A Day Out in Leeds for the Children

A Day Out in Leeds for the Children

Organising a fun day out for your kids is not the same as planning a day in the city for adults only. You need to find places that offer exciting and involving activities, and make sure there is no time for boredom to set in at any point during the day. I’m no expert but I have found a few places in Leeds that I can thoroughly recommend to other parents who may be looking for things to do with their children in the city.

Entertaining the Kids in Leeds

If you live locally, you can of course make your own way into the city by car or by public transport. However, if you are just paying a flying visit – literally – probably the easiest way to get around is to book a taxi from Bradford Leeds Airport to take you to your first destination, and then play it by ear.

  • The Leeds Wall – This is a great place for kids to get into climbing and during school holidays they run children’s climbing clubs for kids aged 6-17. They change the configuration of their climbing walls on a regular basis so even if you have been there a number of times before, your children will still be able to enjoy a new challenge on their next visit.
  • Meanwood Valley Urban Farm – To the north of the city, on Sugar Well Road, this farm is home to lambs, ducks, goats, cows, chickens, donkeys, sheep and some smaller animals not usually kept on farms, such as guinea pigs and rabbits. Kids of all ages seem to love visiting Meanwood Valley and there are plenty of activities on offer to keep them occupied.
  • Wacky Warehouse – This is actually a soft play area for kids that is attached to a pub called the Lawnswood Arms. Good food and inexpensive drinks, combined with a spacious play area where your children can run wild is a great combination and well worth a visit when you’re hungry or thirsty.
  • Firefly Pottery – This is located in the town of Horsforth, which is in the metropolitan area of Leeds. Just 3 miles south of the airport, no reservations are needed and people of all ages are welcome to get stuck in and create their very own work of art when they visit.
  • Leeds Sailing and Activity Centre – A stone’s throw from the airport, on Tarnfield Dam, Yeadon, this is a great place to visit for parents with older children who are interested in canoeing, kayaking and sailing. They also offer windsurfing, rowing, and rafting on the water, with dry land activities such as biking, climbing and indoor caving available too. Further information can be found on their Facebook page.

There are many other things for kids to see and do in Leeds: you can find more suggestions with a quick online search. Whether you are there for a couple of days or for a lifetime, it is a city that has much to offer the young and the young at heart.

Breaks In Prague, Czech Republic

Czech-Republic-Old-Town

Paris may be more hyped up, but Prague is the real city of romance. The Czech capital has more than its fair share of spectacular architecture – the majority are clustered within the historic centre, but those willing to venture further afield will be rewarded a more cosmopolitan view of the city. Sightseeing can take its toll on your feet, so sit down in one of Prague’s great cafes and enjoy a rich hot chocolate or glass of Czech wine.

See

Czech-Republic-Old-TownOld Town – It may be full of other camera-wielding tourists, but to entirely skip the Old Town wouldbe unforgivable. Prague’s historical nexus is filled with a staggering variety of architectural wonders.Take a look at the Astronomical Clock, or Orloj. It built more than 600 years ago and features an array of animated figures that appear every hour. Visit the exhibition in the Old Town Bridge Tower to find out more about the significance of the famous Charles Bridge, and to enjoy the bird’s eyeview of the Old Town from the top of the tower.

Stay

THE-ALCHYMIST-GRAND-HOTEL-AND-SPA

Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa – The opulent surroundings might be a bit much for some, but if over-the-top Baroque style is your cup of tea, then a stay in the Alchymist Grand Hotel and Spa might just be the thing for you. This boutique hotel is housed in a magnificent mansion a few short steps away from Prague Castle. The interior courtyards here are full of old-world charm, and are just the spot for enjoying a quiet tea break. Room rates start from about £170.

Eat

Grand Cafe Orient Czech Republic

Grand Cafe Orient – Cubism reigns supreme in the Grand Cafe Orient, designed by architect Josef Goscar (his bust greets customers as they enter the cafe.) The interior harks back to Cubism’s heyday in the early 20th century, with elegant Cubist-inspired furniture and fittings. The menu itself features a variety of Czech cafe favourites, interspersed with a few international offerings.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is open to visitors after the Foreign Office relaxed its travel advice to the west African country

Sierra Leone has had a difficult history, but tour operators hope that tourism can help its regeneration.

Tourism could provide a much needed boost to Sierra Leone’s economy, after the country was declared Ebola-free and open to visitors once more.

The Foreign Office relaxed its travel advice for the country at the weekend, no longer advising against travel to any part of the west African nation, following the World Health Organisation’s declaration that it was Ebola-free.

The developments mean that the country’s nascent tourism industry is likely to develop, providing income for a nation that only emerged from civil war in 2002, and which for the past 18 months has been struck by the Ebola virus.

Larger-scale hoteliers are also moving in, including the Hilton brand.

