We recently visited Little Land Play in Peterlee. One of the newest role play centres to open in the North East. I've been to quite a few role play centres now, and I *think* this one is the biggest? If it isn't, then for me it has the best layout and sense of space. It has been really well designed, with lots of room for kids to run around, but so that parents can view the whole play space from the seating area. The role play area walls are only as tall as kids' height and none of them had front walls/doors so there were no nooks or crannies for kids to hide behind to get.
* This is a collaborative post
Disney On Ice presents Passport to Adventure is coming to The Metro Arena this October and we can not wait to go. Like most kids I loved Disney when I was little. I played my tape of The Little Mermaid over and over until the film came off and I honestly thought that if I used a fork to comb my hair that it made me more mermaid-like.
Just a quickie for me today. This posts doesn't have all of my usual random musings, but instead is a roundup post of a the pre-school theatre options on offer over the next few months. There aren't many big shows which are suitable for pre-schoolers, but after seeing Stickman, The Scarecrow Wedding and The Hungry Caterpillar all advertised recently I thought I'd pull together all of the offerings from local theatres so they were in one place. I've loved looking at all of the trailers, some of the staging looks fab.
This week one of my readers got in touch to ask for some suggestions for a winter's day out. Their toddler is turning two at the end of January, they had wanted to visit a farm, but found that lots of the bigger farm attractions are closed until the February half term.
So I had a scout about and there are a few options still open if you have a child obsessed with Old McDonald, or just fancy a getting some fresh air and letting the kids have a run around outside. The best bit? Most of today's suggestions are free, or you just need to spend the price of a cup of coffee in a tea room.
BILL QUAY FARM (FREE)
Bill Quay Farm is lovely. It's pretty small. The type of place that we visit pretty regularly but only ever stay about 45 minutes. There are sheep, pigs, cows, geese, goats, chickens in barns and fields outside. Some of them are obviously used to visitors as they'll come right up to you and there are signs up letting you know which of the animals you can touch in their pens. There is also a small animal room where you can see things like chinchillas and hamsters etc in cages. There is a cafe, but this is now closed until summer. The farm is a registered charity, and whilst they are free to visit they always appreciate donations. If you are looking to make a day of it, then it's pretty close to Role Play in Hebburn, a fab kids play centre that I always recommend. You can read about our visit there on this blog post.
On Christmas Eve we went out for a nice meal with loads of our friends, and our assorted brood of toddlers. It was a family event in a bar that I love, there were activities for the kids and they even got to meet Santa. It should have been great. But it really, really wasn't. Toddlers and grown up venues don't mix. Well ours don't, if it's just our feral rabble, and you can enjoy a cocktail and a thrice cooked chip in the company of your toddler without having to peel them off stages, pen them in at tables and breaking out in the parenting sweats, then stop reading this post. Go and make the most of your sociable and well-behaved toddlers before it all goes wrong. Although it might not for you, in which case I'm ......happy for you (and also a touch jealous!)
For us the nice bars, even when they put on family events are just a bit too much work at the moment. It isn't fun trying to stop my two year old from doing what he wants to do, which is run around generally create havoc. So where does that leave us. Well eating at home a lot of the time, and then when we want to eat out, foraying into the world of kids' restaurants. So when we were invited to the opening of The Cinder Path, the new Brewers Fayre in South Shields we were keen to try it out. I'm not sure that I've ever been to a Brewers Fayre before, to me they fit well and truly into the realm of family dining and until recently - as described above - I was still fighting my destiny and trying to stick with our usual haunts. But now that I have kids I find myself doing a whole host of things I didn't envisage when I saw those little lines on the pregnancy test, including wiping my offsprings' noses with my hand (I know its minging - I apologise for what I've become) so I was up for giving family restaurants a try.
