Playdale Farm Park

Located inland between Scarborough and Filey, in Cayton, Playdale Farm Park is hidden off the beaten track but is a wonderful way to spend a day in the area.  We went when Heidi was 3 and had a lovely time, but now she is 6, she could enjoy it even more!

We spent 3 hours at Playdale Farm Park and only saw half of the animals and missed out on 2 of the play areas. It’s safe to say that it is a day-long attraction!!

Animals

As Playdale Farm Park is, well, a farm, there are the usual animals to see. In the main barn, there are goats, pigs, alpacas and chicks to see, amongst others.  In the other barn and dotted around outside are donkeys, chipmunks, sheep and loads of birds.

Heidi holding a chick
Heidi holding a chick

Perhaps the best part of this is the handling activities that are set up during the day.  Times can vary so check before you set off, but we got to hold guinea pigs and chicks that were only a couple of days old.  Whilst it was busy, we didn’t real rushed and had long enough to hold the animals, before both they and the children got bored!!

Heidi holding a guinea pig
Heidi holding a guinea pig

The staff looking after the animals were more than happy to talk to the children about the animals. They also encouraged children to wash their hands after holding the animals, to make sure the risk of catching a bug was reduced,

Play Areas

Even if you are not into the animals, there are loads of play areas for the children to run about and, well, be children.  There are 2 outdoor climbing play frames, as seen below, which are more than adequate for most children aged 2 to 12.

The smaller Playdale Farm Barn outdoor climbing frame
The smaller Playdale Farm Barn outdoor climbing frame

There is also an indoor barn full of hay bales, which the children absolutely loved.  Because of this, it might be a good idea to pack a spare set of clothes for the children because hay can get EVERYWHERE!!

Playdale Farm Barn hay barn
Playdale Farm Barn hay barn

There is also an indoor play area with 2 soft play areas – one for under 4’s, and one for over 4’s, although the children can play in either quite easily. Inside the indoor play area are ride on tractors as well.

Indoor play area at Playdale Farm Barn
Indoor play area
Indoor tractors
Ride on tractors

However, as it was a lovely early September day, we had great fun on the zipline, dry sledging and the cycle go-karts. As you can see in the video at the start, the zipline and dry sledging isn’t for toddlers, but children 4 and over should be ok with it. Once we got over some nerves, Heidi absolutely loved it and it was difficult to pull ourselves away from it!

We didn’t even make it to the sand play area or the Frisbee golf, but I suggest the latter is more for adults. It can get a bit windy and the children may get a bit bored chasing the Frisbee!

Facilities

To make the most of Playdale Farm Park, you do need dry weather, as some of the activities are outside.  If you have bad weather, there is enough to entertain, but you will miss out on the dry sledging, which was our highlight!

There are plenty of picnic tables for you to bring your picnic, as we did. However, there is also a lovely looking cafe, with some amazing looking cakes, which I really should have taken a photo, as well as bought!!

The toilets are of decent quality and the cubicles are quite large, which helps when you’re with children. There are plenty of hand washing stations, which is always good to see.

Cost

For 2 adults and 2 children, it cost just over £30 (2019 prices), with free parking.  This didn’t feel too bad given that we took our own food and could have had a full day of entertainment.  The children absolutely loved it and I am sure that we will be back on a future trip to the North Yorkshire Coast.


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Bodnant Garden

A very rare child-free weekend landed in our laps and we took the trip to North Wales, in part to go to Bodnant Garden.  It is a National Trust property, and so if you are a member, it is free to go in!

Location

Bodnant Garden is about 5 miles south of Conwy and Llandudno on the North Wales coast. It takes about 2 hours from Leeds on a weekend and the drive is pretty easy all the way. The main area of interest along the way is the bilingual signs once in Wales, which can take a couple of miles to get used to!

Bodnant Garden is well signposted (in Welsh and English) once you get near Conwy so whilst it is off a country road, it is an easy find.  Perhaps the best part is that parking is completely free – a rare find nowadays!!

What is at Bodnant Garden?

Unsurprisingly, Bodnant Garden is a garden based attraction! However, it is more than just one little garden! You can easily spend half a day in the gardens, exploring the trees, flowers, waterfalls and so much more.

