All the Glory of Harrogate’s ‘Votre Vacances’ Holiday

We had the most amazing holiday this summer. We were away for three whole weeks which is such a luxury and something we’d never done before. I absolutely adored spending all that time with the four most important people in my life without distraction or interruption. We all really had time to come together as a family and re-group which is so lacking in today’s busy life.

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Votre Vacances – France

Votre Vacances

Our first week was with the brilliant Votre Vacances, a gorgeous holiday business based right here in Harrogate but with their holidays over in the Vendee in France. They have eight pitches for their chalets at a beautiful small and authentic four-star campsite set against the backdrop of a chateau complete with its own lake! How amazing does that sound!

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Sarah’s Story

Sarah who owns and operates the company has such a lovely story to share too. After working for Eurocamp for five years over summer holidays she decided she wanted to set up her own business. In her early twenties, sadly her grandparents passed away and generously left her some inheritance which she chose to put towards creating this amazing new business.

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Votre Vacances has been up and running for two years which means all the chalets are brand new and in amazing condition. The campsite is in a fabulous location on the west coast of France, just South of Nantes and North of La Rochelle.

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Perfect Campsite in the Vendee

It’s a fifteen minute car ride to some of the most gorgeous beaches the Vendee has to offer too! And because Sarah is so hands on at the site, living there from May to September, she gives a lovely personal touch that you don’t get with other holiday brands.

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Small and Authentic

We had such a lovely holiday with Votre Vacances, it was a really gorgeous place. The site was small enough for the Big Girls to do some exploring on their own but big enough to give us plenty of adventures we’re going to remember for a long time!

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Swimming Pool Craziness

There are two swimming pools at the campsite, one right in front of the Chateau and the other right behind it – making for great sun-bed views!

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The second pool is also under cover which means you can use it whatever the weather and there are two all important water-slides for the Small people to while away hours on! The Big Girls couldn’t get enough of them!

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Chateau Perfection

The bar and restaurant areas are all set in the outbuildings of the chateau which makes it look picture postcard pretty and remind you that you could be nowhere other than France.

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Free Children’s play area, trampoline and bouncy castles

The Smalls loved the trampoline and two bouncy castles, that to their amazement, they could go on any time of the day or evening, for FREE! The campsite also has a mini play-area, tennis courts, a football pitch and fully equipped games room.

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Le Grand Defi

One of the things we loved most about the campsite was the area down by the Lake, which hosts an area called Le Grand Defi, which is the most impressive series of high ropes course I have ever seen.

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The courses are really outstanding, with over a dozen zip wires that go over a lake, yes zip wires over a lake, it’s something to behold and even more incredible to experience, as we found out!

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Le Grand Defi is laid out with courses suitable for all ages; from two to five year olds, to family, to serious sporting professional level.

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Family Tree Top Fun

The Small Boy loved it and he got quite adept at clipping and un-clipping himself. The Big Girls loved the independence it gave them and the self satisfaction of being able to achieve the climbing all by themselves.

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We loved the fact we could join in with them and be part of an experience all together, rather than just watching them do it on their own which is so often the case with their activities.

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One of the Big Girls and I had an amazing time on one of the higher courses, she loved challenging herself and we had some zip wire rides I will never forget. They were so high over the lake and the trees that they actually ended not on the ground but in other trees! It was crazy brilliant!

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Pony Trecking

There was also pony trecking and paint balling available at Le Grand Defi too – the Small Boy adored his pony, he loves animals so to ride a pony was the ultimate experience for him, bless him!

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Chilled Campsite Life

Along with living campsite-life; hanging by the pool, playing boules and table tennis and chilling playing cards back at the holiday chalet, we also had a few day trips out to explore the gorgeous Vendee has to offer.

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Amazing Beaches

Firstly the beaches are incredible. They’re long with beautifully soft golden sand and a mixture of shallow shelves for paddling Smalls depending on the tides.

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Les Sables d’Olonne

We headed out to both Les Sables d’Olonne and St Gilles Croix de Vie. Both of which were only about a 20 minute drive away. There was plenty of parking but it was very busy. We visited Les Sables d’Olonne one early evening and, as recommended by Sarah, we parked across the bay from the main beach and caught the water bus across the crossing to the main beach area.

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The Smalls loved the five minute boat ride from side to side which added to the adventure. There was an evening market on, which the Big Girls loved, buying trinkets to take home and we’ll all remember the amazing hot, sugary, ChiChi’s (Churros) for a long time to come!

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The beach looked beautiful and we ventured to the shore for a little late night paddling! I had some of the best Mussles I’ve ever tasted back across the bay before picking up the car for the ride home! A meal to remember!

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St Gilles Croix de Vie

St Gilles was a simple stunning beach, it was a gorgeously sunny day, so packed a picnic, bought a parasol and set up camp for the day!

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The Smalls were as happy as could be in and out of the breaking waves, building sandcastles and were so content all day I read numerous chapters of my book – amazing!

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Les Chateau des Adventures

The other brilliant day out we had was at Les Chateau des Adventures which was perfect for the slightly overcast day we chose to go.

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There are trails and treasure hunts to follow, with some quite testing clues. The adventure in the Chateau saw the Smalls running around with an iPad (provided by the Chateau) which interactively helped them find out about the history of the grand house while solving their mystery!

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They loved it! There was plenty of outdoor fun too with both a Pirate trail and Dinosaur one.

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Campsite Fun

The campsite also offers a whole host of other delights including fishing in the lake, a brilliant take-a-way pizza bar for the nights you don’t fancy cooking or eating out, bike hire if you fancy more active exploring and indoor children play area for younger Smalls.

