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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast if you have a morning flight?

*This is a collaborative post

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?

I've always fancied myself as one of those people who looks all glam and put together at the airport, spends the whole time in an airport lounge and is just effortlessly chic. I am never going to be that person but during our recent trip to Cuba, Steve and I decided to make the most of being 'child free' and booked ourselves into the Escape Lounge at Terminal One, Manchester Airport. Children are actually welcome in the Escape lounges but personally, I think the experience is better without kids (don't shoot me for saying that).

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - complimentary prosecco

The airport lounges are super easy to find at Manchester Airport - just follow the signs! Our flight was at 12noon with boarding starting at 11am so I did wonder whether the lounge would be worth it for a morning flight (when you won't be drinking as much). After our experience, I really think it is. Prosecco is now included as part of the complimentary drinks range so although it was only 9am when we arrived, we decided to start our holiday in style.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - comfortable seating

There are a range of seating areas and styles to choose from in the lounge from desks where you could work, to dining tables and chairs and lazy boys in the quiet corner. The seats were all super comfy and way more stylish than the plastic rows of chairs you have to sit on in the main airport terminal.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - prosecco and bacon sandwich

You can order a selection of cooked breakfast items from the bar - some items such as bacon and sausage baps are included, other items such as a full English are available at an additional charge. We went for 2 bacon sandwiches which were promptly delivered to our table and actually tasted ok. I was expecting something similar to what you'd find in Greggs but these ones were better - the bacon was lovely and crispy just how I like it.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - juice bar

As well as the cooked items, you can also help yourself to a continental style buffet. The juices, pastries and yoghurts were all delicious but we did feel like the continental meats and cheeses let the side down a bit. I was expecting Serrano Ham, Chorizo and Continental cheeses rather than ham and chicken that looked like it had come straight from a packet from Asda along with cubes of cheddar.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - continental meats and cheeses

I did like that you could just help yourself and we kept our table topped up with Danish pastries throughout the morning.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - pastries

To beer or not to beer that was the question? I don't normally start drinking at 10am and wondered if I'd get some strange glances if I cracked open a bottle but 90% of the people in the lounge were doing the same. A selection of complimentary alcoholic drinks are included so as it's free, you will definitely get the best value if you just start your holiday as you mean to go on. You can order wines and spirits from the bar (a few people were ordering G&T's) or help yourself to beers and ciders from the fridges (as well as soft drinks). I like that you can help yourself as it means no one is judging your 10am drinking habit.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - beer and cider fridge

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - complimentary beer

After breakfast, we found a super cosy couple of chairs and spent the next hour or so relaxing, reading the complimentary newspapers and magazines, helping ourselves to a couple of Espressos and more pastries. It was bliss! There is free WiFi and charging points are readily available too.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - lazy chair

I've put together a rough idea of how much we would have spent had we not been in the lounge:

2 x glasses of Prosecco = £14
2 x bacon sandwiches = £7
1 x plate continental meats, cheeses and yoghurt = £8
4 x pastries = £6
2 x fresh orange juices = £4
4 x espressos = £8
2 x 2 hour WiFi = £10
2 x beers = £6
Newsapapers/magazines = £5

Total = £68

The Escape Lounge T1 costs £22.50 per person to pre-book so we made a saving of £23. I know we might not have spent that much had we just stayed in the main terminal but I definitely think the lounge represented good value for money for us.

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - espresso coffee and magazines

Benefits of booking the Escape Lounge at Manchester Airport for breakfast

  • It's hassle free, especially if you pre-book online
  • There are lots of comfortable seating areas, complimentary reading material and free WiFi
  • You can help yourself to unlimited beers, ciders and soft drinks
  • You can help yourself to unlimited pastries, yoghurts, cereals and soft drinks
  • Unlimited (and decent) coffee
  • You can order complimentary bacon & sausage sandwiches, toast and porridge from the bar
  • You can order a complimentary glass of Prosecco from the bar and start your holiday in style
  • Departure boards and announcements are available in the lounge
  • It's a lot less busy and manic than the main terminal
  • The lounge opens from 4:15/4:30am and breakfast is served until 11am
  • There are places to charge your devices
  • It will probably save you money
  • You can 'walk in' without pre-booking if you decide to treat yourself on a whim. It is more expensive to do this though

