Category Archives: kids

England’s Big Picture

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I was thrilled to receive an email today telling me one of my photos had been chosen by BBC News for their England’s Big Picture gallery. You can check out the page here  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-41227408

The photo was one I included in my blog post yesterday about the pleasures of Autumn days. This suspension footbridge holds many memories for me – I’ve wheeled three young babies and toddlers across this in pushchairs over the years to paddle in the beck or to play pooh sticks in the little hamlet of Menethorpe. More recently it’s me and the pooch using it for one of our walks.

The bridge itself is a beautiful and eye-catching piece of Victorian ironwork. It was constructed in 1885 and links the North Riding of Yorkshire to the East Riding of Menethorpe. It also takes you onto the Centenary Way which runs across the Howardian Hills and Yorkshire Wolds via Castle Howard and Wharram Percy.

If you enjoy photography why not submit a photo to the England’s Big Picture gallery by emailing england@bbc.co.uk or posting it on Facebook or Twitter @BBCEngland. I use Instagram with the hashtag #englandsbigpicture. Happy snapping!

 

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Puppy Love

Ten days ago a small, furry bundle of exuberance entered our family life in the form of Lola, our miniature labradoodle.

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Three months ago we had no plans on getting a dog. I happily went on walks with friends and their pooches but each time my middle son lobbied for a dog, I gave the usual responses of commitment, responsibility, thinking of all the things you couldn’t do when you’ve got a dog.

So, how did I get to the point of thinking about all the things you could do with a dog?

I think it was a drip feed process. The lobbying was fairly persistent from son number two and one particular line tugged at my heart strings: “So, does that mean I’ll have to be a grown man before I get my own dog?” Eek, the process of my doggy re-education begun.

After all, I grew up with a menagerie of animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, ponies, sheep, geese, ducks, hens and goats. Mine was a 70s childhood (The Good Life) where my mum let the ducks swim in our bath and we nursed poorly hens in our kitchen. So, I had this gnawing feeling I was denying my own children experiences I’d been given. Our own menagerie up to now consisted of a cat and three bantam hens.

Then on a winter’s weekend in January The Times (The Paper for Pets stamped across its cover) dedicated its Saturday newspaper supplement to DOGS…..The Top Dog Guide: What breed is best for you?

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It had photos of loads of different breeds: Easiest to train; Most intelligent; Best for a quiet life; Most misunderstood; Best for the city;  Most loving; Best with cats; Best for children. The list went on. There really was a dog for everyone. How could I refuse?

By the end of the weekend, we were seriously considering getting a dog. The Cockapoo seemed a good all-rounder. From Cockapoos to Maltipoos, these poodle crosses are currently very popular. A friend with a Cockapoo recommended a breeder in East Yorkshire so we gave Claire at Northcroft Doodles a call. Timing-wise there wasn’t a litter of Cockapoos due but her labrador Ruby was due to give birth in March. Woody, a charming miniature poodle, was the other half – creating labradoodle puppies.

We read up about labradoodles and they sounded wonderful family pets; excellent with kids; intelligent; eager to please; popular as therapy dogs and good for first-time owners.

I then started embarrassing the kids by stopping anyone with a dog I liked the look of and asking what breed it was. And as the boys buried their heads further into their hands, I found myself getting into long conversations about the joy of having a dog with their owners. I told the boys that nobody thought I was mad because everyone loved talking about their dogs – and they did!

Added to this, the world really does seem a dog-friendly place these days. Cafés have ‘We are Dog-Friendly’ stickers on their doors; there are programmes on TV about people and their dogs – I loved the Channel 4 Walks with my Dog as much for the dogs as the country walks the celebrities were going on. There were podcasts too like Walking The Dog. And there were books.

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I came across  Labrador by Ben Fogle in our local phone box library – not my usual reading material but I found myself hooked on the stories of dogs through history. I also bought a copy of The Goodness of Dogs by India Knight, a sort of practical guide to choosing a dog mixed with an overall appreciation of dogs.

Fast forward to a week or so ago and we went to collect Lola.

