It was around 3 years ago this month that I made the decision to move to Leicester. This was pre-baby… pre-even-thinking-about-babies. Aside from 6 month snowboarding stints in Canada, NZ and France, I’d always lived in South London. People generally take a step away from me when I say I’m from Croydon, but it really did have alot going for it, even if it was its proximity to long walks along the Southbank, or to all the events London had to offer.
But now with a toddler, a pram, and all that comes with her, I’ve come to the decision that Leicester is a pretty awesome place to live. For one, there is ALWAYS some kind of festival going on celebrating some kind of art, culture, religion or sport, packed out with fun events for people of all ages – Diwali is just around the corner, and I don’t even need to begin to say how Leicester celebrates this beautiful festival! Plus the city is still celebrating its football success, with bunting in full flow… even setting up an immense fan zone for its international visitors last week in Jubilee Square.
This week we are currently on Everybody’s Reading festival, as well as a fantastic continental market sprawled over the city centre, and over the summer there were plenty of events for families to get involved with everything the city has to offer.
Being back at work, I miss being able to enjoy visiting these events, with only the past couple months managing to get involved in a children’s performing arts group at the Curve, exploring suitcases at New Walk museum, cycling through the King Power stadium on Sky Ride, and relaxing with Roald Dahl story time on blankets in the Jubilee Square. We are also lucky to have the Bookbus stopping at the end of our road each week, Aqua Tots at the council’s Braunstone Leisure Centre (free with my membership!), and free Toddler Time at the local libraries.
I almost took it for granted having all these incredible free activities and places on our doorstep, and so now I’m back at work, I’ve taken on Tourist Thursday, where each Thursday I have off, Lily and I will visit somewhere new in Leicester… that’s free, and accessible via walking, cycling or bus!
In just the past month we’ve been to the New Walk Museum (many times as it’s one of our favourite places!!), Abbey Park with Pets Corner, the Jury Wall museum with Roman Baths, Leicester Cathedral with Richard III, Castle Gardens, and today it was the Leicester Guildhall. Even heading through Highcross you find free family fun with an interactive musical instrument wall and a giant screen with games for children! Being 14 months old, I’m actually surprised how much she gets out of some of these places, but she seems happy just exploring somewhere new … or maybe it’s just being out of the house! My only wish is being able to be closer to Bradgate Park from where we are, but the City centre is around an hour walk away (20min cycle), which gives Lily a pretty decent nap before/after our morning/afternoon tourist visit.
The reason I’m sharing this isn’t to shout out how many places we’ve visited, or make me seem a better parent (trust me, there’s ALOT I need to learn!!) but I want to help people realise how much local councils and communities actually do around the country, but moreso how many fantastic sites we have available to us in England, full of culture and history, or just something new to explore. We just happen to be super lucky that this is on our doorstep, so we don’t need to travel far, pay extortionate entrance fees, or queue for hours just to see these amazing places.
Here are just a few of our recent visits, events and Tourist Thursdays… and remember they’re all free (minus the coffee, I’ll almost always need coffee!!) …