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There’s also a well run English speaking kids club every day with so many activities to choose from including Crepe parties, hair braiding, crafts and games.

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Grown Up Entertainment

There was also evening entertainment with brilliant live bands, wine tasting or quiz nights for the grown ups too every night!

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Village Life

The bakery in the village of Saint Julien des Landes, which is a two minute walk from the campsite, was perfect. The croissants and pain were a daily breakfast staple and the village itself is quintessentially French complete with a gorgeous church, mini-supermarket (with really friendly staff) and the obligatory hairdressers!

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The Loveliest of Holidays

We simply had the loveliest holiday, which was made all the better by the brilliant Sarah, who made us feel welcome and relaxed.

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The lovely Sarah from Votre Vacances

The chalets are beautifully new, we had a three bed chalet, which was perfect for the five of us. It has its own decking area outside too set in a really nice sized pitch.

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Lovely new Chalet accommodation

 

All the equipment has been really well looked after too and all the little things were already there like tea-towels, soap, washing up liquid, olive oil and balsamic vinegar and our beds were made too – which was such a lovely touch!

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Sarah has such a personal touch and all the new crockery, linen and supplies are all included in the really reasonable prices too!

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We loved the fact that Votre Vacances is a Harrogate business. Which means you can even support local companies all the way from the comfort of an amazing holiday!

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Fun Holiday times!

Le Tour de France 2018

Votre Vacances has some great holiday deals available for booking next year. You can check out their website for more details. Rather excitingly Le Tour de France starts in the Vendee next summer from 7th July – which means Votre Vacances is a perfect spot to stay if you want to catch the cycling action too!

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Summer 2018 Offers

Votre Vacances has an Early Booking Offer on, which is running until the 31st January 2018 – with prices starting at £450 for seven nights in a 2 bed, and £550 in a 3 bed, and with the code: VIP10 you’ll get an extra 10% off!

Win a Holiday!

Sarah’s grandparents used to regularly volunteer at the Harrogate Homeless Project which is the chosen charity for the Harrogate Tribe Christmas event, taking place on Friday 24th November.

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Sarah has very generously offered a week’s holiday with Votre Vacances as a raffle prize on the night of the event to support the charity. Details of how to get tickets to the event will be on the blog and social media soon, so keep your eyes peeled and you could win this fabulous holiday for your family!

The raffle prize will be for a 3 bed chalet, anytime from May half term, until 2nd September, for seven nights, with the option of adding on more nights at a discounted price of £80 per extra night.

We had a gorgeous holiday and would recommend Votre Vacances as a lovely family place to stay and enjoy.

Lucy xx

Disclaimer: Sarah kindly invited us to review staying with Votre Vacances and is donating the raffle prize.

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See The Snowman and The Nutcracker Live at York Minster

I’m going to say the ‘C’ word so watch out! I had an email in my inbox today from a lovely Harrogate restaurant telling me to book my table for my Christmas night out before it’s too late! While it panicked me slightly I do know that booking things you really want to do early on makes them much more likely to happen!

With this in mind we’ve booked to go and see Carrot Productions The Snowman Tour at York Minster in December. This gorgeous performance has been touring for five years and regularly features in national newspapers list of ‘top things to do at Christmas’ lists across the UK, and it’s coming to York for the very first time!

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The Snowman Tour – Copyright Tom Bangbala

 

The evening features a live orchestra of some of the UK’s top musicians, performing Howard Blake’s beautiful soundtrack live to a giant projection of the film set against the backdrop of The Minster. Best of all the evocative song ‘ Walking in the Air’ will be sung live by a local child soloist in perfect synchronicity with the film. All the sobs!

This extra special performance includes a light-hearted Guide to the Orchestra, including an angelic harp, Frozen on the flutes, and a very naughty drummer!

You’ll also experience the wonder of that most Christmassy of seasonal pieces, The Nutcracker, brought to life by Tom Scott’s mesmerising animated film. Along with a toe-tapping Christmas overture – and a visit from a VERY special conductor!

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The Snowman Tour – Copyright Garth Widdowson

In what’s billed as the perfect winter outing for families The Snowman Tour will be at York Minster, with two performances on Saturday 16th December. The performance is suitable for children age 3+, it runs for 65 minutes and tickets start from £12 to £35. The performances are at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. To book your tickets click on the York Theatre Royal website.

The Snowman Tour is available at other locations too so check out Carrot Productions website to find out if there’s one near someone you’re visiting this year.

It is set to sell out early so if you do fancy going then book soon to avoid disappointment. Christmas is coming. 😆

Lucy xx

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Easy School Labelling with Stamptastic – One Year On…

Last September I started to use Stamptastic to label up the kids school uniform. Well one year on I thought I’d let you know how it’d fared as a labelling tool…

How did Stamptasic Labelling Fare?

The bottom line is I’m really, really pleased! Yes, some of the ink has faded so it’s not as clear as it was a year ago, but after a year of washing, twice a week, followed by a tumble dry it’s fared pretty well.

You can see below the original stamping – and here’s how it is a year on!

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The Original
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One Year On – Still legible but a little faded – pretty great for one year on!

While the top is slightly greyer (!) the ink is still readable!

The great thing is I’ve used the stamp and ink a good few times since, for school trips and have even ordered another acrylic stamp for the Small Boy’s things!

If you don’t have white tops you can easily stamp on to the clothes labels which works just as well!

Easy to Use and Durable

The ease and durability of the product means I really would recommend it! It’s worked really well for us! The two perfect qualities you want from labelling your kids school uniform!

