Friday, 18 April 2014

Harewood House, Leeds, West Yorkshire

Harewood House near Leeds is an 18th Century stately home and gardens, which are open to the public. It is one of Yorkshire's leading attractions, and is a lovely day out for families.

Harewood House is associated with many notables, including Capability Brown, and the artist JMW Turner. It will be the starting point, Grand Depart, for Le Tour (The Tour de France) in Summer 2014. 

On a glorious Good Friday, we decided to pay it a visit. We drove up the very long driveway, and got our tickets at the drive-through ticket booth. On past the main house, and the car park is massive. Toilets are mercifully close to the car park! (includes baby changing)

There are lots of places to eat a picnic, including some covered areas. There are cafes in the main house and courtyard, a couple of kiosks serving drinks and ice-creams, and a fish and chip hut. The fish and chips were lovely and though not cheap as far as fish and chips go, they were good value compared to food we have eaten at other attractions. 

We spent almost five hours here, including getting some lunch, and we didn't explore all of what Harewood House has to offer. Here are our highlights.....

The playground

The playground is very good with something to do for all ages from 2 years to teens. There is a zip wire, which my girls love, and some bumpy slides. Great fun!

Harewood House Leeds

The bird garden

There are aviaries galore here with birds from all parts of the world, some of which are endangered species. There is plenty to keep keen ornithologists interested, including flamingos, macaws, and rare geese. 

Harewood House Leeds

The best, and certainly most popular bit of the bird garden is the penguin exhibition. Feeding time was 2pm. Be there early for a good spot. 

Harewood House Leeds

Today in the bird garden, and throughout the Spring period, there was badge making for £1 per badge. Got to be done!

Harewood House Leeds

The Main House

The older two girls (aged 6 and 9) loved the main house. We saw the state rooms first, which looked like they'd been parachuted in from Downton Abbey. There are lots of items associated with the house's past, including links to Royalty. We didn't get to see things in too much detail as we daren't stay long with two three-year-olds on the loose. It is beautiful though. The ceilings and artwork are incredible, and the views over the back garden and on to the lake are stunning.

Harewood House Leeds

Downstairs are the servants halls. This part is brilliant, and a fascinating insight into the lives of the servants working in the big houses in the early 20th century. There is a dressing up box, and you can talk to the volunteers who will tell you about the objects in the kitchens, scullery, and servants hall.

The Terrace Gardens

Right behind the main house, the terrace gardens are beautiful - well kept, and bright. There are fabulous views over the lake and off into the Yorkshire hills. There is also a fascinating statue in the middle which kept my older children entertained for a long time afterwards.

There is plenty more to do here which we didn't do, such as lakeside walks, and you can visit the ancient estate church. Harewood would be good for some peaceful time out at any time of the year. 

We liked that Harewood House wasn't a rip-off with food and gifts once you got inside. There are lots of places to eat a picnic and plenty of litter bins so you don't have to carry your rubbish round with you all day. 

We really liked the house and would have loved to have been able to spend more time looking at things in detail but three-year olds and ancient family heirlooms do not make for a peaceful walk around. 

We didn't like the moving traffic on site, or that you had to cross the main exit route to get from the car park and main toilets to the main part of the house and gardens. Take the usual care with young children. 

We liked the staff and volunteers who were very friendly and helpful, even when accompanied by boisterous pre-schoolers. There's a few attractions can learn something from the volunteers at Harewood House. 

Some parts of the house are inaccessible to wheelchairs and prams. Please look at their website for more details.

For more information, please visit their website at

Disclosure - we were given a family ticket to be able to do this review. We bought our own food, drinks and badges.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

The Maritime Museum, Hull, East Yorkshire

The Maritime Museum (known locally as the Town Dock Museum) is one of Hull's free city-centre museums. It is a collection of all things nautical, particularly local history, and things connected to trawling and whaling. It is in one of Hull's most famous buildings - the 19th century Docks offices buildings which were used, amongst other things, to administer migration from Eastern Europe to the Americas. If you love boats, local history, and sea-faring adventure, this museum is pretty good.

There's two floors of artefacts, maps, documents, and all sorts of other maritime items. I shall tell you in photos.

The central staircase is amazing. The old office buildings must have been the most beautiful place to work. If you were in to docks administration. Here they house busts and figureheads. 

