Ragdale Hall; A Mama Break

*This post is the full version of The Importance of Taking Time Out Just for You This Year. It’s also a review of Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa in Leicestershire.

Why taking time out just for you makes you a better parent…

When my twins were 13 weeks old we drove to France, from Yorkshire, for a holiday with extended family (reasons for which I wouldn’t have changed for the world, despite the challenges of the trip). We had two over-night stops in the UK before we even hit the Channel, one of which was memorably at Watford Gap services! (Did I mention we had 13 week old twins with us?!)

It was on the way back from this trip, still in the haze of sleep deprivation and constant breast feeding, that I made a promise to myself. In order to keep my sanity in-tact and for the sake for me and my children I promised that I would make time for myself, just for me, before I drowned under the constant-ness being a full time mother to two tiny humans. I’d come to the realisation (albeit earlier than most) that a holiday with very young children was actually not really a holiday at all.

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Parenting; a Europe wide issue!

The evidence is out there, we’re all doing our best;

Whilst touring around our Italian campsite for two weeks on our summer holiday I was lucky enough to be able to witness a range of nationalities; German, Dutch, Swiss, Italian, British, Polish and many others. It turns out that Venice is easily accessible to lots of countries!

What struck me most was not how different we all were as families, but how remarkably all the same we are! All I saw were parents across Europe all doing their best to raise their family.

Turns out the same conversations are going on around the globe that you are having in your very own home.

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Refusing to smile for the camera is not just a UK thing!
  • The German 10 year old is being reprimanded by his parents over a lost hat? “where did you last have it?”
  • The Italian 4 year old is being shouted at for not looking where he was going on his bike.
  • The Swiss toddler is crying and wriggling, wanting down from her Dad’s arms.
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Toddlers not giving a sh*t – that’s a global phenomenon, honest!
  • The Dutch five year old is being told off in the restaurant for swinging on his chair
  • The British teenager is embarrassed by her dad’s dancing
  • Preschoolers from every nation are persistently being told not to throw sand.
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Throwing sand is not a problem you alone are facing, it’s Europe wide!
  • 14 year old Polish lads are in bother for booting footballs high and landing them on parasols
  • Children universally are not wanting to have sun cream applied
  • Every European little one is loosing it over late nights and too much sun.

So while you might think you’re the only ones dealing with this sort of shizzle, then rest assured you’re not. The same convos are going on around the world, the same little battles over mealtimes are being fought, the same exasperated faces from parents are being shaped. For this is parenting.

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Parents trailing unhappy children around cities of culture is not limited to the UK!

I found the whole experience completely reassuring! You are not alone Mamas, the rest of the world stands with you in your parenting highs and lows!

So next time I’m stuck thinking, why does everyone else’s child put their shoes on when they’re asked?! I’ll think back to my Italian campsite and think of my European counterparts dealing with the exact same situation themselves and be relieved, in the knowledge it’s not just me it’s universal, across the globe!

For doing all these things, fighting all these battles, sharing right and wrong with your children is just called being a good parent. In whatever language you speak!

If you want to see some pretty pictures of our holiday – and there were obviously some good times! Ha! They you can read this post all about it. Five go camping in Venice.

Lucy xx

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Wicked Wednesday – Bin Day

When you’re three, and your parents take you on holiday to Italy and all you want to do is walk around with a bin on your head! That!

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Bin Head Day

We had a lovely time, honest! Happy Wednesday folks, last one of the school holidays here! I may have gin later to celebrate – like I need an excuse! Ha!

#WickedWednesday 31st August 2016
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(*The lovely BrummyMummyof2 shares her favourite #wickedwednesdays picks of the week over on her blog…so if you’re feeling like the only one who’s dealing with this sort of shizzle, then check out the links, for you’re not alone!)

Follow: Me (Harrogate Mama) on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram

Lucy xx

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Four, FREE, Child-Friendly Museums to visit from Harrogate

Here are four, free, kids Yorkshire Museums to visit that are not too far away from Harrogate – perfect for rainy days! When you know the forecast is going to be bad it’s nice to have a few ideas up your sleeve for where to take the kids! The best things about these suggestions is that all these child-friendly museums are FREE to visit!

If you take a picnic, it makes for a super cheap day out! You usually have to pay for car-parking but in my opinion it’s more than worth it for the whole day out you get for it!

