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Little Tigers Free digital magazine for parents, grandparents and carers in Cheshire and South Manchester





Frankie, in Gatley, spent lockdown helping his Dad and eating outside with his family

Contents Pages 6 – 15


Local lockdown stories Marcus Rashford on free school meals Blended learning with English tutor Activity classes for children online How to organise sports day at home Mental health help for lonely youngsters Online play videos from Cheshire SENDCO

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Pages 16 – 31


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Museums, stately homes and attractions Wildlife parks, zoos and aquariums Cinemas, theme parks and funfairs Cheshire’s traffic-free cycle routes Sport facilities and theatres Shops, markets, playgrounds and more Pages 32 – 33 Columnist Adam Glennon in lockdown

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WELCOME Little Tigers was founded in 2001. It is a free, bi-monthly digital magazine for parents, carers and grandparents of children aged 0–12 in Cheshire and South Manchester. We strive to be helpful, positive, supportive, inclusive, authentic and friendly. Our aim is to give information and ideas to our readers, and support charities, social enterprises, community groups, family-friendly places and arts organisations. EDITORIAL Thank you to everyone who contributed images and information for this issue, especially freelance writers Victoria Pollitt, Catherine Lawler and Adam Glennon. CONTACT Editor: Alison Stodolnic Email: Telephone: 07392 33 85 86

ONLINE Website: E-Reader: Facebook:

© Little Tigers Magazine 2020. Nothing may be reproduced without permission. We try our best to be accurate but accept no liability for any errors or omissions.

Holidays abroad, staycations and day trips are now a possibility for Summer 2020

Editor’s LETTER Hardly anybody is going to emerge from 2020 unscathed. Coronavirus, pandemic, lockdown, furlough – words we may not have heard of at the beginning of the year are now commonplace. Tales of loss and struggle, anger and worry are piling up all around us. But they sit alongside happier stories of love and bravery, creativity, caring communities and a growing sense of hope. Let the healing begin. We’re all trying to do the best we can, to somehow muddle through and do what we need to do. Everyone is experiencing this differently, but parents, grandparents and carers of children in particular are having to dig deep to find patience and fortitude (with mixed results). And hardly anybody is going to emerge unscathed. I’ve enjoyed producing this July / August issue of Little Tigers. I’ve done it with an underlying sense of Covid anxiety of course, against a backdrop of immense gratitude for key workers, and sorrow for the people who have lost loved ones or are facing financial woes. I’m concerned for our younger generation (who I hope will prove to be, after all, very resilient) – but I’m also amazed by all the work that is going into keeping them educated and as healthy, both physically and mentally, as possible. In a strange twist of timing, I had decided that this issue was going to be published as a digital magazine anyway (even before Covid raised its ugly head). There is no advertising in it this time; that will start again in September. The content is focused on what’s been happening over the last few months, and on the places that are open to families over the summer holidays. I’ve tried my best to get it right, but things are evolving so fast that some details could change soon after we publish in mid-July. Dear reader, please could you share the link to this free magazine with as many other potential readers as you can? That is, parents, grandparents and carers of young children in Cheshire and South Manchester. On social media, by email, or just good old fashioned talking face-to-face. In the meantime, thank you for reading. If you have any comments or questions about this magazine, please do get in touch. Also, I would like to hear from you if you have a story or some useful information that you would like me to include in the September / October issue. Take care and stay safe. Alison Stodolnic, Editor p.s. If you’re missing your paper copy, you can download and print this if you want to.


Footballer Tackles Holiday Hunger The coronavirus situation has become an economic crisis as well as a health and social crisis. Food poverty among families has increased, with many children going hungry every day. About 1.3 million children in England will be able to make use of the Government’s Covid Summer Food Fund – children who are normally entitled to free school meals, and those whose parents have become newly eligible to claim during the pandemic. Manchester United and England footballer (and local hero) Marcus Rashford grew up in Wythenshawe. In June, he successfully campaigned to get the Covid School Meal Voucher Scheme extended so that it would run through the school summer holidays. In an open letter to MPs, Marcus said: “Understand: without the kindness and generosity of the community I had around me, there wouldn’t be the Marcus Rashford you see today: a 22-year old black man lucky enough to make a career playing a game I love. “My story to get here is all-too-familiar for families in England: my mum worked full-time, earning minimum wage to make sure we always had a good evening meal on the table. But it was not enough. The system was not built for families like mine

to succeed, regardless of how hard my mum worked. As a family, we relied on breakfast clubs, free school meals, and the kind actions of neighbours and coaches. Food banks and soup kitchens were not alien to us; I recall very clearly our visits to Northern Moor to collect our Christmas dinners every year. This is not about politics; this is about humanity. Looking at ourselves in the mirror and feeling like we did everything we could to protect those who can’t, for whatever reason or circumstance, protect themselves. Political affiliations aside, can we not all agree that no child should be going to bed hungry?” Under current arrangements, schools must either arrange for meals or food parcels to be delivered to eligible families, or issue supermarket vouchers worth £15 per child per week. You can check if you’re eligible to claim here: Meanwhile, local food banks are also reporting an enormous rise in demand and donations of food. To find a food bank near you go to Marcus supports FareShare, a charity that redistributes surplus food to charities, who turn it into meals Image @MarcusRashford on Twitter