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She is a wonderful addition to our family, making us all laugh, smile, coo and yell – yes, puppies do things they are not meant to do….but who doesn’t love a puppy, whatever mischief they get up to?

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Although not everyone in the house has fallen in love with her. Our cat, Daisy, is on alert and has given out a hiss and a bat when junior has got too OTT. There’s an uneasy truce between the two at present.

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We can’t take Lola on walks yet until she’s had her vaccinations so we’ve spent a lot of time playing in the garden with her or carrying her on walks round the village. For her first outing into town, we took her to Roost, a lovely café in Malton’s Talbot Yard, which I knew would be dog-friendly as they have a goldendoodle I’ve always admired.

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And I’m pleased to say she’s a puppy after my own heart. Like any true cafe afficionado she sat quietly engrossed in people-watching, just as I enjoy doing with my cappuccino and cake. It’s not a bad life….

A café in the woods at Falling Foss

A few years back whilst on a walk with Mr B and our eldest son, who must have been about three at the time, we came across a tiny cottage in the woods. I clocked the FOR SALE sign and once back home, couldn’t resist checking out the estate agents’ details. I was soon swept away into a fantasy future of us running a café there.

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Fast forward almost ten years and as you’ve guessed, we didn’t sell up and re-locate to the cottage at Falling Foss. However, husband and wife team, Jack and Steph Newman, did take on the challenge and in that time they have transformed it into the idyllic and popular Falling Foss Tea Garden.

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The tea garden’s setting in the grounds of Midge Hall (once an 18th century gamekeeper’s cottage and also a tearoom in the 1900s) is magical. It’s situated deep in the woods, right at the top of the 30-foot Falling Foss waterfall…

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alongside plenty of other spots where there’s fun to be had paddling and splashing about in the water…

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To get to the Falling Foss Tea Garden, park in the car park at the top and follow the woodland path down until you see the café. There’s also a pleasant circular woodland walk if you want to build up an appetite. If you’ve got kids with you, you might like to let them lead the way with the help of these illustrated Making Tracks In the North York Moors walking packs for kids.

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The walk, which is a couple of miles long, takes you past and behind the tea garden (don’t worry you’ll be back this way for that promised tea and cake)

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You then re-enter the woods and past the Hermitage, a cave carved out of a huge stone – always a favourite for a bit of climbing…

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(Psst, did you spot Mr B peering out from the cave?)

The walk eventually brings you back to the footpath you started out on and to the tea garden where a rustic wooden hut displays an array of tempting treats.

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There’s plenty of seating to choose from…

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When we visited there were lots of vases of flowers decorating the garden – maybe left over from a wedding?

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There are plenty of places for kids to play and entertain themselves from clambering across logs  over the river to having fun in little havens like this…

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Well, you can’t really leave without a game of Pooh sticks on the wooden bridge can you? Oh, and by the way, Pooh sticks are provided. Have fun!

The mystery of Lake Gormire

Even just looking down at Lake Gormire from the top of Sutton Bank, you get a sense of why myths have grown up around it over time.

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Beneath its inky depths lurks a hidden city, the devil or perhaps most chillingly – a bottomless pit. All according to local legend, of course.

Even its name, Lake Gormire, has a mythical, magical ring to it, conjuring up images of the future past scenery of Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit.

Its real life mystery is that it’s one of only two natural lakes in Yorkshire, created by meltwater at the end of the last ice age. Added to this curiosity is that no water flows into or from it so it remains incredibly still. The theory is that it’s fed by an underground spring and drained through a channel below.

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If you fancy exploring Lake Gormire for yourself, park up at Sutton Bank Visitor Car Park. You head out on the Cleveland Way, past the signpost directing you to the best view in England…

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It was vet-turned-author James Herriot who declared the view as the finest in the country.

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The viewing platform points out various landmarks – the spectacular views across the Vale of Mowbray, gliders from the Yorkshire Gliding Club, Roulston Scar, Hood Hill, Menwith Hill, Blubberhouses, Garbutt Wood and Lake Gormire below.

