North East Family Fun

An Award Winning Blog featuring Travel, Adventure & Family Life in North East England

Friday, 23 September 2016

What's on in the North East for Children & Families | 24th & 25thSeptember


It's official! Autumn has arrived. I am spending a weekend at St Mary's Inn celebrating a good friend's wedding (New Girl in Toon for those who read Chloe's blog) and I am SO excited. Kids will be staying at grannies and I believe they are taking them to Wallsend Golf Club to test out Harry's golf clubs. Sounds like fun. If golfing isn't your thing, there's plenty going on in the North East to keep you entertained. Here are my top 5 picks for the weekend ahead:

What's on in the North East for Children & Families | 24th & 25th September



Tolkien Weekend
Newcastle Castle
10am - 5pm | 24th - 25th September

Time & Tide Events return with this FREE festival which will transport us back to Middle-earth. There will be market stalls, mouth-watering food, activities, crafts and more. See here for a full list of activities. Entry to the Castle Keep, Black Gate and St Nicholas' Cathedral is FREE across the whole weekend.


Sunderland Illuminations Launch Night
Cliffe Park, Sunderland seafront
7-8pm | Saturday 24th September 

Sunderland Illuminations return this year and they are set to be better than ever. Launch night will see Ian and Dannii from Sun FM with Spark Drummers, Live Music and local singer Chloe Castro who appeared on The Voice.

Roker Park is going to be transformed from 24th September until 5th November with a pirate, dinosaur and fairy theme. There will be fairground rides, illuminated art, pirate adventure golf, a model railway, giant observation wheel and more. Entry to the park is £1 and some activities are chargeable. Check website for further details.


Hands On Heritage Skills
Beamish Museum
24th - 25th September

Another weekend, another special event at Beamish. I LOVE how busy their events programme is. If you haven't already invested, an annual pass is definitely worth the £. This weekend is all about embracing heritage skills and visitors will have the chance to get hands on skills and crafts including Lace making, Patchwork, Basket making, Corn dolly making, Northumbrian Piper and Candle Making. Find out more here.


Wild Rumpus Rave
Alnwick Playhouse
2-3:30pm | Saturday 24th September

Let off some steam at this WILD  dance party. There's a chance for little ones (and grown ups) to stomp & dance along to a live DJ along with bubbles, hula hoops, inflatables and projections. Tickets are just £4.50 (babies under 18 months are free). You can find out more and book tickets here. 


Open Air Cinema
Chester le Street Cricket Club
1pm & 4pm | Saturday 24th September

Chester le Street Cricket Club is being transformed into an Open Air Cinema this Saturday in aid of St Cuthbert's Hospice. Film fans can enjoy The Lion King at 1pm and/or Grease at 4pm. You can find out more and book tickets here. 


Don't forget to follow North East Family Fun on Facebook for lots more ideas :-) 


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Thursday, 22 September 2016

What do parents do to unwind at home?

The lovely people at Rattan Direct have contacted me and asked if my readers could help them out by completing this short survey which focuses on asking how you unwind around the home, asks how you are celebrating Christmas and finally if Brexit as altered your spending habits around the home and garden.

What do parents do to unwind at home?

It is just a short survey of 17 questions and takes less than 2 minutes.  I hope to share the results with you when all of the data has been gathered and analysed. I'll be interested to see what the results are.




Disclosure: Collaborative post
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A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland


A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

You wouldn't believe it was mid-September when these photographs were taken. We have been blessed with a very mild start to the autumn. I'm certainly not complaining though and Steve and I took the opportunity to head out for one of our favourite walks around Ladyburn lake at Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland. 

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

Druridge Bay Country Park is a place I have visited many times but I realised I have never actually blogged about it so it was the perfect opportunity to take my camera out and about.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

Druridge Bay Country Park offers FREE parking across multiple car parks, there is a good visitor centre with toilets (see bottom of this post for opening times), a cafe and plenty of seats and picnic benches . You can swim in the lake and water sports are permitted from April - October (check website for permit details and further info).