Why booking an Escape airport lounge for breakfast may not be for you

  • The selection of meats and cheeses wasn't great, so if you're a foodie you might be disappointed
  • If you're not going to drink alcohol, you won't get the best value from the experience
  • If you are booking with children, they pay the same price as adults so for us to visit as a family, it would cost £112.50 which I definitely don't think represents good value for money as we would not eat/drink that value between us

Is it worth booking an Escape VIP airport lounge for breakfast at Manchester airport if you have a morning flight?  - complimentary newspapers

I think booking into an airport lounge feels like a real treat and it really helps to get you into the holiday mood. If I was travelling as a couple or with friends, I will definitely re-book for a morning flight and imagine spending an afternoon/evening in the lounge would represent even better value for money. If I was travelling with the kids, I'd skip the lounge and spend our cash in WH Smith and Burger King instead. 


Monday, 24 April 2017

Plus size holiday clothes | What I wore in Cuba

*This is a collaborative post

I have just returned from the most fabulous holiday in Cuba with my husband to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I'll be sharing a few posts featuring what we got up to over the next few weeks but I thought I'd start with a few photos from our trip and a couple of my favourite holiday outfits.

As a guide, I wear clothes ranging from a size 16 to a size 22 (why are all shops not the same standard size!). My 'go-to' size would be an 18. The weather in Cuba in April/May is sunny and hot with temperatures reaching the late twenties every day during our trip mid-April. It can also be windy at times, especially near the coast but the breeze is a welcome break from the sun and never constant/too much. It rained twice during our week long stay. Once for 10 minutes in the morning and another for a few hours on the day of our departure. We stayed at the Blau Varadero hotel which is a 4* adults only hotel with a smart dress code in the restaurants in the evening.

In the evenings, we would often head to one of our hotel's lovely outdoor bars to watch the sunset whilst enjoying a couple of cocktails. If I knew this was going to be our plan for the evening I would always wear a long skirt or maxi dress to keep those dreaded mosquitos away from my legs. My favourite of these outfits was a printed maxi skirt from JD Williams. It's a pull on style with a large waistband and very easy to wear/flattering. At only £22 it's a bit of a bargain too. I teamed it with this sleeveless top from Dorothy Perkins in Navy blue. I've got a bit of a tummy and would never normally tuck a top in like this but I think the combination of the cut/material/pattern if this skirt is super flattering that I can just about get away with it.

My second maxi dress was just a cheap one from Primark which I wore when we were planning a low-key evening at the beach bar. Again, this dress was super easy to wear and it works just as easily through the day as it would in the evening. I think this particular dress was around £10 and I bought it towards the end of March. Primark often go up to size 20 in a few of their dresses now so it's always worth a look. I remember a few years back and 14-16 was the largest size available and I'm pleased they have extended their sizing.

My third maxi dress (worn for the beach sunset party) is a trusty faithful from Simply Be. I love it as it's layered but still lightweight and is covered with a pretty pattern and a jewelled waistband. I always feel dressed up wearing this dress.

On the beach and by the pool I usually keep things simple and wear denim shorts and a plain t-shirt with my swimsuit underneath and maybe a kimono. I will spare you my swimsuit pics but I always find Bravissimo tankinis to be the best and they are my go-to place to shop for swimwear. These denim shorts and beach kimono are from Pep & Co last year. They are still in good condition which goes to show that sometimes cheaper clothing can last more that one season.

For sightseeing in Havana I wanted a bright tunic style blouse (I read somewhere that when visiting Havana, you can have fun like the locals and dress as brightly as possible) but also knew I'd be hot and in the sun a lot so wanted to stay fairly covered. This tunic is by Joe Browns and goes up to a size 32. I teamed it with some hareem style trousers from Primark and these cushioned sandals which had a slight heel but were super comfortable and the shoes I wore the most both during the day and in the evening. They were new specifically for my holiday but didn't cause any blisters or sore feet which I was thankful for.

I would never, ever normally consider wearing a playsuit but I picked this outfit up for just £6 in Primark thinking it was a top and I'd wear it with skinny jeans and sandals. It was only when I went to try the outfit on when I was at home later in the day that I realised it was a playsuit. I tried it on and surprisingly, it was quite flattering. This one is a size 18 and super comfy. Perfect for a shopping trip in Varadero.

