North East Family Fun

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What's On in the North East for Kids | The Ultimate Guide to October Half Term 2017

If you're looking for ideas to keep the kids occupied over October Half Term, this is the post for you. I have handpicked three top events each day and hope to inspire you to try something new. Before you dive in, make sure you check out these posts too:

The Big Trick or Treat at intu Metrocentre

Saturday 21 October 

  • Meet the characters from this year's Custom's House panto, The Lambton Worm, at The Word today at 10:30am & 2pm. Characters will be entertaining guests and posing for photos. Find out more here.
  • Anime Attacks 7 at Gateshead Central Library. This convention celebrates all things Manga. Packed full of fun, special guests and artists. Find out more here
  • Dark Side of Chivalry at Alnwick Castle. Join the Knights in training and hear tales of deceit and backstabbing along the way. Find out more here. 

Sunday 22 October

  • Diwali Fireworks at Westgate Community College for Sport. Enjoy stalls, Indian street food, street entertainers and a funfair from 4pm with a big firework finale at 8pm. Find out more and book here.
  • David Gibb: Climb That Tree at Sage Gateshead. Join David on a magical and surreal journey through his imagination. Find out more and book here.
  • Wand making masterclass at Cragside. Forage the woods for materials and head back to base to create your own wand and cast your own spells. Find out more here. 

Monday 23 October

  • Pumpkin hunt around the centre at Dalton Park. Pick up an entry form from customer services and return for a reward. Find out more here. 

Tuesday 24 October

  • Home alone drive-in movie at Bents Park. A unique movie experience! There'll be hotdogs, nachos, candyfloss and ice cream from Scoop & Bean too. Find out more here. 
  • Vintage buses on the plaza at Discovery Museum. Marvel at the transport of yesteryear and hop aboard for a ride yourself between 10:30am-2:30pm. Find out more here.
  • Halloween Tremendous Tuesday at South Shields Museum & Art Gallery. Join in with crafts themed around 'Day of the Dead'. Find out more here. 

Wednesday 25 October

  • Half Term Curiosities featuring the Crochet Brothers at Sunderland Winter Gardens. A drop-in day packed with FREE fun activities. Get crafty and make a giant moustache, try knitting, weaving and rag making and then follow the Curiosities Trail dressed in disguise. Find out more here.

Thursday 26 October

  • Imagine That : Family Day at Gateshead Central Library. Explore stories in new and exciting ways, meet author Chloe Daykin and have a go at creating your own unusual book. FREE drop-in event. Find out more here.
  •  Hocus Pocus at The Word South Shields. Join in with spooky and immersive storytelling. Guests are invited to come along dressed in their favourite Halloween costumes. Find out more here. 

Friday 27 October

  • Electric boo galoo silent disco at intu Eldon Square. Enter the transformation station for free spooky Halloween hair styling and face painting then showcase your moves in the silent disco. Find out more here
  • Pumpkin Play Day at Wallsend Park. Carve a pumpkin, take part in a special pumpkin treasure trail, enjoy pumpkin soup in the cafe and take part in ghostly games on the green. Find out more here.
  • Liz Pinchon & the Tom Gates Brilliant Bands & Doodle Show Live at Tyne Theatre & Opera House. A huge fun-packed interactive monster drawing event with live music. Find out more and book here. 

Saturday 28 October

  • A celebration of local superheroes - free family fun day at The National Railway Museum, Shildon with Durham Police. This FREE event includes the chance to experience what it's like in a police cell, police vehicles, dog displays, a treasure hunt and crime scene investigations. Find out more here.
  • Pumpkin Carving at Gibside. Head to the stables and meet the special pumpkin carving team. Create your own design and take your complete pumpkin home with you. Find out more and book here.  
  • The Big Trick or Treat at intu Metrocentre. Collect a FREE Pumpkin bucket from the Blue Lounge Customer Services and make your around the centre picking up treats when you spot the pumpkins along the way. Find out more here. 

Sunday 29 October

  • Tanfield Ghost Train at Tanfield Railway. Take part in gruesome games and keep your eyes peeled for creatures lurking in the night! Find out more and book here.
  • Halloween Day at Seaton Delaval Hall. Join in with the pumpkin parade, take part in competitions and enjoy spooky ghost stories in the woods. Find out more here. 
  • Halloween Thrills at The Manor of Horrors, Manor Walks - Cramlington. Bring the kids to enjoy trick or treating around the shopping centre, take part in broomstick training, listen to spooky storytelling and participate in the fancy dress parade at 2pm. Find out more here. 

We did have plans to try and book a last minute deal but sadly that isn't going to happen I don't think. Boooo! All of the good deals now seem to have sold out. We're planning on watching the My Little Pony Movie, swimming and having a day out at a National Trust property too - not sure which one yet.