Top Tip! Make sure you get a free map when you enter.  As the gardens are so big, you can easily get lost!

As Bodnant Garden is set in the foothills of Snowdonia, the terrain is a little hilly. As a result, those with little legs might find certain bits difficult. Therefore, you might want to plan a nice steady route for them.

The paths are fully paved and completely pushchair friendly. As such, you don’t need walking boots to go round the garden. However, as there is water, children may find the urge to splash and get wet a little too strong. As such, take wellies and a change of clothes!!

Is Bodnant Garden child-friendly?

Unless you have a child really interested in nature, children aren’t going to appreciate Bodnant Garden as much as adults. However, if you want to get them some decent exercise, then it is a really good venue. There wasn’t anything child-specific when we went, but it is a perfect place to explore, play hide and seek and play “old fashioned” outdoor games.

Yes, there is plenty of water!!

There are a couple of locations throughout the garden which have toilets (which were very clean!). However, as they are spread apart, you might be best to plan a route so you’re not too far away from them.

Outside of the garden is a mini adventure playground, which is just big enough to allow them to play. However, they may be too tired after all the walking!!

Adventure Park
Bodnant Garden adventure park

Facilities

There are a couple of cafes within the garden, as well as at the entrance. Also at the entrance are a couple of shops which sell relatively unique items, which are tailored to the older visitor. But still some little bits for the children.

As you go into the reception area, you’ll notice a couple of umbrellas to use (free of charge). This was a nice touch, and given the climate of the area, if it looks like rain, it is likely to rain!!

What else is there to do??

As Bodnant Garden is unlikely to take all day, there is plenty to explore in the area. We spent a couple of hours in Conwy, and had a lovely afternoon tea at Anna’s Tea Room. This was bookended with a lovely walk round the marina and village.

Afternoon tea in Conwy
Afternoon Tea in Conwy

The other side of the River Conwy is Llandudno, which is probably more child friendly in its attractions. As such, there is enough to do either with or without the kids.

On the way back, we called into Chester to do a spot of shopping and to relax a bit. This broke up the journey home a little, although you’ll want to keep on going home if the children are asleep!!

Continue reading Bodnant Garden

The Best Place in Leeds…

Even though I have written about loads of different places in Leeds, I have not done a “Best Place in Leeds” blog post before. As a result, here are a few things which are some age appropriate selections for you!

Best Place in Leeds - splash image

Best Place in Leeds for Crawlers

Boomchikkaboom hosts one-off events all over West Yorkshire, but quite a few are held in Leeds, with most being in Mothercare at the Crown Point Shopping Centre. You have to pre-book (and make sure you do well in advance) but their Mini Raves are a mix of upbeat music, dancing and songs which brilliant for smaller children who love sensory overload!

Boomchikkaboom take some brilliant pictures and share on Facebook

Boomchikkaboom also do messy play sessions for the younger kids, but during school holidays, they do sessions specifically for school aged children as well.

Loving a Boomchikkaboom rave!

You can read a full blog post on Boomchikkaboom here.

Best Place in Leeds for Pre-Schoolers

If your child is into creative play and imagination, the Rainbow Factory based in Farsley will be absolutely perfect. Keep your eye out for their special events during certain weekends and school holidays.  However, during term-time, they have specific sessions for pre-schoolers.

Best Place in Leeds - Rainbow Factory

We are HUGE fans of the Rainbow Factory and whilst it can seem a bit strange concept, the work that they do really does bring children out of their shell and boost their imagination. If your child is a bit shy, it does help to join in the sessions, but you’ll enjoy it just as much as your little one.

Kids are free to be as creative as possible at the Rainbow Factory

You can read Rainbow Factory posts here and here.

Best Place in Leeds for Primary School Children

Opened in 2017, the Leeds Urban Bike Park is a really safe space for children (and grown-ups) to ride their bike. Set on the old council golf course in Middleton, it is a free venue where there are trails for cyclists of all ages to explore. The site is completely vehicle free which means that riders are so much safer than on the roads and your child can ride, and develop accordingly.

Best Place in Leeds - Leeds Urban Bike Park
One of the trails at the Leeds Urban Bike Park

There are even bumpy trails for young and old to experience proper BMX-ing, which I am reliably told is a “pump track” (who knew?!)