I’ll be cracking on with this Summer’s labelling pretty soon, as I have all the Small Boy’s school uniform and kit to label for September. All the sobs!

Here’s the original post if you want to find out more…

I’ve just finished labelling up the school uniform for the start of the year with Stamptastic. Nothing puts a spring in your step quite like getting everything ready for back to school!

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Stamptastic Stamps and Ink Pad

In the past I’ve always bought iron-on name labels, to be honest they are a bit of a faff, sometimes they last all year and sometimes they come off in the tumble dryer after a few weeks!

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Labelling on to school t-shirts

This year I’ve tried Stamptastic which is a stamp and ink labelling approach! I can tell you it has been a breeze, it took me about 20 minutes to do three sets of two children’s school uniform, shoes, PE kits, Brownie trousers, packed lunches and gymnastics gear! It’s the quickest and easiest that I have ever labelled kit!

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Labelling on to labels!

You simply order your acyrilic stamp with the name of your choice and an ink pad, and when it comes stamp it in the ink and press on to a light coloured part of the item you want to label. Simple as that! The acyrillic stamps are £10 each and the special ink block is £12. Postage is free.

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Packed lunch box labelling

The proof of the labelling comes in the washing for me, so I’ll be posting a follow up at the end of term to see how they’ve fared! In the meantime I’m delighted with my ink pad and stampers and the hours it’s saved me slogging over a hot iron! Thank you Stamptastic!

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PE Pumps all labelled!

Which labelling method do you think works best? This is certainly the quickest and easiest I’ve found to date, have you tried it?

Lucy xx

Disclaimer: Stamptastic kindly provided the stamp and ink for me to review the product with their compliments. The views are my own.
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Dining with the Kids at Yorkshire’s Only Five Star Hotel

Yorkshire’s Only Five Star Hotel

I was astonished to learn The Grand Hotel and Spa, York is Yorkshire’s only five star hotel. We’re lucky enough to have so many luxury hotels here in God’s Own Country we really are spoilt, but the appeal of visiting a five-star hotel was completely enchanting, and I’ll admit, slightly petrifying given the invitation was for the whole family!

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The Grand Hotel and Spa, York

So once I’d made everyone brush their hair and wash their hands, properly, swapped their Heeley’s for sandals and had a quick pep-talk about using our ‘inside voices’,  we set off on our adventure to York to explore what five-star actually looks like!

Beauty of the Heritage Building

I can report back that the hotel is indeed five-star worth of lovely; from the beauty and majesty of the building, to the welcome by the concierge, to the faultless service and attention to detail, and above all, the quality of the food!

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The welcome at the Grand Hotel and Spa, York

The Grand Hotel and Spa, York , which opened in 2010, is located in what was the North Eastern Railway Company’s Headquarters, just the other side of the wall from the railway station in the city. And, as I have often done, a place you could easily walk by without realising a five-star gem lies within. But upon entering the building, via a red carpet to greetings of a bowler-hat wearing doorman you’re under no illusion that you’re now somewhere special.

The Rise Restaurant

We were escorted personally to the hotel’s newest restaurant, The Rise, which offers modern dining in a relaxed yet super-stylish setting and is headed up by award winning chef, Craig Atchinson.

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The Rise restaurant at The Grand Hotel and Spa, York

I loved the design of the menu as it’s created around a ‘small-plate’ concept, which involves sharing bites of incredibly tasty food to create a fun, chilled and social way to enjoy dining together.

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The Rise

The Rise Menu

Having the menu set out in such a way is completely perfect for families. It’s one of my favourite ways to eat anyway (I always like to try a bit of what someone else has ordered!) and when you all get to share it really gets the kids into trying new foods and new tastes that they would never normally choose from a menu.

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Duck Egg and Wild Mushrooms

Mr P and I shared four dishes with sides of fries and bread, and the Smalls shared four between them too. Which was just the perfect amount all round.

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Grilled Tiger Prawns

The Duck Egg and Wild Mushrooms with Spinach and Truffle dressing was my total fave closely followed by the Grilled Tiger Prawns with sweet Paprika Mayonnaise. Although I’m sure they’re not a culinary match paired in heaven, they worked perfectly for me give they’re all my most loved foods!

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Crisp Middle White Pork Belly

The Crisp Middle White Pork Belly with White Beans and Rosemary Cream Apple was top of Mr P’s list of deliciousness for the day. Closely followed by the Poached Breast of Cornfed Chicken, baby Leek and Summer Truffle which also disappeared fairly quickly! The prices were all really reasonable too varying from £3.50 to £12.00, with our choices averaging around £8.00 a dish.

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Poached Breast of Cornfed Chicken

Children are so well looked after

One of the best things about dining at The Rise, along with it’s five star service, food quality and laid back atmosphere, was the care and attention that was paid to the children. The hotel are running a special offer throughout August which means kids eat for free for the whole month!

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Junior Menu Fruit Skewers

My fears about well behaved children were put to one side as soon as we walked in to the restaurant, as I could tell the Smalls were really put at their ease and we all felt we could settle back and enjoy our afternoon without the worry of pretention.

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Junior Menu and Welcome Pack = Winning at Dinner for Mamas

When we arrived the kids were each given a welcome pack, which contained a really thoughtfully put together creative booklet for them to enjoy. It was packed with fun bespoke word-searches which we all pertinent to Yorkshire and the Hotel, there were games and colouring in the book and the particular highlight of an envelope to put in all your souvenirs from your stay! My kids love a souvenir! 😆 It kept them content and quiet for the whole meal and we enjoyed almost two hours in the restaurant all really happily, just taking our time with a perfectly delivered service.

