This moth’s Yorkshire blogger feature is the lovely Sophie who vlogger and blogger at mamamei.co.uk. Sophie writes brilliantly and honestly and motherhoood and health as well a travel, days out & food.
1. How long have you lived in Yorkshire?
All my life! Born and bred in Pitsmoor, Sheffield, South Yorkshire and now I live in Wakefield, West Yorkshire. The only time I’ve had to live elsewhere is when I studied Philosophy and Italian at university in Manchester and as part of that I lived in Naples, Italy as well. But I’m a very proud Yorkshire lass.
2. Can you tell us a little bit about your family?
I was brought up in a mixed race family and my relatives are scattered all over the world. Mostly in Malaysia and England but my big sister is a top fashion designer in New York.
I have 6 father figures in my life.
I started out my career in retail and working as a bellydancer when I got to the live finals of Britain’s Got Talent as a teen.
This stint in the media got me into journalism as well as still acting, dancing and teaching bellydance.
It was whilst teaching at a gym that I met my “soul mate.”
My husband Chris Hale was a quarter-finalist on BBC’s MasterChef and he also runs an altitude training company at acclimatiseme.com which used to be based at Nuffield Health where I worked.
Together we have two daughter Jasmine, 5, and Arianna, 2.
3. Are there any family friendly cafes or restaurants that you can recommend for young children?
I got to cafes regularly to do my work or to entertain the kids. I love play centres such as Wacky Warehouse and McDonalds for this. And in Wakefield where we live I go to The Spring Cafe on Barnsley Rd which has a little play area and charity shop plus Sandal Library is on the same road and they have kids books and toys and tea/coffee for 50p! Or Socialicious in Wakefield City Centre.
There is of course Hepworth Gallery cafe. Or in nearby Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse has a family/kids area of their cafeteria.
Or if I’m back home in Sheffield I love going Millennium Galleries cafe and eating a picnic in the adjoining Winter Gardens or if it’s sunny the Peace Gardens.
Plus if I’m working out or going swimming with the kids I love Total Fitness cafes for that and in Sun Lane Leisure centre in Wakefield -they have a lovely family-friendly cafe.
4. What do you like to do with your family on a rainy day?
My kids get bored quickly at home so we love getting out and about. Xscape Castleford is great for entertaining the kids on a rainy day. We also enjoy going to the Hepworth gallery and Wakefield museum for free kids craft activities or we like going to the Messy church sessions which are sometimes on at Wakefield Cathedral, Sandal Methodist and all over the region.
5. Where do you like to go for a grown up night out?
My husband Chris is a chef and owner at Pop Up North so it’s hard to find nice places to eat where he doesn’t critique too much! But we do love staying in hotels so we often stay in a nice hotel where the food is also good which means we can just chill out. We rarely go out on a night together so it’s very special when we do.
We recently stayed in York at Churchill’s hotel (the food was ace) and in Sheffield at Kenwood Hall Hotel (love the spa there).
6. Do you have any money saving tips for days out?
A family tradition of ours is to make the kids their own travel packs before any long journeys so they have surprise treats to keep them entertained.
Also if you’re going to an expensive theme park, buy toys/merchandise in advance from the pound shop, that way when they ask for something you can say that you’ve already bought them a gift. This worked a treat in Disney Land!
Also check voucher sites and coupon groups to see if there are any deals prior to your day out.
Take a packed lunch and snacks.
Book tickets online/in advance, especially for trains!
Also if your travelling, I have these must-haves…
7. What three words would you use to describe your blog?
Mad, Parenting & Down-to-Earth…
8. Why did you start blogging?
When I went on maternity leave from the BBC, my world came crashing down. I had, for once, the perfect life – a daughter, a baby on the way, a partner, a job I loved and a home. But my mental health problems caught up with me and I became very poorly.
Nonetheless, I gave birth to Arianna but just two months later she nearly died as she stopped breathing.
As much as my bosses were amazing and supportive, I just had to leave my job for my own sanity, to get Ari and me better again.
So that was when I started my Mama Mei blog to allow me to write and film still.
I suddenly found myself immersed in MamaMei.co.uk – it became my hobby, my job and my therapy – all wrapped into one.
9. Do you have a favourite blog post or a popular blog post you can share?
These are two of my “award-winning” vlogs that I’m proud of:
- Save My Baby
- Mad Mums
10. What do you enjoy about blogging?
Using my experiences to help others, so they know they’re not alone and part of this is campaigning for parents and people with mental health problems. Also I love working from home/hot desking in cafes, being creative, being my own boss/editor and, the reaction I get from others who get something from reading my very honest and open blogs and watching my vlogs.
By Sophie Mei Lan, mum of two, family blogger, vlogger, mental health campaigner and publicist at evokemediagroup.co.uk.