Light Night Leeds

October is “Light Night Leeds” month and it is a perfect night out for grown-ups and children alike. Whilst the attractions change year on year, the crowds always turn up regardless of the weather. As such, here are a few hints and tips to make the best of Light Night Leeds.

Make a plan

You simply cannot see everything at Light Night Leeds. There are too many things and it is too busy. However, pick a few things that interest you and stick to them. You’ll see plenty as you walk within the city centre, but if you walk aimlessly, you might miss quite a bit!

Light Night Leeds - Jugglers
Light Night Leeds – Jugglers

In 2018, our favourite was the Leeds Children’s Circus exhibit in the Kirkgate Indoor Market, and there is always something for the children to enjoy.

Light Night Leeds - Circus School
Light Night Leeds – Circus School

Eat before arriving

City Centre restaurants and bars will be busy and you don’t want to be wasting time waiting for food. As such, eat before getting into town, and take a few snacks to keep the children happy and quiet!!

Wrap Up Warm

Yes, you will be walking throughout the city centre. However, it is a night event and the October chill will be in the air. As such, take an extra layer and you’ll be thankful when the sugar rush has worn away and the children complain that they are cold!!

Use a pushchair

There will be crowds and you will end up walking throughout the city centre. As such, if your child is on the edge of being in a pushchair, err on the side of caution and use it. It will come in useful in case they get tired, and it will also be a good battering ram!!

Light Night Leeds - pianos
Find the pianos in Leeds City Centre!

Check out the Queens

Queens Hotel is usually the focal point of the Light Night Leeds exhibits. As such, if you only have chance to go to one thing, go here. They usually show an animated short show on a loop on the side of the hotel. There are numerous special effects and is a sight to behold.

Because of this, and the traffic, if you can get into the city centre by train, do so!!

It would be great to read your own hints and tips to make the most of Light Night Leeds for you and your family. As such, please use the comments section below!!

Light Night Leeds - Queens Hotel
Light Night Leeds – Queens Hotel

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Domino’s Xscape – Restaurant Review

If I could only have one meal in the world, it would probably be pizza! As such, when we got the opportunity to visit Domino’s Xscape for their store opening, we couldn’t say no!!

We were invited to Domino’s Xscape by the good people of Don’t Panic Events, who did an amazing job given that the queue had built up around half of Xscape before the start of the event! However, as we arrived a couple of hours in, it was busy, but not hectic.

If truth be told, we didn’t know what to expect, apart from a couple of slices of free pizza. However, we were given the chance to make our own pizza, which turned into a magical experience!

Domino's Xscape explaining how the oven works
Explaining how it all works!!

Making the Pizza

First and foremost, the Domino’s Xscape staff were so friendly, especially as they were run off their feet making pizzas and working the crowd. A but shout out to Karan for helping us to make the pizzas and Hannah for organising it.

All dressed up!!

First impressions were that Domino’s Xscape is quite small “behind the scenes” (as Heidi puts it) but so well organised. After we were given the aprons and hats, we washed our hands and we started!

Heidi made a 9in pizza with beef and pepperoni and Oscar made a garlic bread with ham. Kim and I made, well, I’m not sure, but I can confirm that there wasn’t any pineapple on it, because pineapples don’t belong on pizzas!!!!

Heidi loved the opportunity to put the ingredients on and whilst she does it at home now and again, there was something special about doing it in a real kitchen! The thing that amazed her was the fact the oven was a conveyor belt, rather than a standard oven! I was amazed that none of us burned ourselves on the ovens!!!

Putting the ingredients on

So, how did we do?? I’m not sure we are as good as the Domino’s Xscape professionals, but we absolutely loved it!

The finished product!!

The other highlight of the day was the fire-eater, who was absolutely amazing. However, I’m not sure it would be any good for cooking pizzas!!

Domino's Xscape Fire Breather
An alternative to the oven!!

How to Find Domino’s Xscape

The Domino’s Xscape outlet is on the side of Xscape facing the Junction 32 shopping outlet. It is a little hard to find, but there is parking just outside!! There are a few seats and tables to eat at, but it is mainly for takeaways. There is plenty to do at Xscape, one of which is the trampoline park, Gravity, which I have written about previously here.