Happy New Year! I hope you had a fab Christmas and New Year, ours was wild. We were up until 4am! Lets not dwell on the fact I'd gone to bed at 11:30pm, and it was a crying baby, as opposed to a dancing all night which had me up that late. If you are anything like me then you'll be feeling a bit sluggish from overindulging on the kid's selection boxes and Christmas leftovers. I'm desperate to do a bit of exercise, I'm even itching to go out for a run. A phenomenon which lasts about 36 hours from New Years Day, only to disappear again for another year.
If you are looking to exercise, but have an entourage of a small person and their many many 'essentials' with you at all times, then don't worry. The North East has loads of brilliant options, there are actually 30 classes on each week across Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside where you can exercise without needing childcare. Many of them run by fellow mums, for parents to exercise without needing any childcare. The ones run by the councils are even FREE! I included some of them in my Gan on Bring the Bairn post about parent-friendly local companies, but since then have heard about loads more, and as it's the New Year thought it would be a good time to pull them all together in one place. Just by writing this post I'll get fitter won't I? That's how it works?
Merry Sprogmas Advent Calendar Day 4 is all about our trip to the outdoor ice skating rink at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington. I'd visited the museum last year when it was hosting the poppy exhibition, and I often feature Woodhorn in the fortnightly 'What's On' newsletters that I write for Bubele parenting app, as they have some brilliant family events and trails. This was the first time that I'd visited in the winter, whilst their Christmas festivities were on.
Heads up Gateshead, there is a new pre-school class in town. The team from Piccolo Music have responded to popular demand and now offer classes on the other side of the river, and you can find them every Friday morning at the Winlaton Centre.
Have you been to a Piccolo Music class before? They are different to any other baby groups that I've been to. The class is based around music and movement, and I think the best way to describe it is professional. Professional but relaxed. Confused? Read on, surely I'll make some sense at some point wont I?
Happy almost Halloween! This is the first year that we've really done anything Halloween-y as my toddler has just turned two and half. Obviously I'd used previous years to dress him up for my entertainment, but last year he wasn't really bothered about any events. This year he is starting to take an interest in it, so we thought we'd take advantage of the fact that there is loads to do in the North East over half term and the Halloween weekend. Having seen the great photographs from American Pumpkin Patches I was really intrigued when I saw Brockbushes, the farm shop just outside of Corbridge that we visited during the summer to pick strawberries, was hosting the only Pumpkin Patch in the North East. The information online was quite vague, there was to be a children's performer, some talk of a witch and magic dust, and each child got to pick their own pumpkin. I still had some questions, such as what age range it would suit, and whether 'pick your own pumpkin' actually meant dig it up from the ground, or choose which one from a supermarket carrier bag on the way out, but confident it would be a fun, we booked up.
You can book online, using this link, Brocksbushes Farm Shop and Tea Room or you can call the shop and pay over the phone. There are 4 slots every day, between 22nd and 31st October, at 9:45am, 10:45am, 11:45am, or 12:45pm. Whilst booking is recommended, you can just turn up and pay on the day. If you're doing this, I think it would be worth giving them a call on the morning to make sure there are spaces so you aren't disappointing any little ones if it is fully booked.
When we arrived at Brockbushes we were greated by a witch, in full get up including a very long nose. She was very friendly, had a chat with us and directed us to the counter to collect our tickets. Thanksfully my toddler wasn't frightened of her, I'd been slightly worried he'd be scared, after he had wailed through his visit to see Santa Claus last year, but he was fine. Tickets collected, our mate the witch, directed us through to the outside of the shop where we waited until everyone had gathered and we were asked to follow the witch to her house.
The 'house' was less than a 5 minute walk away, but the ground was very wet and a bit muddy, so I would recommend wellies, and if you have little ones, either carrying them or putting them in a sling rather than attempt to get there with a buggy. The trail up there was marked out with mini ghosts, and witches leading up to a small marquee. We were greeted by another witch who gave us some magic dust which we were told to keep it safe until later.
