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A meal out with young children in tow can be a challenge in itself, however if you accidentally end up somewhere less than welcoming to the youngest customers then a bad situation can be made so much worse.

Personally when I’m out with my children I always aim for the more family friendly type places. Now don’t get me wrong, if I was out for a meal sans-offspring I’d be heading straight to the most un-toddler friendly place I could think of!

Dining with young children can sometimes be a pretty stressful affair. However I do believe that it is a necessary evil. Children need to learn table manners, which of course begins at home, however at some point they also need to learn how to behave out in public. As far as I am concerned they do anyway, as I would like to be able to enjoy a reasonably civilised meal out as a family at some point this decade.

These things have got to be taught, and there is no doubt that there will be a few mishaps along the way. All of which is much easier if you dine out in a restaurant where they have plenty of high chairs, offer your child’s drink in a plastic cup and ideally have some sort of children’s menu available.

Fortunately in Harrogate we have quite a few fantastic places that are extremely welcoming to the family market. These are restaurants and cafes that have managed to achieve what is all too often viewed as mission impossible: Appealing to families whilst still being a pleasant environment for other diners and maintaining high culinary standards.

My most recent discovery and something of a surprise to me is the café at the Academy gym. Up until recently I did not know that the café is open to non-members and it is a great place for a mid-week tea or lunch out with children. The menu for children is extensive and much of it is home made. The main draw for me is the adjacent play room; a small conservatory type room filled with toys. There is also an adjoining enclosed outdoor play area.

The children’s meals were available in two sizes and I was particularly impressed with the availability of fruit, such as bowls of grapes.

For an evening meal, I tend to think that you can’t go wrong with the Damn Yankee on Station Parade. This place has been a family favourite since I was a child but it still leads the way. The waiting staff know how it is, when looking after young diners. My girls were given fantastic goody bags as soon as we were seated containing stickers, crayons and all manner of things to keep little hands occupied.

The food is fantastic quality and the children had plenty of options from a well-priced kids menu. Best of all, while I was in there I discovered that they do a takeaway menu. Perfect for when the thought of dining out with toddlers gets just too much!

What’s on?

Thursday, February 28

11am-noon Children’s Storytime at Harlow Carr
Listen as great tales of garden adventures and little creatures are unfold. Each session will be followed by a short walk in the garden or an interactive song, and is suitable for under fives, although all children must be accompanied by an adult.

One for the parents!

Thursday, February 28 -Saturday, March 2

The 23rd Harrogate Charity Beer Festival organised by the Harrogate Round Table will be taking place at the Crown Hotel in Harrogate. Featuring dozens of real ales, lager, cider and wines. Live music every night.
The benefitting charities are: MacMillan Cancer Support, Open Country, Henshaws Society for the Blind and Asthma Relief.
Tickets are available online at www.harrogatebeerfestival.co.uk and from the Coach and Horses, Old Bell Tavern and Swan on the Stray pubs and from the Crown Hotel. Prices £10 includes entry to the Beer Festival, a commemorative glass (you can take home), six half pints
and a tasting notes booklet.

Sunday, March 3

1-3pm Bluebird baby and toddler sale at Ripon Leisure Centre in aid of Harrogate SCBU.

Tuesday, March 5

7.30-9pm Lazy Daisy Active Birth and Relaxation Weekly yoga-inspired movement and relaxation classes using very gentle movements (so gentle even mums with SPD/PGP can join), positive birth affirmations, relaxation and breathing techniques, and a variety of everyday props to help you understand the physiology of birth and really inspire you to feel confident about your birthing journey. Classes are suitable for ladies between 14 and 42 weeks of pregnancy. Held at Yorkshire Centre for Wellbeing, Duchy Road Harrogate. Booking essential, contact Amanda Bryant on 07879 274433 or e-mail amanda@lazydaisybirthing.co.uk

Wednesday, March 6

1.30-3pm Lil’ Peeps is a nonprofit making, volunteer run toddler group in the Oatlands area. They provide a welcoming atmosphere where parents and carers can meet and socialise with their toddlers. They provide toys, craft making, singing and refreshments. The cost is £2 for the first child and £1 per sibling. For more information contact Vic on 07970521495

Thursday, March 7

10-11.30am Trinity Teddies playgroup Knaresborough, (term time only) -Trinity Teddies is from birth to three years-old at Holy Trinity Church Hall. It’s just off Briggate, you go through the stone arch (next to the URC) and up the cobbled drive.