White sand beaches are among the draws for tourists to Sierra LeoneWhite sand beaches are among the draws for tourists to Sierra Leone (AP)  Photo: AP

Jim O’Brien, founder of adventure tour operator Native Eye, said that the announcement about the eradication of Ebola from Sierra Leone would hopefully, “convey the message that West Africa is once again open for business.”

Native Eye introduced Sierra Leone tours with the company’s inauguration in 2013, but was unable to run them because of the Ebola outbreak.

Mr O’Brien said that the country would attract the “seasoned Africa traveller” looking for a more “unpolished travelling experience”, with “Hugely friendly people” and “tropical beaches and rich wildlife untouched by mainstream travel.”

“Intrepid travellers will return with positive stories of meeting the friendly local people and discovering the country’s rich heritage. We know that tourism can have a positive impact and will help to re-build the country,”
Jim Louth, director of Undiscovered Destinations

Building work has resumed on the country’s first Hilton hotel, the 12-storey Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra, which is located on the beach and will have an infinity pool and interiors that reflect patterns used in local fabrics. Andrew Linwood, of Areen Hospitality architects, said the creation of the hotel recognised that Sierra Leone is “fast becoming a wonderful country”.

 

Tourism hopes for Sierra Leone as country declared Ebola freeA bedroom design in the Hilton Freetown Cape Sierra

Prior to the outbreak in 2014 of Ebola, which has caused significant loss of life in Guinea and Liberia, as well as Sierra Leone, the country was developing a small tourism industry. Visit Sierra Leone, a travel agent based in the capital, described the country as home to “lush green forest” and “the most beautiful white sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean.”

The British Foreign Office still warns that travellers should check their travel advice carefully “before planning any travel to Sierra Leone”, and “continue to practice enhanced precautions against infection by Ebola.”

It warned that medical care is difficult to come by because the country’s health infrastructure has been “severely strained” by the Ebola outbreak.

Jim Louth, director of tour operator Undiscovered Destinations, which specialises in Africa and offers small group tours of Sierra Leone, said that travel would help change perceptions about the region. “Intrepid travellers will return with positive stories of meeting the friendly local people and discovering the country’s rich heritage. We know that tourism can have a positive impact and will help to re-build the country,” he said.

Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a variety of endemic species. Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary is home to a variety of endemic species.

A man who has visited every single country in the world said that the former British crown colony was among his 12 favourite nations.

Gunnar Garfors said that visitors to Sierra Leone could expect to meet “amazing beaches, idyllic villages and smiling people”.

The announcement that Sierra Leone is now Ebola-free is likely to boost tourism to west Africa as a whole. Surrounding countries have seen a drop in visitor numbers because of the Ebola outbreak.

Dragoman, which specialises in overland trips, has reinstated tours to west Africa after a two year hiatus, and offers five trips through Sierra Leone and neighbouring countries., from 23 days to 70 days.

Scandi spuds: potato recipes from Magnus Nilsson’s The Nordic Cookbook

potato recipes

Norwegian potato porridge
Potetgrøt/Jordeplegraut

Potato porridge has historically played a tremendously important role in the Norwegian diet, although it has fallen out of favour since its last time of great popularity, during the second world war. It has all but disappeared from the Norwegian everyday dinner table. A quick internet search reveals only 634 results for “potetgrøt” while “pizza” returns a good 319,000 hits from Norwegian websites alone.

Serve the potato porridge with a good knob of butter melting into it and some slices of fried salt pork – or why not with some cultured buttermilk? Sugared lingonberries are also often served with potato porridge.

(Serves 4)
1.2kg floury potatoes, peeled but left whole
500ml milk, with extra ready if needed
100g barley or wholegrain flour
A good pinch of salt

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover them with water. Bring to the boil and cook for about 30 minutes, or until tender. Tip the water away. Off the heat, pour in the milk, then add the flour and mash the hot potatoes vigorously until no lumps remain. Continue working the mixture for at least 5 minutes; it should be shiny and a bit gluey. The residual heat from the potatoes should be enough to cook the starch in the flour. If it gets too thick, add a little more milk – but warm it first, so that you don’t cool the porridge down too much.

Danish ‘Burning Love’
Brændende kærlighed

This Danish everyday dish of mashed potato, bacon and onions is often served with pickled beetroot and a slice of rye bread on the side.

(Serves 4)
For the mashed potatoes
700g floury potatoes, skins on, but cleaned and rinsed
350ml milk
100g butter
salt and white pepper
freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
For the Burning Love
300g bacon, cut into small pieces
6 onions, finely chopped
Chopped parsley or snipped chives (optional)

Put the potatoes in a large pan. Cover them with water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

While the potatoes are cooking, combine the milk and butter in a separate pan and heat until the butter has melted.