Best Place in Leeds for Older Children

The Royal Armouries is a free attraction at the south east of the City Centre which gives an insight into the history of battles through the ages. Some of the artefacts are a reminder as to how deadly war can be, but it can act as a thought provoking visit for the older children. It would work really well if your child was into history and/or was learning about a relevant topic in school.

Royal Armouries
Exhibit at Royal Armouries

To make the trip more of an experience, get the free water taxi from Granary Wharf (near the train station) to the Armouries.  You get to see parts of Leeds which you would never see before although the queues can be big on hot summer weekends.  If you have not done it before, it is worth the wait.

You can read a full blog post on the Royal Armouries here.

Best Place in Leeds for Adults

Why should the children get all the fun?! Hotel Chocolat, just off Boar Lane, do chocolate making sessions for children and adults. Whilst there is some learning about the science behind chocolate, there is also the opportunity to decorate chocolate. You also get a decent discount in the shop at the end of the session, which is ideal if you’re going to do a bulk buy purchase at Easter or Christmas!!

Hotel Chocolat
Welcome to the Hotel Chocolat!

You do have to book well in advance for this. However, if you know you’re going to be child free, you’re probably counting down the days already!!

You can read a full blog post on Hotel Chocolat here.

Overall

All in all, there are loads of things to do in this brilliant city. I’d love to hear what your recommendations are, which will probably lead to a follow-up blog post!!

Continue reading The Best Place in Leeds…

Anything Could Happen

Over the last couple of months, we have discovered another hidden gem of the amazing creative scene in Leeds – Anything Could Happen. Before Heidi came along, it’s safe to say that I wasn’t into creative arts, but after going to the Rainbow Factory for the past few years, my eyes have been opened to a whole new world!!

Anything Could Happen

What happens?

Well, anything (obviously!!)

On a serious note, there are two adult (I was going to say grown-up, but they have to be a bit childish!) performers on stage, loosely controlled by the fabulous stage director, Carla. They start off with an idea, and then get ideas from the children in the audience. The children then develop the story as it goes, with random ideas being thrown in from all the children.  After the story has reached a somewhat natural conclusion, which often resulted from mild chaos, the stage is reset and a new idea kicks off more carnage!!

As Anything Could Happen takes place in a real-life, intimate theatre, the children get experience of a professional environment and as they sit on the floor of the stage, they feel part of the action.

Every child is asked to input into the performance over the hour and a bit it is on, and whilst Heidi can feel a bit lost in the number of children and ideas, it does help her understand sharing (does that count as a swear word?!) and being patient.

There is very few opportunities for the children to be on stage themselves, so if you’re looking for a stage school this isn’t for you. However, think of it as giving your child the chance for a front row seat to a brilliant comedy show that they can help create.

However, if your child does go up on stage, get your cameras out, as it is a brilliant memory to have. In January, Heidi was “interviewed” on stage and pretended to explain why crocodiles were coming into houses through toilets. Yes, you did read that right! The best thing was that the atmosphere was so supportive that she was able to go out of her comfort zone and do it!

What age is appropriate?

This is a difficult one, but I wouldn’t expect a child younger than 5 would be able to concentrate for the whole show. It is quite fast paced, but so is the humour and so younger children might not get the jokes.

Also, as the children tend to sit at the front amongst themselves (but not every child does) younger children might feel a little overwhelmed by it all.

How do you prepare?

It might sound a really daft thing to say, but don’t wear too many clothes!! Anything Could Happen takes place in a real theatre, and as such, all the stage lights are on. This means that it does get warm quickly and whilst it never gets uncomfortable, you won’t need a thick jumper on!!

Apart from that, you can encourage your child to be creative in play, but generally, they will become immersed in the experience and develop as they take part.

What Do Adults do?

It sounds strange, but there is very little to do for the adults! You sit back in the audience and enjoy the show.  It is that simple!!!

I do think that the adults enjoy the show just as much as the children, and because the humour is so quick and well put together, there is a layer of comedy that is just for adults!

What about First Timers?

This is a note of caution. Regardless of how confident or old your child is, they are likely to be unsure about Anything Could Happen during the first visit. This is because it is quite intense on their sensors – lights, visual and oral comedy, a different environment etc. My advice would be to go with how they feel and perhaps take some sweets with you to relax them.

