through.

Will I be back? Absolutely! I had forgotten how good the game was and I felt like my own person as opposed to being “dad” for a few hours. I just need to find my golf balls in all the trees!!

Full disclosure: I received a free round for the purposes of this blog post. This was provided by www.onlinegolf.co.uk who also send me some merchandise, including some golf balls. They had no editing influence on this post.

Look at my balls!
From onlinegolf.co.uk

Continue reading Leeds Golf Centre

Funzy

A wet August Bank Holiday weekend made us search for indoor activities, especially ones which allowed Heidi to burn off some energy. We came across Funzy, which is Bradford’s newest attractions and thought that we would give it a go. This is what we found…

The basics

So, what is Funzy? Think of it as a huge bouncy castle with slides and climbing parts. That probably undersells it a little because it is also a bit like an obstacle course as well. There are bits to climb under and through and obstacles to avoid. There isn’t a set path and so if you just want to bounce, there is a flat part. If you just want to do the big slides, you can just do that.

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Layout of Funzy’s

You have to sign a waiver form before starting, but there isn’t anything considered dangerous in my opinion. However, with bouncing and physical exercise, there is clearly a health risk, especially with ankles and knees.

Age Range

Under 4’s are only allowed in the mini area and that feels right as the main area will be too big for them and they wouldn’t be able to do much. We had a pair of 5 year olds with us, and they got on absolutely fine with no help.  For children that age, you’re probably best to go on with them, just for support, especially as at the beginning. This is because it can feel a bit daunting at first.

Clothing

If you can, please dress as if you’re going for a work–out! It is energetic activity and if you end up following your child around, you will be hot and sweaty! There were people wearing jeans and I don’t know how they coped to be honest!!

Price

As at August 2018, it costs £9.95 for everyone aged 4 and over, with under  4’s costing £2.95 for an hour. An additional hour costs £5.95. Spectators are free of charge.

Unless you are super fit or your child has endless energy, you will not need the extra hour! It is really hard work and after an hour, you will have had enough. Check out the Funzy website to see if there are any online discount codes before turning up.

Facilities

There is a snack bar, lockers and toilets, as well as a seating area for spectators/recovery. The snack bar was decently priced, with 2 slushies and a can of coke costing less than £5. As you can see, the toilets are decent and there is enough room in the cubicles to be able to get changed. (I’m definitely not putting a photo of me getting changed!!)

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Funzy Toilets!

Location

The location is ideal really, with it being in the middle of Bradford, in the Leisure Exchange Centre. However, it is on the ground floor, downstairs from Cineworld. As a result, if you’re parking in the multi-story, try and park on the lower floors. There is loads of parking available, so that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

If you want to make a day of it, I have a blog post about the Hollywood Bowl in Bradford, which is here.

Verdict

I’m writing this the morning after going to Funzy and whilst my legs ache, it is because it is a good workout. We had a really good time there and I am sure that we will be back, both with children and without! It is open 10am to 10pm and so trips after school in the evening are a possibility, All in all, Funzy is a really lively, fun place and hopefully it will be a great success going forward.

Continue reading Funzy

Wallace and Gromit Trail

When can you go to a shopping centre, have a great time and not go in any shops or spend any money?! Well, the White Rose Shopping Centre has you covered this summer with a Wallace and Gromit sculpture trail throughout the centre.

UPDATE: This event has finished!

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For only £2, you can buy a map from Customer Services and the map shows you exactly where the Wallace and Gromit characters are. Also, Customer Services have a limited range of merchandise. The merchandise is hidden away a bit on the counter so the little ones don’t realise that they are there!!

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All the proceeds from the sales of the maps and merchandise go to the Wallace and Gromit Grand Appeal charity.

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There is nothing majorly complex about the trail, but you will need a map for 2 of the sculptures. This is because they aren’t in the main of the shopping centre, but I’m not going to give any clues!!

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The Wallace and Gromit trail is a nice bit of light hearted entertainment as you walk around the shopping centre. I’m sure that it will make the kids walk quicker, knowing that there is something to find just ahead.

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If you were to do the trail without looking in any of the shops it will probably take you about half an hour. However, I guess that it depends on how quickly you walk. Also, it depends on how easily you find the 2 which are hidden away a little.

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I know how much effort goes into these events, given that I helped put together the Herd of Sheffield sculpture trail. As such, please remember that it is for charity and support it as much as you can! You can read about the Herd of Sheffield event here.

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If you feel a little hungry after all the Wallace and Gromit hunting, there are loads of places to eat. One of the restaurants is Wagamamas and you can read about how child friendly it is here.

Continue reading Wallace and Gromit Trail

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. However, 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.  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”. This is because there were shops, food stalls, and children’s activities. The children’s activities included 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. 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. The car park entry and exit was very efficient and organised. 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. It was pleasantly surprising to see 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.  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

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. This will hopefully lead to 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. 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. However, 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. 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. Heidi also played 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!!). There are also 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’s 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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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. This is 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!!

The Building

Truth be told, I didn’t actually do any ice skating, 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. The lift was broken, so 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.

Get there early!

We went to the Family Session, which is akin to a beginners session. 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 such, I would recommend arriving 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. These 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. However. for little ones, the Family sessions are ideal.

There are a good number of friendly marshals on the ice. 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. This 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. As such, 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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Jt feels right that the performance is aimed for children aged 7+. This is because there are a few dark moments in the first half. With Heidi being 4, she struggled in the last 5 minutes of the show as the sugar rush had worn off! However, she really understood the storyline, so it depends on the maturity of your child.

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Whilst this is a national production of Rumpelstiltskin, 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. However, 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.

Junior Kitchen

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.

Junior Kitchen

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.

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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!)

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Talking to one of the teachers afterwards, they do tailor the session for the age range of the children. However, 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 is bound to be something for everyone at some point, given the number of different sessions on offer.  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, obviously, 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. Importantly, 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 importantly 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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