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The Smalls Favourite Page

Children’s Menu

The children’s menu was thoughtfully created with all the classic choices, but to a really high standard. My three selected the Breaded Fish Goujons, the Crispy Spiced Chicken Breast and The Rise Mac and Cheese and an addition of Fruit Skewers too as part starter, part just ‘cos you can!

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Crispy Spiced Chicken Breast

The menu was all really reasonably priced too, from £3.50 to £6.50 for the kids menu – I’ve paid much more for a setting half as nice before.

Dessert Time

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Chocolate Delice

Puddings were high on everyones list. The Small Boy wolfed down his classic choice of Vanilla Ice Cream with chocolate sauce. The Rise Churros with salted caramel sauce were fought over – the best marker of good food going – and the Chocolate Delice and Yorkshire Blackberries with Yoghurt Sorbet also made the perfect end to our meal.

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Yorkshire Blackberries

 

Director of Fun and Families

The Grand Hotel and Spa, York have really thought about the Smalls this season, they have recruited 14 year old Sam Pointon as ‘director of fun and families’ – which is maybe why they’ve really made children feel welcome at The Rise. Sam has been giving me a run for my money by vlogging himself about things to do in York for kids, so if you’re looking for ideas you can check them out on the Grand Hotel’s website.

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Sam Pointon

The Rise is open from 7am till late seven days a week and has a sprinkling of live music to look out for too. I would highly recommend it and will certainly be back. The afternoon tea offering looks out of this world and I would love a closer look at that spa!

Why we’ll be going back:

The three reasons I would head back to The Rise at The Grand Hotel and Spa, York would be;

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Happy Smalls = Happy Mama!

1.) Five Star Service (with a relaxed air)

2.) Five Star Food (we cleared all our plates of everything)

3.) Well catered for children (I never dreamed they’d be so happy and chilled in such a setting)

Lucy xx

The Grand Hotel and Spa, York kindly invited us to review The Rise with their compliments.

 

 

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How to Survive a Long Car Journey Solo with A Pre-Schooler

A little while ago I made a solo seven-hour round car trip on my own with a pre-schooler! Fortunately it all went fairly smoothly and I had some amazing top tips before I left. So I’m sharing my experiences in this post in case you’re looking for ways to survive such a journey this summer!

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Managing a long car journey solo with a Small One

1.) Pack Well

I took two canvas style shopping bags with me and propped them, open, in the front seat next to me as the driver. One was full of toys and activities and the other food and drink! With the Small Boy in the back it made it much easier for me to reach and find things easily to pass to him.

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Two bags organised into snacks/drinks and toys/books

2.) Toys to take

Toys that were a hit were things I’d packaged up well before I went. I filled sandwich bags with little characters that the Small Boy could have fun opening and getting out and putting away again! A soft cloth bag filled with random hits of the moment including sunglasses, super hero character, pretend mobile phones. And small books are always a winner!

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Small toys in sandwich bags to make them look more exciting!

3.) Package up the food well

I realised I didn’t want to be chucking food and snacks back to the Small Boy for the whole journey so I packaged it up in smaller containers so he could help himself without having too much in one go. The jelly babies in these little pots were a life saver!

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Packaged up food into little pots – look away now if sweet treats are not your thing! 😬

4.) Non-spill drinks

I took water in sippy cups, even though the Small Boy has long since been out of them and I also took Fruit Shoots which are nicely sealed so he could pop up and down the lid without help! Phew! Luckily I timed the drink giving well too – as I didn’t want him being dehydrated but equally didn’t want to stop for toilet trips every five minutes!

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Fruit shoots and sippy cups! The stuff of dreams!

4.) Take a bin

I used a plastic bag and opened it up on to the floor of the passengers footwell so I could easily throw unwanted bits and bobs into it. My empties as well as the Small Boys. I find if the car stays semi-organised I feel like I’m more in control.

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The bin to end all bins 🙄

5.) iPad/DVD player with headphones

What did the Mamas of the world do before iPads? It’s a question I often ponder, and not just on long car journeys! Ours is an iPad mounted on to the headrest in-front to avoid any travel sickness from looking down. The headphones are for my own sanity as I’m not sure I can take three hours of Disney Moana songs blaring out at me, as much as I love her. I had the radio on in the front and we were all happy, for the one and a half hour duration of a film anyway!

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iPads + headphones = Happy Small Boy = Happy Mama

6.) iPad/DVD charger!

I remembered the charger, which was helpful as we neared our destination since it was soon to run out of power. Luckily the charger plugged into the car whilst we were driving and charged the iPad at the same time as watching so no time lost there! Phew!

7.) Good Sat Nav

Fortunately  I knew mainly where I was going, but the driving near the end of the journey was, as it can be, a bit stressful.  The Small Boy was getting restless and I was tiring and as wasn’t  quite so sure where we were going at that fiddly last bit – so thank the Lord for Sat Nav!

8.) Stop for coffee and good food

We stopped both on the way down and the way back. I needed a break as much as the Small Boy. Driving a long way on your own is a big enough task, but trying to keep a pre-schooler happy in the process, is really hard. So I stopped and treated myself to a Starbucks and a pat on the back, the Small Boy ran off some steam and it really helped for the next phase.