However, after the first visit, you’ll have made up your mind whether it is right for your child and so don’t let their first impression put you off coming back. Heidi was restless during her first visit, but I knew she would enjoy it, and on the morning of the second show, she woke up with a huge smile, realising that it was Anything Could Happen Day!!

Heidi being interviewed on stage about crocodiles

Overall

Finding Anything Could Happen has been amazing and has sparked Heidi’s creativity at home even more. However, with these kinds of activities, it is the people running it that make it so special. Without their creativity, passion and a little bit of silliness, the children would not benefit and enjoy the shows. I really hope that Heidi will enjoy the shows for a long time, as I know she will learn so much from them!

Continue reading Anything Could Happen

Forgotten Forest

So, on a Heidi-free weekend (sob, sob) we took Oscar (aged 2) to the Forgotten Forest for the first time. As it was the middle of January, we wrapped up warm and went to the forest school to learn all about the story of Zog, and generally have an outdoorsy couple of hours!

Forgotten Forest

What Happens at the Forgotten Forest?

Once everyone makes their way to the Forgotten Forest from the roadside, there is a group “hello” activity and then the story begins. The story is read and after every page or so, there is a little activity in a different part of the woods. For example, the children might have to find chocolate coins, or roar like a dragon.  This breaks up the story nicely for the little ones and keeps them moving and engaged.

After the story, there are numerous activities set up, including painting, a mud kitchen, crafts and a tightrope. Also, the children have the chance to toast a marshmallow over a fire, which is very closely supervised!! Adults and children are provided with some hot chocolate (vegan!) and finally, there are some games at the end. All in all, it lasts about an hour and a half, but you can leave whenever you want.

Painting activity

How do I prepare for the Forgotten Forest?

Obviously depending on the time of year, wrap up warm!! The children didn’t seem to mind the cold so much, but the adults were struggling a little!! Definitely prepare with additional pairs of socks and good footwear, as well as gloves, hats etc.

Zog breathing fire!!

Also, as the Forgotten Forest is an outdoor event in the middle of the woods, it might be an idea not to wear the nicest clothes as they are only going to get muddy and wet! With this in mind, a towel and additional wet wipes would be really good to take along.

What is at the Forgotten Forest?

Not much, but then, that’s the point! There is a parachute tent to provide cover, a camping toilet, as well as the activities. You’re out in the forest and as such, the facilities are basic. However, the Forgotten Forest team have all the safety kit, bins etc that you need, so you’re looked after even though you’re in the forest!

Camping toilet!!!

Is it right for everyone?

No! I know for sure that Heidi would not like it! If your child loves the outdoors and doesn’t mind the mud, then the Forgotten Forest is for them. However, if your child is the more indoorsy type of person, then this won’t be for them as they will start complaining as soon as you get there!!

Toasting marshmallows

To get the most out of the Forgotten Forest, your child needs to be a confident walker, and so I would say from age 2 to about 7 would be appropriate.

Overall

We did have a lovely morning at the Forgotten Forest, even if I took some time to warm up afterwards! It won’t be for everyone, but if you have a child that likes to get dirty and be outdoors, then this is something that you should look at doing!

Continue reading Forgotten Forest

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.

Funzy
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!!)

Funzy
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

London Attractions Guide

As you may know, Heidi absolutely loves London! We have done a couple of day trips and a couple of mini breaks. As such, I thought that I would do a “London Attractions Guide” which should help if you don’t know where to start.

Best Preschool Attraction

The “Discover – Children’s Story Centre” is a perfect, child friendly place just 5 minutes walk from Stratford Underground station. I wrote about it here previously. Make sure you book in plenty of time because it is small and gets sold out regularly.

Discover

Best Primary School Attraction

The Science Museum is absolutely amazing and we can spend all day there! Located at South Kensington Underground station, it is free to enter. The top floor is a paid-for exhibit called “Wonderlab” and is well worth the money, especially if you get the annual pass. The live shows are educational and entertaining.

TOP TIP!! As you walk from the Tube station to the Science Museum, there is a off-licence selling fresh food. It is just as you enter the underground walkway (not the one in the main foyer.!) The doughnuts and samosas are HUGE and well worth a purchase!

