YORKSHIRE EVENING POST: Meet the Yorkshire Family behind Yorkshire Families Magazine Blog

YORKSHIRE EVENING POST: Meet the Yorkshire Family behind Yorkshire Families Magazine Blog

Yorkshire Families editor Sophie Mei Lan and her family are regularly featured in Yorkshire Evening Post so we thought we’d also share their favourite things to do in the region.

Sophie Mei Lan is a multi-award-winning vlogger, blogger and film-maker – she runs Yorkshire Families magazine, MamaMei.co.uk (a family and mental health blog) and Evoke Media Group – an all female video production and influencer marketing company Blog Up North.

Sophie, 31, lives with her husband Chris Hale of three years, 32 and their two daughters Jasmine, 7, and Arianna Hale, 4.

Family of the Week – as featured in Yorkshire Evening Post


What are your top tips for getting
children to do what you ask?

I try to be as positive and a gentle parent where possible. So I try to explain things and reason with them. But sometimes if they’ve kept me up at night I loose my rag!

Bribery and rewards normally do the job too.


What family task takes you the longest?

Getting ready for school and nursery, we have endless troubles over what to wear and how wrinkly their tights are.

What’s the weirdest thing your children
have done/brought home/done to your house?

My eldest Jasmine loves art and regularly comes out of school with enormous box models made out of rubbish. We always look odd as I don’t drive so have to try and get the kids and a huge sculpture of rubbish home, I’m like Buckaroo. Jasmine’s very precious about keeping them as well.  



Have your children ever really, really surprised you? How and why?

We both have our own YouTube channels. I vlog about mental health and attachment parenting at YouTube.com/sophiemeilan and they have their own Make and Move channel. And they have taken to presenting and vlogging so naturally they instantly say: “Hi guys, comment down below, subscribe and give this video a thumbs up.”

What’s the most bizarre thing you have found yourself saying since having kids?

My daughter was at the bus stop for me and begging for an apple and all I had was chocolate in my bag. The other people at the bus stop looked disgusted at me.

What’s the funniest thing your children have ever said/done?


They told their teacher in a careers class that their mummy is a professional footballer for a living (because they’ve seen me play football a few times… I love it but no-one would ever pay me to play it!).

Mini moan – what really gets your goat?

Judgemental people! You really don’t know what battle or toddler someone is facing. So just don’t judge and try empathise.

What’s your favourite family day out?

We’ve always loved the free crafts at The Hepworth Wakefield and now we run The Hepworth Cafe there, so we’re there all the time.

We had a lovely day out at Kirkstall Abbey recently and it’s free to enter.


Image India Hobson / The Hepworth Wakefield

What hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy as a family and separately?


We all love going to Xscape in Castleford, from bouncing on trampolines in Gravity to learnming to snowboard in SnoZone, there’s loads to do. We also love trying out climbing walls and love the new one at Meadowhall in Sheffield. I also love dancing, vlogging and shopping at Victoria Gate, Kirkgate Market and Trinity Walk in Wakefield.

What’s the hardest thing about being a parent?

It can be relentless and trying to reason with kids mid tantrum is hard.


What’s a typical evening for the grown-ups once the children are in bed?


I co-sleep and breastfeed, so there’s no such evening without kids for me.

What is Leeds’ most family-friendly restaurant and why?

We like trying out different places inside The Light or Trinity Leeds. In Wakefield we love going to Abdul’s Indian or Pizza Express.

What’s the best thing about weekends and why?

No school runs and reviewing lots of family-friendly places for my YorkshireFamilies.co.uk blog and magazine.

What is your most treasured memory?

My daughter nearly died when she was 3 months old. And the Leeds Intensive Care Unit loved her back to life. I’ll never forget the moment that she started breathing again.


What’s the number one thing you would change about Leeds?

The transport! Lack of parking, awful trains and the ring road.


What’s the children’s favourite food/meal?
They love a good Sunday Dinner with lots of gravy.

What’s your top penny-pinching tip?

Take a range of snacks around with you.


One family member’s proudest achievement?

I was a semi-finalist bellydancer on Britain’s Got Talent and my husband Chris Hale was a quarter-finalist on BBC’s MasterChef.

What one item can you not live without?

My gym kit, phone and liquid eyeliner.


What can your children not live without?


YouTube and my phone.  

Child’s favourite book and author

We went to see Dear Zoo recently at Wakefield’s Theatre Royal and they loved that by Rod Campbell.

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Dear Zoo live on Stage in Yorkshire: Watch Rod Campbell’s children’s book in Wakefield, Bridlington, Rotherham and Harrogate

Dear Zoo live on Stage in Yorkshire: Watch Rod Campbell’s children’s book in Wakefield, Bridlington, Rotherham and Harrogate

Rod Campbell’s best-selling classic lift-the- flap book Dear Zoo, has been brought to life in a new stage production which is coming to Yorkshire.