Maritime Museum Hull

Maritime Museum Hull

The exhibitions include huge tuna fish skeletons, and lots of scale models of famous Hull fishing boats

There is also a fair bit of maritime art from around the world.........

One of the children's favourites is this stuffed polar bear.

They're not too sure about the actual whale skeleton

Maritime Museum Hull

.....or the whaling exhibition, including art made from whales teeth. It is fascinating but reminds the 9yo of how brutal humans have been over the years to animals.

Maritime Museum Hull

They are VERY fascinated by this hoax "mermaid" which fooled some 19th century folk.

....but they don't really like the pretend people demonstrating what sea life in the old days meant for the mortals of Hull

When we visited there was a Beryl Cook exhibition, which was a bit random. I'm not sure what she's got to do with Hull or maritime history, but it was a good exhibition, even if it really wasn't at all suitable for children.

Trip time - about two hours (alone or with older children). With pre-schoolers, a lot less.

Plus points
  • It's free!
  • If you love boats, local history, and anything maritime, you'll really like it here. 
  • It's in a beautiful building which is worth a visit in itself.

Family Friendliness - 2 out of 5. Sorry.
As much as this is a good museum, it is not family friendly, and this is why.....

  • You have to ring the bell to get a pram in. The building is very old which does make things awkward. I kicked the younger ones out and carried the empty pram up the half-dozen or so steps to get in.
  • There is a pram park (big tick) but it's fairly small, especially on busy days.
  • The gift shop is wide open and has lots of breakables in reach.
  • There is one toilet, which is locked and you have to ask for the key. Not ideal when you have a desperate pre-schooler.
  • There is a dressing up area, but this is about the only child-friendly bit. We didn't get a look in when we went. 
  • We got asked not to let the children run around, which is fair enough, but obviously difficult when they are so young.
  • There is very little for them to poke/prod/interact with. 
  • The temporary exhibition contained some material not at all suitable for children. They put it in a separate room, which is good, but you could see in to the room from the outside (and its contents). Yes, there were signs, but only from one of the doors into the exhibition room and yes, you guessed it, we entered from the other door. Cue embarrassed comments from my 9yo and some rather fun questions from the 6yo. 

So all in all, a great little free museum for those with older children, but no good at all for those five and unders. We shall be returning for when the school topic is anything sea or industry related. Otherwise, we will stick to Hands on History. Incidentally, the council is thinking of closing Hands on History, which is a huge shame as (I think) it's one of the best museums for families in the East Riding. You can sign the petition to save it here.

The Maritime Museum is on Hull's fish trail, and just opposite Ferens Art Gallery

You can learn more about the Maritime Museum on the council's website

Maritime Museum Hull
Hull City Hall from a window of the Maritime Museum

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The Hull and East Riding Museum, Hull, East Yorkshire

Hull and East Riding Museum

The Hull and East Riding Museum in Hull's museum quarter is worth an hour of your time. You can combine it with a trip to the Streetlife Museum next door, or as a stop off point on the Hull Fish Trail

My children know the museum as the woolly mammoth museum, and find parts of it quite scary. If you want to know about Roman, Pre-Historic, and various other historical periods and how Hull and the East Riding was shaped by the people of centuries past, then the Hull and East Riding Museum is great.

Actually, there's quite a lot to this museum. There's loads of information boards, and exhibits of old coins and weapons, and holy bowls dug up in the region. Lots of things. But my children aren't all that interested in that, so we got round it in about an hour. Those with a serious interest in all things archaeology, and without children, should allow more time.

We really liked the pre-historic fish room, with dinosaur-era fish and sharks hanging from the mirrored ceiling. There are also lots of fossils to look at and poke in here. 

Hull and East Riding Museum

The children, especially the three-year-olds were quite scared of all the 'pretend people' as we call them - the models of cave-people, and Saxons, and Romans. We didn't linger long looking at any of these, though they are pretty cool.

Hull and East Riding Museum

Hull and East Riding Museum

There is a bit of an obsession with all things death and burial. I suppose this comes from the inevitable discovery of burial grounds by archeologists. The children asked a few questions, but were surprising less concerned about the 'skellingtons' than of the pretend people.

Hull and East Riding Museum

The museum is home to a huge Viking longboat which has been there being preserved by salt water in a tank for as long as I can remember. It was found in the banks of the River Humber many years ago.