GIFTS FROM TATTON’S GARDEN The gardeners at Tatton Park in Knutsford have donated plants to staff at the Urgent Care Unit of Trafford General Hospital, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust. The plants were given to brighten up the outdoor rest area used by doctors and nurses on their work breaks during the coronavirus crisis. Angela Rowe, Senior Community Fundraising Manager for Trafford General Hospital Charity, who organised the delivery, said: “The plants have been placed in a garden the staff can use on break times, and they’re a very welcome addition to the space.” The plant pots are made up of small maple trees and low-maintenance herbs, which have medicinal and edible qualities. The herbs include lemon verbena (known for anti-viral and bacterial qualities when made into a tea), mint leaves and orange thyme (to add flavour to lemonade), basil mint (for pasta sauces) and lemon balm (that can be used as a hand rub).

ENGLISH TUTOR TO START NEW BLENDED LEARNING PROGRAMME A specialist English tutor, who has been teaching her students online on Zoom during lockdown, is to start small group classes in Hale in September. Nicky Nolan, who has four children of her own, is an experienced primary and secondary school teacher, a reading recovery specialist (KSI intervention) and an approved dyslexia teacher. The group classes will form part of her ‘blended learning’ programme – a flexible approach to education that combines online and face-to-face tuition, for individuals and small groups of up to six children. Most classes will be for primary school children preparing for school entrance exams and SATs, although she is also planning to run GCSE level English classes. “The online tutoring has worked really well over the last few months,” said Nicky. “It’s good for parents as it means we can be flexible with times, and there is no need to travel. But group lessons also work well because a lot of English teaching should be discussion-based.” The classes will be after school and on Saturday mornings. They will be held in a Covid-secure classroom, which means there will be distancing between students (who will be asked to bring their own equipment) and extra cleaning between sessions. To contact Nicky, call 07786 160652, email or send a message through Facebook

MAKING PPE AND DAILY WORKOUTS Mr Routley, the PE Teacher at Yorston Lodge School in Knutsford, gave daily online PE lessons during lockdown. Many pupils joined in with the HIT training, some parents too, with Mr Routley occasionally appearing on screen in a superhero costume like Spiderman, above. When the NHS appealed for donations of PPE equipment, the school’s Early Years Practitioner, Mrs Oldham, started making scrub caps and facemasks. She even taught her 10-year-old daughter how to hand sew and use a sewing machine. Other pupils helped by fundraising for NHS charities, making donations to a local food bank, and baking cakes for hospital patients.

FESTIVAL PERFORMANCES ONLINE A festival that was meant to take place over a weekend at the end of June, in Manchester, was held online instead. Gobefest is an annual celebration of the culture of Szekler Hungarians, who are from Transylvania in Romania. The festival streamed live workshops, kids’ activities, dance performances, and music from the performers who had been scheduled to appear live. Each day began with a Ringato (‘rocking in arms’) baby music workshop. There was story telling in Hungarian and English, a puppet show, a children’s choir, craft workshops and cooking lessons for kids. Gobefest at Home was funded by the Arts Council England Coronavirus Emergency Response Fund.

Yorston Lodge, as with other schools in the area, continued with home-school teaching on Zoom during lockdown. They produced work packs for all ages up to Year 6, which were used alongside digital tools such as Google Classroom, BBC Bitesize, White Rose Maths and Education City. FREE CONTENT FROM MUSEUMS Manchester Museum has loads of great content available on their website ‘Manchester Museum in Quarantine’. The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester also has a treasure trove of learning resources, videos and games.

Dancing at home with Gobefest

Activity Classes Go Online It’s been hard for parents with very young children to be deprived of their weekly baby and toddler activity classes and groups. However, some businesses have been keeping in touch with their customers and entertaining their children online during lockdown.

were a great way to keep up some interaction with the children.

Alick Willis, who runs Rugbytots SE Cheshire & Staffordshire Moorlands, said: “The feedback from parents has been very positive, with parents happy to be able to provide some semblance of normality during lockdown. From our perspective, it has been brilliant to see all the photos and videos of Rugbytots joining in with classes and challenges, and to be able to say hello during the live classes.”


Marion Hankin, Principal of Stagecoach Altrincham said: “We’ve done lots of activities on our Facebook page ‘Stagecoach Performing Arts Altrincham’. Recently we have started our Live Zoom classes on a Saturday for our students to join – this follows the pattern of our normal weekly classes, but rather than being in venue we’re doing it at home.” Students have also had the opportunity to sing in a virtual choir. This involved sending out a song and asking the children to learn and record it, and then editing it all together. ‘Stagecoach at Home’ is a subscription based online resource where families can access workshops and lessons from professionals and performers in the industry. Online Classes Rugbytots set up a Facebook group so they could give their customers activities to keep their children busy. These included challenges, try-at-home ideas, printable activities, competitions and quizzes. They also offered live online classes, which