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

After parking our car we walked the 1.5 mile route around the lake. It's a very easy, flat walk and fine for more robust pushchairs I would say. There is the chance to spot lots of wildlife around the lake including swans, ducks, dragon flies and much more.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - watersports and swans

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - swans on lake

About half way around the lake, you will find some stepping stones. My children adore these and happily hop from one to the next. I'm a little more hesitant but I still made it over without falling in! If stepping stones aren't your thing there is an accessible path behind the lake that adds a couple of extra minutes to your walk. If you can though, you should definitely attempt the stones. The views across the lake are lovely.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - stepping stones across lake

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - crossing the stepping stones

There are plenty of spaces to enjoy a seat and take in the magnificent views. From park benches to huge picnic tables  - Druridge Bay has it covered.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - bench with lake view

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland

We visited in September and I have to say - there weren't too many flowers around for me to photograph - I bet this isn't the case in spring though.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - flowers

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - weeds

We ended our walk with a quick cuppa and a picnic at the Visitor Centre. There are lots of maps and information leaflets here as well as the loos, cafe, a small shop and wildlife information and exhibits.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - visitor centre and picnic tables

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - picnic tables

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - flask of coffee

There is a small park for children to enjoy and you can just spot further climbing apparatus in the distance. This is the view from the picnic tables:-

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - children's play area/park

The fun doesn't stop there, if you follow the signs from the main car park you will find Druridge Bay beach just a few steps away. I think Druridge Bay is one of the best beaches in the UK - you'll find mile upon mile of golden sands and it is usually very quiet. We've had the beach to ourselves during our last few visits.

A walk around Ladyburn Lake at Druridge Bay Country Park | Northumberland - Druridge Bay Beach by Mandy Charlton Photographer
Druridge Bay Beach | Credit Mandy Charlton Photography


Need To Know

  • Address : Druridge Bay Country Park, Red Row. Morpeth. NE61 5BX
  • Toilets open 9:30am - 4:30pm
  • Cafe open weekends 11am - 4pm | April - September and every day during the school summer holidays
  • Car park gates open during daylight hours. Parking is free
  • Dog and horse friendly
  • Overnight contact is allowed with permission (email druridgebay@northumberland.org.uk )
  • No BBQs allowed but there are picnic tables
  • Small children's play area
  • Contact Coquet Shorebase Trust to enquire about watersports 

Have you ever visited Druridge Bay? 




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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families


Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families

The Italian coastline stretches for 4382 miles. Sitting between Venice and Trieste on the Adriatic coast, you'll find the seaside city of Bibione. Known as 'Sun in the heart of Europe', Bibione is famed for it's crystal clear waters and long sandy beaches and as a place that is perfect for families to get away from it all and relax. Here are 6 reasons why a holiday in Bibione could be just right for your next getaway:-


1 - Family-friendly Hotels

Bibione in Italy is home to some lovely hotels which are perfect for families including Hotel Las Vegas. This hotel is just 30 metres from a private beach and offers free bike hire to adults and children, free WiFi, a reading area and TV, entertainment for children at the beach, in the playroom and even during meal times (with qualified staff), a baby menu, high chairs and plastic cutlery, organic food, children's meals and for extra convenience, you'll also find a paediatric pharmacy within the hotel.  All children receive a free gift on arrival and family rooms are very well equipped with cribs, changing tables, night lights, small bath tubs, baby monitors and bottle warmers.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - children's mini club on the beach

There is a hotel mini-club where parents can leave their children in very good (and qualified) hands. Children will enjoy fun at the beach, discos, face painting, treasure hunts, magic show and arts and crafts whilst mum and dad have a few hours to relax.

For grown ups there are cocktail parties, live entertainment, dance evenings plus a comprehensive sport and fitness programme.

Erm.....when can I book?