Finally, I wore a couple of shorter dresses in the evenings where we had an a la carte restaurant booked. This dress from Dorothy Perkins was less than £20 in the sale this March It's pretty short (probably the shortest I'd go) and again in a size 18 was very comfortable.

Then I always bring a handful of Boden dresses on holiday too. I usually buy a size 20 in Boden and their dresses are always very good quality and will last a good few years. I first wore this dress back in 2015 for my sister in law's wedding and it's still as good as new. As a side note, I was amazed that I could actually wear my hair down in Cuba without looking like Monica from friends in the Barbados episode. Humidity at this time of year isn't too much of a problem.

I'm simple when it comes to jewellery and pretty much exclusively wear my handmade 'Mrs R' necklace by the fabulously talented Lulu  & Charles jewellery with my DKNY watch and of course the compulsory 'All Inclusive' wristband they force you to wear!

I hope I've provided you with some inspiration for where to shop and what to buy for your holidays this year. I think a mix of expensive classic items that will last a good 3-5 years mixed with a few cheaper items that last 1-2 years is a good combination to go for.

We're heading back on holiday to the Caribbean either this summer or next winter and I'd love to hear if you have any websites/shops for me to check out - let me know in comments if you have a recommendation or a go-to place I need to try.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

50+ Reasons to LOVE Summer

 50+ Reasons to LOVE Summer

Ah summer! Definitely my favourite season. I love feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, wearing open toe shoes and al fresco dining. Summer is just around the corner and I can feel the anticpation in the air! I asked some of my favourite bloggers to share what they're looking forward to the most........

1 - Not having to wear socks! Birkenstocks always -  Nelly's Cupcakes

2 -  Long days and lots of excuses to stay out all day with no worries of rain or stormy days. It just feels very free... -  Kelly Allen

3 -  Summer for me is when my work gets exciting as I get to work outdoors and get to spend time with participants that I wouldn't normally get to. Plus I get to wear short and not tracksuit bottoms  - The Girl and the Treadmill

4 - Long family days out then getting home, getting the kids to bed and being able to then sit in the garden while it's still light and hopefully warm with a cool drink and the hubby :) - A Blog's Life

5 - I love being able to sit outside watching my toddler play in (hopefully) nice, sunny weather whilst eating an ice cream! :) I also like being able to wear less layers! - Super Mummy Secrets

6 -  Picnics, even if only in the garden 😀 - Stacey in the Sticks

7 - The warmth in the air, longer days and sunshine - just makes you feel better (even if it rains) :) -  My Boys Club

'The fact that everything seems better and more hopeful!'

8 -   Having garden parties with friends and family. It just never seems to happen in the winter months. We love a BBQ! -  Champagne and Petals

9 -Locking the gates to the garden and shoving the kids outside for some quiet time lol Of course all the usual beach, picnic, walks in the park etc too but i do love a coffee in peace! lol - Country Heart and Home

10 -  Being able to get up before the kids and have a coffee outside in the garden. The first time I was able to do that when we moved from a flat to a house with a garden always stands in my mind as one of 'those' moments -  Coffee Cake Kids

11 - Summer nights with the BBQ out and camping with friends. The days feel so much longer! - Here Come the Hoopers

12 - 
The smell of a barbecue and sun screen; and more than 6 light hours in the day, Scotland is absolutely useless during Winter. I can't wait to be able to sit out on the decking and just bask in the sun (well, lack of rain).... - Life With Boys

13 - I love the fact Newcastle becomes like a continental city with outdoor tables for al fresco dining & the fantastic events we have on to keep families entertained - Canny Food

14 -   Not having to carry big coats, sandals, beer gardens, outdoor play, ice cream, natural vitamin D!!! - Seeing Rainbows

15 -  I love being able to go out for a walk on an evening without it being pitch black! Plus, everything smells like sun cream and all the colours are so beautiful - in nature and in all the products that are released!  - The Northernist

16 -  I absolutely love the bright mornings, it makes me want to get out of bed, and as someone who loves their bed that is rare! haha -  Neon Rainbow Blog