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9.) Explain the trip a lot

From past experience I have learnt that the Small People really don’t know what’s going on unless you tell them! I know it sounds obvious, but the reason they ask ‘are we nearly there yet’ all the time is because they have no idea about time or distance. I started telling the Small Boy a few days before the trip that it was a REALLY long way, and took lots and lots of time to get there, and it would be very boring, and a very long journey! I did say it’d be fun though as we can stop at a cafe, you can watch the iPad and you can have snacks and drinks and toys in your car seat too. I kept on updating him during the trip how far we had come and how far there was to go and telling him how well he was doing too, it seemed to help him understand a bit more.

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All the fun when you get there finally – stretch those legs!!

10.) Look after yourself too

Don’t forget to consider yourself in all the planning too. Pack your sunglasses, tissues, wipes and water to have at hand for yourself. I ate well when I stopped, had a healthy, hot meal and some fruit, rather than a quick fix coffee and some biscuits, and felt much better for it. It’s perfectly okay to be proud of yourself for making the journey too! It’s a stressful one, so high five yourself for making it solo!

Lucy xx

 

 

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Win a week’s holiday at a 4-star campsite in France for you and your family!

Win a week’s holiday for you and your family

How would you like to win a week’s holiday at a 4-star campsite set in the grounds of an incredible 18th century chateau in the heart of the Vendee, France for you and your family?!

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Votre Vacances

Harrogate Tribe Christmas Night Out

If you come along to our Harrogate Tribe Christmas Night Out (Friday 24th November – save the date – ticket details to follow) you could be in with a chance of just that! The lovely Sarah at Votre Vacances got in touch after hearing about our last Harrogate Tribe event and said she would like to offer a week in one of her gorgeous chalets on the campsite as a raffle prize!

The prize is to be taken in 2018 – which is simply perfect for any cycling enthusiasts as the Tour de France is actually starting from the Vendee next year, making Votre Vacances a prime holiday location. But if you can’t wait that long, scroll down to the end of this post for details of an amazing last minute offer available this year too!

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Lots of spacious pitches

Support the Harrogate Homeless Project

Sarah is a big supporter of the Harrogate Homeless Project (the chosen charity for the Harrogate Tribe Christmas event) and wanted to offer the week’s holiday as a prize after sharing her story of her own elderly grandparents, who often volunteered at the Harrogate Homeless Project, right into their seventies with overnight stays too.

Votre Vacances

Votre Vacances is a family business from Harrogate, with eight chalets at the historic, 4-star Château la Forêt campsite in western France. Everyone knows I love to support local independent businesses on the blog so when I found out I could do that all the way in France too I was over the moon!

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About the Campsite

The campsite is set in a 50 hectare area, set against the backdrop of a stunning chateau. There are two outdoor swimming pools (one can be covered over) and a lake. There’s also an adventure course (zip wire- type activities), a bar, a shop, a takeaway and a restaurant which is set in the courtyard of the chateau. Sounds picture perfect n’est pas?!

 

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Adventure courses over the lake

Holiday A’hoy

As part of our holiday this year to France we’re heading to check out Votre Vacances for ourselves and will be reporting back with a full low down all about it! We can’t wait to discover and enjoy all it has to offer! There sounds like there’s so much to see and do in the surrounding area too! Can’t wait

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Gorgeous grounds

Packed and ready to go

We just have the packing to survive before we head off on our mammoth road trip – so if anyone has any top-tips to share for journeying to France by car with four other humans please let me know!

Road Trip Essentials

The lovely folks at safe.co.uk sent us a little care package to help with the trip, including this fab travel safe (which I would have never thought to take but such a top idea – esp. when camping), an on-the-go mobile charger (bloggers essential) and the Small Boy is thrilled with his neck pillow too! No gin for Mama though 😆, which I feel is the real secret to travelling long distances in confined spaces with the Smalls!😜

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Who knew travel safes were a thing!

They have some proper travelling tips, which surprisingly don’t include gin, over on their #SafeTravels website. 

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I hope if you’re heading away on your hols your packing is coming along nicely! I still have SO MUCH TO DO and do let me know your top survival tips for the road trip please!!

Last Minute Holiday Deal

If you’re looking for a last minute holiday, Votre Vacances has a Last Minute Deal at the end of the Summer Holidays, where you can stay from Sunday 27th August, for 5 nights- for just £465, or 7 nights for £650 and still be home in time for the start of the school year! Email the lovely Sarah at info@votrevacances.com for more details or to get booked in!

Lucy xx

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‘Start of Summer’ Kids Private Hire Party at Everyman Cinema

Everyman Kids Cinema Party

Last Friday we had an amazing time down at Harrogate’s Everyman cinema for a Harrogate Mama private-hire kids party!

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Mike Whorley Photography

The very brilliant Mike Whorley photography captured the day beautifully for us, all these photos were taken by the talented Mike. You can check out more of his work at mjw-photography.com

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Gorgeous back-drop to the party by the brilliant Butterfly Designs

Private Hire Party

For the event I gathered together 45 Harrogate kids so Everyman cinema could show us just how easy it is to hold a kids party with them.

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Just some of the 45 Smalls!

Chelsea, who runs the private hire space at the Everyman was amazing, sorting out all the details with me so it was all very effortless from an organisers point of view! Just what you need when you have your own Smalls and a whole load of others to keep happy too!

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The lovely Chelsea from Everyman Cinema Private Hire and Harrogate Mama

Picking a great film

Chelsea recommended a few good films, the private hire packages work best with slightly older releases, (though you can pick a current film if you like, but it’s a pricier option).  Together we settled on Sing, a classic for boys and girls and spanned the age range of 3-11 year olds perfectly too.

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All the glory of ‘Sing’!