2 - A Perfect Seaside Resort

Bibione beach offers FREE  activities and workshops for kids, the beach has WiFi and is absolutely immaculate (it has held a blue flag for the last 21 years). Beach staff speak English and if you stay at the Hotel Las Vegas, sun loungers and parasols are available at no additional cost.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - Private Hotel Beach


3 - Food Glorious Food

Bibione is the white asparagus capital of Italy and local seafood specialities include sardines, mackerel and needlefish. The resort serves much more than local food though with worldwide cuisines and flavours influencing menus. You'll find most restaurants serving delicious handmade pizzas and pasta for kids. Most restaurants offer custom menus for coeliacs too. In the hotel restaurant, there is a 'baby corner', light menu, organic food and everything is freshly prepared by a highly qualified team of chefs. Allergies are very well catered for and there is an extensive cocktail list and wine menu to help you choose that perfect drink to accompany your meal.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - restaurant terrace and cocktails

4 - A Cycling Paradise

You don't need a car in Bibione - you can access everywhere by bicycle. Either take your own or hire from the resort (remember cycle hire is free if you stay at Hotel Las Vegas). There are hundreds of cycle routes to choose from and lots are perfect for beginners and children.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - cycle route by beach


5 - Explore Northern Italy

If theme parks are your thing, there's lots to keep your family entertained in Bibione.  From Luna Park Adriatico in the centre Bibione to the Zoo of Lignano. Aquasplash and Guilliverlandia are within easy reach of Bibione and Venice, Padua and Treviso are very close by too.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - day trip to venice
Explore Venice

6 - Relax in Italy's only Seafront Spa

The Bibione Thermae Spa is the only seafront spa treatment and wellbeing centre in Italy and it's the perfect spot for a little bit of 'me time'. The spa's wellness area includes indoor and outdoor pools, a sauna, salt cabin, herbal bath and rain showers. Water spouts from a lovely 52 degrees from a depth of 500 metres. Children are welcome in some areas and you'll find a wide range of treatments available to book.

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy - A Perfect Holiday Choice for Families - Thermae spa


Need To Know

  • Rooms at Hotel Las Vegas are available from 47 euros per room, per night. Rooms are air-conditioned with a balcony, in-room safe, bathroom, LCD TV, fridge and telephone as standard. 

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. Photographs used with permission .











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Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Fantastical Disney Season at Tyneside Cinema

This weekend we had to be up bright and early and pop to Newcastle for just after 9am for an important job. We were heading to the Tyneside Cinema to take part in a little photo shoot to help promote their new Fantastical Disney Season. Exciting! 

The Fantastical Disney Season at Tyneside Cinema - Kids club cheap cinema, Disney Films

On arrival, I realised there would be a total of 8 children taking part and as I sipped my coffee (thanks Chris) I couldn't help but feel very sorry for Tony Hall Photography. I REALLY struggle to get all 3 of my children to act naturally and smile. I think in the thousands of photographs I've taken I've only ever achieved this on 3 of 4 occasions. I just can't imagine attempting this with 8 children! Tony was a total pro though and I was very impressed - the final photos are fab.

The Fantastical Disney Season at Tyneside Cinema - Kids club cheap cinema, Disney Films

As you have probably realised by now, Disney On Ice presents Frozen is coming to Newcastle ’s Metro Radio Arena in October, and fans can enjoy some Disney fun ahead of the ice spectacular’s arrival at an exclusive season of films at Tyneside Cinema.

The Fantastical Disney Season at Tyneside Cinema - Kids club cheap cinema, Disney Films


The Fantastical Disney Season will offer film-goers the chance to enjoy much-loved classics including Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast, as well as the blockbuster Frozen, which is the theme for this year’s Disney On Ice show at Newcastle ’s Metro Radio Arena from 18-23 October.


The Fantastical Disney Season
Tyneside Cinema, Pilgrim Street , Newcastle upon Tyne

  • Cinderella - 10:30am Saturday 24 September
  • The Little Mermaid - 10:30am Saturday 1 October
  • Beauty & the Beast - 10:30am Saturday 8 October
  • Frozen - 10:30am Saturday 15 October

All tickets are only £4.00 for both adults and children and include a lollipop for children and a raffle ticket. There is an exciting raffle at the beginning of the film where you can win FREE cinema tickets plus an extra special prize.

The Fantastical Disney Season at Tyneside Cinema - Kids club cheap cinema, Disney Films

We watched Snow White which was the first film in the series and I have to say, it was lovely just sitting back in a traditional cinema with the kids watching a Disney classic. A really lovely way to spend a Saturday morning (afterwards we went Snowdog hunting around Newcastle and there are a couple lots in the immediate vicinity of the cinema).

