It's no secret that I LOVE to read. But love love love love to read. When I was young, my mother and Aunt both worked in a bookshop (as did I for a summer - oh the smell! *swoons*) and I was incredibly blessed to have had a childhood studded with story after story after wonderful story - from Beatrix Potter to Harry Potter and everything in between. Mikey, inevitably, is a carbon copy of his FanGirl mother and at the age of two is quite happy to gabble excitedly about Madeline, Winnie The Pooh, Paddington or the collected works of Julia Donaldson as if the characters are his very best friends. Which of course as any book lover will know, that is precisely what they are.
SO, I was very excited to be invited to check out The Rainbow Factory in Farsley this month.
If you haven't yet heard of this new haven for kids, it is a family business created by Hazel Merlino and Sarah Underwood (two sisters from Leeds) who aim to inspire children to love reading by bringing classic and modern storybooks to life, through fun-filled activities and breathtakingly beautiful handmade models produced by Creative Director Richard Underwood (Sarah's brother-in-law.)
Our journey began at a gingerbread cottage which houses the reception desk where we were welcomed by warm, friendly staff who lead us down the Yellow Brick Road (Mikey clutching his beloved Dorothy finger puppet) and to the first installation in the Storybook Trail, explaining that we were to hunt for mice hidden in the story book scenes.
And hunt them we did! Through whimsical sculptures representing Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, Geppetto's Toy Workshop from Pinocchio, The Hare and The Tortoise, The Billy Goat's Gruff, Little Red Riding Hood through to a little station where Richard took some time away from be-glittering a magnificent dragon sculpture to hone our plasticine modelling skills.
The attention to detail in his work is incredible and we could have flitted from one to the next for simply ages just drinking them in. They were stunning. We filled in our storybook with gusto and I was having too much fun to remember to take photos of everything!
Mikey was starting to get tired after our long journey (note to self next time, cycle to Rodley up the river and on to Farsley from there or put him in the sling instead of letting him walk for miles if we catch the train there again!) and was ready for lunch so we quickly checked out the rest of this beautiful play space dotted with gorgeous literary quotes and bunting.
We particularly loved The Beanstalk Theatre where Mikey enjoyed dressing up and Goldilocks Creative Kitchen (the current theme is Adventure Stories, but is set to change on Friday 17th July to Magic) which was packed full of arts and crafts equipment and had lovely enthusiastic staff, though we were sad to miss nestling down on a pile of beanbags beneath a Storybook Tree for the Story Teller and to miss the We're Going On A Bear Hunt activities in The Rainbow Room. We'll definitely be coming back again and so should you.
The Rainbow Factory is open from Monday-Friday 10-4 (though closed for school trips on Tuesdays) and open 10-6 and 11-5 on Saturday and Sunday respectively. There is a Theatre Club on Sunday mornings and Wednesday afternoons, story sessions on Monday mornings and even a bumps and babies session for new parents on Wednesday mornings. They also host birthday parties and will be running a holiday club over the summer! I think we can agree that there is something for everyone there!
Ziggy played guitarrrrrraaaaarrrrraaaarrrrrr.
Title: TVC 15 by David Bowie