Start of Summer

We themed the party the ‘start of summer’ and I worked with some amazing local Harrogate suppliers to deliver the gorgeous looking event!

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Party goers!

As part of the private hire package you also get the use of the gorgeous private hire bar space (or the hub as it’s known) as well as the private hire of the cinema screen itself.

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Excited Smalls!

The lovely Carolina from Butterfly Designs created a whole look around the party theme and the kids were really mesmerised by all it’s colour and splendour in such a fabulous backdrop of the private hire room.

Event Styling by Butterfly Designs

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Event Styling by Butterfly Designs

When they arrived the Smalls were all instantly drawn to the display which featured a bright, colourful windmill, flamingos, pineapples, fresh cut flowers, watermelons and cactus’ it was incredible!

All expertly created by the brilliant Carolina at Butterfly Designs who creates and designs personalised parties right here in Harrogate.

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The details were beautiful

Celebration Cake by Mrs Smith’s Cafe

The kids soon spied the gigantic cake which formed the centre piece of the display, which was created by the bakers from Mrs Smith’s Cafe.

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The lovely Carolina from Butterfly Designs

The three tiered wonder was all entirely edible, the base sponge layer was decorated with soft brown sugar to resemble sand and the two top layers were decorated with ice-creams, watermelons and tropical flowers which matched the design by Butterfly Designs perfectly! The bakers at Mrs Smith’s Cafe had really excelled themselves!

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Incredible cake from Mrs Smith’s Cafe and all edible!

The Rainbow Fund

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Harrogate Mama and Alex Vere from the Rainbow Fund

After we welcomed everyone the lovely Alex from Harrogate’s The Rainbow Fund (a charity for local children) said a few words and the guests made kind and generous donations to support the Fund’s latest project.

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Raising money for the Rainbow Fund

Hip Hip Hooray

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Candle lighting time

All that was left to do before the movie was to wish everyone a great start to the summer and a team effort set about blowing out the candles on the cake.

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Candle blowing out!

Movie Time

 

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Popcorn and Squash for the kids at Everyman Harrogate

Then it was on to the main event with much excitement! The kids raced into the private hire screen, it was such a luxury to know that we didn’t have to worry about disturbing other guests in the cinema and that the children could kick-back and relax without parents worrying about what they were up to!

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Getting Movie ready

Popcorn and Squash

Everyman were fab and had arranged ac child-friendly sized popcorn and squash for every guest, which they all loved!

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Excited cinema goers

 

Then it was lights down and the excited giggles descended into hushed whispers as everyone settled into their seats for the main event.

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Set for the main event

 

The film went down a storm and the kids watched the film beautifully and were all incredibly well behaved.

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Movie time

Coffee for the Mamas

Some of the Mamas even stayed outside the screen for a chat and a coffee in the private hire bar area, which also meant there was space to leave bags . It provided that extra bonus feeling of a more VIP experience.  It was great to know your kids were safe in a screen so close by and that you could pop in and out to check at them at anytime.

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Coffee for the Mamas

Lunch for the Smalls

Chelsea from the Everyman was back on it again after an hour into the film delivering a perfectly portioned children’s Everyman pizza, chips, veg sticks and hummus to each child on their own little trays. The kids loved having the independence of their own food, perfectly positioned on their knees or side tables and relished in the treat of being able to eat infront of the big screen! There was even a slice of pizza for the Mamas too, which was enjoyed by all!

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Pizza central

As a party host it’s brilliant to know all the details are taken out of your hands, there’s no shopping, planning, cooking, serving up or clearing away. The Everyman even took care of managing any allergies too and were really helpful in making sure all the kids were happy!

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Tucking in!

Cake Wrapping and Packing

Chelsea and her team led the tidying up operation too, clearing away the trays and then set about cutting up the birthday cake too and wrapping it for the party bags. It was great to know all those little jobs were taken off my hands!

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Cake wrapping a go-go!

Party Bags by Butterfly Designs

The simply gorgeous party bags were all hand designed by the lovely Carolina at Butterfly Designs. The watermelon creations tied in perfectly with the theme. She really is a master of styling, and her design was totally bespoke. I hope I get to work with her again sometime soon.

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Bespoke party bags by Butterfly Designs

Happy Party Goers

The movie ended on a high and all the kids were relaxed and happy when they strolled out. They were thrilled to see their party bags and even more so to taste the cake inside, which was heavenly too (I may have saved myself a piece).

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Happy party people!

It’s so lovely to host a party where everyone leaves feeling happy and having enjoyed the experience. As a host it’s especially lovely to feel relaxed and that all the details have been taken care of too!

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Party Bag joy!

Everyman Private Hire

With thanks the the Everyman Cinema for hosting the party for us and to Chelsea and her team for being so ‘on it’ with all the details. It really was a chilled way to host a kids party and one I’m sure to consider for the future!

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Everyman Party Packages

If you’re looking to host an Everyman kids party for yourself there are a few ways to do it. If you speak to the lovely Chelsea at Events.harrogate@everymangroup.com she’ll be able to fill you in on all you need to know!

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But if brief here are the costings; Children’s Party Hire with a DVD/Bluray release with 23 guests and under is £300. 24 guests up to 45 is £450. Children’s meals are all charged at £5 per head. If you did want to choose a current release the costs is £750 band that also includes £150 to spend on food and drink.

Lucy xx

Everyman Harrogate hosted the kids party for Harrogate Mama and guests.

 

 

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Kid Friendly Places to visit for FREE (or very cheaply) from Harrogate

Whether you’re visiting Harrogate for the school summer holidays or you’re having a staycation and looking for new ideas then this post is for you!