Rugbytots Rhythm Time’s music sessions also went online when lockdown was announced. Across the country, their business model was quickly transformed and classes were being streamed into the homes of thousands of babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. The children could watch their classes repeatedly and whenever they wanted to. In addition to the online classes, Rhythm Time created a ‘Members Hub’, where families could access activities like story time, song and activity videos, activity sheets, and ideas for entertaining kids. Online:

How to Organise Sports Day at Home Sports day is traditionally one of the biggest events in the school calendar. This year the summer term staple might be cancelled, but disappointed children need not miss out entirely. Why not organise your own sports day at home? Victoria Pollitt has put together a guide to help you plan a 2020 sports day to remember. SETTING UP Make sure you get children involved in the planning, which is half the fun. Come up with a list of events suitable for the age and ability of your children. Collect all the equipment you need together, and don’t forget drinks for competitors. Have a start and finish line for races with either a circular track or a straight stretch. You could even mark out the way with chalk, string, shaving foam or a grass marking kit. If you haven’t got a garden, find space in a park or arrange an indoor event. SPORTING EVENT IDEAS Start with running races – either a sprint or laps for a long-distance event. Create an obstacle course, using whatever you have to run around, over and under – toys, a slide, chairs. You could create a slalom with cricket stumps to weave in

and out of, add in jumping jacks and draw a hopscotch on the patio with chalk. Throw in some traditional favourites – a three-legged race, wheelbarrow race and a sack race using old pillowcases. Try the long jump, a relay, space hopper race, skipping, hopping on one foot or a hula hoop challenge. And no sports day is complete without an egg and spoon race –just ensure the eggs are hard boiled or toy eggs! Use a tennis ball for shot-putt, throwing balls or bean bags into a bucket, a football penalty shoot-out or keepy-uppies TAILOR-MADE FOR EACH CHILD Of course, some children dread sports day so this is an opportunity to make it a fun activity, free of the pressures of competing in front of peers and parents. Fill the day with activities to suit their own individual strengths and abilities to give their confidence a boost. AWARDS CEREMONY AT THE END Make a podium and announce the winner and runner-up of each event – but make sure every participant gets a prize. Then enjoy post-sports day food and snacks or a barbecue and a well-deserved rest.



The Summer Reading Challenge is being held online this year. Children can set up a ‘Silly Squad’ avatar and play games, do challenges and get rewards as they read books over the summer. Schools and libraries can download and share the information. Parents can also access the resources themselves.

Michael Rosen, the much-loved author, poet and former children’s laureate, is recovering from Covid. The 74-year-old was in intensive care for almost seven weeks, and returned home in June. An author of over 140 books, including We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Rosen thanked NHS staff and his family for looking after him.



Neuro Love is a brilliant new website designed to help children and young people from age 8 to 25 feel less lonely and isolated during these strange times. Youngsters can log in to the platform and access all sorts of free resources and ideas. There are activities to try, life lessons to learn, exercise classes, art workshops, self-care ideas, and advice on relaxing and managing anxiety. Young people can also have a live chat with a mentor or make an appointment to speak to a social therapist. Neuro Love was created by Chanua Ltd, which provides health and wellbeing programmes for young people. To make it happen, the company competed for and won funding and support from the NHSX TechForce19 Challenge and the Innovation Agency (the Northwest’s academic health science network). Naomi Mwasambili, the Chief Executive of Chanua, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to create something which will have a positive impact on young people, and help them during these difficult times when they may feel anxious and isolated.”

Staff and pupils at Stockport Grammar School have made donations to charities, NHS staff and other frontline workers during the pandemic. The school took PPE equipment items (such as goggles and protective clothing) from the Science Department, and donated them to Stockport NHS Trust and a local care home. The Design Technology Department also made face visors for NHS staff. Children made cheerful posters, some of which were displayed in A&E at Macclesfield District General Hospital. And Junior School Head Teacher Tim Wheeler MBE ran the London Marathon in his back garden, to raise funds for the Little Princess Trust charity.

Naomi Mwasambili of Neuro Love

Online SEN Play Videos

A Cheshire Mum has been inspiring parents with home-learning ideas during lockdown, writes Victoria Pollitt. Since schools closed in March, Georgina Durrant has created more than 30 videos of fun activities, which teach children through play. The videos on her YouTube channel feature everything from phonics Georgina Durrant and numeracy games to making volcanoes. Her favourite video shows how to make a was a teacher and SENDCO (Special lava lamp using household products. Educational Needs and Disabilities Coordinator). She started her website Her website, The SEN Resources Blog, as a way of sharing ideas with parents has also grown in popularity, with some and teachers on how to support children primary school teachers linking to it when with special educational needs. The SEN setting work for their pupils. “The response Resources Blog helps primary school-age has been brilliant, we’ve had a real increase children develop fine motor skills, speech, in traffic to our site as well as lots of nice language and communication skills. She messages and comments,” said Georgina. also recommends toys, books and learning “The best bit has been seeing photos and resources which might be helpful for a videos of children trying out these activities, child’s development. that parents have shared. It’s made me feel like I’ve been helping, even if it’s just a tiny “It started as more of a hobby, something bit, during this difficult time.” that helped me feel I was doing something still teaching-related, whilst I was staying So, with a five and three-year-old, how has at home with my kids. At the beginning, she found the time? “I definitely don’t have I’m pretty sure only a handful of my the time, as any parent of two under-6s will friends and my mum read it. But then it probably agree, but I think in some ways, grew into something bigger than I’d have recording these videos and sharing learning imagined, and we now get a few thousand activities has actually massively helped me visitors per week and thousands of followers over lockdown too,” she said. “With two on social media.” kids at home it’s been almost like a lifeline having something to focus on, and a bit of The 33-year-old has been given a Small a purpose.” Business Award by Dragon’s Den Theo Paphitis, and has also just secured a Before having her own children, Georgina book publishing deal. WEBSITE VIDEOS