17 -Taking a picnic (and wine!) to our local park - She and Hem

18 - You can feed the kids outside. Less mess!  - Whinge Whinge Wine

19 - Not having to wrestle their kids into their coats each morning or listen to them whining about how cold they are! - Five Little Doves

'Picnics, even if only in the garden'

20 - 
The sunshine! And also being able to go out without worrying about getting cold - Mummy Miller

21 - 
Barbecues, doing lots of activities outdoors, growing plants/vegetables and getting the pool out ❤️  -  Paige's Preferences

22 - 
Having more options when it comes to things you can do with the little ones. As soon as summer hits we spend all of our days in parks, at nature reserves, farm parks, anywhere outdoors which is great for kids, we're there! - 
Tattooed Tea Lady

23 - 
Not having to wear loads and loads of layers! I love having my limbs out!  - Raising the Rings

24 - 
 I swear that I go into hibernation mode from Oct - March, like a grumpy, urban bear  ;) I detest winter. There is something about summer that just makes everything feel better. Driving to work at 7am in daylight and leaving at 6pm in more daylight is a small joy of mine! It seems to give me more energy, boosts morale and I adore al fresco dining!  - That British Betty

25 - 
Being able use the garden and hanging my washing on the line! Suburban Mum

26 -  
 Being able to get down the allotment and most of the work is done for the year, besides the harvest. We can take an ice cream or a nice soft drink and it is our own private space - and it is huge!  - 
Katy Kicker

27 - 
The lack of routine - chilled mornings, lazing in the garden, BBQs, picnics at the park, days on the beach. Just a relaxed pace of life - The Minimes and Me

28 - 
 I just feel more motivated and energetic in summer. And less like a lazy cow who wants to hibernate on the sofa all day watching Mad Men - Porridge and Parenting

 'Summer nights with the BBQ out and camping with friends'

29 - 
Loads and loads of Pimms with friends in the garden... ;-) - Life is Knutts

30 - 
1) bright daylight when the early morning alarm goes off! Yay! And 2) school shorts - the little loves can grow as tall as they want to without the fear of needing to go shopping for the next size up 😊😊  - Pack the PJs

31 - 
 I love that Summer gives you so much more freedom. You don't have to worry about packing the extra coats / hats / scarves, you don't have to limit your destination to somewhere indoors, and you don't have to leave early because it gets dark! - Emily and Indiana

32 - 
 The fact that everything seems better and more hopeful! Even a bad day working in the summer isn't so awful, every evening feels like a mini weekend when it's nice weather. We took to going to the beach often on a weekday night and it just makes you forget the rest of your day! -  Devon Mama

33 - Spending more time with my niece and nephew during the summer holidays. Unplanned barbecues and trips to beer gardens. Afternoon drinking being acceptable. Relaxing in the garden. - A Slice of my Life in Wales

34 - Long summer evenings, bbqs, long beach walks and now I have a little one going for days out! -  Queen Bee Becca

'The warm sunshine on my face'

35 - I love the long summer nights - bbqs in the garden sipping a cold glass of Sauvignon blanc. Aaaah bliss  - Missus Wolf

36 - The house actually stays tidy as the kids are outside ALL day long and they never mutter I am I can dry the washing faster too. - Emmy's Mummy

37 - That first day when it gets hot and I can finally get the flip flops out. Best feeling ever! Le Coin de Mel

38 - Summer, the warm sunshine on my face, long days on the beach, working outdoors in short sleeves, far off adventures with friends and families, ice-creams, walking as far as my legs will carry me and climbing big hills with Holly Bobbins, my heart belongs to summer forever!  - Mandy Charlton Photography

39 - That I don't need to try and force my toddler into 900 winter layers against her wishes to go outside! She can be naked like she wants for a change - Nomipalony

40 - Alfresco dining in the evening. I love nothing more than grilling up some dinner and sipping on a glass of nicely chilled wine in the garden, watching the world go by. Throw a good book in and I'm one happy bunny. - I Heart Katie Cakes

'Picnics and paddling pools, flip flops and floaty frocks'

41 -  I love that I can run in shorts AND it's race season!  - A Runner's Ramble

42 - What don't I like about summer! The sun and the warmth eases my achey bones and muscles, and everywhere just seems to be more alive, the sun is shining (well it might we do live in the UK after all), and the birds are singing what more could you want - Lou Lou Land