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Further along the Cleveland Way, you take a left turn down a very, and I mean, very steep footpath that cuts through the woodland. On our recent visit it was just Mr B and myself navigating our way down the slope – kids will need a helping hand and it’s a no-go for pushchairs.

However, it’s well worth the hike – the lakeside is one of the most tranquil places I have ever been to with a fantasy fairytale atmosphere.

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Somebody had already been busy here as there were a couple of rope swings hanging from the trees, ready for some fun in the lake for the next young visitors.

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Through the trees we spotted a swan and its cygnets gliding across the water.

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After walking round the lake we braced ourselves for the steep climb back to Sutton Bank and as it was our anniversary, Mr B and I headed for lunch at the very nice Carpenters Arms in Felixkirk, just down the road.

This whole area is steeped in history and folklore. I first read about Lake Gormire, amongst other local places, in a fascinating book called The Plot by journalist Madeleine Bunting. It’s a layered history of one acre of land near the North York Moors. But I think you could discover the same histories on any other acre of land in the UK and beyond.

Have fun if you do decide to visit!

I am sailing…I am sailing…

….Home again, ‘Cross the sea, I am sailing, stormy waters….

Oops, sorry – I can’t resist a sing-along to Rod Stewart given half the chance. Anyway, getting back to the point of this post. Fortunately, it was neither stormy waters nor an ocean for our sailing lesson at Allerthorpe Lakeland Park near Pocklington…

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My eldest son has been keen on doing a sailing course for a while. So after asking around, I came across the watersports centre at Allerthorpe Lakeland Park which offers a two-hour taster sailing session. I have always quite fancied a go at sailing myself – and so did Mr B, so we both decided to get in on the action and booked onto the course too.

It was either this or perhaps at the back of our mind was the thought that we weren’t quite ready to hand over the controls to a 12-year-old if we found ourselves in a boat together – so best that we all do a crash course.

The boats that we took out were these catamarans with their eye-catching candy-coloured sails…

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Once we were kitted out with spray tops and buoyancy jackets (helmets for the juniors) and having gone through some basics, we headed along the jetty and onto our boats….

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The great thing about Allerthorpe Lakeland Park is that there are plenty of other things to do there which you don’t need to book ahead for. You can just turn up and take out kayaks, canoes and pedalos…

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Or you can just enjoy the peaceful location. We were lucky enough to have grandparents with us to keep an eye on our younger two who had fun in the play park, visiting the pet corner and following the footpaths round the lake…

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The taster session is a great way to find out if you like sailing without forking out a huge amount of cash (you can go on to do a RYA – Royal Yachting Association – certificate here).

Our instructor, Ryan, was great, full of encouragement, teaching us the theory and giving us the chance to put this into practice.

Joseph (our eldest son) took to it very quickly and was soon steering himself across the lake.

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Mr B and I were in a boat together….a good test of our team building skills…

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Along with learning to tack and gybe, Ryan taught us some crucial skills like how to upturn a capsized catamaran. Admittedly these twin hull boats are pretty stable on the water, especially at Allerthorpe with just a gentle breeze blowing across the lake, but I am guessing that on choppier waters your boat might tip over…

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The fun thing about sailing is that the boat is totally reliant on the wind, so you have to be aware of the wind direction and also its strength. It was actually quite a calm day which I quite appreciated given as it was our first lesson.

And after all that activity on the lake, and a quick change of clothes, we were ready for a cuppa and cake in the café….

cafe and boats Whether you just want to have fun on one of the pedalos, take out a kayak or try a sailing or windsurfing lesson, Allerthorpe is a great place to spend an afternoon.

To get there, head along the A1079 from York towards Hull and it’s close to Pocklington. Allerthorpe itself is a pretty little village and the pub there, The Plough Inn, looks very nice too.

A beach hut in Brid

What springs to mind when you think of Bridlington?

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A full-on seaside experience with gaudy fairground rides, fish and chips, a bit faded round the edges maybe?