LINENS PRINTED & MADE IN NORTHWEST Bollington antiques dealer Wanda Coyne has launched a new range of printed tea towels and tote bags, featuring designs derived from antique prints. The products are designed, digitally printed and made up in the Northwest of England, using a 100% cotton, machine washable fabric. Wanda has always had a passion for history, antiques and design – and the products she is developing for the ‘Wanda Coyne Collection’ are inspired by the beauty, richness and intricate detail found in Britain and Europe’s cultural and artistic heritage. Wanda has a retail outlet at Victoria Mill Antiques Centre in Congleton. She is a regular at Treacle Market in Macclesfield, and has recently qualified to trade at the Haddon Hall Mercatum artisan market near Chatsworth. She also sells linens in vintage china designs, with a range of new items including tablecloths, aprons and oven gloves on the way. PUPILS HELP PROJECT WINGMAN


Airline cabin crew who were furloughed or made redundant have created ‘first class lounges’ for NHS staff at Wythenshawe Hospital. The initiative is known as Project Wingman. Local children, including many of the pupils at Wilmslow Prep School, have supported it by creating bright, cheerful artwork to display on the walls. Nicky Jackson, a Wilmslow resident and part of the Wingman team, said: “I am furloughed cabin crew and, together with colleagues from many airlines, we wanted to give something back to the country – and offering tea and TLC is what we’re best at. We are loving looking after our NHS heroes, and the paintings and the drawings from local children have really brightened up our little escape lounge. They are really gorgeous.”

Children aged 11 and over can enjoy free dance workshops delivered on Zoom. Dance enthusiasts of all abilities can take part in the workshops, which run on Friday evenings until 7 August, between 5.45pm and 7pm. The workshops form part one of a two-step programme run by the Lowry Centre for Advanced Training in Dance, which looks for young people with exceptional talent and the potential to study dance at an advanced level. Interested youngsters may apply to take part in stage two of the process, a ‘digital experience day workshop’, where more in-depth training is given (18 July and 8 August, 10am to 1pm). You can apply via this Google form:

Rosie And Her Mum Publish Book to Celebrate Diversity

said: “Although the last few months have been very difficult, working from home whilst trying to home-school three children who have not been allowed out at all, projects like publishing this book have kept us going.

Maddie the author A mother and daughter from South Manchester have published a story book during lockdown, which celebrates their diverse local community. Sally Penni, 41, and her daughter Maddie, 6, began writing Rosie and the Unicorn together when home-schooling got tough. Maddie’s love for magical creatures became the starting point for the book, which is set to raise funds for three charities. In the story, Rosie wakes up one morning to find a rainbow unicorn outside her bedroom window. The pair fly around her village, meeting local people from all over the world. Rosie

tells the unicorn that people come from all kinds of different families, some have two dads and some have none, they have different religions, different accents and many varying colours of skin. Local landmarks, including the Cheese Hamlet and Didsbury Park, can be seen throughout the book, which is illustrated by Lisa Williams. Lockdown has been tough on the family as Maddie, her parents and two older brothers Jack, 9, and Will, 8, have been shielding throughout to protect a family member. Sally, who works as a lawyer in Manchester,

All profits from the sales of Rosie and the Unicorn will go to the NHS, Manchester Children’s Hospital and Young Minds. Available on Amazon at £7.99.

“Our family is dual heritage and it is so important for our children and many others to see picture book heroes and heroines who look like them. The story of Rosie and the Unicorn celebrates multiculturalism, love and kindness and community cohesion. It invites us into a world that more closely reflects our own experience and confirms that heroines can have brown skin.” Maddie is looking forward to returning to school and taking copies of the book for her teacher and friends. She said: “It’s very exciting to have a book where the characters look like me and my friends.”

“Most of my time is spent getting beautiful natural photographs that reflect the true story of life” — Paul Greenwood, based in Manchester, who specialises in a relaxed style of family documentary photography. Tel: 07590 255316

The deerpark and gardens are open at Dunham Massey National Trust Hall in Altrincham

GOING OUT — Museums, Stately Homes and Attractions Museums, galleries, stately homes and other visitor attractions were allowed to reopen from 4 July, although some have not yet done so.

Dunham Massey National Trust The deer park and gardens are open – pre-booking is essential (Altrincham).

The Government has laid out a set of Covid safety guidelines for venues to implement after carrying out their own individual risk assessments, including:

Go Ape All sorts of treetop adventures, ziplines, segways, high treehouse and nets. At Buxton and Delamere Forest, and other locations around the country. Pre-booking is essential.