43 - Being able to spend time together as a family. The ability to play outside after school is a bonus too -  Slings and More Blog

44 - These days Summer represents Kynren, nothing better than volunteering your time to support a community themed project and charity. The warmer weather is a bonus too - Andrew - 'Kynren' My Experience

45 - The fresh fruit that's in season, warm weather, sunshine, picnics, and ice lollies dripping on your hand while you try to eat them -  Babyfoote

46 - Picnics and paddling pools, flip flops and floaty frocks, strawberry's and sandcastles, plodging, lazy mornings and light nights - Monkey Feet Blog

47 - Light nights, BBQ's, pimms, fresh fruit, not having to wear a jacket, getting my sunnys out, summer holiday, blog photos always have light 😂  -  Zest of Alice

48 - I love wearing short sleeves and doing more things outside, especially eating and drinking! -  Family Makes

'It not being dark when I get to work and dark when I leave'

49 - I love Great British summer food! Anyone for strawberry picking or a picnic at the beach? -  Life in Geordieland

50 - Sunshine when I go to work, sunshine when I come home -  Rock and Roll Pussycat

and a bonus couple of entries:- 

51 - I love that summer means being outdoors in the evening. I'll pile on blankets and put on a fire just to stay outside as long as possible! If it's a clear summer night then stargazing never fails to amaze me - The B-Line

52 - Barbecues, holidays, and it not being dark when I get to work and dark when I leave! - Static Nova

What do you love about summer? 

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 50+ Reasons to LOVE Summer


Monday, 17 April 2017

Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe by Cranberry & Apricot

The Best Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe by Cranberry & Apricot

If you're surrounded by Easter Eggs and don't know what on earth you're going to do with them all, don't fear, I have a solution. Ami from Cranberry & Apricot has allowed us to share her idea to create Easter Chocolate bark. It looks like the perfect way to get the kids in the kitchen and using up their chocolate stash plus I bet a slice goes well with a nice cup of coffee for elevenses. Yum! Over to Ami......


  • 200g Galaxy Chocolate
  • 200g Milkybar Chocolate
  • 1 pack of Cadbury Mini Eggs
  • 1 pack of assorted Mini Eggs (Daim, Oreo & Creme Egg)

The Best Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe by Cranberry & Apricot - ingredients


1 - Line a shallow baking tray or glass dish with greaseproof paper.

2 - Break 150g of Milkybar chocolate into pieces before microwaving in 20 second bursts until melted. Make sure to stir the chocolate after each 20 second burst.

3 - Pour the Milkybar chocolate into the tray and spread evenly.

4 - Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes or until the chocolate is starting to set. If the chocolate sets fully there’s a chance it won’t attach to the top layer.

5 - Microwave 200g of Galaxy chocolate in 20 second bursts until melted. Spread this over the Milkybar chocolate to form the second layer.

6 - To give the Cadbury Mini Eggs a hatched look, place them in a food bag before cracking them with a rolling pin.

7 - Press the broken Mini eggs into the chocolate slab.

8 - Melt the remaining 50g of Milkybar chocolate and drizzle over the slab.

9 - Cut the Daim, Oreo & Creme Eggs in half before pressing into the chocolate.

10 - Refrigerate until set before breaking into shards.

The Best Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe by Cranberry & Apricot - method

The Best Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe by Cranberry & Apricot

Wow thanks Ami, I can't wait to try this! I think the beauty of making something like this is that you can use up whatever you have. I bet it's nice with a few mini Lindt bunnies too.

Cranberry & Apricot shares recipes, days out, lifestyle & travel posts alongside the most beautiful photography. You can follow Cranberry & Apricot on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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The Best Easter Chocolate Bark Recipe by Cranberry & Apricot


Friday, 14 April 2017

Where are the best places to see lambs in the North East this Easter?

Today we have a guest post from Debbie from My Boys Club. My Boys Club is one of my favourite North East blogs and I would definitely recommend following them over on Facebook. Expect monthly guides to FREE events in the North East, restaurant reviews and plenty of days out ideas. Over to Debbie:

Where are the best places to see lambs in the North East this Easter?

