Caitlin's Leeds

Caitlin's Leeds

Caitlin is an active and sociable ten-year-old who has lived in Leeds all her life. She takes weekly dance classes - disco and modern, ballet and tap – and, inspired by her uncle who is an actor, may well be gracing a Leeds stage herself before too long! When not out in the wilds of Yorkshire working towards her Guides “Go For It” camping badge, Caitlin loves exploring what Leeds has to offer for kids.


Her first suggestion is one of the city’s most unexpected attractions: Tropical World. In the dry Desert House you’ll see canaries and finches flit by, as well as spotting cute meerkats standing on their hind legs and peering around. You can wander through the undergrowth in an Amazon jungle section, and Caitlin describes how butterflies flit freely round your head in the exotic Butterfly House, even landing on your hands: “there are loads of different coloured and sized butterflies and you can sometimes see chrysalises. My favourite butterfly is the Red Admiral.” (Mum Karen chips in that she’s a fan too as Tropical World only costs £2.20 for kids to enter.) True to its name it’s very warm inside, a good place to escape the rain and pretend you’re somewhere sunny.


For an outdoor play on a sunny day though, Caitlin recommends Lotherton Hall, an Edwardian house and country estate. There’s a bird garden where 200 rare and endangered species are looked after: you’ll see everything from skinny pink flamingos and fluffy snowy owls to colourful hornbills. Trails loop off through the woodland past herds of red deer, and the adventure park features a zip wire, climbing frames and swings. “Sometimes we take a picnic,” Caitlin says, “and have this when we have finished playing in the park, if not we go to the café for an ice-cream.”


Caitlin also enjoys the Thackray Museum, which takes visitors on a trip through the sights, sounds and even smells of Victorian Leeds: “my friend Molly and I picked a Victorian character each, and you see how long your character would have lived in the olden days. I’m glad I wasn’t born in those days as some of the smells are horrible and you died much younger.” Things come right up to date in the Life Zone, where you can step inside the human body and discover some pretty strange facts: did you know that your intestines are over 9 metres long, or that your brain smells of strong cheese?


For food of a more appealing kind, Caitlin expresses a grown-up interest in Carluccio’s. She recommends the pasta with spinach balls – “lovely and buttery!” – and she’s a devotee of classic Italian ice cream for afters.


The Rock’n’Roll panto at the City Varieties, Britain’s longest-running music hall with its glamorous scarlet and gold interior, was a big hit with Caitlin: “it was really fun, and different from other ones I have seen. I liked singing along to ‘Shout’ and other songs.” She also cites the gorgeous nineteenth-century Grand Theatre and the modern West Yorkshire Playhouse as favourite venues where she’s recently enjoyed Oliver! and The Wind in the Willows.


If Caitlin could only pass on one Leeds recommendation it would be her special treat: “after I have been into Leeds to the cinema or shopping then sometimes I’m taken to Patisserie Valerie for hot chocolate and syrup or to the Corn Exchange for a lemonade and homemade cupcake – it always takes me ages to choose as they look so good I want them all.”

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