All in all, it was a wonderful way to see a pizza outlet open. I’m sure we will be back to Domino’s Xscape, but we will let the professionals do the cooking next time!!

Continue reading Domino’s Xscape – Restaurant Review

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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Grass Hoppers at Tong Garden Centre – indoor play

We love Grass Hoppers and have been looking forward to the opening of their new soft play. As such, we were really excited to be invited along to the pre-launch event, to check out the facilities, which are now open.

Grass Hoppers in Tong Garden Centre is an amazing place to take the kids, and we have visited their outdoor area on many occasions. It is a safe play space for families and you’ll find a huge outdoor adventure playground and a large indoor play area, where children up to 10 years old can enjoy proper playtime! You can read about the outdoor area in this blog post.

Keep reading for details of their great grub and award winning (and allergy conscious!) ice cream being served in the new Woody’s Kitchen.

What’s New at Grass Hoppers?

Well, first off there is a brand new entrance. It is accessed through the covered area where you will find the outdoor plants. It’s really easy to find but the staff at Tong Garden Centre are always willing to help if you find yourself a bit lost.

This guy is happy to help!!

As you walk in there is a brightly painted wall and a wooden desk with a locked gate which you find at all soft play areas. This gives you you real confidence it’s a safe place for your child to run around and explore.

Grass Hoppers entrance

There is ample seating for you to sit down. However, if it is very busy, you’ll likely not be able to see your child if you’re near the back or sat near the ice creams. As such, get there early if they are young and need closer watching.

The Soft Play Area

We love soft play, it’s a brilliant opportunity for the kids to burn off energy and for the parents/carers to have a few minutes peace with a hot cuppa!

The soft play itself was very impressive, as you find they all tend to be the same. However, Grass Hoppers have set the bar high. For the younger kids, there is a brilliant interactive area. This includes a piano to record and play sounds with your feet. They even have nursery rhyme suggestions and tell you which keys to press to play the tune. However, it was still popular with the older kids and parents testing it out.

There is a talking tree and an infinity mirror panel with lights as well. This is an excellent sensory activity for any children on the spectrum. A big “wow” was a screen hiding under the smallest slides. It loops a video of different bugs and animals like ants and snails so you can see the detail of their anatomy and how they move.

What about older children?

For older children, they have a great sports court with cut outs for goal scoring, just like you see at fairgrounds. This was really popular with some of the older children. We also enjoyed some the games throughout the Soft Play frame such as spot the difference.

I also counted at least 5 slides throughout the play frame which was a big hit with us.

Something I’ve never seen in a soft play before but I was very impressed with was the 3 real life play areas including a Shop, Garage and a Coffee Shop. They’re not very big but this stops it getting clogged with too many kids trying to play with the same thing. In the garage, there was a racing car the kids can take apart and re-build as much as they want or just use their imagination to pretend they’re the next Lewis Hamilton!!

Garage

In the garage and also in the toddler play area, were wall jigsaws to place soft play shapes/tools. This was a great spin on traditional jigsaws.

What does entry into Grass Hoppers give you?

Your entry gives access to both indoor and outdoor play. If you want to access the outside area, there is a new doorway at the back easily spotted from entering Grasshoppers.

Grass Hoppers outdoor play

You will find that with the new building the outside feels a little smaller. However,  nothing has changed in respect to the facilities or the equipment for children to play on. There is a new area for ride on cars, seesaws and play houses for younger kids. There is so much space both inside and out that it shouldn’t be a problem.

Woody’s Kitchen

There is a brand new kitchen and ice cream parlour known as Woody’s Kitchen. They offer a great selection for breakfast and lunch such as sandwiches, panini’s and pizzas.

We ordered sausage, chips and beans for the little ons. They were fresh butcher sausages and were ‘yummy’ – which is the official seal of approval from the 3 year old! From the adults menu, we tried the fish finger butty and a bacon roll. Both were delicious and very filling. However, we did manage to save room for cake!

Healthy (ish) meals!

There is so much to choose from such as brownies, flapjacks, scones and cakes. You  can eat in or take away. The menu itself highlights suitability from a Vegetarian and Vegan perspective too.