Don’t you just think that Spring is a beautiful time of year in this country. We see the Great British countryside starting to come alive after a cold, wet and sometimes snowy, especially in the north, winter. And nothing says Spring to me more than watching little lambs leaping and bounding through green fields at Easter time.

An amazing fact is that there are over 1 billion sheep in the world and 32 million of these sheep graze the fields in the UK. Traditionally, in the UK lambing starts in early spring and each Spring around 16 million lambs are born in the UK every year, which makes lambing the biggest and busiest event in the farming calendar. 

The female sheep, called a ewe, is pregnant for around 145 days but the amount of lambs born to one ewe varies. The average is 1.3 lambs per ewe but can be as many as five. 

So where can you see lambs this Easter in the North-East?

Hall Hill Farm, County Durham

At the award-winning Hall Hill Farm in County Durham, lambing has been part of the visitor attraction since it opened in 1986 and is still one of the most popular times of the year. The farm recently named as the nation’s favourite Farm Attraction is open everyday from April to October. 

Lambing season will take place during April and May, when the farm’s shepherd, recently named as the Northern Young Farmer of the year, is expecting up to 500 new born lambs from his flock of 250 sheep. As well as hopefully see lambs being born,  visitors can also bottle feed lambs, see fluffy chicks, inquisitive goats, magnificent Highland Cattle and get close to children’s favourites such as guinea pigs and rabbits, as well as enjoy crazy golf, the jumping pillow or a tractor or donkey ride around the beautiful countryside. The popular Playbarn also provides a fun indoor soft-play area for families to enjoy as well as shelter from the rain or find shade from the sun.

No booking required, lambing is included in the general admission fee. As well as seeing the lambs at the farm a live lamb-cam also lets you watch the ‘maternity wing’ at the farm 24 hours a day on the Hall Hill Farm website.

Where are the best places to see lambs in the North East this Easter?  - Hall Hill Farm
Lambs at Hall Hill Farm

Whitehouse farm, Northumberland

Flock to Whitehouse Farm this Easter and ewe may be lucky and see a lamb being born. Open every day during the holidays, Whitehouse Farm is one of the biggest and best farm attractions in the north-east, with a fun packed programme of interactive animal talks and shows. 

Here you can hold and stroke lots of friendly baby animals including cute bunnies, guinea pigs, mice and rats. You can also bottle feed pet lambs, meet the meerkats, groom a goat & have a hoot with the owls. The Easter Eggstravaganza and Lambing Season runs from April 8 to April 23, when they are open every day. 

Where are the best places to see lambs in the North East this Easter?  - Whitehouse Farm

Broomhouse Farm , Northumberland

From the Wallington National Trust property, although admission to Wallington is not a requirement or included, you can take a scenic tractor trailer ride to Broomhouse Farm. Here you can get a close-up experience of lambing on a working farm. Not only will you enjoy a guided tour of the lambing shed but you can help to bottle feed the lambs, and if you are lucky you might even see a lamb being born! 

Tours depart 12.30pm and 2.00pm each day from the Wallington National Trust coach park and each tour lasts 90 minutes on 1st and 2nd April, and then daily between Saturday 8th April 2017 to Monday 17th April inclusive. Costs are 6 Adults, £5 Children (2 - 16 yrs). Children under 2 visit for free (if they travel on a parents knee). Pre-booking is strongly advised but unreserved seats will be offered on the day on a first come, first served basis at the Wallington visitor entrance pay kiosk.

Ouseburn Farm, Newcastle

This free to enter family friendly farm is the perfect place to entertain little ones during weekends and school holidays. During the school holidays the farm runs free activities for children where they can meet the farm’s newest little animals and do arts and crafts. Located in the Ouseburn Valley, just a mile from Newcastle City centre, it is open from 9:30am until 4:30pm. 

They have 5 Jacob sheep at the farm called Chocolate, Brownie, Domino, Checkers and Oreo, which are a rare breed of small sheep. They are piebald, meaning coloured with white spots but the most common colour is black and white.  They can have from two to six horns, but most commonly have four. 

Where are the best places to see lambs in the North East this Easter?  - Ouseburn Farm

Bill Quay Farm, Gateshead

Bill Quay Community Farm in Gateshead not only farms for food, but also to learn, preserve rare breeds and provide activities for the local community. Free to enter,the  farm boasts a fine collection of livestock breeds including sheep and expect the unexpected with Hebridean Sheep , Castlemilk Moorit Sheep and Jacob sheep on site.

