Tag Archives: Yorkshire

Family Day – Cannon Hall Farm

We wanted to share our most recent family day. Because of the cold weather, we’ve struggled to get outdoors with Holly for more than an hour or so. When we awoke one Sunday morning in January and found the weather was a tropical 10 degrees celsius, we took the opportunity to go out and about.

Holly hadn’t been to a farm before and on our first ever outing with her, we’d  visited Cannon Hall. I was aware that there was an open farm nearby. I’d had a good look at the website for Cannon Hall farm which was packed full of information and is well presented.  Being in South Yorkshire, this was within a reasonable distance to us and a 10 minute journey from Junction 37 of the M1.

There is much to see and do if you have a young family. There’s the farm, farm shop,  Tea room, Deli, Toy/gift shop, adventure playground and also a good base for local walks. We went for the main attraction, the animals. I’d seen advertised on the website that there had been, lots of new arrivals at the farm. We weren’t disappointed there was a lovely selection of baby animals.

As soon as Holly saw the pigs, she looked at both Mark and I and said “Peppa” and made snorting piggy noises. It was wonderful to watch her experience seeing these animals in real life. We bought her a tractor toy with trailer of farm animals for Christmas. She’s often walking around our home with one of her toy animals in her tiny hands. It was a proud parenting moment to see her comprehend what the animal was. This was helped by the fact that she had a fantastic view.

The biggest challenge of this family day was that Holly is now walking confidently and running. She has become reluctant to spend long periods of time in her pram and wants to explore the world.  It was reassuring that the farm was exceptionally clean and there’s hand cleansing facilities throughout. There is clear advice around the farm about touching the animals and maintaining hygiene. The animals are also beautifully cared for. It had kept the charm of a farm-yard with the convenience of a visitor attraction. We also had our hands stamped so that we could go in and out of the farm freely to visit other areas without having to pay again.

On the day we visited, the farm was very busy. We headed to the Tea Room at the peak of lunch hour. We managed to get a spacious table and a high chair for Holly. We’d packed a lunch for her as we always do in the fear that she becomes overwhelmingly hungry and too upset to eat. However, it was lovely that our meals were brought to us within 20 minutes of ordering. The portions were very big (we managed about half each) and good value for money. We all enjoyed our food, I would definitely recommend the Pork baguette.

Following lunch, Holly toddled around the toy shop and chose a fluffy hamster (which she snuggled into her neck on the car journey home) a lovely selection of gifts, only for well-behaved girls and boys mind you! ;0)

Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to visit the deli or farm shop. Having said that, we plan to return for “Rabbit week” this February to celebrate the Chinese New Year. It’s a lovely day out, fantastic value for money, we definitely recommend a visit.

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Copper Dragon Skipton- Real ale

I think as you get older, your palate continues to evolve. I don’t think that many people are born with a liking of red wine and espresso coffee! In recent years, Mark and I have developed a taste for Real Ale. We had both gone through our early 20’s on nights out consuming special student deals etc. I think that we got to a point that we started to really appreciate what we were drinking.

We live in Castleford which is home to T.Fawcett’s Maltsters and Malt Roasters. both processes fascinate me. (I know that won’t get everyone going!) However they are important because they allow the sugars in barley to ferment and produce alcohol and give beer its distinctive colour.

I first became intrigued by Copper Dragon as I saw one of their vehicles in Castleford. I wasn’t sure if they used T.Fawcett’s or if they were supplying a local pub. I also noticed that they had started to follow me on Twitter. They’re also based in Skipton Yorkshire. It was fate, I had to try their beer.

Sorry, this is an after drinking photo

We drank the beers from dark to light (darker roasted malt first)

Black Gold – what the brewer says

“Recipe recreated from restored brewing records from the 1800’s. The use of traditional coloured and roasted malts give a unique, rich and luscious flavour.”

What we thought – Hints of treacle and cinder toffee. Smooth, no aftertaste (not over hopped) rich and velvety. Dark but not black. Totally delicious. Would be lovely as the evenings creep in.