Once inside the marquee there were some mini picnic tables, only big enough for the kids to sit on, the adults stood near them, and a stage for our host, the good witch. I won't spoil the surprise by telling you exactly what we did, but there was a song or two, with Witchy singing on the microphone and the audience singing back certain parts, a few jokes, and a story which introduced some puppet characters who later joined the stage, and a couple of opportunities for the audience to boo and hiss. There were probably about 12 kids in our group and the marquee was full-ish but didn't feel too packed. The performance was really good. As the marquee was so small, so we were close to the stage it felt pretty relaxed but the witch definitely put on a good show. That part lasted about 20 minutes, which was perfect timing for my toddler, anymore and he would have been getting bored I think (at one point I had to leg it out of the marquee after him as he'd decided he was going back to the 'park' meaning the swing set near the café - but that is toddlers for you, once I'd bundled him back into the marquee he seemed to enjoy all of it.)
After the performance was finished it was time for us to get our pumpkins. I was really looking forward to this, as I could imagine the instagramable photos that I could get in the pumpkin patch. I hadn't been sure if we would be actually picking pumpkins out of the ground, as they do grow fruit there, but as it turned out we did not need to do any digging. The 'patch' was a section of hedgerows which had been covered in hay. The pumpkins had been hidden within the hay, so we all had to spread out, sow our magic dust and find the hidden pumpkins. Whilst it would have been interesting to see pumpkins where they were actually grown and work out how to get them out of the ground, I think for our purposes this way of finding the pumpkins in the hay worked out better for us, as the ground was already quite wet, I think we would have come back filthy if we were digging up the ground. This way meant that my toddler could get properly involved in looking for the pumpkin and I was impressed by the strength in his teany little body when he was able to pick up his pumpkin when he had found it. Thankfully it was dry when we visited. I think that the rain would put a real dampner (can't decide if there was any pun intended there) on our time outside, so hopefully it'll stay dry for the next week or so.
Whilst we weren't getting an entirely authentic pumpkin patch experience as the pumpkins were already dug up, the photograph opportunities certainly didn't disappoint. My baby, still young enough to accept whatever I choose to clothe her in, was actually dressed in girls clothes for once, as opposed to her brothers hand-me-downs, and wearing a little Halloween pumpkin tutu especially for the occasion.
After we'd picked our pumpkins, and I'd got my paparazzi on, having filled my memory card of hundreds of pictures of kids, pumpkins and hay, we said a quick goodbye to the witches, and headed back to the play part of the farm shop, the 'park' that my toddler had been so keen to get back to.
We stayed in the play area for a little while, letting my toddler have a go on the couple of bits of equipment that they have here. This was the first time that I'd seen this outdoor play area, and it was great. Really small, but enough to entertain little ones for a while, if you were popping up to browse the farm shop or to get a coffee.
That was our trip to Brocksbushes over. Having been really well behaved the whole time we were there, my toddler realised the opportunity for public mischief was almost over, so took a bite out of an apple on his way through the farm shop. Realising we had no cash on us we were left contemplating whether they would accept a card payment for a solitary apple. Thankfully my sister-in-law, who had been with us, came to our rescue and bought it for us. Leaving us to counsel the distraught toddler who had thrown himself on the ground in dismay that his beloved and, at that point stolen, apple had to be taken away to be weighed and paid for.
Toddler melt downs aside we had a really lovely day. It was ideal for my toddler's attention span with the whole thing lasting about 50 minutes. I think that it would suit any families with kids up to about the age of 8, older than that and I think that they could well be bored and find it too young for them.
With so many Halloween activities selling out in advance, Brocksbushes pumpkin patch is brilliant as at the time of writing this there was loads of availability. It was definitely Halloween-y but not at all scary, and at £6.50 for a ticket which admits one adult and one child, including a decent sized pumpkin to take home, I think it is really good value. I think the fact that he picked out the pumpkins made it much more special for my toddler than if we'd just bought them from the supermarket. Turns out his pumpkin is very special to him, and at the time of writing this he's tucked up in bed with the pumpkin in the cot with him. He didn't want to go to bed without it, what a weirdo, but a cute one.
