Posted in ALL BLOGS, Travel & Days Out

‘Chevin Cross’ 32 foot Easter Cross Instillation in Leeds, West Yorkshire – A fun day out for all ages & abilities!

With my Brother, Sister-In-Law & 1 year old Niece living in Leeds, Yorkshire has quickly become a school holiday and weekend visit destination for me and my family. Last Easter break and This year’s Easter break, just like last years Easter break, was no exception as my huge family group of 14 descended on the area once again.

The place I’m reviewing in this post is an area called ‘Ottley Chevin‘ within the Chevin Forest Park in Leeds, West Yorkshire.

The History of the 32 foot ‘Chevin Cross’ Easter Instillation:

I visited Otley Chevin last year in the cold and wet of Spring and then visited again this year in the glorious Spring sunshine. The thing that attracted us there at this particular time of the year was the ‘Chevin Cross’ which is a huge cross instillation erected each Easter by the group of local churches coming together to support this Church community initiative. When I say huge, I mean huge, as it is 32 feet high! So no wonder it is a must see Easter attraction for visitors near and far. It almost has a feel about it like the ‘North Star’ being followed by shepherds in the Christmas Story, but maybe that is just my creative imagination 😉

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Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in Birmingham UK – the 3rd biggest St Paddy’s parade in the world!

All about Birmingham’s Historical Celebrations, that is the world’s 3rd largest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade:

Did you know that Birmingham UK has the 3rd biggest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in the world? New York City has the biggest Saint Patrick’s Day parade & then the second largest is Ireland’s own parade in Dublin. Birmingham was actually the first city in Britain to hold a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and it dates back to 1952.

Playing a large part in that is because here in Birmingham, we also have Britain’s only Irish Quarter; with 10 Irish pubs, Irish Centre, Irish Catholic Church St Anne’s and a meeting point for Irish community, business, food, music and culture.

Read more about this great day of green for all
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Kirkstall Abbey – A free day out in Leeds any time of the year, surrounded by beauty, history and fun for all ages and abilities.

Looking for a free day out in Leeds?

‘Kirkstall Abbey’ is a day trip full of history, beauty and fun for all ages and abilities – any time of the year!

A cool place to visit while in Leeds is a place called ‘Kirkstall Abbey’ – so cool in fact I visited twice in the space of four months! It is easy to get to, being three miles from the City Centre of Leeds, off the A65.

Review of Kirkstall Abbey. A free day out for all the family in Leeds
Where’s Wally in the picture? aka Me, as I’m a silly Wally who loves posing for pics  & I have a Where’s Wally striped top on 😉

Kirkstall Abbey is a Cistercian Monastery founded in 1152 and one of the best preserved monastery’s in England.

Visiting Kirkstall Abbey is a chance to go back in time and learn about how these Catholic Monks built the Abbey and how they used to live at that time in history.

The ruins are fascinating and striking in structural beauty with its archways and impressive height. Walking around the Abbey grounds looking over the River Aire is beautiful and full of natural beauty and wildlife to spot.

Kirkstall Abbey in Leeds, a beauty spot full of history - review by Helen's Journey Blog
The ruins really are magnificent to visit – its beauty to be admired by adults and its magnitude to be admired by children.

My brother and his wife live in Leeds and this year also saw the arrival of their first child and my first Niece. So, while visiting Leeds in April, we visited Kirkstall Abbey on a cold and rainy early spring day. Then on returning to Leeds to visit them again in August, I got to visit the Abbey once again, but in the glorious summer sunshine.

This is an impressive and fun day whatever the weather, but the warmer weather made walking around the Abbey easier as we didn’t have to avoid puddles of rain water (which if you put your child in Wellington boots and water proof coats, could be a great part of this day out in wetter weather.)

COOL FACT via Wiki: On 10 and 11 September 2011 the Kaiser Chiefs played two concerts at Kirkstall Abbey to a maximum audience of 10,000 on each day.

When arriving, there is a free car park on the opposite side of the road to the Abbey ruins. Walking out of the car park and crossing over at the traffic light crossing, you come to the old Abbey Gatehouse building, that has now been refurbished into the ‘Abbey House Museum’ and Gatehouse Café building with a book and gift shop.. They are also surrounded by beautiful gardens you can explore and walk around the pretty flowerbeds.

The cafe is really cute and I’m happy to say they offered gluten-free choices too – yay! I had an egg mayonnaise gluten-free roll, which was yummy. However, I was torn between having a gluten-free brownie and a piece of gluten-free lemon drizzle cake – so I gave in to living freely and had them both! 😂 Washed down with a hot chocolate to warm me up when we visited in the colder weather.

egg mayonnaise gluten free roll in Kirkstall Abbey visitor centre café. read the full review of this free day out in Leeds by Helen's Journey Bloggluten free cakes in Kirkstall Abbey visitor centre cafe. read the full review of this free day out in Leeds by Helen's Journey Blog

Handy Hint: There is usually an ice-cream van in the car park too. So if you go on a Monday when the café & Museum building is shut, like we did once 🙈 you can still get a tasty treat 😉🍦