Where are the best places to see lambs in the North East this Easter?  - Bill Quay Farm

The Rising Sun Farm, North Tyneside

At the Rising Sun in North Tyneside, near the Benton Asda, there is a mixed farm on 175 acres of land and consists of pigs, calves, poultry, ducks and small animals, as well as shepp. Visitors can see all the animals at the farm well as visit the livery, food house and day care centre. All of the farm's livestock are produced either for breeding or their products such as eggs, pork and lamb. Free to enter the farm is open all year round.

A huge thanks to My Boys Club for this post - let me know if you're planning on visiting any lambs this Easter and if we've missed your favourite spot from our list. 


Thursday, 13 April 2017

How to spend 24 hours in the Northumbrian villages of Seahouses & Beadnell with the Coach House Bed & Breakfast

*This is a collaborative post

It's a little bit of a tradition for us to take a mini break in Northumberland either over February Half Term or Easter. It's always a lot quieter at this time of year and although it is mostly still quite chilly, it doesn't bother us too much as we're used to the arctic conditions up North. 

How to spend 24 hours in the Northumbrian coastal villages of Seahouses & Beadnell with the Coach House Bed & Breakfast

This Easter, we were invited along to stay at our friends Tracey and Neil's bed and breakfast in Brownieside which is just seconds away from A1 and very close to Alnwick, Beadnell and Seahouses. We started our day at Seahouses and parked our car in the main village car park where we paid a very reasonable £3.50 to park all day. Our trip started as any good trip to the seaside should with a bag of proper chips (at a not so reasonable £3.50 per bag). These ones are from Pinnacles and yes, we'd pay £3.50 again. Nothing beats them. It made me smile as a tourist in the queue asked for scraps as she'd never tried them because apparently, they don't have them down south. We really are spoilt here in Northumberland.

How to spend 24 hours in the Northumbrian coastal villages of Seahouses & Beadnell with the Coach House Bed & Breakfast - chips from Pinnacles

Seahouses is a traditional seaside harbour village with a few gift shops packed with tat for the kids to spend their pennies on. There are ice cream kiosks, an amusement arcade, mini golf and a few proper English pubs too. If you were going to picture a traditional British seaside town in your head, Seahouses would be what you imagine. It's more traditional than trendy but it's still a nice place to have a potter for an hour or so.

How to spend 24 hours in the Northumbrian coastal villages of Seahouses & Beadnell with the Coach House Bed & Breakfast - gift shop

I love walking along the harbour and checking out all of the tourist and fishing boats and you can see the majestic Bamburgh Castle in the distance.

How to spend 24 hours in the Northumbrian coastal villages of Seahouses & Beadnell with the Coach House Bed & Breakfast - harbour

Our main reason for heading to Seahouses was to take the kids on a boat trip to the Farne Islands as they'd never been before. We were supposed to do this last year but a storm stopped us. We decided on the 1.5 hour Grey Seal Cruise with Serenity Tours. I know Andrew (the ship's captain) through blogging (I highly recommend subscribing/having a read - see here) and trusted him to get us there and back in one piece.

The 1.5 hour tour costs £13 per adult and £9 per child. Under 4's are free. I booked the sail around rather than the landing trip as it was cheaper (you usually need to pay a fee to land on the islands, although this is free if you National Trust members) and I remember being dive-bombed by birds when I visited the islands on a school trip which I wasn't keen on putting my own children through. The round trip is a much better option for families in my opinion.

You definitely need to wrap up - even if it looks bright! Wear layers and definitely take a hat, gloves and scarf. Waterproofs are recommended too. The water was fairly choppy during our trip and lot of us managed to get slightly (or very) wet.

I'm going to write a full blog review of our boat trip in a few week's time but I have to say we are SO pleased we braved the cold. Seeing birds (including puffins) and various seals up close is an unforgettable experience. The boat gets very close and at one point our boat was surrounded by seals. There was lots of excitement on board from both kids and grown-ups as we all pointed out when the next seal popped up.

I adore this photo of Harry and Heidi snuggling together with Bamburgh Castle in the background. How often do older siblings snuggle like this? Such a precious moment.