Dear Zoo live on stage!  will be coming to theatres in Bridlington, Rotherham, Harrogate and Wakefield this year. So Yorkshire Families will get to make the most of the classic children’s book live on stage.

As we’re so excited for the show (we’ll be heading to Theatre Royal Wakefield to see it), we wanted to share this rare interview with Dear Zoo Author Rod Campbell…. 

Rod Campbell

“I wrote to the zoo

to send me a pet.

They sent me an …”

And so begins Rod Campbell’s famous book, Dear Zoo.

However, it is my solemn duty to inform you that we were almost living in a world without Dear Zoo! Rod Campbell’s immensely successful children’s book, which has sold an eye-watering eight million copies in twenty different languages, nearly failed to see the light of day.

If that had happened, we would also have been deprived of the very exciting prospect of the first ever stage show of Dear Zoo. The bestselling book has been adapted by Rod into a play, entitled Dear Zoo Live on Stage, which is touring the country this spring – more of which anon.

dear zoo by rod campbell book cover

When we meet at his publishers, Macmillan Children’s Books, Rod, who is as charming and as likeable as his most famous book, takes up the story. “When I was younger, I tried to make it as a painter.

“I had no money. I lived in friends’ attics, and moved ten times in eight years. I made ends meet by doing painting and decorating. It was like La Boheme.”

For the decade before the book’s publication in 1982, Rod did a very passable impersonation of a starving artist. Determined to make it as a painter, he had no thought of being a children’s author.

dear zoo by rod campbell book

“Then someone whose sister worked at a children’s publishing house saw some of my drawings. I was introduced to them and asked to illustrate some simple books for the under fives. This act of kindness started me on a career in children’s books – serendipity, one could say.”

Rod recalls that, at the time, “One voice in my head was saying, ‘But you’re an artist with a capital A. You can’t possibly do that.’ But another voice in my head was saying, ‘Why not? It looks like great fun.’ The second voice prevailed, thank goodness.”

Thank goodness, indeed. Soon afterwards, the publishers Blackie expressed an interest in his work, and the rest is children’s-book history.

dear zoo by rod campbell book

The delightful story of Dear Zoo – in which a child writes to the zoo asking to be sent a pet – has become a publishing phenomenon and celebrated its 35th anniversary in 2017 with a unique partnership with London Zoo.

Now, having established himself as one of the best-loved and most successful children’s authors in the UK, at the age of 72 Rod is entering a brave new world.

Produced by Norwell Lapley Productions and directed by Michael Gattrell, Dear Zoo Live on Stage will appeal particularly to children aged between 2 and 6 years.

Realised through wonderfully child-engaging puppets, original music and lots of audience interaction, it will immediately attract families and children who are already fans of the book. But it will also act as a splendid introduction to those discovering the story for the first time.

The show which toured successfully in 2018 will be touring the country once again in 2019 tis spring, opening on Sunday 3 February at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn. The tour features more than 72 scheduled dates around the UK, with more to come. Full details are available at http://www.dearzooandfriends.com/dear-zoo-live

Dear Zoo Live on Stage will bring the timeless magic of the book to life in an unforgettable way. Children – and of course their parents – will be able to experience the wonder of…

Dear Zoo live for the first time.

Rod has found the process of writing a play quite an eye-opener. He admits that the job of transferring his story to the stage was, at times, challenging.

But the author emerged from the process with a tremendous sense of pleasure at having mastered an entirely new skill. Rod declares that, “It’s been a wonderful experience.

“I have really enjoyed solving problems, and it’s been a great delight to learn something new. I’ve learned a whole new language, including phrases as simple as ‘upstage’ and ‘downstage’. When I wrote, ‘exit stage left’, a frisson ran down my spine!”

Above all, in creating the play, Rod was anxious to remain as faithful as possible to the essence of his widely adored book. To that end, Dear Zoo Live on Stage elicits the same excitement as the book.

The author explains that, “The stage show will play on the thrill of opening the crates.”

“Children up to the age of six love the animals and they also love the guesswork – ‘What’s in the box?’”

It is that curiosity, Rod believes, which has ensured that the book has remained so popular. “Children have a great curiosity about what’s behind the flap. They love to open the flaps again and again.

“Of course, they know what’s behind each one, but every time they approach it as though they don’t. For every child each time is like the first time. The payoff in the play is that inside each crate is an animal that speaks.”

“The other thing children adore about Dear Zoo”, Rod adds, is that, “After the first time, they know that the book is

completely safe. There is nothing in it that will bite them. So they can luxuriate in pretending to be scared by it.

“And of course, it ends with a puppy. That is the present at the end. You’ve gone through several unsuitable animals, and then you get to the perfect animal at the end. It’s a reward.”

Rod is hopeful that audiences will leave the theatre having had a very happy experience at Dear Zoo Live on Stage and that the show will bring many children into the theatre for the first time.