Hull and East Riding Museum

The Roman rooms are very good with lots of mosaics which have been found in East Yorkshire carefully relocated and reconstructed in the museum. The six-year old was fascinated, but the three-year olds were still scared of the pretend people, and slightly traumatised and baffled by the one in the replica Roman bath.

Hull and East Riding Museum

Hull and East Riding Museum

Upstairs (or lift) there is a mediaeval gallery with a collection of weaponry and armour, and a few more pretend people. 

Hull and East Riding Museum

Then a quick feel in the interactive bits and we're done!

Hull and East Riding Museum

Essential bits

Entry is free for everyone

Entry and exit is through the gift shop.

There is no pram park so you have to take your pram with you, even if your little ones want to walk round. There are some stairs throughout the museum, but there are lifts where you need them. 

Opening hours are varied. They don't open until 1.30pm on a Sunday, so be warned. Please check out the website here for more information.

Toilets are located at the entrance/exit and there are at least another set half-way round. Baby changing is also available. 

There is exhibition space where activities are run during the school holidays. Again, please check the website for more information.

Parking is the usual Hull City Centre arrangements. 

See also

And before you go anywhere.....did you see I'm down to the final five the the MAD Blog Awards Family Travel category? Super! Here's how you can vote for my blog and lots of other fantastic ones if you haven't already

Monday, 24 March 2014

The 2014 MAD Blog Awards. A thank you.

The more eagle-eyed reader may have noticed that I have swapped my shiny MAD Blog Awards 2014 'Nominate Me' badge for a rather more shiny 'Finalist' badge. Go me!

Firstly, I'd like to thank each and every one of you who voted for this little blog in the travel category. I am proper chuffed to have even got any nominations, let alone enough to be in the final five. So, thank you, from the bottom of our huge tent. This means I will now be going to the awards ceremony in September to party hard and meet up with a few other MAD bloggers, and I might even win the title. Maybe.

Super, super chuffed. Here's a great big thank-you smile (or three) for you.....

Anyway, I am in a category with four other superb travel blogs. They are...

Obviously, it would be awesome if you thought Kids Days Out Reviews was worthy of a vote over the four lovely others above, but I am so seriously happy just to be among them.

For those of you who have never been to visit this blog before, welcome! Here we (my family and I) share our opinions on places we visit. We started doing this in August 2012 and currently have around 100 posts with what we thought about all sorts of places from little animal farms, to huge theme parks. We also welcome other bloggers to contribute, and we have reviews from England, Scotland, and Wales. We have a few trips planned for this year already and this number will soon increase. We are also fans of camping, and we have featured a small number of campsites that we would recommend to other families.

Our favourite posts are......

Please have a read. You never know, you might find somewhere new to visit yourself.

To vote in the MAD Blog Awards, please follow this link. You can only vote once so make it count.

So, who will I be voting for in the awards? Actually, I've already voted! If you're stuck, then these blogs are worth a vote....

Jennifer's Little World - Jennifer is in the craft category, which is perfect for her. Jennifer is also a very good travel blogger and my most featured guest to date. Well recommended.

The Mummy Adventure - Bex and her two lovely little ones are in the Best Baby Blog category. Bex was one of my very first guest posters when I started this blog, with her brilliant piece on the Broadstairs Folk Festival. I am truly grateful for all those who contributed when I was still getting established, and Bex herself has deservedly got her own place in the finals.

Coombe Mill - in the Family Fun category, Coombe Mill are the hosts of the popular weekly linky #CountryKids and are very vocal about promoting outdoor adventure. They are also a family with multiples and know all about large family fun. What's not to love?

Voting closes on the 24th April, so don't delay!

Thank you, all you lovelies.

From Joanne and the all-girl testing team.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

#TeamHonk for Sport Relief in Hull and East Yorkshire

on Sunday 23rd March 2014, the #TeamHonk baton reaches John O'Groats. If you don't know what I'm talking about, where have you been?

The baton set off in January and it has been taken on an epic journey up and across the British Isles. It has done over 3000 miles, over 38 regional legs, involving over 200 members of the UK blogging community plus a veritable host of willing volunteers.

On March 2nd 2014, the baton reached East Yorkshire, and this is what we did...

We collected the baton from Hull Aero Club where it had been flown in on a bit of a dodgy day weather-wise by Leyla of the Sheffield team.

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

Helen and Mark cycled it to the beautiful Beverley Minster to hand it over to Izzy of cycling group Frillies on Wheels and her family....