• • • • • • • • •

Pre-booked, timed tickets Limiting visitor numbers One-way systems Spaced-out queuing Extra cleaning sessions Hand sanitising stations Possibly no audio guides Face coverings, in some cases Cashless card payments only

Some venues are opting not to reopen yet. But, the good news is, we have found plenty of places that are either ready, or nearly ready, to welcome you and your family back this summer. Please remember that this magazine was published in mid-July and the situation is changing daily, so please check ahead before setting out.

NOW OPEN Arley Hall and Gardens, Northwich The formal gardens, children’s play area, café and woodland walk are open, there is currently no need to book in advance. Dino Falls Adventure Golf At Trafford City, the dinosaur-themed golf course is open. Pre-booking is required.

Lyme Park National Trust The parkland and gardens are open – pre-booking essential (Disley, Stockport) Quarry Bank National Trust The gardens and woodland are open – pre-booking is essential (Wilmslow). Pavilion Gardens, Buxton The gardens and the mini railway are expected to reopen by mid-July. 23 acres of gardens to walk and run about in, and takeaway refreshments for sale. The play area will be open. It’s divided into a safe space for toddlers and a playground for older children, with outdoor gym equipment, and there are toilets in the car park. Pooles Cavern & Country Park, Buxton This underground wonder is open for cave tours for up to 10 people. Pre-booking is essential and face coverings must be worn (unless for faith or health reasons). Takeaway food, picnic benches and woodland trails are also available.

High adventures in the trees at Delamere, Buxton, the Trafford Centre and Heaton Park

Continued ... Peak Pursuits Various outdoor activities are now on, with pre-bookable tickets. Including Trafford and Astbury Watersports Centres and Treetop Adventures at the Trafford Centre. Rudyard Lake, near Leek There are opportunities for paddling, canoeing and kayaking, but with certain rules and pre-booking requirements in place – please check the website. Runway Visitor Park, Altrincham 9,000 metres of aircraft viewing space, bookable aircraft tours, picnic benches and a play area. Tatton Park, Knutsford You are allowed in the Parkland with no need to pre-book, as long as visitor numbers aren’t too high. The Gardens and Farm have already reopened and the Mansion is due to open on 15 July – pre-booking is required for these three areas. Staff will be giving bags of Easter chocolate to children, while stocks last. Tegg’s Nose Country Park Great for active families. The walk up to the 380m summit is approximately 2.5 miles and will take around an hour (more with younger children). It is also a great place for dogs if they’re kept under control Treetop Trek, Heaton Park Treetop trampolines, high ropes, slides and various other activities in the trees for different ages. Pre-booking essential

STILL CLOSED The following places had not reopened when we published this magazine in mid-July. Keep checking their websites over the summer, or follow them on social media for news updates. Adlington Hall and Gardens in Macclesfield – still closed Bolton Steam Museum – still closed Imperial War Museum North in Stretford plans to reopen on 1 August Jodrell Bank Discover Centre, just outside Macclesfield, expects to open by the beginning of August Lion Salt Works in Northwich, and other West Cheshire Museums – still closed The Lowry arts centre in Salford will not reopen until at least 31 August Macclesfield Museums are not yet open, although Cinemac is showing films again Manchester Museum – still closed Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester – still closed National Trust Hare Hill at Over Alderley – still closed National Trust Little Moreton Hall at Congleton – still closed. Steam Railways at Churnet Valley, East Lancs and Foxfield hope to restart train rides soon Stockport Museums – still closed

GOING OUT — Wildlife Parks, Zoos and Aquariums Many of the region’s wildlife parks, zoos and aquariums are welcoming visitors again, with Covid safety measures in place, writes Catherine Lawler. Despite its many challenges for families, lockdown brought some highlights. And for lots of people it was the virtual visits to CHESTER ZOO. Regular Facebook videos about everything – from hanging out with Bornean orangutans to a day in the life of a one-horned rhino – attracted thousands of viewers across the whole country and gave children a chance to get a close-up of their favourite animals. This has been was a worrying time for the zoo, as it faced an uncertain future after being ordered to stay closed despite being Covid secure. Following a huge public campaign, they were finally given the go-ahead to reopen in June. Zoo staff have worked hard to install a variety of safety measures, including self-scanning ticket lanes, floor markings to indicate two metres, hand sanitisation points throughout the zoo, and a huge amount of signage and protective screens. With reduced admission prices and the opportunity to purchase afternoon only tickets, all visitors, including members, need to book online. Chester Zoo’s COO Jamie Christon said: “It’s a huge relief to see visitors back at the zoo and there’s a real buzz of excitement about the place. However, the past three months of closure means there will still be some very challenging times ahead. “The financial damage suffered has left a

deep scar, and the road to a full recovery remains uncertain. But now we’ve started to welcome visitors back, there is some renewed hope that this great charity zoo has a future. We’ve had so many wonderful supporters and have been overwhelmed by the kindness that we’ve been shown when times are hard for everyone, not just us. The love and the energy shown by so many people has completely humbled us and I can’t express how thankful everyone at the zoo is. “With changes to the Government’s guidance, we’ll be looking to slowly open up more areas of the zoo – including some of the larger indoor animal habitats, restaurants and retail outlets.” At GAUNTLET BIRDS OF PREY in Knutsford, staff worked around the clock to make sure the birds were well looked after, while broadcasting live videos on Facebook. The centre reopened on 1 July. In Sandiway, near Northwich, CHESHIRE FALCONRY has more than 60 trained birds of prey. They reopened in early July, and are now planning a Magical Woodland family event in October. In Thurstaston, CHURCH FARM has now reopened with social distancing measures in place. Meercats, emu, sheep, goats, and the farm’s latest arrivals, Hector and Humphrey, the miniature cows. Barrel train rides for up to six people in the same household for £10. Pre-booking required.