I would definitely recommend Brocksbushes pumpkin patch, just don't forget your camera or your wellies.
For more information contact Brocksbushes Farm Shop and Tea Rooms : here or 01434 633 100. Pumpkin Patch sessions are available at 9:45am, 10:45am, 11:45am, 12:45pm every day from 22nd - 31st October 2016.
What do you think of Brocksbushes Pumpkin Patch? What are your Halloween plans? Leave us a comment with any suggestions of other toddler-friendly Halloween events.
Disclosure Policy - We received a complimentary entry to Brocksbushes Pumpkin Patch in return for an honest review. Unsurprising all of the random blabber and chuntering on in this post is my own. See the about us section of this website for the full corporate speak disclosure policy.
So far all have my posts have focused on things specifically for kids, places to go with kids, products for kids. But what about ME? Will no one ever think of me? I learned pretty quickly into my parenting career that if I go somewhere kid friendly there is a chance that I might get 2 or 3 minutes peace in between the nappy changes, feeding and playing. But sometimes I don't want to go to a park, sometimes I'd rather eat a cold Ella's Kitchen rather than go to a soft play and sometimes I just need get some of that long list of life admin actually ticked off.
So this post is still all about the kids (I haven't had a personality transplant and started talking about anything actually interesting) but it's about places that have tried to make parent's lives easier, by welcoming kids. A round up of places in Newcastle that have a USP when it comes to being family friendly. It's not like us poor parents are going to turn up on a charity appeal on daytime sky telly or anything. There are worse fates than being reliant on babysitters to be able to go to the gym, but I really appreciate it when businesses have been considerate to our needs. There must be some money in it too? All the parents I know, will spend as much as they have available to make their lives a little bit easier. There is the pink and grey pound, surely there is money to be made out of parents? What would we be? The suspiciously brown stain, is it poo or is it chocolate, pound? Lets not get into the details of that just yet, but get on with celebrating the places in Newcastle that are great for parents.
I'm back, after a summer of neglecting my blog, I've eventually got around to writing an actual post. We had a great summer, went to lots of places, have thousands of photos clogging up my phone and memory card, loads of ideas for blog posts, but it iss just so hard to find the time to actually sit down and write them. Especially now I am no longer a lady of ... leisure doesn't sound right... more like multiple nappy changes and cold cups of tea, as i'm now back at work! Mr Sprog is on paternity leave, looking after the kids until Christmas, so expect blog posts devoted to craft beer and Fifa to be uploaded soon.
So back in August I finally got around to visiting Shiremoor Adventure Playground. My sister had mentioned it to me a while ago, she had said they had toys, scooters etc, but I couldn't really picture it. Well when I got there it wasn't what I was expecting. There is a certain 'rough around the edges' element to it, and it reminded me of Byker Grove in that it has a youth club feel to it. There is sooooooo much to do, and I think older kids would adore it. As a parent to a toddler and baby I was slightly horrified about how big some of the equipment looked, but I feel the same when I watch kids on skateboards, or free jumping or whatever other fun kids have whilst putting themselves in danger.
But what is is? Even after visiting i'm not sure I can adequately describe it. A youth club and park? There is a huge wooden frame, a massive sandpit, some terrifying rope swings, an allotment with chickens, a pool table, a basketball court, roller-skates, scooters and on the hot day that I visited there was the biggest paddling pool that i've seen too - but I'm guessing as it took me so long to write this post that won't be there any more.
What it is though is FREE, which is amazing for what they have on offer. It's also staffed, and you have to sign in, so it shouldn't ever get too busy to the point of it being over-capacity. They are only open at certain hours (specific times at the bottom of this post) - afternoons after school, but during the day on weekends and school holidays. They are also closed until 13th September 2016 due to maintenance. What is also great about it, is that they run some sessions specifically for children with disabilities and their carers.
