I was walking over Lendal Bridge the other day when I saw a lady carrying her daughter in a sling on her back. When my middle child was a baby I used to carry her like this but was often looked at rather strangely. I’m happy to say that no-one was giving this mum and a baby a second glance. This started me thinking about how much I like living in York and how much it has changed in the 14 years I have lived in the city as a parent.
I grew up in York but like a lot of people the bright lights of London tempted me away. The new millennium saw me making the move back up north after a year of being a South London mum. Living in the area of London I did, motherhood revolved around toddler groups, trendy coffee shops and independent shops selling expensive children’s clothes. The return to York was a bit of a shock to the system – the plus side was being closer to Grandparents but where were all the nice coffee shops I used to wander to in the middle of the day? And why was I stared at when I said I used cloth nappies?
But gradually I remembered why I loved York so much – the Pizza Express staff here were just as lovely with children as their colleagues down south, the owners of Cafe Concerto became parents and therefore provided highchairs and colouring books, and the Homestead and Rowntrees Park were as good as anything London had to offer.
Now 14 years later, and after 2 more children, York has caught up. There are more lovely cafes than days of the week – Pig and Pastry, Love To Eat, Perky Peacock and Rowntree Park Reading Cafe to name a few. You can’t pass a notice board without seeing a poster for a new toddler group or activity. Slings and cloth nappies are the norm with libraries and advice groups for both. Creepy Crawlies celebrates its 9th Birthday this week, and independent shops mean there is more choice than the high street.
I’m glad my children are growing up in York and even more pleased that the city is growing with them.
[Review by 14 year old Ellie]
One of the great things about York Theatre Royal is they put on family friendly performances in the summer instead of just the Christmas panto. This year it’s ‘The Legend of King Arthur’ and it was excellent!
Christmas may be over but the fun is still going on at York Theatre Royal with this year’s pantomime – Robin Hood and his Merry Mam.
We were lucky enough to see the show a few weeks ago and had a really enjoyable evening.
Watching films and television is fine but there is something about live theatre. Berwick Kaler and Martin Barrass lead a very talented cast in the show with plenty of wit and slapstick.
We particularly liked the used of the video screen in the performance and the local references.
With bright costumes, a funny cast, an audience sing-a-long and much much more if you get chance over the next two weeks it is really worth a trip.
Robin Hood and his Merry Mam is on at York Theatre Royal, St Leonard’s Place, York until February 2nd.
Photo copyright Kipper Matthews.
If you are looking to escape the house over the Christmas period and fancy a bit of fresh air then we can highly recommend a trip to the Christmas Adventure at Stockeld Park near Wetherby.
Set in beautiful countryside the park provides the opportunity to ice skate, go Nordic (cross country) ski-ing, get lost in a winter maze and do our personal favourite which was a walk through the Enchanted Forest. There is also a cafe for a warming cup of tea and snack.
We visited a few weeks ago on their opening night of the season and were very lucky to be given the opportunity to try everything.
The Enchanted Forest was a definite favourite with all the family with magical lights and scenes to visit.
For more details see: http://www.stockeldpark.co.uk
In the post a few weeks ago I received a gorgeous package from http://www.daisychainbaby.co.uk
In it was a lovely “Little Shrimp William Star Print Top” for smallest child.
Generally I buy clothes for my children from the supermarket or high street shops and tend to go for cost over style. But on this occasion I have been completely won over by the design, fabric, colour and fit. I’m also amazed at how well this top washes.
The material is 98% organic cotton with 2% polyester and it is a very nice thickness of t-shirt. The colours are vivid and they don’t seem to fade with washing.
I will be exploring the website more in the future as it looks a brilliant place for nice coloured, good quality birthday and new-baby presents. (Smallest child might also need some new pyjamas soon!)
Illuminating York is taking place this week with the highlight being the Museum Gardens being turned into the “Wonderland” experience.
“Wonderland” is an arts and light project that has been put together with the help of Vic Reeves. We enjoyed wandering around the light installations and watching the creatures projected on the Yorkshire museums. There are also lots of other surprises along the way which we won’t spoil by telling you.