Best Bitter – what the brewer says

“A refreshing amber coloured Best Bitter brewed with English malt and hops creating a traditional session ale to suit all palates.”

What we thought – Easy drinking bitter with a trace of honey. This beer is exactly what is says on the bottle. I think if you’re not a huge fan of real ale this would be a good one to try. I could quite easily find a nice little pub and have a few of these.

Golden Pippin – what the brewer says

” A light refreshing blonde ale brewed using a variety of hop creating a citrus fruit flavour. Originally brewed as a seasonal ale, it has become such a favourite that it is now brewed all year round”

What we thought – this is a very summery drink, you can taste the hops with the kick coming after you’ve swallowed. It almost tingles on your tongue. Floral and citrusy. Very refreshing on a hot day. Slightly more bitter than the other two.

All of the beers were delicious, you can really taste the quality. Our favourite was Black Gold which surprised us as we don’t usually go for the darker ales. But this has changed our minds. I think we also preferred this as we drank it on a dark, damp and cold evening. I’m sure we’d prefer Golden Pippin in the summer on a steaming hot day. Would definitely recommend these they’re top class!

We’re hoping to review more Yorkshire real ales, please let us know if you have any suggestions for us.

Family Day – KLR baby trains for baby people.

August was a really difficult month for us and that’s putting it lightly. (see post “So much more than a quilt”) We were staying at my mum’s with my sister’s family. By the time the bank holiday had arrived mum ordered us all to have some time for ourselves “family time”. Mark did some research on the internet and found KLR Kirklees Light Railway. I’d never heard of it before but the website looked great and it wasn’t too far away from us.

It was pretty easy to get to, just off of junction 39 of the M1.  As we parked we heard a message on the tannoy saying,

“The next train will be departing shortly. If you wish to board, please do so now.”

As we approached the building, there were signs to the platform, ticket office etc. It was all very quaint. You could imagine experiencing this as a child and loving it. We decided to try to catch the train. The man at the ticket office was extremely friendly and helpful. He told us about a quiz in which each Hula could win a badge. We heard the whistle and boarded the train just in time!

Me and Hula in our baby sized carriage

The train ride took approximately 20 minutes through oak woodland. I think that if we had visited as Autumn progressed, the trees would look spectacular.

The train arrived at the top station, we were told that we could spend as long as we liked there and that trains departed every 30 minutes. There was a bouncy castle, adventure playground and they’d also advertised a tea room. I found this to be slightly disappointing. There was no selection of teas and the tea was served in a polystyrene cup. I think when the words “Tea room” are used I expected it to be served on a tray with hot water for me to pour myself (and a selection of cakes and treats if I’m being particular). Despite this, it was a really nice area with and we spent an hour there.

Holly in the adventure playground

Holly seemed to really enjoy herself, there were so many other families with young children. We struggle sometimes finding activities to do with Holly due to her age.

The bottom station also had an adventure playground but it was much larger. There was also a teeny tiny train around the duck pond which you could have a ride on if you wished. The cafe at the station served hot food. It was ok but, I would recommend taking a packed lunch as there is a picnic area.

Despite it being a bank holiday, it wasn’t packed, it was easy to park and the staff were exceptionally helpful. We later found out that most of the people working there are volunteers and steam train enthusiasts. They have special events through the year such as a visit from Thomas the Tank Engine, Halloween and Santa specials. All details are available on their website. It’s not a full day out so I didn’t find it overwhelming for Holly. Well worth a visit.

One of the mini engines

N.B There was a fantastic gift shop with a large selection of Thomas the Tank engine toys and memorabilia for children and grown ups!

A weekend in sunny Scarberia

At the end of July, we went away with a group of friends to Scarborough for the weekend. This was a little extra special for us as Holly hadn’t been to the coast before and we were really looking forward to taking her down to the beach. As you will see from the photographs, it was a little grey bit we did get some nice breaks in the clouds.

It was lovely to spend time with two other couples who also have babies the same age as Holly. I’ve sometimes found it difficult to socialize with my old friends who don’t have children so it was really great to relax and not worry about Hula.