Even today, 35 years after it was first published, people still rush up to tell Rod how much Dear Zoo means to them. The author says, “I remember one parent telling me, ‘My 18-month-old daughter loves it. She walks around all the time with the book under her arm.’ Or they say, and this is the killer, ‘My child loves this book – and I loved it when I was a child, too.’ That sort of reaction is deeply touching and you’re forced to think that Dear Zoo is something that connects.”

I’ll say.

So I think we can safely conclude that at least 8 million of us remain very grateful that three and a half decades ago, Rod chose to write books for young children over his love of fine art.

Full details about the Dear Zoo Live on Stage tour are available at http://www.dearzooandfriends.com/dear-zoo-live.

Dear Zoo text extract © Rod Campbell, 1982

dear zoo by rod campbell book

“I’m absolutely delighted that Dear Zoo is being brought to life on stage for the very first time!” Rod Campbell, author and illustrator

  Dear Zoo live on stage!  will continue to delight audiences when it opens on 4 February at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn.    With 73 scheduled dates around the UK, full details are available at:   www.dearzooandfriends.com/dearzoo-live

Celebrating 35 years in 2017, Dear Zoo, published by Macmillan Children’s Books, the story of a child who writes to the zooasking them to send a pet, continues to delight each new generation of children as they lift the flaps in search of the perfect animal.

“The whole production was full of energy and cleverly pitched at its audience…”   Bury Free Times

Written by Rod Campbell, produced by Norwell Lapley Productions and directed by                                   Michael Gattrell, Dear Zoo live on stage! is suitable for children aged 2 – 6 years. Brought to life through child-engaging puppets, original music and lots of audience interaction, the show immediately appeals to families and children who already love the book and will serve as a wonderful introduction to those coming to the story for the first time.

Rod Campbell is the master of interactive storytelling and an expert in early learning for pre-schoolers. As a trusted household name, his books have stood the test of time and continue to be a staple addition to the family bookshelf and a popular choice for early years’ teachers. The creator of more than 200 books for children, Rod Campbell’s unique ability to be both fun and reassuring encourages children to discover and delight in the world around them.

 

Commenting on Dear Zoo live on stage! Rod Campbell said “I can hardly believe that Dear Zoo has celebrated its 35th anniversary and I really am enormously touched and delighted that successive generations of young children continue to love Dear Zoo – their obvious pleasure when interacting with it is so gratifying to see, and for me is the very greatest of compliments!”

                              www.dearzooandfriends.com

Date Venue Box Office/Website Time
Monday 4 February –

Wednesday  6 February

Shrewsbury,                  Theatre Severn

01743 281 281

www.theatresevern.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30
Thursday 7 February

Friday 8 February

New Brighton,

Floral Pavilion

0151 666 0000

https://www.floralpavilion.com/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Saturday 9 February

Sunday 10 February

Ulverston,

Coronation Hall

01229 588 994

http://corohall.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Monday 11 February

Tuesday 12 February

Lancaster, Grand

01524 64695

https://lancastergrand.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Thursday 14 February

Friday 15 February

Wycombe Swan

01494 512000

wycombeswan.co.uk/Online/

1.30

10.30 /1.30

Saturday 16 February

Sunday 17 February

Portsmouth,

Theatre Royal

023 9264 9000

https://www.newtheatreroyal.com/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Tuesday 19 February

Wednesday 20 February

Thursday 21 February

Southport,

The Atkinson

01704 533 333

www.theatkinson.co.uk

 

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

11.00

Friday 22 February

Saturday 23 February

Ipswich,

New Wolsey Theatre

01473 295900

https://www.wolseytheatre.co.uk/

 

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Wednesday 13 March

Thursday 14 March

Stevenage,                         Gordon Craig Theatre

01438 363200

www.gordon-craig.co.uk/

1.30/3.30

11.00/2.00

Friday 15 March

Saturday 16 March

Gravesend,

Woodville Halls

0844 243 9480

https://woodville.thebigideaonline.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30                       11.00 /2.00
Sunday 17 March

Monday 18 March

Eastbourne, Devonshire Park Theatre

01323 412000

https://www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/venue/devonshire-park-theatre

1.30 /3.30

11.00

Tuesday 19 March

Wednesday 20 March

Basildon,                    Towngate Theatre

01268 465465

http://www.towngatetheatre.co.uk/

 

1.30/3.30                       11.00 /2.00
Thursday 21 March

Friday 22 March

Saturday 23 March

Chipping Norton Theatre

01608 642350

http://www.chippingnortontheatre.com/

 

4.00

11.00 /2.00

11.00 /2.00

Tuesday 9 April

Wednesday 10 April

Bridlington Spa

 

01262 678258

https://www.bridspa.com/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Thursday  11 April

