Apart from four years when I resided in Huddersfield studying for my degree, Wakefield in West Yorkshire has been my home. Known to Shakey Wakey by lots, it has its fair share of dodgy areas but what city doesn’t?! I grew up in the “everyone knows everyone” village of Wrenthorpe, where we live as a family of four now, where I felt safe walking around with my friends at night, aged fifteen and where I now take my son to play in the park, aged thirty three.
I feel like I know most roads like the back of my hand, from being driven round by my Mum as a child and now I drive myself round (as someone with the mental age of a child I still find it funny that I can actually drive!) although a lot of the roads have changed thanks to the regeneration of the area. The improvements made on my home city for the last few years makes me hopeful for its future as my children’s birthplace and I thought it would be nice to share my favourite things to do in good ol’ Wakey.
1) Trinity Walk
The “new” shopping centre was opened in 2011 and definitely made shopping easier for the people of Wakefield. For me, it has all the shops I’d usually visit in one place: New Look, H & M, Debenhams, Superdrug, Dorothy Perkins, Topshop, River Island etc. With the addition of some restaurants: Pizza Express, All You Can Eat Chinese and the much needed Costa and Starbucks, it’s a really appealing place to shop.
Personally I like it because it’s not too busy to drag a three year old, with a dislike for shopping, around and it has lots of little cafes which are perfect for lunch with my little man. His favourite is Sainsbury’s, mine is Debenham’s. More recently, I’ve taken the pottering around with Spud in her buggy and using the aforementioned coffee shops to comfortably have a hot chocolate or a cup of tea and breastfeed.
A new building and the work place of my lovely big sister (whom works for the council), Wakefield One also houses the new Wakefield Museum and Library. Whilst on Maternity Leave with my son, I regularly visited the story time at the library on a Tuesday or Friday however, unfortunately, these are the days I work on so the visits dwindled. I haven’t took Spud yet as she’s a little small yet but I will! I like to visit the library on my days off or when our little man isn’t in pre-school. Little L is a fan of books but he prefers the little reading nooks and tunnels more than anything!
Wakefield Museum, which is free, is also in the same building and perfect for young children with various interactive stations such a kitchen, wooden train track, drawing and colouring, dress up and a huge wooden crocodile in the floor which fascinates the boy!
Note: An extra bonus is an amazing cafe ‘Create’ which is just by the museum and sells gorgeous meals, drinks and cakes. The NCT Mums and I spend many a Mat Leave lunch there.
3) Pugney’s Country Park
As a teenager, I have memories of my Dad and step mum Pat, dragging me and my sister around Pugney’s on a Sunday. Being eight years younger than me, my sister was more co-operative whereas I moaned every step of the way! Since then, like many peoples in my hometown, it’s had some money thrown at it and it’s a great place to take the kids.
In the past year they have opened a new Pirate themed play area as well as ‘boot camp’ style activities around the track which are great for the children as well as those more active adults…something I am not! We once had promised Little L a walk around the “lake”however when the day came it was pi**ing it down, L was intent on taking his Trike for a ride around the “lake” so off we went, wellies, coats, hats etc in tow. We managed half away around before turning back but, on a dry, sunny day it’s wonderful…and they always have an ice cream van – added bonus!
4) Carr Gate Garden Centre
We literally live a 2 minute drive from Carr Gate so on afternoons when we have no plans and Little L is getting restless, we jump in the car and head to our local garden centre where we look at and feed the fish, play in the small but perfect for a toddler/pre-schooler soft play and I enjoy a hot cup of tea. At Christmas, they have a great Winter Wonderland and Little L loves wandering around it looking at the fairies, penguins, polar bears and Christmas decorations. On the basis that soft play costs a couple of quid and feeding the fishes is £1 with everything else being free, it’s affordable and great fun for the toddlers. Definitely worth a visit.
5) Thornes Park
A huge green area featuring a park, gym, running track, duck pond, birds, rose garden, and sometimes a fun fair. Thornes Park has hosted the main bonfire each year until 2016 when it was canceled and said to never return which is such a shame as I love bonfire night and wanted to take my son where I went as a child.
We regularly visit Thornes Park Duck Pond, it’s only small so great for little legs who can’t walk far. We walk down, take a look at the birds in the enclosure at the end, climb on some fallen tree trunks and then walk back…if it’s sunny we treat ourselves to an ice cream.
For a free day out, it’s the perfect place for a picnic and some ball games. If you want to indulge more there is the Holmfield – Eating Inn which has a lovely child-friendly beer garden and delicious food. It’s also the venue of Mr Roversi and I’s first date!
6) The Hepworth
When The Hepworth in 2011, if I’m honest, I wasn’t that impressed. It was a huge grey box and I wasn’t that into art so I didn’t bother visiting. Then we decided to take our son and saw it through different eyes. Firstly, the huge windows are perfect for cool photographs but also to watch the world go by. I used the lovely window seat as a perfect spot to feed Spud and it was so peaceful! There are little areas for the children to look at books, make sculptures and draw plus the art work itself. You wonder how interested a toddler/pre-schooler would be in art but he didn’t want to leave. We got him explaining the artwork to us while we shut our eyes or asking him what shapes he could see or what a sculpture reminded him of. It got him using his vocabulary but also his imagination and we had a lovely afternoon.
So there you go – six things to do in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, and even better is that they don’t have to cost you a lot of money!
Do you live in Wakefield or nearby? Have you visited any of the places above? Could you give me knew ideas of places to visit with Little L in and around the Wakefield/Leeds area? Comment below or find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.