Best Secondary School Attraction

Covent Garden is probably the best place for older children who want to be entertained, but are a bit too old for museums. At a weekend, there are street artists galore who are willing to do virtually anything to entertain the crowds. There is a decent sized market as well, selling all sorts at both London prices and “normal” prices! Either go to Covent Garden Underground station, or Leicester Square (800 yard walk)

Best Grown-Up Attraction

Going to the top Sky Garden in the City of London is a free attraction, but you must prebook. During the day, it is a tourist attraction and children can go in. At night it is a lively bar. Whilst free to enter, the drinks are pricey. However, the chance to sight see from 38 storeys high whilst drinking is an experience! The nearest Underground station is Monument.

 

I can imagine that I should do a follow up to this “London Attractions Guide” with “Bars of London”!!

Best Playground

The there only 2 that I know of in Central London. The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground in Hyde Park is the best one for sure. It is free, and has security on it making sure it doesn’t get too crowded and making sure children don’t escape from the single entrance/exit. There are the usual swings and slides, but there is a decent pirate ship and suspended walkway.  It is a 2 minute walk from Hyde Park Corner Underground Station.

Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Playground

The other one is just next to Tower Hill Underground station. It only has a slide, a swing and a wobble table, but if you’re going to The Tower of London, it will cheer up the kids!!

Tower Hill

Best restaurant

We have been to the Rainforest Cafe twice now and Heidi remembers it from 12 months ago. The decor is wonderful and the food is decent. Again, you’re best to book ahead, but this can be seen as a one-off treat. Located in the middle of Piccadilly Circus, its location is amazing. You can read about it here.

Best Atmosphere

I always find that the South Bank has a wonderful atmosphere with the street artists and buskers. There is usually an outdoor attraction on just behind the London Eye as well. We like to start walking from Westminister Underground station to see Big Ben and the House of Parliament.

From there, we cross the bridge and walk past the London Eye where the street entertainment is. Then we cross back over the river to Embankment Underground Station. However, if you’re looking for food, head towards Waterloo and you have an amazing choice!

Giving money to a busker

I hope that this London Attractions Guide has been useful. If you only have one day in London, check out this guide here.  I’ll be doing a travel guide to London shortly, which I will link to on here!

Continue reading London Attractions Guide

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

Dolphin Cove, Montego Bay

Ok, I’ll get straight to the point with this one. If you ever get the chance to swim with a dolphin, do it. Do whatever it takes to do it. We did just that when we visited Dolphin Cove.

Yes, you may not enjoy it, but you can say that you have done it. This was the highlight of our holiday and is the one thing that Heidi always mentions when she is asked about her holiday.

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We booked the visit, including transport, directly with Dolphin Cove and it felt a bit safer and more official doing it that way. The journey took about 40 minutes from Montego Bay and the driver was excellent in making us feel safe on some very unsafe roads. Our guide for the day told us lots about the local areas we passed through.

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Because Heidi is only 4 and not a brilliant swimmer, we booked the Encounter Experience. This involved stroking, dancing, singing and generally playing with the dolphins. Each person got a couple of minutes as a time with the dolphins doing each activity. As there were 6 in our group, it was quite fast paced, but not at all rushed. I didn’t feel like we had done a “cheap” option.

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Even though we had lifejackets given to us, I felt that it was best to hold Heidi throughout, so she could have the security of knowing she was safe. This meant that she could enjoy it more, as the water was about 4 ft high. However, at no point did any of us feel unsafe.

The dolphin handlers were amazing and were particularly good with Heidi. This is probably because she was the only child in our group and took time afterwards so she could feed the dolphins a few more fish!

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The attraction also has a stingray enclosure, a camel, donkey and ostriches (the shark attraction was closed). However, let’s be honest, it’s all about the dolphins!

A couple of tips which might help if you go…

  • Take a full change of clothes as the last thing you want is to wear your swimming clothes on the coach on the way back to the hotel
  • Budget for buying photos if this is your first time of swimming with the dolphins. The photos are amazing, as I’m sure you can tell, and if you go into the day knowing you’ll buy them, then you won’t have an awkward decision to make.

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This is our first time swimming with them and hopefully, if money allows, we can do it again. If any businesses want to give us a free dolphin swimming session, I won’t say no!!!


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