Friday 12 April

Saturday 13 April

Sunday 14 April

Birmingham Hippodrome

0844 338 5000

https://www.birminghamhippodrome.com

 

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

11.00 /2.00

11.00 /2.00

Wednesday 17 April

Thursday 18 April

Harrogate Theatre

01423 502 116

www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Friday 19 April

Saturday 20 April

Sale, Waterside

 

0161 912 5616

http://watersideartscentre.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Sunday 21 April

Monday 22 April

Wakefield,                       Theatre Royal

01924 211 311

http://www.theatreroyalwakefield.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Tuesday 23 April

Wednesday 24 April

St  Albans,                             Alban Arena

01727 844 488

www.alban-arena.co.uk

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Thursday 25 April

Friday 26 April

Peterborough, Key Theatre

01733 207239

www.vivacity-peterborough.com/vivacity-venues/the-key-theatre

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Sunday 28 April

Monday 29 April

Bromsgrove, Artrix

01527 577330

www.artrix.co.uk

1.30 /3.30

11.00

Wednesday 1 May

Thursday 2 May

Folkestone,                   Leas Cliff Hall

01303 228600

www.atgtickets.com/venues/leas-cliff-hall

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Friday 3 May

Saturday 4 May

Winchester                   Theatre Royal

01962 840440

https://www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk

1.30/

11.00 /2.00

Sunday 5 May

Monday 6 May

Hastings,                  White Rock Theatre

01424 462288

https://whiterocktheatre.org.uk/Online/

2.00

10.30 /1.00

Tuesday 7 May

Wednesday 8 May

Harlow, Playhouse

01279 431945

http://www.harlowplayhouse.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30

11.00

Thursday 9 May

Friday 10 May

East Grinstead, Chequermead Theatre

01342 302000

www.chequermead.org.uk

2.00

10.30 /1.00

Wednesday 15 May

Thursday 16 May

Durham, Gala

0300 026 6600

https://www.galadurham.co.uk/

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Saturday 18 May

Sunday 19 May

Lincoln, Theatre Royal

01522 519999

www.newtheatreroyallincoln.co.uk

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Wednesday 22 May

Thursday 23 May

Maidstone, Hazlitt

https://www.parkwoodtheatres.co.uk/Hazlitt-Theatre

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Saturday 25 May

Sunday 26 May

Rotherham, Civic

01709 823621

www.rotherhamtheatres.co.uk

1.30 /3.30

11.00 /2.00

Tuesday 28 May

Wednesday 29 May

Wrexham

William Aston Hall

0844 249 1000

www.thewilliamastonhall.com

1.30 /3.30

11.00/2.00

Thursday 30 May

Friday 31 May

Darlington, Hippodrome

01325 405405

http://www.darlingtoncivic.co.uk/blog/blog

2.00

11.00 2.00

Saturday 1 June

Sunday 2 June

Leamington Spa, Royal Spa Centre

01926 334418

https://www.warwickdc.gov.uk/royalspacentre/site/index.php

1.30

11.00 /2.00

 

** DISCLAIMER: WE WILL RECEIVE A FAMILY PASS TO SEE THE SHOW AND HAVE AGREED TO RUN THIS PREVIEW IN ADVANCE.**

CHINESE NEW YEAR: Where to celebrate CNY in Yorkshire? Plus activities, crafts and what to do

CHINESE NEW YEAR: Where to celebrate CNY in Yorkshire? Plus activities, crafts and what to do

Chinese New Year aka the Spring Festival is upon us (according to the Lunar Calendar) and we are now embarking on the Year of the Pig, so we’ve been searching for things to do to celebrate Chinese New Year in Yorkshire.

This Chinese New Year is the 12th year of the traditional 12 year Chinese Calendar, so it has been said that it will be a lucrative new year for Peppa Pig (as the new Chinese New Year symbol for the Year of the Pig).

As a mixed race family living here in Yorkshire, I have always loved celebrating Chinese New Year and finding things to do. So we have been searching for what to do this Chinese New Year with the family, throughout Yorkshire and at home.

fbt

What’s On in Yorkshire this Chinese New Year:

  • Sheffield Chinese New Year Extravaganza on at Sheffield City Hall on February 6th. This is a Yorkshire family favourite of mine with dancing, singing, stalls, music and much more (it’s jam packed so can be quite a long show albeit lively).
    Traditional Chinese performing arts including dance, acrobatics and martial arts to celebrate Lunar Year of the Pig.
    The event is organised by Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Chinese Community Centre, Wanlin Dance Academy, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, Lai Yin Association, Hallam University. This annual celebration is a cultural outreach event where the local Chinese Community celebrates alongside people from across the city.Pre-Show at 4:00 – 6:45pm (free admission): will include Stalls, school children’s artwork display, China in your Eyes photographs, Stories and Videos’ display, prize-giving ceremonies, Cultural Activities, Food Sale and Stage Performance at the Ballroom.Main Show: will be held at the Main Hall (ticketed), at 7.00pm.Venue: Sheffield City Hall, Barker’s Pool, Sheffield S1 2JA. Tickets can be purchased at the Office or by calling 0114 2228332.Tickets: Standard at £8 each; Children under 12, Students and Seniors at £6 each.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eE_PpDCO5Lw&w=560&h=315