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These are four activities we’ve enjoyed as a family recently – which are all relatively cheap or FREE to take part in, that are all local to Harrogate. We filled a day with all of them – so if you’re on the hunt for new ideas hopefully this will give you a bit of inspiration!

Walking the Walls in York

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I love York and whenever I visit I wonder why we don’t go more often! It’s so beautiful, obviously stacked with history and the shopping and coffee spots are great too! We drove to the city centre, about 40 minutes from Harrogate, and parked at Nunnery Lane Car Park for around a tenner for the day but you could get the train direct from Harrogate either.

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We’d never walked the historic city walls before so decided to give it a go! The Smalls all enjoyed getting a different perspective on things and taking part in a completely new activity – which is, let’s face it, pretty unique! We’re so lucky to have this on our doorstep.

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The Walls are free to walk on and you can get on them from 8am to around dusk every day. The great thing is you can get on and off them as you like. It takes around 2 hours to walk around all of them. For more information you can check out Friends of York’s Wall Trail.

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We got on the walls at Micklegate Bar and hopped off again at Bootham Bar. By doing that we got to take in some of the Museum Gardens and on the way back the Minster Gardens too. It was really very beautiful! The kids all loved being up high and peering out through the wall slits at what was down below and getting a different perspective on the great city. It made for a really lovely afternoon.

Brimham Rocks

We all adore a trip to Brimham Rocks – an amazing collection of natural rock formations in North Yorkshire, managed by the National Trust. The scenery is breathtaking and you can get so high so quickly that the views are instantly rewarding!

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It’s even manageable for the Small Boy (four) with a little help. The big girls (10) love the challenge and the thrill, but everyone needs watching all the time due to the dangerous drops all around – which provide the stunning views of the landscape.

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You only need to pay to park, or display your National Trust card if you want to go for free. Remember to take pound coins though as the machine won’t accept notes or cards for the £6 charge. It takes just under half an hour to get there in the car from Harrogate.

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We normally pack a picnic and also make use of the on-site take-out hut for tea, biscuits and ice-cream.

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Asygarth Falls

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Asygarth Falls is a popular beauty spot near Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s around an hour and fifteen minute drive from Harrogate – but well worth the trip. When you arrive you’ll no doubt hear the roar of one of the three waterfalls over stepped limestone, which are spaced out with short walks in-between.

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You can park at the national visitor centre, where you can find a cafe, toilets and a little shop. Asygarth Falls really is a beauty spot with good reason – it’s stunning to see and appeals to all the senses. It’s gorgeous to hear nature at it’s finest as the waterfalls shatter the silence all around. The water is accessible too and the highest and lowest points on the walk – which the Smalls all loved no end, with a lot of paddling going on!

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The walk between the three falls was really manageable for all three of mine, though the Small Boy did need a bit of encouragement on the way back. We visited the High falls first, then walked all the way to the lower falls, skipping over the middle falls till the way back. To hold the Smalls interest for the return trek! They were all beautiful but I think we enjoyed the lower falls the most!

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Bolton Abbey

It had been years since we visited Bolton Abbey, near Skipton so decided to pay the beautiful historic site a visit! Again you only pay to park, which is £10 and you can enjoy the beautiful setting till your heart’s content.

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At the car park there are spaces to BBQ too if you really want to make a full day of it! We headed out toward the Abbey once we’d park up and then crossed the river on the iconic stepping stones to the other side. The big girls didn’t seem too phased by the stones but we decided to give it a miss for the Small Boy! Luckily there is a bridge which is a much drier, less risky option for pre-schoolers in order to reach the bank at the other side of the Abbey!

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The Smalls all messed about by the river for a good hour or so, skimming stones and paddling! Then we headed on the walk back to the Cavendish Pavilion! It was fairly steep and I’m glad we didn’t have a buggy with us, but the Smalls all enjoyed the challenge and a walk into the unknown up through the forest and overhanging the river below.

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Then it was all back to the cafe at the Cavendish Pavilion for tea and scones – the perfect end to the afternoon!

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Will you be making any of these trips over the school holidays? Have you got any others to recommend?

Lucy xx

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What’s On in the Summer Holidays for Kids around Harrogate

If you’re looking for things to do with the Smalls this summer holiday here is a round up of what’s on, when around Harrogate!

Newby Hall

Teddy Bears Picnic

On 7th and 14th August Newby Hall are holding their Teddy Bears Picnic Where you can bring along your teddy bear for a day of sing-a-longs, games, laughter, competitions and picnics courtesy of the fabulous Make a Wish Events! Meet with Bertie Bear and the Mat Hatter amongst a whole host of colourful characters for what has proven to be one of the favourite family events in the Newby calendar! Don’t forget, there is the Bear House to explore, complete a few new additions!

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RHS Garden Harlow Carr

Wind in the Willows

Wind in the Willows Outdoor Theatre is taking place on 28th July at 5.30pm – tickets are required so you need to book in advance details are on their website.

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Famous Five Themed Holiday Activities

There are Famous Five Themed Holiday Activities every day over the summer holidays. They include a garden trail, Storytelling every Tuesday, Craft workshops every Wednesday and outdoor workshops every Friday.

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Giant Picnic Party

On Thursday 11th August there is a giant picnic party with games and music to celebrate what would have been Enid Blyton’s 120th Birthday.

Yorkshire Day

To celebrate Yorkshire Day in the gardens, on Tuesday 1st August, there are adventure games in the gardens with activities to take part in, storytelling and faceprinting from 11am to 4pm

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Last year’s Yorkshire Day fun!

