North East Family Fun

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A Summer Afternoon at Gibside

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - walled garden entrance

So we FINALLY bought a car! Yeah! The very next day we had to plan an adventure and as the sun was shining we decided to head to one of our favourite picnic spots. Gibside is a National Trust property in Gateshead/Durham a few miles from the Metrocentre. Entry is free if you are NT members as we are. See website for non-member prices.

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Gibside Chapel

There is a HUGE variety of things to do at Gibside and our afternoon only just scrapes the surface. We were there to chill out and enjoy the sun. We did think about walking up to the stables but the kids were far too hot after an hour in the adventure playground so we knocked that idea on the head and are saving it for autumn.

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens.

First up is Gibside Chapel and the avenue. The grassy tree-lined lane goes on for as far as the eye can see. This is right next to the entrance and a fab spot for a picnic. In the summer there are often bands playing in front of the chapel and I always remember watching a fantastic steel pan concert here in 2011. Jack was just a baby, Heidi a toddler and we all had fun dancing the afternoon away.

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens.

If you walk around the chapel and past a field of cute cows, you'll find the Strawberry Castle play area which was the main reason for our visit. It's fantastic with mock castles and houses, a giant sand pit, water play (when in operation), rope swings, zip wires........plus it's own toilet block (although they need to increase the number of loos from 2 I think) and ice cream/coffee hut. It's the sort of place you could spend all day and I noticed a few mums had brought their books to read as the kids ran off to play - definitely what I'll be doing next time.

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - a field of cows

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - entrance to Strawberry Castle play area

It was super busy on the day we visited but we managed to find a good spot on the grass and enjoyed a little sunbathing session as the kids ran off to play hide and seek amongst it all.

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - picnic in the park

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Strawberry Castle Play Area

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Strawberry Castle Play Area

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Strawberry Castle Play Area

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Strawberry Castle Play Area

They returned after 45 minutes of playing asking for drinks/ice creams. Ice creams will set you back a cool £2 each and the kiosk does not take card payments. You won't be able to resist so make sure you plan ahead. Their coffee is lovely. I never used to understand how adults could drink coffee on a boiling hot day but now I get it......we need the caffeine!

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Ice Cream Kiosk

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Ice Cream Kiosk

Ice creams finished and after some more play, we packed up our picnic bags and headed to the walled garden. I am a sucker for walking around beautiful flowers and plants and the walled garden will not disappoint.

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden flowers

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden flowers

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden flowers

There was an interesting exhibition in one corner of the garden.......

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden washing line

There is usually always something going on at Gibside. In the past we've enjoyed a blindfolded team-building obstacle course in the woods, bushcraft activities, campfire cooking, den building and made bird feeders. Today's activity was to make your own salad tray. There was no additional charge for this and the volunteer helpers were lovely, taking the time to help H&J. It was really well organised and the kids were very pleased that they could bring their 6 herb and salad plants home......let's hope we can keep them alive!

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden create your own salad tray activity

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden create your own salad tray activity


Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden create your own salad tray activity


Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden create your own salad tray activity

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - Walled Garden create your own salad tray activity

We ended our afternoon with a couple of refreshing drinks from Gibside's tearoom. Their courtyard had some lovely shaded seats and it was a nice place to cool down before our journey home.

Gibside - A North East National Trust Property that's ideal for Picnics, Adventure Playground fun and beautiful gardens - tea room / coffee shop outdoor seating area

Need to Know




I'd love to hear about your favourite National Trust property :-) 

Disclosure: We paid for our own day out
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3 easy upcycling projects to get you started

With the school summer holidays almost over and the expense of Christmas on the horizon, it looks like my dream home is still a long way off. I definitely need a re-vamp for the autumn though and I am considering taking on an upcycling project to keep me busy at the weekends and improve my craft skills. I wasn't quite sure where to start so searched Pinterest for these three upcycling projects to kick start that creative flow…


Upgrade a tired old office chair with a pretty duvet

Do you have a swivel chair that’s seen better days? Perhaps it’s only use is for dirty clothes or as a resting spot for papers because a wheel has broken or the seat stuffing has sagged? It needn’t stay like this! Here’s how to upgrade yours… 

You will need: 
  • Wheels – castors from Tente UK are a good choice 
  • A pretty duvet cover that you no longer want or use
  • Staple gun 
  • Scissors
  • Small pliers 
  1. It’s a simple case of first taking some time to remove the castor wheels from your chair – these can usually be removed by simply unscrewing them. 
  2. Next take one side of your duvet cover (it might be a good idea to cut your duvet in half) and place this over your chair, cut it to size. Choose a thicker material duvet set that will be resilient to all the bums that will grace the seat once you’re done! 
  3. This step is optional – take your pliers and pull out the staples holding the fabric already on the chair out and remove this to expose the stuffing. 
  4. Take your staple gun, turn the chair upside down and begin stapling the duvet neatly to the bottom of the chair. Ensure it is attached tightly, it’s best to get someone to help with this step. 
  5. Take your new castor wheels and screw these into the feet of your chair to finish.