Sachins - The Best Punjabi Restaurant in Newcastle

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for details

Sachins is a bit of a North East institution. Standing on the historic Forth Banks for 30 years, it's the place that most Geordies will recommend as the best curry house in toon. To me, it's always felt a little 'out of the way' and I've always been under the impression that it's on the pricey side. Well after our visit today I can say that both of these statements are not true. Sitting just behind the Crowne Plaza Hotel at Central Station, it took us around 10 minutes to walk there from Grey's Monument and their prices were actually really competitive too. 

We were warmly welcomed by the staff and offered a lovely table by the window (perfect for people watching - especially as Northumbria Police HQ is across the road). The staff are knowledgeable and know the menu inside out - our server reeled off the beers on offer and was able to make recommendations without a problem. It may seem like a simple thing but I can't tell you how many places I've visited where the staff don't know these things. It's the little things like this that hint at the polished experience you're about to enjoy.

The menu is fairly large but it's broken down into vegetable, seafood, chicken and lamb sections so fairly easy to read and doesn't feel overwhelming. I normally stick with a few favourites when ordering Indian food - lamb madras or Goan curries. I decided today that I was going to be a little more adventurous and try something new.

We ordered our foods and enjoyed our drinks. It was lovely to see the restaurant filling up with regulars and everyone was greeted like friends as the staff chatted to customers asking after their family and winter holiday plans. A couple sitting near us ordered their meal and then also placed a takeaway order of 4 curries to pop in their freezer for the rest of the month. What a genius idea!

We skipped Poppadoms and our starters arrived in good time. I ordered Salmon Tikka 3 ways. I love salmon but we rarely have it at home as Steve's not a fan so this was a real treat for me. I can hands down say that this was the best salmon I've ever tasted! The spices had really infused and the tikka flavours worked so well with the fish which was super succulent and was falling apart. I'm rubbish at cooking salmon and it's always a little on the dry side - this dish was the complete opposite. Next time you head to Sachins take my advice and order Salmon Tikka 3 Ways - you won't be disappointed!

Steve started with Kashmiri Champney - spring lamb chops, marinated in spices and cooked in the tandoor. This dish was spicier than my dish was a nice and large portion. I often find lamb dishes to be a little on the stingy side but this dish featured a whole 5 chops which meant that I managed to steal one without too many complaints.

With a nice pause between courses, it was onto our mains. In the end I ordered a Murgh Malabar - diced chicken cooked in South Indian spices, mustard seeds, fresh curry leaves, chilli leaves and coconut milk. I much prefer my curry to be made with coconut milk and this one did not disappoint. Not many of the dishes on the menu are labelled as 'hot' and this dish is labelled as 'medium'. The mustard seeds and chilli certainly packed a punch and it had a lovely warmth to it - not as hot as a madras and perfect to warm up after a chilly walk through Newcastle. My curry was nice and saucy too so perfect for dipping in a freshly baked naan or two. I love that you can order a bread basket here which is a selection of mini naans or parathas.

Like me, Steve also loves a Goan Curry and it was the Goan Chingri that tickled his fancy - King Prawns cooked in a rich tomato and onion based sauce with mint and coriander. This dish was more mild than my own but very aromatic. Steve loved it and was impressed at the number of King Prawns hiding in there too. 

I'm so pleased we have finally tried Sachins as I now know I can make a confident recommendation for this place to anyone who asks me where to enjoy a decent curry in Newcastle. The food and service really were spot on and I think the fact that most of the other diners in the restaurant were longstanding regular customers really speaks volumes about the place.

Just a quick word about Christmas if I may..... the Sachins Christmas menu is SUCH a good deal! I've already booked our Christmas meals for this year (yes - there are multiple meals) but will definitely be putting Sachins into the hat as an option for our Christmas night out next year. 


Why you should take the kids to visit Eureka! The National Children's Museum in West Yorkshire

*This is a paid collaboration. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Eureka! The National Children's Museum is somewhere I have always wanted to visit. I've read numerous posts by other bloggers all declaring how much fun it is. In my head, Eureka! was always miles away from our home in Northumberland but actually, it's just over a 2-hour drive from Newcastle and the same length of time by train too (with a quick change at Leeds). Eureka! is right next door to Halifax train station so perfect for a school holiday adventure or weekend day out. Piece Hall is just across the road too if you'd really like to make a day of it. 

Our visit to Eureka! formed part of our weekend break in Calderdale. On Sunday morning we packed up our bags and navigated the country roads to Halifax. The views of the Calderdale countryside were stunning. We had made the most of our huge kitchen in Stephenson House and enjoyed a Full English for breakfast so weren't planning on lunch until later. I knew the kids would need a snack though (because they always want snacks!) so popped a couple of GoGo squeeZ pouches into my handbag. We love these fruit and yoghurt snacks when we're out and about as they don't need to be refrigerated, they contain no artificial ingredients, some varieties are one of your 5-a-day and they are mess-free with no spoon required. Plus the kids love them which is always a bonus. You can find out more about GoGo Squeez here and try them yourself from Tesco or Amazon. 