Well, South Tyneside is fast becoming the toddler activity capital of the North East. After we visited the fab Role Play cafe a couple of weeks ago, we headed back to Hebburn a few days later to look around the new messy play venture in Victoria Industrial Estate - Lets Play Big
Unlike most of the messy play classes that I know of, which operate from community centres or hired rooms, Lets Play Big is based within it's own unit in an industrial estate. It is open 7 days a week, running four sessions a day which makes it perfect for working families. Before I started my current maternity leave, I worked four days a week, and I remember searching online for classes that I could take my toddler to on my day off, and frequently being disappointed when something looked really good, but was only available on a Monday at 10am or something when I was working. It is even better for people who work five days a week, because as far as I know, whilst some classes are branching out into putting on the odd Saturday morning, there isn't anywhere else nearby where they offer this amount of pre-school classes over holiday time and weekends.
Apart from the brilliant opening hours, Lets Play Big had really gone for it with the variety of tasks and crafts that kids could get involved with. I haven't been to loads of messy play groups, a handful of individual classes and we used to go to baby sensory when my toddler was tiny (obviously neglected second baby hasn't been to any sensory classes, she just gets dragged around to noisy toddler activities, and perhaps that was why she was so excited to be able to play during this visit.) So I can't say that I'm a messy play connoisseur, but I felt like Lets Play Big had put on so many great play stations, that even the most seasoned crafters and gloop-players would really enjoy the sessions.
Yesterday we visited the brand new children's play centre in Hebburn. It's brilliant. Really well thought through. My toddler loved it (he cried when we were leaving) and (in my mind the most important bit) parent's can have a cup of tea, a sit down and actually get a bit of a rest. There is definitely a time and place for soft play, sometimes they are just what we are looking for if our toddler needs to work off some energy or if my husband is with us so one of us can go with him, whilst the other looks after the baby. But when you're the owner of a toddler they aren't really a place for a rest, and sometimes I don't want to crawl through a child sized tube, or hurt my feet climbing cargo nets to rescue a strandard little boy (why do cargo nets hurt so much or is that just me being a baby?) So this is where this type of play centre is perfect.
As the name suggests it all designed around role play, with lots of different stations where kids can play with toys and dress up pieces. There has been really good attention to detail and the whole place looks great. It is bright and colourful, and as soon as we walked through the door my toddler was off to explore. It is all based in one large airy room, at the centre of the room are tables and chairs, and the stations are built around the outskirts, this is great as it means that you can always see the kids from the table areas, so you don't have to be on top of them all of the time. It would be a great place to go if you are in charge of more than one child as you can always keep an eye on one of them whilst seeing to another. The baby was spending time with her granny, so wasn't with us this visit, but I noticed they had lots of high chairs, a baby walker and padded play gym for the smallest of visitors to use. It was lovely to have some 1:1 time to properly play with my toddler as we haven't had much of that since the baby came along.
I've been meaning to try out The Laing Art Gallery's under 5 area and their weekly Tuesday group for a while. A friend of mine had mentioned that the kids room was a nice space, and I'd seen the brief info about the Little Artist class on the gallery's webpage. The class starts at 10:30 which always seems a bit early to get me, the two year old and the baby up, breakfasted, dressed and into Newcastle for. But the today the stars aligned (read the baby decided to wake us all up earlier than normal) so we headed in to check it out.
We booked our tickets to Geronimo Festival back in January, when this blog was just a twinkle in my eye. It looked fun, different to anything we'd been to before and handily it fell on the same weekend as my toddler's second birthday. Last year we'd had a small party which ended up being a surprising amount of work, so being a fuss-free celebration it ticked all of the boxes. The review i'd found of the previous year was pretty positive, so we went ahead and booked up. It wasn't cheap, but as we were visiting just before the toddler turned 2 we only had to pay for two adult tickets, which including car parking cost us about £45. My sister and her family joined us too, costing them almost £90 for the day.