Turn pillowcases into garment bags 

You’ve already chopped up the duvet, so it’s time to get to work upcycling those pillows too! Garment protecting bags created from pillow cases are so easy to make, here’s how…

You will need: 
  • Pillow cases 
  • Scissors
  • Fabric glue 
  • Iron 
  1. Slit the seamed end of your pillowcase using the scissors, to create a hole for the hanger to poke through. 
  2. Take your fabric glue and apply a thin layer around the edges of this hole to stop the seams from fraying. 
  3. Once the glue has dried, iron your pillowcases to give them a crisp finish and then pop them over the hangers of garments you want to protect. And you’re done! 

Wine cork planters

Do you get through a few bottles of vino a week and have been saving up the corks for something special in the future? Then use them to create cute planters that you can place in rows along the windowsill or bookshelf. Here’s how…

You will need: 
  • Wine corks (as many as you want to create planters for, plus a couple spare just in case one breaks) 
  • Apple corer or a small sharp knife 
  • Cactus compost or DIY sand and perlite soil – here’s a tutorial 
  • Small succulent plant 
  • Sharpie pen (optional)
  1. Take your wine cork and carefully cut a small hole into one end, then take your apple corer (or continue using your knife if you don’t have one) and carefully push this into the cork. Try not to wiggle the corer/knife too much, as this may cause the cork to split. 
  2. Once you have created a hole around half way into the cork remove any excess and then carefully push your soil into this, don’t fill it all the way to the top. 
  3. Take your succulent plant and place this into the cork, then secure in place with more soil. 
  4. You can decorate your cork using a Sharpie, or leave it au natural. 


3 easy upcycling projects to get you started

Let me know if you have any ideas for simple upcycling projects to get me started! 

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Summer holiday rainy day idea | Design a party outfit for a star from Disney On Ice presents Frozen


You just can't tell what the weather is going to do this summer. One minute the sun is shining and the next the heaven's have opened.

If you are looking for a quiet, indoor activity idea to keep your little one's amused for a while, check out this Disney On Ice presents Frozen competition from the Chronicle.

Disney On Ice are looking for children aged between 7 & 11 who can design a special party outfit for a Disney on Ice cast member.

The Prize 


One lucky winner will enjoy the full VIP treatment as Disney On Ice visits Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena this October and will be seated in the best seats in the house, enjoy pre-show hospitality and have the chance to meet some of the stars from the show. One lucky winner will also have their creation transformed into a made to measure outfit for themselves or a friend of their choice. WOW!

All of the entries received will be showcased online at a special Disney On Ice costume design gallery.


How to Enter


To enter, simply send a copy of your child’s drawing, plus their name, age and contact details to gordon.barr@trinitymirror.com or post it to Gordon Barr, Editorial, NCJ Media, Groat Market, Newcastle, NE1 1ED before 10pm on Monday, September 5, to enter the competition. Terms and Conditions apply. 


There will be 11 performances of Disney On Ice presents Frozen at the Metro Radio Arena between Tuesday October 18 and Sunday October 23. For tickets, call 0844 493 6666 or visit www.metroradioarena.co.uk



Good luck! Let me know if you enter
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Monday, 22 August 2016

5 Places for Take Out Lunch near Screen on the Green


Now that the Olympics are over,  the FREE films at Screen on the Green in Old Eldon Square are back. YEAH! It's a fab way to spend the afternoon with the kids. Here are the listings for the rest of the summer (subject to change - see the Screen on the Green website for up to date info):-

Film Listing for Screen on the Green


Mon 22nd Aug
12pm The Jungle Book (2016)
6pm Juno

Tues 23rd Aug
12pm Big 
4pm Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Wed 24th Aug
12pm Zootropolis 
4pm Jurassic World

Thurs 25th Aug - at Vueling Quayside Seaside
12pm The Little Mermaid
6pm Cast Away

Fri 26th Aug
12pm Mary Poppins
4pm Saving Mr Banks

Sat 27th Aug
12pm Some like it Hot
4pm Young Frankenstein

Sun 28th Aug
12am Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone 
3pm Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets 