Our favourites include:

1. National Media Museum, Bradford 

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Little Miss K reads the news (with a little help from her floor manager!)

At the National Media Museum you can choose from their activities and events, or wander through seven floors of free galleries exploring photography, film, television, gaming and the world wide web – you’ll find something to interest everyone.

Galleries and Museum Shop is open daily 10:00 – 18:00

Entry is free!

2. National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield

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Exploring the National Coal Mining Museum

The National Coal Mining Museum for England provides a great day out with a unique opportunity to travel 140 metres underground down one of Britain’s oldest working mines.

This year the National Coal MiningMuseum for England is celebrating the extraordinary lives of the heroes and heroines of coal mining.

Tours run regularly from 10am until 3.15pm. You are asked for a £3 donation per person to take the underground tour that can be refunded if you request so.

You can book in for an underground tour at Reception on arrival but please note that during school holidays they advise you to arrive early to book your places, as the tours are often all fully booked up by midday.

Please note: They regret that under 5s are not able to go underground.

The Museum is open daily from 10am until 5pm. Entry and parking is free!

3. The National Railway Museum , York

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National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum is home to over 300 years of history and over a million wonderful objects.

Visit them and you can marvel at iconic locomotives, watch engineering work in progress in the Workshop, browse their object-filled Warehouse, and let off steam in the outdoor play area.

Opening on 7 July – the forgotten story of the ambulance trains used to evacuate sick and injured troops on an unprecedented scale during the First World War.

York open 10am-6pm. Entry is free!

4. Royal Armories Museum, Leeds

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The Royal Armouries is Britain’s national museum of arms and armour, and one of the most important museums of its type in the world.

Charge down to the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds for a packed programme of exciting events and activities inspired by their amazing “Warrior Treasures: Saxon Gold from the Staffordshire Hoard exhibition.

Don’t miss falconry (Tuesdays), Warrior Wednesdays, Sports Day (Thursdays) and the Superheroes (9–11 August).

Open daily: 10am – 5pm. Entry is free, (some activities carry a small charge).

Have you been to any of these? Have you got a favourite?

Lucy xx

 

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What’s On for Kids in Harrogate for WEEK FOUR of the School Holidays

Are you looking to find out what’s on in Harrogate for week four of the school  holidays?  Each week I’ll share what I’ve discovered from places to go, to things to do, where’s holding what and how much it costs! This week it’s WEEK FOUR!

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Whats on in Harrogate for Kids WEEK FOUR: 15th – 21st August

Monday 15th August

Free family crafts in the Courtyard at Harewood House
Available from 11.00am – 3.00pm. Free with normal entrance admission prices.

Tuesday 16th August

Mercer Art Gallery Natural Art Session
Create art from natural materials they’ve collected and bring along some of your own.
£1 from 10am – noon

Story Time at Knaresborough Castle
Join the storytelling trail with Knaresborough Library 2.30 – 4.30pm (Booking in advance required 01609 533610)

Falconry Displays at the Royal Armouries Museum
Be amazed by the speed and elegance of these magnificent birds of prey as swoop overhead and demonstrate the ancient art of falconry. Great photo opportunities with the birds after the show. 12noon and 2.30pm. Adults £5 / Concessions £2.50 / Family £10.

Bird-themed Craft Activities at the Royal Armouries
Drop in sessions 11am – 3pm. £2.50 per person.

Intergalactic Storytelling at RHS Harlow Carr
Join the intergalactic, mad-capped Garden Detectives on a space exploration and enjoy space-themed stories. Normal garden entry applies.

Stir Krazy Kids Summer Workshop Ilkley Grammar School 16-18th August
Their Summer cooking and baking workshops provide an exciting, creative environment for children to learn to make yummy, nutritious food, taste different cuisines and make new friends! At the end of the day, participants can take home what they’ve cooked, along with new knowledge and skills. If you quote SUMMER20 at the checkout you’ll get 20% off your booking price. 9am to 3.30pm £38.00 per child. There is an offer of extended hours 8-5.00pm

Wednesday 17th August

Art and the Castle at Knaresborough Castle
Discover beautiful paintings and drawings inspired by Knaresborough castle then create your own. £3 per child (please book children over 8 can be left unattended) 1-3pm.

Warrior Wednesdays at the Royal Armouries
Meet warriors from history, watch live combat demonstrations and dramatic presentations, plus get your hands on history at special object handling sessions.