Call 0191 227 5500 or visit Tyneside Cinema to book. 

The Fantastical Disney Season at Tyneside Cinema - Kids club cheap cinema, Disney Films


Disney On Ice presents Frozen - tickets on sale now

Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle upon Tyne
18 - 23 October 2016
Hotline Number: 0844 493 6666


Disclosure: Collaborative Post



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Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school

My children have all settled back into school life and are thankfully enjoying it. I'm a bit of a 'free-range' parent so don't worry excessively but there are times throughout the day when I wonder what they are up to and hope they are ok. It's sometimes scary to think that these little people I have created are venturing out into the big wide world for 6 hours per day without me by their side.

Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water


I think as parents, it is our job to ensure our children are prepared for their school day and there are a few simple ways we can do this.

5 ways to help your children stay happy at school

We all worry about whether our children are happy at school and it is usually the first question I ask their teacher at parent's evening! Here are a few ideas that will help to keep a smile on their face:- 

1 - Give them a giggle with a daily joke. I usually write a silly joke on their water bottle before popping it in their lunch box and they always look forward to reading it (If anyone has any good jokes please let me know).

2 - Walk to and from school (and leave your phone at home). Our walk to school takes between 20-30 minutes and it's a time of day I love. My children have 100% of my attention 100% and it's when we have some of our best chats which leave us all feeling happy. Today we ended up talking about the difference between mist and fog, yesterday it was 'where do snails live'. 

3 - Talk to your children about their worries and concerns. Walking to and from school is a good chance to ask your children about their feelings, worries and fears and helps to make talking about feelings a 'normal' thing to do.

4 - Work on having a good relationship with your children's school. Your children's teachers are with them for 6 hours every day and responsible for their care and well-being at school. I think it's vital you have a good relationship with your school and are able to feel comfortable approaching them and making a plan if there are any issues. Parent's evenings, school socials, open afternoons, school assemblies, school fayres, school pick up........they're all a good chance to get to know the adults who probably know your child very well. 

5 - Encourage after-school activities. My children love pursuing their various hobbies and in the past have thoroughly enjoyed a wealth of after-school activities and clubs including coding club, skipping club, steel pan club, football and rugby practice to name but a few. They get to spend some social time with their friends and learn new skills and I think after-school clubs like this do wonders for their confidence. 


Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water
A silly daily joke


5 ways to help your children stay healthy at school

I was super shocked to read this report from Sugary Drink Facts that found 33g of sugar in one of the juice drinks my children used to drink regularly! That is more that 8 teaspoons :-( and further research has proven that plenty of fruit and veg helps to improve nutrition in children, reduces obesity, helps their digestive help and helps them to perform better at school. Here are my top tips for helping your children to stay healthy at school:-

1 - Make packed lunches fun. This is Harry and Heidi's first year of switching to packed lunches. Recent research revealed that most kids' packed lunch boxes are still unhealthy and I'm determined not the be one of those statistics. There are some fantastic ideas around for creating healthy but fun ideas. My all time favourite is Eats Amazing but you should also check out Feeding Boys and my very own packed lunch Pinterest board.

2 - Provide your children with water in their lunch box rather than juice. Water is the best way to hydrate your children and contains nothing artificial. I was super shocked to read this report from Sugary Drink Facts that found 33g of sugar in one of the juice drinks my children used to drink regularly! Yikes!!

3 - Get the kids involved in baking healthy treats for the week ahead. Everyone knows that kids are more likely to eat food that they prepare themselves. The weekend is the perfect time to get baking those healthy snacks for the week ahead. We love this Sugar-free banana cake recipe.

4 - Establish a good routine. My children are honestly at their happiest when we stick to our routine and I believe that a good routine followed by a good night's sleep is vital to keeping them healthy. Our basic routine is after school snack/chill time until 4pm followed by 30 minutes homework/reading and then TV time/play with toys/computers until 6:30pm (with dinner squeezed in). This is followed by 1 hour worth of TV in their bedrooms followed by a further 30 minutes reading before lights out at 8pm. It's a routine that works for us and I would highly recommend you find your own routine with your children.