Let me tell you about the ice creams!! I was so impressed at how switched on they are from an allergy perspective. There were 8 sorbets and ice creams to choose from that were dairy free (Vegan friendly) and individually wrapped gluten free cones. This is to prevent any risk of cross contamination or picking the wrong cone. Whilst not ideal from an environment perspective, from a health & safety perspective, it really makes you relax that allergies can be catered for.

Ice cream!

There was a microwave not far from the toilets you can use to heat up any baby food etc.

Toilets and Baby Change Facilities

The toilets haven’t changed from before. But what you may not notice is that where you once accessed them outside by the ticket office, they are now just easily accessed from the play area. There are baby change facilities in both the men’s and women’s toilets. There is also a toilet and baby change facility for unisex use. The disabled bathroom does not offer changing facilities.

I did really like that in the main toilets there was 1 much smaller ‘toddler’ toilet which you don’t find in many places.

Overall

In a nutshell, we loved it! We will definitely be back though the summer and beyond now that Tong Garden Cebtre is an all-weather spot to take the kids.

For full disclosure, whilst we received free entry for the purposes of this post, no influence has been made to the information or contents.


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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…

Royal Armouries

Opened in 1996, the Royal Armouries is one of the jewels in the crown of Leeds. I remember when it was opened, how it was such a big thing for Leeds to have such a national treasure. However, being from Leeds, perhaps it is taken for granted somewhat.

We have visited the Royal Armouries a couple of times now and felt that it needed a blog post doing!!

Royal Armouries splash image

What is at the Royal Armouries?

The Royal Armouries is the home of arms and armour from all over the world, both historical and modern day, held over 5 floors.

I am in no way an expert in any of these areas, and so I’ll let the pictures to the talking, but as you can see, there are lots of artefacts to view.

Royal Armouries armour

The most visual displays, particularly for younger children, are the animal exhibits, showing how animals were used in battles. Depending on the age of your child, they may just see them as dressed up animals, which isn’t a bad thing at all!!

Horse and soldier

There are talks and demonstrations as well throughout the day, and on the top floor, there is a paid-for activity, using a cross-bow to shoot balls. We didn’t have chance to give it a go, but it did look fun and decent value for money (2019 price: £3 for 8 balls)

The Royal Armouries also do special events as well, particularly in the summer and bank holidays, so keep an eye out for upcoming events, especially as they tend to get quite busy!

Is Royal Armouries child friendly?

It depends on how old your child is. If your child understands war and has a historical understanding of certain events, then the Royal Armouries will be very, very educational.  However, if your child is more hands-on or doesn’t understand the concept of war, then the attraction may not be for them.

Elephant going into battle

However, there is lots of space for children to explore and as such, they can find what appeals to them.

There are really good baby changing facilities, with separate toilet facilities, was well as changing facilities in the men’s toilets.

Is the Royal Armouries just about War?

Pretty much. However, there is a small “Peace” section hidden away on one of the upper floors. Whilst it is important to know about the past, it would have been good to see how we can avoid wars going forward.

It's not all about war at the Royal Armouries
It’s not all about war

How can I get to the Royal Armouries?

Probably the best way to get to the Royal Armouries is via the free water taxi service from Granary Wharf. It gives a view of Leeds that you wouldn’t normally see and is very interesting. There can often be a large queue in summer, but if you can take the trip, do so.

There is a large multi-story car park about 300 yards away, which charges city centre prices (understandably), but is very convenient.

Perhaps the best way would be to get a bus/coach into the bus station and do the 10 minute walk down. This is especially true if you have older children.

To read about our experience of getting a National Express coach, check out this blog post.

How much is admission to the Royal Armouries?

Entry into the Royal Armouries is free. There are places to make a donation throughout, as it is a registered charity.

Overall

The Royal Armouries may not be ideal for your child, depending on their age and level of understanding. However, it is a national treasure and its quality is amazing. With everything undercover and free entry, it is well worth a trip and see for yourself!

Continue reading Royal Armouries

Abbey House Museum

A cold, wet late January weekend took us to Abbey House Museum in Leeds. Heidi had been with school a couple of weeks before and so was enthusiastic to go back and show what she enjoyed!

Abbey House Museum

What is at Abbey House Museum?

Abbey House Museum has 2 floors full of historic exhibits. The ground floor has a Victorian street/village with houses, shops, and a school to look in. Think of it as an indoor, smaller version of Beamish. There is nothing to “do” in the village except look around, but it is very interesting to look around.