Warrior-themed craft activities at the Royal Armouries
Drop in sessions 11am – 3pm. £2.50 per person.

Cosmic Crafts at RHS Harlow Carr
Make a range of ‘rocket science’ accessories for your summer space adventure, from stars, sundials and comets to astronaut helmets and rocket launchers. Normal garden entry applies.

Stop Motion Animation at Bilton and Woodfield Community Library
Book onto a family learning workshop to make and animate a scene inspired by a Roald Dahl book. 10-12.30 and 1.30-4.00pm. Suitable for age 7 years+. The event is free but you need to phone to book a place for this event.

Delumptious Delights Party at Harrogate Library
Grab your gold ticket and join in with a candy floss race and giant sweet tossing! £1 for 7-11 year olds. Please book a place for this event. 2.30 – 3.45pm

Thursday 18th August

Holiday Forest School at Hookstone Woods (18th and 19th August)
This new forest school for children aged 5-11 years  will contain the usual fun mix of games, den-building and crafts, all rounded off with a campfire. From 10am -3pm each day. Tickets are £20 per day and are available from the website: http://www.getoutmorecic.co.uk/events/ For further information contact Ruth McBain: ruth@getoutmorecic.co.uk or 07970 956177.

Free children’s talk at Harewood House
The talk starts at 2pm (free – normal entry tickets applies).

Sports Day at the Royal Armouries
Visit to have a go at ancient Olympic sports – archery, fencing, and martial arts plus don’t miss their dare-devil horse shows.

Birds-of-Prey Flying Displays at RHS Harlow Carr
See the effects of gravity and aerodynamics up close and find out how the study of our feathered friends has influenced flight and space exploration during spectacular birds-of-prey flying displays with ‘Owl Adventures’. Normal garden entry applies.

Giant Bubble Making Workshop at Knaresborough Market Place

At 11am, 1pm and 3pm

Friday 19th August

Free family crafts in the Courtyard at Harewood House
From 11.00am – 3.00pm – normal ticket entry applies

Cosmic Crafts at RHS Harlow Carr
Make a range of ‘rocket science’ accessories for your summer space adventure, from stars, sundials and comets to astronaut helmets and rocket launchers. Normal garden entry applies.

Friday 19- Sunday 21 August

Ripley Castle Foodies Festival

Feast in the Street Food Avenue; learn to bake in the Cake and Bake Theatre; enjoy afternoon tea in the Vintage Tea Tent; taste wine, champagne and craft beer in the Drinks Theatre; buy from local producers in the Artisan Market; kids enjoy the Childrens Cookery Theatre; live music on the Unsigned Music Awards Stage; enter the Chilli Eating Competition; refreshing cocktails from the Bar Bus, Pimms Teapot & Appleton Estate Rum Bus and have a fun day out in the Deco Noir VIP experience. Between £10 – £14 per ticket.

Saturday 20th August

Henshaw’s Fairytale Day 

A day of enchantment and fairy tale as Freyja the fairy joins with Henshaws once again, storytelling , arts and crafts, colorful fairy tale characters including Meet the mermaid, goblin, pirates, fairies, fire show, circus workshops, treasure hunts, songs and games together with a marketplace selling magical themed merchandise. 11am – 4pm. Tickets £5 per child. Booking in advance.

Sunday 21st August. 

Knaresborough Castle Discount entry day for Knaresborough’s Feva Festival
Enjoy the Castle, Sallyport and Museum for only £2 adults and £1 children to celebrate Knaresborough’s Feva Festival.

Hang in there Mamas, officially half way through!! Whoop! Hope you have nice plans for the week! Only three weeks to go, and only two at the end of this one!!

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Trampolining in the Trees at Yorkshire’s newest family adventure; treetopnets

On Father’s Day we headed off on an exciting family adventure to visit the newly opened treetopnets, which is at the site of Lightwater Valley near Ripon. It’s only about half an hour away in the car from Harrogate and we had so.much.fun! It’s the sort of place my kids will remember going to for a long time to come!IMG_1706.jpg
It’s so different from anywhere they’ve been before and a first time exerience for all of us, which is so rare these days and wonderful to share as a family.

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It can only be described as a series of huge trampolines, 2000m in total, suspended in the air by ropes tied securely to trees. The trampolines are all linked together by meshed walkways and it’s all safely surrounded by 3m high walls of netting, with a few slides going back down to the ground.