I’ve never really been a fan of Scarborough and most often went to Whitby as a child but there are some really charming little bits.

North Bay beach chalets

On the day that we went to the beach, Mark, Holly and I walked down by the North Beach by ourselves. It was a lovely walk by the sea wall. I think the sea air did Holly the world of good.

Our view from our walk down from North Bay

Holly having a paddle

Cold wet sand on baby toes!

Holly not looking impressed at all! I'm quite scared of her on this photo

Hula with a donkey

The three of us very happy on a slightly grey day in Scarberia

How cute, we found a little yellow boat with Hula's name!

There are further photographs of the evening that followed this day. However, they involved a number of glasses of wine and a game of “sing star” on the PS3. I’m not so cruel to the lovely people that we shared the weekend with to show those. We had a lovely time with fantastic company.

N.B Scarberia is a term that was first introduced to me by one of the couples that we went to Scarborough with. Quite self explanatory I think!

5 little ducks went swimming one day…….

After a very busy weekend at a friend’s wedding, we decided that we needed a little family time together.  With the weather being a balmy 24 degrees c and with half a loaf of stale bread in the bread bin, we set out to feed the ducks. We initially wanted to go to Pontefract race course but the races were on so it was absolutely packed. As we sat at the traffic lights, we thought of where else to go. Hemsworth Water Park sprang to mind.

Neither of us had ever been there before, but I had often seen the signs for it while I was at work. It was a little tricky to find because there aren’t any direct signs from the road, but with a little help from google maps on iPhone we found it. There are two parking areas. One is the main car park with a small charge of £2.oo to park. The other is opposite the main entrance for the Vale Head Park and is free.

The entrance of the park

The main attraction of the water park is the lake. You can hire a pedalo or go fishing for a few pounds. People who live in Kinsley or Fitzwilliam can have a reduction if they apply to the council. Adults and children can also play golf.

The grounds

The grounds are beautifully maintained and pram friendly. It took us a good 30 minutes to walk all the way around. It might seem a little dull to blog about feeding the ducks being such a normal everyday thing but, Holly hadn’t fed the ducks before. Holly loves the song “5 little ducks” and gets very excited whenever I sing it to her.

Hula with Daddy and the ducks

I’m very mindful of how lucky I am that I spend so much time with Holly while I’m on maternity leave. I always think that our time as a family is very precious. I often feel that I fill Mark in on what Holly has been doing in the day, and he has missed so many things that she has done for the first time due to working long hours.

I hadn’t been in my job as a children’s community nurse in palliative care long, when I met  a lady who’s little boy had been born with lots of complications and had been given the news that he had days or weeks to live. She asked very nervously “what if it happens when we’re at the park feeding the ducks” my boss replied very gently ” then it happens in the park feeding the ducks, don’t worry about that, enjoy every day”.  That has stayed with me. I have a very healthy little girl and I never take it for granted. She is growing so quickly and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

If you’re feeling a little lethargic and struggling to think what to do, don’t waste a sunday afternoon. Have a dig around in the bread bin and go to the park and feed the ducks with your little ones.

Having some quality father and daughter time

All aboard the Hogwart’s Express!

About a month ago, I received an email from my brother-in-law asking me to keep the 21st of July free as my sister Becky had planned an early birthday surprise. The day got closer and I tried desperately to trick clues out of  Mark who did well to not let anything slip as he struggles to keep surprises.

I was told that I had to be ready to leave the house by 10.30. Mark got Hula ready and we drove towards Wakefield. Finally, after fighting with the road works we got to Westgate train station and met Becky, Matt and Josh their little boy. Becky and Matthew strategically placed me so that I couldn’t read the electronic timetable. I was really starting to get excited at this point with the anticipation building when Becky said, “Vicky, what’s this coming down the track?” I could see a huge black engine with steam billowing out of its chimney. I couldn’t believe my eyes, it was the Hogwarts Express. It was the sheer thrill of being a child on Christmas morning.