Upstairs are more modern exhibits, which change over time. In late January 2019, there was an historical toy exhibit, which the child loved to look around. There was also the “Danger Zone” exhibit, which highlighted household items through the last 200 years which were dangerouss. There were also exhibits as how those dangers were managed and how we prevent danger in the house.

What did the children enjoy?

The children loved the space to run out in the Victorian street and I would like to think that they learned a little too!!  They also liked the dressing up section as part of the “Danger Zone” section.  They also enjoyed the toy section, especially with the chance to play with a couple of the toys.

It might sound daft, but because Abbey House Museum isn’t too big, it meant that they were able to enjoy it all, rather than be too tired from walking!

There is also the chance to dress up!

The free playground next to the car park was also a chance for the children to get some fresh air and tire themselves out a little bit more!

What did the children not enjoy?

The fact that a lot of the toys were on display, but not able to be played with, didn’t go down well! Also, a lot of the displays are perhaps for older children/adults, so they didn’t get as much out of it as other visitors would do.

What are the facilities like?

The toilets are really good and roomy, which is perfect for talking a child. Abbey House Museum also has a cafe, but it’s safe to say that the children were far too excited to go in there. However, the food looked good!

There are lifts to all floors, so if you want to take a pushchair, you can. However, as the Vicotrian street is cobbled, then it is a bit tricky. Abbey House Museum isn’t took big, therefore you might be able to get away with not taking one.

How do I get to Abbey House Museum?

Abbey House Museum is located opposite Kirkstall Abbey and there is a free car park just over the road. As Kirstall Abbey is popular in the summer, then car parking could be a problem. However, in late January, it was fine!

The postcode to find Abbey House Museum is LS5 3EH.

Is Abbey House Museum good value for money?

We paid £11 for a family ticket (as at January 2019) which covers 2 adults and 2 children. We spent about an hour and a half running about and trying to do our best to get the children to learn. As a result, it is one of the better value for money places in the region.

Verdict

All in all, Abbey House Museum is a lovely hidden gem in Leeds. It doesn’t get the publicity of the other Leeds museums, but if youre wanting to go somewhere for a couple of hours, and want your child to learn, then this could be a place for you to go.

Continue reading Abbey House Museum

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!

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Sheffield Christmas Trail

Let’s be honest, we all love a free trail! Sheffield had one in 2016 with the Herd of Sheffield event, which you can read about here. However, the Sheffield Christmas Trail is a new event for the 2018 festive period.

What is the Sheffield Christmas Trail?

Not wanting to state the obvious, but it is a trail that starts on the Moor and finishes on Barkers Pool. However, the trail goes through Sheffield City Centre as you follow the clues to find “presents” for Santa. You need to download the “Sheffield Christmas Trail” app and follow the clues.

Sheffield Christmas Trail
The app

The clues aren’t difficult and you can get even more help via the app if you really need it. The presents are in various shops and so you might feel a little weird going into a shop and taking a scan of a QR code. However, you’ll get used to it after a while!

All of the clues are to be found by foot and for some of them, you need to follow a little trail, as found below.

Sheffield Christmas Trail
Look for these within some of the shops

How much does the Sheffield Christmas Trail cost?

Nothing – it’s free!!

What do I need for the Sheffield Christmas Trail?

You need to make sure you have your phone charged as you need to use the app and camera. Also, there is a fair bit of walking so good shoes would be useful. If you’re still using a pushchair for your child, it would be a good idea to bring it along!

Sheffield Christmas Trail
The first clue

How long does it take?

A lot depends on how quickly you and your group walk. However, I think that you could do it in a couple of hours, so long as you don’t fall out in the process!!

You can do the trail over a number of sessions, so long as you use the same app.

What do I win?

Eternal pride and glory. Oh, and a small prize from Santa’s Post Office for completing the trail.

Sheffield Christmas Trail
If you find me, you win!

Anything else I need to know?

As you need to go inside shops/cafes, then you need to be doing the trail whilst the shops are open. Also, you need to do the clues in order and so whilst you know where the finish is, you aren’t allowed to break the order!! Believe me, I tried to cheat!!

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