  • If you fancy a night out there’s a Chinese New Year Party on at Plug nightclub in Sheffield on 5th February from 22.30, organised by Sheffield Hallam University and University of Sheffield.
  • Chinese New Year Extravaganza is on at Royal Hall in Harrogate on 14th February 2019. Touring across the country to celebrate the biggest festive event on the Chinese calendar, ‘Chinese New Year Extravaganza’ features a team of performers showcasing amazing Chinese performing arts. From the cheerful spirit of the auspicious Lion Dance, to the awe-inspiring contortion, the show is a colourful display of Chinese cultural tradition.
  • If you’re happy to head a bit further afield North East family fun blog, share where to celebrate Chinese New Year in the North East .
  • Also, over in Manchester they are holding a full weekend of Chinese New Year festivities from 7-10th February in the city centre. And Liverpool celebrates the Spring Festival 8-10th February 2019.

What to look out for next year, Chinese New Year 2020 in Yorkshire:

  • Leeds Chinese Community School holds a special performance at Leeds Town Hall. This year’s Rhythm of the Spring show took place at the end of January.
  • Chinese New Year Gala organised by students and scholars from University of Leeds.
  • On February 1st a Chinese New Year Gala took place at Joseph Rowntree Theatre organised by the University of York Chinese Society.In the tradition of mainland China, everyone would watch the New Year Gala with their family on New Year Eve. As people are studying or working in the UK and not able to fly back home, the Chinese Society held its own New Year Gala to help people in the city feel less homesick.

Here’s how to celebrate  Chinese New Year, the ‘Spring Festival’ at home

A selection of blogging buddies have helped me to come up with these ideas.

  • Crafts

Danielle Duggins shares her Chinese Fan Craft and Puppet Craft  ideas here.

Heather McAvan recommends these crafts: Paper Plate Puppet, Chinese Dragon Lantern Craft and Paper Plate fan .

Jessica Harvey suggests making this, Chinese New Year Craft Dragon .

Jenny Kearney has this Free Chinese New Year printable colouring in picture for you to to try.

Jane Arschavir also has this free printable and this Drum Craft where you make a drum out of paper plates.

Jade Bremner  suggests making a simple Chinese dragon.

She said: “Literally just print off some dragons, colour them in and pop them on lollipop sticks. It’s fun and cheap.” 

Jade’s friend Spike Davis-Riseborough also made this cute Origami pig.

pig origami Spike Davis-Riseborough

Got some spare jam jars? this lantern craft is a great idea…

  • Food 

Blogger Katy Stevens recommends this Salt and Pepper Chicken recipe … 

Bonne Maman also shared these Chinese New Year recipes with us…

Chinese Duck a L’Orange

(Serves 2)

Ingredients:

·       2 duck breasts

·       Salt and pepper

·       100g Bonne Maman Bitter Orange, Sweet Orange or Tangy Mandarin Marmalade

·       3tbsp soy sauce

·       1tbsp sesame seeds

 

Method:

1. Preheat your oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7. Slash the skin of the duck breasts then season generously and place – skin side down – in a hot, dry frying pan over a high heat. Cook for 2 minutes then turn and cook for 2 minutes again.

2. Meanwhile, in a small roasting tin mix the marmalade with the soy sauce and sesame seeds. Add the part cooked duck and coat well.

3. Roast in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

4. Drizzle the juices from the roasting tin over the meat and serve with potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

 

 Avocado, Prawn and Cabbage Salad 

(Serves 6)

Ingredients:

·       6 fat garlic cloves, thinly sliced

·       2 tbsp vegetable oil

·       350g (12oz) raw shelled prawns

·       25g (1oz) roasted cashew nuts, finely chopped

·       1 ripe avocado

·       125g (4oz) white cabbage or Chinese cabbage, finely shredded

·       1 small green mango, peeled, stoned and shredded

·       1 small handful of fresh mint and coriander leaves, roughly chopped

·       6 spring onions, shredded

For the dressing:

·       ½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

·       1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

·       2 generous tbsp. Bonne Maman Apricot Conserve

·       Juice of 2 limes

·       1 tbsp fish sauce

·       2 tbsp vegetable oil

Method:

1.    Put all the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake together.

2.   Fry the garlic in the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat until golden and crispy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3.   In the same oil, stir-fry the prawns with the roasted cashew nuts for about 2-3 minutes until the prawns are just pink. Add to the garlic, spoon over 2 tablespoons of the dressing and set aside to cool.