5 - Ensure your children have time to relax. As someone who suffers from stress, I think I worry about my children's mental health a lot more than their physical health. We are a very busy family and for me it's very important to build some time into our day for everyone to relax. Daily reading certainly helps with this but you can also try warm baths, family yoga or teaching your children about mindfulness.

Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water
A fun Minion-themed packed lunch with edible eyes from Five Adventurers 


5 ways to help your children stay hydrated at school 

1 - Provide children with an extra bottle of water on their PE days. Our school asks that children are provided with a bottle of water on PE days to sip during and after sport. I have my children's PE days written in my diary so I remember when they need extra.

2 - Get the kids involved with recycling. My three children love learning about the planet and how to take care of it. They keep their empty bottles to put in our recycle bin at home. Every single part of a Highland Spring bottle can be recycled and the kids take pride in knowing they aren't adding to landfill.

3 - Bring a cold bottle of water with you when you collect your children from school. We have established a nice little habit where I greet the kids with a nice, chilled bottle of water to drink as we walk home from school. I think they feel quite grown up drinking from the bottle and this has especially been well-received during the unseasonal warm weather of late.

4 - Children will follow your lead - ensure they see you drinking water at home too. You may remember my post 'You are what you drink' back in January and this REALLY shocked me into seriously cutting back on fizzy drinks myself. I am pleased to say that we have kicked the habit and we never drink fizzy drinks at home - it's always either water (which we keep in the fridge) or coffee now. The kids see us drinking water and just accept it as normal so they follow our lead without question.

5 - Visit websites such as Readymag - Highland Spring’s first e-magazine a head-to-toe guide to happy hydration, where you'll find fun water-based games such as 'bottle skittles' and instructions on how to make a your own 'bottle band'. This encourages children to drink water so they can have fun with their empty bottles.

Tips for helping your children stay happy, healthy & hydrated at school - highland spring water


Let me know if you have any tips that help your children at school. 

Disclosure: I’m working with Highland Spring and BritMums in a paid relationship promoting the #TermTimeEssentials campaign about the importance of hydration to kids. Visit http://highlandspringmagazine.com for more advice and tips.
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Happy 10th Birthday Harry

OMG how do I have a 10 year old? People tell you that time flies and your children grow up in the blink of an eye and I'm sorry to say that they really do. It doesn't seem like 2 minutes ago that Steve and I were driving home from the RVI in our little Ford Ka in the pouring rain with a little baby on board. We were petrified!



It makes me laugh when I look back and think of how I used to parent Harry - everything was very much by the book. I was rigid with my schedules and nap times, wouldn't let anyone near him with a mobile phone and bought a whole load of crap I didn't need (bottle warmer and baby bath I'm looking at you). This definitely does change with future children and I honestly couldn't be more laid back now.


I couldn't be prouder of the boy Harry has grown into though. He is super smart, inquisitive and the kind of child that asks questions. I love that. He is definitely growing up though as sometimes he'll share an 'in' joke with Steve and I but it goes over the other the heads of the two.


If there's one thing I'm really keen on doing now, it's encouraging Harry's independence even more. He now mostly walks to and from school by himself, he will pop to the shop for us when needed and does a few basic chores. He helped Steve cook dinner on Saturday night for us all too.


It's hard to know what to buy a 10 year old boy and it was a bit of a struggle. He seems too old for toys but we don't want to buy him expensive electronics he won't use either. In the end we went for a 'green screen' and stands. He has been after one of these for ages as they use them to make movies at school. We've also bought him a few Batman bits and bobs, some clothes, an illusion set and travel chess (as he was just saying the other day we don't actually own a chess board).


We are celebrating with a Battle Zone laser party in a couple of weeks and on he has requested a Domino's Pizza for dinner tonight (I won't complain about that!).


I'll leave you with a few pics of Harry growing up through the years:

Harry's first hold of Heidi


Digging into his favourite food - Calamari

At Longleat


Saying Hello to his new baby brother Jack
















Happy Birthday Harry - it is so crazy to think that in 3 year's time you'll be a teenager! 
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