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

......who cycled it another 12 miles or so to the region's biggest landmark The Humber Bridge.

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

After a bit of a delay, the Hulls Angels Roller Dames took over and gave it a good airing up in the blustery Humber winds.

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief
Courtesy of the Hull Daily Mail

A cycling team made up of Hull Cycle Courier, Bob's Bikes, Sunday Girls Road Club, and various other people took it the seven miles or so to the KC Stadium.

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

There waiting for us were the mascots of local sports teams Hull City, Hull KR, and Hull Stingrays, and the Lord Mayor of Hull and her family. We re-enacted the baton relay around the KC Stadium, to the amusement of a few baffled onlookers. You can see this on this clip.....

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

The next day, we took the baton via Hessle Road. Tami from Mummy of Two dressed as Orville the Duck, and Glen from came as Slinky Dog. Jess the mascot dog carried the baton rather well.

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

At ASDA, the baton passed to Flora Marriott, and she cycled the ten miles or so to North Ferriby United Football Club to pass the baton on to MEEEEE!

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

After a bit of a lark about, I set off with Stu of Hull Cycle Courier on a 30 mile bike ride to Selby. We were very lucky with the weather, and didn't get lost once! 

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

It took around four hours to get to Selby, and then we just had to find the drop off point. We found it after a bit of asking some puzzled looking Selby folk (thanks to the man at the bus station for helping us with directions and giving us some sponsorship money), and arrived at the school mid-governors meeting.

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief

The next day Izzy took up the baton again and rode with a friend over the 25 miles to Bardsey Sports Club which was our final destination. The baton was collected the next morning by Sian of Team Honk Bradford, and our work was done!

#TeamHonk Hull Sport Relief
All done!

You can sponsor our team here

You should sponsor us because....

It was a real community effort. Effectively with only two bloggers on the team and 70 miles to cover, we had to call on lots of volunteers to help us, and Hull came up trumps!
We had a brilliantly rock and roll bit on The Humber Bridge with Hulls Angels Roller Dames and they were simply the most awesome group of ladies. They deserve sponsorship simply for the most breezy drizzly afternoon of waiting around. 
I cycled 30 miles. The most I'd done to that day in one go was about 10, and that was only because of the training. Usually, I have a trailer on the back with two 3 year olds in it (and shopping). It was nice to get out and about with no-one to pull, but I won't pretend I didn't have to train beforehand, or didn't find it a little tough.
Tami dressed as Orville and walked down one of Hull's most famous shopping streets. With a giant slinky dog. Please give us some money!
£25 could provide a therapy session for a young person living with HIV to help them overcome the challenges they face. 
We got a dog! A real one. And she was very cute and extremely well behaved.
We roped in the support of all of Hull's major sports teams (apart from Hull FC, but they had an away game so we'll forgive them).
£50 could help a mother living in poverty in Bangladesh set up her own small business and provide for her family.
We've had all sorts of East Yorkshire companies come forward and give us items to auction off to raise more money, including The Deep, and Hull KR.
It was the generosity of Hull company RS Digital Signs which made the now famous banner which not only made it all the way through Hull and East Yorkshire, but has gone on to Harewood House, The Trafford Centre, through the Lake District, past The Angel of the North, and hopefully will make it all the way to the very northern point of the British mainland. You can see it on Instagram by following #teamhonkrelay
You can show the rest of the UK what community-minded people we have in Hull. We have a great history of helping others who are worse off than ourselves, and there are some great causes in Hull and East Yorkshire which are supported by Comic Relief and Sport Relief. 
We went for it BIG time on media coverage. We had three articles in the Hull Daily Mail, one on, went on BBC Radio Humberside twice, and on Beverley FM. If you live in Hull and didn't know about #TeamHonk then there is something amiss. You can read our media glory herehere, and here!

So, please look out for the baton arriving in John O'Groats on Sunday. There is something happening on Twitter from around 5pm, follow the #teamhonkrelay hashtag.

We have been very proud to have been a part of this mammoth project which showed how people from many different backgrounds in all corners of the UK can work together to do something special.

We'd like to say a huge #TeamHonk thank you to the following people who also donated to our fundraising auction and raised even more cash for a great cause.

Drumond Park games
Harewood House
Stockeld Park
Pi Student Properties

About Sport Relief 2014

The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.


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