4.   When ready to serve, peel, stone and dice the avocado and toss together with the cabbage, mango, herbs, spring onions and prawn mixture. Serve immediately, handing round the remaining dressing in a separate bowl.

 

Cooks Tips

– Make the dressing up to 1 week ahead and keep in a jar in the fridge. Cook the prawn mixture the day before needed. Keep chilled and toss everything together just before serving.

– This dressing is also delicious spooned over pan-fried chicken fillets and served with basmati rice

Whatever you’re doing this Chinese New Year, here at Yorkshire Families we want to wish you a happy and healthy New Year! Do let us know any ideas or recommendations in the comments below. Thank you!

 

BUTTERFLIES AT SHEFFIELD THEATRES: A play about feeling butterflies in your stomach: Review

BUTTERFLIES AT SHEFFIELD THEATRES: A play about feeling butterflies in your stomach: Review

Three friends embark on an exciting adventure to chase their butterflies away. They cross new seas to uncharted lands on a journey filled with discovery. The only trouble is they’re all a bit worried about it!

During their voyage the group ride the waves, walk high bridges, skirt deep caves and climb to the sky, before reaching dry land braver than ever before.

An uplifting tale of friendship, courage and facing your fears.

butterflies hsow at the studio sheffield theatres

My daughters and I were invited to The Crucible’s studio theatre to review a show called Butterflies by Tangled Feet and Half Moon.

I had wrongly assumed it would be a show all about butterflies that fly and there would be lots of characters acting as butterflies. But instead what we discovered was a much deeper show about what it feels like to be worried and having butterflies in your belly.

Helping children understand worry through drama

The show was simple in its setting with a stage made up of material and rope, not your normal colourful children’s set. But that didn’t matter as the simplicity allowed for the real values of the production to shine – the tale about the importance of friendship and courage.

It was a great piece of physical theatre with the character capturing the audience’s imagination through their brilliant acting and clever interaction.

Overcoming the butterflies in your belly

I think all too often we teach children about their physical health when their mental health and wellbeing is intrinsically linked. So butterflies in your stomach is a great way to describe and demonstrate what feeling worried can feel like.

The show is suitable for ages 3 – 8 and even my lively three-year-old Arianna sat and was engulfed into the world of proper good theatre, how it should be.

The End

The result of this slick 45 minute performance was incredible when Arianna turned to me and said: “I felt butterflies in my belly when I got a letter about starting school. I want my friends at nursery to go to the same school as me.”

Somehow, the show had managed to explain a complex feeling to my young daughter and enabled her to express her feelings.

To finish off a lovely show inside the intimate studio theatre, the characters handed out butterflies to all the audience as it was their last show that weekend.

 

YORK MAZE: Family Day-out with rides, challenges and lots of playing in Yorkshire

YORK MAZE: Family Day-out with rides, challenges and lots of playing in Yorkshire

We enjoy going to lots of family-friendly attractions and over the years they have all gotten bigger, better and slicker. It’s great to see the rise of super-farms and businesses booming but sometimes everything feels a bit ‘too’ comfortable for the kids. There’s not a lot of exploratory play. It’s just handed to them on a plate (or screen).

Don’t get me wrong there’s nothing I love more than being indoors, cosy and with a good cup of coffee. But it’s important to let kids be kids and that’s what York Maze does right.

Europe’s Largest Maize Maze – York Maze

After chatting to York Maze online, we were invited to go review the place. I’ll be honest, I had never heard of the Yorkshire attraction, so I was excited to give it a try this half-term.

As we went the day after Halloween, it was all Halloween themed but hopefully this review will help you regardless of what season you visit the maze.

larege real pumpkin halloween york maze

Entering York Maze

Once we had entered through the wooden building we were immersed in smoke to start off our Halloween adventure.

When we had passed the smoke machines, we were then into the ranch-style courtyard where there’s a cafe, toilets, wooden play area and even a pumpkin slingshot. (I imagine it’s themed differently depending what season you visit).

york maze map yorkshire

We popped in first to a mini Halloween panto, set inside a barn.

halloween panto at york maze

Then we spotted the sign for Pumpkin Carving and went that way as we weren’t sure how to get into the maze (yes we’re that bad at directions- we that we had gotten lost before we even got to the maze).

Pumpkin Patch and Pumpkin Carving

Inside the tent you could do pumpkin carving, there was a mini pumpkin show as well as the chance to watch a professional carving a pumpkin.

Out of the back of the tent was a mini field of pumpkins, including the largest real pumpkin I have ever seen! (In fact Farmer Tom from York Maze sailed down the River Ouse in that Pumpkin! You’ve got to love the Yorkshire spirit!).