The site is set in mature woodland under a canopy of trees, making for a really chilled, one-with-nature setting.

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It’s completely different from any ‘high ropes courses’ or similar places where you are ‘harnessed-on’ to climb planks high in the air etc. There’s no special equipment required and anyone from age three upwards, including all adults, can join in, you just need some comfy shoes!

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We had a safety briefing when we arrived, making sure we’d removed (or taped up) any jewellery and tied our hair back, to avoid anything getting tangled in the netting. The rules are there to keep everyone safe and it’s all pretty sensible stuff, like no climbing on the side nettings, no running down the walkways and watching out for other people when you’re bouncing around! I felt really safe the whole time I was there, and everyone was following the rules!

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You approach the trampolines by netted walkways which are ramped up from the floor (you keep your shoes on) and there’s no physical climbing required other than walking or bouncing along the ramps and walkways, they are a bit wobbly though, which all adds to the fun!

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We were pointed in the direction of the quieter trampoline area to begin our session which was a great idea, while we literally found our feet!

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The Quieter Trampoline area

The girls did loads of jumping and bouncing about on this practice area of the trampolines. It was amazing to be so high up and over such a large area, standing over the ground with nothing but a couple of ropes between your feet and the floor! The Small Boy took a few minutes to warm up, being at the youngest end of the age permitted to bounce, but once he got into it there was no stopping him!

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Getting prepped to go down the slide!

This ‘practice’ trampoline area had one of the three slides available at the site on it too. The slides are also made from ropes and net. To go down a slide you need to collect a sack from the ground and bring it up to the trampoline with you, then you climb inside to come down it (to prevent any rope burns).

Both kids and grown-ups can go down the slides, we all had tonnes of turns but couldn’t persuade the Small Boy to give it a whirl, despite it being enormous fun! The slide was quite steep and just long enough to excite without being too daunting.

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Once we’d built our courage up, which didn’t take too long, we headed over to the other part of the nets which is where the bulk of the trampolines were. After climbing another ramped walkway we approached the second of the trampoline areas, this one had two slides in it!

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The second trampoline area – ramped with two slides

It was also on an incline, the kids loved running up to the top of it and bouncing back down, it was a bit higher off the ground than our starting point too, so our confidence was definitely building!

Then we moved on through the walkway to the third trampoline / ball pool area which was filled with huge Pilates type balls! We all had a brilliant time kicking them about, bouncing on them and even playing football with them against the painted on goal posts on the wall netting – which all made for much hilarity on such a bouncy surface!

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The ‘Ball Pool’ trampoline

It was quite quiet on the Sunday afternoon we were there, there were probably around four or so other families around in varying numbers, even though it looks like we had it to ourselves! The beauty of the area is that as it’s so large, you can find your own space quite easily!

Further along from this trampoline was the tree house, which is an area constructed with a solid ground, built into the trees, so you can rest your legs for a moment if you’re tiring of all the bouncing!

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Inside the Treehouse

The treehouse also provides a great a vantage point if you want to look around at all the nets and take in the 360 degree sights from the treeline. It’s also a great spot if you want to stand and watch your kids play as you can see pretty much all around.

Then we discovered the fourth trampoline area which is the highest of all of the nets. It’s 13 meters high, which is around the height of two houses on top of each other. So when you’re on it it does feel pretty freaky looking down! Though it didn’t seem to phase the kids!

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A view from the ground showing the fifth trampoline area

This highest trampoline area also has access to the crows nest part of treetop nets, which is the highest point of all at the adventure! Little Miss B and I were brave enough to head to the top and were rewarded with the views from the tree top heights!

This is the only part of the course that involves climbing and it’s up a wooden ladder attached to the nets.

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The ladder to the Crows Nest on the fourth trampoline area

After all that excitement, and jumping around we decided it was time for a chill and a drinks stop. So we bobbed into the cafe in the treetopnets hut, back on solid ground, and bought a couple of snacks to enjoy on a bench underneath the nets, although there was plenty of seating inside should we have needed it.

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Coffee break time at the Cafe/Shop

The Small People could barely sit still long enough to drink their drinks as they were so keen to get back on the nets again!