Famous Five Immersive Theatre

From the 10th to 12th of August there will be an evening of family friendly outdoor theatre with Gobbledigook Theatre, taking inspiration from the stories and adventures of the Famous Five. The show starts at 6pm and lasts an hour and a half with a 20 minute interval. Tickets are £18 for adults and £12.50 for children and need to be booked in advance.

 

Bolton Abbey

Robin Hood Production

There’s a brilliant production of Robin Hood at Bolton Abbey from 27th July to 6th August. It’s a ‘promenade style’ so you move about with the show. Performances start at 2.30pm and 6.00pm and more details can be found online. Tickets are £18.50 for adults and £12.50 for kids and include entrance to the Abbey grounds.

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The Family Cycle Zone

The Family Cycle Zone is in an enclosed field adjacent to the Village car park. It offers a safe area for children to cycle, away from the hazards of traffic and pedestrians. With “paths” cut through the grass and road signs to mark the way, children can enjoy endless fun maneuvering the roundabout and junctions!!! This is the perfect spot for your little one to gain confidence and find their balance. Please bring your own bikes. This is a free activity, the Estate admission fee applies.

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The Welly Walk

The Welly Walk is another great favourite. With tree climbing, tunnels, slides, bridges and beams, amazing fun, forget being clean!!! Follow the Welly Walk signs and enjoy a free woodland adventure trail from the Stepping Stones to the Cavendish Pavilion. This is a challenging adventure and some obstacles are not suitable for all age groups. Children must be supervised at all times. Tree Climbing £3.00 per climb – tree climbing takes place every weekend and everyday during the school holidays.

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Ripley Castle and Gardens

Ripley Castle and Gardens are a beautiful place to visit with the Smalls – you can read all about it on my blog post Visit Ripley Castle Gardens with Kids for Free!. The best part is it’s totally free to enter on weekdays too. We tend to tie the trip in with a stop at the world famous ice-cream shop or a cuppa and a cake at the cafe to keep everyone in high spirits for the day! We sometimes take a picnic too.

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In the summer you can visit the Castle for a special children’s tour every weekday. Prices are £15 for two adults and two children on a weekday and the family tour is at 1pm.

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Ripley Cycle Path

We have been known to cycle to Ripley too along the cycle path from Harrogate. You can read all about that on my blog post Cycling between Harrogate and Ripley with Kids – what it’s really like.

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Hope that fills you with a few ideas – watch out over the summer as there are more posts coming for how to fill your school holidays too!

Other posts that you might find useful include; Four, FREE, Child-Friendly Museums to visit from HarrogateTen warm weather play ideas for pre-school kidsSix lovely things to do in Harrogate, with kids, for free (…or very cheaply)

Lucy xx

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Harrogate Tribe Night Out Photos

What an amazingly lovely night we had last Friday at the first Harrogate Tribe Night Out! The Everyman Cinema was the perfect venue for the event, there was such a chilled vibe and a really beautiful atmosphere.

Harrogate Tribe Night Out

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The Harrogate Girl and Harrogate Mama – Harrogate Tribe Event Organisers

The terrace doors were wide open, the bar area was packed with all sorts of gorgeous folk from around Harrogate, the sparkly was flowing and the chatter was of excitement as everyone discovered the delights of some of Harrogate’s finest independents first hand!

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Everyman Fizz flowing!

Catherine Gibbin Photography

These photos, taken by the brilliantly talented Catherine Gibbin, showcase what a fantastic night it was. Thank you so much for being a part of it if you came down and watch this space as we are planning a Christmas themed one later in the year!

Everyman Harrogate

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Everyman Bar Space

Harrogate Homeless Project

Best of all you fabulous folks raised a huge £330 for the Harrogate Homeless Project which I hope you’re all very proud of! Well done for supporting such a great local charity- which will benefit people in our town directly!

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Supporting the Harrogate Homeless Project

Stray FM

The lovely Beth Parsons from Stray FM came down – you can hear the interview we gave on their website which went out on Monday night.

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Beth Parsons from Stray FM Recording an Interview

So can you spot yourself on the pics? I’d love to know what you thought of the event on the comments in Facebook or below. so please get sharing your thoughts!

Hampsthwaite Gifts

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The Fab Vivanne from Hampsthwaite Gifts

The Lingerie Room

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The lovely Nikki from The Lingerie Room

Joseph Ferraro

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The very talented Joseph Ferraro and Team

Bobbi Brown Make-Up

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The gorgeous Harriet and Lucy from Bobbi Brown

Jewellery-Works.com

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All the pretty of Jewellery-Works.com

Harrogate Tipple

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The delightful Julie from Harrogate Tipple – a popular space on the night!

Heal – Medical and Wellness Spa

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The Marvellous Matthew from Heal Medical and Wellness Spa 

Violet

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The glorious Sara from Violet with her iconic HGTE brand

Let the Night-Out commence

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Raffle Time

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Amazing raffle prizes raising money for the Harrogate Homeless Project
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Winners all round!

Goody Bags

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The much talked about Goody Bags!
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Happy Tribe Members!

Thank you for coming

All that’s left to say is a huge thank you to everyone who made the night such a great success, from our fab local independent businesses, to the Everyman, from Stray FM to each and everyone one of you who came and supported it! Watch out for details of the next Harrogate Tribe Night Out! It’s set to be a fantastic one too!

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Thanks for a great Night Out!

Keep up to date with details of our next event by making sure you follow Harrogate Mama and The Harrogate Girl on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Lucy xx.jpg

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