After some photos with the pumpkins and the opportunity to pick our own, we decided to head for the maze after we had worked out that you go along a little path to the entrance.

york maze carving pumpkin

Exploring the Maze

As it’s a farm the maze can be muddy and uneven, so wear wellies or walking shoes if possible. The children enjoyed finding each station where you can use a stencil to draw on your map. A-maze-ingly we didn’t get too lost! But we had fun finding our way around and trying to keep up with the kids! The girls were chuffed to get their sticker on completion.

yoprkshire families york maze

Awesome Corn Snake Tower Slides

Next up, my daughters and I went on one of the high slides in a brown bag. There wasn’t much of a queue so we managed to get on fairly quick.  

It was really fun! We could have gone on a drop slide but the girls wanted to go on the slower “wavy one.”

Pumpkin Slingshot

My mum then wanted a go on the Pumpkin slingshot where you sling pumpkin/balls and try and get them in baskets to win a badge (all free). So my mum and the girls had fun on that and luckily both daughters won a badge!

Jumping Pillow, Volcorno, Climbing Zone and Sand & Water Play

We had only given ourselves a few hours at York Maze but we quickly realised we could have spent most of the day there. We didn’t get chance to go to the Scarecrow Centre, Painting Mural, Remote Control Boats, Witch’s Grotto, Face Painting  or Mini Mazes. As the girls wanted to go and bounce on the large pillow. We were lucky as there wasn’t much of a queue to get on and the girls had a blast bouncing around. They then each selected their last activity.

york maze maize

Avid climber Jasmine wanted to boulder up the Volcorno Slide and Arianna was a bit young for that, she went in the Climbing Zone and Sand & Water Play.

It’s great that the kids get to be so active and get a bit muddy too… How children should be!

As it was getting dark, we made our way out this time via the shop, The Ivy Store.

Before entering the car park, we bumped into the corn mascots which topped off a fun-filled afternoon for the kids.

corn mascot york maze halloween

 

MY YORKSHIRE: The best Yorkshire Attractions, Family Days Out & Food

MY YORKSHIRE: The best Yorkshire Attractions, Family Days Out & Food

Yorkshire Families began due to my love of Yorkshire – the people, the places, the attractions and most of all the fond memories I have of being born and bred in God’s Own County. 

And I want to help other families enjoy Yorkshire – helping them to discover with insider knowledge the best places to go, eat, drink and experience the region. From South Yorkshire to North Yorkshire, from West Yorkshire to East and the Yorkshire Dales.  

I was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire and now live in Wakefield, West Yorkshire and have travelled around the region lots… but I want to hear from other people who also love Yorkshire in this new “My Yorkshire” column as there is so much to do and so much to discover that I can’t do it all myself… as much as I will try. 

Anyhow, here are my answers to the questions I’ll be asking, as well as, a short introduction: 

A self-confessed YouTube and Yorkshire Fan, Sophie Mei Lan decided to set up Yorkshire Families to help showcase the best Yorkshire has to offer. When she is not blogging or vlogging, Sophie is a mum to two girls and a multi-award-winning Journalist. She also co-owns Media Consultancy & Video Production Company Evoke Media Group and The Hepworth Cafe. 

Where do you live and work? 

I live in Wakefield, West Yorkshire near Castleford, Pontefract and Leeds. But I am from Pitsmoor in Sheffield, the Steel City. My family are originally from all over – from Burton-on-trent and Preston to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and China!  

I blog and vlog from home and when I am out and about. I also run my own businesses – Evoke Media Group, our office is in Wakefield City Centre and The Hepworth Cafe which is based inside The Hepworth Wakefield and I help my chef husband with his events and wedding catering company Pop Up North. 

Wakefield Westgate station Jasmine Make and Move

How do you like to travel around Yorkshire? 

Most of the time you’ll find me running with the buggy or walking or catching buses but occasionally my husband drives us around or we use the train if going for a day-out. 


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Mum ont run! Instead of a car I like to run everywhere from place to place. I don’t have the drive to “go out for a run,” I much prefer incorporating exercise into my daily routine. It means I get to chat to my child as she sits happily watching the world whizz by. I’m not focused on #calories or #miles just the speed I can get to where I’m going. Whether it’s running, walking, taking the stairs… whatever the physical activity… anything is better than nothing #fitnessmotivation #fitnessjourney #mumrunner #mumrunners #runningbuggy #mumontherun #nocar #exercisedaily #fitnessblogger #fitnessvlogger #fitnessforlife #runnersofinstagram #runnermom #runnerslove #runnersworld #runnersunite #mumlife #mumblogger #mummysgirl #mumblog

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Where would you recommend nearby?

The Hepworth Wakefield is great for a free day-out with crafts and lots of family activities on, especially during the holidays. It’s not just because we own the cafe there but we have been going to The Hepworth since it opened. 

There’s also a Free City Bus in Wakefield which takes you from Wakefield Westgate Station and Wakefield Kirkgate station to The Hepworth, Wakefield Museum (which is also fab and full of free activities for children) and into the City Centre where you can shop at Trinity Walk or The Ridings Shopping Centre. 