Also in the car park area, there is a children’s playground at the far end of the car park with lots of children’s equipment and activities such as a finger maze and a character cut out of a monk you can take it in turns to be the face of. Of course being the silly character I am, I had to have a go with the kids – see photo below:

Monk Helen at Kirkstall Abbey historical site, a free day out in Leeds. Read the review by Helen's Journey Blog
Monk Helen

Other facilities include:

  • Picnic area
  • grounds for picnic blankets
  • wide grassed areas for children to play (my nephew played catch with his Dad & it was a great big space for him to practice throwing further distances)
  • Baby change facilities in the Visitor Centre (my Sister-in-law also breastfed my Niece in the café with a friendly and accepting atmosphere)
  • Toilets including disabled toilet facilities

Although the Abbey, café, book shop & park are all free – there is a small charge for access to the ‘Abbey House Museum’ where you can learn all about Abbey life in more detail.

Museum prices:

  • Adults – £4.95, Concessions £4.00
  • Child – £2.50 – Children under 5 years – free.
  • Family – £10.50
  • Groups – £4.00

Visiting Kirkstall Abbey if you have disabilities:

This visitor attraction is disability friendly, whether it is wheelchair or pushchair access or hearing loops that are available. Wheelchairs can even be booked through the visitor centre prior to your visit. Assistance dogs are welcomed too –  water bowls for dogs can be found by the Museum entrance. It is those little caring touches that lets you know this heritage site tries to make this piece of history available to all!

The car park has disabled parking. Then when going from the car park its flat ground over to the museum and café which has an automatic wide doorway suitable for wheelchairs and double pushchairs. From there, there is a ramp downhill to the pedestrian crossing over the main dual carriageway towards the Abbey (see photograph below).

Review of Kirkstall Abbey disabled access. A free day out in Leeds with wheelchair access
Stairs to the right and ramp to the right – both leading to the pedestrian crossing leading over to the Abbey Ruins. Although I was walking I used the ramp with handrail which suited my mobility restrictions far more than steps.

Around the Abbey itself, there are smooth pathways all the way around the ruins for wheelchairs and pushchairs. There are benches along the side of the Abbey walkways and along the river bank too, so Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome definitely didn’t make this day impossible for me. Don’t get me wrong, the Abbey is big in size so it’s a fair walk around it all, but there are benches at numerous points along the walkway to take advantage of and break up the walking for you.

When going over to see the River, there are benches along the river bank look out points where we sat to look out over the water and watched the natural wildlife all around. So taking rests as you go along is done with pretty views and a chance to take in the atmosphere of your surroundings.

Kirkstall Abbey is located along the River Aire in Leeds, Yorkshire. read the review of this free day out for all the family and for all abilities.
Kirkstall Abbey is located along the River Aire – Look out for the signs with pictures of different birds to look out for…

HANDY HINT: like most places, I took my cushion with me, so I used this when sitting on the hand benches and also for my chair in the café too.

Kirkstall Abbey is a local love in Leeds:

This is a heritage site that the locals have a great love for and they all work together to look out for the area – including arranging litter picking days along the riverbank etc. Locals have their own website ‘Kirkstall Online’ where they share event information and a magazine called ‘Kirkstall Matters‘ and have recently published their 120th issue!

Kirkstall Abbey Market is also held among the ruins, one weekend each month selling local Yorkshire produce and crafts. You can find more about the Market & a list of dates, by clicking HERE.

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Here are some more photos from my visits in the different climates, for you to enjoy:

visiting Kirkstall Abbey ruins on a wet Spring Day in April. beautiful and historical fun for all ages at this free day out in Leeds, Yorkshire. Read the full review by Helen's Journey Blog
April Showers at this beautiful, historic site for all ages and abilities.

Rock climbing at Kirkstall Abbey historical site, a free day out in Leeds. Read the review by Helen's Journey Blog
If the kids or any of the adults get bored with the smooth pathway around the ruins, there is also a rock wall on one side of the Abbey that the 6-year-old and 40-year-old in our group both enjoyed exploring.

Review of Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK. A free day out for all ages and abilities
Helen’s Journey Photography – Exploring England collection

I will be sharing more of my pictures of this great day out, over on my INSTAGRAM: @helens_journey

Did you notice in April’s photos I had long hair & in August’s photos I have short hair? That’s because in between I donated 12 INCHES of my hair to charity to be made into a wig for a child with cancer hair loss. Please click on my blog posts below to read all about this wonderful, humbling experience:

  1. What I’ve learnt from 3 years of growing my hair for charity, to make a wig for a child with cancer
  2. My Creative spin on the ‘Fresh Prince’ theme tune to express my feelings along the journey of growing my hair & donating it to charity (guaranteed laughs reading this one!)

Looking for more to do in the Leeds area? Read all about my trip to Otley Chevin by clicking HERE!


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Posted in ALL BLOGS, Chronic Illness, Travel & Days Out

‘Odeon LUXE’ A review of the luxury cinema experience; making watching films more accessible when you have physical ailments

ODEON LUXE – watching your films in a more luxurious way!