Mon 29th Aug
12pm Labyrinth
3pm Cinema Paradiso

Tues 30th Aug
12pm Monster's University
4pm Singin' in the Rain

Wed 31st Aug
12pm Inside Out
4pm Brooklyn

Thurs 1st Sept - at Vueling Quayside Seaside
12pm Shark Tale
6pm Jaws

Fri 2nd Sept
12pm The Lego Movie
4pm Everest

Sat 3rd Sept
12pm Shrek
3pm The Hunger Games

Sun 4th Sept
12noon The Goonies
4pm Mrs Doubtfire

I think Screen on the Green is the perfect excuse to grab a take out lunch, pull up a deckchair and enjoy the film and atmosphere. Here are my Top 5 places to grab a take out nearby:-

1 - Nandos


What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby.

There aren't many people who can resist a cheeky Nandos, and despite what google maps tells me, it is literally RIGHT on the doorstep. You can phone ahead/order online and your order will be ready for collection just in time for the film starting.

What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - Nandos Newcastle Map


2 - The Grainger Market


What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - the grainger market

There is a lot of decent (and cheap) take out food available from the Grainger Market. This would probably be my number one choice and it's where we headed earlier in the summer when we enjoyed watching Matilda with our Grainger Market picnic. 

What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - the grainger market map

3 - The Fat Hippo Underground


What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - best burgers in Newcastle - Fat Hippo Underground

The Fat Hippo Underground serve the best burgers in Newcastle. FACT. Lunchtime burgers are served 12noon-3pm and can be ordered to take out. A lunchtime burger will set you back just £6 and they come with a side of triple cooked hand cut chips too. YUM!

What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - Fat Hippo Underground Map


4 - Yo Sushi


What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - YO Sushi Newcastle

I was really impressed with YO! Sushi during our last visit and they are perfectly located to grab a take out sushi set to go and enjoy with a film.

What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - YO Sushi Newcastle Map


5 - Zapatista Burrito Bar


What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - Zapatista

Both branches of Zapatista are within a 10 minute walk of Screen on the Green but their Ridley Place branch at the top of Northumberland Street is a teeny bit closer so your best bet. Burritos are made at super speed and wrapped in foil so will stay in perfect condition until you're ready to tuck in.

What's On at Screen on the Green in Newcastle plus places for take-out lunch nearby - Zapatista Ridley Place map


Are you planning on catching a film? Where will you visit for lunch? 


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Friday, 19 August 2016

What's On in the North East for Kids & Families 20th & 21st August

I can't believe I am sitting here typing out events for 20th and 21st August! I am determined to make the most of the rest of the summer holidays (especially now we have a car again - whoop whoop). We're off to the Just So Festival in  Cheshire this weekend so please pray for sunshine for us. There's loads going on in the North East though and I'm gutted that Heidi is missing Kirkley Hall's Family Day Out as it sounds right up her street. Let me know what you're up to this weekend in comments. 

What's On in the North East for Kids & Families 20th & 21st August



Clash of the Knights 
Tynemouth Priory
Saturday 20th August - Sunday 21st August |  11am - 5pm

Tynemouth Priory will be taken over by four teams of highly skilled Knights this weekend. Expect adrenillin fuelled battles and demonstrations throughout the weekend. Free entry for English Heritage Members, admission charges apply for non-members. See website for details.



Arbeia Festival
Arbeia Roman Fort & Museum | South Shields NE33 2BB

Saturday 20th August (11am-4pm) - Sunday 21st August (1pm-4pm)

Time and Tide Events will be returning to host Arbeia's annual festival. Expect Artisan food markets and celebrations of all things Roman. There will be a Roman-themed market, artisan food and drink, re-enactments, activities, music and demonstrations FREE ENTRY (donations welcome). See website for details. 



Kids Club at Liberty Brown

Liberty Brown, Sunderland. SR5 3XG  
Saturday 20th August (12 noon - 3pm) - Sunday 21st August (12 noon - 3pm)


We were really impressed when we tried out Kids Club at Liberty Brown earlier this year. Their Kids Club features story telling, face painting, cookie decorating, giveaways, colouring competitions, arts and crafts alongside a yummy family lunch. Booking is highly recommended. See website for details. 



Kirkley Hall's Big Family Day Out
Kirkley Hall, Ponteland. NE20 0AQ
Sunday 21st August (10am - 5pm)

Join Kirkley Hall for some adrenaline fuelled activities including high ropes, zip wires, archery and even knife throwing! Yikes! There will also be lots of activities in the zoological gardens including animal demonstrations, handling and feeds. See website for details.