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The bouncy walkways between the trampolines

The great thing is it’s completely safe enough to let the kids go alone (we didn’t let the  Small Boy as he’s a bit little) because you can see them easily from the ground and can shout to them if need be. Some parents who were there weren’t venturing on the nets at all, just watching their children from the ground, but we decided it was much more fun all going on together!

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The view of the ‘Ball Pool’ trampoline from the ground

Drinks finished we set off to find the furthest trampoline, which was again a really high one, which caused great excitement, way above the treetopnets hut – with some great views!

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The Fifth Trampoline
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Trampolining in the Treetops

But we had the most fun in the trampoline containing the ball pool, so we kept heading back to that one. The kids were giggling their heads off throughout and the Small Boy thought it was the best thing ever!

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Family Selfie!

One of our favourite things about the whole experience is that you can enjoying actively playing with your kids. I think there are too few adventures you can participate in with your kids these days, normally you’re just watching on the sidelines or sitting next to them.

At treetopnets you can have as much fun as your children, jumping around, going down the slides, kicking a giant ball! Ours loved to see us, their parents, having fun doing things that they love doing too. It was brilliant being able to bounce around together with them and make up games between ourselves, just like we would have done when we were kids too!

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The Small Boy LOVED it!

My children loved this aspect of the adventure and wanted to make sure we were having as much fun as they were, which we totally were! How often do you get to jump around in your day to day life and whoop and holler with excitement at being so high up and have that time to mess around with your children! It was brilliant!

And because you’re up high in the trees surrounded by swaying leaves and can see the sky so clearly you feel relaxed and chilled at the same time, the light was gorgeous on the day we were up there, and it made for a really lovely family down-time vibe!

Needless to say we were all really sorry when it was time to go! We were there for just about two hours, which was about the right amount of time. We were all a bit hot and sweaty and although I’m sure the kids legs could handle it I was a little unsure how mine would hold up!

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The kids gave it ten out of ten, apart from Joseph who scored in an eleven! Ha! And they just want to know when we can go back again! It’s great physical, active activity for them too in the great outdoors!

Overall it’s a brilliant place to have active, family fun, all together in the great outdoors in a new and exciting way!

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treetopnets have a group rate too, which would be great for the  birthday parties – it’s already on my girls’ list for next year!

As you can see from the pricing it’s not cheap, especially for a whole family to go, but it’s comparative to other ‘high nets’ courses locally, if not a smidge cheaper.

There’s a full Vlog on this trip over on my YouTube Channel if you want to see us all in action bouncing around like loons!

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For more stories like this you can follow me Harrogate Mama on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube .

If you’re interested in working with me you can find out more on my work with me page.

You can find out what Harrogate’s new YO! Sushi restaurant is all about on my latest blog post.

All pricing details and opening times are correct as of 25th June 2016.

If you liked this post you might like my posts: Lightwater Valley Theme Park, with Younger Children – A ReviewFour outdoor toys that are worth buying ,Cycling between Harrogate and Ripley with Kids – what it’s really likeSix lovely things to do in Harrogate, with kids, for free (…or very cheaply)

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Lucy xx

Disclaimer: treetopnets kindly invited us down to try their experience with their compliments but the opinions are all my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Revealing all about Yorkshire’s Deer Shed Family Festival!

Yikes! I am SO excited about this one! The lovely folks over at Deer Shed Festival have only gone and asked me if I would like to be an Official Blogger for this year’s Deer Shed Festival! Woo hoo!

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While I’m busy wondering if that means back stage passes and after show parties 😬 (seriously doubtful!) I will share with you everything you need to know about Deer Shed Festival, the family friendly music, arts and science festival set in North Yorkshire parkland.

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Liverpool – Perfect for a Mama Break!

Last weekend I was lucky enough to get a break away with one of my gorgeous bestie Mama friends. We have been friends since university and decided we’d go back to where it all began in Liverpool where we were students.

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Caroline and I with too many clothes on for a city night out 😂

Liverpool has always held a special place in my heart, it’s the only place outside Harrogate I have ever lived (not counting a brief spell in Leeds!). It’d been almost 16 years since I had last been in the city and it’d changed enormously in that time for the better. So if you’re looking for a place for a little Mama break of your own I would highly recommend it.

We stayed at the Hilton at Liverpool One. Liverpool One is a 1.65 million sq ft contemporary open-air complex with shopping, restaurants, bars and hotels. It is all integrated into the existing city centre. It runs from the Docks right into the heart of the city.

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