Bridlington is certainly one of the Yorkshire coast’s most popular and busy summer holiday resorts. You can’t miss the carousel rides, helter skelters and dodgems as you walk along the North Bay promenade.

But continue past the harbour (more of which later)….

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…..past the wonderful Art Deco Spa Theatre…

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…..and you’ll get to the most glorious stretch of sandy beach.

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Perfect for playing ball games on and riding bicycles….

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And with the added bonus of some great beach chalets. My favourites are those along Princess Mary Promenade…

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So with the sun shining we rang the Foreshores office and made a last minute booking to hire one for the day. We managed to park along South Marine Drive which runs parallel to the beach huts.

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The beach chalet comes with two chairs, two deckchairs, a sink and an electricity which means you can set up camp and have a base for the whole day – and evening.

The little water channel (which leads to a paddling pool further along) in front of the chalets provided hours of fun for the boys. Don’t forget to pack the water pistols which we did, so we ended up buying some cheap ones from the nearby very well-stocked beach shop.

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As we had a ‘kitchen’ we decided to have a BBQ in the afternoon…

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…and enjoyed great views out to sea with a few more boats bobbing about as the afternoon went on.

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Early evening is when the harbour comes to life. We strolled along the pier where dozens of fishermen were casting out their rods.

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You can see the white cliffs of nearby Sewerby in the distance.

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Bridlington Harbour is magnificent. It’s well worth a wander around to admire the vast array of colourful fishing boats and to watch the fishermen bring in their evening catch.

This harbour is actually the largest lobster landing port in Europe. We watched fishermen haul in crates of lobsters and crabs. We were told by one of the fishermen that ninety per cent of this shellfish is shipped abroad: “We don’t eat shellfish in this country,” the chap explained.

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We weren’t the only ones watching what was going on. Somebody else obviously knew when it was supper time!

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There’s a lot of fun to be had in this great Yorkshire seaside resort. I will be revealing a few more hidden gems of Bridlington over the next few weeks.

See you next time!

A trip to Cycle Heaven

Isn’t it great when the journey is as much fun as getting where you want to be? With helpful signs pointing us in the right direction, we didn’t have much trouble finding our destination – the new café at Cycle Heaven.

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Cycle Heaven is one of York’s best-known bike shops which started out in Bishopthorpe Road (blog post here in case you don’t know this gem of a street) where it still has a shop for repairs and accessories, as well as one at York Station for repairs and cycle hire.

It recently expanded by opening a third shop with a café in bigger premises in Hospital Fields Road.

You can get there from York centre via Rowntree Park in Terry Avenue.

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Park up in the car park here and walk, cycle or scoot which is what the boys did.

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It’s great cycling and scooting territory, especially for kids – the paths are actually part of the York Orbital Cycle Route which circles the city and begins and ends at the Millennium Bridge.

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Rowntree Park itself is a lovely green space with a play area, skatepark and its own café, The Rowntree Park Reading Room & Café which is well worth a visit.

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You cross The Millennium Bridge.

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Check out the padlocks adorning the metal grids. If you’ve been to Paris you’ll know that the Pont de L’Archeveche is, or rather was covered in these love locks.

Last year the love tokens were removed from the bridge by Parisian officials because they they were causing damage to the bridge. This doesn’t seem to be an issue at the moment in York unless more people decide to declare their love here.

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I wonder if Dave and Vicky are still an item? Tradition is that you throw away the key so I hope it all worked out.

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The new Cycle Heaven building is on the site of an old military hospital. The café is run by the people at Café 68 (they already have a café in Gillygate and run the café at the Castle Museum). It’s a great space – with room for families, buggies, prams, dogs, bikes, scooters, you name it – you’ll all squeeze in.

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The menu has a good range of salads, soups, sandwiches and cakes. The staff were very accommodating with the boys whose cosmopolitan taste in food is still under construction so it was sausage sandwiches all round for them.

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The café is at one end of the bike showroom so I found myself eyeing up some lovely bicycles over my lunch…..

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with some eye-catching floral accessories….

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Just not sure they would get me to the finish line of the Tour de Yorkshire 2016 – what do you reckon?