A penguin at Chester Zoo

A bit further afield in Staffordshire is the TRENTHAM MONKEY FOREST, home to 140 free-ranging Barbary macaques. The attraction is online booking only, and there is a one-way system in place with queue markers. There are currently no feeding talks and play areas are closed. Monkey Forest Director Matt Lovatt said: “We’re delighted to welcome visitors back again - the monkeys and staff were certainly ready to get back to the ‘new normal’, and with the attraction being nearly all outdoors it’s the perfect place for people to visit. We’ve always asked our guests to give the free-roaming monkeys a safety distance, now we’re asking them to do the same for each other! We ask that customers help us by reading our new rules before their visit. Hand sanitiser is provided on site, we simply ask visitors to keep to social distancing.” Open 10am until 5pm. Customers are asked to limit their visits to two hours.

Another family favourite, KNOWSLEY SAFARI PARK has now reopened though the park is limiting its visitor numbers. If you drive through the Baboon Jungle, the park is unable to return any car parts that the cheeky creatures may pinch, so you may decide to take the car-friendly route. Some parts of the Foot Safari remain closed. Pre-booking is required. BLUE PLANET AQUARIUM in Ellesmere Port reopened on 4 July. This underwater world features more than 100 living displays, with over 50 different exhibits, and one of the largest collections of sharks in Europe. Pre-booking essential. SEA LIFE AQUARIUM at the Intu Trafford Centre is now open, and tickets must be pre-booked in advance.

Trentham Monkey Forest

Giraffes at Chester Zoo In GREAT BUDWORTH, the rather lovely ALPACAS are ready to be walked again – as are the goats and the valais blacknose sheep. As all the walking takes place outdoors, the only changes the farm has had to make since reopening is to have much smaller groups when walking the animals and provide gloves for visitors, which they are required to wear at all times. The toilets are also unavailable. “It’s actually been lovely to have smaller groups on the walks,” said the farm’s owner Vanessa Wilkinson. “The feedback we’ve had so far has been brilliant – people are so glad to get out and enjoy the fresh air and see all of our animals after the lockdown.” On arrival, visitors have the opportunity to hand-feed the alpacas and, after the walk, you can enjoy a drink and a cake while learning about some of the other animals living at the farm. The cost is £25 to walk an alpaca, £10 to walk alongside, £15 to lead a sheep and £12 for a goat. Message on Facebook to book @GreatBudworthAlpacaWalking

Alpaca walking

GOING OUT — Cinemas, Theme Parks and Funfairs INDOOR CINEMAS Cinemas in England are now allowed to reopen, having been closed since March. Most of the large national cinema chains, such as Cineworld, Odeon, Curzon and Vue, are conducting a phased reopening across all their sites throughout July. Some of the smaller independent cinemas are opting to stay closed until the Autumn, so that they can take time to prepare properly. However, they all differ and the situation changes daily, so please visit their websites for updated information. The global movie production and release schedule for 2020 has been profoundly disrupted by the pandemic. Some cinemas will reopen with the films that were showing in March when they went dark; others are re-screening classics from yesteryear. New children’s films which are scheduled for release over the summer include the animated movie Dreambuilders and a live-action re-make of Disney’s Mulan. The safety measures that have been put in place at cinemas include the availability of hand sanitisers, extra cleaning, and plastic screens at ticket kiosks and tills. You will be encouraged to pre-book and self-scan e-tickets. You might prefer to bring your own refreshments, as some cinemas require you to pre-order your popcorn and drinks. Sadly, pick-n-mix stands won’t be available for a while. People from different households are to be seated apart, so there is less capacity for each screening, and there should be systems in place to avoid crowding in foyers. Singalong screenings are banned! Some cinemas encourage visitors to wear

masks if possible, but this is not a legal requirement (as it is on public transport). OUTOOR DRIVE-IN CINEMA An outdoor drive-in cinema is a different experience. For obvious reasons this has been a popular idea, so tickets for many of the screenings have already sold out. Opening at Tatton Park in Knutsford on 5 August, LUNA CINEMA will be screening Toy Story 4, Jurassic Park, Frozen 2, Aladdin, Dirty Dancing, Rocketman, The Greatest Showman and loads more besides. AT THE DRIVE IN will be showing movies for people in cars at Rochdale Road car park Manchester, between 22 and 26 July. VILLAGE SCREEN DRIVE-THRU CINEMA will be holding pop-up events around Manchester this summer: “Cult films, quirky locations and epic street food,” they say. You have to sign up to their mailing list to find out when and where they are. THEME PARKS AND FUNFAIRS Although able to reopen, theme parks and funfairs must have social distancing and other safety measures in place. ALTON TOWERS reopened on 4 July, and pre-booking online is essential. Kids’ outdoor adventure park CROCKY TRAIL in Waverton is open too, and you need to pre-book.

