Back to Blogging: December roundup + 2017 goals.

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So in December I took a bit of a blogging break. Man, 2016 was so grinding on so many levels, I was feeling pretty exhausted by the time Christmas was approaching. I had quite a bit of time taken up with my various extra income sidelines such as mystery shopping and matched betting, and wanted to spend some quality time with family and friends (and books and TV shows) in my spare hours!

Here’s a bit of a roundup of some of my favourite days out during that time and thoughts for the year ahead.

Magic Lantern Festival

Right at the end of November, we visited the Magical Lantern Festival at Roundhay Park in Leeds. This event has been taking place in London, Birmingham and other cities for a few years now but this was the first time it came to Leeds.

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I’m always up for seeing pretty lights and I was not disappointed by this experience – the trail was truly beautiful and impressive for all ages.IMG_4569

I did see some mixed reviews, which seemed to be largely based on people’s expectations of the advertised funfair and other attractions, but we had gone solely for the lanterns so can’t comment on other aspects. I felt the lanterns alone were worth the ticket price.

I’d bought in October at a discounted early bird price, there were other offers available towards the end of December and through Groupon so it you fancy going next year it is worth looking around for the best deal.

Stockeld Park Christmas Adventure

Next up, getting a bit more festive, was a trip to Stockeld Park near Wetherby. There are various attractions available here, we did the Enchanted Woodland Trail and Maze. The maze is pretty fun and the trail is absolutely fantastic for kids – as well as all the various moving/speaking/light up characters and animals, there are tons of playgrounds all the way around. It is costly though, I’d recommend planning your day well to ensure you get your money’s worth out of the entrance fee.

My phone battery was not having a good day that day so sadly I don’t have many good pics but there are lots and lots of things to see. I’d like to try the trail in the dark one time as I bet it looks amazing with all the lights!

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There was also a lovely Christmas shop where I picked up some of my favourite new baubles including this proud peacock!

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Kirklees Light Railway: Twilight Santa Train

The Santa Train at Kirklees Light Railway followed. We went on this last year too but this year I booked tickets for a floodlit twilight train. These cost a little more and to be honest I didn’t think it was worth it – we seemed to see more lights and decorations last year even though it was daylight, and it was possible to pay in the playground in the day time also. Still, the Santa here is really excellent, they do it very well and ensure that if your child has been before this gets mentioned etc.

If you have a big train fan you can’t really go wrong with this experience.

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The Hidden Christmas Market at Kirkstall Abbey run by Sneaky Experience was something I loved, though seemed to be a bit of Marmite experience generally. This was Narnia themed and took place inside the ruins of Kirkstall Abbey – top marks for location!

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There were only a small number of stalls, but each one was interesting and selling quality products, my favourite being Chota Bazaar vintage from which I brought the most beautiful hairclip I’ve ever seen. I will definitely be following on facebook and hoping to catch this stall again!

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Anyway, the main part of the event was clearly about the entertainment being a Sneaky Experience event. The entrance involed pushing through fur coats and going through the snowy ‘wardrobe doors’ to find the incredible Hyde Park Brass Bass Band playing some funked up festive tunes. A snow queen dancer, hula-hooping fairy and faun playing a ukelele were other highlights.

Again this was an event which received some mixed reviews, probably because some people love to moan and sadly prefer endless shopping over great entertainment were expecting something more like a German Market, though if you’d read the event detail it was fairly clear what it was going to be like in my opinion.

Lotherton Hall Christmas Experience

 This was the cheapest of all the festive-y things we went to and it turned out to be one of the best. Luckily I’d picked a day with beautiful weather and Lotherton Hall had made a great effort with their outdoor trail. The trail was themed around the 12 Days of Christmas song, with an activity for each of the day such as 12 drummers drumming here.

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There was also a small ‘Fairy Dell’, a delightful little fairy town which was super charming.

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The building ain’t too shabby either!IMG_4961

The Year Ahead

And now here we are in 2017, which is so far an improvement on 2016 by virtue of not having seen the death of one of my biggest icons and idols as yet. I’ve got to admit I’m somewhat concerned about the state of the world and the future but that is a whole other blog post!

This year I plan to step up my blogging, with more posts on here and possibly another blog I have in mind, depending how my time goes. I’m also really going to focus on maximising my income from matched betting and all the other side hustles I’m involved with. I’ve recently started bullet journalling and I’m hoping that will help me with general organisation and with keeping more of a record of my achievements and progress so I can see what is working best and which areas to concentrate on in the future.

If there’s anything you would be interested in seeing on here, be it money making/saving related or anything else, do let me know and I’ll do my best!

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