We were a little confused on arrival and think we took a wrong turn - we bypassed the official car park and found a spot in the centre of Halifax town instead. Parking was cheap at around 60p for the full day. It's not too much of a walk to Eureka! from the town centre.

Eureka! is spread over two levels. There were some sections that we missed out altogether (eg the under 5s areas) but I'd love to share a few of our highlights with you. Harry, Heidi and Jack were aged 11, 8 and 6 on the day of our visit. 


Soundspace is an area dedicated to exploring sound. There are challenges, family games, the chance to create your own masterpiece and learn all about different types of music. We really enjoyed this section and it was a good introduction to the museum. 

Living & Working Together

My children would have really enjoyed this section when they were younger but have outgrown pretend play now and deemed this area to be a little babyish. It's fab for under 5s though with a mock M&S and Halifax bank, the opportunity to put a car through a car wash or it's MOT and more. 

Spark Gallery

This was our favourite section on the ground floor. The area is packed with digital art games and H, H and J all thoroughly enjoyed creating digital versions of themselves and playing around with technology. Everything worked seamlessly too which is my experience isn't always the case so Kudos to Eureka! for that. 

All About Me

All About Me takes up most of the first floor and was by far our favourite exhibition in the whole of Eureka! It's perfect for all ages and everyone from toddlers to pensioners will learn something new. The exhibits of super hands on and we loved measuring ourselves against each other at the start - who was the tallest? Who could take the biggest step and who would look the best when they aged? We found out the answers to all of these questions and more. 

We visited the health centre and learned all about our teeth, discovered how a baby is born and what happens in an antenatal clinic and even scanned our own bodies. 

The exhibits are large and bright and can't help but draw children in. The kids couldn't help but look up the giant nostrils and into an ear canal. Heidi and Jack really enjoyed playing electronic healthy eating games (and I'm pleased to say they won) and we all tested our steady hand against a buzzer game. 

Every little space is used up at Eureka! and we were fascinated by this feature wall which demonstrates lots of cool achievements such as the highest human jump in a very visual form. 

We spent around 2 hours at Eureka! - I think if you had younger children with you, this could easily extend to 4-5 hours or even a full day if you visit every single exhibit, the cafe and the outdoor area too. There is an indoor picnic marquee if you'd like to take a picnic too. What I like about Eureka! is that you pay once, and your ticket is valid for the full year. Under 1's are admitted FREE, 1-2 year olds are just £5.25 and children and adults aged 3+ are £12.95. Even if this didn't include an annual pass I'd still think it was pretty good value for money. Eureka! is closed on Mondays during term time. 

There's a lovely outdoor zone at Eureka! too and lots of children were enjoying the large sandpit and buckets and spades. We stopped by the outdoor picnic tables to enjoy our GoGo squeeZ snacks before enjoying the various obstacle courses. 

No visit to a museum is complete without a trip to the gift shop and I was relieved to find that Eureka! stock a selection of pocket money toys. Jack and Heidi teamed up to buy 5 mini animals for £1 between them. Bargain! 

I would definitely recommend a trip to Eureka! The National Children's Museum. I think it's best suited for 3-5 year olds but children of all ages will definitely get something from a visit. 

Let me know if you've visited Eureka! and if you'd recommend. 


5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

*This is a collaborative post. Please see my disclosure policy for details

The lovely folk at Vauxhall kindly asked if we'd like to take their Vauxhall Crossland X on an extended test drive. We decided to take the Crossland X to Yorkshire with us as we visited the gorgeous borough of Calderdale. 

5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

Our current car is a Vauxhall Zafira with 7 seats. We love it as the boot space is huge and easily fits all of our camping gear in and is ideal for the multiple camping/ road trips we take across the year.  My children also love to fight in the car, especially when they are touching each other! I like that our current car features 3 rows of seats so the children can all have their own space and to be honest, I'm unlikely to change from this configuration in the next few years. Because of this, I don't think the Crossland X is the car for us but I do think it's an ideal car for those who often drive a car without another adult in the passenger seat. I would LOVE to own a Crossland X for myself (as our second car) and can definitely see myself using one to get around town, ferry the kids to various clubs after school and take the kids out for the day when Steve is working. Here's why: 

1 - On Star - your fabulous personal assistant

On Star is an absolutely fantastic feature of the Crossland X. It's basically like your own personal assistant. You have to pay an annual subscription fee but if you drive around a lot by yourself or are the only adult with kids in the car, I think it will be a lifesaver on many occasions.  To activate On Star, you can use your phone app, or simply press the On Star button by your wing mirror. On Star then connects to a real-life personal advisor who can help you with multiple situations. If there was another adult in the car with you, I think this feature could be a bit gimmicky as the other adult could just use their phone to google the answers to a lot of these questions but if you're a stressed-out parent driving the kids somewhere or driving by yourself, I think you'd find it really useful. Here's how On Star can help:

  • Locate the nearest drive-through coffee shop and divert your in-car Sat Nav to take you there.
  • Quickly locate the nearest public toilets and divert your in-car Sat Nav to take you there,
  • Automatic crash response - if you're involved in an accident and your airbags inflate, On Star will automatically connect, an advisor will chat with you via the car speakerphone, a report will be sent to the Vauxhall service centre with your exact car location and description and the emergency services will be deployed if needed. All without you doing anything! As a solo parent with kids in the car, I would love this extra reassurance and feeling that I wasn't alone in a time of need.
  • Roadside assistance - if your car breaks down, simply press the On Star button to organise assistance with the AA
  • Medical emergencies - if you need urgent medical assistance, simply press the On Star button and the team will organise this for you. They'll automatically know your vehicle description and exact location and pass this on to the relevant emergency services.

There's also a mobile app which can display your car's diagnostics (eg oil levels or tyre pressure), can unlock your car doors remotely, can locate your car for you if you can't remember where you've parked and link-up to the in-car Sat Nav system. This is just a small selection of what On Star can do!  

5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

2 - Wireless phone charging

The Vauxhall Crossland X knows how important it is to stay connected and there are USB points built into the dashboard and a wireless charging spot too. When I'm in the car with the kids by myself, the last thing I want to do is run out of phone battery or for their iPad to run out so this feature is super important to me. 

I would have liked to have seen USB sockets in the back of the car as well as the front - this would have made the kids super happy too. 

5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

3 - Intuitive features

The Vauxhall Crossland X is such a breeze to drive. It's most definitely the easiest car I've ever driven. The Vauxhall Crossland X is super intuitive and many of the car's features are automatically activated so it's one less thing for the driver to worry about. Lights and windscreen wipers are automatically taken care of and the car's Sat Nav system will automatically switch to camera view when you reverse - there's definitely no faffing about with buttons.

The car's Sat Nav system worked seamlessly for us - it's all integrated and actually easier to use than our current google maps. The map on the main dashboard screen is large and easy to follow and there's a smaller display with directions behind the steering wheel too. We only found ourselves in the wrong lane once which I think is some sort of miracle.

A feature that Steve really liked about the car was being able to automatically link his iPhone up to the car's system (you can do this with Android too). You can say 'Hello Siri' and Siri will talk to you through the car speaker system, you can take phone calls and their caller info is displayed on your dash and you can link your Apple Music up to the in-car entertainment system with ease. Being able to do all of this with just your voice or the simple touch of a single button just makes life so easy! 

5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

4 - In-car WiFi for up to seven devices

When I first heard about in-car WiFi, I thought wow, what a fabulous idea and the Vauxhall Crossland X offers a WiFi connection for up to 7 devices. After your 3 month free trial you do have to pay for the service and prices start from £5. On reflection and after driving this car for a week, I'm not sure it's a feature I'd ever use. I have a fair amount of data allowance in my phone package and can use my phone as a WiFi hotspot at no extra charge so for me, the in-car WiFi feature really isn't too useful after all. Harry has his own generous data allowance on his phone too and I'm not sure the younger two actually need WiFi? The only time I think it would be useful is if you were the only parent in the car and the kids wanted to connect to the internet to stream movies/watch YouTube and you didn't want to mess around setting your own phone up as a hot spot. Let me know if you think you'd use in-car WiFi and what for......I'm intrigued! 

5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

5 - Advanced park assist and 180 degree rear view parking camera

I am one of those people who hate parking! I can't actually remember the last time I reverse parked. It's super easy with the Vauxhall Crossland X though as there are sensors around the car that beep as you approach a barrier/obstacle and I loved the 180 degree camera that is automatically activated when you select reverse gear. It's so much easier parking with the help of a camera and there's no more creeking your neck or opening your door to check you're within the lines (please tell me that's not just me!). 

5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

The Vauxhall Crossland X ticks all of the boxes for us as a second family car. I can really picture myself owning one and can definitely see how it would make my life so much easier. At the moment, I can't justify the cost of a second car but it's something I'll definitely be looking into in the future. 

If you're a single driver/family of three/four who does not go camping (and therefore require a huge boot), the Vauxhall Crossland X could be the car for you. With 520 litres of space, there was enough room for our weekend away and the car navigated the winding roads and hills of Calderdale very well. 

5 Reasons the Vauxhall Crossland X is an ideal car for solo drivers and a good option for a second family car

What do you think? Could the Vauxhall Crossland X be the car for you? 

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