Liu Yifei stars as Mulan in the Disney live-action remake due to be released this summer

GOING OUT — Cheshire’s Traffic-Free Cycle Routes One positive to come out of lockdown is that lots of us have been taking to our bikes, writes Victoria Pollitt. A family bike ride can be a joy. Everyone gets some fresh air and exercise and sees new sights. Many people have used this time to take the stabilisers off their children’s bikes and, once they are confident, find safe new routes to explore. Here is a round-up of some of Cheshire’s best traffic-free cycling spots for families. Make sure to check out the routes in advance if possible, for hazards such as drops, gates or roads to cross. MIDDLEWOOD WAY A 10-mile, traffic-free path through beautiful scenery along the route of a former railway. You can start in Macclesfield or Marple, or at other points along the way like Middlewood, Poynton or Bollington. BIDDULPH VALLEY WAY This disused Cheshire railway line was used by trains carrying coal from the Potteries to Congleton. It is a traffic-free, flat route for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. It can be reached from the car park off A54 Brook Street, Congleton and via the local public rights of way network. THE SALT LINE Just south of Sandbach, this makes for a lovely family bike ride although there are some steep drops to the side. Formerly the North Staffordshire Railway, it runs through part of Cheshire that was once famous for salt-making. It is 1.8 miles long and there is a small car park at one end near the canal at Hassall Green.

WHEELOCK RAIL TRAIL Northeast of the Salt Line is the Wheelock Rail Trail which follows the same former railway line. The 1.24-mile path links Elworth and Malkins Bank close to Sandbach. DELAMERE FOREST There are two cycle routes through the forest, with sandy tracks. Hunger Hill trail is four miles and Whitemoor trail is just under seven miles. There are some hills to navigate, and there is also a cycle hire shop with electric bikes available. WHITEGATE WAY This six-mile traffic-free route runs from Winsford to Cuddington, along the former Whitegate railway line. ALONG THE OLD A556 Just north of Knutsford, the old A556 dual carriageway through Mere has been turned into a single-track road and a separate cycle path. It is around three miles long, wide and relatively flat with good visibility. BRIDGEWATER WAY This 11-mile traffic-free route links Altrincham to Manchester city centre and the Trafford Centre. Cyclists can ride on the resurfaced canal towpath from Broadheath, through Sale, Stretford and Trafford Park where you can pick up paths to Salford Quays and MediaCity. CHESTER TO CONNAH’S QUAY This eight-mile surfaced path follows the disused railway from Chester into Wales. It can be combined with a ride along the River Dee on the way back.



Lockdown restrictions on sports facilities are now being relaxed. Outdoor pools are allowed to reopen, for example USwim in Salford Quays. Indoor pools, leisure centres, dance studios and gyms are allowed to reopen from 25 July. Not all of them will open straight away, because it takes time to get ready to comply with the new rules (so please check before you grab your swim suit and towel and leave the house). Safety measures will include pre-booking, space between class participants and exercise machines, extra cleaning, more ventilation, and so on.

Theatres may now legally open their doors to get some fresh air in. Performers are allowed to rehearse (if they stay one metre apart), but indoor live performances for audiences are not yet permitted. Outdoor theatre performances are now allowed this summer, as long as the cast and audience are socially distanced, but it will be a huge challenge for companies to prepare, rehearse and sell tickets in time.

Recreational team sports also have the green light to start again, as long as their governing body has submitted a Covid safety action plan to the Government.

Meanwhile, the Government has recently announced a ÂŁ1.57bn support package for theatres and other arts venues. Details of the scheme are yet to emerge, but this does gives venues at least a hope of putting on Christmas shows, concerts and pantomimes this year. But we will just have to wait and see.

There are lots of new baby animals to see at the Farm at Tatton Park: 38 lambs, numerous chicks, 18 piglets and a pedigree Jersey calf. More piglets and calves are on the way.

GOING OUT — Shops, Markets, Playgrounds and More SHOPS AND MARKETS Outdoor markets were allowed to reopen from 1 June. Indoor markets followed on 15 June, along with other non-essential retailers, as long as Covid safety measures are in place. Getting this right has not been an easy undertaking, so not all shops and markets have opened at once. Manchester’s Piccadilly, Arndale and Church Street markets are already open; Wythenshawe, Longsight and Gorton markets are open but with reduced hours. Manchester City Council says: “Customers can expect to see protocols which mirror those seen in supermarkets, including limiting the number of people in the market areas, one-way systems, hand sanitisers at entry points and social distancing practices in place. Opening days and times have been reduced in order for deep cleansing to be carried out regularly.” The Market Co is gradually opening its Artisan Markets again. They run monthly between 10am and 4pm. The next Urmston Artisan Market is on 1 August, Wilmslow restarts on 18 July, and Northwich on 8 August.