My local Odeon Cinema (Regal Cinemas in USA) was out of action for a while as it underwent a refurbishment, but this wasn’t any old refurbishment with a new carpet and a dash of fresh paint. No, I’d call it more of a luxury makeover! You see it didn’t just get a new word in its name – it got a new identity. The ‘LUXE’ really is visible to see!

making films more assessable for people with physical ailments. review of odeon luxe cinema with leather recliner chairs by Helen's Journey Blog
Making cinema experiences more accessible for people suffering from chronic pain, fatigue and injury.

Sitting in each of the 12 cinema screens is now an audience pleasure, as each individual seat is a soft leather electric recliner chair. The easy to use electric control puts your feet up off the floor and tilts you back to an almost lying down position.

Of course you take your finger off the control when you are in your own desired position. You can leave it as just a normal chair position if you’d prefer & just enjoy it for being a soft, more comfortable chair instead of taking advantage of its recliner feature.

Each seat also comes with an individual tray table with a cup holder in. The tables are adjustable so they can stay at the side of you or you can swivel them around In front of you, over your lap (I image this would be easier with eating something like nachos).

review of odeon luxe cinema with leather recliner chairs and individual table by Helen's Journey Blog www.helensjourney.comreview of odeon luxe cinema with leather recliner chairs and individual table by Helen's Journey Blog making films more assessable for people with physical ailments

Out in the foyer you buy tickets from self-service ticket machines, but there is customer service team reps at the counters for buying your snacks and beverages.

This upgrade also includes a new bar selling wine, beers and spirits. As well as a new menu for hot and cold food that can be taken in with you to watch your film.

The adult standard ticket cost is £12.50 – for me personally it was worth paying the few extra pounds just for the added comfort.

Using luxury cinemas to make watching films more accessible, when you have chronic pain!

As a sufferer of chronic widespread pain & fatigue, going to the cinema to watch a film isn’t something that comes easy as seats aren’t the most comfortable and you are stuck in the same position for a long period of time. However, going to the cinema when you have physical ailments is something that has defiantly become easier with more luxury cinemas being opened.

Fibromyalgia means staying in the same position for a long period of time increases pain, discomfort & overall stiffness when you move again. So being able to move around in the seat and change positions with the chair/raised feet element is really helpful.

This cinema also includes other facilities to make this cinema experience DISABILITY FRIENDLY with:

  • Accessible toilets
  • Wheelchair access to every screen
  • Spaces for wheelchairs and an accompanying seat next to it
  • Headsets with extra amplified sound
  • Infra red enabling Audio Description
  • CEA card initiative, which gives disabled cinema guests a complimentary ticket for someone to go with them. More info at:

odeon luxe cinema with leather recliner chairs, making films more assessable for people with physical ailments. review by Helen's Journey Blog
Recliner chair in its fully reclined position

Taking children to an Odeon Luxe cinema:

A more independently exciting experience for children, that gives them a treat in style and luxury!

I’ve now been to my local Odeon Luxe twice. Firstly, I attended with my six-year-old nephew and walking in and seeing the seats he was well excited! Having his own seat and own table must have seemed grown up to him. He definitely saw it as a treat which was perfect as it was his birthday. Under 12 child tickets are £7.50 or family tickets are available.

During the film he was happy to find out that the arm in-between the chairs could be pushed up to huddle together to watch the film. This gives children extra security esp if there is a scene they find scary or they are unsure of. I’m sure the handy arms up trick comes in handy on a few date nights too 😉

review of watching Momma Mia here we go again film in an odeon luxe cinema with leather recliner chairs, by Helen's Journey Blog

Film Review of watching ‘Mamma Mia Here We Go Again’ in an Odeon Luxe Cinema (No Spoilers!)

Then this week I went there to watch ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again’ and sitting in cinema seat luxury definitely made it an even more enjoyable experience, being able to adjust my position as I watched depending on my discomfort levels in that moment.

I’m not into spoilers but I will say the film was great. I loved the ways they fused flashbacks and present action together throughout the film, with smooth transitions between them (making it almost instantly ready to be transformed into a stage show no doubt).

The young actors they got to represent each of the older actors in flashbacks was brilliant casting, as each one was really believable in looks and characteristics.

As a soundtrack I knew more of the Abba songs from the first film’s soundtrack. However, all of the songs used in this sequel fit perfectly for the part of the story they were linking to in song. So although I wouldn’t be able to sing along to many if I brought this films soundtrack album – I totally understand why each individual song was chosen for its part to play in telling the story so fittingly.

However, the film had me feeling like next time I’m on a date, I’ll be disappointed in the guy doesn’t break out into a song for me… 😉😜😂

I’d recommend going to an Odeon Luxe Cinema for a luxury film experience, especially if going to the cinema is usually a hard task for you physically.

Over all I give the Odeon Luxe experience a huge thumbs up & I’d recommend you all go & give your local Odeon Luxe a visit, at least once to tick it off your experiences list! 👍

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making films more accessible for people with physical ailments. review of odeon luxe, luxury cinema by Helen's Journey Blog
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