As we stepped off the boat we were frozen to our core. We practically ran to our car and put the heating on full blast as we travelled 10 minutes down the road to the Coach House, Brownieside. The B&B has three rooms including a family room and is perfectly located for Seahouses, Beadnell, Alnwick and the rest of North Northumberland. It is literally seconds from the A1 but thanks to some cleverly placed trees you can't hear or see a thing and it feels as if you are staying in a countryside retreat.

Double and twin rooms are available from £79 and the family room we stayed in is available from £90. We received such a warm welcome from Tracey and Neil. We've been online friends for a while and it's always mad when you meet an online friend in real life for the first time as you already feel as though you are friends. We chatted about our favourite places in Northumberland and I think one of the best things about staying in a bed and breakfast is that personal touch. Tracey is full of recommendations and spent lots of time recommending local gems to other guests which you just don't get in a hotel. I've lost count of the number of times I've asked a hotel receptionist where is good for food and they recommend the local wetherspoons! It's much better when a host really knows their stuff like Tracey does.

Our en-suite family room was super comfortable and I loved the traditional beams. There is a double plus a single bed that pulls out into two single beds - our three joined them together and created one giant bed to share.

Another personal touch in our room were the homemade chocolate Easter cakes and more than enough hot chocolate to share between the five of us - it soon warmed us through and was very gratefully received.

The Coach House is a real home from home. There are leaflets, maps, books, board games and playing cards for guests to help themselves to.....everything you could need. We were even allowed to meet the two family hamsters which delighted Heidi and Jack.

Once we had warmed through, watched a bit of TV and finished our hot chocolates, we jumped back in the car and headed to the nearby village of Beadnell where we had a 7pm reservation at The Craster Arms for dinner.

We had not visited before but I immediately fell in love and knew it was my kind of pub. Just look at the beer garden! We'll definitely be popping back over summer to enjoy a cold glass of wine in the sun after a day out somewhere.

The pub was packed with families (and their four legged friends) and the atmosphere was fantastic. It's a very traditional pub and the staff are all super friendly and service was polished.

I ordered fish and chips and Steve went for the gammon. I don't want to give too much away as I'll be reviewing our meal in full in a few week's time but it was delicious, plentiful and homemade. I loved it and it was definitely worth the £11.95 price tag.

The kid's meals were very good too - £5.50 and they were homemade too. Back at the B&B, Tracey had recommended we try an ice cream sundae for pudding as they come highly recommended by all who try them. We were debating on splitting one between the 5 of us but in the end we decided this was just being greedy as we were absolutely stuffed to the brim from our main course.

The Craster Arms is the sort of pub we could have easily stayed for a few hours. We were enjoying a proper chat about our day and it's what I'd class as 'proper' family time. We were all sleepy after our day at sea though so we headed home at around 8:30pm and watched a little TV in our room before drifting into a wonderful night's sleep.

The following morning we woke up to the bird's tweeting outside and headed down to the breakfast room at 8:30am. As it was Easter, the kids were treated to an Easter Egg each (not to eat at breakfast obviously) which we thought was a lovely touch.

We helped ourselves to juice and cereal and Steve and I ordered a full Northumbrian breakfast each. Served with a cafetiere of very good coffee and a pot of tea, the breakfast certainly set us up for the day. The sausages are from a smallholding a few miles away and the bacon is from Rothbury Butchers - you could really taste the quality.

I can never be bothered to cook a full English at home and I always think having a breakfast cooked for you like this using locally sourced ingredients is a massive treat.

The kids asked for their favourite dippy eggs which they thoroughly enjoyed. Neil and Tracey asked if they wanted seconds too!

We left the Coach House feeling like we'd really had a break from the world and spent some real quality time together. We were only away for 24 hours but that's all that was needed to help us relax. We would recommend Neil and Tracey's B&B to those looking for a home from home that is extremely well located for North Northumberland and easy to find with very welcoming hosts who are full of the advice you'd only be able to get from a local and cook a very good Northumberland breakfast. If you are in the area, we recommend the Craster Arms and Serenity Farne Islands Boat Tours too.

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How to spend 24 hours in the Northumbrian villages of Seahouses & Beadnell with the Coach House Bed & Breakfast

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