Was Hogwarts Express, now Scarborough Spa

I found out that you can charter a journey to Scarborough by steam train with West Coast Railways. It may not always be the train used in the Harry Potter films but it will be one just as charming. The carriages were wonderfully nostalgic and romantic and smelled of an old library. There was plenty of room for the 6 of us and 2 pushchairs. We soon discovered that small bits of soot came through the window and Hula got some on her socks from standing on the table. It all added to the atmosphere.

Me, Holly, Becky and Josh (muggles)

It was so lovely that as the train went by, people waved from their gardens. As we picked up more passengers, enthusiasts were waiting with cameras.

As the train pulled into York station, we decided that we would find somewhere to have lunch. We chose to eat at Il Bertorelli’s which is part of a chain of Italian restaurants. However, the food was really good and they were  geared up for having families with small children. It was no effort for them to rearrange tables and chairs so that Holly and Josh could sit opposite each other in their high chairs.

The boys took the babies for a walk, and Becky and I went for a wander around the shops. I love visiting York. Having said that, I feel that over the years it has become far more geared up for tourists from overseas and it has taken the shine off of its charm a little. To say it was a weekday, the Shambles were packed. I always enjoy how the Minster just seems to appear without warning. Becky and I went inside to light a candle but it was strewn with visitors. Unfortunately It didn’t even feel like  a place of worship with people shouting and mobile phones going off. I guess that’s what happens when you charge people £8.00 admittence.

We bought some little treats, there was a fantastic sale on at Cath Kidston so I bought a few choice items (it is my birthday soon afterall!). We all walked to the museum gardens by the river to let Josh have a run around before we got back on the train and to get Holly out of her pram for a while. The weather was beautiful and at 17.30 it was starting to cool down a little.

Me and Holly in the Museum gardens

The journey home was amazing. Such a beautiful summer evening showcasing our beautiful Yorkshire countryside in all of its glory. I’m very proud to live in one of the five towns, to think that it was in the area that I live that provided coal for such a stunning piece of British engineering. The mines have gone but much of the pride and pit bands remain. It was such a fantastic day, shared with lovely people. I’m looking forward to when Holly and Josh can understand who Harry Potter is and that they went on a magical journey on the Hogwarts express.

How magical!

Snaking through from Woodlesford to Castleford

A rainy day in Skipton

A couple of weeks ago a friend and I ventured out in the wet weather (being strong Yorkshire women we wouldn’t let a bit of weather stop us) to Skipton. Many years ago i’d visited the Fent shop which is literally an Aladdin’s cave of material for quilting, soft furnishings etc.

too many to choose from

My intention had been to look for quilting materials for a project that I had in mind for Hula girl. I wasn’t disappointed. They had a variety of fat quarters for £1.50 which I felt was very reasonable and have found the fabric to be excellent quality.  The staff there were very helpful, while we were in there Hula the little monkey started screaming blue murder for a feed. One of the ladies showed me to an area of privacy so that I could feed her in peace. So if you like working with textiles and you’re going to Skipton I would definitely recommend a visit.

The only negative is that it is very difficult to find, it took us an hour to finally discover it down an ally next to Martin Macolls newsagent.

Another place of interest for all meat lovers is Drake and Macefield butchers.  They’re famous in the area for their award-winning pork pies. I had some and they were delicious, their sausages are lovely too. I had one small niggle which was  the service.  All of the items that I bought were put onto the counter top and the lady who served me just walked out into the back room without offering me a bag or anything. It was just awkward as I had my 6 month old baby daughter in my arms and other shopping bags. But apart from that it was spot on.

Very proud of their awards

Although the rain was relentless, the drive home back to Castleford was excellent. I decided against going back through Bradford centre and chose a longer but far more fun and picturesque drive through Ilkley, Otley Harewood and then onto the A1 south. It makes me realise what I stunning county I have the privilege of living in. The rain only emphasised the green of everything around. The smell of wild garlic in the hedgerow was overwhelming but wonderful. Looking forward to visiting Skipton again very soon.