Makers Markets have also reopened and run monthly. For Knutsford, Stockport, Sale, Cheadle, W Didsbury, Congleton and others go to Treacle Market in Macclesfield has not reopened yet, but the traders have been running monthly online virtual markets instead. Keep an eye out for August. Many other weekly markets have also already started doing business again – too many to list here, so please see their websites or Facebook pages for up to date information. PLAYGROUNDS AND OUTDOOR GYMS Having a park to run around in is a big deal for people with young children to look after. So it was good news for many when it was announced that children’s playgrounds and outdoor gyms could reopen from 4 July. The organisations that operate them (usually local councils) must conduct a risk assessment before reopening, and put safety measures in place first. For that reason, they aren’t all opening at once. ALSO BACK IN BUSINESS Cafes, restaurants, pubs, hairdressers, libraries, physiotherapists, community centres, nail bars and beauty salons are also allowed to reopen now (but no facial treatments are allowed). Each one differs, so please check before making the journey. STILL WAITING

Blakemere Village shopping centre in Northwich is open Friday to Monday 10am to 5pm, and has a new outdoor food court

Some types of business are still waiting to be told they can reopen, having been closed since March, including indoor play and soft play centres, and bowling alleys.

My Life in Lockdown I didn’t know this pre-kids, but I was built for play. I’m that guy rocking a headscarf and colourful beads while the boys shuffle around in Mama’s high heels, writes Adam Glennon.

I take hide and seek very seriously remaining hidden, breath held, until the very death or at least until bursting for a wee. I allow mess. Lots of mess. It’s going to happen anyway, so I get on board and enjoy it. There’s something liberating about dragging the folded towels and sheets from the shelves and adding them to a huge pile of duvets and pillows in the middle of the bedroom. Then spending half a day constantly chucking the boys through the air onto it. They don’t get bored and neither do I. When lockdown was first introduced, we felt, as a family, well equipped to handle it. Our house is designed for play, black board painted walls, dens everywhere! Art corners and a back garden stuffed with tuff trays, water play equipment and a mud kitchen. It felt like an extended weekend. Later nights. More telly than usual. Time to blow the dust off that ‘Learn Spanish in A Week’ CD. Wine with tea? Wine with lunch more like. Add some glorious weather into the mix and that extended weekend evolved into an early summer holiday but with two differences: You couldn’t go anywhere further than your local green space. You couldn’t socialise. It didn’t take long before the cracks began to show. We’d fallen into the trap of overusing the word “yes”. It was sooo easy at first. The kids were loving it. But the holiday spirit ended once we started to reintroduce

the word “no” again. The atmosphere quickly changed. Patience and tolerance were shelved. Play was a chore. We seemed to run out of ideas. So, as most parents will understand, we turned to the telly more and more. The good old third parent. The bringer of so much pleasure with a side order of addiction! The third parent gave us a little peace. But it broke the boys. They malfunctioned. Unable to maintain eyesight on anything but the telly. They suffered from a lack of coordination – ice lollies in the eye, juice straight onto their sticky bellies, food scattered about in all directions. When they did bother to speak it was bossy and Neolithic. “Dad, we hungry.” “You’ve only just finished your second breakfast. Look down, most of it’s on the floor.” Eyes fixed on the third parent. “We hungry now. Dad, get food now.” It wasn’t even 11am. “I’ll make you both lunch in an hour. Butties, crisps, and some chopped up apple. A mini picnic.” “We want crisps and chopped up apple now. Dad, get or we make you sorry.” And they did make us sorry. A lot. The Wife and I would tag each other in like beaten wrestlers. I’d take the 6am till 12pm slot and she’d have the little beasts until teatime. I’d arrive at the baby gate, bruised, sweating and dazed. I’d hang onto the gate then raise my hand in the

air and wait for that slap of the hand – the tag – that sweet release from the relentless pummelling of my mind, body and patience by the little beasts. Then it would come. Tag! The Wife, freshly dressed and watered, with a can-do look in her eye would slap herself around the face several times, stamp her feet then bunny hop over the gate into the pit of insanity. She’d grip my pasty ankles and push me headfirst over the gate to relative safety. Never taking her eyes from the pile of cushions in the centre of the room. Knowing a naked beast could attack with a large wooden spoon at any moment. “What’re you doing now? Writing? Painting the bathroom? Learning Spanish? Upskilling?” The Wife would ask. Me? I was already getting my supplies together. “I’m off to the front garden with a bottle of Prosecco and some cheese.” “But it’s barely midday.”

“I know. See ya!” I’d leap from the kitchen window onto the boiling hot metal vehicle below, using my flabby body and a packet of Edam cheese slices to protect my champagne flute and cheap Prosecco from the impact. Anything to avoid parenting for a few hours. 24/7 parenting, with nowhere new to go, no one to see, created a tangible strain inside our home. We all felt it. As lockdown was eased, we travelled beyond our local area, exploring woods with streams to paddle in and hills to climb. This occupied us for most of the day and was the turning point that broke the monotony of lockdown. The third parent was put back on standby and we found a way to balance “yes” and “no” more equally. I’m looking forward to finding a new normality. One where my clothes fit again, and I can tell the difference between Wednesday and Saturday.

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