Drain the potatoes thoroughly and peel them (yes, they do have to be hot when you do it). Mash them (or push them through a mouli or potato ricer), then beat in the hot milk mixture with a wooden spoon or a stiff whisk. Season to taste with salt, white pepper and nutmeg, if using, and keep warm.

Put the bacon in a pan over a medium heat and fry until just enough fat has rendered into the pan to make it shiny. Add the onions to the pan and continue frying over a medium heat until the onions are deeply caramelised.

Spoon one big dollop of mash onto a warm serving platter (or divide between 4 plates), top with the bacon and onion mixture and sprinkle with your choice of chopped herbs, if using.

Swedish coarse potato cake
Rårakor

Like the potato porridge, these potato cakes can be served with some slices of fried salt pork and some sugared lingonberries.

(Serves 4)
1kg starchy potatoes
Butter, for frying
Salt and white pepper

Peel and grate the potatoes coarsely. Use your hands to squeeze them tightly so as to remove any excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl and season well.

Melt some butter in a frying pan (non-stick is preferable) over a medium heat. Add a thin layer of grated potatoes to the pan. It mustn’t be too thick; about 8mm is ideal. Fry until the underside is deeply golden, then flip the potato cake over and fry the other side. Do not flip it back and forth. Each potato cake should be really crisp on the exterior but it is also important to make sure that the interior is cooked through; it should not taste of raw potato.

If you want, you can fry your potato cakes in multiple pans, but if you only have one pan, then you can fry the cakes one at a time, and keep them warm in a 120°C oven. A few grinds of white pepper just before serving is a great idea.

Rudyard Kipling’s India

Rudyard Kipling's India

Seven thousand feet up in the Himalayas, Raaja Bhasin is leading a guided tour of Shimla’s Gaiety Theatre. This, he says, pointing through a doorway, is the room where the Viceroy used to host suppers in the days when Shimla, most famous of India’s hill stations, was the summer capital of the British Raj. This, he says, is the newly restored Victorian auditorium, all green and gold, seating just 310 and exquisite with plaster cherubs.

And here are framed photographs of long-past productions by the Amateur Dramatic Club: Miss Muspratt Williams and Miss Wogan Bronne in The Yeomen of the Guard; Mr Otto and Capt Coffin in The Adventure of Lady Ursula; Mr Crookshank and Mrs Barrows in A Country Mouse. “Britishers come and say: ‘That’s my great grandmother there,’ ” says Bhasin, an authority on Shimla and historical consultant for Channel 4’s Indian Summers, which is set there.

Sadly there are no pictures of the most famous person to tread the Gaiety’s boards: Rudyard Kipling, the writer who perhaps more than anyone moulded British perceptions of India, in all its imperialism and exoticism, for half a century. December 30 marks the 150th anniversary of his birth – in Bombay (now Mumbai) – and I am on the trail of the man and his books.

Rudyard Kipling's India

For several years, as a young newspaper reporter, he covered “the season” in Shimla – or Simla as this eyrie of the Empire was called in the days when the British fled the scorching summer plains and ruled one-fifth of humanity from it for half the year. Kipling’s brief involved, he said, “as much riding, waltzing, dining out and concerts in a week as I should get at home in a lifetime”. It gave him plenty of material for Plain Tales from the Hills, his sometimes wry, sometimes tragic, stories about the idiosyncrasies of British India and the uneasy relationship between rulers and ruled.

“He acted in a farce at the newly opened Gaiety Theatre; to no great acclaim. The Viceroy, Lord Dufferin, found his performance ‘horrid and vulgar’. It wasn’t the last time such criticism was thrown at Kipling”

It wasn’t the last time such criticism was thrown at Kipling. George Orwell described him as “a jingo imperialist, morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting”, Oscar Wilde called him (rather ambiguously) “our first authority on the second-rate”, and many others have questioned his populism and his paternalistic belief that the British Empire (if well-run) was “a good thing”. To set against that, Kim, partly set in Shimla, was Nehru’s favourite novel.

I am staying at the Oberoi Cecil, Shimla, which is furnished in luxury-Raj style and has its own Kipling connection: it is built on the site of The Tendrils, one of his homes. Many of its rooms offer panoramic views over the mountains, with ranges silhouetted against each other.

On the foodie trail: Thailand

ModernThai Dishes

If there’s one thing you’ll know Thailand for its the foodie scene. And whether you love a creamy green curry or prefer a zingy som tam, we all know that it’s Thailand’s locals who know how to make it best. Which is why we travelled back to the source to produce our new book,  From the Source: Thailand, which showcases local recipes direct from the kitchens where they were originally perfected.

Here Lonely Planet writer and avid food photographer, Austin Bush, shares some hunger-inducing Instagrams of his favourite Thai dishes and some snaps of his foodie adventures across the country.

salt wells

The salty water is boiled until only salt crystals remain, which are scooped into the baskets to dry further. In each hut is a place to sleep, as the boiling almost never stops and those gathering need to wake up every hour throughout the night to scoop!’