Our Wildlife 2016 with Northumberland Wildlife Trust
Blagdon Hall, Seaton Burn (NE13 6DE)
Saturday 20th August 10am - 4pm

Hands on activities, worshops and demonstrations allowing visitors to get hands on with wildlife. See wild birds up close with experts, go pond dipping, take a tractor ride, meet a real life polar explorer, browse local food stalls and make your own seed bomb to create your very own meadow. Entry charge applies. See website for more details.

Read Next:-





Need further inspiration for days out this summer? Why not join our North East Days Out Facebook Group.


What's On in the North East for Kids & Families 20th & 21st August





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Thursday, 18 August 2016

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle

One of the pros of writing for the Fat Hippo blog (check out our post featuring Free things to do in Newcastle) is that you sometimes get invited along to enjoy some burgers on the house as a way of saying thanks. Although I am supposed to be counting calories (seems to have gone out of the window over summer), I would be mad to decline the best burgers in Newcastle so we headed over to the Fat Hippo Underground on treat night.

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - children's menu

The Fat Hippo's children's menu is nice and simple at £5 for a burger and fries. As everything is cooked to order, picky eaters can easily be accommodated. All three of my children wanted a bacon cheeseburger without the bacon (despite actually liking bacon!). This wasn't a problem at all.

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - Rio Olympics Menu

Now when it comes to the Fat Hippo, I'm a creature of habit and I always order the Texas. I think I've probably eaten around 20 of them in my life already. Oooops! I decided that tonight would be the night that I would try something new. The Fat Hippo often run special menus at various points throughout the year and as a nod to the Olympics were running a special Brazilian-themed menu alongside their regular offerings. I ordered the Knockout Ned (only available until August 21st) from the Olympic menu and wasn't disappointed. Sometimes it's good to try something new! Steve went for the Stinky Pete which I would say is definitely his favourite.

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - kids colouring and activity sheets

Children are well catered for were given cute Fat Hippo colouring sheets to complete as we waited for our order. You can tell we're family as we all went for the same drink - a proper chocolate milkshake. Lush!

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - homemade and fresh frothy chocolate milkshakes

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - kids chocolate milkshake

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - chocolate milkshake

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - children's hippo colouring sheet completed.

Our burgers arrived in around 25 minutes. I think Jack was a little overwhelmed by the size of his meal as he started eyeing it up when it arrived - the children's portions are very generous and will easily fill even the most hungry of children.

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle -children's bacon cheese burger meal

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle -children's bacon cheese burger meal

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle -children's bacon cheese burger meal

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle -children's bacon cheese burger meal

The kids all agreed that the Fat Hippo serve the best burgers in Newcastle and all tucked in without any of the usual moaning.

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle -children's bacon cheese burger meal

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - fat hippo underground interior

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - children's menu

Grown up burgers are juicy and moist, the fries are crispy and the fillings generous. Things will get messy though so thank goodness for the rolls of kitchen rolls on the table. You'll need them!

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - Stinky Pete Burger

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - Knocking Ned Burger Special for the Rio Olympics

After our epic mains it's fair to say we were fit to burst. I'd promised the kids some churros though (also on the special Olympics menu) so we ordered one plate between the five of us. I did seriously well to manage just half a churro but the kids managed to wolf them down - I do wonder if they have bottomless stomachs at times? They were good churros btw and if they pop up on a specials menu again, I'd recommend you try them yourself.

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle -Churros Dessert

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - Churros Dessert

Heidi had to drain every last drop of her milkshake - she is honestly a machine at times! 

The Fat Hippo Underground with Kids | Simply the Best Burgers in Newcastle - chocolate milkshake

This isn't the first time we've dined with the kids at the Fat Hippo and we have visted all three restaurants and give them all the thumbs up. The staff are always super friendly, the atmosphere is very chilled and laid back (no one raised an eyebrow when Heidi started demonstrating her gymnastic stretches by our table) and the food is always spot on.


Need to Know

  • The Fat Hippo has branches in Newcastle, Jesmond & Durham. You'll also find them popping up at lots of events and festivals across the region. 
  • The Fat Hippo Happy Hour runs from 5pm-6pm Monday-Friday. 1 course £8 | 2 courses £10.50 | 3 courses £12.50
  • Click Here to view the Fat Hippo Underground Menu
  • The Fat Hippo Underground is indeed underground - just next to the Theatre Royal so perfect for pre-theatre dining. There are steps to navigate so pushchairs will need to be folded/carried. 


Disclosure : We received a complimentary meal but were not obliged to write this post. We just wanted to share the love about the best burgers in Newcastle.  
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