Getting there: We set off, raincoats in hand on a wet bank holiday Sunday. I optimistically checked the forecast every 20 minutes, but it was due to rain all day. It wasn't just the weather dampening our spirits either as a search of the twitter hashtag #geronimofest detailed 90 minute waits to get into the car park, and more alarmingly queues in the rain of up to an hour to get through the gates. Thankfully this was one of the few times that being perpetually late has played to our favour, as when we arrived at about 11:30 all of the queues had passed and we got straight into the carpark and waited about 10 mins to swap our tickets for wristbands. Getting in had been fairly straight-forward, although by the time we arrived the stewards directing traffic looked fairly shell shocked and didn't attempt to hide it when greeting us. They responded to any of our questions by telling us to ask at the gate, and I half expected them to curl into the fetal position if I asked again where we should park.
Once through the gates the festival started as it would continue. Chaotic, busy, weird and on occasion wonderful. Large grass covered letters spelled out Geronimo, and we joined the rest of the crowd who could spot an instragramable moment when they saw one, in climbing over them for a photo op. Looking around the grounds we could see lots of marquees, outdoor events and people, lots and lots of people.
There weren't any signs detailing the different areas, and we hadn't been given a map or program when we entered the festival, so we started an exploratory walk around the grounds. This resulted in 8 people walking off in different directions, sticking their heads in various marquees and joining queues without really knowing what they were for. Due to the differing ages of our respective kids we decided to split up from my sisters family so we could get a bit of a grasp about what we wanted to do.
I'm not sure we ever really succeeded with this aim, but that isn't to say that we didn't have fun. We really did. However I was left with the sensation that due to the poor organisation of the event we missed out on some of the attractions we would have enjoyed.
Attractions: Between our two families we had 5 children ranging from 10 years old to 4 months, with the exception of the baby who slept through a lot of it, they all found something that they loved. The toddler was enthralled by the baby disco, bouncy castle, and musical performers who were dotted around the festival.
My 4 year old niece had a talent of picking the biggest queues to have fun in. She spotted the helter skelter when we first went into the festival and her parents naively joined the queue. An hour after we'd left them to explore my sister texted me to say they were still in the queue for the slide! Later, after another parent had kindly pointed us in the direction of the face painters, we joined the huge queue and waited about an hour. Thankfully Maggie made such a cute little dog that we thought it had been worth it, but this was an example where the poor organisation really had an impact on the day. The Sunday event was sold out, which prior to the festival left me feeling both smug that we'd got our tickets in good time, and slightly anxious that there were going to be too many people for it to run well. Sadly I think that this was the case. We were frequently left asking why the organisers hadn't managed to cater for the huge number of people visiting. Apparently 15000 tickets were sold. Yet we spotted only 2 face painters.
Where the festival seemed to excel was with the older children's activities. This was probably because the fewer number meant there were almost no queues for some of the things they were interested in. They went on a large zip line at least 6 times each, and although they were slightly too small for the giant jump where they would have landed in a huge inflatable pillow, if they'd been big enough for this, we saw there were no queues for this all day. They also took part in a graffiti workshop creating images with spray paint and templates which they both loved.
Shows: Due to the ages of the kids with us, the only show we were really interested in was Mr Tumble. Therefore we didn't spend much time around the stages where there were various performers from CBBC throughout the day. I saw on twitter that there were lots of complaints about kids being unable to see the shows due to the height of the stages, and we did find that when Mr Tumble came on the stage it was difficult to catch sight of him. But having been to festivals before this was something that I was expecting. It was a shame that the large screen was located so far from the stage, but apparently this was due to the poor weather. I spoke with another mum who had seen lots of the shows, she said that she made sure she arrived at the stage early and that her kids had got a good view. We didn't bother to wait in the queue for the circus, but we heard that this was worth the 45 minute wait and a really good show. There were lots of performances which took place within the crowd, and were very good. We happened to catch a few minutes of a sheep sheering show, which was much funnier and more entertaining than it sounds, and we saw giant puppets, a princess on a beautiful white horse and too many other performers to mention throughout the day.