‘A delicious dish making use of Mae Hong Son’s amazing oranges is a seemingly Burmese-influenced salad of shredded deep-fried tofu, fried nuts and sesame, julienned ginger and deep-fried crispy shallots.’

‘In Chiang Khong, khao soi refers to rice noodles in clear broth topped with a rich, spicy (and oily!) topping of minced pork. The topping has a lot in common with Chinese dandan noodles, and the dish is one of the tastiest bowls in the north.’

‘Available across the whole of Thailand, but somehow always tastier in the Chinese village of Doi Mae Salong is this dish of hot, freshly made soy milk and crispy deep-fried dough.’

‘Restaurants in Northern Thailand tend to emphasise meat, but often the best ones compensate with lots of herbs. Here’s a super tasty fish laap, served with sticky rice and heap of exotic greens, Laap Sanaam Keelaa.’

‘Some excellent central Thai food at See Fah, Nakhon Chaisri, about 45 minutes west of Bangkok. On the left is yam som oh, a salad of pomelo, crunchy toasted coconut and dried squid, and on the right phat chaa hoy lawt, a razor clam-like shellfish from central Thailand flash-fried and served with herbs.’

‘This is khanom hua ngawk, a popular northern Thai sweet made from banana wrapped in sticky rice, steamed and topped with shredded coconut and sugar.’

Traveling With Groups

imgres

Holidays has a lot to offer, it is the most time where you will enjoy the company of family and friends. While it is a leisure time with them, it could also be the time where you will spend the most of what you have earned during working days. The family might have planned for a vacation somewhere, this is a good thing in a sense that you will have the time to enjoy a vacation with them, but also keep watch that you won’t run out of budget.

imgresTraveling alone is always a choice to most of adventurous people. But to some, there is also joy in traveling with groups especially with family or friends.

There are a lot of benefits from group travels:

Money Wise
Traveling with a group could lessen costs of everything because everyone has its share. From accommodations, transportation, foods and even tour tickets are discounted. It is where you can avail of discounted deals like hotel rates and airlines.

Socialization Opportunities
It is a unique chance to bond with your family or friends. There is a difference with when you stay at home although same as altogether. At home, someone is doing the cooking while kids are watching. Dad is reading the newspaper while son is doing his computer games. These things are common at home. Going out somewhere with them is another level of bonding. Meanwhile, travel with friends is also a good time to enjoy, you will get to know more of them and share what you have in common in another level. Additionally, it creates a closer bond between friends.

Group Travel Makes Trip Easier and Safer
Going with group eliminates the stress of planning a trip on your own, everyone in the group shares a knowledge as to where is the nice place, the best accommodation, the best restos and anything under that travel plans.

You will get Special Considerations
When you’re holidaying with family or friends, there is a chance to have special tours and priority services. If you are lucky enough, you can have the chance to get another discount for next visit.

Going Mad in Magaluf: A Guide for Party People

Heading to Mallorca on your holidays this year? Then don’t forget to check out some of the amazing events held in Magaluf throughout the season. Although it may be most famous for its numerous bars and night clubs, one of the reasons that so many people go back year after year is to enjoy the special events that are laid on by local organisers.

For those who have yet to go, I have made a short list of what I think are the best type of events to attend, all of which can be booked in advance if you desire.

 

full-moon-party

 

Let Magalufevents.com Be Your Guide

Websites run by local organisers are a great source of information on the sort of events you can expect when you arrive in Mallorca’s most famous resort town. All of the ones in the list below can be booked online, before you start your holiday.

 

1Full Moon Beach Party – Grab a few straws and get stuck into a bucket of cheap booze on the beach, at one of the resort’s famous full moon parties. Notorious for the drunken hoards they attract, these parties are actually a lot of fun if you can actually remember anything about them!

2All-Day Boat Party – Spend the day at sea with a boatload of likeminded people, boozing and dancing until you return to harbour. Whatever else you do during your time in Magaluf, you simply must go on one of the local booze cruises.

3Organised Club Nights – If you have never been before, the sheer size of the biggest clubs in town can be intimidating. However, with a few fun guides, a pub crawl beforehand, and tickets to the VIP area of one of the best clubs in town, you won’t be worried about a thing. Imagine going on a night out with Jordan and Imogen, from the ITV2 series The Magaluf Weekender, and you’ll have a fair idea of what to expect!

 

Whether you head over to a site like magalufevents.com to book your tickets before you go or you take a chance and see what you can find when you arrive, I hope that you have as good a time as I did when I first visited the party capital of Europe. I liked it so much, I’ve been back several times since and I’m sure I’ll be visiting again in the future.