I also love a walk down the canal near The Hepworth and going to Thornes Park which has a Secret Garden, Duck Pond and indoor/outdoor gym and athletics stadium. 

The Hepworth Wakefield in the rain

What do you love most about Yorkshire? 

All the independent businesses, suppliers, influencers and makers – there is so much talent in Yorkshire. 

What is your ultimate day out in Yorkshire? 

I love the Yorkshire Coast! I had an amazing day-out in Scarborough. We began the day at Alpamare Water Park before heading down to the beach and playing on the slots. We then seen the evening at The Scarborough Spa – perfect! 

Where do you enjoy going to at the weekend in Yorkshire? 

If the weather is nice the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Bretton is lovely for a walk and a picnic and so is National Trust’s Nostell Priory. Or if the weather isn’t great we head to The Hepworth or a local play-centre. 

What are your favourite family-friendly places to go? 

  • Sheffield’s Winter Gardens and Millennium Galleries (they’re attached and all indoor). 
  • Stockeld Park near Harrogate 
  • National Coal Mining Museum for England, in Overton, Wakefield 
  • Hemsworth Waterpark or Anglers Country Park (both in the Wakefield district) 
  • The Ridings Shopping Centre in Wakefield has The Den play area and FAB (Families and Babies) charity. 
  • Kirklees Light Railway 
  • Eureka in Halifax 
  • Wensleydale Creamery is home to a new family experience (we’re yet to check it out).
    The Wensleydale Creamery Visitor Centre 12 

What are your favourite free activities in Yorkshire? 

There are so many galleries and museums with children’s activities on as well as an array of parks (we love Millhouses Park in Sheffield) and countryside to explore – all for free. For example, I’ve mentioned a few free excursions such the National Coal Mining Museum and The Hepworth. Also check out your local library for activities and play/story corners. 

What are your favourite Yorkshire attractions? 

Any secret hot-spots or insider tips you’ve discovered? 

  • For discounts, check out the leaflets on display at a local attraction as you can pick up some bargains, we always enjoy using Yorkshire Attractions. And sometimes you can save money by booking online in advance. 
  • Check out the Park Run website for places to go on a Saturday morning to run with the whole family. 
  • How Stean Gorge is really cool if you have older children who fancy gorge walking or abseiling or just look in the cafe as there is a glass floor looking down to the gorge. 
  • If you’re visiting National Trust’s Fountain’s Abbey – don’t forget to go on the Folly Trail.   
  • If you’re travelling on the motorway near Scotch Corner check out Mainsgill Farmshop, cafe and playground, beats any service station! 

Where would you recommend going for food and drink?  

It’s always hard finding somewhere comfortable to suit all ages which is why we love picnics but with the bad weather that’s not always possible. Asides from the family-friendly pub chains, if you’re looking for good food and drink which is family-friendly there are tons of homely Italian Restaurants. 

Farmer Copley’s has a nice Bistro-style Cafe with plenty of options. Oh and of course, The Hepworth Cafe! 

the full vegan breakfst brunch at The Hepworth cafe

We also loved having Children’s Afternoon Tea at Mr and Mrs C’s in Wakefield City Centre and the staff at Waterton Park Hotel put on a special family afternoon tea for us all if booked in advance. 

 

Or another great option is Private Dining where a private chef comes to your home (my husband is a Chef and does this for a lot of families as it takes the stress out of going out). 

Also check out Peddler Market in Sheffield is full of street food and music located in an old warehouse in Kelham Island, Neepsend (Burton Rd), day-time tends to be best for families.

If you want to find exclusive offers to some of the best Foodie spots, go to: Yorkshire Food Guide  which has a new online shop.

Are there any family-friendly shops or businesses? 

We love going to Crafty Owls Pottery Barn in Ossett and Boomchikkaboom put on a lot of fun family events across the region. 

Make sure you check out mumbler.co.uk as they have lots of good recommendations and so do My Bump 2 Baby for families. Or for women in business, check out Girl Tribe Gang. 

If you were giving a whistle-stop tour of Yorkshire – where would you recommend people go if they were spending 48 hours in Yorkshire with their family? 

I’d say check out these blogs in advance as you’ll see there’s so much to do, it’s best to focus one part at a time: Yorkshire Tots (covers West Yorkshire), Trips with a Tot (covers South Yorkshire), Leeds Dad, Hip2Trek, Charlotte The Magpie Mama, Cossins Music School (covers Wakefield), A Mum Full of Dreams (Leeds), Lucy At Home, Wonderful Chaos, Rainbeaubelle, Yorkshire Wonders and here on our site. 

Anything else you’d like to share about Yorkshire?

There is SO much happening in Yorkshire, makes sure you follow us on here and on social: 

@YorkshireFams on twitter.

Yorkshire Families on facebook.  

 

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