Things we missed out on: Annoyingly we did miss out on some of the things that we would have been interested in, and I think that the poor information and planning on behalf of the festival was to blame. We stumbled upon the under three area after we'd been at the festival for a few hours. Here were a group of tents offering tumble tots sessions, soft play, and music and dance classes. We were informed that all of the tumble tots sessions were fully booked, which was frustrating as we hadn't been told on entry what sessions needed to be booked in advance. In all fairness the tumble tots staff member told us that we could wait at the door and when people started leaving that they'd let people in on a one in one out basis, but we decided just to explore the rest of the festival instead of waiting. As we left the festival we spotted the woodland area which we hadn't seen at all whilst we were inside. I think that my nephews would have really enjoyed playing in this area where there were nets in the trees to climb on, but there had been no signposting to this inside so we didn't see it until it was too late.
Toilets and Baby Change: I saw some negative comments on twitter about the baby change facilities, but again I think this must have been due to poor signage. There was what I thought were very good provision for baby change within the under three areas, but we didn't see one sign throughout the whole festival letting people know where they were. Baby change was within a marquee, with at least 8 changing tables, with hand gel, baby wipes and nappies available if you found yourself separated from your change bag or running out of nappies. There was a breastfeeding tent there for people who wanted to have somewhere private to feed their baby, but again we just stumbled upon this as opposed to seeing any signs. There were toilets scattered around the event, and some did have long queues. However other areas didn't have any queues at any point throughout the day so we always used these. They did run out of toilet paper half way through the day which was annoying.
Food: This was another area where the queues were a nightmare. Until about 3pm it looked like each food queue would be at least an hour. That was whether you wanted a full meal, or just a cup of tea. It was frustrating and again left us feeling like the festival hadn't managed to adequately prepare for the number of tickets sold. There were places to eat foods if you'd brought picnics such as a small undercover picnic table areas, and we saw lots of people eating their picnics in the tents. However usually the ground wasn't covered so it didn't look particularly comfortable.
Overall: Perhaps this review has been overly negative, as overall we did have a brilliant day. There was so much to see and do, and it was really quite different to anything that we'd been to before. I almost wished that we'd arranged to stay in Leeds and had tickets for the second day, as I think having gleaned the knowledge we had from day one we could have had an even better time on a return visit. I think we easily could have spent another 5 hours at the event and still had things to do. I think this is where the organisers need to listen to the feedback on twitter, facebook and the various blogs which have been written about the event. The variety and type of attractions and events put on throughout the festival was brilliant, but there needed to be more of them so that people's lasting memory of the day was about the excitement of what they did do, instead of just waiting in queues all day long. They also need to provide people with more information, through adequate signage, information packs and actual staff who are working for geronimo as opposed to being part of a specific attraction.
Tips for anyone going to Tatton Park at the end of the month or going to Geronimo 2017:
- Expect traffic and queues to get into the carpark. Think about heading a good hour before the start time, or to arrive an hour or so after to miss the worst of it.
- Bring your own food, flask and waterproof picnic blanket. Don't waste any of your day in the huge queues for food.
- If the information provided hasn't been improved, then try and spend the first half an hour walking around and covering all of the ground, putting your heads in as many tents as you can to work out just what is inside, whether you'd be interested in it, and if so if it needs to be booked in advance.
Would I recommend it? This is a tough one, as I thought that it was a brilliant event, but that there are so many areas for improvement. I think that I would personally return next year, hoping that the organisers have learned from this year, and using the knowledge that I have from this year. But I would be wary of recommending it to anyone else until I'd seen that improvements had been made. I hope that the organisers can dust themselves off and think about the improvements which can be made for next year, as I think Geronimo has the potential to be something really special. The quality and variety of shows, attractions and events were excellent, they had thought of something for everyone. However there just weren't enough for the amount of people who had bought a ticket.
Did you go to Geronimo Festival 2016? What were your thoughts? Do you agree? Think that the smoke filled bubbles at the event went to my head? Please leave us a comment with letting us know what you thought of the event.