We spent most of a week in Sheffield, which was nice and sunny when we arrived and when we left, and rained most of the rest of the time.
Our accommodation was a family room in a travelodge, very near the Ponds Forge swimming pool
, which we visited several times and enjoyed greatly. There's a little toddler pool (strictly under-8s, constant supervision), and a big main pool with an intermittent wave machine and a 'river' running all around the outside. There are also two flumes but I was engaged with N on my first visit and they were shut on my second. N went from terrified of the pool on his first visit to gleeful wading and sliding until he was turning blue with cold at the end of the last.
For getting around, we bought week-long "Citywide" (for adults) and "Getabout" (for children) train+tram tickets, which did the job nicely (except I made a mistake on the first day and bought the wrong sort for a day, which was nearly £20 we didn't need to spend, sigh). Travel to and from was by prebooked trains, with sets of four seats reserved each way on the long leg from Sheffield to Ely. Strictly, we don't need to buy a ticket for Nico as he is clearly under five. Practically however, he doesn't sit on anyone's lap for long, and it's much easier to manage both the children if we have a set of four seats to ourselves, rather than trying to work around a complete stranger in the fourth seat.
Apart from swimming and riding trams, our main bit of tourism was visiting the Kelham Island Steam Museum,
which was a real delight. Charles was absorbed and looking around at everything for most of two hours. Nico was particularly engrossed by a couple of the exhibits (one where you turn a handle to make light/move a train, another where you have to work out which additions to steel are appropriate for which purpose, against the clock). He also loved watching a large gas-powered engine spinning, and did lots of spinning himself in response. We made sure to time our visit to see the enormous River Don engine
in steam, which held a whole mass of visitors completely enthralled.
We had a bit of drama in the visit at a point where I thought Charles was with Tony, and Tony thought he was with me, and of course he was with neither of us, having got engrossed in a particularly interesting exhibit. I was helping Nico who was finding the steam-themed children's play area a bit too challenging, when a member of staff found me and brought me to a scared Charles in the reception area. Both children promptly burst into tears and clung on to me while I simultaneously tried to soothe them, reassure the staff, and answer a phone call from Tony. The museum staff were completely lovely about the whole thing, and I'm very grateful to them.
Sheffield being a lot closer to my mother's home than Cambridge, we took the opportunity for a day trip to Leeds midweek to meet up with mum and my stepfather Mick. Mick's grandchild Sophie came with them, which suited both her and Charles very well. We had lovely curry at Mumtaz
(now licenced as 'Chandelier' to sell alcohol), and then ambled across for an hour or two in the Royal Armouries
. I confess, I primarily treated it as a free dry space with somewhere to sit down with my mother and Nico, though the rest of the party did some actual looking at the exhibits. I mainly got to enjoy the amazing staircase lined with weaponry
, while letting N wear himself out climbing it.
We deliberately didn't try to pack too much into any one day, and came home on Friday so as to have a whole weekend to catch up before returning to work. As a result I'm feeling about as rested as I ever manage, given toddler.