Ten year old Lottie was lucky enough to go to the preview evening and was highly impressed:
“When you first enter the museum gardens it to be honest doesn’t look that great as you can’t see all of the lights hidden away behind the trees. But past the sign saying ‘awful toilets’ you can see almost everything. From bicycle birds to animations of angry teachers, this family friendly event has got it all.
Now, when I said flying birds, you were probably wondering what I was talking about. These bikes, which are attached to light-up wings, can be pedalled to make the wings flap, turn brighter and change colour. By the museum door there are projected animations onto the museum.
If you haven’t been reading this properly then I’ll say it again. ILLUMINATIING YORK S A GREAT PLACE TO GO THIS AUTUMN. Got it? Ok, and remember, don’t worry if you can’t see your map, it’s meant to be dark!”
Tickets are available from the Theatre Royal Box Office or online from http://www.illuminatingyork.org.uk
They cost £5 for adults, £1 for children and under fives are free.
The festival runs until Saturday 3rd November
As we often mention one of our favourite places in York for coffee is the Perky Peacock near Lendal Bridge. Our only complaint about it is the steps to get in which can make it difficult when you have a pushchair. This week they have solved that problem by opening another branch in Gillygate. Read the rest of this entry »
We usually try to eat at independent restaurants and cafe – except when we have money off vouchers or as in this case we are offered the chance to eat for free.
My last memory of a trip to a Harvester was a couple of years ago when we went to one near Temple Newsam near Leeds. I had always thought it was strange we didn’t have one in York so was quite pleased when we were invited to try the new one at Clifton Moor (near the Vue cinema).
We visited early on a week day evening when the restaurant was busy without being crowded. We were shown to a booth at the back of the restaurant – but still close enough to the salad cart.
The children liked the idea of sitting in the booth as it meant we felt like we were in our own private area. Menus, with colouring activities for the children, were excitedly pounced on and our server for the evening introduced herself.
I was slightly daunted by the selection on the adult menu and the idea that you choose a dish and then added a sauce and a side but husband and eldest child, who declared herself too big for the children’s menu, made their choices easily.
Middle child chose a nice selection from the children’s menu and smallest child was pleased to find that ordering just a portion of chips was fine. The children’s menu had a nice selection but I was a bit disappointed that the pasta couldn’t be served without sauce as fussy smallest child would have preferred.
Bowls quickly arrived for us to visit the salad cart – I would like to apologise to other customers there that evening as my children seemed to think helping themselves to salad actually meant filling their bowl with croutons. Our starters quickly arrived after that and the nachos and potato skins were very tasty. When we finished those our plates were promptly cleared away and our main courses arrived without delay.
Three members of the family went for a variety of chicken dishes served with sauces and chips. Having tried to between decide which combination of meat and sauce I went for something completely different and had the very nice plate of scampi and chips. The bigger children had refillable fizzy drinks with their meals which you refilled yourself meaning they had no waiting around to order another drink but due to the very attentive staff even ordering a drink was a very quick process. Our meal was rounded off with huge yummy ice cream sundaes.
We had a very enjoyable trip to the Harvester; the highlights for us were the lovely staff and very attentive service. The food was very nice but my only complaint would be the pre-prepared nature of some of the dishes that meant we couldn’t order the pasta without sauce.
The eating area and the toilets were extremely clean which we often find a problem in some chain restaurants. On the whole we would probably make a return trip to the Harvester but with a bill of just over £70 for our family we would either be looking out for vouchers or saving it for a very special occasion.
Here’s a quick list of free (or cheap) things to do over the holidays:
1) Take a trip to the park with a picnic lunch. Rowntree Park and the Homestead are our favourites but for somewhere a little quieter why not try West Bank Park.
2) Visit the library and sign up for the summer reading challenge.
3) Go to the Art Gallery – take a pencil and pad to make masterpieces of your own.
4) If you live in the City of York and have a York Card then entry to the Castle Museum is free – always good for a rainy day.
5) Another rainy day favourite is the National Railway Museum.
6) Visit your local charity shop and buy games or dressing up clothes (not free but usually cheap and for a good cause)
7) The Yorkshire Museum is free with a York Card and has fun activities on throughout the school holidays.
8) Ride through the solar system along the York to Selby cycle path.
9) Fill the paddling pool and pretend you are at an outdoor pool! Remember – no bombing or petting.
10) Something we don’t know much about but are keen to try is geo-caching.